Nautical Steel had the privilege of being the stainless steel cable supplier and the Gallery Hanging systems supplier for the Bicycle Museum exhibit at Trail’s End Bike Hotel in Grabouw (Western Cape). The hotel is the brainchild of founder and owner, Pieter Silberbauer, and business partner Johannes Matthewson. Prof Mike Bruton and Pieter Silberbauer arrived at the idea of a Bicycle Museum to showcase the history of the bicycle and to turn the Trail End Bike Hotel into an international attraction.
Trail’s End was partially inspired by the bike hotels in Europe and Japan, and aims to cater to cyclists (and other active outdoorsy types) as a ski lodge caters to skiers. Their goal is to become a global destination for outdoor adventure enthusiasts while giving back and playing a significant role in their local community in Grabouw.
The Trail’s End Bike Hotel is situated in the Elgin Valley, surrounded by majestic mountains and backing onto a beautiful river. While Elgin is almost synonymous with ‘apples’, being the largest single export fruit-producing area in Southern Africa, mountain biking and trail running are definitely the next thing to spring to mind, making it an excellent location for not only the first Bike Hotel in Africa, but the first Bicycle Museum as well.
Project overview: Stainless steel cable supplier for Bicycle Museum
Prof Mike Bruton has extensive experience designing museums and science centres, having curated the MTN Science Centre (now the Cape Town Science Centre) for which he was CEO for a number of years, as well as being involved in the Sci-Bono Discovery Centre in Newtown, Johannesburg, as well as science centres and science museums in Africa. A small team was put together, consisting of Prof Mike Bruton, Pieter Silberbauer, Bianca Silberbauer and Shaun Forster who, through regular correspondence, planning and strategizing, managed to pull together the first phase of the Bicycle Museum.
Nautical Steel cables used to suspend and display museum exhibits
The team has managed to build up a wonderful collection of bicycles, managing to forge an excellent relationship with the Franschhoek Motor Museum, Woodstock Cycleworks and the Iziko Museum. They have also managed to buy some incredibly rare bicycles of their own and have even commissioned the building of an exquisite replica BoneShaker, by the esteemed Cape Town frame builder, David Mercer.
After a critical mass of display bicycles were obtained an effective wire and rack display method was utilized. A very thin 1.5mm cable was decided on, along with a picture hook which is attached to the cables and from which all the bicycles are suspended.
Nautical Steel has extensive experience as a stainless-steel cable supplier and was contracted to supply a range of specialist cables systems specifically for art gallery and museum hanging displays.
The aluminium track that the cable is attached to at the top is adjustable. This means that the flexible hanging system enables the suspended bicycle to be adjusted in 3 different directions. The cable can be moved to the left or the right and it can be adjusted up or down the cable. Thirdly the cable can be adjusted forwards and backwards.
An unintended but pleasing benefit of the display method used, were the shadows that appeared behind the bicycles on the walls created by the spotlights. This created a very effective photogenic effect on the walls, complementing the suspended bicycle displays.
Collectibles on display at the bicycle museum with cables by Nautical Steel
The museum had collected some items of bicycle memorabilia for display in a Victorian-style ‘curiosity cabinet’ and made copies of coloured posters to exhibit. The colour posters were made during the first bicycle boom in England and France in the late 1800s and early 1900s.
One of the most uncommon bikes on display in the Trail’s End Bicycle Museum is a Dursley-Pedersen (below on the far right), invented by a Dane Mikael Pedersen. Pedersen first developed the unique hammock-style saddle, which suspends the rider rather than settle them on a hard seat, and provides a supremely comfortable ride on this bike.
Being the stainless-steel cable supplier on this project afforded Nautical Steel an opportunity to be involved in this unique undertaking. We recommended a stainless-steel cable be used due to the anti-corrosion properties which made it ideal for coastal and inland use.
Pieter Silberbauer, notes: “The Boneshaker (below on the left) is the 1863 Michaux Velocipede replica constructed by David Mercer and recently completed. It is an exceptional exhibit and something that we (including David Mercer) are mighty proud of”.
The museum was opened in record time and the official opening day was 21 October 2021. Very soon after the opening of the Bicycle Museum the positive impact could be felt. With its unique bicycle display and hanging cable design this museum will certainly become a highlight for adventure seekers travelling into the Elgin Valley.
Final thoughts on being a cable supplier for a museum display
Nautical Steel was honoured to be the stainless-steel cable supplier of choice for this world class project.
We are excited to hear that Gallery II of the Museum is well underway and will open early in the New Year. This will triple the size of the Museum and add a new dimension to the Museum by exhibiting the Role of the Bicycle in Africa.