bicycle · bicycling · cap · cycling · diy · hat · sewing

Making a cycling cap

A cycling cap is useful in so many ways. It keeps the hair in place. Sweat is managed. It shades the head and face from direct sun. Can be micro-adjusted to block the glare from oncoming headlights. The thin fabric allows it to fit under a helmet. Pulled low over the eyes, it’s how I begin a nap. The sun protection will make your dermatologist happy.

Years ago, when my old columbus hat was starting to disintegrate, I knew there would be a long and difficult search for a replacement. My head is BIG (58cm), and few hats would fit it. And I was never was that happy about paying for a hat that gives free advertising to some business. And I find the bill on store bought cycling caps is always too small. It was time to figure out how to make a hat that fits me well and has a bigger bill. I have made about 50 of these caps so far. For a person who does not sew much, is not an easy project at first. Your initial caps will not be that great but they quickly improve with practice. I am satisfied with mine now, and they take about 2 hours to make. They last up to a year if you wear it a lot. Make lots, give them as gifts, it’s fun!

Rather than hunting for an online pattern, it made more sense to me to get the pattern from the old cap which I knew actually fit me. So I took it apart and had the perfect pattern right there. This 3 panel style would be easy to sew, compared to a more complicated 6 panel hat for instance. I had to figure out the steps of construction myself. There are probably other ways to put it together too. If nothing else, this type of project will help you appreciate the effort and complexity involved in making a garment.

The templates, and cutting the main pieces 

The old hat, disassembled.

I used the pieces as a template for making the new hats. With the visor, I drew an outline of the existing one, and then drew it a little bigger. The bills on traditional cycling caps are just too small for me.

The templates.
Templates from the top: visor, side panels, and center panel. They are made of picture frame mat board. It’s a thick cardboard like material, durable and easy to cut. When I make a new hat, I just lay the templates down on the new fabric and run a pen along the edge, and cut along the lines. The templates are all symmetric.
Fabric is cut. The 2 center pieces will be sewn together. I had to orient the bird pattern so they would be seen as upright on the front and back. With most fabric patterns, the center would be one piece. The yogurt container bill (hard version) sits on top of the 2 pieces of bill fabric.We have lots of light cotton material leftover from quilting projects. Shown here is this bird pattern fabric.

Making the bill (the hard plastic version)

(Note: these days, I prefer to use the soft bill version made of Pellon, described below). The top and bottom of the visor fabric is a lightweight, black wool with this hat, but you can use any fabric you like. The bill stiffener is cut from a 32oz plastic yogurt container. The container is just big enough for a generous sized lightweight bill. I set the orientation using the natural curve of the plastic, but get it mostly flattened out with an iron, set on low. If an excessive curve returns (like from having it scrunched up in a pocket), I can always iron it flat again. I don’t iron the plastic directly; and a piece of fabric on top of it.  It takes just a minute or 2 of ironing on medium, and I let it cool down with a book on top of it for 5 minutes, so it will have a slight curve when it cools off.

After tracing the visor line on the yogurt container, I cut it to its finished size. I make the ends rounded so they aren’t as likely to cut into the fabric. Then I make a chalk line of the visor edge on the fabric visor material. Then I sew the 2 pieces of visor fabric together. I make 2 passes; making the stitching as close together as I can. One pass may be enough with a zig-zag stitch. I want to ensure it will not come apart at the front of the visor.

 

Next I trim the visor material away, very close to the stitches.

 

Now I turn it inside out so that the seam is inside, and put the plastic visor stiffener inside. Then I pin it, so that the visor is positioned evenly and tight inside the pocket. Also I chalk a line on the inner edge to show where the inside of the plastic visor is. Notice that there is about an inch of fabric past the inside edge of the visor. I need that extra fabric when I sew the cap together. It provides a place for sweat to be adsorbed from the forehead.
Now I sew the visor in the pocket. I go slow, trying to sew right along the edge of the plastic. The sewing machine can sew thru the plastic; and while doing this, that will probably happen. Sewing thru the Pellon material (soft brim, described below) is also not an issue.

