Retro Rocket

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My mother passed away late last year and I found her old(ish) bike in the shed. She loved to ride and when I was little, she would take me all over the place. For about the last ten years, her lung disease prevented her from riding, but she always talked about riding again if she was successfully able to get a lung transplant. She was also always supportive of my projects and writing even when they came out terrible or were too graphic for her to read, so I decided to do something with her bike and I think she would appreciate the humorous symbolism of this "sex change". I had the idea for a little while, originally drawing it up with a mixte, but rather than a missile (the headlight in the nose reminded me of the camera of a smart "bomb"), because she hated war, I'm going with a "rocket" and using 50s colors she liked (turquoise, pink, and yellow).


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Mazda 3 headlight that will go in the nose (kept the housing after a hit-and-run damaged it). Cut from the larger housing with an angle grinder. The lens is a nice thick glass dome!

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This is a Cardiff leather saddle I got cheap to experiment on. The brown color came right off with leather deglazer and 000 steel wool:
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Here it is with the first two coats of turquoise leather paint. Seems pretty durable already, yet scrapes right off the metal rivets. And, suddenly, my floor went from white oak to padauk.

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Cool idea! It will be fun to watch this get built!
 
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Made a little more progress on it. This is the rocket. Part on the right is the rough draft. I was also going to step the diameter of the tube up from 4 to 6 inch diameter, but found it would look clunky and be pretty heavy. The tubing I'm using is a drain pipe of corrugated plastic—very light and cheap (even better).

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I still want to set the saddle a little farther in so it looks like the rider is riding a rocket as much as possible. I want the rocket and the controls above it to look separate from the bike. I may put a "launch rail" under it so it looks like the bicycle frame is merely a launch vehicle, but I'm not sure yet. The colors may be enough and I want to keep it from looking bulky.

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With Interrobang going for the build off, this is going to be the ugly background dancer only the last, most drunk groupie settles for, but that groupie was somehow productive enough to get a little work done on the headlight. Turns out that the original mounts the Mazda engineers felt were adequate to screw it all together were just too big to fit inside the rocket body (such lack of foresight!), so I made up some new mountings with aluminum scrap, M5 bolts, and a tap, then ground the interfering junk off. I know that I existed before I had an angle grinder, but it was the merest of existence.

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Obviously, the value of custom making anything is in the learning, the pride, and (hopefully) the successful result that is unique to your self-expression and a better match for specifications that may not be met by consumer items, but as a general note, don't add up what you spend on building custom stuff and compare it to the value of the base piece or comparable new items or how many kids in third world countries that you could send to school for a year!
 

kingfish254

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I was thinking more of the pinups on bombs from B17s or 50's rockets, but as a Kubrick fan, that did occur to me. Maybe I should do a pinup decal of Major Kong (or some guy that looks like him)!

Never heard of that Stooges movie, but I think I only ever saw one Curly Joe.
 
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I saw Kingfish use a lamp that was bullet-shaped and it smacked me in the forehead like an Asian carp. When I came to, smelling like a Red Lobster dumpster and face covered in scales, I went on a search for a lamp of sufficient size and shape. Turns out to be a dead-on fit for the rocket body OD. The only slight annoyance is that the opening is at a slant, but a few fairly accurate measurements and the infallible straight edge of masking tape stretched when torn off the reel and pulled along a round and angled surface, I should be able to get it pretty perpendicular with a belt sander. The perfect fit was considering this mod. After that, I'll just need to cut a big enough hole in the nose for the projection lamp. I may even be able to find a use for the gooseneck, but it may be too short.

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Props for doing something different, and starting with an unlikely base bike. I dig the smart bomb camera light idea.
 
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I have my rocket exhaust nozzle. That's a 12V trailer light inside. Hopefully, it will be obvious when lit.

"I am Arthur, King of the Britons. I seek the Holy Grail."
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The airspeed of an unladen European swallow is supposedly about 24 mph. I may incorporate this into another part.
 
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Making some progress on this while I try to fight the high solids paint issues with Interrobang's wheels that is jamming up the whole build. This was so much easier with the cheap paint I already know. Still needs another coat, but it's looking OK enough for a quick mock up.

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I'm really happy about this! I wasn't able to get the light lens to the very end of the nose cone without this unsightly inset or a large flat piece and minimal tapering to the nose and that was annoying me. Then I found this old cone chainlink fence post capital that I had lying around for years knowing I was going to come up with a use for it. I put it up against the nose and it was an incredibly close fit! So, I cut off the untapered end that slipped onto the post and it lined up perfectly with the nose and kind of wanted to seat itself on the end except for the lip around the bottom of the cone. I tried to come up with some kind of hidden quick-release bracket, but couldn't come up with anything good as I had too little room to work with on the nose side. Then, just trying to smooth the transition from the existing nose to the tip, I ground the lip down most of the way and decided to see how it was looking only to find it was now a dead perfect fit into the existing nose! It sits in there VERY tight (partly due to my wonky craftsmanship warping the nose slightly from a true circle) and doesn't need anything to hold it. Now I have a removable shield for the headlight, which is better than I originally intended.

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A little more progress. The main of it is internal as the weight of the nose was bending the tubing, necessitating reinforcement. Was going to build a "launch rail" under it as a way of reinforcing, but it wasn't working out, so there's now aluminum strips running the length of the tube at the sides. Still trying to figure out the fin shape I like best.

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