Wednesday, September 17, 2014

Ashley wanted to make a bed loft, so I helped.

This one is simple. Some of the rooms at the JS are pretty small. An easy way to give you more space is to make a loft for your bed. Ashley was a pretty short lady, so this was gonna work perfect for her. I believe she lived in the room next to the double room upstairs in the JS, in case anyone currently living there wants to know.

Basically all we had to do was figure out how high she wanted the bed off the ground (or rather how close to the ceiling she wanted to be). Make the measurements, find the wall studs, and then overbuild it. By overbuild I mean use way too much hardware and wood just so you make sure this shit never falls down with someone in it.

Add some legs and hope it stays stable.

It actually didn't feel all that stable, so when we built the steps we attached them to the leg if I remember correctly. But shit, we built this in 2008 according to the pics, sooooo.....

The story of the Classy Taxi II - A side by side tandem recumbent tricycle

This may be one of my favorite things I have ever done. It was born of a desire to share an experience and I learned more about building stuff than with any other project.

Let us start with the background. In 2008 I went to Burning Man for my first time. I was living at the Janet Smith Cooperative for Graduate students in Eugene, OR. The Student Cooperative Association had this crazy recumbent 2-person tricycle.

Nobody knew how it arrived at the co-ops. We just knew it was bad ass. But unfortunately, as will happen at student run and owned co-ops, this bike was nearly always broken. I decided to fix it and take it to the Burn. Best decision ever.

So that both sides can pedal AND use the coaster brakes, the right side  drivetrain uses a fixed hub with gears on both sides to transfer the chain to the correct side of the coaster brake wheel. Kinda genius.
 The long story as short as I can make it is that one day on the way home from the Portas, a guy with the exact same freaking bike (except his had a roof installed to block the sun) showed up. I was amazed. He said his parents had owned his bike since at least the 70's. He gave me a ride back to my camp.

I was not liking Burning Man. I hate(ish) EDM and I was in a bad personal emotional space as well. So, I was kinda hating the Burn and I was actually kind of bored and dissapointed. But this ride spawned an idea. I would go out solo on my bike and look for people that needed rides. I rolled up from behind someone as they were walking along the Esplanade and just asked where they were going. Then I asked if they wanted to get there faster. They would hop on and we would cruise to the destination. This was my new thing and I LOVED IT! So much fun, so gratifying too. It saved my burn. It inspired me and heped me learn how I could truly participate in the amazing experiment of gifting and participation that is Burning Man. I was hooked and ready for year two.

Over the next year, to no one's surprise, the side by side fell into disrepair once again. For 2009 I repaired the trike and took it a step further by giving it a paint job and replacing the tires.

Look at that sexy golden beast!

The 2009 burn went great. I took the taxi out for several nights. The dozens of rides I gave helped me meet new people, if only for a few minutes. I also learned that I was truly providing a service. Some people were extra grateful for their rides as they either didn't have a bike, lost their bike, or were too drunk/altered to safely arrive at their destination. It was also fun to be a sort of Playa Concierge, as I was quickly zooming all over the city and knew what parties were happening where. So when some people asked where Aphex Twin was playing for instance, I could say "Oh yeah, they are at the Roots Society tonight, lets roll!"

After the 2009 burn, my camp mates at RevoFuckinLution asked me to be the camp coordinator. In two years I had gone from hating the Burn to leading a 70 person theme camp. The 2010 prep season was long and hard. But we got it done and I updated the Tricycle again. New chains, and I learned to rebuild coaster brake hubs so I could give the back wheels some TLC. By now, I had decided that my favorite thing to do was ride around in the taxi in a white tuxedo and my bright blue shirt. So I painted the trike to match my colors and called it my "Classy Taxi"
Classy as fuck!

