Saturday, June 28, 2008

Chris B's road bike taking shape...

I'm a few days behind on pics of this build, but we'll catch y'all up here a little at a time.

Chris travels a LOT for his work, and has been challenged with the ability to ride when stranded in foriegn areas.

Never one to enjoy road biking, the goal of this build is to create a custom coupled bike that will bring a smile to his face and stimulate a desire to hit the road when "on the road".

This build will be a steel SS coupler bike that will pack away into an easily transported case for travel. A no non-sense performance ride, agile and fun to throw around, but still offer a comfortable enough position to ride the occasional 100 miler if the mood hits. The design will be semi-compact for ease of packing, to give ample standover height and a nice stiff responsive feel when you hit the pedals.

So here we go...laying out the fixture;

One of the first items I work on is to face the head tube and bottom bracket to insure they are dead on straight. Below is the head gets faced, deburred, and filed on the outer edge. The next step is to relieve the interior wall thickness to match the King headset perfectly. King goes to great pains to make a very precise product...nothing dissapoints me more than pressing that jewel into a poorly prepared head tube. I allow about 12 thousandths interferance fit to insure it presses in straight but is still a snug fit.

The finished relief cut on the interior;

Next up, the tubes all take a roll on the alignment table to find any irregularities or bows and then are marked for the top and the butts...

Before I can start rocking out the miters, I have to install the couplers. I install the couplers in the short butt section to allow for tube growth when installed, leaving the long butt section to trim for the finished miters.

Cutting the tubing for the coupler in the cold saw...

Once the tubing is cut, I go back to the lathe and face the tubing where it will insert into the coupler to insure I have a perfect fit. I want as much surface contact as possible on the interior to allow the system to have the greatest strength.

The finished ends, all ready to be mock fit..

The couplers slid over the tubing for a mock fit. You can see how the teeth inter-twine to create a torsionally stable joint. Once fully brazed and assembled, the joint will be stronger than the plain tube was when it began...

The retaining rings and installation nut are installed...this is the configuration that will be used during fabrication, being replaced with the sexy stainless nut when completed.

A quick shot of the two tubes, top and down tube, mock fit up. Ready to clean and silver braze :)
In other news, the July Luv Handle list is full, any new orders will be slotted for August.

Here's who I have for personal's not included. Please let me know if there are any errors:

Paul Black

Benjamin 28" black

Nick Black

Bryan No rise black

Jake Silver

Jerome Black

Nuno Black

Sam Raw, no finish

Edward Jollypop Green

Bruce Black

Chris Black

Marc Black

Randy White

Mark Silver

Neil no rise, Black

Gonna try to catch up on email tomorrow on my day off from the shop...



Friday, June 27, 2008

Here and there this week...

Seems like I've been running around a lot this week, mostly hit up with "little projects" that end of taking a lot of time.

Eric from the retail shop stopped by and wanted to know if I could help him make a steel derailleur hanger for his DJ bike as he broke his aluminum one last month and has not had enough to make a minimum order to S&M to get one measly hanger. Four hours later the hanger was done and he commented "I never realized just how much goes into making such a small part!" Anyhoo, Eric's back on the road and in the park. Add in about four more little projects that just showed up with some urgency and the days disappeared.

Michael's Yo is all finished up. I did some minor steel work on the frame and resprayed the frame, fork, and bar in the rasta splatter. This guy ended up with 5 coats of clear; three to level out the splatter enough to lay down decals and two on top to insure they will be protected for a long time to come.

David's Ti prototype bar went out first part of the week. David was the real impetus for the actual fabrication of the bar as he does quite a bit of riding in the rock strewn mountains in Germany and was very persistent in pursuing this material option. I shortened the overall width by a few cm's and painted the grips to center transition with a gloss white, leaving the brushed finished Ti in the center. They look snazzy.

