Sunday, November 30, 2008

Weekend tidy...

Quick post here to tidy up for the weekend.

Had not planned on it but ended up spending Thanksgiving day at work; half at the shop working on paint and half at the FD after being contacted to report due to multiple calls in progress requiring additional manpower. Ended up sending the family on to the gathering without me. I consoled myself by whipping up a omelet with hot pepper cheese once I finally got home that night.

Friday brought with it better juju...

Chris B flew in from Texas to assemble and pick up his new road bike, so I finished up some paint work while awaiting his arrival.

This bar is headed to Germany as part of a larger order; color requested..."something wild and funky".

I painted the bar up once all the way to the first clear coat and just was not feeling the colors/design that I tried, so rather than send out something I was not crazy about, I stripped it and tried again. I'm liking the green playful alligators and blue splatter on the pink much better :)

Chris brought along his SS coupled bike...we're stripping the Dura-ace parts off for the new road bike that will be a dedicated "stay at home" ride, and am building up the coupled bike as a single speed to ease his ability to quickly assemble and ride on business trips.

One polka dot with panels, one 50/50 splatter with panels; both in vanilla shake and titty pink.
Thanks to everyone that participated in the Black Friday sale...I'll be sending out some emails tonight to follow up.
Enjoy your weekend,

Friday, November 28, 2008

Groovy Black Friday Sale!

Howdy folks,

It's early Friday morning, the day the American public call "Black Friday", the day after thanksgiving that kicks off the Christmas shopping season. Lot's of folks get up super early to wait in lines at stores for the best deals.

The good news for you is that you don't have to do that :)

I've got a few scratch and dent or items that were just not perfect enough to send out to customers so have marked them down 50% or more for the taking.

If you are interested in snatching some of these up, simply post in the comments section with the item number and your name, first come first served. The only catch is that preference is given to those that are blog followers to show my appreciation for sharing this journey with me.

So, here we go...

Item #1 - Black chromoloy Luv Handle in 26" width, very small dent in top right center section from where it fell off line during the wash cycle in powder coat. Still has lifetime warranty. 45 dollars plus shipping to you. SOLD TO DM

Item #2 -Black chromoloy Luv Handle in 26" width, very small dent in top right center section from where it fell off line during the wash cycle in powder coat. Still has lifetime warranty. 45 dollars plus shipping to you. SOLD TO MARLAN

Item #3 - Black chromoloy Luv Handle in 26" width, small piece of something in the center section that rattles when you shake it hard, should not make any noise on the bike though. Still has lifetime warranty. 45 dollars plus shipping to you. SOLD TO SANDRO

Item #4 - Chromoly Groovy Mountain Stem with oval body in 130mm x 0 degree rise for 1.125 steerer and 25.4 single bolt handlebar clamp, scalloped clamp area to fit flat or mountain drop bars as well. Beautiful stem, just was not totally happy with the smoothness of the brazing around the steerer clamp bolt so I fabbed up another one for the customer. Can powder coat in limited colors (black, white, silver, etc...) 55 bucks plus shipping.

Item #5 - Black chromoly Ho Down fork in 1" threadless steerer with disc tab, suspension corrected for old school bikes at 16" atc. The right leg had some surface irregularities from the mill that were not seen until primer was applied. The fork was stripped, some silver brazed over the area to attempt to smooth it out, and finished with black powder. Some slight wavyness exists if examined closely, not a integrity issue, but could not send it out as it was not perfect. Ideal for that old school bike you intend to use as a rider, at least that was my plan ;) . 110 bucks plus shipping. SOLD TO BASTI

Item #6 - Small Groovy Shirt in dual tone brown ringer, screen printer left out the white in the lettering, free and you pay shipping. 2 available.

Item #7 - Medium Groovy Shirt in dual tone brown ringer, screen printer left out the white in the lettering, free and you pay shipping. 2 available.

Item #8 - Large Groovy Shirt in dual tone brown ringer, screen printer left out the white in the lettering, free and you pay shipping. 2 available. 1 SOLD TO JAMES AND TIM

Item #9 - X-Large Groovy Shirt in dual tone brown ringer, screen printer left out the white in the lettering, free and you pay shipping. 2 available. 1 SOLD TO SANDRO AND CHAUNCEY

That's it for now, go get 'em shoppers!