After the 2010 burn, the Taxi not only fell into disrepair, some of the more "anarchist" (aka dirty, drunk, drifter people who hang around the co-ops but don't really pay to live there) broke the Taxi. Someone stood on the front end, which somehow caused the frame head tube to rip out of the front end. I no longer was living at the co-ops, but I went to the Lorax to try and see if there was a way to fix it. I inspired one of the drifters who knew how to weld to try and fix it. However, he got really drunk on some bright green malt liquor drink in a plastic bottle (I am not kidding) and took some liberties with a new design. I arrived the next day I went to see the progress, but instead I saw that he had cut the entire front end off the trike, and welded in extenders. He also changed the angle of the head tube such that the bike would be leaning way back. It was completely fucked up.

There was only one solution. I had to build my own classy taxi. I had been wanting to for some time, especially after I lent out the taxi to my fellow camp mates so they could run their own classy taxi missions and returned with the joyous pride of helping people get around the playa. Shit, I need a whole FLEET of these things. A Classsy Taxi theme camp even!

I spent a lot of time doing research and taking measurements and figuring out how I could manufacture a new bike. Shit, I didn't even know how to weld! Todd Gardner helped me with the basics of welding and I actually did a practice welding project that I will post some other time. In short, it was welding a bike trailer from EMT conduit.

I am fortunate to have some awesome friends. One such friend is Todd Gardner (shown here holding a bowl full of Turkey necks from our Wild Turkey Wednesday Triple Turkey Slaughter!). Todd is a professional bike manufacturer. He taught me the basics of arc welding. I took it from there.
The main headache was the fact that there was no way I was going to be able to recreate the smooth curves present in the original classy taxi. I even tried bending steel tubing, but there is just no way without super powerful industrial machinery and high grade tubing.

The second headache was that there was no way I could afford to use quality steel. Really, I should use aluminum, but that requires special welding skills. Chromoly would be way too expensive and risky considering my amateur skills. I had to settle with mild steel for this round. It would be heavy, but it would keep costs down. I hate to think about how much money I spent building this bike. I bought an arc welder, a drill press, and a metal chop saw. I had to buy a bunch of steel tubing. I also had to buy all the bike components. Wow. I do some stupid shit for my hobbies and for Burning Man.
This is me in my welding shit. 

What follows are some of the build pics.
Luckily, I had a huge detached garage and a sweet project table that I got for free on the streets of the Whit. As You can see, I also lacked any sort of framing system to help me secure pieces before I tacked parts together. So I used scrapwood. DIY!
I did a LOT of grinding, because my welds were pretty crappy.

In order to allign the drop outs, I used a method derived from an instructable on how to build a bike trailer from EMT conduit.,-$30-for-pa/
With the welding complete, it didn't look half bad.

Bright! Now time for parts.

I ordered a front fork in the mail, but it got really delayed and I was afraid it wouldn't make it. So I made my own forks from some Mtn Bike forks I altered. DIY!
Oh my god the seats were a pain in the ass. I made them from EMT to cut costs. I am completely unsatisfied with the result and the design needs a major overhaul.

I tried 2 seat designs, then added padding and upholstered with stretchy polyester fabric stuff. Still not as nice as the original bucket seats. Oh well, version 3 will be better.

Thus ends the build of Classy Taxi 2. I learned a lot, but I am probably still not ready for a more expensive tubing scheme. I'll stick to mild for now. For next time I have found out that the slope of my seat stays are too sharp, so it feels like I am sliding out of the seat. I tried to fix it in the seat design to no avail. I can also imagine using flat stock for the seats somehow. Anyway, I'll get to it when I get to it. This one works for now :) It went to the 2011 and 2012 Burns. I skipped 2013 and for 2014 it remained in Oregon, awaiting our triumphant return to the beautiful state. Maybe I will have a few taxis ready for the 2016 Burn. We shall see.

Tuesday, September 16, 2014

Way back in the day... C, Jeff, and I decided it might be a good idea to build a deck

This all happened sometime in July of 2009 according to the age of the picture files on my computer. Why did I wait 5 years to post this? I don't know.

