Monday, November 30, 2009

People suck...well ok, maybe only a few

Hope everyone's holiday weekend was grand.

I worked a 60 hour shift Thursday through Sunday morning at the FD so I missed out on the big family feast, the shopping madness on Friday, and enjoying a long weekend.

Highlight though was 0230 call from the Wooster Police Department Sunday morning.... "Hey Rody, there's been a break in at your shop, we need you to come down for a damage and inventory assessment."

"_________ !" ... I'll let you fill in the blank with the expletive of your choice. I won't share mine, as I'm pretty sure it's not meant for family reading consumption.

As I pulled into the parking area, there were five police cruisers all with their spot lights on, aimed at the north window. I quickly scanned the back seats of the cars, hoping that one would be filled with my uninvited guests; no such luck.

I could tell from the exterior that the damage was bad, glass everywhere, stuff turned over inside, and police officers dusting for prints near the window. I paused for a moment and took a breath as a weird queasy feeling twisted in my stomach...gosh I hate that.

As I came through the door, most of the officers were gathered around one of the mills. Announcing my presence with a bit of a grunt, they quickly turned around and smiled, like kids getting caught looking through their dad's dirty magazine collection... "Rody, this stuff is so cool, do you think you could make a couple silencers with all this equipment?" Glad their minds were on the task at hand ;)

The burgler's had let themselves in using a large sandstone block lobbed through the triple pane glass and then crawled through the window over the weld table. I had hoped for some blood stained glass around the entry point...not so much for DNA analysis or anything fancy like you see on CSI, but for a bit of cruel kharmic revenge. Alas, let down again.

Fortunately, after surveying the shop through a hazy early morning mindset, my losses appeared to be minimal. I believe their intent was to access the store in the front half of the building, breaking through a wall in my assembly area to gain access to the Glass Bongs, Rap music, and crystal studded gangster clothing that is sold there. No accounting for taste I suppose.
So, Sunday and today were spent doing inventory, cleaning up, replacing the window, closing the hole in the wall, and fabbing up some nice steel window bars to provide a deterrent against future midnight visitors.
Framebuilding as a career would be so cool if all you had to do was make peoples cycling dreams come true. Too bad all the business stuff goes along with it :)

Thursday, November 26, 2009 packages going out

Yesterday was a flurry of activity as Christi and I got bars, forks, and soft goods wrapped, packaged and out the door. All the steel bars for December should be on the way with Ti scheduled for the next two weeks.

Michael was able to stop by and pick up his chamellion metallica BOI fork, hope he chooses to share some build pics with all of us this winter.

One of the fun bars to head overseas to Daniel was this Dino themed piece. Dan had seen the funky pink and green splatter alligator bar I had done and wanted something different for his old vintage ride in a silver color. We agreed that some dinos would rock it out...

I got a little carried away, adding in some airbrushed brown turf, blue skys, and some hand painted plants and clouds, but it really seemed to be appropriate.

Anyhoo, hope you like it Dan.

Back in the FD today for Thanksgiving...hope you all are enjoying the day with your families.



Monday, November 23, 2009

Web crawling tunes...

Need some funky tunes to surf the web to tonight while you are checking out your favorite forums/blogs/whatnots?

Check out some offerings of Funk, Soul, and Hip Hop from our brothers to the north...

WeFunk radio

Get your groove on baby!


Weekend round up...

Last post we left a few forks looking kinda pale in their primer'd skin, today I'll how ya how they turned out :)

Dario from Italy commissioned a BOI fork for his Yo to match the Kooka nightstorm color scheme... a mix of black to 3D Violet with turquoise splatter. I had to custom mix the translucent purple, spraying it over a sterling silver base and it came out really nice (of course you'd never know it in pictures...arghh!) I can't wait to see this built up with the rest of the bike.

Michael, probably better known as IF52 to all you VRC guys, was to stop in Saturday evening to pick up his fork, but I had to scadaddle due to a family medical happening. So, to soothe his soul til we can meet up, here's a pic of his BOI fork to go on his Chameleon Metallica Yo.