Wednesday, November 26, 2008

So, one thing I am thankful for this thanksgiving...old bikes that shape our lives. Many of you who have been around the VRC forums for a few years may remember this story. I wrote it to share the tale of my first mountain bike. Given the spirit of the holiday, I thought I'd share it with you...

Patience is a virtue...

Good things come to those who wait...

Even a blind squirrel finds a nut once in a while...

All these quotes have become the mantra that I've been adhering to for the last uncounted years.

The reason...the story has finally come full circle.

During the late 80's and early 90's, I was racing road bikes a lot, enjoying the physical challenge, the adrenaline of the breakaway, and the speed of the peleton. Along with the time on the road came the requisite time hanging out in the shop to talk trash and check out the next great piece of equipment. One afternoon, while making a dash through the shop, a frame with myriad of colors caught my eye .

I had never seen anything like it. Aside from the multiple rings of neon, the tubing was WAY oversized, changing shape as traveled linearly from joint to joint, welds so seamless they appeared as fine ripples in a placid pool. The lines of the frame seemed to be continuous as they flowed into a one piece bar/stem combination with ergonomic bends, the front end supported by an overbuilt, straight bladed fork. Though it held artistic aspects, the package elicited a feeling that was dually stated by the decals on the tubing; HARD CORE.

After racing svelte steel road bikes, this thing was the antithesis of all I knew about cycling...and I was in love! Although I had never before ridden a mountain bike, I quickly decided that I would be taking this frame home. Closing the sale, I learned that the frame was one of three that were for sale from the shop, crafted by a small frame builder in Pennsylvania by the name of Bill Grove. The other two, an ASSAULT and an X-frame, stirred my curiosity as they were decidedly different from the rest of the Schwinns/Treks/Cannondales that clogged the aisles. The Groves made a statement; not about being flashy or standing out, but that these were machines that were designed to take you farther into the wilderness than ventured before, designs that could stand up to adventure and bring the rider back exhausted but with a smile.

The next few years my riding emphasis was drawn from the tarmac to the singletrack. The Hardcore opened doors to places I would not have expected and skills that engaged the childlike fun of riding free. Unlike many who do not realize how special that first bike is until it is gone, I knew that I’d hang onto the Hardcore for a long time unless something forced it’s sale. As life often does, an opportunity came along that I could not pass up.

My wife Christi and I had become ardent tandem enthusiasts and were soon searching for a design that met our needs for a frame that could take us from the pavement to mild off road duty in our explorations of the North East. Unsatisfied with what was available, I designed a frame that I felt met our needs and began to shop around for a builder to make it a reality. That builder turned out to be Bill Grove. In visiting the shop, located in the small central PA town of Center Hall, I was drawn to the magic that went on there. The process of building frames had taken me and I knew that I had to know more. I appealed to Bill’s love of teaching and convinced him to let me come back and learn, fortunately for me, every shop needs a grunt to carry out the mundane . The only issue that I had to resolve was how I was going to pay my bills while I was gone…the solution, sell what I could.

The sale of the Hardcore was bittersweet. I hated to part with the machine that had inspired my new direction but rationalized that once I learned the craft of frame building, I could fashion my own frame to fill the void. Turns out, I could build lots of frames but none could ever replace the emotional attachment I had for that bike. I made a weak attempt to find the Hardcore but the guy I had sold it to had moved out of town and did not leave a forwarding address.

Twelve years have passed since that time and my interest in retro has been peaked. Reading threads about first bikes, bikes you wish you would have never sold, and how you got started in the sport poked me in the ribs each time I ran across one. Why did I have to sell that Grove?

In a vain attempt, I made up a wanted sign to hang in the local shop, posting a reward for anyone who could provide info to where the frame is now. Silly, I know, but I thought if there was a chance… Two weeks ago, the owner of the shop gave me a call; “Rody, you’ll never guess what just came in the door! It’s gotta be your bike, I’ve never seen anything like it before.”

I rushed down to the shop, skeptical that it could really be my old ride, but childishly hopeful all the same. As I opened the door, there it hung in the stand, beaming it’s neon like the day it was new. I knew in that instant that it was my old ride. The one piece bar/stem had been changed out and the thumbies replaced by rapid-fire, but other than that, it was still all original down to the last item, even the cable housing! The current owner, Mike, had just received the bike as a gift from a friend to help him recover from a heart attack. Although he lives two hours away and had to pass at least three other shops, he brought the bike to my local shop to have it tuned up. Sometimes the planets align!

