Randonneur Project

A while ago I posed myself the chal­lenge of mak­ing two identical ran­don­neur bikes in dif­fer­ent dia­meter tubing. The idea was to see if I could notice much dif­fer­ence between them and see what I pre­ferred. I also wanted to see what all the fuss was about “plan­ing” and if it was some­thing I could notice.

I’ll write about the bike as it has per­formed over vari­ous rides, but espe­cially on its first ride out to Woods Point last year. This part, part one, will focus on the bike, part two will focus on the ride out to Woods Point and back.

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Rob’s Polo Bike Update

Rob’s bike is done, rushed through the final stages to get off to the World Hard­court Bike Polo Cham­pi­on­ship in Switzerland.

Alto­gether I’m pretty pleased with how this one turned out. The com­puter mod­el­ling to get the seat-tube curve con­cent­ric with the wheel worked out superbly. For the gear that Rob was run­ning, the chain­stay length could be cal­cu­lated and the centre of the curve placed at the centre of the axle. It wasn’t until the whole bike was built up and the chain ten­sioned that we were able to check how it looked.

The reason for the curved seat tube is to elim­in­ate toe over­lap. This bike shares very sim­ilar geo­metry to Vive’s bike, and all Whis­keys to date, with super quick and nimble hand­ling bal­anced with a meas­ure of sta­bil­ity. In this latest evol­u­tion, the curved seat tube simply moves the cranks back away from the front wheel. This is a no com­prom­ise bike. There is no space wasted and no curve that doesn’t need to be there. The down­tube is straight gauge tubing to improve crash tough­ness. You could basic­ally ride this thing straight into a wall and it will just bounce off. No amount of gus­set­ting or rein­for­cing of the headtube joint will give that same tough­ness. After see­ing forum pho­tos of polo bikes that had fol­ded at the end of the but­ted sec­tion it became clear that the small weight pen­alty was worthwhile.

With such short chain­stays, and fat tyres (will fit 26 x 2″), fit­ting chain­stays / tyre / chain­rings / cranks became an issue. That’s why the whole thing needed to be mod­elled in the com­puter first.

Here’s a pho­toshop mock up dur­ing work on the frame:

To recap:
Sand filled tube bent

BB scal­loped and brazed

Built (click for ani-gif)



Thanks for the lovely bottle of Whis­key Rob and good luck in Switzer­land and London!

Welding and Brewing

About a year ago I bought a second hand com­mer­cial TIG welder in an attempt to learn how to weld. Start­ing at the bot­tom of the learn­ing curve with weld­ing means join­ing com­par­at­ively thicker steel. Hap­pily, I’ve also been think­ing about rejoin­ing the ranks of homebrew­ers. This threw me the oppor­tun­ity for a few steel fab­ric­a­tion jobs

I wanted to start my brew­ing adven­tures with cider because deal­ing with apples seems to involve me more with lovely local pro­duce. Cider can also be brewed with wild yeasts and pro­duce some amaz­ing funky fruity com­plex fla­vours that get lost in the chem­istry like pro­cess of beer brew­ing. I was also inspired by a French work mate who, for his farewell party, pro­duced a bottle of his uncle’s secret-recipe brew to accom­pany the crepes and home-made rasp­berry jam. The cider was like noth­ing I’d ever had; cloudy and fruity, it tasted like sun­light on apple trees, it tasted like verd­ant countryside.

The first thing was to find cider apples. Clearly, Petty’s Orch­ard in Templestowe was the best option close to North­cote. Situ­ated on the banks of the Yarra and cov­er­ing 44 hec­tares, they grow many vari­et­ies of her­it­age apple and quite a few cider vari­et­ies too. There is also a Her­it­age Apple Soci­ety that col­lect and pre­serve hun­dreds of vari­et­ies of apple in a 2 acre plot on site. I spent an after­noon chat­ting to a friendly guy there about apples. In the end I ordered 40 kg of Stew­art Seed­ling apples from the guys at Petty’s.

The next step is to extract the juice from the apples. Hav­ing bought a few books about the pro­cess, I dis­covered that the best way to do this is chop them up to a pulp and then press the pulp to extract juice. I needed a pulper. There are many ways to do this of course, but I wanted a cheap, easy device that doesn’t take too much space. I saw a ver­sion online that is basic­ally a giant food pro­cessor, or if you want, a razor sharp heli­copter blade inside a food-grade bucket. A few web­sites in the UK sold them, but didn’t seem to ship to Aus­tralia, so I thought I’d weld one up myself! It’s essen­tially a steel tube with sup­ports to hold it ver­tical and it is held in the middle of the bucket by a hole in the lid. The blade and shaft are stain­less steel.

Chop­ping and press­ing is a pretty big under­tak­ing… Luck­ily I have an amaz­ing land­lord who makes his own wine and an eager helper with a bit of wine mak­ing exper­i­ence him­self, Mr Jack Dun­stan. It turns out that a wine press is not very good for press­ing apple purée (the purée squeezes out the gaps and you only extract about half of the juice), but it’s all a learn­ing process.

After fer­ment­ing for a few weeks, Jack came and helped me bottle the lot too, champion.

In the mean time, my friend Cristal wanted to upgrade the 3-tiered all-grain brew rig she got from a guy in South Aus­tralia. I helped her to weld in a drain port, an out­let, a sight gauge and thermo well into an old keg. Then a few weeks ago I went and brewed a batch with her.

Hot Liquor Tank — Wel­ded ports

Cristal in her Brew Shed — Sun­shine Brewery

Sun­shine Brew­ery Label

I also found a cheap way to con­trol the tem­per­at­ure of the brew as it fer­ments with a fant­astic little tem­per­at­ure con­trol­ler I got on eBay. Auto­mated con­trol sys­tems get me a little bit excited. Must be the engin­eer in me com­ing out.

Tem­per­at­ure con­trolled fermenter

In the end I’ve learnt a lot about brew­ing and my welding’s get­ting a lot bet­ter too. I even felt con­fid­ent enough to weld a disc tab onto Jol’s polo bike and did a really neat job. (Jol is the graphic designer who cre­ated my new logo.)