And finally, I'd like to introduce you to the weekends headliner, held by Christi ...
My sister was due to have this little girl toward the middle of December, but she decided to come early. Of emergent concern was that she presented breach, so a C-section had to be performed expediently to help her out. We rounded up the family and traveled down to Columbus to OSU Medical Center to meet her. Congrats to Lacy and Tim on the birth of my new niece :)


Saturday, November 21, 2009

slow week...

Sorry for the lack of action folks, had a slow week in the shop due to lots of hours at the fire department and teaching...when I finally crossed the threshold Friday I was pretty mentally sluggish, just could not keep focused. That being the case, I did not get a lot accomplished.

I spent most of Friday installing the new DRO (digital read out) on the Lagun. This piece, while not a necessity, will certainly speed up operations for fixture work. It is made up of two precision measuring scales that must be mounted to the fixed and moving axis's of the machine to provide numerical feedback on tool location. I had to fabricate quite a few parts to get the scales mounted just right. She works a charm...

I also installed a new Kurt vise and speed handle. Gotta admit, the vice is spendy, but the handle is a steal! Custom machined out of solid steel billet, three removable handles, all nicely treated with black oxide here in the US for the bargain price of...ready for this? 22 bucks, dang! If any of you fabricators out there want the contact info, drop me an email.

The kids stopped by to have dinner with me one night, a sumptuous meal of roast beef sandwiches. We sure now how to live (read with HEAVY sarcasm).

This morning I began some paint work on two for Miguel and one for Dario. A little primer and flash off in the box...
Miguels is going to be bright yellow with black/silver Eddy's on the tops, and Darios is gonna be a whole lot different... black to 3D Violet fade with Aqua splatter. All to match his Kooka components of the same ilk. Should be sick.
While I had paint flashing off, I sat down with Kalten to teach him to build wheels. Every 14 year old boy should know how, right?
He's lacing up a set of commuter single speed wheels for a beat Yo that will be his new school bike as the 64 Schwinn Phantom has finally been deemed too small to continue service. We had a nice chat, puzzled out some wrong lacing, and had to end out session early as a family medical emergency occurred.

best wishes,


Monday, November 16, 2009

Tri-plane fork...working in some kinks

So I take one day off out of the shop in three weeks to take some stuff to Pa and ride with some friends and as soon as I hit the parking lot...

"Why aren't you working on my frame?"

Who'd thunk, but Stevie D. just happened to be at the same trail head to ride the same trail at the same time as me...even though neither of us live anywhere close by. Surprised the crap out of me. Such is the cruel irony of building for others, the burden of keeping projects moving never leaves you. Fortunately, I bonked to the point of near hysterics, so that over whelmed any guilt I was feeling :)

So, the last two days I've been working in the shop to keep Steven's highly custom frame moving forward. A number of fixtures needed to be made to bring the fork crown fabrication into reality; an indexed flat crown bender, a mitering fixture to locate a origin point hole for the second operation bends, and a fixture to hold the bent crown for final milling of the 1.00" fork leg opening. All those special pieces take a bunch of time but will allow for excellent repeatability and efficiency if I choose to make more of these.

A shot of the bender. The center 1.125 steerer hole locates over the top of the circle and is clamped down by the square stock sitting on the vise, allowing for the bend to be placed equally on both sides of the crown.
The crown is then taken out, the bender reset for the leg portion, and then each side is bent again. Here's a shot of the final leg bend being placed, you can see the almost complete crown just below the bending arm...
The first mocked up piece...the angles are a bit steeper than what I want. I'll run another and then scribe a point on the bender or add a stop screw to indicate the appropriate distance for each bend.
A quick mock up on the steerer. I played with 4 or 5 spacing sequences and am still not decided on where I want it to be. This shot is a tighter configuration than the original drawing.
Despite my best effort, these projects always take longer than anticipated. I'm sure that it will be worth the effort though when the finished bike hits the dirt.