 

Then I trim the inner edge of the fabric so there is about an inch of material beyond the inner visor edge. This material will help absorb sweat.

Making the bill (soft version using Pellon)

An alternative to the plastic bill is a soft bill. You can make them using faux leather; lots of folks on Etsy seem to like to use it.  I like to use Pellon (Pellex ll, ultra-firm 2 sided, fusible). It’s a firm poly material that you can bond the fabric to with a hot iron. I get it from my local fabric shop (Mill Ends, Portland OR). Now I just make the same fabric bill pocket described above, and insert the Pellon that I cut to fit. Then I use a hot iron which fuses both sides of the cloth on to the Pellon bill; a minute or so on each side, with steam, and the result looks great. Lightweight but substantial enough, it can be folded without cracking or damage. It can still go in washing machine. It’s best to avoid putting the hats in a dryer though; let them air-dry. It’s a soft bill that holds it shape well even after stuffing the hat in my pocket.
 Above center, the white Pellon material cut into brim shape. Easy to cut with scissors. The brim on the left is ready to iron. The pins in the brim set the material where I want it. On the right after ironing, you can see the inside of the brim, and how the fabric is now fused to both sides of it.
Plastic bill advantages: It can keep a curved shape. Easy to find material for it.
Plastic bill disadvantages: Plastic can crack or break eventually. Edge of plastic can dig into fabric and protrude from the fabric bill over time.
Pellon bill advantages: More durable, longer lasting, and will not deform. You can stuff the hat in your pocket and it will not wreck the bill. Since the cloth is fused to the bill, the hat will last longer, since the bill is usually the first thing to fall apart. It is easier to make a clean front edge with the Pellon bill.
Pellon bill disadvantages: Material is not as easily found, not all fabric stores carry it. The bill tends to stay flat, which may be what you like, but if you want a curved bill I don’t know if that is possible with Pellon. When you put the hat on, it will curve around your head, but this curve cannot be adjusted with heat, like with a plastic bill.

Sewing the liner to the bill

Now I sew a strip of elastic band liner material along the inside (bottom) of the visor, slightly overlapping the visor stitches. I pull the elastic material slightly while sewing, to give it some built-in tension. I go slow, doing several stitches and stopping to reposition as needed. 

 

Thats a 26″ long strip of elastic material. Fabric stores sell this by the yard or the roll. This one is probably nylon, and cotton blend versions can be used. About 4″ extends out from the short side.

 

With the bird pattern, I need to sew 2 identical pieces together for the center panel section. Otherwise the birds would be upside down on one of the ends.

 

Now I am sewing the 3 hat panels together with a simple straight stitch. I go slow, trying to make an even seam; about 3/16 inch. You could use a serger to finish the seam; or just leave it alone. In my experience, caps made from lightweight cotton don’t last long enough to benefit from having the edges finished. A loose thread here and there on the inside of the cap is not an issue for me.

 

Panels sewn, hat is taking shape!

Next I sew the edge of the cap. I roll the inside edge about 3/16 inch and sew all along the edge of the cap.

Putting it all together

Now I need to sew the cap on to the visor. First I center the visor and cap. A chalk line along dead center of the visor, and a pen dot in the middle of the front edge of the middle cap strip. If it is not well centered, it will be obvious when all is done. 
Starting from the center, I sew the cap on just slightly in front of the existing stitches, so no stitching will be visible on the top of the bill.
It should look like this. I don’t want to see the visor stitching when I pull the material back. 
Then I sewed the other side, going from the center to the edge. Cap and visor are connected now.
View underneath.

 

Now I sew the rest of the elastic band along the inside of the cap. I pull it a little as I sew, to add some built-in tension. You can see how the edges a bit puckered/wavy. This makes the cap gently hold on to my head.

 

At the back/inside of the cap, I fold 3 layers of elastic together along the length of the back part of the center panel. I pin it in place, and try the hat on, making adjustments to how firmly it holds to my head as needed.

 

Now I sew the 3 layers along the pin line, on each side. 

