Introduction: Bicycle Light Steampunk Style

Picture of Bicycle Light Steampunk Style

Don't be too harsh on me, this is my first instructable! YAY Instructable.

This is a project I completed a little over a year ago, I wanted to redo my Schwinn World Tourist mainly to get rid of a little bit of surface rust, but decided it need an updated, or rather dated, look.

My apologies as I don't have pics of each individual step, because well, I didn't know I would be writing an instructable on it.

This was a little contest, my girlfriend stated that I never finish any project that I start, so we set a date and the bike had to be finished by then. I will explain in a little detail what all i did to the bike here as this instructable is about the light fixtures I put on it.

I completely disassembled the entire bike, sanded and painted everything. For extra durability on my time consuming paint and scrollwork job, I took it to the paint shop at work (I work at a body shop) and had it clear coated in Mercedes' famous ceramic clear coat. The paint was the largest step and I used a number of different colors to achieve the patina look.

Now, the lighting system!

Step 1: Junk Fun MUHAHAHA!

Picture of Junk Fun MUHAHAHA!

I knew I had a general Idea of what I wanted it to look like, so I began collecting parts and pieces. Everything on the bike was stuff I found lying around the garage, with the exception of "D" Batteries, honestly what uses "D" batteries these days anyways? How many kids are still reenacting the classic boombox above the head to win the love of your heart thing? Are boomboxes back in style again? Is it sad I am old enough to remember when boomboxes were in style?

God, what a rabbit trail. Oh well, "D" batteries, I had to buy them...

Here is what I used but I find it best to leave some of your imagination in tact.

1 Lantern, classic old ugly red style, with a handle, garage sale find I believe. I repainted the metal parts and to make my lamp sparkle forward more rather than out, (God knows I need to have lots of light on my crotch while biking...), I took awesome gold spray paint, masked off most of the glass, etched, primed and shot the inside of the glass. This didn't turn out as well as I had hoped, but meh. Overall the effect is awesome.

4 "D" batteries. There they are again... Slightly used as once I had them, I had to break out the old boombox and Grier jammed it on his shoulder while I used some discarded cardboard to lay down phat dance skills and breakdance like a mad fool.

Speaker Wire! I love this stuff... I use it to hang things up, connect electronics, erotically asphyxiate myself, and of course wire up A/V equipment!

2 POS flashlights, the cheap kind, I tried to incorporate LED's but I am lazy, what else can I say?

Some spare copper sheeting...

1 LED toggle switch, easily found in the car electronics section of Wal-Mart, I had a few lying around and chose green, the red ones bother me. They make me think whatever I put the switch on is doomed to blow up at any moment.

Zip ties and copper wire. Okay so the zip ties weren't exactly in keeping with the steampunk theme, but give me a break, I wanted to be able to change out the batteries.

Wire cutters! Self explanatory, if you can't figure this one out please stop reading as the following steps of simple electronics will confuse the hell out of you!

Step 2: Walking the Tightrope, or Rather Running the Wire

Picture of Walking the Tightrope, or Rather Running the Wire

So, we have our supplies and now it's time to get to work.

I wanted to try and keep the bike looking as stock as possible (HAHAHA) so I ran the wiring along the frame. I could have not been a lazy ass and drilled holes and ran it internally, but then you wouldn't have this cool copper wiring wrapping the bike!

I discovered while wiring that the rear reflector (which is massive as you may have noticed) has some gap between it and the fender, like a little triangle of plastic to make sure it sits comfy on the fender. Like a bolt of lightning i had an epiphany, more on that in the next step!

I wired up the batteries in a series and taped them all together in a nice battery pack block! Yay for tape, this would be unseen from the outside so I wasn't worried too much about cosmetics.
I then approximated the length of wire needed for my run.

See my fabulous Leonardo-esque painting of the wiring diagram. At least I think this is how it went. It was a while ago you know and I tend to forget a lot of things these days...

Step 3: Lighting Behind Me, Lighting Ahead...

Picture of Lighting Behind Me, Lighting Ahead...

Have you ever noticed I use a lot of ellipses? God that must be annoying. Anyways, onto more lighting goodness!

For the front lamp, I took off the original reflector but left the mounting base and in classic steampunk style I lashed the lamp to the front with quite a bit of copper wire. Mmmm... metal smells.
I didn't drill any holes for the wiring just in case I ran out of batteries and wanted to switch to good old kerosene. Mmm.... kerosene.

I simply soldered the bulb at the end of the wire after running the wire through one of the vents holes. Some hot glue kept the lamp in place. and viola!

Here's the fun epiphany I had with that rear reflector that i mentioned in the last step. With the wide open gap behind the reflector but still in the covering, I drilled a hole through the backside and hit the glue holding the reflector on with a heat gun. It popped neatly off and i ran a wire in through the back and soldered on a bulb. The neat thing is it appears as a running light that is red in the rear. Visibility for the win! I reattached the reflector with some hot glue, and screwed it back in place.

