Tighten those spokes!

We finished crimping in the spokes for our wheels.  Over 196 spokes to make and then mount into the 4 wheels.  Luckily we won’t have to do that again.

We bought an old golf cart that we hope to use for steering and suspension parts.  I threw all of the plastic away and removed the unnecessary metal until I had it down to just a bare tube frame with wheels.  Golf carts have a very similar wheel bolt hole pattern as our older model Prius wheels.  Prius wheels are 4 x 100mm and golf carts are 4 x 4″ (101.6mm).  That slight difference isn’t enough cause us a problem at our low speeds.  I didn’t plan this out originally, but I’m not going to look a gift horse in the mouth!  Now we can use golf cart parts on our art bike!

We used the rear hubs of the golf cart to mount the wheels for our spoke tightening/truing.  We could spin the wheel and eyeball the alignment to make sure we’re keeping the outer rim concentric to the hub.  Aaron and Tyler tightened all of our spokes down and the wheels are suddenly very strong and impressive.  They even bounce a little bit, as if they’re pneumatic.

Don't they look purty!

The result is 4 beautiful wheels.

So far I’m about $600 into the project.  The plastic culverts were donated, as were the damaged prius wheels.  I got the golf cart and a riding lawnmower transmission for a little over $200.  The rest of the money went towards crimp stoppers, thimbles, aircraft cable and eye-bolts.   So far so good.

The next thing I’m focusing on is designing the drivetrain.  There are many considerations to worry about: cost, weight, ergonomics, how to install/maintain, robustness, and sourcing of components.  I’ve been talking to Scotty C and another fellow he introduced me to online.  They’ve got some great ideas, and I suddenly think this is actually possible!

From mowing lawns to gourmet meals, what a life it's lead!

The riding lawnmower transmission that we’re going to try to utilize is an interesting piece of hardware.  We opened it up to see how things looked inside.  Everything seemed functioning and well lubricated.  I think it will work just fine.  Inside of the transmission are 5 forward gears and a reverse.  I wish I had taken a picture of the innards of the transmission, but my hands were filthy with grease and I didn’t want to grab my camera.  The output is through a differential, so this will make turning the banquet table much easier.  The shafts are 3/4″ and it’s got tons of places to bolt it in.  The whole contraption weighs about 25 lbs.  I only need to count the revolutions of the shafts to determine the gear ratios.  The part has a number on it, but a search for Spicer 4360-68 didn’t arrive any any good technical information.  Spicer apparently doesn’t like DIYers working on their transmissions.  I’ll show them!