 

Now I stretch the material with the elastic and sew it down the middle. I do the same thing, 2 more times.

 

The goal is to have an even looking puckered area along the back of the cap, like this.
There are lots of ways to finish the back to get it to hold on to your head. You can make a cutout that a ponytail can go thru, or use velcro, or use a strap.
Finished. It fits well and improves with use.
From my hat drawer. My favorite hat is the next one I’m gonna make.

 

THE END
bicycle helmet · cork · shaping · styrofoam

Modifying a bicycle helmet to fit my head

My resistance to wearing a bike helmet has been from finding them to be giant klunky things filled with HUGE amounts of styrofoam. My head is big from front to back, but narrow from side to side. A large or extra large helmet may sit on my head without squeezing it, but can leave a lot of space on either side. So I am supposed to put a mattress full of  the included foam padding on either side to take up the space, and the whole thing ends up looking like a giant hat from the San Francisco production of Beach Blanket Babylon.

I see some motorcycle riders go by with low-profile/minimalist helmets which can’t be more than a centimeter or 2 thick. While I doubt they have an official approval for motorcycle use, I suppose it keeps the rider from getting a citation, and it’s better than wearing nothing in the event of a crash.

I usually wear a helmet for longer rides, but typically not for around town. For me, a helmet is handy for several reasons:

1) It keeps my bicycle hat from blowing off.
2) Once on a ride, a beer bottle whizzed by me at 60 mph. It just missed the back of my head. The next time a motorist or their passenger wants to throw something at me, I would prefer to be wearing a helmet.
3) It’s a good place to mount lights.
4) It offers some protection from rain, sleet and hail.
5) I can stop anywhere on a ride to take a nap and I don’t need a pillow. With the helmet on, I can rest my head on a rock slab and catch some ZZZs.
6) In the event of a crash, it reduces the chance of victim-blaming and makes your lawyers job easier.
7) If my head ever does get smacked, I would rather have something more substantial on it than a bicycle hat.

I read that helmets are not designed to protect the head in crashes exceeding the usual bicycle speed (15mph) or in a car crash. So I’m really not concerned about modifying it. It seems to me that there is not a lot of protective effect to lose.

Warning/disclaimer!
 I am not suggesting you modify your helmet or follow my example! Doing so may destroy the protective effect of your helmet resulting in injury or death! This is only an essay of my efforts to modify a product to suit my needs!

Carving out the Styrofoam

I wanted a helmet that was light, not bulky, has a hard shell, is comfortable, covers the back of my head (remembering the beer bottle missile), is well ventilated, and did not make me look too much like a dork. I would consider it a success if I was able to go riding with it and completely forget there was anything on my head. After a lot of searching, I settled on a climbing helmet, the Mammut El Cap, which had a rather narrow profile. The large size is a bit too small for me, but I would scoop out some of the styrofoam from the inside of it until it fit. I know that styrofoam can be cut with a hot wire or knife; but how about scooping it out with a hot spoon?

I got an old steel soup spoon, my hardware store propane torch, and a leather glove to hold the spoon. First I bent the spoon so I could maneuver it inside the helmet. After heating it up, I began carving layers of styrofoam away.  It did not take long to figure out how to do this. When the spoon was the right temperature, it went thru the styrofoam like it was scooping ice cream that was just soft enough to enjoy. A gentle pressure on the hot spoon allowed it to slide slowly thru the stuff, leaving a nice rounded interior surface. I stayed downwind of the noxious fumes that were generated from the process. After several passes and reheating the spoon many times, I would put the helmet on my head and feel where more material needed removal. After I was done, the helmet fit my head without needing any adjustment pads. An average of half an inch was removed from the inside of the helmet; maybe 3/4 inch on the inside crown. It covered more of my head because my head was more than half inch deeper inside the helmet compared to how it was before. The sides of the helmet almost touched my ears. That’s when I decided to stop carving the styrofoam.

My chosen lid, the Mammut El Cap, a climbing helmet. It is quite narrow, has full ooverage, built in clips for light straps, and plenty of ventilation.

