Monday, August 20, 2012

International Collaboration to Keep Eagle on Irish Roads

Even tho my broken elbow is healed  I'm  still NOT training on the Eagle over here in Ireland!  As its broken wheel is not coming together as quickly as we had hoped, all I can think Is that it is giving the  shoulder I also severely strained,  more time to heal. I choose to take solace in that rationalization. as opposed to thinking the Eagle cannot survive the  roads over here. Or as Brian Cawley the highly regarded wbeelbuilder  and owner of Castlebar Cycle who is helping me keeps teasing, 'carbon fiber is the only material that can match up with  the punishment the Irish roads offer'.

In not entertaining Brian's jest, I've yet to remind him that the Eagle was built at a time when most roads were dirt and the smooth asphalt we take for granted in America was rare if it existed at all. And that the poor condition of the riding turf was why the HiWheel was so popular in the late 1800's. The further one's anatomy is away from the ground on a pedal machine, the less he or she feels the surface beneath them-self.

Understandably then I am committed to getting the Eagle back on the road over here as soon as possible. However, getting the rim replaced has presented a myriad of complications. While I have managed to miraculously locate a beautiful new rim and then spokes in America and managed to get them sent over here to  the Emerald Isle, building all this on to an 1891 hub is now requiring that I get some of the best talent on both sides of the Atlantic working together. As the national treasure that he is for those of us trying to keep antique bikes on the road, Jim Spillane, now in Vermont, is once again helping me speak to the complexity I have come up against.
Not only did he send me 20 hairpin spokes that become 40 (two spokes that travel through one hole in the hub, like a wishbone, it is what Brian and I are holding and that sit at my feet in the  picture directly below) for my 72 spoke wheel, 

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but now he's even come up with the engineering math that will make it possible for a modern day rim to work with 1891 spec. Seems the Rocky Mtn HiWheel rim I received is exactly 50 inches unlike in the 19th century where a variance of one half an inch or more was possible for it to be called 50 inches  Combine that with different size channels for the tire itself to sit in and much number crunching is required for a solution to the problem.

With all of this in mind, Jim thinks we can get a wheel out of this combination if we  change the number of spokes between each hairpin. He wants us to tell him how tight the spokes are as we reach certain benchmarks during the build.

How to insert them and how many spokes must stand between each placement both in the hub and at the rim is an exercise in trigonometry. The answers for which Jim tells me he will supply as we go along. And if Jim deems it acceptable to proceed, we will be doing so according to a formula wheel builders used at the end of the 19th Century.

Until then, I will keep enjoying the storybook  Irish back roads (off the charts when there is sun)  on my recumbent.  Because it  is also a steel frame, it too is getting beat up pretty badly by Ireland's back country riding terrain. Mostly used to service free range, grass fed livestock, unlike America, where factory farms are the norm, weather compromised farm roads  make up most of the island. And I've only been able to experience them from a comfortable seat  because Brian Cawley and  Tomas Vamos (pictured below) are two of the best cycle mechanics I have ever come across.  Blacksmith and award winning metal artist, Pawel Guba, who you've seen me talk about in here before, has also added his genius touch to keep my 'bent in roll mode. 

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Fingers crossed (very hard)....

     THX 4 all of U!! 

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