Saturday, December 25, 2010

Merry gift to you

Hey folks,

I hope your Christmas is filled with lots of joy and family time.

As I am stuck at the fire department this holiday weekend whilst my family celebrates in my absence (or because of?), my kids blessed me with something to waste some time on; 

Chicken on a raft

Written by Cyril Tawney while he served in the Royal Navy, it's a tribute to the horrible breakfast he often woke to..."chicken on a raft", a fried egg on a piece of fried bread.  Nothing like a sea shanty stuck in my head to get me through the hours until I can go home.

Click on the link and share some pain with me this holiday :)



Thursday, December 23, 2010

Starting the move...

After a tough block of work at the fire department the last 5 days, I started to move the big stuff yesterday.

A fork lift at each shop and a 10000# capacity trailer were the tools to get the job done...

I have to work at the fire department Christmas weekend, so for all that have asked to help, the "everything that can be lifted, carried, or loaded" moving day will be Tuesday and Wednesday next week.  Hopefully, we can get it all done so that I can be out by the end of the year.



Wednesday, December 15, 2010

Rollercam makeover...

As the shop is in a bit of disarray at the moment getting ready for the move, I've been working on chipping away at the long list of small projects that have been occupying the shelves, many for a number of years.  Most have not been particularly blog worthy, but since we have a large number of vintage folks here, I thought I'd share this one. 

Here we have a vintage Fat Box crown fork with Reynolds blades and Campy drops that belongs to Michael.  This guy is a candidate for removal of the canti studs and replacing them with Roller cam bosses...but first we need to check that it will meet the dimensions necessary.

It's been a while since I worked with RC's, so I wanted to confirm my notes in my little cheat book of chicken scratch with someone who is a bit more familiar with the genre.  A quick conversation with Steve Potts (thanks a bunch!) confirmed the necessary dimensions and we were all set to move forward.

Michael's Fat fork, all stripped and ready for action...
 To begin removing the cantis, I place painters tape on the adjacent edges of the boss, so when I begin to cut and file I can visually see if I begin to intrude on the surface area of the blades around the boss.  This little tip keeps me from undercutting the tubing and reminds me to take it slow and easy.
 With the tape in place, I begin to remove the mass of the boss with a grinder and cut off blade.  I'll then step down to a Dremel with an abrasive disc, a Dyna file, and finish off with a hand file...
 One blade done, touch up on the next ready to go...
 With the material removed and the blades filed, there are two small dents in the tubing where the points of one canti boss ended, more than likely from the thin wall tubing succumbing to the forces of braking through the years.  I'll fill these with a bit of silver before paint.  Now it's time to locate the roller cams.  Of all the brake types, these are the most finicky to have positioned correctly.  Not only do you need to consider the axle to boss center line, lateral center line offset dimension, and stand off from blade for cable/headset clearance, the superior/inferior angle is critical for correct pad to rim alignment.  I made up a quick fixture to hold everything in place at the correct dimensions and tacked them in place...
 Next up, sort through the box of Roller cam parts to test fit a wheel...
 Using a modified linkage brake that Hubby had played with for the test fit, I want to insure that I've got the correct pad to rim angle throughout the motion of the brake and that there are no interference issues...
 In this case, everything lined up well.  The original box fork bosses were tig'd in place, so rather than brass brazing these, I followed suit to keep with the flavor of the period.
I'll get this guy into the powder booth for some sweet 80's Fat yellow and it'll be ready for Michael's next vintage build.



Tuesday, December 14, 2010

How to pack a bike frame

I have so many bikes/frames come to the shop that are so haphazardly packed, it makes me wince in pain.  Bikes thrown in a box with no padding, securing, or care.  Wheels that are placed so that the axles are against frame tubes, handle bars and controls hanging by their cables...often there is more damage when they arrive than when shipped.  Ever try collecting on shipping insurance?  Good luck.

So, I've refined my packing through the years to protect both your monetary investment and my work.  All work leaving the shop gets triple wrapped in bubble wrap, secured to a piece of padded cardboard, then tucked into a frame box with lots of space filling packing material.  Additional components are wrapped in bubbles, surrounded in cardboard, then secured in place so they do not move during shipping, limiting the probability that they will strike cherished merchandise. 

I've had a few customers complain that it took them over an hour to unpack their frame.  You know what, that's just fine by me :)

Working on some small parts items today and prepping for paint, hoping to move this weekend to the new shop...Hooray!


Thursday, December 9, 2010

Final Bob Villa shots...

The last few weeks have seen me pushing too hard, as my move deadline has come and gone, I'm still toiling to finish up and move, and finally my body has revolted and I've ended up sick in bed sharing with you now...cough.

