My Dad in the Workshop, Brisbane, Australia

Building the Important Bits

| Australia Australia to Africa

As I said in an earlier blog, I have a secret weapon – My Dad. I picked him up late Thursday night and we drove out to the workshop together. I had great plans for him, I needed help with my pannier frame, oil cooler and tool boxes. After a good night sleep, I poured out all my thoughts, ideas and worries. I took him on a guided tour of all my previous designs and pointed out their flaws. Lastly I showed him what Len and I had constructed for my pannier frame, explaining that it had been made from Dads old fold out chairs from his camping trip. The problem with this frame wasn’t the material we had chosen. It was because it was just too large for the pannier bags.

Jumping in the car, we headed to the local dump shop, to look for more suitable steel to re-do the pannier frames with. Dad spied out half a dozen long galvanized tent pegs. He puts on up to his knee and gently bent it to ‘test’ the strength. We come to the conclusion that they would be perfect, leaving them there we walk away to just check that it was the best that was available. As we turned away a man dressed in florescent overalls pushing and over flowing shopping car, picked up the tent poles and stuffed them into his trolley. Disappointed Dad was driven to ask him, if he needed all of them. Yes he replied mumbling about building some sort of shelter.

We wondered around, slightly bitter and angry for letting such a find go until I spot an exercise machine which had a perfect loop as its handle bar, all we needed was another one. Looking off to one side, we see six all lined up against a water tank. One of the guys working at the centre walks past and says he would take $8 for it. Slightly surprised by the high cost, and I was going to have to buy two, we walk on. Until we come across a hammock. Seeing the steel spreader, we took it and an old beach chair and walked to the counter with our treasure.

I place the steel on the counter, preparing to haggle. I ask, how much for these bits ‘n’ pieces? The man behind the register replies, ‘That would be three dollars’. Pulling out my wallet, I quickly pay before he changes his mind. We walked away pretty pleased with ourselves and stashed our treasure into the boot of the car. Back in the workshop, we discover that I was low on gas in my torch. Instead, I reach for my petrol cooker. We take turns at heating up the steel in sections and bending it once it was hot enough. Following our template we complete the bend. Unlike my test bend we manage to make the complete circle out of one length of steel. This means there is only one weld joint on the complete oval.

I would like to carry up to two liters of oil and half a liter of petrol (for my cooker) outside my pannier bags. I just want to try and get some of the weight out of the bags and let the bike support them separately. Therefore we need to devise a system to contain /hold the bottles. After much discussion and a show and tell of all my previous attempts, we decided the best option is to put the oil into an aluminum bottle. Then lock and store them in these 90mm storm water pipes.

Mounting the oval frame to the bike was another issue. Luckily for us, there were many places to mount the frame too, but working out which one was better took a bit of thinking. I wanted to retain the plastic covers as much as possible, not only for good looks but to stop mud spraying up at me and my pannier bags. The only other issue was been able to clean out the air filter on a regular basis. All these factors need careful consideration on where the mounts should be located.


With everything in place, and working I now have to work out how I am going to lock the aluminium bottles into place.

We decided if a rod slide through the tops of the aluminium bottles and locked onto the pannier frame. I have to do some home work before Dad gets back from his holiday. Before we finish off for the week, Dad primes the frame with a spray can I found in the shed. Now it’s ready to lock the storm water pipes into position and paint!