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SS Mitzie


Master Builder/Engineer: Limp Jimmy
Brain Child: Nancy Porker
Aqua propulsion system: Secret Squirrel
Other major contributions: Nancy Porker, Sam, Angel and Dr Splat




Glad that's finished


Super-glad that's finished


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 pull off)...

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 it?

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 domestic anxt.

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 :)


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