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Our friend Ann Rappaport has been at it again…some of our readers marveled at her homemade kitty-litter bucket panniers, but that’s nothing compared to this incredible feat of DIY engineering! She was gracious enough to document the process in words and photos for us. Here it is:

The rack

Front Rack Supplies and Construction:

-Metal shelf supports/rods that are a squared off U shape:
Four @ 3 foot
One @ 4 foot
-Electrical Conduit Hangers
Two @ ¾?
-U bolts, threaded at each end and have the flat metal piece that runs between along with the two nuts
Two @ the size to fit your bikes front forks
-Clear aquarium tubing (One foot is more than enough)
-Metal Screws — I used 20 total, but the lengths may vary; buy a few extra of each size
10 @ 3/16?x3/4? long
6 @ 3/16?x 1? long
4 @ 3/16?x1 1/4? long
-Lock Nuts
20 @ 10-24
-Lock Washers
20 @ to fit screws
-Screws to fit your bikes predrilled holes on the bottom of the bikes front forks
Two

Tools:
-safety glasses
-Drill
-Metal drill bits
-Screwdrivers
-Hack Saw
-Metal File
-Pliers

Points of Importance:

1. These shelf rods have an “up? end. Always measure from that “up? end. This allows you to make use of many of the predrilled holes. To check this, measure the distance between the holes before starting. Mine were 12? apart from “up? end going down, but different when starting from the other end.

2. There are slots cut into these rods to put the shelf support into. When cutting place your blade at end of the slot but not any closer to solid metal between each of the slots (some of the predrilled holes are in this solid metal area as well). If you cut “too short? you will need to improvise.

2. Don’t use a drill in one of these pre-cut slots; use a hammer and a punch instead. The drill will grab and get caught. Once a large hole is punched you can enlarge it with the drill.

3. Very important to mark first, then cut/drill each rod piece after you have held it up to the portion of the uncompleted rack that is attached to your bike. Mark all drill holes this way, cut off waste end/extra rod length this way.

4. File every cut [of the rod] as you make them.

5. Verify before you get all those screws, lock nuts and washers that 3/16? is the correct size for your brand of shelf rod.

The Shelf Rods:

The 3′ lengths will each be used for one 12.5 ? piece and one 23.5? piece. From the resulting four 12.5? pieces you make the rack frame (the square). From the remaining 23.5″ pieces you make the uprights that support the rack from below at the fork as well as the ones that connect to the handle bars and the back of the rack.

The 4′ length will be used for two 12.5? pieces which bolt on the rack’s center. Also the uprights from the fork attach to them. The remaining length, under 2′, is used for the various braces.

Order of Construction:

Use these instructions as a guide. They worked for my bike. Your bike is different; it may need a different sequence of steps. I put lock washers on every time I used a screw. You have to assemble, then attach the rack while building it in order to mark where the cut or drill hole should be on the next piece [to be worked on]. Then take parts off/apart so you can cut and drill. It was the only way to ensure correct placement of cuts and/or drill holes. Note on the pictures which side of the shelf rod faces out. I made mine so that the finished side was out and all lock nuts are inside the shelf rod itself.

1. Make the flat surface of the rack; mine is 12?x12?

platform

2. Using a predrilled hole, if available, attach each upright to the bottom of the fork in the existing holes.

struts

3. Place the next two 12.5? lengths onto the rack frame while holding it in position so that you can mark where you need to drill the screw holes both in the uprights and the two 12.5″ lengths.

supports

You will need another person to help with this step. The two 12.5″ lengths will each have 3 holes marked (one at each end and one in the approx. center); the two uprights will each have one hole marked. You will continue with this approach to marking, then drilling or cutting.

4. After drilling these 8 holes, screw the two 12.5? pieces to the frame and then screw the frame to the uprights. The four pieces that are parallel to one another on the flat surface of the frame should all be either on the top of the other two perpendicular ones or all under. I put them on top.

parallel

5. Mark where you will cut the extra length of upright off — the mark/cut should be on an angle so it lays flush to the bar it is joined to.

flush cut

6. Make the uprights that hang from the handlebars. I cut and bent the end to allow the two surfaces to meet better.

handlebar uprights

Measure and cut the other end for the conduit hangers. I did not have any shelf rod extend above the handlebar. This is contrary to any of these types of racks I’ve seen.

conduit hangers

7. Measure and cut the cross brace at the top of the lower uprights (just under the rack but over the tire).

8. Do the same for the cross brace on the uprights attached to the handlebars.

9. Use clear mineral oil to help the tubing slide onto the large U bolts. Cut it so that it does not extend onto the threads. Hold a piece of shelf rod near so that you can mark the location of the drill holes and cuts. Put the metal cross piece that came with the U bolts against the fork; I put the label touching the fork/paint.

u bolt

Notes:
The many slots have been great for attaching those small bungee cords. It wouldn’t be hard to engineer a way to attach panniers under the rack. The benefit of this being just a platform is that you can attach whatever is needed and are not limited to one thing such as a basket.

We’d like to thank Ann for sharing this with us, and we can’t wait for the next incredible project to come…this lady’s got SERIOUS DIY skills!