Many guests remember the vintage 1890s Velocipede that used to grace the front of the Featherbed Railroad. This yellow rail bicycle was a fun fixture for picture taking. Unfortunately a tree limb bent the frame in half in winter of 2012 and we had to take it off the rails for safety reasons. That's when a bet was made.
You see, we're good friends with some of the folks from the Skunk Train and Jim Baskin, knowing how Tony will wait until the last minute to do some things, bet him that the velocipede wouldn't be repaired any time soon. Tony, feeling confident, said that it would be in running order in time for the Willits Kinetic Carnivale.
Funny thing - the bet was made at New Year's Eve and the Kinetic Carnivale was just this past September 7-8. Jim does know Tony. But Jim doesn't realize the true power of beer.
Enter Tony's favorite watering hole, Kelsey Creek Brewing Company. Among the many reasons Tony loves this place is that the folks who patronize it are all pretty good at a variety of crafts. So on a night of hanging out, Tony and Barry Ayle talked about restoring the velocipede and, a week later, Barry had done the job.
This was no easy task. The frame had been completely bent in half. The handles and seat were rotted away from spending 25 years in the sun and all the bearings were frozen solid from having been rained on for a quarter of a century. While this piece was nice from a decorative standpoint, mechanically it was a mess.
Barry and Tony spent time at JR's Bike Shop in Lakeport where new a new bearing cap was manufactured and the chain was even sourced there. All new sealed bearings were put in throughout the bike for easy motion - more about that later.
In the mean time Barry manufactured a whole new frame for the bike. In addition, new handles were built and he even made a new seat featuring vintage-looking denim material that was stuffed as it would have been in the olden days - with vintage denim. As Barry said, "everything on this thing was bent or rusted." It took some doing to figure out where the pieces would actually fit correctly but he did it and the bike was ready to roll!
Enter the Kinetic Carnivale. This fun two-day event features live steam engines from locomotives to steam donkeys to steam shovels and more. There are vintage farm engines huffing and popping and an elaborate carnival with vendors, costumes and more.
Essentially the theme of this is steam punk which, for Peggy, is another excuse to dress in costume! Essentially, steam punk is an imaginary turn in history that essentially envisions the world if it had all the advancements it has today with the exception of the discovery of oil.
One of the aspects of the Carnivale is the hand car races where all sorts of wacky contraptions take to the tracks and try to make the best time.
Among these contraptions was a septic tank that was outfitted with seats, wheels, pedals and other bits to make it into a rail car. Seriously. Then there was a bicycle, a vintage speeder that had been converted to hand crank and even a red couch.
Our velocipede performed admirably with Tony as the motive power on the Saturday races and friend Bert Hutt, aka Algernon Drinkwater, at the helm on Sunday. While we did win a trophy it wasn't for speed but who cares? We had such a great time and it was so cool seeing the velocipede hurtling down the tracks.
We plan to be back at next year's Kinetic Carnivale and we're already doing some tuning on the velocipede to make it a little easier to operate (it's still a bit stiff, but what 120-year-old isn't?) so look for us at the 2014 Willits Kinetic Carnivale!
Now we've just got to find a place to put the Velocipede where people can still take pictures with it but where it'll be out of the rain and other elements and stay race-ready.
A blog about happenings in Lake County.