The building of wheels

Bikes, trikes, personal mobility and getting to/from the event - this is the place to discuss general transportation issues.
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The building of wheels

Post by melodiousdirge » Tue Sep 15, 2015 1:52 pm

One thing I've always been kind of awed by is the number of different kinds of wheels I see out on the playa. People come up with ways to make wheels that if you would have told me about, I'd never think would work, but you lovely motherfuckers come up with some incredible handiwork and I'm duly impressed. So now I wanna make some of my own and I'd really love some input!

I want to build a new trike - so all the other mechanics aside (I think I can figure that stuff out), I'd really love some ideas on how to make my wheels. I was going to go with three of the 100mm wide wheels from the fat tire mongoose bikes, but it turns out I'd need to rebuild both the rear wheels with trike hubs anyway, so in that case, I might as well make them exactly what I want them to be, right?

What I kind of envisioned at first was taking the rim off one of those fat tire wheels and making 5-spoke wheels with some aluminum tubing as spokes, solidly mounting the center hub and then doing a finish machining on the hub after it was mounted to make sure it was perfectly true. The problem is a lot of those wide rims have cutouts for weight saving and/or holes for laced spokes, and I don't know if those cutouts would make the rim too weak to support itself with only 5 main spokes. It also doesn't leave much meat for welding on the tubular spokes where I need them. Would really love any suggestions or thoughts anyone has on this front.

Also with the 100mm/4" wide wheels, with the $40 tire tubes that go with them, I was really hoping I could come up with a way to do a foam core. I don't think I've ever seen a 4" foam core for those fat tires. A pool noodle would be almost perfect but I don't think it would be dense/hard enough. There could be a way to use expanding polyurethane foam to do it, but this sounds like a whole hell of a lot of trouble that "might work". Anyone got any thoughts?

I looked on mcmaster at trailer wheels and tires, and I considered using lightweight aluminum space saver spare tires from an RX7 or something, but even a lightweight spare is like 40lbs, and is a little smaller on the diameter than I'd like. They have some foam core barrow wheels and the like, but nothing with a 26" OD, and nothing sufficiently lightweight. I even considered making a jig, buying some aluminum stock, and making the whole wheel from scratch, but it would be pretty dubious whether I could get the right kind of channel to hold a tire nicely, which would leave me with screwing a tire to the rim or somesuch - I wouldn't rule it out, but it really would be nice to use something that's factory formed to hold a tire.

Motorcycle wheels are another option I looked at. A large diameter offroad spoked motorbike wheel might just be what the doctor ordered, but now we're talking well over $100 per wheel once I get tires on them. Still an option, but it's not my favorite option. I'd still need to come up with a way to get a trike hub threaded in there, which wouldn't work with motorbike spokes, which would lead me back to welding in 5 spokes or something... I need to do more looking here, but it seems like the cost & hassle ratio is high on this one.

Shit I even considered plywood wheels with foam + tire glued in place, but talk about ghetto. I want my shit fancy yo! Along this vein I thought it would be cool to make them out of balsa wood and then impregnate with casting resin and reinforce with glass cloth, but you know what, I really fucking hate sanding fiberglass, and I know myself - I know I'd want to make these things nice, and smooth and sexy, and I'd hate myself for it by the time they were done.

Who has ideas to add!?
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Re: The building of wheels

Post by A-RockLeFrench » Tue Sep 15, 2015 2:05 pm

I came across this badass wheel tutorial while researching flame effects last week...

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Re: The building of wheels

Post by melodiousdirge » Tue Sep 15, 2015 2:13 pm

Hell yeah! I spent about 20 minutes talking to the guy who made that trike out there this year. I think - that looks like the thing that was a big silver bird, and I couldn't believe he'd made that shit work. Thanks for the link - that's awesome!
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Re: The building of wheels

Post by melodiousdirge » Wed Sep 16, 2015 9:56 am

Hey does anyone know if the wheels that come on those walmart mongoose fat tire bikes are steel, or aluminum? They appear to be solid without cutouts (only spoke holes). If they are aluminum I think they might just be the perfect starting point. I've seen a couple of those bikes around used for pretty cheap. Would have the side benefit of getting the frame and forks already sized to accomodate them.
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Re: The building of wheels

Post by FIGJAM » Wed Sep 16, 2015 10:45 am

I would look on CL for motorcycle tires and wheels first.

