Wednesday, April 22, 2015

Racking Rocinante

If you've perused this blog much you'll know that my family has a river place up north on the Kettle River. You might also see pics of our trusty old Toyota truck, Rocinante. This truck belonged to Liza's dad. He named it. He gave it Liza a few years ago before he died. It's really a perfect truck for us in the context of the river place. I load it up with all sorts of crap for projects up there. And while there, it's the main hauler for people and supplies on the back roads of Ferry County, where you're expected to load up the bed of your truck with people, coolers, and inner tubes for floating the river.

Since it was made back in 1983 when compact trucks were truly compact, it fills up quickly when I put a couple bikes in the bed. I've been bugging Glen for at least a year--in the subtle way that I do-- to help me get some racks going for it. Since he started the stock NFE project though, he's just slammed all the time trying to keep up with demand. That's great and I'm a part of machine that is generating orders for him and watching the schedule and trying to keep customers informed of progress -- so as a result, I've backed off in the last few month with my nagging about racking Rocinante.

Before racking: two fatties pretty much filled 'im up.
A couple weeks ago I had big pile of crap to bring up to the river. I wanted to bring *my* NFE for obvious reasons, but with all the crap, it was a pain to wedge in the bed of the truck. Necessity is indeed the mother of invention... and as a result, my jammed up truck resulted in what I like to think was a pretty innovated solution for hauling the bike. To wit:

For some reason this horrified Glen. Perhaps it was the zipties holding that grate to my lumber rack. Perhaps it was the thought of the grate grating on the NFE paint that got under his skin. Maybe it's a class thing: he didn't want his NFE associated with a dumpy-ass, Joad-looking pile of crap. Who knows. If you know Glen, you know he's not the most verbose dude in the world. All I know is that after posting that pic to Instagram, he sent me an email with a picture of a bed-mounted, side-load bike hauling solution that made me WANT. He told me to bring my trays over on the next Saturday and he could probably knock out that solution in about an hour. Had I know that just hacking my own solution would've motivated him into action, I would've done this a year ago. Handy bit of intel for the future, that.

Sensing the zeitgeist, I pushed it as I often do: "Hey, while you have your welding shit out in the driveway, how about you hook me up with a front hitch mount. There's a plate with holes in it down there and really, how hard could that be?"

He crawled around under the truck for a while, gave me a shopping list of two metal objects, one of which, of course, I screwed up. And told me to be there Saturday. He's always got home and yard stuff going on, so I told him I'd try my labor for his: I'd do his Saturday work of pulling out a little retaining wall as he racked the truck. Until the stock NFE project came along, he would normally  work through his honey-do list on evenings and weekends. But now he's working early and late every day. So weekends are really his only time to block off and get other projects done. So it's win-win.

His time estimate on the side racks was on the money: it took him about an hour. It's simple, elegant, and pure Glen excellentism.

The front hitch part, which he reminded me that he hadn't "estimated the time for this tomfoolery," (that's a direct quote, "tomfoolery") -- took about 4 hours. In that time I moved approximately 2 tons of rock, debris, earth, and trash (that's a direct Truth).

Sidenote: The supplies part that I screwed up was that I got the wrong receiver hitch. So it turns out that there's a 2" receiver and a 1 1/4" receiver. Everyone knows that. I knew that. What I didn't know is that there's a sleeve for the that fits in the 2" receiver that looks damn like a 1 1/4" receiver. They might as well be identical. Anyway -- looked good to me, but Glen wouldn't have it. No hacks for Glen when you're hauling bikes in front of the car. So it looked like he'd get mostly done with the project but not be able to put the actual receiver on. This was about 2 hours in. Getting this time with Glen and his welder out in his driveway was such an opportunity.... and it would be difficult to reconstruct as we're trying to get these NFEs out the door.  I was bumming but trying not to show it, when buddy Pat showed up to watch the progress.

The muddy ass on the left belongs to Pat. That's the most recent picture I have of him. It's from our recent Orcas ride.
Pat is an engineer in the outside world, but in real life he is a super nerdy problem solver ex-grease monkey (build, modified, and raced stock cars: fucker's legit) dude that loves building cool bike shit and being involved with building cool bike shit. He knew of this event and wanted to check in on progress. AND, like Glen, Pat's a solid. So he shows up. He and Glen barely exchange more than a few grunts and nods and Pat gets it -- understands the fix Glen is making. Totally sees the stupid wrong receiver that I bought and he's out of there. He shows up a 1/2 hour later with the right hunk of metal and a receipt for $25 for me. At this point I had moved approximately 1.5 tons of rock. It was hot. I was dehydrated. But I swear I nearly cried with joy when he showed up with what was of course the correct receiver and I realized that my project would complete.

It goes without saying that my "simple front hitch solution" was neither simple nor a solution. Click for big. One hunk of metal that I did get right is a 1/2" plate of steel. That's the money piece there wedged in between the receiver and the truck.

That's Glen's Pugs. Liza borrows it when we head to the river.

The rack is the best value hanger rack of all time: a Sun Lite. It's burly and super easy to hack/modify. Glen shortened it a tad to increase visibility.

In the end, I'm thrilled. Glen has asked for a picture with the truck loaded up with at least 8 bikes. That will come, but I want to happen naturally. Watch this space for that someday in the future.

Your standard bike pile at the river.
 There are 7 bikes here. Five of them came up with us on this particular hang: 3 in the truck, 2 on the car. This year: all on the truck.