I first started making racks for Bike Friday something like 7 years ago. At Bike Friday, I made the same rack over and over again with dedicated tooling. The benefit of that specialization is that I could, and had to, work very fast. At times I made 10 racks per hour. That is 6 minutes to cut, drill, bend and braze the rack from raw tubing.
One thing that made that speed possible was that the racks were heavily powder coated so the aesthetics of the joins were less important. The main things, however, that made it possible were the dedicated fixtures to hold the tubing while cutting, bending and brazing.
When I started making racks in my own shop, all of my fixturing was ad-hock. I ended up using magnets and weights to try and hold things in position. While it is possible to work this way, it is slow and too often things didn’t come out quite the way I hoped. Often I would have to design to work around the limits of my limited fixturing.
I recently made a concerted effort to upgrade my fixturing and tube bending capabilities. The result is that I can design and build much more complex racks with confidence. Here are some pictures of my recent builds. Thanks for looking! Click the images for the full gallery and larger pictures.
This is the tube bender I built. It is based loosely on those made by Diacro, who make some of the best benders around. Mine is built specifically for rack making with an integrated fixture plate to assist in making compound bends.
This fixture has many uses. I primarily use it for holding bikes for a rack fitting. It helps to ensure that the rack will be flat with respect to the ground and oriented correctly to the bike. You can see in the following pictures that I can use it to locate the mount points on the bike so that I do not have to have the bike for the entire design and fabrication process. Once I’ve set the fixture up to mimic the geometry of the bike, I can build the rack to fit the fixture.