|Steam chamber and old bending jig.|
My first attempt at a less destructible fender was made from flat 1/16 x 1 1/2" aluminum stock which I bent in the shape of the wheel and then riveted the old mounting hardware to. These worked pretty well but were also really flexy. A better choice would have been to use full 1/8" aluminum stock or to add a rib or channel to the aluminum. Both of those options require either equipment that I don't own or have access to, or time to build the right die/mandrel to stretch the fender around.
|New bending jig.|
At this point I used the saturation bend technique, which meant I soaked the wood in the bathtub for a couple of days and then wet bent them against the mold. To keep them in place I clamped them and then left them to dry over the heating vent. This worked OK, but not great. The wood was not nearly as pliable as it really needed to be and although I did get a distinct bend, the curvature was not quite as tight as I would have liked. This meant that when the fenders were installed, they had a little bit of spring to them. It turned out that there were some actual benefits to that as the spring keeps them very rigid and taught. I'm still using these fenders on my bike. I've since extended them by tacking another chunk of fender onto them with and urethane glue rivets. Fully functional if not the nicest things out there.
|Cathy's maple fenders set for finish and hardware.|
Finally this winter I put the system to use with some wooden blanks that my brother cut for me from ash and maple. I'd not tried maple before but was optimistic to give it a try. The system worked well and made bending a breeze. I did have some trouble getting the wood up to optimal bending temp, just above 200 degrees, but the wood still bent just fine. In the future I am going to insulate my steam chamber with heating/cooling duct insulation. That should help get the temperature up some.
|Finished quick mount maple fenders.|
|Mounted on a bike not designed for fenders.|
Because time was short, I went with a natural tungoil finish on them. I'd wanted to try an epoxy finish but wasn't sure it would cure over night. Of course, the test batch I did cured overnight just fine but I couldn't run the risk. While the fenders were drying I picked up so more aluminum to finish the mounts. I left them really long and wide so as to clear the rims with room to spare. Last night I riveted the mounts on and robbed the struts off from Cathy's new fenders (sorry) and finished the new ones up.
|Installed on the Synapse.|
There is a reason custom anything doesn't come cheap when you start adding time involved into the equation. It was a fun project though that helped the shop out, a shop that has done a ton to help me out, and hopefully the bike's owner will like them. The fit is pretty solid and I think they look pretty sharp. I wasn't certain how the ultra modern Shimano DuraAce Di2 electronic shifting equipped bike which also has full hydraulic disc brakes and big Enve carbon fiber clincher rims would look. Given the sort of retro race bike paint scheme and somewhat otherwise blacked out feel, I think they work really well. Makes me think of a 50's era woody that had been hot rodded. The fenders also run pretty low which gives the impression that the rig has been lowered.
I know, I'm biased but I think they look pretty darn cool. Guess I'd best go order some new hardware to replace Cathy's so she has fenders on her bike. She heard no end of it being the only one on the team ride last night without.