Eleven years ago, I wrote a story called “The Road Goes Ever On…” about “range extenders”, from my sneakers to my first bike to cars and kayaks and finally back to hiking boots. I thought it was clever for the time. I had just turned 37, was sort of feeling middle age creeping in on me. Oddly enough, I was in the best shape of my adult life, but feeling the strains of a misspent youth. I wasn’t a father, yet. That journey was still just over the horizon. It really is amazing how many things have changed in what seems like such a short time. My son just turned 10, so he has had a whole lifetime since I was reminiscing about Kangaroo’s and Mongoose. There are a lot of friends and family who are no longer with us, having extended their range into Shakespeare’s great “undiscovered country from whose bourn no traveler returns.” A lot of water under the bridge. If you look back to that post in April of ’09, I mention finding my old BMX in the back of a barn and a plan to put her back on the road again. Well, sometimes starting is the hardest part…
UPDATE: After voting closed we were lucky enough to be selected as one of fifteen finalists. Our design went on to win Second Prize in this international Green Design competition, pretty cool, huh? I want to give a huge thank you to everyone who supported this project, we could not have done this without you.
I know I should not use this site for my own evil schemes, but since I am asking other people to help support this project, I figured I had better support it myself. So here I am asking for your help, trying to mobilize the Monkey Nation for the greater good of simians and simian enthusiasts everywhere. So what do I need? I need your votes.
Here is the deal. When I am not working on real work or GeoWoodstock or writing this blog or taking pictures or coming up with other crazy schemes, my hobby is working on real-world problem solving, on a small scale. A couple of months ago, my friend, Seth and I were trying to find a way to recycle or reuse 55 gallon drums from my work and hit upon several things, but among those we designed and built some pretty cool chairs.
Industrial Grade Creativity from the Mind of the Monkey
It is often said that the best projects come from scratching an itch you have and that is certainly the inspiration for this one. My wife and I love to cook, and we are both gear heads, subsequently we have way more pots and pans than we need, or than our small farmhouse kitchen can store. We considered cutting back on our gourmet accoutrement, but just could not bear the thought of parting with our fajita griddle, extra No. 6 cast iron skillet or monkey-shaped baking pan, so a new storage option was in order. A quick survey of the kitchen revealed that we had some unused space along the wall under our kitchen table so we set out on a quest for a new pot rack. We searched high and low, but could not find anything that used the available space well, except for a $200 dollar model from Williams-Sonoma. So we abandoned that quest and headed over to Lowe’s for some lightbulbs. While picking up a pack of spiral CFL’s, suddenly a metaphorical lightbulb went off and we decided to make our own Pot Rack, custom designed and built for our available space.
This is a silly little diversion, but I enjoyed thinking it out and it is a simple, quick build on the cheap, that delivers a product that may or may not be handy. Plus, unlike some of my other projects on here, this one requires no special tools or knowledge, so anyone can build one of these in the comfort of their own home. It has been a while since I sat down and made something, if you don’t count these posts, and have had my eyes open for a project of some sort to clutter up the workdesk. When I spotted the commercial version of this for sale at Gander Mountain last weekend, I thought it was a thoroughly useless item. I mean who needs string with some hooks in a 35mm film container, especially for $9.99. I honestly did not even look at it closely, but while driving home I kept thinking about it and decided to see if I could make a better one on my own.
Like Sam Gamgee, I am a strong believer in carrying a bit of rope, and I try to make it a habit, but even when I do not carry rope, I always try to carry some stout cord. It weighs less than rope and can be used in all sorts of ways. I have used cord to strap extra gear on the outside of my pack, to tie down a banging metal cup that I used to carry, to reinforce or repair a broken binding or as a makeshift leash for The Grimm Barguest. I have also spent countless trailside moments untangling cord that has become unravelled and magically wrapped itself around every item in my pack before finishing with a Gordian flourish. So the more I thought about a self contained cord storage system, complete with built in hooks, the more appealing it became. So I gathered up some materials and basic tools and went to work building, breaking, redesigning and nearly perfecting my self-contained camping clothesline.
This time we started with a 2-inch aluminum blank and focused on building a pot stand that would pack well, was very light but sturdy and that would work on less than perfectly level surfaces. After several failed attempts we came up with this:
I made a couple of the pot stands/windscreens for my alcohol stove last week, with the help of RobertLipe, FullCt and PPPorch, so I thought I would share. These are pretty rough, as I did not have the patience to do nice finish work on the prototypes, it may also have something to do with the Guinness cans we were emptying that night as well.
You know I am always looking for the latest and greatest thing, but this time I decided to go back and construct an “old-school” homemade stove. Actually , I should give the credit to PPPorch for suggesting that we build these sometime, I had been thinking about it, and he provided the catalyst and he brought those surgeon skills to the table when it was time to start cutting, and FullCT kept us focused on doing a good job, not just doing a job. So thanks to both of ya’ll for helping me make my stove, I love the thing. I was so excited about it that I took it to dinner the other night to show everyone and then I decided to post to the GC.com forums about it, so here is a copy of that post:
Over time my homemade kayak cart has worked out pretty well, but I have run into a couple of issues. First, it needed larger tires, the little ones really did bog down in the terrain, many thanks to Southpaw for finding a pair of great pneumatic ones for me. The brackets proved sturdy enough for most trips, we found that if we loaded the cart with both yaks and all of the gear needed for a full day on the water, including big iced down cooler, they flexed too much and while they still worked it was less than optimal. So it was back to the drawing board, for version 2.0.
It seems like more and more of us are buying canoes, kayak and other small watercraft to integrate into our geocaching so I thought I would pass along this tip. Even a lightweight kayak (Scoot’s weighs 34 lbs.) is a pain to carry more than a couple of hundred yards, so I looked around and found a better way to transport our boats. There are several of these on the market, but most of them run about $100.00, so I looked at how they were made and came up with this one that you can make in less than half an hour with parts from your local home improvement store for around $30.00. I present “Monkeybrad’s Magically-delicious Personal Watercraft Conveyor to the Stars” or as Scoot calls it, a homebuilt kayak cart: