A DIY cheap bikepacking bar frame (because barbags are no longer uncool)

July 5, 2017

Bikepacking is the new awesome thing, going off-road on your bike with all your luggage, riding to places a standard touring bike would struggle, and all without racks messing up your long travel forks and centre of gravity.

But you know what isn’t awesome. The cost of bikepacking barbags. Someone has started hitting numbers on a calculator, attaching them to a drybag and before you know it, everybody is precariously dangling luggage from their bars!


Items. Total cost a couple of UK pounds.

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Making your own tandem mountain bike.

May 15, 2015

Latest creation over the cold, wet winter. A tandem mountain bike! Built mainly using spares in the basement. Interested in how I built it? No, well worse luck….

The frame is a cheap steel tandem that you can find in many a location second hand, with different branding, but the benefit of this specific frame is it is reasonably lightweight, and can take 203 discs (A must on a tandem rear brake, as you need to drag brake for long descents). It will have parts on it. They will always be really really bad.

Important Parts

The wheels are a set of Force cartridge bearing hubs. Cheap but tough enough to take a beating. They have been built on a set of Spank downhill rims with DT Swiss spokes. These are really important to get right as a buckled wheel on a tandem is no joke. Any large downhill rim will be perfect.

The bike will come with a cheap tandem chainset. It will be made from horrible steel and feel all flexy so feel free to fling it on eBay, or into the fiery depths of the sun. Whichever is more convenient. Instead I went with a 1×10 chainset with the timing chain on the spider ring. Benefits, you can use a normal chainset! You will need to flip the eccentric BB holder in the front as it probably will be reversed for the original timing chain. If you don’t do this the bottom bracket will sloooooowly loosen off!

203 discs front and rear. Tandems benefit from matching rotor sizes, as unlike normal MTBs the centre of gravity doesn’t move as much. It makes for a better ride and more predictable braking. SLX brakes with an extended rear hose provides enough stopping power.

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Maslow’s hierarchy of needs – library update

July 4, 2014

After installing the new library fibre broadband,  I found this highly accurate update to to Maslow’s hierarchy of needs.


Well almost accurate. I would consider the addition of ‘well-stocked vending machines’  to ‘survival’. It can all get a  little tense when they run out of Haribo.

Electrify your shed, solar power in the allotment. Well pumps and light!

July 29, 2013
Where most of the thinking goes on.

The now electrified shed/greenhouse

It’s that time of the year again, and the summery weather has released me from my wintry slumber, and in the mood for invention! So I recently upgraded our allotment shed with a 12v solar battery, a well pump (That pumps out of our well) , a solar panel and 12v plug and lighting.

The system consists of a 10 Watt solar panel, which is connected to a 10 Amp charge regulator (all from eBay). Cost was around 30 pounds. Together they charge three 12 volt, 7 Amp Hour ride on ride-on toy batteries, connected in parallel (Scrounged over the last few years, but not very expensive).

The batteries are charging very quickly from even this small panel, providing plenty of power for the caravan sump pump that is suspended down the well (A whale submersible 12v pump, again purchased online). The aim is to give our allotment the ability to survive without mains water. And it very almost does. We learnt very quickly that you have to pump the water into barrels every day, as the well refills daily and a hot day can use up all the well water! Four barrels seem optimal.  The barrels are attached using hose connectors, the type that you use to fix broken hoses. I drilled a hole into the top of each barrel using a hole-saw, and screwed them in. If you attach all the barrels with hose connectors they will fill up one after another. Slightly higher than all the other hose connections is the drain away, and that drains directly into the fish-pond if the barrels ever fill up completely.

15 minutes is about enough to fill one barrel, so you will want to keep an eye on it. I also discovered that the pump hardly made a dent on the battery, at least during a sunny day. We have now lighting in the shed, thanks to a 12v LED bulb all the way from China, and a caravan plug. The magic of a 12v caravan plug is that you can plug in a converter that lets you use 12v car socket devices, such as mobile phone chargers!

Have a look in the gallery, and give it a go. You don’t need to use fancy toggle switches to control everything, but I heartily recommend it!

Welcome to 12 Things Librarians….

September 18, 2012

Welcome to all the Librarians taking part in the 12 Things social media programme. Hope you are enjoying it, and you found my blog of infrequent updates and occasionally informative posts!

LED Light Tube Bicycle Light

January 17, 2012

Light Tube Bike Light

Quick creation for my bike. Light tube from Poundland, and a torch mount for rifle barrels from eBay.

I am really impressed by what a great bike light it makes. Cost around £3.50, and much brighter than most LED rear lights.

I keep a small Knog light on my bike however, just in case. It was from Poundland after all!

In other cat related news

August 12, 2011

From the ever brilliant local newspapers, came a front page I just had to share. All the local newspapers in Stafford are a great read, especially as they focus mainly on bin related news and spinechilling tales of ‘young people seen hanging around at the park’  (The park that has a modus operandi of ‘place where young people of the local area can hang out’). Never a dull moment!

But getting a whole two cat related articles on the front page of the newspaper is in my opinion a work of art, especially as one article should actually read ‘Cat may have been put in skip, or then maybe not, or perhaps it was?’ ! Sherlock Holmes would be shocked.

And its not like there isn’t any other News Going On At The Moment.

Note: To the people who lost cats, sorry to hear about that. I am fond of the furry things myself (comes with the Librarian badge I suppose), so I hope they catch the awful people responsible for killing your cats.

DIY Library Catalogue Computer

June 17, 2011
Or how to create a Library Catalogue Computer for free(ish), with whatever you have in the store cupboard, using Linux and the tame e-resources Librarian (That’s me).
The Library where I work has so far been succumbing to my evil machinations, specifically on the theme ‘Put Linux on everything that doesn’t work properly’. I have no desire to constantly fiddle with unreliable IT resources, not when I have far more productive things to do.
Our newish Linux Web server and Content Management System has been, if not a roaring success, at least a loud hurrah. And it hasn’t caused me a single significant problem since I hit the ‘online’ switch.  And it’s cheap, which is jolly good news.

Music that makes you go faster!

May 30, 2011

Yesterday I managed to knock 20 minutes off a 1.5 hour bike route I ride regularly on Cannock Chase.

The only difference was the new Track listing on my MP3 player, mainly very loud music that I wouldn’t listen to in polite company.

So in the spirit of sharing, I list the music that should now be banned, along with cheese and crisp sandwiches and hobnobs as my own personal performance enhancing drug.

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A gripping yarn, featuring my seriously old computer graphics card.

March 31, 2011

I have sitting in my computer something old enough in computer terms to be regarded as a true survivor, an Nvidia Quadro NVS 280 graphics card. It is sitting there in a rather unassuming (although slightly coquettish) manner, but I thought it really needed a bit of recognition.  Read the rest of this entry »