Having successfully fixed the VFR I could not help but notice how much my neck and back had not appreciated the time spent in the garage. Years ago, I would have thought nothing of it, but I decided it was time to get a garage workshop stand to put the bikes on when doing work on them.
There are plenty of commercially available solutions. Some are air, hydraulic or electric powered lifters and some are merely a “bench” that the bike must be wheeled up and onto. Cheap(er) versions of these lifters are available on eBay too. Compared with the US and European markets, Australia’s low population and large geographic distribution means that low-priced options available in a bricks-and-mortar shop are not available here. I am sure there is nothing wrong with the eBay specials, but I could not find a cheap lifter with a platform length that I felt was suitable for my needs.
So, I decided to see if I could build a bench for a fraction of the price. Price was always going to be the largest factor in the build. If it were too dear, I might as well spend extra on an eBay special and hope it suited – I could always cheer myself up by playing on the lifter if it didn’t… Second largest factor, is my lack of finesse when building things out of timber. It had to be easy to construct and require minimal precision with cutting. I will always remind people that I am not a mechanic – but I place my mechanical skills above that of my carpentry skills!
Building a workbench out of steel was never an option – I don’t have a welder (yet) so armed with a printout of a sketch-up model that I had made, I went to the local hardware and timber supplier to discuss my idea. He took on the challenge as I laid it out to him – made some alterations to my original plan (mainly to add strength), and we got the price down to an acceptable level. Buoyed by an unjustified level of self-confidence and enough power tools to make the job easier, I set to work!
First job was to cut the six legs to the same length. To make it easier, I made up a small jig to help me position the circular saw. A drop saw, or a table saw would have been more accurate, but as I had neither, this has to suffice.
Once cut to length, I joined the legs in pairs. To fasten the timber together, I was using long hex-headed screws . I chose to drill pilot holes, although because I was using pine, it should have been soft enough timber to not require them (according to the man at the hardware store…)
With the three pairs of legs made, I then attached the two length pieces.
Next were two additional braces to support the surface of the bench. Suffering from a bout of OCD, I really would have liked the middle legs to be braced on both sides, thus enabling symmetry between the front and rear half of the stand, but we had quite literally only enough timber for the single sided brace. So the additional braces were placed halfway between the end braces and the middle. This means that they are further apart on one end of the bench.
With the frame now complete, I added the top of the bench (thick plywood) and used a generous number of screws to hold it all together.
A longer beam then sits on top of the bench at one end, to act as a wheel stop and provide mounting points for tie-downs. (Or possibly something to swear at when I accidentally walk into it)
I also added an eyelet bolt to the end of the workbench, to allow me the option of tethering the ramp to the table.
Last but not least, I added three thick coats of polyurethane varnish to the top of the bench in order to protect it from accidental oil and water spills. Job done!
As for loading the bike, that can be done singlehandedly, aided by the fact that the RGV is light and some forethought.
I fitted the tie downs to the bench first, hanging the loose end from the roof, ensuring the hooks were at approximately the right height to attach to the bike on the stand. Next step was to put the tie down loops around each handlebar of the bike. I fitted the ramp with the safety strap and most importantly moved the other bikes out of harms way in case it all went pear-shaped.
With these preparations in place, the rest was easy!
- Roll the bike into the stand until the front wheel his the stop.
- Hold the bike with one hand and hook the two tie down hooks to the straps.
- Take the slack out of each tie down, so the bike can’t fall over.
I then put the bike on the paddock stand and removed the tie downs, but that largely depends on what work you are going to do on the bike.
So, what am I doing? Well that’s a story for another time…