Monday, August 31, 2009

One heckuva week...

Let me tell y'all bout it.

I started off Monday full of optimism for a productive, busy week. I have three LD's left to complete and then I'm free of those for a loooong time. I knew from the desired dimensions that they would be tough to bend the required tubing and hit the radius I needed...guess that's why I left them to last.

The LD, as originally designed, was utilized to get the drop bar UP and into position on the traditional low axle to crown sized frames.

Today, many folks are looking to retro fit classic frames or to use the style to get to a more comfortable position, unfortunately, the dimensions they are looking for are beyond the original design that was more of a goose neck, high and slightly desireing more short and tight bend radius.

That being the case, there are a few tricks you can try to coax the tubing into stretching without collapsing; packed sand in the welded shut tube, cerro-bend (a low melting point alloy), ice, etc...

After 10 hours of effort, this was the result Monday...

Yep, lots of ruined tubing. Figure I went through at least 16 feet of moly trying different methods. I didn't even try the Ti that I had waiting for me. So, I'll be contacting a few folks to see if they are willing to ante up for some CNC mandrel bending work.

Tuesday, I wiped off a few extra pieces from the "special" needs list...a one piece stem/bar combo, a custom sweep Luv, and a traditional shape LD. All ready for powder...yeah!
Thursday I began tackling two more resto projects...both Yo's that need work and new colors. This was a Yo that Roy had sent me that had a large solid rod frozen into the seat tube. It's been soaking with penetrating oil for about 6 months. Even with a large 4' breaker bar and vice the dog gone thing would not budge. Hated to do it, but 2 minutes with the torch and it came right out. Sometimes ya just gotta go with your gut and light that thing up ;)

(for those with queasy stomachs, it's just the paint that charred, she'll be pretty again soon)

Thursday I painted up some more forks...another Aqua Fade, three more silver metallics, and prepped a custom stem and fork for some grello powder...
Friday began our three day work-a-palooza...the Big Valley Race and expo at Camp Manatoc in the Cuyahoga National Valley. This event, promoted by 331 productions (who also run the Groovy/Knob series), have the honor of running the only legal mountain bike riding and race allowed in the park. This once a year honor is cherished by the regional cycling community and I was honored to be asked to be part of it.
Friday was set up day...we set up the course, start/finish area, kids races, expo area, and all the signage and banners. Highlight of the day was moving a large ICE one had a truck so on top of the Volvo it went for it's trip up the field to the race headquarters pavilion. Is there anything a Volvo CAN'T do? I didn't think so :)

The freezer was a great coup, as we used it to chill some of the 50 cases of Monster energy drink we had for the race...
I ran back to Woo, worked a 12 hour night shift at the fire department, then left again at 0700 for the expo day... We set up the Groovy booth with lots of cool stuff, demos for folks to ride, and enjoyed chatting with folks next to the funky toons of DJ Madnote next door. We had over 1000 folks at the expo and 500 registered riders who took advantage of this once a year opportunity. The kids, both big and small, had a blast with a bike limbo contest, bunny hop contest, a no-foot down ride, and finally a Huffy toss. With only 2 hours sleep in almost 40 hours, I was totally baked by the end of the night.
Sunday we started off early again before the sun rose to prepare for the race.
203 riders came out and battled it out in the morning mist to a ripping course and gracious volunteer crew.
Kalten took 1st place in the under 18 novice group in his third ever race with a lap time of 50 minutes and finished 4th overall, he didn't shut up the rest of the day he was so jazzed. Not too shabby for running a single speed on a very fast course. I told him that next year, he'll have to sack up and ride Sport class as it will be his second season racing ;)
Jeff had a great race as well, taking 3rd in the Expert class on his 29er single speed. Despite his incredible climbing, Dave and Steve took about a minute a lap out of him on the fast rolling/flat sections where a single speed just spins out. Jeff is hankering for some gears next year so he can keep those two in sight, or better yet, out of sight behind him. Go Jeff!