I think since the rear reflector was already a part of the bike, it looks amazingly custom (even though it's not), and it shoots light out in all directions in an ominous eerie red glow! See enclosed pictures!

Step 4: Drawing Conclusions!

Picture of Drawing Conclusions!

Put it all together!
Run wire, solder, realize it's too long, desolder, trim, resolder, realize it's now too short, desolder, cut new piece, reattach, perfect it... you get the idea. Afterwards sit back and admire how amazing you are. A simple lighting project that has saved my life more than once I am sure. Definitely makes a huge difference for obstacles too. I haven't run into a tree yet!
I shot my lights a little high, as I am not the one needing them, drivers in cars are. I also get a lot of comments on the nifty lantern holder. I created this out of stuff I found lying around the garage, granted I have a lot of crap period, but I am sure you do too, and none of these parts are overly expensive should you need to buy them. This project from start to finish including the painting, took me all of one night. Get out there and ride safely! Bikers need a piece of the road too!

And please, Leave me some comments, let me know how I did on my first instructable, and I apologize for the lack of build pictures! I will remember in the future.

El Fin


NamOoni1974 (author)2015-03-04

Ooooh, going to need to make one of these! Thanks for the instructions.

lunius (author)2011-01-09

"erotically asphyxiate myself" I see what you did there with all that extra speaker wire laying around xD

Malk_Mannï (author)2010-11-20

I've looked for projects like this for some time ... congratulations, it was beautiful, and is useful ^ ^ I will like so I can.

jakdedert (author)2010-07-03

Re: Age of the bike. Here's a site with a link to Schwinn serial numbers, along with their location on the bike (thinking they're on the bottom of the Bottom Bracket, but you can find that at the same site).

DdraigGoch (author)2009-07-31

Brilliant, in all the best senses! I'm almost inspired to start cycling again, it's that good. Thank you.

freek723 (author)DdraigGoch2009-07-31

Thank you kindly! I have just started cycling again decently, but riding as a pedicabber. I am working on a recumbent right now, long wheelbase lowrider, look for the instructable soon.

SureShot (author)2009-03-29

Good job, looks great. I really dig this whole steampunk thing.

freek723 (author)SureShot2009-03-30

Thanks I appreciate it, we enjoy the aesthetic part of it. We have quite a few costumes in the style which is how we got started in it. I think people like the idea of a time when things were hand made and always elegant, instead of mass produced and streamlined.

downs (author)2008-11-20

I don't get it. wouldn't lamp oil and a reflector be more steam punky?

freek723 (author)downs2008-11-21

It would indeed, but as phantom mentioned, it would be very unsafe. I have this problem with showing off... you know, standing on my seat with no hands while riding down the street. Would have been pretty painful had I wrecked with oil burning. Also, since the lantern is attached permanently, it would be problematic to refill it. I did think about though... just decided against it.

downs (author)freek7232008-11-22

perform within the means of your equipment. Nothing like a good 3rd degree burn to keep you from showing off (you realize your friends talk about you behind your back when you pull those stunts, don't you? see below for punk / crash-burn correlation. I assume you've inspected an oil lamp. they are quite easy to fill whether or not they are permanently attached via the cap located on the reservoir. also, nothing more steam punk than bailing wire. (yes they still sell it, even at home depot.) finally you all do realize that a dynamo instead of a battery would have fully qualified this project as steam punk, not just "steam punk style", right?

freek723 (author)downs2008-11-24

Personally I think the copper wire is more aesthetically pleasing than bailing wire. And under normal circumstances, yes the lamp would be fairly easy easy to fill through the reservoir cap, had the cap not been placed on the back side butting up against the fork. And as for the dynamo, another great idea, I did this however on a tight budget and tight time, with things i found throughout my garage, thus the wording "steampunk style." When you build one up let me know, as I would like to see what you incorporate into it.

downs (author)freek7232008-11-26

Sounds like a design flaw. Function before fashion I say. My light consists of two 15 watt 12v fog lights from autozone a toggle switch and a 20amphour 12volt gel cell battery. Not cute or stylish by any means but it got the drunken bums off the dark river trail bike path I used to commute to work; they figured I was a car which was the effect I wanted.

Here's a instructable from someone with no fear of fire. He too went for function before fashion:

slithytove2 (author)downs2009-01-26

I may be wrong, but I believe the whole intent of steampunk is kinda the other way around.. Fashion before function?

freek723 (author)downs2008-11-28

Feel free then to write an instructable on the subject, as far as I'm concerned the light does what I needed it to do, with things found lying around. And on a side note, I am costumer by trade, and we always go for fashion over function (depending on the idea of course). What use is something if it doesn't look good? For now, if you please, stop highjacking my comments and say what needs to be said in one comment or in a private message to me. You claim my instructable and overall concept is lacking, but yet you have no write ups of your own. Be constructive, or say nothing at all. Like I mentioned I built it over a year ago with all supplies on hand... to me that is the true nature of a maker and McGyver, not specifically purchasing things for the sake of a project (although I do projects of both sorts)

Phantom5582 (author)downs2008-11-20

It would be, but it would also be unsafe. If he crashed with an oil lamp, he can catch on fire.

downs (author)Phantom55822008-11-22

tell me, what's not punk about crashing and burning ? it's a sell out to modern tech.

