Thursday, July 31, 2008

Anyone care for custom paint?

Been busy finishing up custom paint on bars, working on a Ti repair and repaint, and Bob's Yo.

Kalten's been nibbling away at scraping and painting the final wall of the shop. It's been HOT and humid, so I can totally relate to his lethargic attitude. Feel like we're down in Ol' Mexico at the best thing to do is to take a little siesta :)

I received probably the worst beat and seized frame yet in for future resto...this grellow and blue Yo. Stem rust welded into steerer...check, large chunk of steel seized in seat tube...check, bottom bracket not rotating...check, multiple dents and scrapes...check. This frame has it all!

Note the hammer dent in the top tube and the bent rear stay from a car...yucky.

I finished up Bob's steel work on his Yo resto...came out pretty smooth considering the holes we had to work with.
Bob's frame all primered up and ready for some Gulf stream colors...

Lots of bars that are getting fresh custom colors...the final July and some August bars.

Here are some quick pics of a Ti frame repair that I did. I had to replace the chainstay on the drive side and it is getting a funky sunset red over black paint job. Here is the black with the underlying silver down.
And after multiple coats of red....

The last few pics are of Lester's bar...a sunset red with silver pinstripes. Here's the base layer flashing off in the setting sun.

and after it's been masked, painted and ready for clear. I believe Lester is planning on using clear grips, so the pinstripes should look pretty killer underneath them.

Shipping all the custom painted bars, two ti bars, and Roy's cross bike out tomorrow.

Feeling kinda tired so I'll catch y'all tomorrow bright and early,


Tuesday, July 29, 2008

Weekend update...not SNL coverage ;)

Hey folks,

A quicky update to let you in on the last few days...

Thursday was spent finishing up the Black Luv Hanldles and sending them out. I pushed a little extra and finished up some of the early August payments, so some of you should be getting your bars a bit ya!

Friday was a give back day. I receive lots of emails and phone calls from folks who want to get into the frame biz and would like to be an apprentice, shop rat, or just come in for a little teaching time. As much as I would like to accommodate everyone, I just do not have the time to teach as well as keep my nose to the grind stone...but every now and then I try to show a little love and give back to the profession that brings me so much joy.

So Friday I had Larry in the shop and we spent the day working on construction techniques, specifically tig welding. We touched on such items as cleaning methods and process, tungsten choice, control settings, torch angle, filler position and technique for varying joints, and finally let him loose on a custom handlebar that would challenge all the tips he had learned that day. We worked well later than he had planned...thanks to his wife for being patient in his return home ;)

Hopefully, Larry will document some of his thoughts for all to share on Frameforum soon.

Moving on, Dave sent me a pic of his custom Ti luvs all mounted up...ride report forthcoming. If you are interested in Ti Luvs, they are now a standard item. Check in with me for availablility/ordering.

Over the weekend, it was shop duties to take care of...specifically, painting the exterior. Some recent graffitie and a weathered exterior were calling for attention, so Kalten and I got out the scrapers and brushes. Should finish up today.

I also am in the process of finishing up the custom paint on some bars today for the July order...should be shipping Thursday.

I'm off to get Bob's Yo into paint...yippee!



Wednesday, July 23, 2008

Back into production mode...


It's that time again...Luv Handle production for the month is in full swing.

I finished my FD commitments Tuesday morning at 0700 for the week and hustled on over to the shop. First order of business was getting Johnny's frame all finished up so he can race in the OMBC series this coming weekend at Alum Creek. A nice glossy orange powder coat was the choice for the second half of the season. Kalten broke out the polish and spiffed up the White Industries parts and the headbadge and I got started on reassembling.

Zach at Bikes Trikes and Boards is rebuilding his front fork so once that is done, John will be ready to race.

The Luv Handle production was the next item on the list...busing out 32 of them this month. That is a LOT of cutting, mitering, sanding and welding. I had to enlist the help of Aaron and Kalten to move through these as efficiently as we could this month. Everything moved pretty well...a couple more months of training on these and the boys will really be able to help put out some numbers ;)

Center sections all cut up and ready to go...

