Building a Bike Rack from Scrap

By: Ashley Leach
24 August 2011

By Ryan Markuson

Being in the A&E field for 10 years has taught me a lot about how things go together, from initial concept/idea to the finished product.  Usually I have someone telling me their vision of what a project should look like and how it should work but on this project I had full control over the design and construction.  It was up to me to make it hold up a bike and it was up to me on how well it would be received by others.

I first thought that welding a bike rack out of recycled metal materials would be kind of cool and it would also give me insight into how using recycled materials in the A&E world works.  It seemed simple enough, so I started hitting garage sales, pawn shops, recycling centers. But I soon found out that none of the pieces I gathered were the perfect shape or the right size.  In order to weld these pieces, I knew that I would have to spend hours grinding and brushing them to get the rust and paint off.

Once I cleaned the metal pieces it was time to weld them to the frame I created. I started by propping the bike up so it was perfectly straight and I could get my metal piece perfectly in position to tack weld it. Well, easier said than done because the bike wanted to lean if I touched it thus moving my metal piece out of alignment. My welding helmet was not an auto shade so I had to flip it down the old fashion way which was clumsy and I had to worry about melting the bike tire (I used my wife’s bike just in case I had an accident with the heat 😉 don’t tell her).   Just when I thought I had this process down and was comfortable with tire spacing it dawned on me that not all tires are the same size in width and height. This was not a bad thing because if one tire didn’t fit in one space it could possibly move to another space that was more its size.

I created the chain link structure on that premise that it didn’t have to be perfect, just functional, I would let the fact that a chain welded vertically up with a hook on the end to support the tire speak for itself.  Even if it didn’t work people would get a kick out of it, luckily it did work.

The Bike rack was coming along slowly, I still had a ton to do and I was thinking to myself it was ridiculous how much time I had into this.  My wife was wondering if I was just drinking beer in the garage. “Making things with junk is harder than it looks,” I told her.

I thought to myself, “WOW, is this what the contactors have to put up with when we call out recycled/reusable stuff?”  Do they cuss us and throw their tools when the piece they are trying make work, doesn’t?  Do they have all the problems that I am having?  I guess that’s why they are the contractors and we are the designers.

In conclusion, I found that using materials for something other than what they were intended for is very time consuming.  But with creativity, patience and a little encouragement from others it can be done. This write up may sound like I hated the project but it was no different than anything else we do every day in this A&E world. As long as you just stick to your guns, do what you think is right, take pride in what you do and give it your best the final product will speak for itself and be worth all that hard work you did to get it there.

If an office or private party would like more information on how they can get one of these bike racks made please give me a call I would be happy to go over it with you.  I think I am up for the challenge.

Material List:

  • Tube Steel Frame: $10 at garage sale.
  • Tube Steel Stock: $50 Lowes
  • Clydesdale Horse Shoes: $13 Phillipsburg Pawn Shop
  • Bolts, Hinge and Misc. Scraps: $10 Home Resource
  • Paint: $15 Lowes
  • Chain Link: Donation from Ezra Williams
  • Bike Parts: Donation from Brent Hecker
  • Shocks: Donation Ron McLean
  • Hours: +/- 40

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