Tag Archives: building

I must be getting old

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!

Leg length cutting jig

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.

Three pairs of legs

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.

Workbench taking shape

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.

Workbench with additional bracing

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)

Just needs painting

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!

  1. Roll the bike into the stand until the front wheel his the stop.
  2. Hold the bike with one hand and hook the two tie down hooks to the straps.
  3. 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…

The Trailing Edge

It does not sound as exciting as “the leading edge” does it?  I have been inspired for some time to build a PC.  I do not think it will give me an intimate understanding of how a computer works. I do not think that it will make me a better programmer.  I am not predicting a career change from software to hardware.  It just seemed like a fun undertaking.  Put that down to lots of formative years spent building Lego and a genuine interest in computing.

Whenever I have purchased a PC in the past, I have spent a fair amount of time researching and deciding what parts went into it.  I blame my programming career for making me want the best equipment that I could afford.  As a result, MTBNPC (Mean time between new PCs) tends to be fairly long. 

As technology changes quickly, this means my home computers tend to be as long in the tooth as a sabre-tooth tiger.  (And almost as current)  Because they started out close to the leading edge, they do tend to age fairly gracefully, but in the end they are old and far below the spec of anything you could get off the “bottom end” shelf by the time I replace it. 

My parents recently had a PC failure.  Their current machine has had a myriad of issues. (Probably around 3 and 4 – but as it rarely gets used for more than hour or two a day, that seems quite a lot!) As I live about an hour away, most of the times it fails, they simply take it to their local computer place to get it fixed.  From their dealings with the shop, it appears the shop staff are competent and parts are reasonably priced.  If you lived in the area that my parents do, I would have no drama in recommending them. (Apart from the fact I don’t know the shop’s name!) 

This time though, I have volunteered to fix it for them.  Given that they run Windows XP, and an old version of Office, they aren’t exactly in need of a high performance system.  As a result, the replacement parts I have chosen are at the “bargain basement” end of the spectrum.  Exact specifications and prices do not date well, so if you discover this blog in twelve months time know that the components I have chosen represent the cheapest, what I consider to be decent quality, parts my favourite shop currently sells.  A generic 500W power supply, 2GB RAM, 2.6GHz AMD Dual core processor and Gigabyte motherboard (with on-board graphics card) for under $260 AUD.  Those stats won’t make any PC-gamer excited, but unless you are running something as “hard-core” as games do you really need any more? 

I have never been much of a PC gamer.  I can seriously appreciate the talent and skill that goes into games programming, but my other hobbies and family life are such that the time I have left over for such pursuits is somewhat limited.  Given that a bit more RAM would probably see the PC comfortably run any developer environment I choose it has dawned on me that “the trailing edge” is really where I should be aiming my next home PC.