Catching up on communications today...hope to hear from y'all soon.

Monday, August 24, 2009

It's that time of the year...MDA

Tough week...78 hours at the Fire department and only 16 in the shop, but I got to cap it off with our annual fill the boot fund raiser for MDA and Jerry's kids.

Guess who got to sweat it out in the Sparky outfit? Yeah, lot's of fun and I'm about 3 pounds lighter now :)

Taking on email and office stuff this morning, back to making cool stuff this afternoon.



Wednesday, August 19, 2009

And our winner is....

Thanks to all who participated in the Super Duper bar contest!

We had over 50 entries, of which, 36 folks were able to follow the clues to the featured builders.

The correct answers were...

1.Steve Garro - Coconino Cycles
2.Drew Gudalian - Engin Cycles
3.Fred Cuthbert - Wolfhound
4.Eric Estlund - Winter Bicycles
5.Carl Schlemowitz - Vicious Cycles

and fresh out of the hat, our winner is...

Jared Smerecki, who reads the blog under the name JRAD.

Congrats Jared...please drop me a note to the contest email with your mailing address and bar of choice and I'll get it out to ya.



Sunday, August 16, 2009

Super Duper Handlebar contest time...

Ok folks, I promised I'd throw up a contest for the weekend so here we go. This is what's up for grabs, pick of the litter of any of the Luv handles below with the special image infusion process (and one black one for good luck!). I put up higher res pics this time to help you check them out.

As many of you check out the blog because you enjoy seeing the building process in action, I thought, what better way to expose you to some of the best custom guys out there than through our contest. So each of the questions will require you to check out a small offering of some worthy builders laboring for your enjoyment. Many of them are regular readers, some are NAHBS exhibitors, and others just have some distinctive style that is worth checking out. Stuck? Feel free to leave a comment begging for more clues and I'll see what I can do. Regardless, check out there work if you appreciate handmade love at it's finest.
So, here's the deal. Find the builders name and company name, email them to me by Tuesday night and I'll put all the correct entries into a virtual hat and draw a winner. You must be a registered reader to win (click the "Follow this blog" button on the side bar if you are not) and are obliged to send a pic of the winning bar on your bike in some exotic local (not leaning against your garage door!) so we can all enjoy it. Mail your answers to if you will please.
Here we go...
1.) This builder working out of the Sun Devil state, is known for his fillet brazing, curved top tubes, and now rolls on three wheels when on single track. Bolstered by a awesome wife, he's overcome adversity to keep people smiling on two wheels.
2.) Although named for a car's propulsion (the antithesis of cycling), this focused builder craves clean lines, classic styling, and operates out of the City of Brotherly love. A focused pro, I enjoy his energy and commitment to his beliefs, whether speaking of bicycle fabrication or his favorite beer :)
3.) Out of the state that harbor the McKenzie river trail (a classic destination mind you), a distinctive style of long flowing steel curves, micro fillets, and rich paint by Keith Anderson, this builder named his company after his favorite dog's breed. He's also a heckuva nice guy who is consistently striving to improve his own knowledge and skill to produce a better product for his customers.
4.) A young up and comer, though his company's name conveys the cold bitter season, his work and style looks fast, tight, and on fire. Though soft spoken, his personal flair is exemplified in his tats, his work, and his commitment to sharing the love of cycling with others. He's also the only builder I know with an art degree in metal sculpting.
5.) Slaving away since '94, this builder deserves kudos as he is one of the rare leaders that have been able to keep the micro bicycle factory business model moving forward. Contrary to the name of his company, he's not mean at all. The folks of New York are lucky to have him.
I could go on all day with great/worthy builders to recognize, but picked the above folks for the diversity of the craft they offer. If y'all enjoy the contest, perhaps will do it again with another round of interesting fabricators.
Lots of folks have expressed interest in the graphic bars, so here's the deal. Once the winner picks his/her favorite, the rest of the bars will be available on a first come basis for 135 bucks plus shipping...I'll let you know when to open the floodgates for dibs/availability.
Good luck and have fun!

