Most likely you're visiting to check out Finer Recliner CURVE neck rests, side mount handlebar bag kits, embroidery, tail lights and other recumbent accessories.

I make neck rests mainly but not exclusively for recumbent trikes. Each is 2" thick memory foam fill on a gently curved PVC base. The covers are breathable and water-resistant. Embroidery options are nearly limitless and allow you to truly personalize this part of your trike.

If you're interested in more information about Finer Recliner accessories, pictures, prices and how to order, you can reach me at stevesussman@earthlink.net.

Thanks for visiting.

Tuesday, January 24, 2012

It’s sure cold in an un-insulated shop.  We probably had about 8-10” on the ground by the time the snow stopped.  All that snow on the shop roof did a great job keeping the cold in.  The thin metal walls did their part too, and after standing on the concrete floor making parts for a couple of hours my knees were so sore that anything falling on the floor will be staying there until June.  It’s not a good sign when I’m thinking of welding as a way to stay warm.  But while the weather definitely dialed down my enthusiasm for spending time in the shop there’s still be a lot going on.  

I did some overdue fine-tuning on my trike stand after finding some neat ball bearing rollers at Harbor Freight.  With one on the bottom of each leg the stand rolls and spins easily…it’s so much easier to use now.  I also removed the gimcracky assembly I built to hold the trike’s main tube and replaced it with a simple rubber-coated “Y” hook.  There’s definitely something to be said for simplicity.  

Msafiri is now resting comfortably in the refined stand while I finish fabricating the new front fender mounts.

As for neck rests, I managed to get enough made to fill all orders and (for a wonderful change) even have some actually available in stock.  I even finished extra “T” and “L” towers and side mount kit “L” arms…this definitely is a first.  We have a bunch of covers currently being embroidered…people have created some very neat images that I’ll post as soon as the covers are done.  Here are two I just shipped out the other day.

Speaking of shipping, yesterday when I was mailing orders I discovered the USPS rates had gone up.  So anyone receiving an order with the shipping charge changed…it’s just because the postal rates have been increased.  Sorry.  All things considered I think the postal service is still a great deal and I’m invested in keeping it alive.  It’s an interesting case study - whether a highly prized service or commodity in one era can successfully adapt to challenges of another.  Kodak couldn’t, but I’m hoping the postal service will.

The last bit of current news is about the TerraTrike kits.  Yesterday I mailed out the first kit orders after stewing about it all weekend.  Renie’s was in that batch.  It has been here too long, so it was great to put the cover on a neck rest and finally pack it to ship.

The reason for my shipping procrastination was all about the power in the number “3”...deciding whether to wait until the Type 3 brackets were welded and powdercoated before shipping the kits.  

You know about "3's"…third time’s a charm; three strikes and you’re out; three’s a crowd; three times lucky…which would it be?  

Trying to get these adapter brackets right has been a great lesson in the value of destruction testing.  I used a Rover when I did the Type 1 design and it fit just fine.  Based on the fit I made and powdercoated about a dozen of the Type 1 brackets before sending one to Mark Peele and another to Doug McConnell to test.  I learned two things – first the design dimensions were fine for a Rover but not for other TT models…not enough rear wheel clearance.  And second, the force of pressing against the neck rest created enough torque to essentially pull the tubing stub out of the adapter bracket.  It didn’t break the weld but it did peel the tube off. 

So I quickly changed the bracket design to move the tube to the bracket top.  Figuring I'd licked the problems of torque and seat clearance I made a dozen of the Type 2’s.  Before sending them to be powdercoated though we decided to sacrifice one to make sure it would stand up to the torque that leaning against the neck rest would generate.  

Using a long piece of steel pipe as a lever I torqued on the bracket until it broke.  Although it took quite a bit more force than the original bracket, it did eventually break.

Interestingly as we applied torque to the lever we noticed that the tubing stub on the bracket to which the mtb stem is attached began to deform from round to oval.  The deformation increased as we increased the force until, while the weld never broke, the thin wall tube literally tore.  I used a lot more force than anyone leaning against the neck rest would most likely generate.  However I decided there was a need for Type 3.  It's a bit more compact than Type 2 and with some production refinements.  But the biggest change is the tubing stub.  Rather than having a very thin wall, it’s now either .095 or .125 wall.  Since the tube is only 3” long it doesn't increase weight much, and it dramatically increases the bracket’s strength.  A dozen of the Type 3 brackets being powdercoated now and should be finished in about a week.    
So in the end, rather than delaying shipping even again, I mailed the first kits with the unpowdercoated Type 2 bracket, a letter of explanation, and a promise that the first Type 3 brackets will go to these folks.

Should I have waited and even further tested folks’ patience?  Maybe, but I’m hoping folks understand and that the power of “3” will be, “third time’s a charm.”

Monday, January 2, 2012

I figure I'll start 2012 with a notice, an admission and an executive decision (albeit a somewhat painful one.)

The notice:  I’ll be gone until January 10…I’m going south to play with my kids and grandkids for 6 days, and to see if I can warm up my feet from standing on the concrete floor of my unheated shop and dry out the moss growing on my body.  So for the next 7 days the factory’s closed.

The admission:  Getting away from this enterprise's simple beginnings has been fraught with tough lessons and not much fun.  Making the TerraTrike adapter bracket has been way more a stress test than a design project.  The first version bracket was a perfect fit for Rovers but not for other models.   

The second version (at least judging from Dave McConnell’s Tour) works fine on all TerraTrike models.  To make it a bit more compact I down-sized the bracket slightly from Dave’s type 2 version and made the first batch of the new type 2's. 

Just before taking the new brackets to be powdercoated I heard from Mark Peele who was testing out the type 1 version.  He had some troubling news.  The short 3” piece of thin wall tube on the bracket actually tore from the torque of the neck rest and “T” tower on the mtb stem.  The weld held just fine, but the thin wall tubing first deformed and then tore. 

The tubing used on the type 2 version has a thicker wall, but only marginally.  And I have more than a dozen of these new brackets sitting here, although not yet powder coated.  So earlier today I went over to John’s.  We attached one of the new brackets to a steel plate, mounted the mtb stem and used a 1” piece of steel tube in the stem as a lever.  We torqued the bracket until it broke.  Well it’s definitely stronger than the type 1 version, in part because of the different design.  But before making another batch of brackets I’ll try torque testing them with some tubing of different wall thicknesses - about twice as thick as on the current type 2 brackets.  And that leads me to the executive decision…

The decision:  Even though I realize this slows down delivery on TerraTrike kit orders even further- I think I’m setting a Guiness anti-speed record, I’m not sending out kits with brackets if I’m unsure of their strength. Clearly this doesn't do much for my reputation, but trading quality for speed just doesn't make sense.  What a way to begin the new year.

That said, I do have about a dozen of the original type 2 adapter brackets sitting here.  They may in fact be plenty strong enough, but honestly I don’t really know.  If anyone would like to be a tester I’ll gladly give away the brackets for free.  They aren’t powder coated, but they have all the hardware needed.

The new TerraTrike kit, which includes the CURVE neck rest, “T” tube, mtb stem and adapter bracket, will be $110.  If you’d like a kit with one of the original type 2 brackets you can have it for $85, the same price of the Catrike and ICE kits which don’t require the adapter bracket.  If you want one of the $85 specials and for some reason the bracket doesn't hold up I’ll replace that bracket with one of the new ones for just $25…free shipping.

If no one wants the type 2’s then I’ll simply pile them next to other near-great ideas in the shop’s museum.

Might as well end on a glimmer of good news:  Here are the two latest embroidered covers.  The flaming blue trike cover is looking for a home.  If you’re interested let me know.