Here are some picture highlights...

Probably the most important improvement that I've made in the whole shop.  For years I've been utilizing less than adequate options for human comfort, which I will avoid sharing with you for your own mental/emotional sake.  I am, thrilled, to have this addition :)

 and the sink to tidy up in aint bad either.
 I got all the doors hung, the 8 footer was a heavy one.  It will be nice to have a physical separation between the fabrication area, office, and paint prep room; both for quiet and for dust/dirt.
 A shot of the door heading into the office.  I also put in a big wash tub for clean up and a water heater set up high and out of the way to maximize space.
 The trim going up.  I'll be perfectly honest, I enjoy working with wood but the staining/finishing/cleanup drives me bonkers.  I pretty much hate anything to do with liquid finish and a brush, yuck!
 The split doors finished and in place for the restroom.  It's a tight fit, but I like to think of it as efficiency in design.
Finally, a bit of indulgence.  I've spent so many years working on plain jane grey concrete, I really wanted something different for the new shop.  I wanted to have a red/brown sandstone effect for the floor, so gave a shot at acid staining.  The acid stain came out great, giving a warm mottled look to the floor.  I am less happy with the industrial epoxy top sealer.  It comes as a two part mix; clear epoxy and hardner.  What I neglected to factor in was the difficulty of spreading, backrolling, and moving to the next section quickly all by myself.  Turns out, if I had read the instructions, I would have learned that once mixed, the product has a 17 minute pot wonder it was so darn hard to spread by myself after an hour.  I've got some imperfections in the top finish, but there is no going back now, so I guess I'll have to live with it.

As for real shop news, we're shipping out the final bits of December bars and forks tomorrow.  I will be SO happy to get moved in and be able to focus on fabrication again as the last 5 months have been like constant around the clock show prep.

Back to coughing up green balls of gook.


Monday, November 29, 2010

Cyber Monday Sale-a-rama

I've got some extras that are not making it onto bikes or the move, some new,some vintage.  All are priced below wholesale cost to give you a warm fuzzy feeling.  Please leave a comment if you'd like an item and we'll follow up a bit later.

Dura Ace bar end shifters, 9 speed...perfect for Paul thumbies for that old school thumb shifter feeling.  New, $70.00 plus shipping
 Groovy Fat Tire segmented fork, built as a proto just to see how the wheel would fit up.  Built around a 475 atc, 1.125 uncut steerer (long), 1.125 tubing, hooded dropouts, ISO disc tab, plenty of room for an Endo or Larry.  I used lighter gauge tubing on this prototype, so no riders heavier than 175 please.  New, never installed, $175.00 plus shipping
 WTB Dirt Drops, installed but never ridden.  Used for fitting...  25 bucks plus shipping
 SRAM XX cranks, 175mm, 166 Q factor, 42 x 28 rings, no bb included (uses GXP)  New, $275.00 plus shipping...

 Magura HS33 complete front and rear hydraulic rim brake set.  New $150.00 plus shipping
 Chris King Navy external bb for Shimano thru axel cranks, fits 68/73 shells   New in wrapper, $85.00 plus shipping
 Vintage Mountain Cycles Suspenders with Bullseye hub/Matrix rim Pro-Float disc wheel.  1.0" steerer with minimal threads or brazed in aheadset piece, approx 7.5" long.  Elastomers were replaced with springs(Ti? can't remember) years ago.  Typical use marks, small dent in bottom of leg near dropout from rock.  Disc is missing one nylon bushing.  $125 bucks plus shipping.
Grove Aggressor Frame with Hardcore fork (late 90's), 1.125 headtube, 68mm bb.  This is a rider.  When I got it, I had plans on restoring the piece for the collection, but alas, no time.  Frame has some paint gouges in the downtube from a previous poor shipper.  Chain suck area has some rubs, lots of little paint chips, no major dings or dents, overall very structurally sound.  You get all the parts on it too if you like (Control tech stem, xt derailleur, post).  $300.00 (or throw me an offer, want it to go to a good home) actual shipping additional.


Thursday, November 25, 2010

I'm thankful that...

the final drywall sanding in the paint booth is completed!
Yeah, I know, not my best picture, but it clearly illustrates my 0530 in the morning been up for two hours already and not had a shower for two days really tired persona.  :)

Honestly though, it's been a tough year for the business.  Between moving our home, having heart surgery, and building the shop, I am so thankful for the support of my customers who have patiently accepted the time it's taken to move forward, even though production has been slower than anticipated.  Thanks so much for sticking with me and allowing me to bring you products that let you enjoy your time on the bike.

