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Author Topic: mechanically complex but not steampunk motorcycle  (Read 1307 times)
United States United States

« on: June 06, 2016, 06:48:29 pm »

I'd posted the beginings of this long ago in the Tactile section.  Its come quite some ways since then, both conceptually and constructively, as have my skills, figured people might be amused by an update.  Its take a decidedly non-steampunk bent (it was just a direction I'd explored conceptually) so I'm putting it in this section.  I do have some musings that might be thematically relevant to steampunk to ramble on about later...

I made a Hack-a-Day project log, has quite a few pictures and some engineering documentation.

So, how is my (mostly conceptual) interest in steampunk relevant to this project?  Maybe its not, although I think the sheer mechanical nuttiness and plurality of hand machined parts and boltings at least put it into dieselpunk territory.  I've embraced the concept of "alternate history" in that this bike was manufactured in 1981, and damn near every part / working method / tool I used would have been available at that time.  I know, the 1980's are maybe 100 years to late for Victorian work, but they are the stone ages in a world full of cad designed / CNC machined motorcycles.  

I think the note I actually manged to hit is Cyberpunk, which is dead appropriate for the 1980's origin.  Its a crude use of a 'futuristic' (patented in the 1970's) design that is still rarely seen.  Its a maker-space build that "finds its own use" for various purchased and salvaged mechanical items.  It wouldn't have existed without the internet to make parts, tools, and information available, but the experience of building and riding it is meant to be entirely lo-teck.  "Sometimes you gotta get pretty technical, before you can even aspire to be crude."
« Last Edit: June 06, 2016, 07:28:09 pm by 53Bash » Logged

'Hidden Steampunk Name' : Sebastian Danger Wirefields
Master Tinkerer
England England

« Reply #1 on: June 06, 2016, 07:15:09 pm »

Tuned in and VERY interested in this.

I think Tactile personally but not my decision. Chuck in a bit of brass here and there.

Please do keep us updated, what engine? (haven't read the details as yet, but will study more later)

United States United States

« Reply #2 on: June 06, 2016, 07:26:24 pm »

Well, the (reveresed) levers will be brass, but (sacre blue!) I'm not really interested in the aesthetics of steampunk (much more the philosophy).  Especially in this case; this is a Mad Max style vehicle, and that genre does best when the steam-styling (if any) is by necessity, not choice.  No skeuomorphs allowed!

The engine (and entire driveline) is stock.  Its a Yamaha XJ750rh - 750cc air cooled inline 4, 5 speeds, shaft drive.  Good enough power that handling, brakes, and structural integrity are all potentially matters of life and death, and taken quite seriously.  Its a big engine by some standards, but my current 'daily ride' is a 1985 FJ1100.  That has an 1100cc version of a very similar motor, and near twice the power; if I want to 'push the limits' it gives me a faster and safe base to do it on.  The custom bike will be for education (the suspension is adjustable in some interesting ways), cruising, and bike shows.
« Last Edit: June 06, 2016, 07:41:15 pm by 53Bash » Logged
United States United States

« Reply #3 on: June 07, 2016, 04:43:51 pm »

Besides the general PA aesthetic, one reason this (IMO) can't qualify on a Steampunk level (regardless of paint color, copper plating, or gluing on a whole bag of brass gears) is that it uses rod end bearings.  In fact, it not only uses them, it depends on them for fundamental functions of both steering and suspension, and pretty much is a showcase of what the purpose and function of a rod end bearing is, and has loads of them used even in places that they normally would not be (because they are easier to work with than some alternate bearings).  Several of the rod end bearings used are specialty items, the kind of thing you need to go directly to a manufacturer to buy and that most folks in a hardware store have never seen.

What's a rod end bearing, you ask? Wikipedia says it better than I could, but a simple explanation is a rod end bearing is a joint that allows spherical rotational and angular motions.  This bike has 12 of em in the front end steering and suspension, 16 if you count the 4 that are used to build simple hinge joints, and has even more if you count the ones used in shift linkages and elsewhere. 

Note the wikipedia entry on "History".  Rod end bearings are a quintessential WWII invention.  You don't see them on machines built before that time.  Without the use of rod ends, machines are largely limited to mechanisms that rotate around one axis, like a hinge, gear, or axle.  This has a HUGE impact on the way things are designed and the over-all aesthetic.

So, even discounting the use of a gasoline engine, and making allowances for the "alternative history" elements of steampunk, there is IMO a fundamental design clash.  It might be OK to use a few in controls and so on, but the design literally can not exist without high strength spherical joints, and I tried to showcase that fact rather than hiding it.  Its a mechanical celebration, but a very much non-steampunk one.  Given the WW2 origin of rod end bearings,  it might arguably be Deiselpunk.  The rod ends I used are very high quality, with an unusually wide range of motion, and would have cost a fortune to use in WWII machinery, so even for that era its pretty advanced (though obviously no more so that a jet pack).

Such an issue might not mater if this was a prop item.  Mechanical arms, for example, often seem to assume the existence of such joints (Its the only good way to do a wrist).  But, the don't typically "showcase" the existence of such a joint - they instead hide it under a shell or some such.

I think the technology used to build something should actually reflect what could be built with (highly advanced, no-expense spared) period appropriate inventions, plus the introduction of anachronistic items THAT DO NOT CHANGE FUNDAMENTAL AESTHETICS.  Assuming an engine with a power density greater than real world steam engines (EG, a gasoline engine) doesn't in itself alter Victorian design aesthetics, it just allows pushing existing deigns harder.  Assuming the existence of rod end bearing actually alters the way in which things can move.  In illustrations I've seen, things with such movement tend to be ALIEN technology (like the legs on tripod robots) and it always bothers me to see such joint motion used openly and obviously on "Steampunk" machines.  On of the things notable in this photo set of vintage racing cars is that all of the vehicles have solid axles and "kingpin" steering, which is a really bad choice for a racing car, but is a good (simple, light, strong, durable) design when you don't have suitable spherical joints.  The suspension & steering design I used COULD be built using other styles of bearings (ball bearings, bushing, etc) that only allow rotations around one axis, but it would look very different if I did so, and really wouldn't make much sense as a "good design choice" if that is the tech you have.  IMO that difference in design choices is one of the things that defines the Victorian "mechanical aesthetic".  Its also one reason you see a lot of brass; brass bushing and so on are GREAT for axle sleeves and other simple rotational joints (I even used it that way on my bike) but brass is not hard enough to be used in (strong & durable) spherical joints.
« Last Edit: June 07, 2016, 05:23:42 pm by 53Bash » Logged
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