Friday, January 30, 2009

Friday was repair day...

Yep, everyone had a crisis today.


As promised, I started off the day grafting in a new section of steerer tube for Marc B. This type of fabrication work is controversial at best, as everyone has an opinion as to the strength and durability of such repairs. Personally, the majority of the time, I feel that it is better to just build a new fork than to mess with such repairs, but each case is different.

So, below is a little vid tutorial showing the most bombproof repair procedure that I've used...for you builder types faced with such requests, check it out and decide for yourself your own level of expertise and comfort with such repairs.


Mikey had called a few months back and advised that he was having an issue with his seat would not move. When I asked him when the last time he had it out to lube it was, the answer was not promising...never.

So, he pre-treated the post with some penetrating oil for the last month or so, before coming in today to see how successful we would be in getting it out.

First up, we clamped the frame upside down by the post using a set of Vee blocks and a long breaker bar bolted through the Thomson seat rail supports...the result, we split the post vertically with our torsional efforts. Hmmm, this is gonna be tougher than I thought.

Next, I cut off the remaining shards of post, and got to work...
I began by carefully sawing the post into four segments, hoping to create some relief to remove the pieces.
Cutting all done, let's try to peel away some pieces parts ;)
After much work, I was able to free the remaining post. The aluminum had chemically bonded to the interior of the steel seat tube, leaving only a galvanic dust behind. Here's Mike, relieved to be finished with the process...
The seat tube escaped unscathed, minus a little paint from the operation. A quick pass with the reamer and admonishment to grease his post when he lubes his chain ended the day.
The aftermath...
Lesson's fun to ride your bike, but it needs some attention too every now and then.
Mike S. stopped by with a broken control lever in his hand...a necessary component for his snow plow to battle the 4' drifts covering his driveway. A quick trip through the blaster, 5 min on the weld table, and some fast drying paint and he was on his way back into the cold.

So, busy day, but was nice to resolve some simple problems before I jump into the show fray.

Thursday, January 29, 2009

Quite a diverse week...

I've not had much to share this week, so sorry for the lack of sexy, exciting posts.

Spent Monday, Tuesday, and Wednesday teaching ACLS (advanced cardiac life support) and came home yesterday afternoon to 14" of snow and ice. That translated into a 4' pile f icy slurry at the end of the drive thanks to the snowplows stacking it up. It took Kalten and I 4 hours of shoveling to clear the drive and sidewalks so that I could get the car in. My back is a wee bit tired today ;). Whining done, thanks for letting me vent.

So today was my first full day to get some work done in the shop. I began by looking at the upcoming schedule; the North American Handbuilt Bicycle Show is rapidly approaching and a quick glance at the calendar was not reassuring...I've only got 17 full days available to prepare for this years big ta-doo. Yikes!

So, today and tomorrow are dedicated to trying to finish up the lingering customer projects that HAVE to be out of here before I turn off my life for the month of February.

First up is this Yo Eddy replica fork slated for the vintage race at the Keysville Classic in March...

classic 1.125 blades, scallopped dropouts, one inch threaded steerer, and silver brazed tear drop tabs
Those tear drop stress tabs are so pretty they make me cry (sniff sniff)

This will be coated gloss black to match Jim's 91 Yo.

I also pushed through a unicrown 29er fork and a Luv that all will be sprayed this weekend.
Tomorrow, I'll repair a nasty steerer on a BOI fork that a ill equipped shop destroyed, pack and ship Roy's combo, Mel's care package, Eric's bike, and a host of smaller items.
Check back tomorrow night, I'll post up the steerer repair process as this is a question that is often asked in the how to's of the bicycle restoration scene.

Sunday, January 25, 2009

God's day play...

Yep, I decided to commune in the church of nature today and took advantage of the really cold temps to go scrape around on some ice. Mike and I drug Kalten out with us...he's come along for years, stomping around in the snow, but this is the first he's climbed.

Here we are at the beginning of the day, still warm. Kalten is sporting his Dirt Rag Buff...lovely argyle.
The high was 12 degrees today, but it was much cooler down in the gullies. K is downclimbing the escape chute to get to the start of the climb.
Despite the frigid temps of late, water was pouring off the top of the climb, coating us with a sheet of ice in moments. Here's K on his first run up "Late guy in a red suit" WI3+, a nice candled 40' column that offers some mixed climbing in the rear of the ampitheater...sweet!