Wednesday, November 11, 2009

Detroit bound today

Hey y'all, quick post cause I'm bushed...

Drove up to Detroit today with Mike S to pick up the Lagun FTV-2 from Tartan American Machinery. I headed up with a bit of trepidation, as I had tried a couple of times to get the pick up date scheduled and was advised the mill was not yet ready to go.

Those worries fell away when I arrived; Tim (pictured below) is the go to guy at Tartan for machinery repair and prep. Tim had lovingly worked on rebuilding this machine for the last year from the ground up, insuring that each part was as perfect as it could be. His desire to send out the mill in A-1 shape was responsible for the delay and his goal was realized...Tim, you did a bang up job! I'll proudly take care of her for years to come.

I've gotta give major props to the folks at Tartan, from the excellent communication that Chris provided to the preparation prior to delivery by Tim, each step was handled in a professional, friendly manner. You could not do better than to work with this fine group...check them out if you need some new toys in the shop... click here

Gonna move some machines around in the am to fit the Lagun in and will be working on catching up on email in the afternoon between paint work. Thanks for everyones patience.


Monday, November 9, 2009

Not feeling on my game today. Probably a combination of... uhh, who knows what, just didn't have it.

I worked through the vintage dropouts and fork crowns today, checking the spec and getting them ready to use on Steven's build. I'm pleased with how they came out. I need to do some final machine work on them; breaking the edges, tapping the M10 derailleur threads, cutting off the material anchor holes.

With the dropouts in hand, I set to working on developing a system for bending the stays for the project. I knew this was gonna be a bugger to get right, here's why. Most Klunker style seat stays were one of two types; either they were long stays that ran from the dropout all the way to the headtube with just a single bend to meet the seat tube, or they arched up to meet a segmented joint at the seat tube. Modern adaptations have used "tee" joints to meet the seat tube or a monostay and "tee" joint to fit the rear end together. Steven wants something that looks fluid, so I played around with some options. In the end, I decided the most aesthetic and functional design would be to use a single stay with a compound bend...rolled for the constant radius into a single lateral bend to meet the seat tube. While this will look the best and offer the strongest joint, it is also very difficult to achieve.

I spent the afternoon experimenting, working on a process to get both the lateral bend and the rolled radius without crimping any of the bends. I finally hit on a process that worked well and am moderately happy with the first stays. I'm gonna fine tune the dies a bit more and then make Steven's pair.

Here's a couple shots from today...

Making a new bending die to fit the 1.25 pivot post...
A top view of the seat stays with the lateral bend...these will yield 3 inches of rear tire space.
A side view of the mock stays in the fixture. I had to really arc these more than I had planned due to the short span from the dropout to the seat tube for a visual radius to be present. This is the bend I want to fine tune a bit before I make the final pieces.
I'm looking forward to doing up the plate fork crowns, I think they will compliment the style of the dropouts and really bring the bike together in a balanced look.



Sunday, November 8, 2009

Friday's the shop and on the job

Hey y'all,

As I finished up email Thursday night, I glanced at the clock with drooping eyelids... "0100 hours, gonna be a short night".

Seems like the alarm went off at 0430 as soon as I closed my eyes, but I needed to get a couple of hours in at the shop before heading to the fire department for a shift. I'm actually pretty productive in the early hours; the phone doesn't ring, no one stops by, and there's nothing to see out the window so daydreaming is kept to a minimum :)

I started stripping off the decals on Jim's Fox fork that is to be painted in a Jolly Rancher scheme to match his Bigwheel. Who'd thunk it would take over an hour to pull off some decals and their residual stickiness. Let me tell you, if you are getting an new 2010 Fox product, the decals are gonna stick in there for the life of the product ;)

