Tuesday, May 28, 2019

Santana Safe Case

What's it all about?

The Santana Safe Case can carry a tandem bicycle, one that has couplers, in the frame, that allow it to be taken apart.  The parts of the bicycle are stored in respective layers of foam.  There is no need to wrap the frame, to protect the paint.

You say you want an evolution ...

Reading the supplied instructions, watching the on-line video, and searching for disassembly information for components not covered in the Santana video caused acknowledgement that bicycles keep changing.  The design of the cut-outs, in the foam, is merely a snap shot in time, of one bike, with its particular components.  Will the Safe Case work for your tandem?  All you can do is try.


The instructions will state what needs to be taken apart.  You can always take things apart if the foam cut-outs dictate.


The last page of the instructions has photos of what parts go where.

The goal is to put this tandem ...

in this suitcase.

Layer 1 holds the stoker bars (IF they're cow horns, since we do not, the spare spokes and pump can go here), a tube (if your frame breaks down into individual tubes, since ours does not, the belt and the chain can go here), the hub skewers and three of the cranks (if you do not have hollow spindle bottom brackets).

Layer 2 holds the front of the frame ... and a crank arm.  I removed the front disc brake because it seemed to be protruding upward far enough to be in the way.
Layer 3 holds the rear wheel (disc down).
Layer 4 holds the captain's handlebars.
Layer 5 has a lot of work to do.  It starts out by holding the seat posts and saddles.  It also provides space for the handlebars, from the layer below.

Both seat posts were longer than the cut-out.  The handy electric carving knife makes expanding a cut-out quick work.  I used the bread blades, though the carving blades might have been fine. 
And then it gets really ambitious by attempting to take the rear triangle AND the front wheel.  But Houston, we have a problem, a BIG problem.  Sigh.  The problem is with where Co-Motion slices the frame.  With Santana, the slice is very near the stoker's seat tube.  As you can see here, with Co-Motion, it is quite a ways away from there, which creates an impossible situation.  I attempted to gain some space, by removing the tire, from the front wheel, but it didn't gain ENOUGH space.

Layer 6 holds the tool box (it comes with the Safe Case), a frame tube (the Co-Motion Carrera doesn't break down into tubes) and perhaps another part of the frame.
The rack, and maybe the cranks, can go in another piece of checked baggage, the remaining piece of the frame can probably go in Layer 6, but what to do about the wheel.

Time to stew on this problem. 

The rear triangle

Without a major reworking of the layer scheme (perhaps even WITH), there did not seem to be a way to get the rear triangle into the suitcase.  In the end we punted: we would put the rear triangle in the second checked bag.

Rear triangle of tandem frame fits in soft shell roll-a-bag

It will be necessary to put a spacer in the rear drop-outs, and to wrap the frame with clothes, to protect them during handling.

Next I decided putting the belt rings in the soft bag was a bit risky, so I revisited putting them in the chainring spots in the Safe Case.

Layer one has had the cranks, with the hollow spindle bottom brackets, added.  Note that the spindles protrude upward and will need to be accommodated in several of the above layers

Layer 2 has had two holes added to accommodate hollow spindles of the bottom brackets.

Layer 3 has two holes added, to accommodate the hollow spindles of bottom brackets.

Let's look again at Layer 5, the workhorse of a layer:

Layer 5, without the headache of trying to include the rear triangle of the tandem frame.

Now we want to customize Layer 6 (the final layer), to accommodate the middle of the tandem frame.  I went to a foam shop and for $60 was able to match the foam.  I got one sheet of 1/2" and one sheet of 1-1/2".  This would enable simulated routing.

Bottom of top portion of Layer 6.  Although wood glue is shown here (because I had some), it was very slow to dry, so I would recommend using something more appropriate.

Top portion of Layer 6 has been glued to bottom portion.  Now the wait for it to dry.

Cut the bottom, 1/2" layer, where space will be needed for the items in Layer 5: the disc brake and the handlebars.  Also cut a hole for the bottom bracket.

Layer 6 holds the center of the tandem frame and the the tool box.  It also allows space for the handle bars, and the disc brake, from Layer 5 (below), to poke up.  (The corners of the foam still need to be rounded, to better fit into the Safe Case.)


A bit of mucking around, including completely recreating Layer 6, and placing the rear triangle of the tandem frame in a second carry-on bag, allowed the Santana Safe Case to be used for a Co-Motion Carrera tandem.  The stoker stem and flat handlebars still need to be added to Layer 2.  They were held in position by gluing in place several small blocks of foam.

It will be prudent to place a spacer between the rear drop-outs, to protect that spacing during shipping and handling.  This one was made from a scrap piece of 2x6 (from the construction site next door) and two crank bolts.  First drill holes in the ends of the wood piece using a slightly smaller diameter bit.

Spacer for rear drop-outs
A better gluing solution turned out to be a hot glue gun.

Hot glue gun to the rescue


The maiden voyage went quite well.  Most moving around in the airports went smoothly because of the wheels and the extendable handle.  Occasionally it was necessary to squeeze through turnstiles, or to rotate the case to get it on escalators.  A bit of strength, and some sliding were required (the SafeCase can only roll in broad profile), but even that was manageable. 

The SafeCase weighed in at 28.8 kg.  On the return flight, the second checked bag (the one with the rear triangle and the rear rack, and now including some, ah, liquids) weighed in at 25.3 kg, nothing to sneeze at.

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