 

Assembling the tools

I removed the plastic adjustment strap that was part of the rear of the helmet. My head was too big for it.

After some scooping, lots of styrofoam liquifies into a small tarry patch on the spoon.

 

 

Quite a bit has been carved out. I took out a little extra and replaced the padding strips that came with it.

 

Cork strips along the back and sides. Replaced the pads on the inside crown.

To finish, I added self-adhesive cork strips I cut from a roll of cork meant for shelf covering. With a climbing helmet the styrofoam doesn’t extend down along the sides as much, so this adds a bit of protection and fit. They expect the main issue would be rocks falling from above.

I really like this helmet. It fits like a glove, and I forget it is on my head.  I can shake my head side to side and it does not move at all. That means I will wear it more often. I should probably wear it when driving a car too.
Not a dork.

 

END
Uncategorized

Low traffic loop to the Aufderheide

A year ago, I took the Boltbus to Eugene, OR to ride the famous Aufderheide forest road (FS 19). It’s a very low traffic paved byway thru the Willamette forest, about 60 miles long. It’s reported to be one of the best bike rides you can experience anywhere. Most people get a shuttle to ride it, which eliminates the “transit” stages from Eugene on highways 126 and 58. I don’t like to drive a car to ride my bike if possible, so I had planned to ride those busy highways.

Even an experienced and fearless rider will find those highways to be especially evil. For much of their length, there is very little to no shoulder. And the truck and RV traffic can be relentless. Close calls happened often when I rode the highway loop.

Once off the hellhole highways 58 and 126, the Aufderheide itself was like a green carpet of trees and ferns. An occasional car would slowly go by. What a contrast.

So I wondered; could I enjoy this road; riding from Eugene, without using those highway arterials? I used ridewithgps.com to help me find out. Turns out there are other gravel/dirt forest road options that would make this possible. I mapped out a route that included a blizzard of forest roads snaking themselves over the mountains. I downloaded the route onto my phone (iphone 6), and headed down to Eugene.

I took the folder for this ride. However, Boltbus does accept whole unfolded, bikes in the luggage hold on a space available basis. No bike box needed, but someone may lay their bike on top of yours if space is tight.

 

In 8 minutes I reduced it to this. I put the black bag (which has the bike, tools, and water bottles) in the hold underneath the bus. The white bag (tent, pad, sleeping bag, clothes) and the small blue saddlebags (food and etcetera) went with me to my bus seat.

As a paying member of ridewithgps ($50/year) I get the voice guidance feature along with the offline map data. I followed the schoolmarm-like voice directions on the pleasant bikeways thru Eugene, and into Fall Creek. A harpsichord sound would alert me to turns, or if I went off course. The old lady was looking after me.

Soon enough the traffic petered out, and I found my self alone on a paved, forested road riding up a valley. Eventually, the road became gravel/dirt, and began to climb in earnest.

Still paved. Established campgrounds ahead.

 

Ferns, trees, birds chirping in a tranquil environment.

The start of gravel and dirt. Most of the route was easy to ride hard-pack.

Following Fall Creek up the hill.

 

I didn’t see anybody for the rest of the day from here on out. The gps app gave good directions and made complicated intersections easy. I did not need to look at my paper map. I used about 50% of the phone battery using the turn by turn directions over 8 hours.

 

My first camp site at hidden lake in an old growth forest. This is designated as a day use area (no toilet, fire pits, or tables) but it was a nice spot, nobody else was there, and I was too tired to move on.

A fire pit spot in a pull-out, seen on Military road.

After riding the Aufderheide road and stopping in Oakridge for food, I returned on Boundary/Military road, following the north side of the river and reservoir.  It was gravely and potholed, but almost devoid of traffic.

My second and final camp in the woods along the north side of Lookout Point reservoir.

The pavement started again at the end of forest service land. On the way back to Eugene there was a nice covered bridge….

 

The full route is here
 
It can downloaded as a GPX file, or simply added to your ridewithgps app.
                                                              END
 
 
 
 
Uncategorized

Making a chainguard

I had promised my wife a chainguard for her city bike way back when I was building it. Finally after a couple of years waiting, I put one together. No more need for pants clips!

