I'm often surprised by how many broken old bikes I see in the city and lying around in people's sheds, yards and basements. Many of these bikes are beyond the reasonable point of repair. We were discussing more bike storage at my house, and the idea of a bike rack made from old bikes came up. I like this idea because it feels like the old broken bikes are supporting the younger bikes from the afterlife.
Step 1: Bikes Bikes Bikes (and a Couple Tubes)
I'm always a fan of creative re-use of materials, so when I stumbled upon a pile of old rusty bike frames at a family friend's house, it felt like hitting the jackpot. Most of them were unusable as bikes at this point due to the rust, or cracks or bends. If you don't have friends with piles of frames, you might be able to get a few frames from your local bike shop. It is usually a legal liability for them to give away busted frames if people are intending on riding them, but if you tell them you'll be using them for non-riding purposes, you should be all set.
You'll need a 1.25 inch steel tube to link all the frames together. This will need to be the length of the whole bike rack. Mine was 9.5 feet.
Also, you'll need a 1 inch steel tube about 2 feet long for each of the frames you are using.
Step 2: Destruction
Every good project has a stage or two that involves hack saws, angle grinders and lots of noise. This is no exception. Get out your bike demolition tools, and start hacking away. All you'll need is the front triangle, so you can cut away everything else. Get rid of the wheels, the cranks, the bottom bracket, the seat the fork and even the chain stays and seat stays. You'll probably fill a couple of garbage bins with old parts.
Step 3: Prep
Before you are ready to start welding, you'll need to get rid of all the paint, rust and grease in the areas you need to weld. A sand blaster is great for this if you have access, but if not, wire brushes and angle grinders will do. I used a wire wheel on most of the frames. On the one with the worst paint, I stripped the whole frame and re-painted everything except the critical areas. This could be done after welding the whole rack together, but I want all the frames to be different, and that would be hard once they get welded together.
Step 4: Layout
Once you have all your frames cut up and prepped for welding pass the long 1.25 inch pipe through the bottom bracket of each frame and space them out as you like.
I also used a 2 inch square tube for the base of the rack. The Tubes coming out of the seat tubes are 1 inch in diameter, so I cut 1 inch holes every 15 inches in the square tube. With the bottom brackets connected, I trimmed the middle 6 seat tube extensions to the same length so they would fit in the holes in the square tubes. I left the two seat tubes on the ends longer by about a foot and stuck them all the way through the square tube. These will get sunk into the ground to keep the rack in place a little better. If you are really worried about the security of this thing, you could even sink those ones in concrete (but I didn't do this).
Step 5: Welding
Time to get sparky!
There are two main areas to weld. First was to weld a pipe into each of the seat tubes. I left these long so that I could trim them all to be the same length later. I used a MIG welder for this because it is quick and the pipe I stuck down the seat tubes is thick and easy to weld. If you want to get fancy, TIG welding would probably look a lot better here.
The second place to weld is the tube between the bottom brackets. I found that a 1.25 inch tube fits pretty well through that area. There's a little gap on most of frames, but nothing the MIG welder can't take care of.
The final welds were to the square tube bottom bar. I also welded two pieces of square tube perpendicular to the rest of the rack under the frames on the end to keep the whole thing upright.
Step 6: Transport
Added this to the long list of reasons I'm so glad I have a pickup truck.
Step 7: Grind
I wasn't as careful as I could have been welding this thing up (It was a nice day and I wanted to go on a bike ride instead of hang out inside with the welder). As a result, there was some grinding to be done before I could paint it up.
Step 8: Clear Coat/ Paint
I wanted to preserve the look of the old frames, so only painted in the raw areas, but if your version has a fun paint scheme, I'd love to see pics (actually, I'd love to see pics of whatever version you make). I also clear coated over all the frames just in case. Some of them have seen better days.
Step 9: Install
We simply pushed the two vertical pipes extending through the bottom into the ground. If you are concerned about the whole rack walking away, you could also sink them in concrete, but that isn't always necessary.
Now it's time to lock up your ride. Maybe the old frames can tell some stories to the newer bikes about the good old days back when they still had wheels.