An X-acto knife, weeding tweezers, and a lot of Goo-be-gone and elbow grease finally left me with a pile of scraps...
With the decals all gone, a quick mechanical breakdown, solvent wash and some 600 grit paper will get these babies ready to head to the booth. Yep, that's right, I do not strip off the powder on the forks before painting. Here's the reason why. The magnesium legs that are common castings on fork lowers have a physical property of "off gassing", where the material constantly emits a gas. To paint these, you need to use a specially formulated primer that creates a vapor proof barrier. If you do not, a liquid paint job will develop a bubbled type of appearance rather than laying smooth. Powder coats will tend to have a shadowing effect, being darker in some areas than others. As Fox already has a non-permeable base down, I'll simply mechanically and chemically prep and build off of it. The tolerances are such that I can keep the layers thin to avoid any post paint interference.
Once I got Jim's fork on the way, I started to blast a few rigid forks to be sprayed up this week...Dario, Michael, and Miguel, these three are yours and the last that I am doing until I can get the build list caught up.
Satisfied with some work completed to set me up for next week, off to the FD I went, arriving at 0630. I had just met with the other shift commander and began to accept the command for the day when the alarm sounded for a garage fire. We stopped, looked at each other, and both decided to go. The benefit for me is that my typical position requires me to organize the fire scene from the exterior at the command vehicle. With another Command officer on scene, I got to revert to my true love, playing inside the fire.

There is no high attainable that can compare to an interior attack on a structure fire. The feeling of crawling into a dark structure full of adrenaline, incredible heat pushing you to the floor, every instinct in your body telling you this is wrong, but pushing forward regardless. Soon the very air around you is dancing with tendrils of light and flame, rolling over your head as it crosses the ceiling and licking ever closer to you, eagerly consuming every material in the room. It's then that you are in the zone. It's almost magical to watch, intoxicating with the flood of endorphins, and seems a shame to open the nozzle until reality hits you in the face and you realize, Damn, it's fucking hot in here! Within seconds of adding water to the mix, the room falls pitch black, the heat changes to a severe suppressive force, full of moisture and steam, and your focus changes to quickly getting some ventilation to reduce the temp and pressure... too cool.

I was fortunate enough to play at the garage fire which flashed on us, but then luck was on my side when less than a minute after going available, we were sent to a house fire just a few streets over. In the front door with the line to do it all over again, oh yeah!

Here's a shot of the house just after knocking the fire down courtesy of the local and the rest of my kick ass C shift crew are somewhere on the second floor right now...
You can read the excerpt here if you are so inclined...

As much fun as it is playing on the inside, the downside is the rest of the work. Salvage and overhaul, investigating, clean up of the equipment and then hours of paperwork. The crew and I finally finished up with everything about 1830 hours, 12 hours after I came in. Breakfast and lunch had passed us by and the day was not yet half over but I was shot. Being a Friday night with warm weather in a college town, the prospects of getting much rest were not looking good.

Needless to say, I was pretty worthless in the shop yesterday. Christi was out of town for the day so I ran kids to ice skating and swim team practices, prepped a few more bars for shipping, then took the afternoon off to run the dogs at the knob and do a bit of street luge with Kalten, Emmy, and our friend Tim Long on Flickenger Hill; a nice long straight run that gets you up to about 30-35mph, a good rate when you are an inch and a half off the ground.

Gonna hit email today and see if I can get some more web page revisions done. Oh, also got two sets of the vintage dropouts completed, so I'll be finishing Steven's project this week, finally!



Thursday, November 5, 2009

Big One Inch for sale...

Hey y'all,

Due to a customer's changing circumstances, I have a BOI for sale.

Here's the details...

Fat Chance BOI replica
1.125" threadless steerer
1.00" legs
80 mm suspension corrected axle to crown (430mm actual length)
Canti posts
Metallic silver color

The customer had to sell his Yo due to financial constraints and has asked to pass on the fork, so this guy is up for grabs. This fork would be suitable for a 97-99 era Yo.
Cost is 315.00 plus shipping.
Drop me an email if you are interested.

November contest answer...oooh look!