Perhaps saying "rebuild the deck" is more accurate. There already was a deck, but it only fit about 6 people. This project was Jeff and C's idea, they just wanted to bring me in for my seemingly extensive experience with DIY projects and for me to help design it and make it safe. At least safe according to the Black and Decker: How to Build a Deck book that C already owned for some unknowable and likely preposterous reason.
This teeny tiny wobbly deck had to go!
First step of this project was demolition! No wait... first step was design a new deck, formulate a budget for the project, and propose this project to the SCA board for funding and Summer work-trade. So, we did that. Point of history, the height of the deck was chosen to avoid having to get any permits from the city. That is why, in the end result, we had to leave a small step off the covered door entry onto the main deck. Blame Mary for that.

Now Demolition!
The site is ready for a new deck! Look, we even installed safety rails on the landing.
After clearing the site, we were ready to build. I'll let the pictures tell the story. FYI, for much of the time that I was working (and for a lot of that summer actually) I was listening to Zydeco thanks to the influence of Peter Cavagnaro. It is just great porch music! Try it.
Jeff and C installing a main post in the concrete footer.

After we got the footers and posts in, we installed our main supports.

Next, we started framing everything else in. I particularly like that we got to build around the Persimmon Tree.

Framing for the triangular section was particularly hard/annoying.
Instead of regular steps, we imagined the deck acting as theater seating. We used to show movies in the back yard projected on a sheet. We thought these big steps would be great seats. I wonder if they still do that at the JS. Notice the different colors of the wood? We tried to incorporate as much of the old deck wood into the new deck as was possible. 2x6's and 4x4's were turned into the deck step and the seating that is on the edge of the fences.

Bam! Finished deck. The wood floor and this deck are my best additions to the JS I think. As long as it hasn't fallen over yet and hurt someone that is. If so... I had nothing to do with this deck.

Thursday, June 13, 2013

Erich and I made a Hardwood floor

This was one helluva project. Originally proposed to simply expose the original hardwood floor that is all over the rest of the house, this project turned into a full installation of a new floor. What ended up happening was that first we pulled of the first layer of Vinyl floor to expose the sub floor. Removal of the subfloor was the first challenge. Simply ripping it up was impossible because the floor was nailed down every four inches of the perimeter as well with a row of nails every 2 feet. So instead we had to pry the nails out and try to ply the wood too. Often times the nails would break or the wood would break and we would have to pry more nails. At this point, nothing in the project would be as simple as we anticipated.

In fact this would turn slightly perilous.
I should have gotten stitches for this cut, 5 years later I still have a scar. I think for 3 years at least, there was a slight scab thing due to constant use of that finger joint. 

This happened because the head of a nail hadn't come out with the wood and while pulling on something else I slipped and sliced my finger on the nail head. Stupid nail.

So the next terrible thing was that there was a second sub floor, of a different material that was harder to come out in single big pieces. It ripped like cardboard, yet was heavy duty particle board  compression stuff. Also nailed to shit.

Next terrible thing: After we had exposed the entire dining room floor, we find that there are huge areas of NO HARDWOOD! WTF?

Look at this shit show. This wood isn't even all wood. Some of this stuff is a weird concrete filling.

So all this demolition work actually led to some cool discoveries about the history of the house and the original lay out.

First, the blonde hardwood was apparently laid when the dining room was still two rooms and there were still stairs to the basement in the back towards the west wing addition with all the bedrooms. Additionally there is some weird angular piece near the entrance to the current kitchen, not sure what that is about. Maybe it was a corner pantry?

But whatever, not only do we not have matching hardwood, it is apparently a certain depth of hardwood that they don't make anymore and we would have to custom order. Plus there are a bazillion nail holes all over the place.

We let it marinate in its current exposed state for quite sometime before we came up with a plan. That plan: buy new hardwood floor for the dining room area.

