Friday 24 January 2014

And now for something completely different - a custom beach cruiser build

Yup, like most everyone we love a ride on a kool bicycle. Gone for now are the loud motorcycles, and flat out mountain bikes for scaring yourself off road. These days, much like paddling, we're content to slow down and enjoy the ride. My first foray into the world of the ultra comfortable, sprung saddle and fat tired bike was this green Haro Railer XS. Not a cheap bike, all aluminum and tig welded, with gold anodized rims, stem and crank you either love it or hate it. Lots of people give it a thumbs up. 

Patterned off of the balloon tired bikes of the 30s, 40s and 50s, the frame is styled similarly but the components are a mix of bmx, dirt jumper, mountain bike and cruiser. 

Haro made a few versions, this one unfortuately besides being accented in pink, is a single speed, and that just doesnt work for any kind of hills although its fine at the beach.

Styling runs all over with these, from mild to wild. An internet search for 'custom beach cruiser' will display just how far and in how many directions they can be built.

Key to moving them around are the newer internal hubs from companies like Shimano. Improvements on the old English Sturmey Archers, they are updated and shift flawlessly. The Railer has the one on the right, with a drum/band brake. Not as confidence inspiring, as its the only brake you tend to think of contingencies on fast downhills when getting ready to stop. The model on the left has the more robust coaster brake. 

Shifting gear for the Nexus hubs, 3 position twist grip and actuator

A great looking retro styled model from Nirve

Another awesome variation

Enter our subject bike, found on Kijiji for a song. Aluminum framed, quality build from long time Canadian company Norco, it will provide frame, wheels, 3spd hub and forks. 

Not a real looker, but it does have some nice inserts we will use later for the theme we are going for. PeeWee Herman bars will have to go...

Wheels - can'd decide if we will go back with whitewalls or some other combination of blackwall or stripe. 

Knocked down in 1/ 2 hour, we have plans for the plain paint finish

Headbadge and decals have to go, along with all bearing cups and races before the blaster

Off to the next step, bye bye green. Wonder whoever thought pink stickers would look good on forest green.

Powdercoated inserts

Forks, also flat black and powdercoated

Even did the stem to the insertion point. Powdercoating adds thickness when it bakes on to form a film, so threads must be plugged and/or parts protected where clearances would be lost, such as the quill stem inserted into the fork tube.

Gloss Burgundy frame, flash does not display true colour which is darker

Closer to true colour, no flash

Front end, inserts, and bars will all be flat black

Time for reassembly. Stay tuned for the theme, as it gets ready for presentation to its new owner
Headset races back in 

Headset assembled, new vbrakes on. Candy red low rise bars on order along with new whitewalls. Next up are wheels, then the crank , chain seat and lets go riding....
Frame inserts need to be put back in and custom graphics applied

Progress! ignore the fingerprints on the flat black, assembly makes greasy hands. 
Big difference from the original, again below for contrast. 

Progress! Red anodized downhill bars arrived, along with new whitewalls

Nice and wide, and moderate rise. Way better than '50s PeeWee Herman pullbacks

Couldnt resist a quick mock up with the old wheels and tires

Now on to cranks, wheels, seat and controls and to wait for spring...

Had to put a coloured chain on it - cranks shined up, final assembly not far off.

Almost done, black post and clamp and cruiser seat, ready for graphics and shifter/cable assembly and final tuning

Custom all the way, will be a great summer cruiser and there wont be another one like it. On to its new owner soon, once the vinyl graphics are done.

Finished, just waiting for the graphics. 

Mechanically completed and tuned, ready to ride.

Still cold out, but feels like spring. Too much salt on the roads for a run though...

Long way from the pile of parts we started with, and now a one of a kind cruiser. Spring cant come fast enough, so we can move this on to its unsuspecting new owner. 

Looking good in the sun

Next to my factory stock Haro cruiser. I like my build better....

Sunday 12 January 2014

Evolution of trailering canoes

Putting canoes on the roof sucks almost as much as trying to cram too much gear into the vehicle. Not wanting to drive a pickup, we have had a box trailer for years. It handles everything from mulch for yardwork, to spring cleanouts and purchases too big to fit in the van.
Trouble is, its a less than ideal canoe hauler.

Its picked up its share, but its awkward and since it tilts it moves around a lot. Plus its stiffly sprung and marks up wood gunwales, since its hard to get padding to stay in place.

Enter the ultimate hauler. 4 boats, no matter how heavy, and a huge box so you take way more than you would ever need. But for car camping, it cant be beat since you can bring half a cord of firewood! Note the full size bbq in the back on the right.

It was one sexy trailer, for sure. 

Trouble was, it was overkill for just one boat during those times you would retrieve a new find. Fully laden, it strained smaller vehicles too. 

Happy times, picking up boats from Camp Keewaydin in Temagami. With a bombproof trailer like this, miles of washboard road cause no concern.

Enter the perfect blend. The box trailer and canoe hauler were sold for this beauty. Built like a tank with big wheels and hubs, its got a drop gate, fixed box for heavy loads when used as a utility trailer when the removable racks are off.
Racks go on, waterproof cover over gear and its expedition ready, for the roughest roads. Additional racks will allow for 4 boats. After we extend the tongue, it will be the perfect trailer for all purposes. 

After some sanding and wire wheeling, and paint to match the van we'll be ready for whatever trips we take this spring. 

Gotta be a hammertone paint, looks great and conceals surface imperfections like rust dimples

Maybe a little more silver that black. 

Rare find , rarer still in Canada - A St Louis Canoe Company Meramac model

This fall an unusual canoe was found north of cottage country, and found its way to us. Characterized by decks that are full width up front, and inlet on the back half to accept the inner rails, it was clearly a canoe made in the early part of the last century in St Louis, Missouri. Although nothing is known of its provenance except where it was collected, we would speculate that as it was in a small community north of cottage country, approx 3 hours north of Toronto, it is possible and probable that it was first brought to Canada in the 1920s or 30s by an American cottager around Muskoka.  With significant tarrifs on US boats during this time period, there was no importer nor dealer network. As such, American boats of this period are rare.  We were pleased to acquire it, and have since moved it on to a new owner.  Below are some of its characteristics.

How many canoes has the roof of the van seen? Number is always climbing!

Characteristic Arrowhead decks. Makes the end of the canoe stem/gunwale joint, a usual weak spot, much stronger. Carry thwarts, again more typical of American craft.

Remnants of stain, making for a nice dark interior

Half ribs, a distinctly American feature

Very nice lines, this model a 17 footer

Still in original canvas

Much nicer lines than a modern stripper canoe

Nice sheer and upturn in the ends

A great find, although needing a complete restoration and over a dozen ribs and planking, this old girl was in her original canvas, with the extra cost options of half ribs and outside stems. 
We enjoy discovering new (old) canoes and boats, if you have or know of one for sale we would appreciate hearing from you. A lot of these old boats deserve to get back on the water, and to have their history perserved.