Friday, October 31, 2008

Call off the dogs...the search is over :)

Well, after 3 different folks called me last night in the shop asking..."dude, are you all right? I check the blog every day and nothing's been posted", I figured I better get cracking on some new posts to let you know that I'm still kicking.

No good excuses, just have been burning the candle at both ends and in the middle and have not made time for much posting. So anyhoo, let's catch you up on what's been shaking...

I stole an afternoon sometime in the last two weeks and got out biking in Mohican forest with some friends. The leaves were just past their prime, the weather cool, but the trail was in fine shape.

While waiting on a few more folks to arrive, I could not resist the opportunity to snap some gratuitous shots along the river...

As expected, there is never enough time or energy to set up for some good riding shots, but Mike was able to get a quick blurry pic of me dropping into valley...

The business trip to NY was a positive venture, meeting some good folks and hooking up with a customer and friend for some ride time. I came away with a couple of observations...
1.) I'm definitely not a City guy...too busy, congested and not my bag baby.
2.) There is some excellent, diverse riding available just hours from the city.
3.) and finally, we had a New Yorker come through and ride at one of our local trails proclaiming, "Now this is what mountain biking is suppose to be...I'm from upstate NY and there are f*cking rocks EVERYWHERE!" After a few days sneaking in some rides, I can confirm that he is right ;)
That was the good of the trip.
The bad is that my business cell phone died on the trip, losing all my contacts, voicemails, and pics. Christi called and told me that the microwave at home is turning on and off on it's own and that the fridge is about dead and both would need replaced upon my return. When I got back and headed into the shop I found that when the Utility companies came to shut off the service to the business in the front of the building they turned my stuff off as well. Fortunately, the electric and gas was only off for two days before they were reactivated, one of which I was at the fire department, so not too much pain was caused.
For now, I've been welding up Luv bars...62 of them, so that I can get the remaining October, November and December bars out the door early.
Filling up the table...

I also made a trip up to see Joe Bringheli to pick up some tubing. Joe had Deddachai make up some custom spec'd seat stays for me so that I can save some time in the shop that I would normally be custom bending the straight tubing. There are S bend stays available from other sources, but I've never been happy with the tire clearance available from many of the current offerings, so these custom stays were worth the time and monetary investment to make me happy :)
Does it look like a grand in tubing?

I was able to combine my trip to Joe's with Emily's USFSA testing date in Strongsville. If y'all think bikes are expensive, check out the cost of figure skating at a competitive level some're two wheeled toy will seem quite the bargain!
Here's Em and her moves coach Jesse stretching out prior to taking the ice...

So, that brings us up to the present. I taught at the hospital all day yesterday, instructing a class on Pediatric Advanced Life Support, then welded into the late night. Today is Halloween, I'll be doing some more bars, finish welding the belt drive bike so I can clear it from the jig, and hopefully catching up on some emails.
That's all for now...check back in tonight or tomorrow and I'll share the unique layout and chainstay interference issues present with designing for a belt drive system.

Monday, October 20, 2008

Feeling pretty tired...

Hey folks,

I apologize for not getting much posting done the last week, but life has been a bit of a blur.

I'm laying in bed now typing away at 0200 hours Tuesday morning and I've got the alarm set to go off at 0420, so this is going to be somewhat short and sweet.

Here's the laundry list of what got accomplished this week:

Began work on Kevins custom bullmoose bar
Finished Melvin's Ti bar, started on laying out his one piece bar stem combo
Fabricated Vince's fork for the Monster Fat...needs paint
Fabricated Stu's road fork
Fabricated Chris's road fork...needs paint
Finished fabrication on Chris's road frame...needs paint
Finished the SS coupler stays for the Belt drive 650b single speed
Made a custom aluminum dropout for a neighborhood kid's bike repair
Got 11 Ti and 40 steel Luv centers ready to go...welding next week!
Got the tubing selected for Goyo's frame...gotta iron out the final numbers before setting the jig
Worked too many hours at the FD, too many at the shop, and slept too little ;)

I'm flying up to NY for a quick business trip at 0600 and will return Thursday, so I'll have little coorespondance for a couple days.

The weather has turned cool here, as for the first time in quite a while, my breath was fogging up my lense in the welding helmet...where did the summer and fall go?

The final CNC parts for the cranks should land by the end of the week, that means the fixtures will be out and cranks will start to be melting together soon!

talk to y'all soon,


Saturday, October 11, 2008

Saturday night's what's happening

Well, it was quite a week...let me tell ya about it.

Christi, my lovely wife who I really don't deserve, took a lone week away this year and attended a quilting retreat in woodsy West Virginia. She's quite the craftsperson, as the work that she does takes a precision that I believe is more difficult than what I do.

Anyhoo, with her gone, I got to play do it all dad; managing the kids schedules (no easy task), being the primary chef, and attempting to squeeze in a few hours each day in the shop.

Unfortunately for all of us, I had a bout of the "don't stray too far from the porcelain" sickness for a couple of days that really put a damper on things. Now that I've crossed the line of too much is what I did get accomplished.