Cutting up the grip sections...two lengths this month; 26" wide and 28" wide

Deburred inside and out and now getting the mill scale sanded off the business end

Off to the wash and degrease...K final air drying prior to end cap welding

Lots of bar grips with end caps all welded up

Lets start welding these together! Only 31 more to go :)

The August delivery list is now full...any new reservations will now begin the September list.

Hoping to get out on the bike tonight. Got on the scale this morning and weigh more than I ever have (yikes!) so I'll have to start finding time to get back on the bike with some regularity and intensity.



Friday, July 18, 2008

A feeble attempt at fun...

As I'm sequestered for a few days in public service, I thought I'd share an update from a ride this week.

One of the advantages of being a builder is all the cool folks you meet and are able to share the excitement of riding with by loaning out demo bikes, guiding the local trails, and being able to justify having lots of kickin' equipment around.

The disadvantage is that often, that cool equipment is beat on, crashed, and generally knackered.

A shining example of that occured this week. I had loaned out the bike I ride often to some folks for the Groovy Series race last Saturday. Emily Francone of Tucson had ridden it to a first place finish despite it being a bit large for her. It was cool to hear the fans along the course encouraging the visiting rider, calling out "Go Groovy Girl!" Muddy and tired, there were smiles all was a rewarding night.

Flash forward a few days and my son, Kalten, had been asking me to take him out for a ride, Cubby needed to be run on the trail, and honestly, I had not made enough time for me to get out of late. So off to the local trails we sped. We arrived at the trailhead dressed and ready for action, the weather warm with a gentle breeze, and the poison ivy and mosquitos in full bloom.

As I began to mount up I realized that my normal Crank Brother's Candy pedals were absent, the spd's Emily had used still in place. Figures...the pedals and my shoes were not compatible. Not one to give up easily, there was only one solution; tape, and lots of it. I slid the Birks back on, grabbed a wide role of masking tape, and began wrapping my feet and the pedals up. Ta Da...instant make shift clipless.

The set up worked out pretty well until on a long down hill ending in a creek crossing; Cubby stopped dead in the middle of the creek, I hit the brakes hard, and my feet did not come free. Endoing over the bars headed for the rocky bottom, I had just enough time to think "oh boy, this is gonna hurt". Fortunately, the cool water washed the flowing blood from my leg and elbow away before Cubby's sandpaper tongue could lapp it up.

We cut the ride short, as my feet kept falling out of my now soaked and loose sandals, but despite the setback, we had a great time.

Kalten rode well and Cubby, despite only being 6 months old, is becoming quite the trail dog.

It was good to get out. Til next time...



Wednesday, July 16, 2008

Breathing life into Bob's Yo...a resto project

This is one of those heart string resto projects I tend to accumulate. I love the old mountain bikes from the hey days of the sport and have always had fun bringing them back to the glory days to be ridden and enjoyed again.

Bob sent me his Yo (seems like a looong time ago) that admittedly, had seen better days. A Krylon blue paint job and some roughly applied rack braze ons had sullied this fine machine. The task before me was to remove the bosses, clean her all up and put on a nice new finish.

The bosses did not really cause me much concern until I finally gave her a good look. The welds that were holding these in place had clearly undercut the foundation of the tube and I began to worry about what I would find once I cut them free and exposed the underlayer.

Here's a shot of one of the bosses with the paint blasted off. The weld undercuts the tubing in the center of the boss and then there is too much build on the uneven balance that I'm surprised has not caused a stress riser failure before now.

Once the rack braze on was removed, you can see what was left behind. A nasty hole from too much heat on the thin tubing during welding. This was the aftermath on 3 of the 4 pieces...oh boy :(
I basically had two viable options; replace both stays or work some creative metal new stays would have busted the bank on this guy, I pulled out the wand ;)

I closed up the holes with some carefully applied tig welding. Heat control and filler application is crucial as the thin tubing wants to melt back away from the torch, creating a much larger problem. Fortunately, I've played with lots of hopeless repairs and I was able to close up all the holes pretty smoothly. Boo-yah!

The next shot shows the filled areas under some fresh flux, ready for a bit of silver to level out the surface area and give a nice transistion from original to repaired area. I could have used some poly fill (bondo) to smooth things out under the paint, but want the piece to be as bomber and high quality as possible, so there you go ;)

Here's a shot with the flux still cooling and some 45% silver built up over the area. I used the 45% as it is not as viscous as the more common 56% and could be counted on to reliably stay put rather than run away around the tube.