Guys and gals, I really enjoyed reading your responses guessing what in the world that little fixture could be really are a sophisticated group :)

Alas, Sean of Vertigo Cycles, , shared the correct answer, although I think he may have had some inside experience ;)

Welding titanium is a finicky process that requires a couple things;

1.) a totally anal retentive approach to material prep and cleanliness
2.) an oxygen free environment until the material cools below 800 degrees F
3.) a methodical welding process to protect against the materials desire to pull and move
4.) patience

The fixture helps me with #2. As you can see in the pic below, a titanium grip section with a breather hole 1.0" from the end is inserted into the tight tolerance section of the fixture. The end is then plugged with the argon feed and argon will then fill the larger chamber through the breather hole. The slotted window allows me to drop in an end cap, push the grip section up tight, then weld it in place while bathed in an oxygen free environment. The flat stock orients the fixture on my roller so that I can still spin the grip section for fusing the end cap...silly fun!

When there is contamination...either oxygen, dirt, or otherwise, you will get a very pretty rainbow of purple and blue color; pretty now, doomed for failure later. You want a totally shiny finish when you are done. Here's the first piece out of the fixture...

Overall, I'm really please with how it came out.
Now, there were lots of super answers, but only one correct one. As Sean already has a shirt and stickers, I'm going to honor his request and pass on the bounty to Grumpy as he was first in with a more descriptive answer (Roy, you were in ballpark, but honesty, don't you teach kids? What kinda run on sentence was that? with heavy sarcasm). So Grumpyone, email me and we'll get some stuff out to ya.
As a round up for the last two days...I powdered all the steel bars and finished fabrication on the Ti's this afternoon. Christi took a car full of packages to the post office and we have about 10 bars that we could not fit in to send tomorrow. So, if y'all are expecting a Luv, it should be coming soon.

Wednesday, November 4, 2009

November Contest Madness...

Hey there tech heads...I assume that most of you follow the blog because you enjoy seeing the build process unfold in front of your eyes. Well, as most of you can bear witness, it takes a variety of tools to accomplish the fabrication process of a high end bicycle in an efficient and consistent manner.

Today, I added another piece of tooling that cuts down on my fabrication time and increases the quality of my product. It's something I've needed for a while but just have not taken the time to make; today was the day.

So, let's see how intuitive y'all are. The first one to post a comment that correctly describes the intent of this item and how it works will win a free Groovy Tee and sticker, mailed to your door. Of course, you gotta be a registered reader/follower to play :)

Here we go...

The first pic shows the ingredients for the item, can you visualize what it is to become?

Some quick fabrication time elapsed and we have the finished product...a view from the side
from the top, note the lateral slot and the small nub on the inside end.

Bottoms up... an enclosed end cap and a mitered plate to note in this shot. The other end of the tube is open.
I'll use this little guy every month, so those of you that are familiar with what goes on in the shop will have a head start. Have fun, we'll do the big reveal later tonight :)
Good luck,
PS...Hubby, you don't get to play as you heard about it on the phone last night ;)

Sunday, November 1, 2009

Saturday summary...

Quick post folks, this is the schnizzle, fo shizzel!

Working on lots of bars, both steel and Ti...
Ever wonder what 350 dollars worth of bubble wrap looks like? This stuff goes quick when you are sending out bars, forks, and frames... doing my part to stimulate the economy.
The parting I was leaving I had left the blast cabinet light on and it was illuminating the old neon Hardcore quite nicely. Gotta love the 80's!
Having a slow day at the Fire department, so I was pleased that I could spend some time updating the website. New pics, new colors, a new vid page, and I'm working on modifying the Gallery page with slide shows instead of random pics. There will be some more changes in the near future as I remove some pages to re-direct the business model to focus on more frame work and less small parts. I'd like to add a Customer bike's page and some feedback/testimonials, both good and bad...tell it like it is. Check it out and let me know where you'd like to see it go.
Welding Ti tomorrow, hoping to pick up the dropouts and fork crowns too. Tuesday I'm on the road to pick up the new mill. Wednesday will be working on Steve's rear triangle and paint on bars, forks, and some powder work.