Saturday, August 15, 2009

Saturday morning coloring...

I don't know about you guys and gals, but quirky as he was, my Saturday was not complete unless I had the opportunity to watch the master of the brush, Bob Ross, throw down some funky strokes and turn out something spectacular. The guy had an uncanny ability to take simple paint and create an illusion of reality; complete with happy little trees, angry little streams, and the obligatory mountain...Loved that guy :)

Although I've not got near the skill as my fro haired brother above, I did a little painting today too. Running forks through the booth the last few days has been a little monotonous but satisfying to get them ready to go to their new homes.

I thought I'd share two of some of the work I did this morning.

The first fork is for Alan, a BOI painted in a silver to red to match his late model Fat Ti. I started by laying down a few layers of sanded primer...

Once blown off, I taped up the crown race and put my happy little caps on the canti bosses, then the silver metallic goes down...
The silver is a base for the overlying color, a sunset red, that is translucent and relies on the base to give it a bit of a kick. The color begins somewhat faded, but gets richer with each successive layer. Here's the first coat...kinda weak looking, eh?

After four coats though, the depth really begins to come out. Now that's better!
This guy will get three coats of clear then be off to sunny (?) England.
The next fork is for Jared in Reno and will be accompanying his Yo frame that is in for a repaint as well.
You Fat fans should recognize this color...half of a fairly well known paint scheme.
If you said Aqua Blue, you are correct Sir!
The better half in place with the blue, Lime sherbet, yummy!
Ta for to do some trail work before it gets dark.

Friday, August 14, 2009

Roger stopped by today to do a bit of tweaking on his component set up and to talk about bicycle fit. Coming off of a mass produced full squishy bike to a full rigid 29er is quite a divestiture from the norm for him, so we wanted to insure that everything was just right. The greatest difference he experienced was the change in rider position; the sussy requires a more upright position to allow the compression of the fork and rear end without pulling too much body weight either direction and compromising the balance of the bike. The new Bigwheel allows us to create a more balanced weight distribution between the axels and a little longer cockpit, allowing us to rotate his pelvis forward to incorporate the larger mass of his upper quads and glutes for more sustained power and endurance, a difference he said he noted on his first ride. Note too that his side view shows a nice straight back, upright head position, and a proper (less than 90 degree) transition from his torso to upper arms, a position that will allow his larger core muscles to support him and prevent premature fatigue. All in all I think the bike fit up very well. Roger, being a certified exercise specialist/trainer, will be able to weigh in on whether we were truly successful or not :)
Michael was stopping by to pick up the Brew resto, so I took some time to get it all ready for him. the first item on the agenda after finishing the powder coat was to clean up all the frame surfaces; tap out the bottom bracket, face the head tube, tap out the derailleur and bottle bosses, and then prep the fork for the new Cane Creek Classic headset.
Here's the Tange Struts fork getting the race turned down in the lathe...
Christi found this turn of fate a bit funny, and unluckily for me, she had the camera ready :(
While setting the lower headset race, the rapid pounding on the press tool caused my too loose britches to fall...not cool. I quickly remedied the situation with a bit of rope.
And here she is, Michaels repaired Brew with a fresh Illusion Lapis powder coat, ready to be built up and ridden hard for more years to come.
I got out to Vulture's Knob last night to put together the final trail day job list and crashed hard, bending my front wheel and causing a bit of carnage to my leg. I rode it out to the car looking a bit like a circus clown on a funny bike, wobbling to and fro.
Off to the paint booth again today.
Gonna run the bar contest this weekend, so be sure y'all stop back to play!

