Master Builder/Engineer: Limp Jimmy
Brain Child: Nancy Porker
Aqua propulsion system: Secret Squirrel
Other major contributions: Nancy Porker, Sam, Angel and Dr
Glad that's finished
Super-glad that's finished
MOST MEMORABLE RIDE:
Every time is memorable on Mitzie, but the
Bell Weekend ride
was a stand-out!
The whole notion of an amphibious tall couch trike
is the beer-induced brain child of a Rat Patrol member who goes
by the name of Nancy Porker; I am simply the conduit between a fantasticly
absurd idea which should never have been done, and something that
now exists and is actually practicle to use in the real world.
Why? That's a fair question, but
one that I haven't seriously considered until now; I guess we were
looking for a ride with style so we figured a couch bike is probably
going to satisfy that brief, and it had to be a tallbike so that
the eye level of the pilots would be well above that of all but
the tallest pedestrians (good for concerts and the like)... also
the couch had to be easy to remove for parties and the like (it's
held on to the frame by 8 bolts, and the brake and gear levers simply
Yes, we happened to have quite a bit of refuse steel
lying about our workshop too... Plans are afoot for a parasol cover,
fold-out bed, etc, etc. This is a chick magnet by anyone's standards!
In any case, it probably hadn't been done before, and that seemed
like a sound reason in itself. It seemed to make sense at the time!
What else? Well, you'll notice a
bit of a cocktail bar/table at the couch; this will soon be completed
with drink holders in which to put one's beer, thus affording our
no-doubt-soon-to-be-patented Steer by Beer Technology (you need
a beer in order to steer!).
Seing as we were already building a tall trike with
a serious inherent danger of off-camber cornering disastery, I thought
it would also be great to have a reliable 360degree-turning system,
allowing it to (theoretically) spin on it's own footprint in traffic.
And guess what; it turns on it's own footprint!!!
It was all "educated guesswork" (I'm a graphic designer
working at a university, so that seemed to make excellent sense!),
but I tried to design the weight distribution such that most was
over the back wheels so that the bike would turn well and minimise
the tendancy to roll over and snap people's backbones...
After working out some basic dimensions, it just seemed
to make some kind of 'lateral sense' to create such a thing which
could be ridden into and through the water without stopping (we
had consumed a lot of beer at this point)... that makes sense, doesn't
After a lot of talk about using empty coke bottles,
discarded newspapers and old candy packets for displacement, I found
myself insiting on retaining 'some kind of hydro dynamics'. We ended
up sourcing some old plastic barrels, chopped the tops off and smashed
them together with a film of epoxy. All of a sudden the hulls became
very strong — even stronger than I had invisaged. Then, we
used a 2-part expanding polyurethane foam to fill each barrel, ensuring
enough displacement (and that at the very least, the hulls couldn't
sink), based on some rather blurry mental calculations. A rudder?
The front wheel would do.
The floatation hulls and associated frame attach or
detach easily by one person and are held in place by 4 high-tensile
bolts. The aqua propulsion system also easily detaches when required.
I think the floatation system weighs about 80kg (you'll be used
to do your own metric conversions of course, living in probably
the only country in the world still using emperial measurements!
Anyhoo...), while the rest of the bike is probably around 70kg.
Surprisingly (and this REALLY surprised me!), she is pretty stable
on land and absolutely stable in the water. We have tried to capsize
her, but to no avail!!
I think I must be quite good at guess work and bring
with me a wealth of good luck, because the test float was so successful
that no further structural changes were required. This was good
news, after about 250 humorous hours of late-night labour and much
The voyage was not without incident. Loose Brown applied
a little too much weight behind the rear axle while standing on
the stern as she rolled down the driveway for the first time. Upon
hitting the kurb the couch lurched backwards with the front wheel
lifting off the ground. Thankfully the anti-tip device came into
play, and the couch was returned to three wheels.We then put the
couch through it's paces and can confirm it performed remarkably
well. It will literally turn on a dime. It's exceptionally hard
to tip (unless someone's standing on the rear section), and can
handle corners with considerable speed.
OK, it probably has a top speed in the water of about
1 knot, but it's a STYLISH ride! The cops aren't sure how to take
this one, it's a bike but it's much bigger than a car... or is it
a boat? We are quietly confident that she is legal in this country.
So, what's the next project...? Sleep :)