Sunday, March 30, 2008

So ends Mikeys fabrication...

I had a startling revelation this morning...

I've been pushing pretty hard the last couple of months and finally reached a critical point; I've been working to get these three frames done by Thursday so that the new owners can take them before I leave for my trip, time is running out and I've been burning the candle at both ends to make the deadline. When speaking with Bill and Christi about the coming week and my impending departure on the 11th, they kept looking at me like I had two heads. That was when I realized that I was the one with the problem, I had lost a week on the calendar! Here I was sweating the deadline and in reality, I've got another week. What a relief, as I hate to rush paint :)

So, Mikey's 650b is finished and I really like the way the frame came out with the couplers. The paint will be a radiance red to orange to yellow fade and be built with a Rohloff hub, White Eno cranks and M16 front hub, Thomson post and stem, and a Luv Handle to round it off. Should be a killer travel bike.

That's all for now, catch y'all later.

The Chef is in the haus!

I've had a few folks ask why my business cards include the title "Chef" under my's because once I put on my frame baking apron I enjoy cooking up some sweet frames :)
It's been a hard push the last three days;

I've got two SS coupler bikes, a 29er and a 650b, and one 29er with all internal cable routing to get done before I leave for a business/lil bit o' pleasure bike trip to Arizona next Thursday.

On top of that, Bill and Aaron Grove and their friend Brandon crashed out at our house for some urban assault riding over the weekend at Ray's Indoor Mountain Bike park, so it's been a few days full of working from dawn to dusk and then socializing into the wee hours...good stuff!

So, here's some pics from the shop on the builds, but first, Aaron's custom DJ bike he and Bill built together...

The frame uses a pierced Head tube junction for a massive triangulation, super strong!

A set of Hot Rods with Trial's gearing and a relieved chainstay for clearance

the seatstays wrap around the seat tube and meet the top tube

The seat tube is also relieved for tire clearance
The chainstays actually sit outboard of the EBB using a scalloped wrap, lots of details stuffed into a small frame, totally killer. Bill's still got it!
Ok, on to some raw shots. This is Mikey's 650b build with SS couplers.
Here we are mitering the down tube
A shot of the SS coupler when compared to a normal downtube. The coupler is placed in the butted section of the tube for maximum strength. I stuffed a bit more silver in here than I needed but wanted to insure that I got good penetration all the way around as well as securing the stainless steel blanks that protect the inside of the tubes when the bike is taken apart.

Setting up the frame fixture...

checking the tt miter

the front triangle all mitered up

the front welded up and the rear ready to go under the torch :)


Thursday, March 27, 2008

Been pretty busy of late...

Hey folks, things have been crazy here lately.

Good news for me and those waiting on paint...the new booth is finally DONE, fini, complete!

I'll put it to work this week :)

Here's a shot of the each light glassed and sealed with a rubber stripping to keep the volatiles out of the electrical works, a rated filter wall for drawing out the nasties, and a ceiling mounted stand that allows me to rotate the frame 360 degrees in the vertical plane to insure full coverage.

While I was making a mess, I built up a new bake box for flash curing the paint. It can accommodate two frames at a time, lots of forks, and as many bars as I care to stuff in there.

The frames are secured in position by placing the headtubes over the fixed mounts at the far end, allowing an externally touch free support with full moving hot air coverage. The bars are for hanging forks off of and can be removed at any time. The whole shebang is run with a hot air circulator that can bring the temp up to 400 degrees. Mmmmm, can you smell what I'm baking?
Next up are some shots of the antique rootbeer build that I documented in the powder coat process.
I built up some sweet White Industries ENO wheels for this; yep, I do wheel builds too, been doing them for 20 years now so if you have a special need for some custom hoops, let me know :) .
I wanted to keep this build somewhat classic and understated, so the frame is adorned with just polished silver components and honey brown leather, yum.
This will be a shop demo or if someone can't live without it, I'll move it on ;)

