Thursday, October 29, 2015

Show and Tell

Check it out, I made a floor pump! 
9 pounds of scrap wood
and used plumbing pipe

It's not like I needed another one, I think I already have 6. A nice Silca my wife gave me years ago that I keep in the basement with my bikes and tools, a Blackburn and a Specialized on the back porch(one set up Schreader, the other Presta), another identical Blackburn in the attic(I got tired of carrying one up the ladder every time I wanted to ride the bikes I have up there, so now keep one there sort of permanant-like) and another one or two out with loaner bikes. So no, I didn't really need another one, and if I did I could have just gone to the bike shop and spent $30 on a nice one.

Well, that's probably untrue, I really couldn't have just gone and bought one, I have the money, I'm employed and all that, but buying a pump isn't something I've ever done or am ever likely to do. Other people do though. People who then dispose of the last one with the broken chuck or the loose barrel that wont seal any longer. People who's trash I pick through when I go to their houses to meet them for rides. I've never had a new one except that gift from my Sweety, just repaired whatever ones turned up in the skip and used them.

Pumps are really simple, once you've had a couple apart you will cease to find them very mysterious and eventually you might even think to yourself," I could totally MAKE me one of them floor pumps". Then one day you find a scrap of heavy copper plumbing pipe, and thinking how sharp it would look all polished up, stuff it under your workbench to make a lamp or whatever out of someday. Then a year or two later you're bickering with yourself about whether to throw out that bent up vintage French handlebar with the cool engraving, and suddenly think"SHAZAM! That would make a sweet floor pump handle!" and then remembering the chunk of pipe under the bench, spend the next 2 weeks investing all your spare time into making what you could have purchased for $30... While the grass grows up over the mailbox, the garden goes all to hell and you forget to wash socks and have to wear sandals everywhere.

Not that that's what happened to me or anything.

Just relax and take a deep breath...
I had a lot of fun making it though. There was enough easy stuff like gathering up and polishing all the brass and copper hardware and fittings to go with the copper pipe and brass manifold and check valve I had to make. The woodworking was only about a 5 on a 1 to 10 scale of difficulty but it took me a while to figure out how to form a leather cup to seal the piston. It worked the first time but required way more messing around than I thought it should have. But as a result, I now consider myself the Worlds Foremost Expert on the manufacture of leather cup seals. I suspect I may be about to become wealthy as people clamor for my services. Time will tell. 

I already had the perfect hose, it's from my plumbers leak testing kit. I'm not sure whether I should go buy a new one to replace it or make one out of cheap rubber fuel line from the Auto Parts Store like all the other amateur plumbers. Maybe I should just stop doing any plumbing... Either way, it looks properly vintage with a braided fabric covering and shiny brass fittings. It and the black steel industrial pressure gauge with the magnifying lens really finish off the old fashioned vibe. I hope with a few years of use it will pass for something my Grandfather would have used. Nothing would please me more than to tell someone I made it and have them accuse me of being a big fat fibber(at least about the pump, not in general of course...). It's usefully huge as well, in a 1920s sort of "keep it by the garage door to top off the tires on the Model T" kind of way. If you need to pump up your Fat-Bike with the 5" tires without resorting to a compressor or 6 or 7 CO2 cartridges, this is the pump. There's even a half dozen patches, a square inch of sandpaper and a tube of rubber cement rolled up in a scrap of handkerchief inside the handle. I truly fear no flat while in the company of my "Pumpe Gigant"(that's German for big ol' pump).

Anyway, that's what I spent some of my time doing lately. I like making stuff and when things turn out well I get an amazing amount of satisfaction from having and using those things. Especially if they look really cool.

I have a couple of ideas about what to make next, I'll just have to go dig around under the bench to see what I have to work with...                                           

I will crush you little Girly pump.
Legible from 6 feet up.


  1. Replies
    1. Thanks Ben, you'll never guess who's old building the pipe came from...


  2. Bravo! How many pump strokes does it take to fill a 700 x28? (I can hear in my brain the tootsie-roll owl ask that question, by the way.)

    1. 3, just the same as the number of licks to get to the center of a Tootsie Pop...

      Actually I've only used it on the 3" Knaard on the front of my Camping bike and the 33mm sew-ups on my old Raleigh, it gets skinnier tires up to about 25 or 30 psi pretty quick but a few more strokes than you might think to get the pressure up to 55 than you might expect. I really haven't counted...