I'll let David run these for a while and when the production bars are ready to go, replace them with a new set that are spot on for the final design. Enjoy them David and let me know what you think :)

For those of you who caught that, yes, I've made up my mind about the Ti Luvs; they will be available. I have a few of the proto's left and will be contacting those who have expressed an interest in the order I received emails.

For everyone else, here's the scoop. The bar utilizes 3/2.5 Ti and will feature the same dimensions as the standard Luv's. The weight savings is about 35 grams over the powder coated steel bar (275 grams total weight for Ti), not a whole lot, I know, but I've spec'd them with enough wall thickness to really be a strong performance bar that still will allow for long term comfort without being noodley. For you marathon riders who do the 12 hour plus races, this bar should add considerably to your comfort. Cost for the bar will be 245.00 and I'm going to begin delivery of the Ti Luvs in August. I'm going to limit the run to 20 every other month so I can work them in with the standard bars. If you are interested in jumping on the list, drop me an email at .

I also got started on Chris's road frame this week. Below is a box of lovely goodness, how much cool stuff can you identify?

Hint...there is a BUNCH of Dura ace, Dedda and S&S coupler lovin :)

Finally, the random shop shot for the week...the remains of a quick mill session.

Oh, almost forgot. The latest batch of Groovy Tee's should be landing (finally) next week. If you would like to get one before this run sells out, please let me know. Price will be 15 bucks plus shipping. For those who have already reserved one, thanks for your patience.

Hope the trails/road are treating you well,


Sunday, June 22, 2008

Friday and Saturday musings...

Hey folks,

Well Friday did not go as planned, but all turned out well. I spent the majority of the morning cleaning up from the hectic, previous week. There is something very calming about getting the shop all redded up, every tool in it's place, and just being able to move through without distraction.

Jason called and was having a few issues finishing up his build. I offered to meet him on the road, take the bike, and finish up everything so he could ride in the evening after completing some trail work for the upcoming Groovy series race Saturday evening.
A little wrenching, some polish, and the afternoon had passed me by. Jason's bike came out pretty spiffy. I should feel a little guilty, but I don't... you see, I took the bike for a quick spin just to see how it felt ;)
I did stay on the pavement though, so the dirt initiation was still Jay's to have.

Jay did want me to insure y'all that the mallet pedals were NOT staying on the build...he's got way more class and style than that :)
White Industry hubs are just a class act...beautiful finish and styling at a very affordable price. If you'd like those on a custom build, I'd be glad to lace them up for ya.

I do love scallop drop outs, those smooth transitions are just sooo sexy.

A neat chainline shot...

a matching luv handle is just a bit of lushness that I can't deny having a weak spot for :)

The complete build, all saucy and ready for action. Gotta give a nod towards the Brooks saddle, super sweet touch for style and comfort.

Saturday I hit the shop early to work on some odds and ends before the family woke up. Got some typical business items taken care of and then did something fun for me. For years I've been welding on a square wave welder using consistent amperage and working technique to produce my weld beads. Working with the Ti Luv handles, I began to see the potential positive aspects of using a Pulse weld bead. Now, I always considered pulsed welding kinda like cheating, as you can develop smooth welds without the years of practice and refinement. These are the cosmetic "beauty welds" you see on almost all Ti frames. Perhaps the old school curmudgeon in me has kept me from moving forward and using the new equipment. Welding up the Ti Luvs, I do see the opportunity to run longer beads with less overall heat input into the piece, so I pulled the trigger on a pulse board for my welder.

The board took literally 10 minutes to install and I've got to admit, was a lot of fun to work with. The welding was a cinch to pick up, the details in setting up the timing to my typical pace.

I'm going to weld up one more set of Ti Luv's this week using the pulser to just see how it flows.

The better news is that the Ti Luvs ride really well. Still stiff enough to handle the stress of single speed battering but with a very noticeable absorption of trail chatter and fatigue resistance. I'll make the final decision on making these a regular product this week.