Eric's 650b status:

fabrication on the frame, fork, stem, bar, and rack is completed...just awaiting the parts for the cranks so I can get those done and paint it all up at once. The paint is going to be a mix of off white and green, spun up in a classic styling.

Lots of parts have been rolling in, I'll save the pics for the next post as it is going to be a killer build.

Stu's Pegorretti:

Stu dropped by with his Pergorretti that has been experiencing some major front shimmy hour of exam and checking on the alignment table and the problem was discovered. A misaligned and cracked carbon fork that we believe is post accident from a year ago was the culprit...gonna be building a new fork to get him back on the road. After seeing many carbon failures that have been traumatic, Stu was quite lucky with this one. Scary stuff folks...carbon has it's place but the marketing today is prodding Asian manufacturers to utilize it in areas that are just not appropriate for the forces applied to it.

Chris's coupled road frame:

Remember this one? Chris wanted a coupled road bike to take along on his travels for his business so we built it up and sent it on it's way. Chris has rediscovered road cycling and is burning up the miles. Recently, he called me quite distraught that his vanilla shake with pink polka dots paint job was chipped by some gorilla-esque baggage handlers during a trip to Europe and has decided he just cannot stand to see his primary road frame in a blemished state. So, the coupled bike is going to be re-equipped as a single speed traveler and I finished up the twin to his frame to be his new stay at home blinged out pavement pounder. Chris will be flying up from Texas next week to assemble and take home his new ride...just have to decide on a paint scheme. It would be great to paint up Eric and Chris's bike at the same time, as it's nice to get into the groove to maximize efficiency.

Here's the completed road frame...Groovy #3 for Chris

Visitors from the street;

Being right down town, I have lots of folks drifting by, many of quite diverse personalities and economic levels. Meet Luis...a retired guy who likes to talk, a lot! I can't really call Luis homeless, as he has a place to sleep, but he's always drifting about. Today, Luis stopped by in a shirt that was so well worn his moobs (short for man boobs) were totally sticking out through deteriorated fabric of his plaid shirt. I made Luis surrender the tatty piece and gave him a Groovy shirt...more for my personal comfort than his...I just couldn't stand to see that shit hanging out there :)
Finally, I needed to get moving on the belt drive single speed build so I can clear the fixture to start Goyo's 650b on Monday.

I'm gonna post about the rear end layout and the requirements of the Carbon Drive system tomorrow, but for today I put together a quick vid on SS coupler installation for you.

Demonstrated today on the drive side chainstay...

Catch ya soon,


Tuesday, October 7, 2008

Final Groovy Series race and some Ti bending fun

Sunday dawned cool yet absolutely beautiful for what was to be the longest rain delay race of the season...the original final race was to be the day the wind storm hit and most of the area was without power for as much as 9 days; good decision to postpone Kevin ;)

We had an excellent time. I brought a bunch of frame materials and some in progress work to let everyone see just what is going on beneath all that paint and powder. I was able to chat with a lot of folks and really enjoyed being out there with like minded souls.

The registration area prior to the race participants arriving...all set up and ready to press some flesh.

At the awards ceremony, we drew for the final series winners. Each participant received points for their finishing positions as well as additional entries for each race they attended of the six. Roger Sommers was the lucky winner of the custom frame, bar, and fork. I'll be fabbing this one up to have for NAHBS '09...maybe Roger will come out to Indy to see his frame kit under the big top ;)

And the Luv Handle goes to...Jeff Pendleberry!
Mark Jones was the lucky recipient of a custom painted dropout bottle opener...a nice compliment to our beer sponsor, Sierra Nevada Brewery.
and a few special tee's went out to Jeff Pendleberry (won twice the lucky bastard!), John Lorson, and Big prize girls lingering on the right :)
Monday I began creating a custom fixture for bending up Erics rack, hope to have that done tonight and ready to begin massaging some tubing.

I also got to work on fabricating some Ti straight bars.

I began by running a center line down the tube, parting off the Ti to the requested length, chamfering the internal and external faces of the ends, then marking the center and the bend axis points.

After some careful bending, using not only an external die but also an internal mandrel to insure the tubing maintains it's shape, the bar gets placed on the alignment table to check for accuracy. Obviously, the pics are just representations of the process, as it is too difficult to exam the work while trying to take a pic yourself...

Angle of the dangle...I mean bend.

After checking to insure the angle is correct, the bar is stood on it's end points and measured from the apex of the bend to the table and then along the center section. An exact measurement means that both bends are equal and placed appropriately.

The bar then gets surface checked on both aspects to insure that it lays flat and square, an indication that the bar fabrication took place in one plane only

The finished product after Scothbrighting and clean up...

While I had the schwerve on, I took care of Eric and Mel's bar, one in 4 degrees, one in 6.

To round out the day, I put my nose to the grindstone and knocked out some more Luv parts...centers and grips, steel on the left, Ti on the right...

I'm gonna try to get the mounting Email tonight, so I'll be talking to ya soon,


Sunday, October 5, 2008

Last couple of days were a mixed bag...

Gotta be honest, I did not feel real productive the last couple of days. I guess that I've been in a bit of a funk watching the guys up front at Bikes Trikes and Boards close up shop.

