A Classic Bicycle Gets Re-Imagined… In Wood
This unique wooden “penny farthing” style bicycle was built by Ron Schroer, a Jacksonville, Florida resident. After going through chemo a few years ago, he said he realized “if I didn’t let some of my crazy out before I passed, I’d be disappointed with myself.” The only goal of his art projects has been to make people smile- and they do.
An earlier project called “Ol’ Fence” has gotten a lot of attention at art shows too- it’s an endearing animated face, made from the weathered wood of a backyard fence. “I’d love to do more art projects, and have many ideas, but I need to find some funding sources to pay for materials and allow me to put more time into them.”
“Boneshaker Ron”, as he is known in art circles, has a strong creative background, with a lot of experience in machining, cabinet making, prototyping, and a wide range of similar hands-on type activities. “In the 80’s my brother and I had a custom cabinet shop, mostly focused on kitchen and bathroom work, but all custom.”
He made the big-wheel for the OneSpark festival in Jacksonville, Florida in 2014. He started on it very shortly after the 2013 OneSpark. It did well in the show too, winning the second-place popular vote in the Art category for that year. “I have no way to calculate the hours that were put in… All I can say is that it was a lot of nights and weekends and days off. My brother Greg, also a woodworker, helped a lot, and other members of the family got involved as well. I had the initial idea for it, but it was great to have some help along the way.”
The design for the mechanical legs was developed by Theo Jansen for his Straandbeests, which is dutch for “beach creatures”- according to Schroer, a lot of folks have been working with that mechanism. His innovation was to adapt it to be pedal driven, and to incorporate it into a penny-farthing style bike. There were some big design hurdles for sure-I spent a lot of time drawing it out and planning how the mechanisms would work together.
He said that the tolerances are very tight for the legs-there are three on each side, and it wasn’t easy to make sure they would work in the proper sequence and timing, but he did it, and is proud of the result. Moving forward, he has a lot more ideas for projects to build.
This year he redesigned the bike and added some new features: the biggest innovation being an animated penguin puppet on the front of the bike, and he had to redesign the seat and steering so his hands could be free to manipulate the puppet.
Like this bike? Then check out A Bicycle Built of Wood
A prototype of the kinetic leg forthe boneshaker bicycle.
Careful planning of the details took this bicycle from concept to the real thing.
The entire project was carefully planned to scale before being built.
Schroer's technical background aided in the design of this project- making sketches of his ideas sketches let him visualize his ideas on paper.
The newest phase of the project was to add an animated wooden penguin puppet to the front, which the driver can manipulate with his hands.
Dutch artist Theo Jansen is credited with developing the leg design that Schroer used in his "Boneshaker Bigwheel". Jansen uses the mechanical legs to animate his huge wind-powered PVC-pipe beach creatures.
Schroer's earlier project, "Ol' Fence", gets a lot of attention too, and has been featured in several art shows.