Some shops have piles of them.

You might find some very cheap ones to do research on.
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Re: The building of wheels

Post by Elliot » Wed Sep 16, 2015 1:02 pm

.
My Mongoose Beast (Walmart) has aluminum rims without cutouts.

Kinetic Sculpture Racers use polyethylene foam as tires on sand and other loose surfaces. (They call it something like etha-foam, or effen'-foam. :wink: ) It might last a week on Playa, but then again it might not. Be sure you get fresh etha-foam, as it deteriorates with age and sunlight.

That badass tutorial originates from the Arcata Kinetic Lab, where Scotty is a member. One of the principals of that lab is Duane Flatmo, creator of El Pulpo Mecanico. These folks have built a considerable number of such wheels, both for Kinetic Sculpture Racing and for BM and other venues. Also, an assortment of aluminum bodies -- ducks, dragons and whatnot. Good people to learn from, indeed.

Something that surprises a lot of people is that spokes can be made of utterly flexible material like cable. They work in tension only.
...Unless you use very few spokes, in which case the spokes need to be strong in compression also. What you have in that case is essentially not a spoked wheel but a solid wheel with big lightening holes, like a car wheel.

Yes, wheels can be made from almost anything round. The giant red trike in my sig-line had wheels made from satellite dishes. The front wheel is eight feet tall.

Keep in mind that the taller the wheel, the better it will roll over rough ground. So you might not want to plan a vehicle around wheel-barrow wheels.

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Re: The building of wheels

Post by melodiousdirge » Wed Sep 16, 2015 1:46 pm

Elliot wrote: My Mongoose Beast (Walmart) has aluminum rims without cutouts.

Excellent! I'm bidding on a couple right now. I really am kicking myself for not trolling the bike dropoffs on the way out of the burn this year. I'm pretty sure there would have been some fat tire jobs in there that could've been had for cheap or trade!
Elliot wrote:Kinetic Sculpture Racers use polyethylene foam as tires on sand and other loose surfaces. (They call it something like etha-foam, or effen'-foam. :wink: ) It might last a week on Playa, but then again it might not. Be sure you get fresh etha-foam, as it deteriorates with age and sunlight.


I will have to look into that a bit. I really like the foam core idea because... well who likes flats? What I'd really like to do is use a polyfoam wheel with a rubber tire over top of it though to prevent it getting shredded, along with the other issues you mention.
Elliot wrote:The giant red trike in my sig-line had wheels made from satellite dishes. The front wheel is eight feet tall.


Very nice. I just need to get my personal cargo container transport to the playa sorted out before I go there ;)
Elliot wrote:Keep in mind that the taller the wheel, the better it will roll over rough ground. So you might not want to plan a vehicle around wheel-barrow wheels.
Thanks for the input! Yes, I have been tempted by some of the trailer and barrow type wheels available on mcmaster just for simplicity, but I wanted at least a 26" OD for the ease of rolling. Part of the point of the trike I want to build is to cruise easily over dunes, bumps, and hippies alike.
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Re: The building of wheels

Post by melodiousdirge » Thu Sep 17, 2015 7:54 am

In other news, searching Reno craigslist I see several dickheads offering to buy used fat tire bikes for $100, and the same dickheads offering to rent them out specifically for burning man for $150. For a bike. For a week.

Wherever you build something great, vultures will gather.
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Re: The building of wheels

Post by EspressoDude » Thu Sep 17, 2015 9:08 am

melodiousdirge wrote:. Part of the point of the trike I want to build is to cruise easily over dunes, bumps, and hippies alike.

cruising over hippies requires bicycle tire diameter at least the hippie's waist size
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Re: The building of wheels

Post by A-RockLeFrench » Thu Sep 17, 2015 9:24 am

Elliot wrote:.


Something that surprises a lot of people is that spokes can be made of utterly flexible material like cable. They work in tension only.
I love this. My mind blew when I learned that the hub actually hangs from the rim.

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Re: The building of wheels

Post by melodiousdirge » Thu Sep 17, 2015 9:41 am

EspressoDude wrote:cruising over hippies requires bicycle tire diameter at least the hippie's waist size
That's great to know - being an Engineer, rules of thumb are like gold in my world.

