Working it out first.

Could this work?

It’s often the case in more complex projects that the whole can be broken down into various parts. For example, if I’m asked to make a large working model of something I often find that it breaks down into a number of smaller tasks each of which has its own challenges to overcome and in a resultant way its own design brief. What does this assembly need to do, how will it function and how am I going to achieve these criteria. The same was very much the case with the build of the bike. Controls, rear section, front section, exhaust etc all had specific things about them I wanted to achieve, not just visually but also functionally. The construction of this rear fender area then, had its own set of requirements that I needed to satisfy. A little brief all of its own.

Going back to my original brief that I’d set myself, that the bike was for everyday use, I knew that durability and robustness were important things to consider. British roads can be pretty bumpy and London’s are no exception. The parking bays that we are all invariably required to use in and around town can often be a totally unsympathetic battleground, with people cramming their bikes and scooters into the smallest of spaces with scant regard for any damage caused to your adjacent bike by footrests, handlebars and anything else that protrudes. So with all this in mind I knew that whatever I built would need to be pretty sturdy and resistant to bending and scraping. This rather delicate piece of rolled aluminium fender section was going to have to be turned into something a bit more substantial.

Can you see where I'm going with this?

Another habit that I’ve got into on any job is to have a sketch book or pad handy at all times during the job. This helps me to organise workflows, keep track of component purchases and budgets and the like. But it’s also very handy for sketching out ideas and thoughts when trying to solve specific problems. Importantly it enables me to keep everything in one place, there’s nothing more frustrating than constantly having to find loose bits of paper in a pile, especially the one that often manages to fall behind or under a workbench. Similarly I also go and buy some of those plastic document envelopes from the stationers for collecting all sales receipts, brochures and technical sheets one invariably accumulates during a job.

Getting somewhere now.

These three sketches above are from my notebook and show my thinking about how I could overcome the stability and strength issues with my rear fender. The top two sketches show a rough idea of the kind of upper support I wanted, a tapering finger of material with some holes pierced in it for a kind of lightweight look. This would be coupled with a large strip of slightly heavier gauge steel than ran down the centre of the underside of the fender piece. This strap would mount at the front end via a hole to match up with that on the mounting plate and at the back end two spaced holes would line up to accept the two mounting bolts passing through the fender from the rear lighting cluster and numberplate mount. Like a kind of backbone to the whole affair. I reckoned this would contribute significantly to the rigidity of the fender piece both in a vertical plane and horizontally. There was still the issue of dealing with any twisting action though. The final sketch is me investigating how to fix the upper mount to the assembly already in place for holding the seat in place.The first thing to do then, was to translate my sketched ideas into three dimensions and see how it worked.

No batteries required, just a brain and a pen.

Before I get on to that it’s also worth mentioning that one of the best tools to have in your work space is a dry wipe board. It doesn’t matter what size it is but, my advice is get one if you can. Working in conjunction with your notebook it assists in organising what you’re doing and helps you prioritise your tasks. I find it invaluable. Its perfect for creating lists of things to be done and in what order. Time and time again you read in magazines about other peoples builds and often they mention the value of such a device and attest to the immense sense of satisfaction to be gained by erasing jobs on the list as you go and replacing them with new ones. Two other great things about it are that you can sketch on it at an enlarged size to really work things through and, if you place it sensibly and write large enough, you can see it from anywhere in your work area. I picked up this one from a discount store for a couple of pounds. Some of the wall mount parts were missing, hence the price, but worth every penny.

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