When Mike rolled the bike into the shop, the guys immediately went nuts, so much so that the poor guy started to have chest pains again thinking that he had taken possession of a stolen bike. They quickly showed him the Wanted poster with the picture and he realized what all the excitement was about. Fortunately for me, Mike is a musician and is currently involved in trying to recover a few old guitars he had sold years ago, so was empathetic to my situation. Even better, he still had the original fork and bar/stem combo that I had sold with it. He gave me the Hardcore in trade for one that I am building for him, more than fair in my mind.

So the tale has come full circle. I’ve got my first mountain bike back, the frame that inspired my love of dirt, my desire to fabricate, and satiates my emotional attachment. I’ve stripped it down, cleaned it up and am planning on rebuilding it with it’s original components, might have to replace the original cable housing this time around though .

This story took place a few years ago now, Mike has his new ride and has reported enjoying the dirt road adventures in his area. I'm so thankful that I was able to regain the Grove...hope y'all hang onto that first bike that taught you there are no physical boundries when the mind is open to adventure!

No report tomorrow on Thanksgiving, but check in bright and early Friday for the Groovy "Black Friday" scratch and dent clearout for all you dedicated readers ;)



Tuesday, November 25, 2008

Cold, snow, and the warmth of melting Ti...

Gonna be a quick post tonight folks...just finished up a three day push at the FD which was long but a lot of fun, culminating in a day of Firefighter survival and rescue training. Nothing like dragging a 200 pound dummy while wearing full SCBA and gear through mazes and out of windows to really beat you down physically. Came home this morning and despite my best effort to get into the shop early, I was a wuss and hit the bed for a couple of hours.

Finally made it in about 10 and got busy. First order of business was to kick out the last stragglers of the Ti bars...they are all finally welded up and ready to be glass beaded in the am, waxed and then shipped out in the afternoon.

I also heard from Chris B, he's winging into town tonight and will be picking up his road bike in the next couple of days, so I sanded out his finish and laid down the final two coats of clear. She looks glassy smooth, it should shine in the Texas sun :)

Goyo's internal cable tubing finally made it into the shop and will be ready for installation tomorrow so that I can get to melting his tubes together. It would be nice to have his fabrication done by the end of the week so that I can start throwing paint again on a couple of bikes.

If y'all have not taken the opportunity to jump on the blog as a follower, now is a good time to do so...I'm gonna have a few scratch and dent items in the next week that will go at cheap prices. Registered blogites (is that a word?) will get first shot!

Since I did not have the camera with me today, I thought I'd include a shot of the bike that started it all for a mtb rider and a builder;

1980's Grove Hardcore

I'll be back with ya again tomorrow, where, in the spirit of Thanksgiving, I'll post up the full story of how I fell in love with the bike, how I stupidly sold it, and the effort to find lost love again (read with full on dramatic narrator voice over).



Wednesday, November 19, 2008

Paint is a flyin' dawn to dusk...

Long day today throwing some paint around, 12 hours in the shop and my head has been swimming from activity (all the paint fumes didn't help either ;) )

So, here's what's going down. Last post I had primered Chris's road frame and fork and some bars and today I put down lots of color.

Chris wanted to use vanilla shake and pale titty pink and left the design up to me. Chris is very meticulous with his bikes and likes to keep the chips and scratches to a minimum, so I decided to do a white frame with pink panels and a reverse 50/50 splatter from back in the day. The splatter allows for the colors to transition and look balanced while serving the functional aspect of making touch ups a breeze, keeping the bike looking new for a loooong time.

I began by laying down two coats of pink on the frame and fork...

I then masked off the panels and layed down two layers of vanilla shake, feathering the panel edges to reduce the hard line transition. In this pic, I spun the frame around to view the coverage from all possible angles...

Skipping through the paint flicking and lots of masking, we've got the first coat of clear down. The colors are very subtle and are difficult to pick up in a picture, but she rocks in person!