Next up is the prototype Hot Rods by Bill Grove. These are the cranks that are finally moving on to Holland for Roy's polka dot bike. Sooo glad to have this last piece of the puzzle so I can get that bike outta here! Not that I don't love it Roy, but it's been eating me up as much as you to get this thing home and in the dirt.
The cranks were the first two piece design, created in 1978 while Bill was running Titron components. Yes, that's right, these pre-dated Roger Durhams's Bullseye cranks...we've got reports of him checking them out a local races long before his parts came to fruition.
The cranks use a unique tri-coidal polygon spindle which allows 360 degree surface contact, making it the strongest spindle interface possible. This is the same design used on military tank drive shaft systems. They will spin off of external bearings or the new BB30 standard.
The cranks are uber light, though final numbers are being withheld until the design is concrete.
The final design is being flushed out now and should be ready for production in July. The cranks can be utilized in any ring combination with a proprietary spider and custom one speed rings will be fabbed by White Industries for us. Custom lengths upon request.
When they are totally ready, I'll help Bill let the world know, I know I'm jonesing for a set.

Well, I'm off. I've got 3 frames to build in the next four days, so posting may be a bit slim but I'll try to get some build shots up for y'all as well as a rough schedule of when projects are timed for.

Tuesday, March 18, 2008

tidbits and happenings...

Well, after 3 hard weeks, the booth is almost there. Gotta hang the glass over the lights and install the filters and I'm ready to spray :)
Took a week longer than I wanted, but I'm eager to get to some of the re-paints I've got scheduled.

Immediately following my paint projects, I've got 5 frames to build before I leave for Phoenix for a little warm weather mountain biking and business trip.
I organize all the tubing for each build into it's own box with an inventory sheet so I can insure that I have all the required materials before I begin working. Keeps me from having those "DOH!" moments like beginning a build and realizing I don't have the dropouts or worse ;)

Monday saw 5 hours of wrapping, packing, and shipping to send out the last batch of bars. I'm actually ahead a bit and sent out 3 more orders that were suppose to be delivered in 4'll know if you are one of the lucky ones in about two days. On the bench is a separate bar that I'm putting together for Eric at the Slippery pig, using a bit longer grip section to meet his wide stance preference.

Lastly, here's a quick pic of a piece of machined S&S coupler. These pieces are designed to be built into a tube to allow the frame to come apart in two pieces at the top and down tubes. This will allow your bike to fit into an airline regulation sized box so you do not have to pay any additional fees to fly with your bike. I'm doing two S&S frames in the next couple of weeks. The addition of the couplers adds about 500 dollars to the cost of a frame, expensive but it quickly pays for it's self at 160 bucks for a round trip with your ride.
Hope everyone is getting out and smiling...

Saturday, March 15, 2008

The Powder process...

I've had a lot of folks email me asking the difference in finishes for does powder coating differ from paint, are metallics possible with powder, what colors are available, and why is paint more expensive?

As I've been inundating y'all with pics of my paint booth construction, I thought I'd explain a bit about the powder process that I use, what it's strengths and weaknesses are, and what is possible in the world of powder today.

