As a person of strong aesthetic commitments but limited mechanical knowledge, I am often driven mad by knowing exactly what I want but being unable to make it. With bicycles, this often leads to my fumbling slowly toward success, learning the easiest way of doing things only after significant trial and error. Thank God, for example, that I decided to take Doug Fattic's class and not just to "wing it" in framebuilding. I saved myself a lot of money, a lot of time, and more significantly, a lot of mental anguish.
Clive is generally much simpler: Dan Polito is doing all the work—except for the lighting system. I have taken it more or less on myself to design and install the lighting system, even though I know next to nothing about lights, electronics, soldering, etc. Worst of all, since no nice taillights are available commercially, I am on the hook to actually make (or, as I put it earlier and with more latinate diction, fabricate) a taillight.
In Bicycle Quarterly's article on the lighting system I'm attempting to recreate, Jan Heine makes the system sound easy: "Just make an epoxy mould from one of the many JOS taillights you have kicking around the house!" Well, friends, I'm ashamed to admit it: I have not a single JOS taillight. The other way to do it is to stick the LEDs into a cyclindrical aluminum housing, like this new "Rene Herse." But that just doesn't look as nice as, for example, the taillights that Peter Weigle makes.
What to do then? Well, find a nice, pretty old French taillight, take out all the antiquated halogen "guts," and replace them with LEDs. Then drill a hole in the back and epoxy in (OED editors take note: I am using "epoxy" here as a verb) a bolt for mouting to Clive's seattube light braze-on. I had been looking for one of these lights for some time on eBay.fr — although I'd only been using the search term "feu." My friend Olivier pointed out I should also have been searching for "phare," "lumière," "catadioptre" and "réflecteur."
Then, moments later, bless his soul, he found the ideal taillight for me. Best of all, the listing title was very vague—and as a result, I was the only bidder. For a grand total of $22 Canadian dollars, including shipping, the lights pictured above are now on their way from France. I suspect that the taillight is a Vitalux, as chronicled on Aldo Ross's fantastic and peculiar blog about French lights. I'm not sure I'll do anything with the headlight. But with a bit of polishing and some delicate operations, the taillight should be beautiful and befitting my Clive.
Also: before I go on another transatlantic quest, if anyone knows where I can get a fender-mounted reflector along these lines, please post a comment!