Booty shot...
and the fork, too!
I'll sand, shoot another coat of clear, sand, apply decals, and then two more coats of clear on top.
I painted a bunch of custom bars today as well.
Here's a blue ghost flame jobby for a customer in Germany...5 different colors and 9 layers of paint in this airbrush work, once again, wish you were here to really pick up the vibrant details.
and the day ended as it started, in the dark.

I picked up the paint today for Eric's bike, the belt drive project, and some grandeur blue for a Bringheli lugged frame I'll be spraying...
See y'all Friday,

Monday, November 17, 2008

Friday to Monday, all mixed up :)

Well, I got quite a surprise this morning when I logged on to check the email. Things have been pretty quiet on the email front the last 2 weeks, with only a couple dribbling in here and there. Normally, I have to spend around 3 hours a day responding to peoples inquiries, so the ebbing of the tide was a bit unusual. Today I found out why.

Seems there's been a problem with the server and today it delivered 270 emails from the last two weeks in one fell swoop...OUCH!

I'll be nibbling away at them the next couple of days...

Flashing back in time, let's look at what I did Friday. I broke out the cleaning supplies, made everything sparkle around the welding table, and got to work on churning out the last of the TI LUVS...

Titanium is a finicky material, requiring extremely anal tendencies for cleanliness, proper gas coverage, and heat control, so I insure that the entire shop gets a good sweeping, dusting, and final wipe before I begin to mold the bars together.

I strive for no color to a slight straw shading...I'd love an ultrasonic cleaner to help with this, but the submersible transducers are big money and quite the hurdle to building my own tank. Here I've tacked up a bar getting ready for laying a bead...

Despite the appearance standard pressed by the cycling market for perfect pulsed beads, I just can not get into the groove of using the pulser on the bars, especially as the heat input needs to change considerably as the contour of the joint changes, soaking up or pushing out the heat. So, I'll just keep tapping in the filler to make my weld puddles as evenly as I can with a one pass technique.

Sunday and today, I worked on finishing up some last details on some frames so I can move them to paint; reaming the seat tubes, tapping out the bottom bracket and bottle bosses, and blasting them in the cabinet to remove all the ickies from fabrication and prepare the base for primer application.
Here's Chris's road frame with the tap in place...
My Park taps have been through hundreds of frames and are still very sharp and true...a result of proper care, lots of cutting fluid, and careful alignment during use. Remember, the the LH (left hand) and RH (right hand) stamps on the taps refer to the direction of the thread, not the side of the bottom bracket they go into ;) There's been more than a few new mechanics who have ruined a frame with that little mistake.
I updated the paint prep area a shelf, counter top and cabinet bases. It's a lot more organized and user friendly now.

Chris's road frame, blasted and ready for primer...

and a box full of primered goodies, ready for some 500 degree heat to bake it tight...

Finally, I made a quick video of how I ream my seat tubes. A simple procedure, but it's always nice to look inside at how others do things, enjoy!

Lot's of bars shipping out tomorrow, keep your eyes on the mail the next couple of days.

Wednesday, November 12, 2008

Quick update tonight for y'all...

I replaced the tool post on the lathe today to increase my efficiency and make my life a bit easier. The tool post uses wedge style tool holders allowing for quick exchanges dependant on the process needs.

The post comes in a generic form and various pieces need to be machined to fit each individual machine it will be mounted on.

So, I had some time in machining the base plate on the main post...

and in cutting an angled slot of greater dimensions to accept the parting tool I choose to use...

Not eye catching or very compelling reading, but necessary all the same ;)
Oh, I also pushed out another 10 bars... ready for paint!