Ernie Lehman had Matt M. and I open Ernie's Bike shop up in 1991, the first real bicycle shop in Wooster. We were instantly successful, as we truly enjoyed helping folks, wrenching, and spreading the love of two wheeled fun. I stayed there until 1998, enough time to see our personal lives change through marriage, the birth of my frame building career, kids, lots of racing, and my health issues that finally convinced me to cut back a bit and focus on just two jobs; the fire department and building frames.

Eventually, the business was purchased by Zach and re-named to BTB and was responsible for moving the local community forward in both support of local racers and the commuting folk alike.

Tough economic times mean things must's just tough to watch the era pass on. I guess I'm just getting old and sappy, but I'll miss seeing a local shop spread the love in a space that holds so many good memories.

Ok, waxing poetic completed, let's get on to what's been shaking...

I come from a background unlike many builders today, in that the ability to create your own fixturing and tooling to facilitate bicycle fabrication was a must. Now, any Tom, Dick, or Larry can spend some coin and have a fully equipped shop with lots of fixtures that allow you to slap some tubes in and build. Unfortunately, they have no idea why they are engineered as they are or how the design enables the creation of the bicycle, and the machining fundamentals to create those pieces are never learned. So, I did take a bit of a "holier than thou" view of those that purchased fixtures, until now. I passed on some of my disc brake location fixtures to an aspiring builder and decided rather than take the time away from the build list to create new pieces, I'd give Don at Anvil a call and check out his wares. Definitely a good move.

I want to give a shout out to Don, as his work is fantastic, precise, and looks damn good.

For the time saved, the money was well justified. I've now replaced 5 pieces of shop crafted fixturing with Don's stuff and maybe someday, will be able to justify the expense of a new jig so I can keep more than one build running at a time :)

I had lots of material land this week...steel and Ti below...

Price tag for the two quantities.... 350 dollars worth of steel on the right and 1200 dollars of Ti on the left, looks quite disproportionate, doesn't it?

Most of the material will be for bars and forks and in that vein, I got started on the Ti Luvs for October. Kalten was good enough to take a quick movie of the parting process, basically, a very clean way to cut the center and grip sections of the Ti to the correct length before the next step in the process...

forgive the goofy dude in the vid, it was early in the morning after lots of sugar ;)

I had Kalten work on stripping the rear end of Mike's Fat so that I can fabricate in a brace and add a disc tab before shooting it all in Team Lavendar paint.

And the final bit of work for the week was the fabrication of two Ti rings...a special project.

Some decorative engraving still needs to be done to finish these up.

Got the last race in the Groovy Series today so I've got to get going to help set up, hope you are enjoying your weekend.



Thursday, October 2, 2008

Hot Rods Update...

Hey folks,

I talked to Bill Grove today to ascertain the progress on the Hot Rods and let y'all in on the news.

As of Monday, all the parts are back from the CNC suppliers and Bill is working on shaping up the arms.

A bit of a set back, the bushings for the spindles were not milled to spec and will have to be re-fabricated, adding approximately 2 weeks to the lead time for finished products.

For those of you who plan on using the cranks for a build in my queue (Eric, Steven...anyone else?) I'm going to work on pushing these through to meet our time lines while Bill focuses on the balance of the orders.
Those with pre-orders, Bill and Mary will be returning emails this weekend, so look for some news from them.
Just to prove that Bill is still in touch with his mountain bike roots, here's a shot from this summer when he came and took a spin down some Mohican single track with me...
Team frame with old school hot rods...still spinning.

Personally, I had kind of a mixed day in the shop, I'll provide some pics tomorrow that will better illustrate why some days it would have been better just to walk away ;)

See y'all tomorrow,


Wednesday, October 1, 2008

Back in the saddle and ready for some action ;)

Hey folks,

Well, the long weekend of instruction is over, paid my dues at the other job, now I've got a solid two weeks in the shop to look forward to.

Christi and I spent most the day yesterday doing the mundane items of every business; paying state sales tax, ordering supplies, shipping some product, and cleaning up enough that I can see my desk again.

We received some terrible news yesterday afternoon. The local shop bike shop that uses the front portion of the building is moving on...going to be lonely here in about a week. Here's to hoping that someone seizes an opportunity and re-invigorates the local scene.

Feeling a bit bummed and looking for something to wash away some of the blues, the kids convinced me to take them rock climbing. A cold rainy night did little to diminish their enthusiasm, though I gotta admit, belaying for two hours in the rain did little to lift my mood.

I did have the opportunity to see one of my favorite insects, this little "walking stick" was clinging to a boulder enjoying the heightened perspective.

Flash forward to today, I'm waiting on material to arrive for the last minute custom rack we're making for Eric's bike, so I finished up a fork through powder and decals. This nice white Ho is headed for Will B...

The next week I'm looking to finish Eric's ever evolving project, knock out a custom bar/stem for Kevin that he has been patiently waiting for, and get on two Fat projects.



Oh, and I want to send a special shout out to Wes at know I 'aint paying you no three-fitty to keep reading, but I will send you out some chocolate salty balls, YUM!