Thursday, August 13, 2009

Hey folks,
Lots been happening, so I thought I'd share a few highlights with ya.
Saturday we packed up the family and the bikes and headed for central Pa to visit the Groves and attend Aaron's high school graduation party. Aaron is off to Penn Tech to study advanced machine sciences where he will carry on the Grove tradition that started with his grandfather of turning metal into really cool stuff.
Sunday, we jammed down the road to check out a new IMBA trail at Raystown lake. This trail is a cooperative effort between local advocates and the Army Corps of Engineers that has been in progress since 2001 and just opened this May. Well over 40 miles of trail are open at this time with more planned. The trail is machine built on the slopes of the mountain and can best be described as a giggle's so much fun you giggle the whole time. Imagine a roller coaster/pump track for your bike that carves it's way down the mountain side then gently coaxes you back up the mountain to do it again...too much fun!
I was able to get Hubby to come out and play with Kalten, Mike, and's a line up of two Groovys, one Hubcap 29er, and a Grove X 29er all ready to hit the trail.
I was back in the shop early Monday morning and spent most the day doing business type stuff, no fun but necessary.
0430 Tuesday morning found me back on the road headed to Wild Wonderful West Virginia to guide a raft trip down the New River Gorge. I've been an active whitewater kayaker for years and started guiding our raft to share the experience with friends and family. I'd promised Dave, a fellow firefighter from Akron, I'd meet he and his wife Terry in the gorge and show them the river. We had a great run with perfect water conditions...juicy and warm. A hike out to a secluded rock outcropping above Beauty mountain to watch the sun set finished the day for us.
The only downer was that while out exploring a bit, my car was broken into and about 1300 dollars worth of gear was stolen. 20 years of playing in WV and this is the first time I've suffered any senseless crime, too bad, it put kinda a sour taste on the finish of the day.
Here's a shot of our raft shooting through Surprise rapid from a previous trip...
Yesterday it was paint prep time, as I sorted product and began moving it all through the you see your fork in this bunch?

I also knocked off two is Jason's Aluminum hardtail. Jason experienced a vertical crack that split his headtube vertically about 1/3 of the way down. The crack was drilled, the headtube blasted to remove all surface oxidation, then chemically cleaned for welding. Now getting reamed and faced, you can't tell that the tube has been repaired. It's off to powder now to receive a Jollipop Copper translucent coating.
I also fabricated and welded on a new rear dropout for a carbon/Al road bike for Dale. His bike was damaged during shipping on a recent trip and as expected, the shipper was being difficult with repair/replacement costs, so we stepped in to get him back on the road.
In the paint booth today, so leave a message if you need to talk.

Friday, August 7, 2009

MIA? KIA? Nope...just hiding in the shop :)

Well, not really hiding, just working my tushy off! The last week has been a blur of activity as I've been really trying to knock off as much as the small parts builds as I can so I may focus on frames uninterrupted for the next few months. So, as a quick peek into the shop window, here's some that transpired...

Louis stopped by and we built up his Soma B side...gonna add some axel tugs and she should be ready to go. Many of you are curious as to the ride the belt provides, so I thought I'd have Louis write up some impressions for the blog.

Many loooong days in the shop, the shortest was 12 hours, the longest 16.5. I got to see a nice sunset on the way home on the shorter day...
The last month and a half I've been knocking out forks...32 of them to be exact. Many segmented, some Ho's, and a few unicrown. Most will be going into the paint booth next week.
Here's a segmented 29er disc fork suspension corrected for 80mm travel that ended up without a home...if anyone needs it give me a call.
And a Ho fork destined to replace a fractured 10th Anniversary BOI with cantis and disc...

I've had a few small local projects to do as well. Tim needed to replace the aluminum bushings on his NRS but the LBS could not get them, so he came knocking...
When you have a shop and a lot of tools, all kinds of jobs find you. Here's a Volvo that needed some serious love...the frame had rusted away and left the stabilizer arm hanging free...some work with the plasma cutter and Mig welder and it is rolling down the road again :)

Just as rusty but a bit more work will be this Serrotta T Max frame...not sure what I'll do with this one. The chainstays needs replaced but the Columbus tubing is very difficult to find now...hmmm.
I'll be out of the shop Friday through Sunday to attend an out of town graduation party, see y'all soon.