So, grab a cup of joe, and pull up a chair, and let's look at the process of powder coating a bicycle frame here at Groovy.
We begin by hand stripping the paint off of the existing frame and components, in this case, the shop demo Bigwheel. The primer I use is like concrete when you try to strip it off, super tough, so I do not relish this part of the process. Typically, there are portions that just will not come off, kinda like here in this pic...
The frame needs to be immaculately clean before any finish can be applied, both for quality of finish as well as durability. So, the next stop is the blast cabinet. The frame has to be totally closed up so that the abrasive material does not get inside the tubing, so all vent holes are taped over and water bottle bosses filled with bolts.
Here's a shot of the frame, fork, and bar all blasted and cleaned. All handling from this point on must be with gloves on so that the oils from your skin do not contaminate the base material. The abrasive blasting gives the finish a superior texture for mechanical adhesion.
Every thing gets wrapped in plastic and off to Chupp's powder coating we go. Vernon has a facility that has done many production runs of bicycle frames for large manufacturers as well as working for general industry. Vernon custom designed this facility and invested mucho bucks in the set up; the result is consistent finish quality and efficient operation.
We're going to start with Willy, Vernon's right hand man. Willy and I masked off the important aspects of the frame; the dropout faces, the steerer tube, the bottom bracket threads, the inside of the head tube, and the seat tube gets a expanding holder to hang from. All the parts get hung on a rail system that carries the pieces through the whole facility.
The next stop is the wash station. The parts enter a contained chamber that has high pressure wash fixtures that move parallel with the parts. The first application is a heated acid based solution that strips away all the oils and dirt from the parts, followed by two series of cleansing washes that leave the parts minty fresh.
Here's a shot of the acid solution tank...
and the two rinse tanks...
When the parts exit the wash station, everything gets a sealer coat to protect the base material and chemically prep the parts for the powder application.
Willy applies it to the parts using a simple pneumatic pressurized sprayer.
Then it's off to a heat chamber, to set the sealer and bake off all the moisture. The parts will stay for 20 minutes and the temperature varies dependant on the powder to be applied as some adhere better with the frame hot contrasted to warm to the touch.
Next up, it's off to the spray booth, where the rail carries the greatest static charge to help the parts attract and hold the powder. The gun also carries a variable charge that helps the powder attract to the frame.
The powder it's self will sit in a vibratory feed unit, gently shaking the powder in it's box allowing for it to be easily drawn up the tubing to the gun.
The powder comes in a variety of's but one stack of stock that Vernon has available.
For this frame, we'll be using a metallic rootbeer with antique brown clear coat, it will give the white of the decals an aged look, kinda like document paper that has weathered and browned. I'm running some different material decals through the bake oven as well to test their capacity for the process.
Everybody, meet Freida...the chief applicator here at Chupps. The paint booth is a two step process, utilizing two filter walls. The powder is applied one side at a time, shooting toward the filter wall. The application is shockingly short, taking about 45 seconds. Quite the revelation, as a liquid paint job requires multiple application steps and loads of time.
The actual finish material is statically attracted to the base metal, but is very tenuous at this state. If you were to rub it at this time, it would simply come right off or smudge, leaving bare of the reasons the pieces are sprayed one side at a time, as the parts cannot rotate or be manipulated by hand.
Here are some shots now that everything is evenly covered. Notice the powder looks very grainy. As it is basically colored plastic dust, it will not take it's final shape until it is baked and melted, adhering to the base material's grain structure.
the parts move to a staging area waiting for oven time. One of the things that hits home is that this process has a lot of "hurry up and wait". Each part in sequence must complete it's time at each step and the stages reset for the next piece requirements.
The oven is set for a half cycle cure for these parts, as an antique brown clear will be applied overtop.
In the oven they go, and back out 15 minutes later...
Here's the first shots of the root beer powder fresh out of the oven. The grainy texture is gone, now replaced by the metallic gloss that is so much fun. The flash of the camera washed out the picture a bit, but you get the idea :)
Once the parts cool, the decals are applied and it is back to the spray booth for the antique brown clear.
Here's a close up look at the siphon tube that sits in the powder...
Parts are all sprayed and ready for the full cure bake cycle.
The final result...
You are going to have to wait ;) ... the final result will be a surprise. I can tell you this though, the finished product is very cool.
I'm waiting on some White Industries Eno Disc hubs to build the wheels, and then the big unveiling will happen.
Overall, powder offers an environmentally safe process, an incredible durable finish, and well over a thousand different colors that can often be matched to it's liquid brothers.
The finish is not as "show quality" as liquid paint and for the standard coater, the intense graphics are still unattainable. However, the price point for powder of this caliber is closer to most people's ability to commit.
Price for a standard powder job is $100.00, metallic or illusion colors bring $150.00.
So, what's next for Vernon's crew? It's a bike of another nature :)