Rank Beginner Questions (TimberWolf / StreetFox / Welding / Any other helpful ideas)

Mac

Joined
Jul 22, 2020
Messages
3
Location
Montreal / Ottawa
So I stumbled across this site because I've been looking for a recumbent trike since a wrist injury that leaves me unable to bike, but as a student, I can't afford to buy one. I have a reasonable amount of self- (and internet-) taught mechanical skill, a higher-than-average degree of perfectionism, and I do most of my own car and bike maintenance. I'm also drawn to projects that have a learning curve - most recently a transmission repair on my car that I couldn't afford to have done professionally (though it would have taken the pro about 29 days less than the month it took me!)

Regarding the learning curve, I've never done any real metal fab work, and have about 10 minutes of experience on a MIG welder from about 5 years ago. So my goals are:

  1. Learn to weld using a $99 (on sale), 115V, DC stick welder that I'm about to buy (https://www.princessauto.com/en/detail/75a-mini-inverter-stick-welder/A-p8785008e).
  2. Build a couple of useful items for further practice, like a welding cart and/or table, and rig up some sort of smoke extraction system for the garage
  3. Build a trike!
A couple of points on which I'd appreciate some input. First, the only space I have available for welding is a rented, suburban, attached, drywalled, 2-car garage. This seems less than ideal, but I think that with a bit of forethought I can make it work and make it safe. If anyone has any helpful thoughts on this, let me know.

I'm just over 290 lbs. Thoughts on whether the stock plans are ok, or whether it would be wise to modify? Would 14 gauge be the better choice? Would rather have a lighter machine if possible.

Also curious about thoughts on the trikes I'm thinking about starting with: TimberWolf or StreetFox. Has anyone built both and have any thoughts on which would be the easier one for a first build? Thoughts on which is more "robust"? Which is more maneuverable? I'm leaning towards the TimberWolf, because it seems like it's better for carrying cargo, more maneuverable, and more robust, but I have no idea what I'm talking about, so hopefully someone can set me straight if I'm way off the mark! FWIW, I have also bought plans for the LodeRunner and Warrior.

Any and all thoughts would be appreciated!

Thanks!

p.s. Are the Aurora and TimberWolf the same, except for the cargo box?
 
Joined
Oct 19, 2012
Messages
900
Location
Wakefield, UK
Delta trikes (one at the front) are almost always more manoeuvrable than tadpoles (two at the front). One front wheel will turn tighter than two. Two front wheels turning run into space requirements such as where your legs want to be and also run into Ackerman issues that deltas simply don't have to consider. The tadpole though is almost always more stable in cornering.

I'd suggest 14g given your weight or you could equally go to a bigger tube. Going bigger is usually stronger than going thicker. There's a nice beam deflection calculator here which will show the benefits of going larger over thicker. Going thicker will not affect any of the plans but going larger may. You'd need to go over the plan carefully to see if larger tube becomes an issue. Welding thin tube is harder than welding thicker tube. The tendency is to blow holes in thin stuff. Using 14g will make your welding that bit easier and for that reason alone, as a new welder and one using stick rather than MIG or TIG, I'd suggest 14g over fatter tube.
 
Joined
Feb 20, 2013
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756
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Axedale, Victoria, Australia
Website
axerail.coffeecup.com
Welcome aboard Mac.

My advice, in addition to Popshot's is:

If you can, get hold of, or get welding practice on making, some sort of welding table. It doesn't have to have a filled in top on it. Just a frame will do. It will enable you to get things up off the floor, be kinder to your back, make things easier to weld as you will be able to look all around it, and you can clamp things down so they don't move.
 

SirJoey

Super Moderator
Joined
Feb 8, 2008
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My cozy little nook in the corner!
The tadpole though is almost always more stable in cornering.
"Almost", being the keyword, of course. I have a $3,500 Catrike tadpole with a center of gravity just as low as a my homebuilt DeltaWolf, but
it will tip easier than the DeltaWolf for sure. Probably because the seat of the delta (where most of the weight is) is situated almost between
the 2 rear wheels, as opposed to a tadpole's single rear wheel which is centered a little BEHIND the weight of the seat, if that makes sense.

At any rate, IN MY CASE anyway, my Brad Graham-designed delta is definitely more stable than my expensive,
factory-built tadpole. I've proved it through some frighteningly hard, hair-raising, & WHEEL-raising turns! :eek:

***
 

Mac

Joined
Jul 22, 2020
Messages
3
Location
Montreal / Ottawa
Thanks everyone for the insight, that helps!

Learned something today while trying to source the steel tubing. Suppliers here list in thousandths of an inch instead of by gauge, so I was trying to convert based on charts I found on the web. Nothing matched up. Turns out thicknesses are different for steel sheet and tubing. So apparently 16 gauge is 0.598 for sheet, but 0.625 for tubing. 14 gauge is 0.075 for sheet, but 0.083 for tubing.

So I think I'll go with the beefier 0.083" / 14-ga. given my weight. Looks like it will add about 30% more weight to the trike, I guess the extra margin of safety is worth it. Anyone know how much the TimberWolf and StreetFox weigh when built according to the plans? Are they roughly equivalent in terms of the difficulty of the build?
 
Joined
Oct 19, 2012
Messages
900
Location
Wakefield, UK
There'll be a range of weights rather than any set weight for any given plan as most folk make some change or compromise to use something better or something they already have just as you are changing to use 14g. Even the choice of tyres could add or subtract 1.5KG. From what I've seen on here Warrior and Streetfox type trikes seem to come in between 23kg and 33KG+, with the lower limit using consciously chosen lightweight parts though nothing exotic and getting above 30KG using fatter tyres, 14g, plusher seat, steel handlebars etc. No idea on weights of other types.
Don't forget using 14g wont add extra weight to things other than the frame tubing itself. It won't make the rear triangle or wheels any heavier and certainly won't add 30% to the total weight. It's only the main frame that needs the reinforcement of 14g. Any other bits of bracketry or things such as brake hangers or head tubes can be as per plan or donor. It should be fairly easy to guestimate the tubing length and use an online calculator to see the difference 14g makes over 16g. A rough guestimate for a Streetfox would be about 1.5kg heavier in 14g. Not the end of the world and much better than a bent frame.
 

Mac

Joined
Jul 22, 2020
Messages
3
Location
Montreal / Ottawa
Thanks! Ok, 14-ga it is. There's one supplier here that stocks 14-ga square tube. From what I've read, I think cold-rolled is what I want - better dimensional accuracy, less clean-up, maybe a little harder. Any thoughts?
 
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