I should make note that all this was done fairly quickly, from tig to braze, so that the area never really cooled down, allowing me to repair the area with as little heat application as possible, retaining the strength of the material.

And finally, one stay filed and sanded smooth, one ready for some attention. It's a lot of effort to expend for an almost 20 year old frame, but it sure is sweet to see it all fixed up right.

This guy is going to get a SWEET paint job...gulf stream orange and blue with white and black trim. Should be killer. Bob, I hope you got some spiffy parts for this bad boy just waiting in the wings :)

I also busted out some of the July Luvs today, a little later than I wanted, but it is what it is.

I'm gonna be starting a straight 72 hour shift tomorrow at the FD, so I'll be hitting the email and getting back to some of y'all during some down time.

Thanks for the patience,


Tuesday, July 15, 2008

Lots of little things...

Monday and Tuesday were spent doing all the exciting aspects of being a frame builder; ordering parts, specing tubing, paying bills, standing inline shipping bikes, etc...

One cool thing is that the Tee's finally arrived, available in indigo and navy blue or heather and chocolate brown, these guys are ready to send out. Cost on these guys are 20 bucks shipped. Talking to Scotty, my hook up for all things textile, the prices of tees have been as variable as gasoline of late. Seems the best day to order shirts and fill up the car is Tuesday... a word for your benefit exclusively from Groovy headquarters ;)

One of my racer guys, John, is truly a pedal addict. Give him a bike and he rips...ask him to take care of it and he gets a funny look on his face :) So, as his bike is taking a beating running in two series this year, it's time to respray it with some new love. Below is the headtube...can you see where the headbadge used to be?

The new coat will be a straight up traffic orange. I'm going to powder coat it using Duponts newest primer and TGIC polyester powder, a bullet proof finish. We had some testing done at the Dupont lab where they submerged the part in an 80% brine solution and took it out once a day to inspect for degredation. The primer/poly part lasted 180 days with no deterioration. They stopped the testing as they needed the tank for other clients. Although not as bling as the liquid paint, my powder finishes are truly the best in the biz for durability.

As I spend long days at the shop, I have to feed my hungry belly. My favorite vice is a little bakery that is across the alley from me; Troyers home pantry. Check out this Red raspberry cream pie loving that was my breakfast, lunch and dinner today...yeah!

In addition to my other errands, I resto'd my Bad Boy Blaster with new media, new glass film, and filter. Mark at Bad Boy Blasters is THE BEST in the cabinet business...customer support is his priority, make sure you check him out . Great cabinets for builders at super prices.

Finally, I got a treat this afternoon. Lindsay and Casey stopped by to say hello and were kind enough to be my Luv Handle models for a quick shot. Both these girls have been a special part of my life as they've shared many rock climbing, kayaking, and hiking trips with me. Love 'em both and wish only the best for them in the future...they are both shaking the world up from differing perspectives :)

Catch y'all tomorrow,


Monday, July 14, 2008

A race to the end

My day started at 0600 Thursday morning and I finally left the shop Saturday morning 0230...a lot transpired in the interim :)

Chris was planning to arrive Friday around 4:00 to work on the build up and take the bike for a spin before winging it back to Texas early Saturday morning, so the push to finish was on.

After fabrication was completed, I masked off the couplers, taped up all the vent holes and took the whole kit and kaboodle to the blast cabinet where a nice even tooth was layed down over the entire frame.

Next up, I blow the frame off with purified air, and wipe it all down with a final degreaser/cleaner and tack cloth then it's off to the paint booth.

As this is going to be a travel bike for Chris and see business all over the Globe, I wanted to insure that it was extra protected. Coupler bikes, no matter how careful you are, can take a beating with all the packing, unpacking, and general abuse inherent in travel, so I layed down 4 sanded coats of bullet proof primer to give it an armour coating.

A shot of the frame in grey green primer...

The unicrown fork all sanded and ready for the next coat. As a quick aside, I really like the shape of these road unicrown blades; simple, light and sexy.

