Up-Cycled Weather Vane: Final Thoughts

Build was successful in that it rotates smoothly in the x and y and is visually playful. I like how the bicycle parts look covered in vinyl. The "flower" stem and  face came out as envisioned
rolling resistance was adequately low but could be lowered further. I think I want to build some wheel having investigated this topic as part of the project and as a commuter cyclist who always wants to go faster.

I need to rethink blades to better capture wind. The vinyl on spokes approach is better than the saran wrap I tried but hardly a resounding success. Comments bellow on other approaches would be appreciated. Current improvement that occurs to me is tacking  pre cut blades sheet metal to the spokes.

The weld fit up /tacking was challenging. If I were to repeat might jig. Might notch where I cut off fork tine to improve fit.

Finish of vinyl was good but could have been perhaps better. I had never applied vinyl before and getting it to stick to curved/uneven surfaces was very challenging. I didn’t mind that there was some cracking/bubble lines but probably not the cleanest aesthetic. Might sandblast and powder coat next time to create a more even finish.

Overall was fun and interesting getting used parts and turning into a budding piece of sculpture for a new sculpture artist. Hope you enjoyed!


Up-Cycled Weather Vane: Pt. 2

Build was originally envisioned with sketches and dimensions. I based the height off of sculptures I had seen in the sculpture park on Mccormick ave in Skokie IL.
Parts were cut and fit was adequate so that parts could be welded square to each other.
Testing of functionality for spinning of wheel and of fork so it could move freely with wind. I used a box fan to test ease of spin. This testing led to additional functionality of leaf tail to fork.






This leaf was added so as to be more stable in wind (built from tin snipped half of the bicycle chain guard). Bearings were swapped to lower rolling resistance. I am glad the frame I used was a very solid steel Schwinn frame as the gauge of the walls on all of the parts was nice and heavy limiting heat warp and allowing for beefy welds.

*fun fact Chicago was once known as the bicycle capital of the world in part because of the manufacture of Schwinn bicycles in the city*

Finish was determined and installed (green vinyl with blue accents to give a flower like appearance of  (I like forget me nots and will likely color the hub yellow in the future). The green vinyl was a fun pickup. I thought about going with something more natural but decided for a more distinct color combination. I initially tried to use saran wrap for the blades on the spokes but then went with sections of vinyl. I applied all of the vinyl in sections to make it easier to apply. This was much less time consuming than painting. All parts had been previously cleaned for welding so prep was fairly minimal except for cleaning the welds and heat affected zone/additional spatter.









Possible improvements to wind blades/petals in future to improve wind capture. Perhaps swap hub and steerer tube bearings in future.Site of install to be determined.

Up-Cycled Weather Vane: Part 1

I chose dimensions based on the bicycle fork I used and wheel as well as a 4ish foot section of gray tube I had. I planned on this being a outdoor sculpture rather than a rooftop piece so I wanted something human height.  The final build comes in around 6 ft.

All of the parts being used was both a blessing and a curse. The wheel hub was in ok shape but the bearings were a bit pitted (nicked so as to no longer able to roll smooth). I hope to replace with ceramic bearings/races in the future both because they have low rolling resistance and because they are less susceptible to the elements. Rolling resistance for those who don’t know is the friction the bearings (little balls in the races (the holders that spin: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Race_(bearing))) experience when rotating. Less rolling resistance means less force needed to move/spin the thing with bearings  ( https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Rolling_resistance). Cyclists spend a lot of money on reducing rolling resistance. Getting awesome bearings with low rolling resistance is one of the easiest ways of buying speed for a racing bike.

Build initially was cutting and fitting  the bike fork pieces to the tube pieces. I cut off one of the bike fork tines because it was impeding the spinning of the wheel.



This was because the crashed wheel was very very out of tru (no longer consistently round).  Initially I thought I would just weld the steerer tube to the long section of tube but this proved impossible as it would have impeded the rotation of the fork.


I then went with the second option of mounting to steerer tube face where the fork tine had attached. I grinded surfaces of fork /prepped for welding.

Initial fit up test showed that there was some overlap with moving parts so I ground down.


I then fitted scrap flat stock to seal openings so as to limit water getting into steerer tube and for aesthetic completeness. I mig welded the different elements after marking and clamping.


Welds were adequate but hardly structural. Mig welding can sometimes be used like a hot glue gun for metal. If you prep the two surfaces so there aren’t contaminants like paint and oil you can get things to join nicely with the heat/introduction of new metal.

As you can see the outer race is no longer gnarled.

Welds had nice heat affected zones.

Afterwards I ground welds to create a more aesthetic appearance.



Up-Cycled Weather Vane: Introduction

Up-Cycled Weather Vane

My name is Joseph Prosnitz and I am undertaking a Weather Vane Build as a Bocca Bearings project

There is a long history of weather vanes as you can read about on wikipedia  https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Weather_vane

*Fun fact they are often called weather cocks because they are in the shape of a rooster on top of churches.*


These wind measuring devices are both ornamental and indicate the general direction of wind. I have always liked that they catch the eye on a windy day. This will be my first build of one. I researched how they are traditionally constructed and discovered they are fairly simple. I decided to reuse a bicycle I had lying in the shop as it had been crashed. The greatest difficulties I foresee are the weight considerations as a vane that is too heavy won’t track the wind at low speeds. I hope to offset this by minimizing rolling resistance. More on this later.

My goals for this project :

1. build a weather vein
2. up-cycle a used bike
3. create a piece of outdoor art
4. experiment with bearings

Primary tools used: 

angle grinder

bench grinder

mig welder (you don’t need a spool gun like the one pictured)
welding table
bench vice

Parts: used bicycle wheel


used bicycle fork
bicycle races 

metal tube

Scrap metal