Saturday night dawned another Groovy race series event. 70 plus racers showed up in a raging downpour to battle it out in less than ideal conditions. A lot of fun was had, however, as mountain biking lends it's self to success under demoralizing conditions.

Just prior to the heavens opening up, the spirits remained high despite the rain delay.

I got to expand my job description as a builder to include fixing up broken bodies as well. John, one of my riders, had a HARD fall on the wet rock drops at an all out pace. He was running 30 seconds behind the Expert leader on his single speed when the course bit back. He ended up with a full thickness laceration on his right elbow about 2 cm long. We bandaged him up, ate pizza, drank a few beers, enjoyed the bonfire and fireworks, then headed down to the shop where we stitched him up. A little anesthetic, a LOT of scrubbing and a bit of skin/fat trimming, and three quick sutures and he was ready for some more action. Would have taken a few shots for you but the camera has not been autoclaved for sterile environments ;)

Hope everyone had a good weekend, catch y'all tomorrow,


Friday, June 20, 2008

Another project out the door...whew!

40 hours straight through (kinda...I did go home to get a shower :) ) and this project is done.

Sorry for the crappy pics, but artistic impression was not my focus at the moment.

The colors look really nice in the sun...all sparkly and shiny. Should be a good little bike.

Starting on Chris's frame today, more later.



Thursday, June 19, 2008

Help...I can't say no :)

Ok, so here's the story.

I get a phone call Sunday asking if I can build a bike for a special cause...

"sure I say, no worries. When do you need it by?"

Thursday is the reply... ever get that nervous unsettled feeling in your stomach where it just feels like it is balling its self up in a million knots? Yeah, me too, that's how I felt.

I gotta admit, I've been a bit overwhelmed lately and have been working my tushy off trying to keep pace. I really do not have time for project that will include a custom frame, custom fork, building wheels, and then assembling the bike in a matter of days, especially with all my other "scheduled" work to do.

But, it is an excellent cause (do I sound convincing? I must have, because I said... yes).

So, I carved out a day and a half to do the whole shebang. Got started Tuesday evening and have worked straight through. It's now 445 am Thursday as I type this and the frame is in the bake box curing the first coat of's gonna be close!

I snapped some pics along the way for your enjoyment...

Setting up the fixture:

Rough marking the cut tubes for the'd be surprised how close you can eyeball:

Selecting the right arbor and hole saw:

Making the Down Tube/Head tube cut:

Flashing forward...the front triangle all mitered up:

Tacking in the seat tube to the bb...the down tube is mitered to sit over this area:

the front triangle all tacked up:

Finished welding it in the fixture, some close up pics. I went pretty fast on this job, for well detailed reasons ;)

The bottom bracket can see now where the DT covers the ST tack...

Attaching the KGB dropouts to the chain stays...I normally braze these on for a smooth finish, but these will be tig'd on for speed's sake:

The rear end mitered and in place:

Bending up some custom seat stays into a curvy shape:

Making the seat stay/seat tube miter on the Anvil fixture:

Everything is all mitered up, so I now braze up the fiddly-bits on the front's my fancy dancy soak tank :)

The seat tube slot cut, braze on's in place, and I welded up the rear triangle:

Off to the paint booth after blasting, the frame fork are primered and sanded:

The first coat of color, a nice pearl sunset orange, masking applied:

In addition to the panels, I wanted to use the orange to accent the frame a bit, so there is some extra little touches going on...I just could not leave well enough alone:

The main color is down...British racing green pearl:

Removing the masking once the green has flashed off:

A close up of the base colors...the little hole you see if for the headbadge. I prep it before paint so there is no chance of a "slip" later when installing it. I'd hate to put so much time into a finish to have a tool chip or gouge it.

A booty shot...
First coat of clear on:

I'm done with the heat cycle, so I'm going to let the frame and fork cool off while I run home to catch a few hours sleep before I need to be back here by 0730 to get the decals and next coat moving forward.

Anyone got time to build a few wheels for me? I won't need them for at least 6 hours :)