Sunday, September 4, 2016

Re-purposing Old Hub Shells

Ah, yes. When you have to buy a full "lot" of something just to get the few parts you need, what do you do with the rest?

New Departure Model D shot glasses! These single speed coaster brake hubs were made in America from the mid 1930s until the late '50s, and when Mattuck bought New Departure's bicycle division, they made copies of the hub until maybe 1962. So one day I found some specific hubs and shells of interest, including an alloy Sturmey-Archer AW, but they also happened to come with 18 empty Model D shells. I thought, "That's a lot of paper weights to have at my disposal!" ... *crickets*

I sold 10 of the shells in groups of 5. I'm not sure why people bought them but evidently they must have thought of a fun project as well. Anyway, I took 5 shells that had a good variety of patina and spent a while thinking of a way to seal the bottoms for drinking. I considered casting a silicone sleeve and nearly settled on straight-up welding a steel disc to each one but somehow, after months, the thought of JB Weld dawned on me and I hopped right to it. I know JB Weld is an epoxy and might not be completely alcohol-safe but you didn't think I'd be using these regularly, did you?

I enlisted the help of my friend Yasha (credit for some of the photos goes to him) who was unfortunate enough to be sitting in my apartment at the time and together, we rolled some JB weld and essentially used the shells as cookie cutters to form the shape. We had to kind of squeeze and pinch the epoxy into the bottom of the shells and his ended up being better-made than mine.


I was excited at the result but still had to plug the holes. Three had caps, two did not. After the bottoms had cured, I tried to solder some bolts into the cap-less holes but it didn't quite work. I ended up just sticking them in with more JB Weld, and also JB Welding the caps shut on the other three. Well, they're done and that is that. Into the cupboard they go, and I'm back to drinking straight from the bottle.

Now, the second one is a bit more creative, I guess. In the same lot was a 1978 Sturmey-Archer S3C shell with a very worn braking surface, as well as spoke holes that had apparently been drilled larger for heavy duty spokes (and then never installed, likely when the owner came to their senses). It was no longer to be used as a hub. In the architecture studio, I like to put my glue bottle upside down so I don't have to wait. Up until I made this, I'd been using a stack of cardboard with a hole poked through it.

Toward the end of the semester, I took some leftover cedar and cut it into shape, drilled a hole for the cap, and glued them all inside. I sealed the wood with polyurethane.

Bam! A simple project with maximum effectiveness. Not only does it look cool and fit the bottle perfectly, but the braking surface in the hub makes it heavy enough to remain on the desk while I lift the glue bottle.