Introduction: Outdoor Bike Rack
Living by the beach, you depend on your bicycle as more or less your main mode of transportation. Whether it be shopping for groceries, traveling to bars, or visiting friends, its nice to be able to keep your bike in an accessible location. Usually that means somewhere in the garage, behind cars or in some other spot that ends up making actually getting to the bike too much of a hassle. No more! Outside the front of the house, there's a small plot of dirt that wasn't being used for anything. I thought that this would be perfect to build a permanent, hefty outdoor bike rack. There were a few bike racks here on Instructables, but they were meant to be more light, temporary and portable structures. The bike rack detailed here could withstand Katrina!
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Step 1: Parts
On to the parts list.
For my purposes, it sufficed to have 1/2" steel pipes as the main structure. Make sure that you get galvanized pipes so that they don't rust from being outside!
Five 36" long 1/2" steel pipes with threaded ends
Four 9" long 1/2" steel pipes with threaded ends
Five 1/2" 90 degree threaded elbow joints
Three 1/2" threaded tee joints
7 bags of Quick-crete Cement
total ~ $50
gravel smoothing paddle (i'm sure it has a real name..)
a few spare bricks
In addition, I had played around with cement before, and it was a PAIN to mix by hand. For this project, I went ahead and rented an electric cement mixer. It came to about $40 for the whole day, and that was well worth the saved time and energy.
Step 2: Assembling the Rack
The first step is to put the rack together. Unfortunately, I don't have any pictures of the assembly process, so I'll try to describe it the best I can.
To make the top, connect the pipes in this following order: elbow, 9"pipe, tee, 9" pipe, tee, 9" pipe, tee, 9" pipe, elbow. So there are Two elbows, three tees, and 4 pieces of pipe. From there connect the five long pieces of pipe to the openings and that's it!
The great thing about this design is that it is expandable. For myself, I only wanted to make a rack that holds four bikes. You can quite easily make it bigger or smaller to suit your needs.
To tighten the threads, It helps to get a few people to lend a hand. One person holds the contraption, while two people rotate each leg until they are all tightened. It's kind of a pain, but you only have to do it 5 times!
In the drawing, you will also notice that I put 3 elbows on the bottom of the pipes. This is to add extra support and anchoring in the cement.
Step 3: Setup
Once you have the rack together, stick it in the ground! You should get a nice place that's easily accessible from both sides (so you can get behind the rack to lock your bikes).
I added a pole on the side to stabilize the rack, and then used a level with a magnet on it (neat!) to ensure the rack was straight.
Then I created a border around the area to be cemented with some spare bricks I had lying around. This will ensure smooth, straight sides when you're done.
Step 4: Mix the Cement!
Now, start mixing the cement! The directions on the bags said to use very little water, and hence were not to be trusted. You basically have to follow your gut here. If the mix is to dry and crunchy, add more water. If it starts to look like watered down oatmeal, add more cement. Only do about one bag at a time, or it will be too much for the mixer.
A shovel here REALLY helps out. It allows you to have more control over what you're doing. Once you've got a good consistency going, let it mix for about 5 to 10 minutes. When you're ready, turn off the motor, and while one person tilts the mixer over, scoop out the cement and distribute it evenly throughout the setting area.
Since you're putting this straight onto dirt, the first layer doesn't really matter. Our area is about 4' by 2', and the depth was about 3 inches.
After the first layer is poured, subsequent layers should be smoothed using the paddle. You can do this while you're mixing the cement. It will give you a better idea of how much more cement you need. In our case, the pouring area was more or less flat, so we didn't have to worry about angling. But if you're doing this on a slope, this is the time to get the cement the right shape/angle for your particular application.
Step 5: Stop Splatter!
One thing to note, when you pour out the cement, it tends to splatter. Use a wet rag to wipe down the legs of the rack. If you don't do this almost immediately, the splatter will dry and be almost impossible to remove. This goes of any other desirable places as well. This will ensure that your rack is pretty, and we definitely want that!
Step 6: Smooth Me Out Baby
Once the final layer is poured, spend some extra time smoothing it with the paddle. You want it nice and flat.
Step 7: Sign Er'
Once that's done, you're pretty much finished! But wait, you say, I spent lots of time on this project, and I want to SIGN it! Well of course you do. However, you need to let the cement dry for a couple of hours first. I waited about 4 hours, and it was bordering on too late, so 2 or 3 hours should be enough. You can use pretty much any object such as a screwdriver or a stick. Try to avoid sharp angles such as Zs and Ms, because they don't tend to turn out too well. I live in a house with 4 other roommates, so they all came out and signed it! Fun Fun!
Step 8: She's All Done!
The cement will cure after about 6 hours, but don't be fooled! It's not dry yet! It can take up to 48 hours for the cement to be completely dry. You'll know because it will have turned from a dark gray to an almost white color. This thing is pretty strong, so you'll be able to stand on it and kick it and pretty much whatever. Nobody will mess with your bikes now!
In addition, I planted some palm trees on either side of the bike rack to make it even more pretty. It was really easy. The instructions for this are as follows: buy a tree, dig hole, put the tree in the hole, fill in the hole, and then water it. Repeat.
Enjoy the summer!!!
Step 9: Optional Paint Job
I've decided to paint the bike rack.
First i used some sandpaper to smooth out all the poles, cracks & corners.
Then i used a can of Glossy White Rust-Oleum spray paint.
I ended up using the entire can. Now she'll never rust! Ani't she pretty in white?!