Stuff gets in my head. And once stuff gets in my head, it tends to displace pretty much everything else. Which is my way of saying that once I decided I really would make a mountain bike teeter, that’s been the focal point of my existence.
And I’m having a lot of fun building it.
Change In Plans
You know, nobody says they’re a big fan of designing by committee, so how come so many things get designed by committee? In the case of my teeter, the committee started designing because I asked them to. So, uh, my mistake. I’m pretty much going with my design, in spite of the dire predictions handed down by Very Experienced and Knowledgeable People.
That said, I have made some changes to the design. Specifically:
- I made the base wider: At 48" wide, the base is now nearly square.
- I made the pillar shorter: I really liked the idea of having three levels for the teeter, but realized as I was looking down at my feet while riding: the lateral distance between the outsides of my feet may well be more than 15.5". So when set at the lowest level for beginners, beginners wouldn’t ride it anyway, because the pillars in the center would be in the way. So I went with 36" pillars and two levels. This is still a plenty steep ramp, and when set at the lower level, the pillar will only be an inch or two above the level of the ramp — lower than the pedals ever get.
- I beveled the ends of the ramp: Actually, I always planned to do this, but the plan reflects that now.
If you’re interested in downloading and viewing this design in its 3D glory using Google’s free "Sketchup" 3D design program, you can see it from any angle, zoom in, and so forth. Click on the picture below to go to the page where you can download this diagram.
Getting to Work
I generally have a strange reaction to building stuff: I get stressed out, nervous, and very, very snippy. This hasn’t happened while building the teeter. I think it’s because I had already designed and built it on paper, so wasn’t as worried that when I started working on it, I’d discover there was a fundamental problem with my idea.
So planning before building has its benefits. Who’d have imagined?
Also, I’m not building this for anyone, and I don’t have a deadline. It’s just for me. So if it turns out to be a total disaster, I make kindling, and nobody’s the wiser. (Except all of you Fat Cyclist readers, who are going to have fun at my expense whether this thing turns out perfectly or horribly, horribly wrong, so what’s the difference?)
So yesterday I got Gary (everyone should have at least one friend with a truck) to give me a ride to Home Depot to pick up materials, and then my son and I got to work.
You know what happens if you use a table saw to cut out four different notches in the 4" x 4" posts you’re using as the base a saw-blade-width at a time? Two things:
- Your forearms get tired from pushing the board over the blade hundreds of times.
- You finally get over that terror of the table saw you’ve had your whole life.
Cutting a 45-degree angle with a table saw isn’t easy, either. My next tool purchase is definitely a miter saw.
You know what’s mysterious? It’s mysterious that a 3/4" pipe won’t fit through a whole drilled by a 1" bit. Which means I made a trip to the hardware store for a 1 1/4" bit, through which the pipe fits kind of loosely. So I drilled a hole with the 1 1/4" bit through an extra piece of wood, which I’m going to take to Home Depot and see if a 1" pipe fits through. I figure a snugger fit is better.
Here are all the pieces, laid out and ready to assemble.
And now here’s the completed base, 2/3 of a 5lb box of wood screws later:
And a view from a little higher above:
You can see that wherever it made sense, I used metal brackets to reinforce where the wood’s joined. Also, I’m very pleased with my idea of using an elbow and short section of pipe at each end of the pivot. The short section of pipe is used as a handle, making it easy to twist the elbow section on and off for when you want to move the ramp up or down.
This sucker’s heavy. I can move it myself, but not easily. And feels sturdy, too. Though I’m sure it’ll collapse into splinters as soon as I take it outside.
Now my son and I need to build the ramp. That’s going to be a lot of work: Measure, cut, and drill ~30 slats, then glue and screw them onto the top of the 2"x6"x12′ boards. We might finish tonight, but will more likely finish tomorrow.
And then it’s teeter riding time. Anyone want to come try it out?
PS: One more question for the committee: I want the ramp to always come down on one side, so it’s resting firmly in place as you approach, then goes back down to its original position once you get off the ramp. I figure an easy way to do that is to have the pivot point of the ramp off-center. Right now, I’m figuring 4" off sounds about right, but that’s arbitrary. Any thoughts on how far from the middle of the ramp the hole ought to go?