We were only out for about 5 hours, but that was plenty. We hit the local gas station/diner, Spearman's, for some super post climb food; a double cheeseburger, fried potatoes with gravy, and peanut butter pie...Yum!
Back to reality, I spent some more time in paint this evening. Pardon the helmet's a shot removing some polka dot masking.

Trivia results!
Well, I promised I'd post first thing Sunday morning, so at 0030 hours I put up the 0300, the next time I checked back, AOSTY had already jumped in and secured the winning answers. So, AOSTY, drop me an email and I'll get you hooked up.
I'm going to scrape up some little gifts for all the other folks who chose to post...I'll have to see what I can come up with.
Thanks all for playing along. Next month we'll do it again, when I'll be giving away a custom print taken by Sherrick Photography, looky here for some pics;
Catch y'all soon,

Saturday, January 24, 2009

It's contest time!!!

It's early Sunday morning and it's time for The Groovy Super Spectacular Trivia Contest

Ok folks, this is for all the marbles…well, not really, a fork leg bottle opener and some other swag.

So here’s the deal. The contest is open only to our registered Groovy readers. The first reader to post in the comment section with the correct answers and Blogger Id will get the grand prize. I’ve thrown in a few other items, so if you think you’ve got the correct answers but someone else has beaten you to the punch, go ahead and throw in…who knows, you may win a little something else :)

The questions are mostly based on Groovy Cycleworks, answers often found either on the web page or within the short life of the blog. The last question is a kicker thrown in to give a nod to my latest time waster ;)

Off we go…

1.) What bicycle fabrication shop did I begin my apprenticeship with in 1994?
2.) What are the four beliefs that make up my “building mantra”?
3.) What two materials are my Luv Handles available in?
4.) Picture question…What favorite vehicle is this bike a tribute to? (hint…Feb 08 blog entry)

5.) Ok, this ones gonna take a bit of web research. In the first webisode of The Guild, who dumps the unbelievably cute Cyd? (hint... Season 1)

Best of luck to y’ will be decided Sunday night,


Friday/Saturday action

Well, the temps FINALLY got warm enough that I could throw some paint around and actually control the flash times.

So, grasping the opportunity (even though I would have loved a quick ride) I worked on a few projects.

After a good light sanding, I sprayed primer coats two and three on Goyo's frame/bar and Roy and Mel's combos. Here they are, comfortably lingering in the back box...

Goyo's color is going to wait until closer to the show so that the potential for getting bumped around in the shop is reduced. I moved on the color on the other pieces.

Roy's is sporting a grunge green and vanilla polka dot theme to match his frame/fork. Mel's will use a blue/purple pearl metallic as pin stripes on a vanilla base to match his "Milka Panther" bike, should be an interesting compliment to the bike.

I also got to laying a little love down on tomorrows trivia contest bottle opener...

A deep metallic plum (blue/purple) that will make the base for some funky polka dots and text.

While I'm here in the paint folder, I realized that I never posted a pic of Eric's custom expedition rack, designed to wrap around the disc brake caliper and leave room for V brakes as well. I powdered it in cream to match the highlight colors on the frame. All silver fillet brazed, it came out nice. Steven drove up from Virginia today to visit the shop, get measured, and talk old bikes as well as his new project; a killer Klunker geared build...the tough decision being what wheel size to decide on, 650 or 29, hmmm.

I'm totally stoked that so many folks registered as regular readers, so I'm going to throw a couple extra prizes into the trivia contest for the morning...Be sure to check back and play!



Friday, January 23, 2009

Working with Ti...a trick to make bending easier.

As I've been working on Luvs this week, I thought I'd post some insight on working with Ti for the folks out there.

Often designs force materials to bend and move in ways that are not in the best interest of the material. Ti especially, does not like to be manipulated into sharper oval shapes or bends. Often, you will see fracture failures at the peak of the oval, most commonly experienced at the top or bottom of chainstays where significant swaging has taken place to allow for tire clearance.

Gradual, swoopy bends, often seen in bikes like James's Black sheep or Jeff's Space frame designs, place less stress on the material and are easier to control.