I cut out a chain guard shape using tin snips from a sheet of .032″ thick sheet steel I had. You can see the dark blooms from where I attached tabs at the back with brass.

 

 

3 thin (less than 1mm) douglas fir strips were laminated together with gorilla glue to make this wood crook shape which will cover the top of the chain.

 

 

I bolted the wood strip in place with small brass bolts. The rings with rod sticking out the side will hold the guard in place at the front of the bike.
It is attached at the rear to the rack/fender braze on.
There was not much clearance between the chain and crank arm, so the placement of the guard had to be spot on. No adjustable option here. But it turned out very solid. I can’t imagine it will ever rattle or come loose.

 

END
Uncategorized

Sadies end

Our dog Sadie lived almost to 15. Vestibular syndrome, arthritis, sight/hearing loss, and the onset of dementia chipped away her vitality over her final years.

Sadie

Sadies bike

For the last 4 1/2 years, she got around increasingly with the bike. From camping trips to errands about town, she was always happy experiencing the outdoors with me from her basket on 2 wheels. She was completely engaged in the sights, sounds, and the smells of everywhere we went on these rides. In the bike basket with me, speeding thru the woods, perhaps she felt as if she was running in the forest as she did in her youth. Watching her run as a young dog took my breath away. She was really that fast.

Rest in peace, sweet Sadie

END

Uncategorized

Drews city bike, a two speed mini-velo: portable #15

Time for another bike! I wanted something I could hand over to the coat-check person at the museum. Or take into the movie theater with me.

Portable bike #15

 

a 2 speed mini-velo

 

Folds up in 60 seconds.

 

Goes from a bike to bike in bag in a few minutes. Weighs 24lbs.

 

This is a stripped down and lighter version of my 20″ wheel folder. My last folder is a wonderful beast of a bike. While at 60″ length/width/height added up (it meets the 62 inch max requirements for bus and airplane transport) it is rather heavy. After all, it’s a bike designed for heavy duty use, all-road travel, or around-the-world trips. Handing that heavy bagged bike over to the hat-check girl is asking for a lot.

A mini-velo is a full sized bike with wheels smaller than the usual. This bike is 24lbs and 58″ length/width/height added up when it’s bagged. I could bring it inside with me to a restaurant, movie house, or a museum, and expect it to be regarded like any other piece of luggage. Taking it on a bus or a plane would be just as easy. If I am concerned it could get rough handling during airline travel, I could put cardboard scraps between the bag and the bike. But it’s unlikely to get damaged even if it gets dropped on the tarmac, because of the way it’s clamped together- it protects itself.

The Brompton (when enveloped in it’s cover) is the most appropriate of the commercially available bikes to hand off to a coat-check person. Some consider it to be the standard to which all other folding bikes are compared. The reader should consider a bike like that for the purpose.
I wanted a lighter/faster/more durable bike than the Brompton. I recently retired a 16″ wheel bike I made many years ago. It disassembled and went into a canvas sack. It took too long to assemble (8 minutes) and I found I was not using it anymore. I used some parts from it to make the new one…
My 16″ wheel bike that disassembled into a small pile that goes into a 22x12x16″ bag. Took 8 minutes or so to perform this task. It could be further disassembled to fit into a 14x22x9 inch box- a size that is accepted as an airlines carryon. All the tubes had sleeved joints. This bike has been decommissioned.
This new bike uses the same 20″ (406) wheel format as my last folder, and the same folding principals illustrated in this post, but is as light and small as possible when folded. And it folds and bags rather speedily; in 2 minutes from rideable bike to bike in a bag, or vice versa. There has not been a restaurant that cared about my bagged bike next to me, or under the table. I have walked into the theatre with the bike in the bag and put it in the seat next to me a couple of times. Wouldn’t try this on first run features though. The coat check lady at the art museum took it. I told her how much it weighed and showed her the carrying strap. No problem for this lady in her 70s to lug it over the counter. When I picked it up later though, she opened the door to let me lug it away.