But first, we removed the currently exposed patches of blonde hardwood only to find that....  surprise! The current hardwood was actually placed on top of even older 4 inch plank hardwood. This shit was gorgeous old growth plank.

So this led to even more discoveries about the original floor plan. We find that the dining room as it is known now was actaully the old kitchen with a toilet in the NW corner (see the big round hole which seems to be walled off), stairs to the basement on the north wall, and the sink and stove hookups in the middle of the current room. The other section was probably the actual dining room as judged by the AWESOME hardwood floor layout in the square (parquet?) pattern.

If there was anyway to salvage this stuff I would have, but it was even more ruined by the two layers of subfloor and then the flooring nails of the first layer of hardwood. So we decided to use the 4inch plank as our subfloor. But interestingly enough, the subfloor of the original plank floor is a diagonal pattern that is supported by the joists. OH, speaking of joists!

It turns out that the addition on the back of the house that currently is the bulk of our bedrooms has a 1st floor just a couple inches higher than the first floor of the current house. This means that toward the back of the dining room, the vinyl floor was designed to slope up to it. Therefore, the new joists that filled in the old stairwell area were place a couple inches higher that the rest of the joists in the room.

At this point Erich said "fuck it" the wood will be fine. But me not being a impatient whiner thought better and said, no we need to do it correctly, plus the slope will make the tongue and groove not easy to fit or fit at all. So I independently (thats right Erich said he didn't want to help) removed the old joists, lowered them reusing the same hangers, and placed new plywood for the patch of subfloor. Then I also made new custom made patches for the places where the old kitchen walls were.

OK, now we are ready to install the wood. This was actually fun and Erich and I worked very well together.

Plus this pneumatic gun was sweet.

The only hard part was the very last row, which had to be jammed into place. But we got it in, and then I sanded it with a rented sander, which was also fun. But I have no pictures. Finally, I stayed up all night adding a couple coats of sealant and lacquer stuff and watching an 80's vampire flick.

 Finally, finished! Don't worry, with 17 people living here, it won't look this good for much longer. It will be back to co-op condition within a month if I remember correctly. Plus we will find places where the sealant didn't really work well enough. Overall, I think it was a great improvement and probably my biggest contribution to the Janet Smith Co-op, except maybe building the back deck.

Thank you tools of the trade.

The time stamp on these pics says this event happened in March of 2008, 5 years ago, and is also mentioned at the end of a different post I see. Doesn't seem like that long ago. But shit, I have a lot of catching up to do. And Work still isn't that awesome. So lets play catch up.

Pretend like you care.

When I first built the garden at the JS in Summer? of 2007, it coincided with taking down a crappy rotten garden shed. It also coincided with me doing all the work of transporting wheelbarrow after wheelbarrow or rock and dirt from a truck to the yard. Why was it so hard to get people to help out? If I remember right, the doors were hanging off the hinges, still barely attached to the main structure. Instead of just ripping it apart, like I probably should have done, I decided to neatly disassemble the shed in order to try and re-use all the parts. I have no idea how many times I made this mistake. There is only so much recycling one can do before the finished project can't be considered "up-cycled", just reused shit. Well, this might have been the first lesson. Because probably less than a year since building it, the wood was falling apart, it looked terrible, and everyone wanted something much prettier. I needed to rebuild it.

Chapman helped me for this project. The first of a couple collaborations. Finally, someone who liked working.

Easy. Dig some post holes. Plant some 4x4.

Staple some plastic to some 2x8x10. 

Attach  boards to 4x4. Done. Somehow the dirt even stayed in place when we removed the old crappy wood walls.

Bonus points for not wearing shirts in Eugene in the early spring. Also, bonus points for drinking PBR in the land of amazing IPA. PBR was, and still is, my preferred working beer. I should write a whole 'nother post about PBR and Power-tools  Shit. I should rename my blog that. 

PBR and Power-tools.... fuck yeah. That would be a good burning man theme camp name too. Although, it may come across differently at the burn.