Hey, What do You Do When You Aren’t Doing the Lighting Thing?

Posted: June 15, 2017 in Uncategorized

I’ve posted this sort of content before and will do so again. This is the sort of thing I cobble together from found objects, spare parts, experiments in fabrication, and other brain re-setting exercises.

My center all touch-stone and tribute to the mechanical arts that compete at the Bonneville Salt Flats every year.

This particular rat bike object “Schwinncomotor” started from a rusting Schwinn Collegiate 5 speed bicycle I found at a yard sale for less than the cost of a meal at Wendy’s, coupled with a love for land speed record motorcycles and the nutters that pilot them bravely down one of the worst surfaces one can imagine on two wheels at high-speed. This is primarily a sculpture intended to look as though it was just back from the salt, uncleaned and suffering the pit-side hacking and clever re-engineering that goes on when teams make the best of their time on the flats.  It actually runs and drives. Add a bit of oil and gas, give it a pedal and hang on. It will do around 40MPH for anyone brave enough. For me, it serves as a touch stone to the universe of mechanical simplicity, a respite from the magic smoke electronics that makes up daily life in the shop here. The “Gear Head” art above the bike is also mine, from a used up race kart sprocket and a hammered aluminum mask from a wrecked floor plate.

A salt flat inspired creation. The flat panel light represents the salt, where the glare and reflection will burn you in places you’ve never been burned before.

For those who like details, the bike is vintage 1972, made in USA, that has been cut, chopped, bent and stretched savagely to create the parallelogram angles and trapezoid tube layout. The motor is new from a kit, a whopping 63cc screaming 2-stroke piston valve power. The front fork suspension system is modified vintage 1958 welded to a Schwinn blade fork that was bent to suit. This bike has seen a lot of torching and welding, from fork stem and handlebars to rear stays. The rest of the bike is custom bits made from fiberglass, metal or 3D printing (intake horn is actually plastic, as is the front air piercing element). The “salt” patina is white rubber sealant that looks the part but doesn’t flake off even on the tires. The seat is a composite of three different seats and 3D printed parts. I made no attempt to create a finished show bike. In fact every effort was made to do this with minimal use of measuring tools or finishing finesse of any sort. More time was spent making it look used up and old than it might have taken making it pretty – but that’s how I roll on this one. It was never going to be a show bike, its foundation was too far gone for that. Unlike those who believe the rusting hulk with tree growing through them in their yards are one day going to be pristine show treasures… I respect patina and recognize when the time for restoration has long past. Respect the rat as it were.

How does it ride? Well… pretty awful actually. The rake and trail make the front end floppy at low-speed. The motor and drive-train make peddling a bit hard. The front fork, being designed and modified, is not the sharpest handling part I have encountered on a bike – tending to be a little wiggly at times. Once the motor starts (pretty easy) it is fun, as long as you keep speeds above 20MPH to get the front end to pull in line. Other than that… it’s a sculpture, and is at its best sitting perfectly still.

  1. Don says:

    Looks like a fun ride. I might be up for a spin on it.

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