Hibiscus Teesdale

Last week I saw this very unusual recumbent for sale on Fecebook. I’m always trying to get my friends’ butts on recumbents, and this one appeared to have a more adjustable seat and size range than a typical Easy Racers bike. And look at that — Phil Wood hubs? So I bought it.

Amazingly, a visiting Chicago friend of mine was willing to meet the seller somewhere in Illinois, and the seller was willing to drive all the way from Western Iowa to meet my friend, and it miraculously worked out so that just days after my purchase, this appeared in my driveway:

Hibiscus Teesdale stuffed in the back of my friend’s small car.

The listing said the frame was built by Tom Teesdale of West Branch, Iowa. I looked him up, and discovered he was highly respected but little-known beyond hardcore bike nerd circles. He died in 2014, attending the venerable RAGBRAI cycling event. In his honor, I decided to name this purple giant Hibiscus Teesdale.

At first glance, Hibiscus appears to be an Easy Racers Fold Rush clone. I already own a Fold Rush, so I was reluctant to get another, until I looked more closely at the photos. Hibiscus is different.

Check out that jack shaft!

For one thing, she has a jack shaft. Instead of one long chain running from the crank to the rear cassette, she has two smaller chains: one from crank to jack shaft, one from jack shaft to rear chainrings. Since the Fold Rush chain often falls off and/or gets twisted when folding, this looked like a genius innovation. I could also see the handlebar stem was designed to fold in, a feature I wished my Gold Rush had. Was this the lightweight, improved-folding long-wheelbase recumbent of my dreams?

Ancient photos of the same frame design in green.

Well, no. The first thing I learned in real life was that her fold requires tools. In fact, she has an aluminum brace (the same gorgeous purple as the rest of her) that has to be unscrewed from the elastomer and unbolted from the frame before folding. There is no quick release on this brace; two wrenches are required. There is also no quick release on the handlebar stem. These are all old-school bolts, not Allen bolts, and in many different sizes, so I was glad to have a complete set of bits in my ratcheting wrench set, as well as an adjustable wrench.

Underside of the seat.

The seat, at least, has a quick-release, and is very adjustable, although you still need a wrench to adjust the seat support struts. You can see above there is plenty of room for it to slide back for taller riders, and forward for shorter ones. That makes it more versatile than a typical Easy Racers frame, but it is a whole lotta extra bike if you’re short.

Hibiscus is indeed huge. And heavy. I think she is made of steel, other than her brace. She is at least as heavy as my steel Tour Easy.

She also feels like she might be indestructible. I’m asking the seller if he knows the recommended rider weight limit. I expect she could accommodate heavier riders than anything else in my stable.

Closeup of the elastomer, which resembles a thick rubber hockey puck, between the rear tire and the seat.

Like the Fold Rush, Hibiscus has suspension created by the folding mechanism itself, similar to the suspension on a Brompton, another folding bike I cherish (I Bromptoned all over New York City when I lived there).

The ride is smooth and comfortable, but that could also be because the frame is so long, as well as the huge thick tires she came with. Usually I put narrower road tires on my ‘bents, but since she’s already wearing these wide nubbly shoes, I intentionally rode her on lousy streets, over cracks and gravel. I wasn’t looking for a gravel ‘bent, but now I have one.

Seller’s photo. I’m currently riding without the fairing (or mounts).

I thought the stiff “Cobra” style seat was an odd choice for a heavy suspended bike. I have a Cobra seat on my small Gold Rush, and the ride is very harsh, but that’s probably due to its stiff, small, aluminum frame. On this huge long suspended steel frame, the seat didn’t feel harsh at all. I liked that it held my back up straight.

8 speed cassette with Shimano Deore DX derailer.

I don’t know exactly when Hibiscus was built, but she is equipped with Shimano Deore DX components, which were apparently produced between 1990 and 1993. She has these charming bar-end shifters to match:

I’m pretty sure the handlebar foam is original. Hibiscus is remarkably well preserved for her age. I do need to replace the chains, as a few links are rusting.

Phil Wood hubs!!! I wonder if she also has a Phil Wood bottom bracket, like my modified Gold Rush, but I’m not gonna open her up to find out.

As of this writing, Hibiscus has been in my possession just over 24 hours. So far we’ve spent 17 miles together. I did many errands on her this afternoon, picking up and delivering things.