Folding bikes need to be bagged in many situations. You never know how someone will react when the item you carry could be identified as a bicycle. And bikes get dirty from riding on the streets. Things just go better when it it’s bagged.

I spent quite a bit of time making the bag. It is carefully tailored to fit the folded bike. It slips over the top of the bike and zips shut at the bottom. Made out of nylon pack cloth. It needs to look good.

Bag slips over the whole thing

 

Zips up at bottom. I can have a frame tube extending out of the top of the bag if I want. This can be used as a handle for carrying it. There is also a shoulder strap on the bag as well.
Takes me a relaxed 2 minutes to go from ready to ride bike to bike in a bag.

Taking this on a bus is easy. It is 19.5 inches wide when folded. I can put it in my lap as the bus fills. The chair space on a bus is about 20″ wide. At 24lbs it is not too much of a burden on my lap.

Two chainrings; 52 and 39 tooth. One 14 tooth freewheel cog. A Rohloff chain tensioner (looks like a derailleur) takes up the chain slack. I use my fingers or push it over with my heel to shift the chain up or down on the chainrings, when a hill is just too long and steep.

This bike needs to be a minimalist: light and small as possible when bagged. No lights or fenders at this time. I used the smaller and lighter 40mm folding tires (Schwalbe marathon supreme 406-40). No shifters. It’s really a one speed with a smaller chainring so I can manually down-shift it when I encounter a long, steep hill. To shift to the lower gear requires using my fingers and getting them dirty, so I only do it when really necessary. The normal gear is a 69″, good for most everything. The low gear is about 52″; used for the longer/steeper hills.

I wanted to minimize the $$ I put into it. As a city bike, it is more likely to get stolen. I won’t always be bagging it to go into a store or other place of business, so there is always a risk of theft. Another technique to reduce it’s chance of being pinched is to make it look crappy. I’m an expert at that.

Some details:

The bike folds up like my previous bikes. Kicking the rear wheel under  brakes the rear wheel and allows me to lean it against anything without risk of it falling over. And it just looks too weird to steal.

 

Closeup of the rear wheel hinge. Rear brake tucks into a tight space under the chain stays. This is the only place it would fit. I can’t use a disc brake with the DX hub.

 

Pedals are MKS quick-release. They disengage from the crankarm quickly, similar to an air compressor fitting. Only the left pedal needs to be removed when bagging. I need toe clips and straps on this bike so I can pull up hard on the hills.

 

 

The seat extender post. A 26.8 mm seat post fits into it. I made it as short as possible and used as little material I thought I could get away with.

 

Old stem I made for some earlier project was shortened and re-brazed to fit this bike. A coin was brazed to the top of the stem tube.

 

Rear hub is a 10 year old Shimano DX singlespeed freewheel, 110mm spaced. It came from the 16″ wheel bike.  Designed for BMX use, 36 spoke holes. I don’t think they make these anymore. There is a 14 tooth cog there. That, with the 52 tooth chainring, makes a 69″ gear. Perfect for almost everything.

 

Since the wheel flips down, I need something to take up some chain slack and keep it in place. This chain tensioner is from an early Rholoff hub kit. It is not a derailleur, and not designed to shift the chain sideways.
In a Safeway grocery store with the bike under the basket. Where a large sack of dog food may normally go.
The smaller 20″ wheel format makes it easy to carry stuff, because of all the space that exists under the handlebars. A nylon tote bag straddles the brake hoods. I shortened the straps so it sits about 2″ above the front wheel. Because of triangulation, it does not move at all when rocking back and forth while climbing a hill, or going over broken pavement. Carries lots of stuff and comes on and off in 2 seconds. I cannot imagine an improved version of a “handlebar bag” for this bike.

 

THE END
28 · bicycle · spoke hole · spokes 36 · wheel

36 hole rim laced to 28 hole hub

This it the type of project that is only justified if absolutely necessary. Not a good idea to try for anyone without a lot of wheel building experience. My project qualified, and I have built hundreds of wheels over the years when I worked as a bike mechanic, so I set down to figure out how to do it.