So, what's the trick to making these higher stress bends successful? I did a little demo to show ya...

In the case of the Luvs, I have to reduce the od of the center section (1.00" tubing) to about .785" to meet the .875" grip section, providing efficient surface area without overlapping.
As we mentioned, the swaging process causes a lot of stress on the peaks of the ovalization, which can cause fracture failures in the material.

Here's a piece set up in the swaging fixture...
Using only mechanical force, about 2 out of 10 pieces will have a crack develope from the edge of the piece. Below is a pic... standard 1.00" piece in the center, cracked swaged piece on the left, proper piece on the right.

A close up of the fractured piece...can you see the crack developing?

In order to achieve 100% process success, we use a little trick shared by Sandvik back in the day. Using a standard propane torch, gently heat the piece until a gentle straw color develops (about 300 degrees) and then apply the mechanical force. Here's a shot of a heated and swaged piece below. Note the barely perceptible yellowing on the tube.
This process will not affect the purity or durability of the Ti if the heat control is focused. The reason I choose to use the propane torch is to avoid the potential for accidental over heating, possible with a standard oxy set up. Always better to err on the side of safety if possible.
So, cheap propane is your friend ;)
This process works equally well on stays or any other manipulated Ti piece.
Remember, working with Ti has a steep learning curve and you need to be willing to waste some time and money on material while you learn the tricks of the trade. Hopefully, this tip will save you some of that.

Tuesday, January 20, 2009

Christmas came late this year!


I had a nice surprise yesterday morning..Bill and Mary Grove drove over from Pa for breakfast and brought some Christmas presents...

My buddy Hubby, right hand guy at Grove Innovations and one of the most instrumental people in growing my knowledge and love of framebuilding, made me up a new bottom bracket heat sink with integrated purge orifice. This is inserted into the bb when welding to help absorb some of the heat and prevent distortion as well as offers a way for argon to be introduced into the interior of the frame, providing an oxygen free atmosphere to protect the weld integrity. Similar to the Paragon unit but with a few individual tweaks, this should be a nice piece for welding up my frames, Ti especially :) Thanks Hub!

Bill was too gracious and gave me a set of NOS Titron pedals. These were the original "Bear Trap" pedals and feature Titanium acid etched cages, X machined pedal bodies, and sealed bearings. This was one of Bill's first component ventures in the late 70's at the tender age of 19.
I'm almost embarrassed to tell you how much these bring on Ebay...needless to say, these will not be sold. Look for them on a vintage mtb frame in the future ;)
Ok, a big thanks goes out to all who are "Blog Followers" and the kind words you send out to me each week. As a token of my thanks and to encourage others to sign up, I'll be offering up this deal...
I'd love to see the blog register 50 "followers" by Saturday (that's just 8 more regular readers!). If we can hit that number, I'll post up a trivia contest Sunday morning open only to registered folks, and the first member with the correct answers will receive one of the cool Yo Eddy styled Groovy Bottle openers below (the other will be a give away at NAHBS).
Tricked out and painted in a lively color (depends on what I'm spraying this week), the opener will feature some special goodies inside all contained with a nice cork to top it off. Throw it on your bar or keep it in your camel back for on the trail refreshments. Just my way of having some fun and saying thanks for tuning in.
Now, back to business...I spent the last two long lonely days in front of the mill and lathe, churning out pieces for the February Luv Handles. Below is 25 hours worth of work. Not sexy, but hopefully they will bring lots of smiles come February :)

In case you are keeping track, that's 50 chromoly bars and 22 Ti sitting there, waiting for their respective birth days.
Hope y'all are snuggled up tight keeping warm,

Saturday, January 17, 2009 it's cold outside!

Well, it's been a frustrating week in the shop.

The morning temps this week were not very conducive to efficiency...4 degrees, -1 degrees, -9 degrees, -19 degrees! We've been basking in daily highs of somewhere between 0 and 8 degrees, translating into VERY cool temps in the shop.

I know it's too cold when my nipples are sticking out through my tyvec paint suit...not a pretty sight, even to visualize ;)

So, despite a bunch of paint work I needed to get done, I found myself fiddling around until I would get too cold and then head home to do some computer and end of the year book work. Not stuff that fires up the blog.

