Penny Farthing (in Progress)





Introduction: Penny Farthing (in Progress)

I'm making a penny farthing, and it's going to be rad. I had already begun construction when Tim and Star convinced me to post an instructable about it, so I don't have original pictures of the first steps of construction, but I am creating some dramatization pictures to show how I bent the rim.

Step 1: Make the Rim

Dramatization! Not actual footage!

So, I took a 4' diameter tabletop that was kicking around, and drilled a 1/2" hole near the side, and tied a bit of rope around it, as shown. Next, I laid my channel iron face down (the open side - the side you want facing outwards) down on the ground, put the table on top, looped the rope over the end of the iron (of which I had about 16'), and began to pull back as shown. This little piece of aluminum I'm using in the picture is obviously much easier to bend than the channel iron; be strong!

The steel will spring back a bit, so on a 4' table, I got about a 6' circle of steel. I stretched it down to be just under 5', cut and welded.

Step 2: See, Look!

Isn't it great! Star thinks so!

Step 3: Welded

Here is the seam in the rim. I welded the outside and inside using a mig welder, and then ground down the welds. If you're going to grind down your welds on something structural like this, be SURE you got good melt-through with your weld.

Step 4: Make Spoke Attacher Thingers

I took 6' of 3/8" steel rod, inserted the end into a hand brake with 1.5" sticking out, bent, then chopped 1.5" off after the bend, thereby making these little thingers. I then found a piece of crap about 1/2" tall to support them as I tack welded them to the inside of the rim as shown.

Step 5: The Hub

So, I found a bunch of these. They seem to be feet from some optical equipment (or so Tim says).

So, go find some :-P

Step 6: Drill Out More Spoke Holes

I made a small jig for them by drilling two screws into a small piece of plywood, and mounting the plywood onto the drillpress so when the piece was pushed against the screws, the drill bit would be directly above where it should be.

Step 7: Connect the Two Sides

I found this piece of thin-walled steel tubing that just happened to fit snugly into the hub sides. I drilled out two small holes in it to line up with the pre-drilled holes in my hub sides.

Step 8: Finished Hub Shell

I'll get to the crank spindle later, but for now, just insert the steel tubing between the two sides, and throw some bolts into the threaded holes.

This is the strangest look I have ever seen on Tim's face.

Step 9: Attach Spokes

I bought from some company online a lot of 3/32" stainless cable, 100 thimbles (the little tear-drop shaped things), and 100 brass ferrules. For my rim and the size of my hub, a 48.5" piece of cable is enough to attach to the rim in the middle of the cable, and then on the other ends I attach turnbuckles. These equate to my wheel's nipples.

I have also attached a picture of the tool I made to crimp the ferrules. It's just a cheap pair of bolt cutters that I disassembled, ground notches into the teeth, and then reassembled.


Step 10: More to Come!

still working on it



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    Good start. Don't forget to add steps on climbing on, staying on, moving, stopping and climbing off, all without snapping any bones. Small British boys used to find it greatly entertaining to wait on a hill for a penny-farthing to go past heading downhill, then they'd shove a stick between the spokes of the larger wheel. Oh, how they chortled as they watched the rider flailing through the air...

    5 replies

    Hi ,Im also Tim from Malaysia,email me for some photos of a ridable Penny Farthing using bicycle parts.Its so much fun pulling Crowd! Wanted to show hoqw but still dont know how to insert pictures in Instructables! Cheers, Jitra,Kedah,t Malaysia


    That is worth posting - you add the pictures to the projects by following the instructions at the bottom of the text box.

    My second Penny Farthing,now refining the rims & hub to make it stronger for a heavier riders! Found some flexes & weakness with 48 spokes (1 cross) over 2 units of 28" rims opened up and welded to a 51" Rim. I used a 16mm diameter 156" long fuel hose for the tires which works very good. Sorry Im not good at writing and hope these pictures are adequate to assist! The Hub was only 4" long and Im going to increase it to 6" on this improved wheels! God bless, Tim from Malaysia All parts were homemade including the spoon brakes! God bless,Tim


    This looks awesome! What did you use for the spokes and rear wheel?

    I uses # 13 (2.5mm) Grade 316 Stainless Steel welding rod & thread it using old school Spokes nipples to match the thread.You need 60 SPOKES and you axle has to be 6"-7" long to prevent the rims from 'potatoeing"

    Tim's Email was hacked again his new email is
    You can also see me at for some Penny Farthing built

    i am researching horse cart wheels as a source for the front wheel - any other thoughts?

    thanks for posting i'm thinking of making one

    Nice work! I have contemplated a similar project for some time. I even considered using cable spokes too. Unlike many projects, these things are not easy to find, purchase, ship, etc.....the cost/time of making one is worthy. Can't wait to see a rolling picture.

    How did this turn out? Im in the process of doing this and the spokes technique is interesting.

    how it coming along?

    wait, what did you use for the wheels? that's the only part i'm not sure how to make. I dont want it to look super ghetto. I know you can buy replicas online but they're like 500+ dollars.

    I'm curious if you got two aluminum wheels and bent them into semi circle' and welded them together if that could work... I think I'm going to experiment

     I know that I can make the Rim using normal furniture tube 1 1/8".
    Using a Tube Bender in order to get a Tube circle of 50" 0 60".
    The size of whell that you want.

    Once bended, cut in half in order to get the "U" Shape, with a band saw.

    Sweet great start, wondering if you've gotten anywhere since '07. And if anyone has an idea where to get the tire material. I've heard something about using some type of wheel chair tire material that comes in long lengths, but my google research has yet to come up with anything.

    it damages people till they learn to ride it :)