Thursday, March 30, 2017

Bicycle Basket Modifications

My welding teacher would always joke that if welding was too difficult for you, you could always quit and go into basket weaving or something.  What he failed to mention was that basket weaving is actually more difficult than welding!
I had been looking for some larger baskets for my bikes, but they don't seem to come in convenient sizes or shapes (at garage sales at least), so I figured I'd try experimenting with buying some oversized ones and cutting them down to size.
I found this first basket, presumably designed to hold vinyl records, which I wanted to put on the front of my bike from the Bicycle Upgrayedd 2 project.  Clearly, I don't want my stuff falling out the side of the basket when I'm riding, so I'll have to modify the shape a bit.
Cut it up whiz!
Pipe clamp vise in use
Kinking the wires here to ensure the proper fold line.
State of the art bending technology
I used the excess wire to reconnect this thing in the shape I wanted, also added a bit of fancy sine wave action since there was more wire than was needed.
Then for the top rail: I first turned some connectors and tried forging them over the joint, but apparently I made them too thin for this to work.
Plan B: try soldering them.  I opted to not weld since that would probably be a disaster with my stick welder.  As it turns out, my torch soldering skills are pathetic.  On top of that, I don't know if I could even get the steel hot enough, since these torches are mostly used for copper pipe soldering.
Plan C: drill holes through the connectors and basket rails for rivets.  This idea failed as well since the connector cracked after attempting to hammer it.  I think I might've accidentally hardened it with the torch, making it more brittle.
Now we come to the payoff! My final hope to save this project was drilling one more carefully placed hole in the top rail, and wrapping a bunch of welding rod around everything to secure the rail halves in their final position in the spacer.  I guess I forgot that wires this thick actually stay in their shape after you bend them, and can hold a good amount of force in tension...  Nonrigid items; Diecaster D.'s worst nightmare!
All finished and mounted on the bike.  The fork didn't come with any #10-32 threaded braze points for mounting stuff, So I just attached the stays onto the axle.  The top is secured by a reflector mount attached to the headset.
Basket #2
I suppose I could've made a separate post for this, but I'd rather just get this subject over with since it ended up being far more trouble than I wanted it to be.
I scored two of these large baskets at a garage sale for 25 cents each, so I felt no remorse in butchering them.  The basket on my main bike was getting annoying since it barely fit my backpack, and was starting to wreck the corners when I would shove it in.  Also, I wanted to carry more grapefruit.
Grapefruit for size.
Clearly this basket would look silly on the front of my bike (like, more silly than it already looks) with its original size.  Also, it would overhang the front rack by a long shot, and not be particularly safe to maneuver with.  I began by removing 6 inches of of the vertical wires along the center.  I used the aviation snips to cut the wires into small pieces which could be snapped off the horizontal ones easily with pliers.  I guess they were merely spot welded on lightly.
Then filing everything... EVERYTHING!
Next, splitting the basket.  I alternately cut the wires as to make a more symmetric reconnection.  Also notice the top rail had been cut similarly.  Yes, I also filed the ends of all the cut wires.
Just like cell mitosis.
Now for the actual work.  Wrapping the excess horizontal wire lengths around the opposing sides of the basket.  I alternated the length of the wire reach from 1, 2 or 3 grid spaces to make the strongest possible weave.  Hey, looks like I'm actually getting good at this!
Finally, the top rail.  This basket was considerably easier than the previous one since I got to work with a rectangular and wider cross section opposed to a round one.  This meant I could just drill some holes, put in some nuts, bolts and be done with it. Of course I went with my favorite screw size, #10-32 (also known as M5-.8 for those in still living under communist regimes).  Funny enough, this is the only screw size/pitch combination that is compatible with both regular and metric, AND it's the screw thread that is standard for attaching stuff to bicycles (racks, bottle holders, pedal reflectors? etc.) and also on 19" equipment racks.  No surprise why I like it so much.
All done! Testing it out with its first consignment of grapefruits.  Works great.  I even got Aku-Aku moved over from the old basket.  Though I might want to get some 3/8" conduit straps to replace the old hose clamps securing the basket to the rack.  Also a piece of plate for the bottom to cover up the wire splices, and because I never finished the other half of my front fender!
Hey! Now I can safely transport my 5 gallon bottle of super special awesome de-chlorinated de-fluoridated water from the vending machine. (As opposed to strapping it horizontally on top of the old basket!)
UPDATE
I knew good and well that the hose clamps I'd been using to secure the basket to the rack were not going to suffice in the long term.  What really convinced me was when I went to go mountain biking and the basket was rattling around like crazy over the bumpy terrain.  Even with no cargo, I noticed a flaw that if left unchecked, would most likely compromise the integrity of the basket: The front portion overhanging the rack was subject to harmonic oscillation (or whatever they call it), and had begun to break the basket wires around the connection with the rack, thereby making the front hose clamp practically useless.  This problem was also partially enhanced by the weight of my "hood ornament", but in no way am I willing to take it off.  The fix for this: bolt the basket to the rack with some aluminum plates.
The plastic bag was to protect my cargo from getting wet from wheel spray
I didn't feel like buying the aforementioned 3/8" conduit straps, so I decided to make my own from a piece of scrap from that terrible bench grinder guard.
After bending by hand with vise grips to match the tube contour.
Then trimming, punching, and deburring.
This piece of aluminum was too thick to cut all the way through with aviation snips, so I made a cut on either end, and bent it back and forth to break it off.
As I like to say, "When in doubt, just add more metal."
For extra reinforcement on the front portion, I sandwiched the basket wires between two pieces of sheet metal.  Success! The basket is much more rigid now, and doesn't rattle around nearly as much.

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