Good thing there aren't all that many fat hippies. In fact I think the biggest one I know is one of my best friends and his waist can't be more than 40"... that's a bit bigger than I was thinking though... does the rule change if I limit it to sleeping hippies? It seems like maybe as long as the wheel radius was equal to or greater than the waist diameter I ought to be able to get over.
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Re: The building of wheels

Post by melodiousdirge » Thu Sep 17, 2015 9:42 am

A-RockLeFrench wrote:I love this. My mind blew when I learned that the hub actually hangs from the rim.
Tensegrity bitches! Engineering is awesome.
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Re: The building of wheels

Post by Elliot » Thu Sep 17, 2015 9:44 am

I was about to point out radius rather than diameter.

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Re: The building of wheels

Post by ygmir » Thu Sep 17, 2015 9:46 am

melodiousdirge wrote:
EspressoDude wrote:cruising over hippies requires bicycle tire diameter at least the hippie's waist size
That's great to know - being an Engineer, rules of thumb are like gold in my world.

Good thing there aren't all that many fat hippies. In fact I think the biggest one I know is one of my best friends and his waist can't be more than 40"... that's a bit bigger than I was thinking though... does the rule change if I limit it to sleeping hippies? It seems like maybe as long as the wheel radius was equal to or greater than the waist diameter I ought to be able to get over.
also consider the diameter is not half the circumference, and if you hit the soft belly area, it will squish to an acceptable spine thickness.
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Re: The building of wheels

Post by melodiousdirge » Thu Sep 17, 2015 9:57 am

ygmir wrote:if you hit the soft belly area, it will squish to an acceptable spine thickness.
It seems like we need to factor in the width of the wheel here too, because the magnitude of squish will be inversely proportional to the width of the tire, but then maybe that will be cancelled out by the reduced friction due to the reduced squish-grab.

I'm also planning to gut a 25w megaphone (which is already too loud) and beef it up to 35-50 watts, and replace the referee whistle sound byte with a clownish "PHRT-PRHT" sound byte to serve as my horn, so I anticipate a minimum of patchouli anointed speed bumps. Nonetheless I like to be prepared ;)
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Re: The building of wheels

Post by melodiousdirge » Thu Sep 17, 2015 10:18 am

Hey check it out! As soon as I found this I realized I already had it bookmarked (I'm a bookmark whore... I've collected hundreds of burn related bullshit I have never read, but anyway_ This guy has done almost exactly what I want to do, only he used a steel car rim, and I want to use an aluminum 100mm bicycle rim:

http://www.instructables.com/id/Making- ... hem-to-ca/
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Re: The building of wheels

Post by EspressoDude » Fri Sep 18, 2015 7:03 am

ygmir wrote:
melodiousdirge wrote:
EspressoDude wrote:cruising over hippies requires bicycle tire diameter at least the hippie's waist size
That's great to know - being an Engineer, rules of thumb are like gold in my world.

Good thing there aren't all that many fat hippies. In fact I think the biggest one I know is one of my best friends and his waist can't be more than 40"... that's a bit bigger than I was thinking though... does the rule change if I limit it to sleeping hippies? It seems like maybe as long as the wheel radius was equal to or greater than the waist diameter I ought to be able to get over.
also consider the diameter is not half the circumference, and if you hit the soft belly area, it will squish to an acceptable spine thickness.
depends on whether the sleeping hippies is on their side or back, I guess.
the logic was, using a 40 inch waist example, that the average diameter would be about 40/pi or 13". a 40" diameter tire 'could' roll over a 13" diameter hippie
or a skinny waist 32 would be maybe 8" thick and 14 wide. If hippie was staring at the sky.. 32" tire, 8 " bump, possible
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Re: The building of wheels

Post by melodiousdirge » Fri Sep 18, 2015 8:26 am

EspressoDude wrote:depends on whether the sleeping hippies is on their side or back, I guess.
the logic was, using a 40 inch waist example, that the average diameter would be about 40/pi or 13". a 40" diameter tire 'could' roll over a 13" diameter hippie
or a skinny waist 32 would be maybe 8" thick and 14 wide. If hippie was staring at the sky.. 32" tire, 8 " bump, possible
I really can't tell you how much joy it brings me that this discussion is still underway in such thorough and reasoned terms.

