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October 1, 1999 Issue


October 15, 1999 Issue




October 1, 1999 Issue


Bicycle Fork Boat Dolly

By Stephen duPont

I live a mile from a launching ramp where I can launch my Alden Ocean Shell. I can put it on the car top rack but this is not as easy as it seems. And the salt water runs over the car so it has to be hosed off. I have stumbled onto an interesting substitute and since the name of the game is exercise this adds to the intent.

See the photos of my bicycle fork boat dolly. The two bicycle forks are not alike which doesn't really matter. The top tube of the forks are F diameter. A I" hole is drilled with a flat bit into the 2 by 4s that make the vee tongue and the forks' steering tubes just slide into the holes loosely allowing for easy disassembly for storage. These upward extension tubes are long enough that the forks are held rigidly at ninety degrees to the 2 by 4s. The frame of the dolly is 3/4" boards bolted to 1-1/2" aluminum angle from the hardware store. And because of the thinness of the board and aluminum, they tend to splay outwards at the bottom cross piece when the weight is on. So a second piece is slid in tightly several inches above the main cross piece which braces against this splay and secured by long drywall screws. The fork ends are worrn hose clamps.

The dolly tongue is attached to the bicycle seat tube by having a fork cut in the wood tongue that fits loosely around the seat tube and a cross bolt is slid in loosely through holes with a stop nut to hold it in place riding. This bolt actually pulls the trailer.The wider, looser fit at the seat tube allows the bike to bank on curves and on the prop stand.

When the boat is slid in at home and being pulled out at the water it is necessary to have a parking brake to hold the dolly against the pulling. This is simply a rope tied through the wheel. The boat lies on the crosepiece to overbalance somewhat forwards and held up by a rope across under the forward end of the boat. The boat painter is long enough to go forward around the seat tube, then aft with a hitch around one of the fork tubes and back to its original tie ring on the boat, to keep the boat from sliding forwards or aft in the dolly. The tongue is 2 by 4s with the ends left to width and sawed to 1-1/2 by 1-1/2 between the ends to I ighten it. One end of each of the vee tubes is bolted to the forward single member of the tongue with at least two bolts through and through. The thing trailers beautifully.

And don't forget the flag to warn motorists of the trailer that extends so tar aft of the bike. These are available from your bike dealer, or use a bamboo stick from the garden with a flag. I slide this flag staff into the outside bike fork tube and hold it in place with a couple of wedges. It trails effortlessly because of the bicycle wheels. If you I ive close to the launching place you can dispense with the bike, just pull it by hand effortlessly.



October 15, 1999

Corrosion Cleaning An Aluminum Canoe

By Stephen duPont

I bought a well used Grumman aluminum canoe and it was badly corroded inside where it had not been painted. The corrosion was heavy rust-like raised dark colored stuff. It could be scraped off with the blade of a pen knife leaving pits of dark material in the surface of the aluminum. I sought a way to scrape it without harming the aluminum and then a way to remove the dark stuff in the pits. Here is what I came up with.

The Scraper: I tried a steel wire brush in an electric drill, clearly not the way to go, damaging scratching of the aluminum. I need an aluminum scraper. I cut the bottom out of a beer can carefully with a three jaw metal shear that cuts out a narrow strip from the material but does not twist and distort the metal. The bottom of the can is the thickest part of the aluminum. This gave me a round cup of aluminum about a quarter of an inch deep, thin aluminum, having a sharp edge all the way around.

The opposite side from the sharp edge is the bottom of the can. This rounded rim is what the can sits on when put it down on its bottom. I anointed this with contact cement, let it dry and anointed a block of wood about three inches square with the contact cement letting that dry, then pushed the two together, getting a bonded wood handle on the section of the can with the sharp edge out. This sharp edge is the scraper. And it really works! Make several.

The Solvent: Next step after scraping is removing the dark stuff left inside the hollow pits. I read a number of references, some many years old, about cleaning and polishing metal. One of them brought a big laugh. It suggested cleaning the inside of an aluminum vessel by filling it with water and rhubarb, then boiling it. I could just imagine filling the canoe with water and rhubarb and bringing it to a boil Another suggestion was to mix 30 grams of borax in a liter of water, adding a few drops of acqueous ammonia. I guess you could fill the canoe with that. Quite a few liters.

Offering some promise was oxalic acid. One reference suggested this is found in wood sorel, what ever that is. It didn't say how much to use. A more specific reference suggested adding a heaping teaspoonful in a gallon of water. How many gallons needed for the canoe I have not calculated yet.

Another reference recommended using stearic acid and fullers earth, 1 part and tripoli, 6 parts, add two parts of nitric acid, one part sulfuric acid, then finely drop it into pure nitric acid, then into diluted vinegar. I suggest using rubber gloves! It stated one need not worry about eating from the aluminum container with some of the dark stuff still in it, it won't hurt you. So it is alright, I postulate, to drink out of the canoe.

Anyhow, moving on to the final solution, I scraped it with the beer can, and this really does a good job. To paint it after scraping, aircraft epoxy primer would seem to be the tight stuff. Expensive. So I purchased oxalic acid meant to bleach wood from the hardware store. It is powder in a pint container, one container is added to a gallon of hot water. Best to start with one eighth of the container in a pint of hot water, which will cover about one quarter of the inside. The canoe was not corroded in its bottom because that part had been painted.

To apply the acid, first lay paper towel over the part of the canoe you want to clean. It is best do a quarter of the interior sides at a time, as the canoe must be tipped so the side to be cleaned is down and almost level.You may have to raise the far end of the canoe and find a way too hold it in position. Soak the towel with the oxalic acid solution. Use rubber gloves and don't get the acid on you or anything you don't want bleached. Use a 2" foam paint brush to move the acid where you want it.

I did it outside on the lawn near a hose to flush it off with afterwards. Leave it two hours wet with the acid solution and you get a pretty good result. Parts that you missed will have to be done later. Hose the thing completely after the cleaning and scrub it with a stiff nylon brush.

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