Despite that, I do have two things to share; the first is a bit of a rant and educational opportunity, the second is the stuff that makes the internet so dangerous and fun...rumors and here say (closely tied to the rant, eh?)

I don't have a lot of time to cruise the forums, but do try to give a looksy to keep up with what's happening in the industry, trends, and consumer queries. One item that I stumble upon with quite some frequency are threads about product failures. I find these to be of interest as there is much to be learned...mostly construction methods, material analysis, and engineering shortcomings is the perspective I read from. When read from this perspective, there is much good info to share and gain, for both the consumer and other builders. Unfortunately, most of these threads turn negative, either due to a poor customer care, lack of information, or just someone who chimes in with an axe to grind. What is really a shame is that often these postings are made before the builder is contacted and given an opportunity to deal with the issue.

From a builder's perspective, I want each of my products to perform at the highest level and that requires much from me;

-a strong foundation of experience with fabrication
- a fundamental knowledge of material properties with regard to application, durability, and joining methods
- proper information sharing with the customer to ascertain the rider's physical needs, intended use, and external forces likely to be placed upon it
- selection of the appropriate materials (type, wall thickness, production quality)
- critical control of the fabrication process and environment

Each of these areas are required and each offer multiple opportunities for deficiencies if not focused on and adhered to.

So given that, here's the awful truth of building in the bicycle industry...

- Things will break.
- Customers can be injured due to failure.
- Your success as a professional hinges not on how much product you send out or money you make, but on how you value and prioritize your customers' health and happiness.

So, in that vein, as I've got enthusiasts, customers, and fellow builders who peruse these pages, I want to share my first product failure with y'all.

I've always been an ardent believer in fabricating products that make folks smile, building with a certain priority hierarchy; function, durability/safety, performance, and final physical weight last.

In this case, the item is a one piece bar/stem combo that was made for Roy's Yo Eddy esque bike from last year. Roy was very focused on what he wanted in regard to specs and design and in speaking with him, I felt comfortable that his desires were well founded in years of experience and personal expertise. Where my failure lies is that I did not formulate a good understanding of his physical size, so when I built the bar, I used a material that was too light, not providing the durability/longevity that was needed.

Ultimately, there is only one end result, the material began to yield and crack.

In Roy's own words...

"Just got back from my little trip through the local forest (trying to do that at least twice a week) and discovered some cracks on the barstem combo they're near the connection of the bar to the stem on both sides (see pics).... must admit it got me scared a bit, but as there are no squeky or cracking sounds I'm hoping it's the paint only...... just wanted to confirm this and wanted to know your thoughts about this....."

In the pic above, you can see the fracture beginning in the HAZ (heat affected zone) and extending up the bar, perpendicular to it's length. The HAZ is often the weakest portion of the joined material, as the molecular structure is disrupted, the reason it is so important with thin bicycle tubing to be as proficient as possible in minimizing heat application time.

A handlebar is a high liability piece, as it becomes a violent lever, testing the materials fatigue ability every second it is being utilized. I commonly build a combo of this type with .035" wall for the main bar, .049" wall for the extension "stem", and custom turn the id of the steerer piece down from a thicker walled piece dependant on the steerer tube requirements.

For this build, I wanted to push the envelope a bit for a high zoot piece. Not surprisingly, this is the only bar I've ever built with .028 tubing in the main bar section that has not been heat treated (a process that stabilizes the molecular structure post fabrication) and it is the only bar I've had a failure of.


Check your bike and components over at least once a week...cracks in the paint are almost always an indicator of trouble below.

Talk with a trustworthy professional for his opinion if you suspect an issue may be present. Believe me, your builder will WANT to be the first to know...your safety is paramount.

Don't be afraid to ask questions or ask for explanations. This is your opportunity to learn from the experience and it should be positive, enriching your relationship with your builder.

For me...I know what works and what the material's limitations are. I allowed my desire to push the envelope a bit coupled with insufficient customer info to expedite this potential to reality.


Roy's been a peach and will soon have a replacement combo on it's way to him free of charge. Every item I make has a lifetime've entrusted me with your safety and fun, it's my responsibility to ensure it happens.

Hopefully, everyone picked up a little something from the experience.