On to other matters...
the mental toll of the build list, not being able to keep up with my personal timetable, and little time for actually living the last three years have been pushing me towards an inevitable decision to begin to streamline the business. I absolutely hate having to tell folks that the item they are interested in commissioning may take close to two years before I can begin to fabricate it and honestly, I can't cram anymore into a day.
So, I'll be thinking on this in the coming weeks. I'd be disappointed to discontinue any of the services/products that I offer as I really enjoy diverse styles and types of fabrication and restorations on the classic bikes. I don't know, just thinking out loud here. If anyone has an epiphany, pass it on :)
HOT ROD info...
I spoke with Bill yesterday and some cranks are ready to go to heat treatment with an anticipated turn around of 3 weeks...the time table sucks but that's the price for such a complex piece of equipment.
How complex? Well the spindles, chainring buck, pedal inserts, tri-coidal polygons with integrated pinch clamps all are CNC machined by outside contractors. Back in house, the arms are cut, ovalized, drilled for the chainring buck, milled for the tapered ends, and then mitered on both ends (one for the pedal and one for the crank spindle). The tapered plates are rough cut, stacked, tack welded, and then the whole pile machined into the final shape. Once all the pieces are at the party, it is all fit into a fixture and welded up. The fabricated cranks are then sent for heat treatment, black oxidization for the spindle, and then back to the shop for paint.
Once you start to look at all the process steps, you begin to appreciate why the start up time on a new product such as this is soooo long.
That's what I know for now...I've got a few projects sitting around waiting on cranks as well, so I can feel your pain, but I do have confidence that all the anguish on both ends will be worth it in the end.
Eric L...I've been holding off on your paint for the cranks but am at a point where I'm inclined to finish up the build, throw an XT crank on for now, and get it to you so it can be enjoyed. Let me know your thoughts, please.
I'm off to bed before it all starts again in a few short's to hoping that Goyo's brass cable tubing comes in before the end of the week (fingers crossed).

Monday, November 10, 2008

Goyo's fantastic Monday...

Evening folks,

This morning I started the day finishing up the final details on the phone with Goyo for his Groovy 650b single speed.

Goyo is a prolific cyclist and retail shop owner in the Philippines and is ready to try out the new wheel size in a frame that will serve primarily as a single speed but also have geared capabilities if the mood strikes. So, to accomplish the short laundry list of desires, we're building up the frame with Paragon sliders that can easily accommodate differing dropout plates and chain tensioning duties, and we will be using internal cable routing to keep the visual lines as clean as possible when not hanging gears and cables all over it :)

Goyo's terrain is a bit more open and fast running than what we have here in the mid-east, so I'm changing up the geometry a bit to create a fast flowing ride for him; a bit slacker head angle, lower bottom bracket, and a tiny bit tighter rear end for the standing climbing that is such an integral part of single speeding.

With the build ironed out, it's off to the shelves to select the tubing...

and then to set up the fixture.

For the second day in a row, I've fallen prey to the metal monster, this time slicing a vertical incision in my thumb. Here's a shot of the gore and the top tube being cut, all in one fell swoop.

Ahhh yep, that's blood on them thar tubes...I'll decontaminate it before painting, I promise ;)

and just like that, the front triangle is all mitered up. The front end on this bike will be using a Fox 100fx fork that is typically used on 26" wheeled frames. Fortunately for us, it will carry a 650b quite nicely and allow for more travel with less front end height when contrasted to a fork such as the White Brothers Magic 100 for 650b' attribute that is important for building big wheeled bikes for smaller proportioned folks.

With the front mitered up, it was on to the backside of the frame. Here I've measured out the layout for the chainstays, with the tire location, dropout intersect and the 10mm insert length all marked out.

Even with all the fun power tools in the shop, there are still some things better done by hand...

Once the stays are cut to length, I use a double slitting saw with a custom center shim to create a slot with just the right width in the end of the stay...

into the fixture it goes for welding...

Once mitered and back into the frame fixture, it's starting to look like a bike :)

Next up to the plate are the seat stays...laying it out loosely on the set up table...
One mitered for the dropout, one ready to go to the mill...

in the fixture for cutting the seat tube miter...
The mill table's perspective of the cutter doing it's job...
and finally, fit into place. I worked steadily today to get all the pieces mitered and fit with perfection. As the internal guides were a last minute decision, as fate would have it, I'm one piece of brass tubing short, so I'll have to wait a few days for more supplies before welding it all up :(
With a couple of hours of shop time left, I prepped up some more grip sections for the moly Luv Handles...always trying to fit in as much productivity as I can.
I'm beat, so that's it for tonight. I'm at the FD tomorrow and then back in the shop on Wednesday, when I hope to be laying down some paint on three frames.
Hope to see you stopping by then,
PS...I've really enjoyed the "Follow this blog" registrants, it's really cool to see who is tuning in and what a diverse group of folks there are sharing this time together. If you are a regular reader, please take time to register and follow along so we can all enjoy meeting you too.