The internet was not a help. Some plans for other hub/rim mismatched projects used complex mathematical equations that went way over my head. My searches did not turn up a single person who documented doing this particular combination. There were just a few quotes on forums saying it couldn’t be done. I doubt I am the only one who has done it, but what follows is how I figured it out. This method could be used to figure out other hub/rim mismatched combinations too, since you just makes a drawing and measure the spoke lengths off of it.
The hub is a 28 hole Schmidt SON XS dynamo hub. The locknut to locknut dimension is narrow- 74mm wide instead of the usual 100mm. It is laced to a narrow Sun CR18 20″ (406) 28 hole rim presently. I wanted to use a wider rim.There are lots of wide rims available in the 36 hole format, but none in the 28 hole format. Unfortunately, they do not make a 36 hole version of the SON XS hub.  I use it on my folding bike and I absolutely want to keep this narrow hub instead of getting a 100mm version in the 36 hole. It makes the folded size one inch narrower, and for me thats a big deal.
 I chose the Sun Ringle big baller, about 33mm wide. It will allow my tire to hold lots more air, and I will be able to run the tire on lower pressures without having it feel squirrelly, and with less risk of pinch flats.
On a large sheet of watercolor paper I mapped things out. The new 36 hole rim was traced on the paper and each spoke hole was marked. The big circle drawn is the ERD (effective rim dimension), which is where the end of the spoke is supposed to be. I drew the 70mm hub flange circle in the middle and made equal spoke hole markings for the 28 spoke hub. Then I marked off every fourth or fifth hole as a place where no spoke would go (on the drawing it is a S with a circle around it). Missing spokes would be equally spaced apart so that wheel strength is unlikely to be an issue. That left me with 28 spoke holes left. Easy enough so far!
Then I drew a line where the first spoke should be. It would be a cross 2 pattern. I looked at my existing wheel (28 spoke cross 2) to start the drawing, and estimated a good spoke angle for the first one. After that, it was quite straightforward to draw the rest of the spokes in.
Skipping spoke holes caused some spokes to be longer and others to be shorter. When I was done, I measured all the lines and came up with 10 different lengths from 168mm to 186mm.  Thats all even numbers- if it was odd number, I just rounded it off to even.
Then I added 2mm to the spoke lengths to take into account the hub flange to center of hub factor. I used the wheel building spoke calculator on the UBI site to get an idea of how much extra length would be needed.
Building this way, some of the spokes would reach a little farther to the opposite side of the rim. Every other rim hole is staggered sideways a little so that the spoke coming from the hub on the same side is a bit closer to the rim. This difference in length is too small to affect the spoke size with this rim, so that issue did not concern me.
In the above picture, you see the wheel laced up with length labels on each spoke. The big white dots on the rim cover the spoke holes where no spoke will go. All this labeling makes the process of building it less confusing. The wheel is round, true, and snugged down so I can see how well I did on predicting the spoke lengths.
About half the spokes were too long. 2 to 4mm too long. I think this was because I was not careful enough about measuring the lines I drew. Now that I knew the exact lengths I needed, I had Sellwood Cycles (my favorite local bike shop) cut me the spokes I needed to fix this.

 

Big Baller rim on left, Sun CR 18 rim on right. The wider rim will support the tire better when at lower pressure, and increase the air volume for a smoother ride.

 

Finished wheel

All finished, tight and true. The rim is very strong (triple box section design) and 28 spokes are more than enough to hold it together. The tire is 3mm wider mounted on this rim compared to the narrow CR18 rim, and holds a greater volume of air. Replacing a rim when the time comes will now be much easier, as there are lots of 36 hole rims on the market and I can find them in most bike shops. The brake track (rim sidewalls) should hold up longer on this sturdy hoop, so I will use the front brake more- without concern of wearing out the rim. The 28 hole rim was always a special order affair to replace, and I was reluctant to brake with the front brake out of concern of wearing the rim out. I have been using this wheel for well over a year now, probably 6K miles. No issues, no truing needed, and the brake track sidewall wear is not excessive so far.

END