Then suddenly, Industrial Design!

I really have no explanation for this post. I did something over the weekend that involved some design, so here it is.

I recently acquired a paddle-board, which is basically just a giant surf-board that you paddle with an extra long paddle (both pictured). And although I live fairly close to a river, about 200 yards, the board is far too heavy and unwieldy to carry. This is a common problem for people with small boat-like objects, and there are many, many kayak/canoe/paddle-board carriers on the market. The one I had was, well, problematic at best. It consisted of a solid, wheeled base with some fabric straps that went over the top of the board to secure it to the wheels. The “chassis” of this object, so to speak, was relatively thin in comparison to the board, and the straps usually slipped of the back, since any and all kayaks, boats, or boards taper towards both ends. All in all, it was a miserable failure, and it made me sad. Specifically, I was saddened by the fact that it only took me the better part of a minute to design a much better object than the mass-produced, widely available one that I had purchased. What you see above is the result of five minutes of sketching, an hour of shopping, and an hour of gluing and threading. Seriously, it took an afternoon.

Here’s a shot of the carrier “in action.” I’m not going to explain how it works, except to say that you pick it up from the side with the fin. The mechanics of the object are pretty simple, which is why it wasn’t a big deal to produce. In the previous picture, you could see that I taped on some friction-enhancing pads (usually used for carpets), but these were almost certainly unneeded. I think I did it because I wasn’t confident in how much friction the PVC pipes would produce. The real challenge in this build was actually the axle assembly.

The wheels I used were labeled “Lawnmower Replacement Wheels,” but I knew better. The axle is a solid iron rod usually used for, well, something. I’m not really sure. The issue was, though, that the rod had an exterior diameter of half an inch, and the interior diameter of the pipe was close to an inch. I knew I had to narrow the opening, but the amount of connections I would need to close the gap was too high. The axle rod was only a foot longer than the frame, which wasn’t enough for that elaborate plan. Instead, I found a pipe-fitting that had a completely different purpose and used a rubber mallet to pound it into the pipe. I did this at Home Depot, and promised the guy who worked there that if I broke something I would pay for it. Luckily, it worked perfectly. The part of the fitting that is stuck inside the larger pipe rapidly comes down to the correct diameter, and even though that pipe is meant to be applied in a totally different manner, it holds my axle perfectly. Unfortunately, this solution was a little too effective, so I maintained a fair bit of the slack in the axle, causing the wheels to slide back and forth a bit while moving. You can see the spacers and washer in the picture, which dampens this effect somewhat. All in all, it was a very successful afternoon.

In barely interesting news, I’m approaching the play-test stage of a game I hadn’t originally intended to make; Farmer’s Nuisance. I posted the description a while back, and even though I really think that the game won’t work as-is, I’m hoping that playing it will help me devise a better idea. I’ll post some pictures in about a week when I get a chance to play it.


One Comment on “Then suddenly, Industrial Design!”

  1. Dude, this is awesome! I smell a kickstarter campaign. I love that your reaction to encountering a massive failing on the industrial level isn’t to simply wine, call the company, or purchase three or four different ones, but recognizing what you would need to make something better and just freakin’ doing it! An afternoon well-spent indeed!

    Also looking forward to hear more about Farmer’s Nuisance, which has a dumb name but a great game idea. Everyone who knows the premise agrees it should really be called ‘When Dragons Attack!’

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