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Thursday, July 28, 2011

Steve's seed Starter (Minimalist Greenhouse)

Cadel with rear wheel disk in a time trial

UCI rules do not apply! My home-made wheel disk.
Steve’s Seed Starter (Minimalist Greenhouse)

Well this blog post rambles on a bit and the topic may seem to have nothing at all to do with the initial photos or text but bear with me.  As Lesley Gore famously sang, it's my "blog and I'll write what I want to".  Or maybe it was something to do with parties and crying. Ok, just bear with me.
Last Sunday I took my recumbent bike for a ride down to Mordialloc. The bike was going quite well and I was able to drag several expensive road bikes off at the lights and stay ahead of them for several kilometres. (You can’t touch the national shopping race champion!). I met Robert Waryszak near Mordialloc station and he and a small group were heading off on a VicHpv ride. Amongst them was Andrew who had a home made trike and a few others I’ve seen now and then on rides.
The route took us around the back blocks of Mordialloc, Aspendale and Carrum along the not-very-exciting-sounding secondary drain trail. At Carrum I said goodbye to the others on the ride and started heading back home. Had a puncture along Station Street and decided to catch the train home. Some of the ride down had been spent thinking about my new bike ¾ finished at home. One part of the bike I wanted to work on was a wheel disk for the back wheel, which is a 20” size and is quick release. A wheel disk is the shape of a shallow cone and covers the spokes of a bike wheel to reduce drag. At significant speeds, air gets “tangled” in the spokes and a disk wheel eliminates this complex air path and lets the wheel and therefore the bike, go smoother and faster through the air.

A couple of techniques and ideas for the disc came to mind:
  • The disc often covers the tyre valve and you usually have to accommodate access to the valve in the disc design. But my wheel is quick release – why not take off the wheel and one side of the disc when you want to pump up the tyre – it doesn’t happen that often.
  • This would then open the way for a simple piece of plastic to be used as the disc – something like a flat sheet could be changed to a shallow cone shape, and fibreglass could be used to stiffen and hold the cone in its correct shape.

So, got the train home and I wasn’t completely knackered as I would have been had I ridden all the way. Had enough energy left to do some gardening for my wife, Christine when I got home and this included raising some pots off the ground to make them more accessible. Later in the afternoon I drove to Kmart and Bunnings, I bought some seedlings at Kmart and some plastic sheet for the bike building at Bunnings. The plastic sheet from Bunnings is clear, 0.8mm thick flexible sheet and the aim was to make some wheel discs out of it. The seedlings are planted in the late afternoon.

Now I’m not sure when I thought of it but at some stage I realised that something like a wheel disc could be used as a mini greenhouse, and the plastic material in the back of my car could be used to make some samples. I slept on it and in the workday morning expounded to Christine on the subject, tearing up a tissue box and making a small demonstration model in the process.

Anyway, at the end of the workday and after dinner when Christine has settled down to watch a video of “Cabaret” on the TV I am cutting up bits of plastic for prototypes of “Steve’s Seed Starter”, the minimalist Greenhouse. A bit of drilling and hole sawing and more cutting and the samples are done! Christine is left with instructions to give one away to our good friend Ermi, the next day.

So that is it, from idea to sample in a day or two. It might be a crap idea and someone might have thought of it before but at least its mine. I will report on progress later – maybe some more samples will be made, and I intend to try growing some seeds under Steve’s superb sustainable seed starter and report on results, be they crap or otherwise. All for now, except the photos.
Seed Starters in Action
Next stop is the Chelsea Flower Show

This is it, a plastic sheet cut to humidify and warm seedings, Steve's Seed Starter. The conical shape and hole in the centre lets rainwater in to the pot.

Clipping the holes together forces the sheet into a shallow conical shape.

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