I think it's fair to say a hippie with a 40" waist is a rare occurrence. I'm willing to consider that an outlier, considering that vegan diets and living in westfalia vans tends to favor a slight physique. A 30" waist is probably fairly healthy for your average playa hippy, so if I use a 26" rim with a 4" tire, I should be in OK shape. If I happen to blunder into jabba the sage burning monster, well I won't go right over probably, but if I get high centered, I'll use it as a photo op and empirical evidence to further develop and/or support this wheel size to hippy trodding capability rule of thumb.

"Whoa sorry dudebrosef, you were just laying there in the dark. As long as I have you trapped with a chainring on your neck and dreads wrapped up in my spokes though, what's your waist size? Asking in pursuit of higher truth."
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Re: The building of wheels

Post by melodiousdirge » Fri Sep 18, 2015 9:05 am

Off Topic Tangent... topic adjacent thought: I won an auction for like $200 for a special edition huffy fat tire bike on ebay. These are selling at Target (and target only) for $349, and the auction I won was for a sold out Darth Vader edition. I was pumped, but then things got weird. The seller told me the brakes and gears (really, both?) didn't work and so the item isn't available anymore (obvious bs), so I started poking around his eBay profile. Had only been on eBay a couple months, no feedback, blah blah blah. Great, so I got screwed here I'm thinking, and I already paid. I'll get my money back from eBay buyer protection eventually, but I was really stoked about this bike, and I'd really like this guy to honor the deal. So I'm poking around PayPal trying to figure out how to open a dispute to get it on the books right now, and I notice his PayPal account is an @target.com email address, with a real name on it. So either this guy is clever and stole a co-workers online identity to use for scamming, or he's really dumb and used his own. There is also only one target in the city where the item location was, so I know which store he works at.

So the most likely theory to me, is that he thought he could sell the bike for way more than $349 (corroborated by the fact that he had the buy it now price set at $800) and because he works at target, he had access to set one or two aside for his own little side game. The second theory is that he was planning to just steal the bikes and sell them out the back door. Either way, I'm quite certain that's something he wouldn't want his manager to know about. I even found this guy on facebook and on spokeo. I guess the third theory is that one of his co-workers hijacked this email address and is running the scheme in his name without his knowledge, which would make me a pretty supreme dick if I reported it and he got in trouble and lost his job. On the other hand even if it's a hijacked email address, whoever IS running this ill conceived plot probably doesn't want their manager and the Target loss department asking questions.

Anyway /rant. Will see if I actually get this thing.
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Re: The building of wheels

Post by melodiousdirge » Fri Sep 18, 2015 9:13 am

Oooo update. As soon as I told him I knew which store he worked at and what his real name was he promised to ship the bike tonight. I remain skeptical but there is a glimmer of hope. Unfortunately (fortunately?) I also ordered the storm trooper edition from target last night because I was pretty sure I wasn't going to get this darth vader edition. Am I going to be the proud owner of matching limited edition star wars memorabilia?

I kind of hope not... that's really not my thing, but it would be funny if they ended up actually being worth something.
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Re: The building of wheels

Post by Elliot » Fri Sep 18, 2015 9:33 am

About ten years ago I found a pair of bicycles in a thrift store: Matching -- yes, same color -- his & hers Schwinn Collegiate, made in Chicago, in excellent condition except for the tires. They wanted something like twenty bucks for each. But I didn't have any actual use for them. I have been kicking myself ever since.

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Re: The building of wheels

Post by melodiousdirge » Fri Sep 18, 2015 9:43 am

Elliot wrote:About ten years ago I found a pair of bicycles in a thrift store: Matching -- yes, same color -- his & hers Schwinn Collegiate, made in Chicago, in excellent condition except for the tires. They wanted something like twenty bucks for each. But I didn't have any actual use for them. I have been kicking myself ever since.
I've really never been the type to get into memorabilia collections... but it's one of those things when you get a matching set of limited edition [ANYTHING] you automatically feel like "well shit, I can't actually USE this..."

Apparently these were introduced on Sept 4 and the Darth Vader edition sold out almost immediately (which makes it understandable why this guy was trying to hawk them on eBay for $800). I'm now getting a sob story about how he's just trying to make a few extra bucks. Sorry dude, that sucks, but if you're going to run a shady side business out the back door of your job, you should at least learn how to set a reserve price on an auction.
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