Once the primer layers were all happy, I began with the light pink that will become the underlayer color for the panels and polka dots.

After three coats to give nice even coverage for the color, it's time to begin masking; panels, pinstripes and polka dots.

Next came two light coats of vanilla shake, a creamy off white color. It's important to lay these down very consistently as it is quite easy to build too much paint and have a palpable transition line between the masking. A steady hand and even speed are the rules of the day here.

Once I've flashed off the second coat of paint, I bake the frame for a short duration to make sure all is set up before I begin to lift the masks. And a few hours later, here's what we've got.

I shot the first layer of clear and threw it all in the bake box. Each layer of clear takes about 2-3 hours with prep, shooting, baking and clean up. So since it was a bit of a lull and only 0330 in the morning, I got to work on Chris's wheels; a nice set of silver King hubs and Mavic CXP33 rims. Friday morning I was feeling a bit tired and drawn out and fortunately for me, the post man brought me some loving. Mark from "Flagpole" Az had sent me some of his favorite mixed tunes for a little shop music. It was a saving grace as with new tunes came new energy...thanks Mark!

I smothered the frame and fork with four coats of clear to help with durability and to give it a super deep gloss finish. Chris and his buddy Hoss rolled in around 1630 Friday and had to patiently wait for the final bake to finish up. Once it was out of the box, the final prep began. Here's a shot of me removing the SS coupler masking.

Chris (left) and Hoss fitting up the King Titanium cages for a little more bling ;)

Chris and I took our time on the build, making sure everything was dialed in just right. We finished the build around midnight Friday night and after riding around the parking lot a few times, Chris was lamenting not being able to really ride it before having to break it down for travel back to Texas. So, we threw caution to the wind and like a couple of teenage kids, went for a night ride through town. A few criterium laps around the block and some sprints gave us a good feel for how the bike fit and performed.

Here's a built shot post ride... the Brooks saddle and wrap were an after thought but really complimented the classic silver parts and subtle colors of the paint.

Some quick experimenting with packing and lots of bubble wrap later, the bike was packed up in it's hardcase and ready for travel back to the Lone Star State. It was 0230 Saturday morning; Chris had to be on the way to the Cleveland airport at 0400 and I had to begin a two day Swim meet our club was hosting for a thousand swimmers at 0600...I hope Chris made his flight because I know that I was a bit late getting going :)

It's Monday now and I'm going to spend the day cleaning up the aftermath of the last week and working on Bob's Yo resto.

See y'all tomorrow,


Thursday, July 10, 2008

Chris's frame taking shape

Well, yesterday dawned muggy with lots of rain as evident in the pic just kept coming down in buckets. The demo bikes keep coming back from the trail almost unidentifiable due to the amount of mud that is ever present lately.

I started the day by packing up the rasta frame and's heading off to sunnier climates in Reno, congrats Phong, should be a killer bike for you :)

Once I got my schwerve on, it was back to fabrication. I finished up seat stays and brazed the rear end halves is a pic fresh out of the water...

The next step for the stays is the mill. I place each stay in a fixture and run an endmill through the intersection of the stay and the dropout to give a rough scallop shape. A little filing and sanding and you have some finished pieces...

Ok, so maybe there is a bit more sanding then I let on, as the residue from my apron shows ;)

Next up I mark and drill the vent holes in the main triangle for where the stays will meet. This allows for good air circulation, access for rust proofing, and aids in welding to diffuse the pressure from the heated gases. Below is the bottom bracket just after hitting it with a #3 centerdrill. Each vent hole gets deburred and sanded smooth before welding.

I hit a bit of a road block when it came time to put in the brake bridge...I did not have any recessed bolt inserts to place into the bridge. I ran out and as I have not had any road bikes lately, forgot to order more. So, off to the lathe to turn one up. After a bit of work, I've got a nice piece that will give a stable clamping surface as well as a clean recessed section to hold the Dura Ace fixing sleeve for the rear brake.

Mocked up in place, awaiting some braze lovin...

And finally, the frame all pieced together. I've still to drill the fork brake hole and dimple the chainstay and she'll be ready for paint.

Chris has requested a finish to compliment his 29er...a pale pink and vanilla shake polka dot jobby with panels.

I'm off to get busy with it!