Sunday, February 15, 2009

More bicimaquinas in one week than all of last month

For the past week we´ve all been working on a few bicimaquinas for an upcoming presentation in Antigua. I´m not sure i understnad exactly, but i think that the machines are being sold to the a cafe in the epicenter of Guatemala´s tourism industry. (Antigua is a huge magnet for travellers because it is absolutely stunning). While we are there we´ll demonstrate the machines to interested tourists and speak about what Maya Pedal does.

For the presentation we´ve been working on two stationary liquadoras, one rear mounted liquadora (to function on the back of a working bike), one grain mill and a peanut de-sheller. I and the girls have had our hands in the liquadoras for the most part, we´re trying to finish them up this weekend. Carlos didn´t leave us with any instruction, just an expectation. At first i felt a little flustered, but then i realized that its because he trusts us to do it, which feels really good. If Carlos approves, you know you´re set.

There´s a lot that´s happened, so much that its kept me from writing about it. It´ll have to come in several parts, or it will be too massive. Epic, epic is a good word. It would be too epic, and totally unreadable.

So, welcome to part one.

Erin and Anneliese stripped two women´s bikes to their bare frames. These are to become the liquadoras Carlos tells us. I ask why women´s bikes in particular, he says because they never sell. This was interesting to have pointed out, becuase its true but i never noticed it- there are bicylces everyhwere, but not with women on them.

After all the unecessary stuff had been removed, the bar, ahh, i don´t know what its called, the top bar, the one that goes from the seat post to the header, that one. It needed to be cut off. Once it was off, i ground down the remains as best i could with the hand grinder. Not too pretty but better than it was.

Next i had to find two, roughly, matching sets of forks to create the base for the maquinas. At first i thouhgt i was looking for ones as angled as the ones of the other bicimaquinas shown below. I did the best i could, but none were so extreme. Then carlos pulled out this crazy tool and told me to bend them, which succinctly sums up Carlos´style- if it doesn´t fit, make it.

After bent, the forks needed to be cut to the same length. Like so:

When preparing to weld to bike tubes, its important to grind off the paint. This serves two functions, one it makes a better weld, two it keeps you from inhaling toxic paint fumes. I un-painted the back of the frame near the drop outs, this is where the forks will make contact.

This is the approximate placement of the fork.

Next was to weld the forks on to the frame. I wasn´t sure where Carlos wanted them, angle wise, so i asked him to tack weld them on where he wanted it. He obliged, and i finished the rest. My welds weren´t so bad this time, definitely better than previous attempts.

However, when it came to welding the support tube underneath the bottom bracket i totally botched it. Carlos laughed and offered me a much needed lesson.

Bike tube is pretty hard to weld to, especially doing stick welding. Its really thin and if you spend to much time on one spot you blow a hole right through it. It just melts away.
As you can see i did a pretty terrible job. But Carlos showed me that if you do litle spurts, taps almost, you can extend from the bead that you´ve already put down and fill the hole. It also helps to have some additional metal in there- he grabbed a broken spoke to add more material to the mix. Once he demonstrated i tried my hand at it and actually got it to work, which was awesome.

The support post i´m describing looks like this on a completed bici-maquina

When all were securely attached they looked like this-

The blender portion sits on top of a piece of wood fastened to rebar. Carlos instructed me to bend two pieces of rebar per machine and weld them into place.

Bending them was a fun process, it involved a lot of focused muscle power, something we Americans don´t get to do on a daily basis. Its amazing how my people have all but erradicated the physical work from work. And then feel compelled to go to the gym to make up for it. (I recently finished an excellent book that delves deep into this issue, highly recommended- Better Off, by Eric Brende)

If only i had three arms.

Here´s both side by side, you can see one of them sits a little crooked. The perfectionist in me wanted to straighten it out, but Carlos said not to bother. Good enough is up there with if it doesn´t fit make it.

Meanwhile, in the background of welding flashes and spark showers, Palo skillfully widdled away at the bolt-to-become-blade-spinner. Turning the top of the round bolt into the necessary square shape.

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