Now, onto part two...the RUMOR MILL. (purposely vague to protect the innocent)

Lots of you know that I love the old steel bikes that brought me to where I am today. I tend to have a soft spot for these, and the shelves are filled with restorations just waiting for time to sneak them into the schedule. In doing some of this work, I have the opportunity to talk with some of the old school folks who worked in the era, some still chugging it out today.

This week I was working on some research for a few restos I have coming up and was dropped a bit of a potential bomb. Seems a certain East Coast company favored in the 80's and 90's that is responsible for spawning many current builders today may be jumping back into the fray. Details are sketchy (thus the rumor part), but the first lady placed a large order for decals to adorn the newly manufactured frames. Who is making the frames and to what degree business will be renewed is a bit cloudy, but it looks like folks will have the opportunity to yell "YO, that's Wicked!" again very soon. Best wishes on the re-launch W.



Monday, January 12, 2009

Back from my week off...

Hey folks,

Well, I was true to my promise to the Doc and my cell phone or laptop for a week during our trip. Although I was tempted to check in, I resisted.

Christi and I decided to use the time to the max benefit and with some friends of ours, made a mad dash to St. Maarten's for the time away. I'm not much of a beachy kinda guy, preferring more active or adventurous time off, but it was a good break none the less.
Spent the first two days thinking of all the stuff I should be doing, realized I really did not have any capacity to change it for a week, then just plain chilled out.
Welcome to the ocean...dang, that guy could use some color!

I took the opportunity to do one thing that I rarely have time for anymore, but do I had the time to prepare about 8 meals for the four of us and enjoyed the time in the kitchen using some creativity and local ingredients.
How about some Nutella and banana stuffed cakes with hand whipped cream?
Suffice it to say, Nutella, a chocolate hazelnut spread, was a big hit with Christi, so we hooked up with some of that to take home :)

The scenery was not too shabby either, sunset on Baie Longue on the French side...

I do enjoy exploring some of the local culture and small shops is one outlet for that, so while the girls were shopping, I did some exploring of my own.
Two great finds were the Afro Pick and Juggies place...
Everything Hip Hop and bling you could ever wish for, and attitude to boot ;)
and although I do not drink or smoke, this was a killer deal (shitters are free too!)

So, good to be back, although the 10 inches of snow and 20 degree temps are quite a departure from the last week. I wonder what it would cost to move the shop to the Hawaiian Isles?
I'll be catching up on email and voice mails today, gonna stop in the shop to get things warmed up, and started again for the week, and should have some new stuff for ya soon. Thanks for the time off folks, I'm ready to start cranking out some cool stuff again.


Friday, January 2, 2009

2009...taking a week off

Hey folks,

Happy 2009 to y'all.

The Doc gave me some personal/professional/health advise when I saw her last week..."take some time off". So, in that vein, I'll be out of the shop for the next week, no phone or email, I promised.

Today was a bit hectic as I tried to finish up some loose ends around the shop... parted up Ti tubing for Luv Handles, painted some combos, and lots of paper work...blech! Stewart stopped by the shop today and threw down 20 cold ones to jump on the build list for a Ti road bike, we've got a bit of time to dream up something fantastic for him. Looking forward to tomorrow, I'm hoping that I'll not be sitting around thinking about all the stuff I need to be doing and instead be able to focus on some fun.

So, in an effort to meet that goal, I'll get it all out now.

The North American Handbuilt show is rapidly approaching and February will be dedicated to preparing for it. So, with what's left of January when I return, I'll be working on the following;

- Final assembly and shipping of Eric's bike (have been eternally hoping for the Hot Rods to show so I can paint them to match and install, fingers still crossed)
- Final clear on Roy and Mels bar/stem combos
- Jay's 29 crosser (preview pic, not the correct dropouts Jay, don't worry ;) )
- Stevens 650b
- Kevin's Bullmoose bars
- Eric's Slim resto

Going to the show at the end of February will be a few customer bikes;

- Goyo called today and we are going to make his ride all Blingtastic and show it off in Indy.
- Hoss's Bigwheel...if he ever decides what direction he wants to go ;)
- Roger's Bigwheel, winner of the Groovy Race Series drawing for 2008

...and two bikes I'm doing special :)

Well, that's a wrap for tonight, go lots of email to answer. Hope everyone is well, see ya in a week.