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Teen's All-Wood Bike Really Works
Stories of his grandfather's wooden bike wheels in Holland gave Marco Facciola the idea to make a wooden bike. The 16-year old built the entire bike from wood and glue.
"I needed to complete a school project in a non-academic area," says Facciola, who lives in Quebec. "I've always enjoyed woodworking and design, so I decided to build a functional wooden bicycle. I wanted a project that would be a challenge."
And a challenge it was, especially intricate details like the "chain" and the coasting mechanism. In the case of the chain, he had to drill holes in the spacers that keep the two plates of each link apart. The dowel sticks he used had to have a hole drilled exactly in the center. And he needed more than 100 of them.
"If the hole was even slightly off-center, the dowel would explode," recalls Facciola. "I had drilled 10 of them, and then they started exploding. I readjusted everything, and they continued exploding, making me suspect the bit. As soon as I sharpened it, the links worked."
He researched the strengths of different woods and built jigs to test them, standing on them to measure their strength.
The big challenge was the ratcheting system for the drive gear. Facciola wanted to be able to "coast" the bike down the hill without the pedals moving. Once his father had explained the system of spring and pins (all steel) that modern bikes use, the high schooler was able to devise an alternative.
It consisted of a hub with fingers, thin pieces of wood sticking out from the center. When engaged, the fingers would catch and hold on notches of wood as Facciola pedaled, but when coasting, they would slip past the notches.
With a design in place, Facciola made his first attempt, cutting the fingers with the wood grain for maximum flexibility. When he had all 18 fingers glued in place, he discovered it was too strong. First he sanded off a layer of wood on each piece, and finally he cut every second finger down.
"I finished the rest of the bicycle without too many problems," he says. "I used it once to show that it could be ridden, and then I had to turn in the project."
Contact: FARM SHOW Followup, Marco Facciola, Quebec (woodenbicycle@ gmail.com).

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2008 - Volume #32, Issue #2