Sunday, November 9, 2008

A little Sunday Brunch...

Ohhh, that's nice! Yep, took advantage of having one less kid in the house, a snowy Sunday morning, and too many days getting up before dawn and indulged in sleeping late :)

Had the dog not been barking at 0730ish, I'm sure I could have kept on going.

So, super refreshed and ready to meet the day, it was off to the shop.

The goal today was to get that darned belt drive project out of the fixture so I can move on to customer needs.

First order of business was to get the rear end brazed up and finished so that I could get it welded up to the front triangle. The chainstays are a non-tapering .75" x .035" stock, and due to the large size, get a cap rather than filled with bronze. The seat stays, however, take the filler with casual ease, so off we go...

Although I've only got two hands, I did my best to get an "action" shot ;)

I put a nice amount of brass into the dropout, so that it is a sturdy connection ready for years of abuse and after air cooling, it's off to the soak tank to remove the now glassy flux.

After all the flux is soaked off, I scrub the parts clean with a Scotchbrite, file in a scallop on both sides of the seat stay/dropout connection, and put it all back in the fixture to weld up.
Oops, you must have blinked...because the rear end is now all welded up and the frame is ready for alignment checks. I'm a firm believer in constructing the frame all in the fixture and using a welding sequence that disperses the heat across the frame in subtle movements, both working in a synergistic relationship to produce a piece that needs little if any post fabrication alignment.
Here's a shot of the rear end, checking the dropouts for correct position. Everything is dead nuts right out of the fixture, so no cold setting that will cause the material to yield need take place. That's what I want.
While the rear end was cooling, soaking, and generally burning up the clock, I went ahead and got the headbadge holes prepped.
I first laid out the correct position for the pilot holes and then tapped them gently with a punch to allow for drilling without the bit wandering all over the place.

Then I use a tiny drill bit with a dab of cutting fluid on the tip and drill away.

Finally, fitting up the head badge to insure all will line up correctly.

One detraction to working in an environment with lots of sharp/hot/dangerous materials around is that you'll eventually get bit by the dog you are playing with.
Today, I made a rookie mistake of resting my arm on the frame/fixture while answering a phone call...OUCH!

I got a pretty good burn on my wrist for my careless non-chalante attitude. This baby blistered up this evening...gonna have to wrap it up before working in the shop tomorrow.

See y'all tomorrow,


Saturday, November 8, 2008

Groovy is growing...

The week did not progress as I anticipated, not a bad thing though.

With the changes in occupancy in the front of the building, so too are some changes to my space.

The bad rent went up a bit...typical of today's tougher economy.

The good news...I gained another 600 square foot of space for Groovy to expand into.

So, I spent three days cleaning out and prepping the new space; I filled two dumpsters full of trash and worthless items left behind, tracked down and removed over 600 feet of outdated wiring, plumbing, and air lines that were unusable or outdated, rewired the electrical panel for the changes, and prepared for installing a new exterior door, wiring, and drywall.

The highlight of the work was taking a 300 pound 1960's era heater off of the 12' high ceiling by myself. It was the pinnacle of hillbilly engineering...I had ropes strung everywhere as safetys, standing on an upside down 55 gallon drum to reach the lag bolts in the ceiling and delicately turning out the last bolt as I tried to support the hulking beast. End result, the heater is gone, I successfully stayed out of the Emergency Room, and nothing crashed to the floor :)

I would have taken a pic, but honestly, it was too gheto to leave behind any evidence if something went wrong ;)

Here's a quick shot looking into the space from my current shop...

The new space will house a designated mechanic's / assembly area, a carpeted/finished section for fit and measuring, a shipping and packing area, a nice two level bike rack for demo's to reside and some generous storage area for everything from the show booth to long term resto projects
Outside of that work, I also got 40 bars (some steel, some Ti) ready to pack and ship out on Monday, and worked up the rear end on the belt drive project using the new stays.

The custom bent stays that Deddachai made for me have just the right amount of spacing for my building and design style...tight fast back connection on the seat tube, short rear triangles, and a nice tapering tube from 19mm down to 12.5mm giving lots of eye catching shapes to gaze over.

That's it for now...going to go change smoke detector batteries for the elderly, attend my son's swim meet, and get to some email tonight.