Calorie (author)2008-11-20

Keep up the practice. I think the lantern idea has a lot of potential. There's an instructable on how to paint a bike that is excellent. You might get some good ideas on how to make your ride look sharper. It's an old bike, and a bit of mineral spirits will do wonders to remove any paint and allow you to try something new. Good Luck!

freek723 (author)Calorie2008-11-24

I actually repainted the whole thing already, it used to be baby blue. The gold/silver/copper/brass mixture you see is a new paint job. I wanted something old looking, so I used quite a few colors... All the mottling and flaws you see are intentional (okay some of them not so much but eh, they work). And speaking of old bike I would gladly welcome anyone who could tell me the original age of this thing. It's a Schwinn World Tourist internal 3 speed.

mi5tergone (author)2008-11-24

Fantastic job! I've been looking online for ideas for my own steampunk bicycle. I'm glad I ran across your instructable.

static (author)2008-11-22

A carbide lantern bones, would be more steampunkish, IMO.

randomray (author)2008-11-21

Great bike .I really like the steampunk theme . Did you mean rabbit hole when you were talking about the boomboxes ? I also remember the bigger the boombox the better it was .Now the smaller the electronic equipment the cooler it is .

freek723 (author)randomray2008-11-22

I didn't mean to, but now I feel as if it was an integral part of the write up. True that, if you had a boombox bigger than your head, you were decent. A boombox bigger than your torso? Welcome to lady land... at least thats what we thought.

gmoon (author)2008-11-20

Great paint job!

freek723 (author)gmoon2008-11-21

Thank you, I worked very hard on it. see the comment above to see what I used!

Phoghat (author)2008-11-20

What color did you use to paint the bike?

freek723 (author)Phoghat2008-11-21

I used a variety of colors, none of which I can name exactly off the top of my head. All were rattle can, but I believe what made the paint pop so well was the use of black automotive primer underneath. I used about six different variations of gold, copper, and brass, black, and green including a strictly gold flake. I have been playing with the mixing combos of these for a while to get a decent mottled look to the paint, thus making it look aged. It takes some practice, but is totally plausible to recreate what I have done here. The ceramic clear coat also reacted with the flake in the paint to mottle it a little more, which was not my intention but produced a great effect.

rdholtz (author)2008-11-20

Terrific first Instructable, and a terrific read even for those who don't build a lighting system. Parenthetical expressions are fine (there's no such thing as too many); even semicolons are cool -- and so are hyphens. I love ellipses, too . . . Write some more stuff -- you're very good. Makes me want to come play in your shop with you and help you not finish some more projects.

freek723 (author)rdholtz2008-11-21

Why thank you! I've had a little bit of formal training (had to have in order to even spell asphyxiate ;) ) as a copy editor for the local paper and editor for three years of my high school newspaper. I am disappointed there wasn't a few more steps, but the system overall was a really easy build, it was stuff I just had lying around. Future projects include a recumbent that will have more of the computer age feel. I was considering using Riley's plans for his Groundhugger X2, carbon fiber FTW!

redplanet (author)2008-11-19

Beautiful work. I'd very much like to see close-up shots of the bodywork and lantern, please. And you are fucking hilarious. I look forward to more instructables from you.

freek723 (author)redplanet2008-11-20

No problems, we just moved so let me get her out and get her all shiny (I have moved WAY closer to work and if I could get a decent morning I would actually put her to good use [is that too much to be put in a parenthesis?]). I will gladly get some more pics and let you know when I have some up.

HeWantsRevenge (author)2008-11-19

hahaha...way cool...though maybe u could hide some highpowered leds in the front

freek723 (author)HeWantsRevenge2008-11-20

I had considered the possibility and even had a nice little 9 light setup, but it was too white for me. Remember I am not so much trying to see the road, as I live in the suburbs and streetlamps do well enough for lighting. I want to make sure cars see me. I enjoy the cheapo flashlight as it gives off a yellow-amberish glow, akin to an actual lantern. At first I had mounted it up to look like a flame, but decided that wasn't effective enough.

KentsOkay (author)2008-11-19

Awesome! Love the styling.

freek723 (author)KentsOkay2008-11-20

Why thank you! I take pride in my want of old and nearly impossible to get and afford things, so the style seems to get integrated into all the things I do. Whether it be costumes, electronics, my wheeled companions.

PKM (author)2008-11-20

Well, you seem to have got the "make your writing entertaining for others to read" bit fairly well. I use too many ellipses as well, and hyphens when I really ought to use semicolons. Semicolons just look too formal, y'know? Anyway, enough of that- I'd love to build one of these if it wasn't going to be instantly stolen by scallies and used to set someone's car on fire. Great first Instructable!

About This Instructable




Bio: I like DIY... a lot. I costume and build my own bikes and motorized objects. I think free energy is out there, we just haven ... More »
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