Sunday, August 23, 2009

cargo trike update (again)

Structurally this trike has held up quite well into its sixth year of use. Building it out of square-tube mild steel was not the lightest way to go, but it certainly has been strong.

The one area that has always been suspect is the bar that connects to the frame and holds the "steering" arms that I hold onto while the front end pivots below me. When we built it the plan was to bolt it to the frame like a handlebar using a BMX-style 4-bolt stem. But the threads in the the bottom part of the stem plate got damaged by the heat, so we said heck with it and welded the plate to the frame and the bar to the plate.
(Yes, the bar has a bend in from when some accidentally dropped the frame right after the weld.)

As you can imagine, this bar sees a lot of flex, and while I did insert a wooden dowel into it as well as put braces where the upright bars meet it, we figured the main joint at the frame might start to fail some day. And it did - last last year I saw a crack developing, and finally this Spring I took it over to Johnson Welding for repair (my friend and co-builder Juergen having gotten too busy with his new business for welding projects).

The guy at Johnson asked me to remove all the paint:
and take out the dowel, then he would try and tap in a thicker steel insert tube, then weld the crack. I decided to also add a pair of braces from the bar back to the frame for some triangulation, which is what should've been done when the trike was built. I fashioned them from the chainstays of a dead 10-speed bike from the scrap pile at the re-Cycles shop:
The welder got those in place, fixed the crack, and was able to add the sleeve. The work is a little rough and the braces are not perfectly centred, but hey it only cost me $40.

I then applied primer and gold paint and it looks fab. And the repair should hold for the rest of the trike's life.

Thursday, August 20, 2009

dare to compare

The Impressions in Jazz Orchestra, with whom I've been drumming since early 2006, plays a wide variety of music under the "jazz" umbrella. And some of that is the wonderful music of Duke Ellington and Billy Strayhorn.

At a concert earlier this year one tune we played was the beautiful "Isfahan", written by Strayhorn. The lead was originally done of course by the amazing Johnny Hodges, but we had our very own Sandy Gordon for this, who is quite well versed in this genre, and he did a fabulous job.

But it's not just about getting the lead, with all its bent notes and huge expressivity, but also in the backing parts. The trombones have some short figures that need to be both soft and precise, like someone playing the chords on a keyboard. And there's the gorgeous ensemble work in the bridge that needs to flow and swell. And then there's the drums, just swishing quietly on the brushes through the whole thing. ;)

And as we played this tune to a rapt audience, that feeling came over me, the one that pretty well all musicians hope to get every now and then - that we're doing it right, doing it justice, and I'm almost having an out-of-body experience. (This is one of the reasons I love playing drums - that I get to be in the middle of this sort of thing but not have a part, at least in ballads, as demanding as most of the other players, which allows me to listen and enjoy what's going on.) So we sailed through this beautiful tune, and as it ended I thought "damn, we did it", and the audience seemed to agree.

I knew we had recorded this concert (and there are audio clips on the IJO site), so I asked orchestra leader Adrian Cho for an mp3 of this one. I've uploaded it so you can hear it, as well as two versions by Ellington (both on YouTube) for comparison. I think we came pretty darn close... (our version) (Ellington studio version) (Ellington live version)

Let me know if you agree! I know I'm highly biased, but I'm also critical when we do not capture the magic. With this one I think we did.

Wednesday, August 05, 2009

cool bike links

Some good summer reading.

CCM catalogue from 1918:

Bicycle accessories catalogue from a Toronto supplier in 1900:

This Online Vintage Bicycle Museum is a public internet database for fellow enthusiasts of vintage bicycles and tricycles.":

"The name describes any 3-wheel vehicle, including un-motorized 3-wheel delivery tricycles and ordinary pedal tricycles; motorcycle and scooter pick-ups and vans.":

Mark Twain's "Taming The Bicycle":