We are very sorry to learn about the unexpected and recent passing of Jim Wilson.

Jim was a long-time customer and friend of ours. He was also the creator and and manager of BikeRod&Kustom, a website and ezine devoted to the needs and interests of Bicycle Creators and appreciators of Bicycle Design.

Jim started BR&K about the same time Online Metals launched, and quickly became one of our earliest supporters and business partners. We always loved promoting him and he was happy to send us pictures and instructions for his work. He bent and forged OLM materials into some pretty amazing creations for more than a decade. Our hearts are heavy and our thoughts are with Jim’s family.

In tribute to that amazing and creative man, we wanted to share this email and photos that we received from him last January.

Jim’s Steampunk Flashlight


This recent project was made as a Christmas gift for my daughter. It functions as a defensive “Light Weapon” torch. The style is what is commonly called “Steampunk”, although I prefer “Neo-Nemo”, in honor of 19th-century sci-fi author Jules Verne. All construction materials are from Online Metals.

It’s built around an Endor Star high-power white LED module the diameter of a nickel coin. It mounts three Luxeon Rebel LEDs, each driven by 700 milliamps of current @ 3.5 volts. At this power level, it produces 540 lumens of light, which is bright enough to cause temporary blindness. I used a 1” diameter acrylic plastic half-ball as a magnifying lens over the LEDs. A nice acrylic lens is available to specifically fit this LED module, but I like the funkier beam the half-ball produces, and the look of it is more period-appropriate to the style of the device.

The body of the torch is a length of Brass Tubing (1″ x 0.03″ x 0.94″), which holds three sub-C-sized Nickel Metal Hydride rechargeable batteries rated at 4,200 milliamp/hours. The front bezel is machined from a length of Brass 230 Pipe Schedule 40 1.25″ nom. (1.66″ OD x 0.14″ Wall x 1.38″ ID). As the I.D. of the pipe is slightly larger than the O.D. of the tube, I made a tubular shim to fill the gap, made from brass sheet from an OLM brass sheet sample pack. After annealing the sheet brass, it was easily formed into a smooth tubular shape, which was sweat-soldered to the inside of the bezel. The bezel is held to the tubular body by brass setscrews from an online small parts source, which was also the source of a 1” brass disc 1/8” thick, which serves as a heat-sink mount for the LED module, which produces a fair amount of heat from the heavy current going into it.


The light is activated by a micro-switch from Radio Shack. The decorative push-button is a small plastic “scarab” cabochon from a costume-jewelry source. I separated the scarab from its brass bezel, which I then soldered to the tubular barrel around an elliptical opening. The scarab is glued to the metal actuating lever of the micro-switch.

The torch has two interchangeable rear terminations: a lathe-turned aluminum bullet-shaped “spike”, and a 1” diameter cast-brass hemispherical railing cap, fitted with a brass swivel keychain ring. The brass keys on the ring have sharpened ends, so they can (theoretically) act as a nasty flail weapon. (This is all conceptual, of course.) As the end termination pieces have different inset diameters, I made laminated brass bushings of identical O.D. but different I.D. from the sample brass sheet pack thicknesses, for snug fits.

The torch is secured to the winged scabbard by a matched pair of neodymium “super magnets’. Rotating the torch within the scabbard releases the magnetic attraction. The brass chain is the right length for “over the shoulder” wearing. The leather-covered canister contains other lengths and gauges of chain.

My daughter, who’s also into “Steampunk Style” was surprised by the gift, and really likes it.

Thanks for everything, Jim. The world is a less exciting place without you in it.

Rest in Peace, old friend.