A Ngcobo school pupil tired of walking 15km to school is busy building himself his own “motorbike” from scrap metal.
Sakhumzi “Skatsha” Xana, 20, an aspiring mechanical engineer, has everyone in awe after building his bike which he hopes will end his daily trudge to school and back – once he is able to fit brakes to it.
Xana said he used bicycle frames, a four-stroke generator engine and its fuel tank, a motorcycle chain and truck clutch plate among other parts to build his bike, which travels at “running speed”.
Some parts were simply picked up off the street.
The Grade 10 pupil at Ngubesizwe Secondary School said he started the project two years ago.
“I learned from a maize grinding machine how an engine works. At first I didn’t really believe that it [bike] would come together, it was just experimenting.
“Guys used to laugh at me saying I needed to be taken to a psychiatrist for a checkup, but I persevered,” he says.
“When everything was coming together, the same people praised my talent. One of the women here calls me a magician,” he said with a smile on his face.
The bike starts with a pull of a rope, similar to that of a generator. He now needs to design a gearbox and brakes before he can hit the road. Xana said he was not worried about getting traffic fines.
“I will explain to them that this is not a legal car, it’s self-made because I can’t afford a decent car,” he said.
Xana has previously built up his own bicycles but this time decided to take it a step further. He approached a local mechanic who explained to him how a car engine operated.
“I have also learned a lot from reading engineering magazines and watching TV programmes like Top Gear where they take cars apart,” said Xana.
Living with his grandmother, uncle and niece, he was able to buy school uniform from money made selling steel burglar bars, fixing cars and making knives using scrap metal. The tools he uses were left behind by his late grandfather, Mantyosana. His neighbour, Unathi Mkosana said Xana was a “rare gem who can come up with innovative things and make a meaningful contribution in engineering”.
Xana is in need of a drill and welding machine to complete his bike.
“I take parts that have never been used together before, combine them and come up with whatever part I need.”
In 2011, he was awarded a certificate of merit after scoring 97% for his English studies. Class teacher Mzukisi Hlangadala said Xana was a quick learner.
“He performs very well and he is a hard worker. He just needs support as he is from a poor background,” said Hlangadala. — firstname.lastname@example.org
Source: originally written and published by Dispatch Live