She is not fast. But the more I ride her, the more I like her. I don’t have room in my garage for 4 long wheelbase recumbents, so at some point one of my stable is going to move on. Will it be Hibiscus, or will it be Foldilocks (Fold Rush), Silver (Gold Rush), or Connie Bikeson (Tour Easy)?

Time to get a bigger garage.


Hand prints

The pristine, just-laser-cut blocks.
A pair of resultant prints.
Just before the blocks’ maiden voyage. I photographed them before they got little bits of ink stuck in them.

Next step is to heat-set them with the iron, and sew them into a test mask.

UPDATE: Masks!
My face is a little red because I rode my bike 67 miles today, including 10 miles in rain so heavy I couldn’t see and had to stop every few yards to wipe my eyes because OW rainwater stings, but I was sufficiently excited to come home to these masks to take these pix anyway.


The Four Beasts of Heaven

And before the throne there was a sea of glass like unto crystal: and in the midst of the throne, and round about the throne, were four beasts full of eyes before and behind.

And the first beast was like a lion, and the second beast like a calf, and the third beast had a face as a man, and the fourth beast was like a flying eagle.

And the four beasts had each of them six wings about him; and they were full of eyes within: and they rest not day and night, saying, Holy, holy, holy, Lord God Almighty, which was, and is, and is to come.

Revelation 4

See also: the Cherubim of Ezekiel.




Eye mask design in progress

First I made this one…
Then I made this one…
Then I posted them on social media, where the feedback favored the hands…
This morning I designed this one, which combines traits of the first 2 designs.
Then I took this blurry selfie, because it’s raining this morning and very little light is coming through my windows.
A few more tweaks…
Ah, there we go. Still blurry, but the design feels much better to me.

Six Wings Full of Eyes

Back to working on my animated Apocalypse. From Revelation 4:

And the four beasts had each of them six wings about him; and they were full of eyes within…

The lion-to-lamb head is just a placeholder, because:

…the first beast was like a lion, and the second beast like a calf, and the third beast had a face as a man, and the fourth beast was like a flying eagle.

So I gotta do a calf, man, and eagle face as well. The four heavenly Beasts resemble the cherubim of Ezekiel, but instead of being one four-winged creature with 4 faces, they are 4x 6-winged creatures. Both are full of eyes, eyes front and back, eyes within, eyes everywhere, oh god those eyes. I was pleased to find myself somewhat disturbed watching this test.


Angel O’ Death Mask Take 3: I’m getting tired

I’m now on my third set of laser-cut acrylic printing plates. Third time’s a charm. Even if it’s not, I’m not going through this again.

Below is design 3 (top) vs design 1 (bottom).

The Angel O’ Death face has become smaller still, so the wings could become proportionally bigger. Honestly I’m not sure I like this, but I’m tired and don’t want to go through yet another design iteration, so this may be it.

Momz sewed this new mask prototype, but I sewed the center seam, because it has to be sewn along the image line rather than the exact quarter-inch-from-the-fabric-edge she sews to. If I make a signed, numbered, limited edition handprinted mask run, I will be sewing all the center seams (and hopefully someone else will assemble the rest of them).

The new plates have finger holes, which are a vast improvement for handling, and work with a registration frame. Even with all the precision laser cutting, exact registration of the image on the pre-cut fabric pieces remains impossible, but this might be good enough.

Behold the glorious print process:

Registering a pre-cut fabric piece in the precision-cut frame.
Using the finger holes to line up the inked plate in the frame, which will drop right into the depression in which lies the pre-cut fabric.
Whacking with the rubber mallet. Whack, whack.
Lifting the plate with the finger holes.
The fabric is now stuck to the plate by the sticky ink.
A little finger burnishing. Not much is needed, as long as I slather on that gooey ink.
Peeling off the fabric.

Printed fabric pieces drying.
The finger-hole plates work fine without the registration frame as well, but then I have to hand-cut the pieces.

Oh, I actually wore one of these masks yesterday, while bicycling to Theo’s laser-cutting bunker to pick up the new plates. I’d been laid low with allergies, sneezing my face off, and thought the mask might reduce my inhalation of allergens. Maybe it did, but I will not bike with a mask again. I got out of breath quickly, and the mask became moist from my exhalations (which I then re-inhaled, hence feeling out of breath, because I’m inhaling my own CO2 instead of fresh oxygen), and when my nose got runny it got even more gross. So, not for biking. But I will wear one for shopping or other indoor public activities I can’t avoid. Still, all this work for something that’s just a drag to wear… No wonder I feel tired.