Charlie’s Pedal Powered Parts Washer

Sonic, Lindy, Husna and Hichaan work on a bracket to hold the pump of the Pedal Powered Parts Washer

Charlie's Pedal Powered Parts Washer

By Claire McFarlane

Although kids with power tools may sound like a situation you might normally want to avoid, it’s what Charlie’s Freewheels’ Pedal Powered Parts Washer project is all about.

Charlie’s Freewheels was founded after cycling enthusiast Charles Prinsep was struck by a car and killed on his way across Canada by bike. The program, inspired by Prinsep’s passion for taking apart and building bikes, helps young people build their own bicycles using recycled parts. Charlie’s Freewheels also teaches children safe cycling practices and provides them with a helmet and lock.

Charlie’s newest project is building a Pedal Powered Parts Washer that will clean old parts that are to be used to build new bikes.

In order to help make this happen, they partnered up with Site 3, a collaborative workspace for artists and technologists where youth from Charlie’s are able to utilize Site 3’s space and equipment on Monday nights to build the washer.

Hichaan, Husna and Jon attach the pump.

Lindy Wilkins of Site 3 said that they are using similar pedal-powered machines as a guild line for the building of their washer but are using their own ingenuity to make it work. “It’s definitely a child of a collaborative effort, there's been a lot of trial and error, there's been a lot of ideas that we have tried out that have worked and not worked and some that have led us to new ideas,” said Wilkins.

Sonic and Lindy use the drill press.

The main component of the machine is a stationary bicycle that has a chain around the front wheel that is hooked up to a cog on a drill-powered water pump.

As you pedal, the wheel will turn which will turn the pump and will pump the water through plastic tubes into the sink, which washes the parts.

Hichaan works to install the pump.

Jon Carroll, project initiator and a Charlie’s Freewheels volunteer (who happens to have a real, live dandyhorse tattoo, pictured below) said that allowing young people to learn how to use tools and to creatively come up with solutions can install confidence. “Today was actually a really great day for that, like for problem solving stuff, because everyone kind of knows where we’re going at this point. They designed that bracket to hold the pump, there was no input from us (the adults) to do that,” said Carroll, reflecting on the work the team had accomplished during the last building session.

The young people at Charlie’s have refurbished and taken home roughly 80 bikes in the past six months. The Pedal Powered Parts Washer would not only help to improve the refurbishing process but also helps to reinforce Charlie’s overall goal; to empower youth and to engage them in their community.

“It’s kind of a two-headed thing; people come and they have fun and also the end goal is hopefully to get these kids to start volunteering and then in the long term, they’ll be running their own classes,” said Carroll.

Husna is the first to test the machine.

Site 3, which feels a lot like every teenager’s dream club house, has an open house every Thursday from 7 to 11 p.m. at 718r Ossington,  down the west alley behind the church (look for the red door) where members of the public can go check out the space. It has everything from a 3D printer made from a 3D printer to a sewing machine to woodworking tools.

Site 3's eye-catching mural on the outside of the building.

Related on the dandyBLOG:

Build a bike, build your confidence

Youth Master Mechanics: Charlie’s Freewheels

dandyARCHIVE: Policy Pumpers Community Group: Charlie’s FreeWheels

Art Starts build-a-bike program for youth in Lawrence Heights, Villaways and Glendower neighbourhoods

Central Commerce Collegiate’s innovative and popular Bike Repair and Maintenance Course

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