Pedal power to celebrate Tour de France coming to Yorkshire

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This summer sees the Tour de France coming to Yorkshire for the first time with cyclists starting in Leeds on 5 July 2014.

To commemorate the Yorkshire Grand Départ, local Sheffield lad Brian Trevaskiss hatched an idea for a bike design to be showcased at the Yorkshire Festival 2014 – a 100 day arts festival preceding the start of the race.

But his design was for no ordinary bicycle. Instead of using it to cycle around with he would be using it to print posters.

In order to bring his Pedal Powered Printing Press to life Trevaskiss roped in friends from local industrial design consultancy, Click.

“The project included design and bikes; two of our favourite things, so when we were asked to help turn this idea into reality, naturally we jumped at the chance,” says Magnus Edmondson of Click.

So, with funding from the Sheffield Culture Consortium secured they were off.
But with just four weeks until the start of the Yorkshire Festival on 27 March, they had to be quick about it.


The brief was to build a letterpress printing press that utilises pedal power to provide the printing pressure. Trevaskiss wanted as many bike parts to be used as possible in the design.

“We toyed with the idea of using hydraulics, rams, scissor jacks and threads to provide sufficient pressure for print, but none of these methods would release pressure automatically,” says Edmondson.

“We decided to use an eccentric cam, (with a roller bearing to reduce friction). This would apply pressure and release once the cam had passed. We found a scissor jack which was perfect to raise and lower the plates when preparing the print.”

With the deadline looming, the Click team knew they would have to harness the powers of SolidWorks.

By importing off-the-shelf CAD files of components, such as bearings, into SolidWorks they could quickly flesh out the design and also ensure that everything fitted correctly.

“We used mechanical mates to simulate the gearing and to test how much ‘travel’ we could get from our eccentric cam,” adds Edmondosn.

SolidWorks also enabled them to export relevant drawings and DXFs for laser cutting and fabrication.

Although, they could simulate elements of the design in SolidWorks, the real test came with assembling all these components together. Following a few late nights of assembling cams, bearings and bits of bike chain, they had a Pedal Powered Printing Press. 

Thanks to Click and various supporters, the contraption made it to the start of the Festival by the skin of its teeth. Trevaskiss had designed a poster, which interestingly uses some of the typefaces created by Sheffield typefoundry Stephenson Blake. Visitors could take the poster home with them as a memento.

“I was manning the press and I had some fantastic comments; ‘Bonkers’ ‘Madness’ and ‘Epic’ were amongst my favourites. The mechanics all worked well and amazingly there were no breakdowns all weekend, I didn’t even have a chain come off, which I still can’t believe,” says Trevakiss.

Although the initial prints were a bit patchy, after the Click team had done a bit of adjustment and ‘shimming’ on the ‘blanket’ they were much better.

The Pedal Powered Printing Press will be showcased at several events in the region throughout the 100 day count down to the Tour.

Follow @BrianTrevaskiss on twitter to find exactly where he’ll be. Saddle up and have a go!

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