Tuesday, February 19, 2013

A Rail Bike Tale

by Larry Da Broi
Having tried the hand cars that someone had built at Train Mountain, I found they were hard work and inadequate for the distances and hills of TM. Being a lifelong bicycle tourist, I was determined to build something that could be propelled using legs instead of arms (Photos 1 shows my first attempt.)
I used old bicycle parts, because I didn't know exactly what gearing would be required for the grades at Train Mountain. On the third bike I substituted a front truck for the front axle (Photo 2 shows my third bike.)
The design modification was made because, with a long wheelbase, there was a noticeable resistance when going around curves. For my fourth bike, I tried to make the frame lighter to help going up the hills. Unfortunately, the lighter bike tends to derail going through trailing switches. I also tried spring suspension on the rear wheels. The idea was to give a smoother ride, however it made the bike a little more tipsy (Photo 3.)
I just completed my fifth bike. I am trying two trucks in an effort to get a smoother ride, but I haven't had a chance to try it out (Photo 4.)

For me personally, unless I am operating a train to haul passengers or pine needles, I spend more time on the bike than on the train. These were built by the seat of my pants, with no plans. In the "second section" of this article, I will present plans and some specifications on rail bike construction.