HER PERSPECTIVE: In the past, Humboldt has willingly served as a work truck for my non-profit. I've used it to haul stuff everywhere. Nothing matches it for capacity and keeping things dry. Because we mountain bike, and Brandon is a Boy Scout, we have a bike rack and a spare tire carrier on the van most of the time. I am like T-Rex, little arms. Brandon made our previous spare tire carrier, and it required some strength to unpin it, lower it, and then put it back up and re-pin it. When your arms are tired from hauling work stuff, or you're weakened from fighting the grocery store hordes, this additional impediment to getting the hell home has been known to put tears in my eyes. After a summertime camping trip, the spare tire carrier suffered some serious structural damage after the pin came out and it bounced along rough dirt roads for an unknown length of time. Seizing the opportunity for improvement, I suggested a swing-away replacement and Brandon (wonderful man that he is) took on the challenge. It's the greatest ever!
HOW HE DID IT: I'll admit it - I got lazy for the first one. It was pretty easy to make out of random pieces I had laying around, and it did the job, but it was kind of a pain to deal with for a number of reasons. When it was damaged, it was really a blessing in disguise - it needed a thorough redesign anyway.
I reused nearly the entire thing in the new design - everything but the piece welded to the bumper. I used door hinges and a door latch from a Miata (naturally, given where I work), and otherwise basically just stuck it together. I (almost inadvertently) took advantage of the angled cut on the end of the bumper, so the carrier holds itself open with gravity - no need for gas struts to make sure you don't get crushed. It looks a little weird open, but it works perfectly.
For the latch, I simplified the Miata door latch, removing a lot of internal parts that weren't necessary for my application. I then used some scrap metal to make a box for it, hooked a cable up to the mechanism to allow for easy unlatching (using a shortened motorcycle lever) and welded the catch to the bumper. I also added a rubber bumper to the.. metal bumper.. to preload the latch a bit to prevent any wobbling.
Pretty straightforward, really. I was most concerned about wear on the latch mechanism, since it's mostly open to the dust that we kick up. A yearish in, it's still working perfectly. I did clean out all of the original grease and lubed it with a dry wax so that it wouldn't gather dirt.
WHAT I'D DO DIFFERENTLY: There's not much on this one, fortunately. I didn't get the horizontal arms perfectly even with the bumper, but that's mostly aesthetic. I would swap the wheel mount itself around, so that we could take advantage of the inside of the wheel as additional storage (idea shamelessly stolen from this GoWesty product). Still might do that, although doing that the easy way would obscure the taillight. Really, I'm quite happy with how this one turned out. 100% free, given the random parts that I already had laying around.