In 2006 some friends asked if I could build a wine tower for their restaurant. An ‘Industrial’ theme was required with straight vertical lines to enhance the height.
A dark blue mild steel frame rises at the rear like two cranes from the floor and reaches over the top and anchors to the wall. This supports the main frame that consists of 14 vertical square stainless steel tubes, each holding 23 aluminium cups that in turn hold a precious bottle of red wine. The whole thing is surrounded by a thick wall of glass to keep it safe but unrestricted to the viewing eye.
In all, 322 bottles of the finest red wine can be stored on the tower and are accessed by a ladder within the enclosure.
This feature in the restaurant often serves to open up conversation between guests and staff as the diners are shown to their table.
A friend asked if I could make a wine rack for his own home. He had some chrome bars and other pieces of metal salvaged from his old gym equipment that he asked to be incorporated within the design. An ‘organic’ theme this time was desired to sit in the corner of his kitchen.
I made the frame from 25mm steel box section tubing to form an eight rung ladder effect base to work from. The chrome weight lifting bars were cut down and welded to the ladder to offer supports for the bottles and a grape stamped flat steel bar completed the surrounding frame. A further length of the flat bar and gym bars were made to reach out across the wall to the side of the main wine rack. About 100 steel vine leaves were welded to lengths of thin steel bar and weaved around each other to form the vine effect that grows from the flower pot at the side of the main frame. The vine ‘grows’ around five bottles that are filled with food colouring and dusted with powder paint to give the impression they have been there for some time – engulfed by the growth of the vine.
50 bottles can be stored on this rack (not including the five permanent vintages).
Turning a wheelchair into an all-terrain powered vehicle was a simple challenge and one that proved to be very useful. For the first attempt I used a 26 inch wheel with a built in hub motor. The motor was controlled by an electronic circuit in the small blue box atop the handlebars which connected the throttle control to the motor. The batteries sat in the square frame that connected the front wheel to the chair.
The connection was achieved by attaching a bracket to the under frame of the wheelchair which the power section slotted into. A quick release lever would then be locked to secure the two halves together. This would allow freedom outside together with the ability to quickly return to the conventional wheelchair for a root round the shops or to grab a meal somewhere.
This version served well and was just the thing for trips out with the dogs but came into its’ own for our trips to Centre Parcs. The only drawback was the size of the front wheel. As well as making it a bit on the large size for transporting in the car, the motor could not provide sufficient torque to power such a big wheel up the steeper hills. On the plus side, the large wheel did provide plenty of speed with it tripping 20mph on a roadside speed matrix.
I stuck with the above design for a few years before returning the parts to scrap and redesigning with a smaller wheel and a more powerful motor. This time, the wheel would be driven by chain with the small motor housed in a casing above the wheel. The frame slotted into the original bracket in the same way as before but as the bulky battery compartment from before proved to get in the way of the rider’s legs, the battery was now located in the black box in front of the handlebar. This also provided a bit of extra weight above the front wheel for a better grip on the road.
In this form the chair really would go anywhere and at a speed to make the brakes feel rather inadequate. A change of gearing brought the speed down a bit and provided a bit of extra torque to conquer the hills. This is one project that hasn’t been recycled… Yet!
My son bought himself a KMX recumbent trike that looked quite a lot of fun so I (being too tight to fork out for a new machine) decided to have a go at making a two wheeled version. Having collected enough bits of scrap together I started working on a design. Naturally, a little experimenting was called for. I researched on line for different designs and ideas and decided the main thing I wanted was to be as close to the ground as possible – to give a better feel for speed and so it’s not too far to fall.
The trouble with the recumbent bike is the fact your feet are towards the front and therefore presents a dilemma for the power-train. To power the rear wheel as in a conventional push bike, the chain has to be very long and has to negotiate several pulleys. The alternative is to power the front wheel but this presents the problem of the chain twisting when turning the steering.
A third option would be to pivot the frame and pedal and steer with the feet.
The third option was the one to go for. The front frame was made from some 25mm steel box section formed to encompass the wheel and chain gear with the pedals up front.
The finished article proved to be a bit of a monster and was like learning to ride a bike all over again. Whilst it was possible to master pedalling and steering with the feet it was very difficult to make quick corrective movements to catch the balance. With practice I’m sure this would be overcome but it felt like all would be OK until you had to take evasive action.
I didn’t fancy risking ending up under the wheels of a bus so I chopped the front off and rebuilt the frame in a more traditional manner. The steering now at the front with the twisting chain was much easier to master and attracted some attention on the ride through the lights event along Blackpool’s promenade.
Although this bike worked quite well, the weight of the steel frame was a bit too much to be practical so the next time I was in need of a bit of steel, the bike got the chop.