Thursday, March 26, 2009

Jeff and Roger's frames...finished by Friday?

I've been busting it hard this week to get two frames done before the end of Friday; Jeff's sponsored race bike and Roger's Groovy Series drawing frame from the 08 season. Pushing through with a time line has kept me mindful of the amount of time that is really involved in a build.

There's been a few threads floating around of late speaking to how quickly a "professional" builder should be able to turn out a frame; some as quick as 4 hours, others do a frame a day, some take longer. I guess my panties get in a bit of a bunch when I read info like this, because it all comes back to the apples to apples argument, allow me to expound upon this a bit.


As a fabricator, I was trained in an environment that focused on controlling the entire process from initial customer communication to finished delivery in house. Quality, consistency, and a full understanding of fabrication elements were dogmatically pursued and mastery was strived for. This approach allows for constant personal development and skills mastery to prosper, challenging each member of the shop to grow. To do this, it takes time, and a lot of it.

Typically, I spend between 40-44 hours on a build. This amount of time is inclusive of contact with the customer (phone, email, face to face), design work, material acquisition/ordering, material preparation, fabrication inclusive of machining, tig welding, brass brazing, and silver brazing in each frame, post frame fab finish of alignment checks/tapping/reaming/facing, paint preparation, paint, and final packaging/shipping. Throw in elaborate custom paint (some requests taking as long as 22 hours) or additional fabrication requests and the time expense can really balloon.

Although a large investment in time is made, it is necessary to bring to fruition the desires/wants/needs of the customer through a frame that is as unique as the individual ordering it.

So, when you hear of folks pushing out a frame a day or shorter, you need to ask just what does that time include. At the short end of the scale is 4 hours. Wow, that is freaking fast, but I also know that this time is predicated on pre-sized builds, in a small manufacturing scale, where dedicated machines pre-set for mitering are utilized and the frames are all tig construction. The focus is on efficiency of fabrication in ONE aspect of the process. Begin to factor in all the other aspects that go into the eventual finished product and that claimed build time will grow exponentially. Calculation of Cost of Goods Sold must be inclusive of the entire process, in both money and time.

Ok, so anyhoo, mini rant over, let's get on with the builds...

I got right to work finishing Jeff's race bike for the season, here's some pics.

a busy mill is a happy mill...

cutting in the seat stay miter...

checking the fit, nice and tight baby. Got the new sink in place and read to weld.

Throwing down a tight bead on the inside of the stay...

Flashing forward, the rear end is in place, braze on's all happy, and ready for paint prep...

Jeff's bike is going to be a hybrid finish, as it is a season race bike, it will have a clear powder base to show off the fabrication with midnight blue metallic panels and white pin stripes, should be very cool.


I also welded up a quick bar that will be painted in the same manner...

A close up of the welding...

With Jeff's frame and bar cooling post powder, I got started on Roger's frame. This one is going to be a bit of a departure from my norm, as I'm going to go kinda old schooly/retro on some aspects of this one. I decided to do something fun with it and use a seat tube sleeve, fillet braze the rear seat stay connection, while running it as a 29er with bendy stays. This is also going to be a design challenge, as the necessary handlebar height / fork allowance requires the top tube to be top'd out on the head tube, making welding in this area tight.

Setting up the fixture...

tacking on the seat post...

a shot of the head tube/top tube intersect...close proximity but no undercutting of the edge, that's tough heat control...

Welding up the dropouts/chainstays, the ends will be silver filled and then scallop cut.

tight miters are a happy place to be :)
A rear axels view of the seat stays...Finally, I wanted to shoot you a pic of First Flights latest project...an unknown frame ala Breezer Style that will have some work done to it and then painted in a rockin 80's color. Should be fun.

cheers,

rody

3 comments:

rmb said...

I have been following the thread that evolved into frame build per day/week/year. I also have been reading frame building books, following blogs:), and I figure at even the high end price per frame, the builder is really making a low per hour wage for a great skill. I don't know how some builders are making money with their prices.

I'm glad you find the time to post pics and write here, although I don't know how you have the energy.

Craig Ryan said...

Superman!

Roger said...

Rody-the frame looks amazing!! I'll let you know what I'm thinking for the paint!!

Thanks

Roger!