I look forward to being able to focus solely on building in the near future (moving in next week!).

I hope your Thanksgiving is full of gratuitous amounts of rich food, family time, and a time away from the stress of life. 

thanks to all,


Wednesday, November 24, 2010

Tapered headtubes...

I've been following the development of the tapered head tube within the industry for a bit now, specifically the practicability of the application for the custom builders. While a few dedicated folks (Sean, Walt, Cane Creek, True Temper) have pushed the development of componentry to fit a large 44id head tube, I played with custom machining down a single piece into a more elegant shape. 

The process was extremely time consuming (6 hours on the manual lathe), but was significant in that it brought to reality the product I had envisioned.  I began to talk with Joe Bringheli late last year to see if the possibility of such a product was a reality, as he had worked with me on some custom stays and tubes through Deddachiai previously.  I figured the correct tooling and raw material source would ease the production and cost.  Turns out, Dedda was already moving in that direction, and exhibited the first protos at the Handbuilt bicycle show in Richmond this year, surprisingly to less of a fanfare than expected.

I've been slowly waiting to invest in tapered head tube stock based on customer demand...after all, the last thing I want is a bunch of headtubes to move around in a box for the next 20 years if folks decide that is not the direction they want to go.  Well, Martin gave me a kick in the pants last week when he decided he wanted a tapered head tube on his Ti frame.  I called Joe B. on Wednesday, inquiring on how the product has been selling...would you believe that he has not imported and sold one single piece yet?  I could not believe that a company that is willing to produce such a piece was not already being supported by the custom community.  Looks like most are either supporting the 44 movement or just plain not aware of what is available. 

Joe called Dedda for me on Thursday, they shipped them out on Friday, and I picked them up yesterday, pretty darn fast turn around for an international purchase.

 The tapered tubes allow for the use of a 1.125 upper and 1.5 lower headset set up, giving more surface area contact and subsequently, more rigidity to the frame/fork interface.  Available in both steel (upright) and Ti (laying down), the tube is plenty long to allow for use in both road and mountain applications, just cut and true on the lathe.  The tubes also come with machined aluminum inserts for IS bearing use if you choose.
  While not cheap, the cost is not over the top either; 50 bucks shipped for steel and 150 for Ti. 

Joe and Dedda are ready to get these off their Italian shelves and into custom builders hands, so if you have an itch, they will scratch it :)

I brought in enough to make it worth the shipping, so if you are a builder and only want to play with one to see how it works, give me a call and I can share some of my stock.



Tuesday, November 23, 2010

Why regular maintenance is important...

Here's a Public Service Announcement for y'all...

Please check your bike weekly to insure bolts are tight, pieces run freely, and that all components are adjusted.  It not only keeps you smiling while enjoying your time on the road/dirt, but prevents catastrophic failures such as this:

This frame came back to me as a possible frame failure because the rear end felt "loose" and there was a suspect line in the powder.  It didn't take long to see what the issue was.  This slider sheared it's dropout interface clean off, but not before elongating and tearing the threads, most likely caused by a loose set of bolts.

Spend some time with a loved one this holiday season, wrench on your loyal steed :)


Sunday, November 21, 2010

Count off the clock...

Thursday evening, 2200 hours, finished counter tops, still need to stain and polyurethane edging...

Friday morning, 0400...back to old shop to work on December Luvs.  I thought I was done but I am having a hard time saying "no" to folks who still want to get in before the end of the year.  Christi said we are done taking orders for 2010 now, better listen to her or I'll face her wrath ;)     Trying to get the last 10 done before getting to the Fire Department for a shift at 0630, missed finishing by one bar, argh...

 Friday 1930 hours...highlight of the day was helping take Santa off the roof for the annual City of Wooster Winter Wonderland Downtown celebration (photo courtesy of the Daily Record).  Here Santa peers over the rim of the platform while FF Meshew guides him to the ground.
 Saturday morning, 0710 hours...the old shop is literally four blocks away from the station, so I stopped in on the way home to finish the last steel bar, a 28" piece for Marty at Geekhouse for his personal crosser creation.  If you have not checked out Geekhouse, please do.  Marty has a keen sense of style mated with a fun funky spirit...gotta love a guy like that :)
 Saturday morning-ish...the bamboo wood floor layed in the office at the shop
 Sunday 0015 hours...finished painting the main shop.  Adobe white on walls, Sedona sandstone red on sofit, Deep water blue above for a little accent.  Picked these colors to remind me of one of my favorite places to ride...Arizona.  Love the red rocks, blue sky, and bright warmth that both invigorates the spirit and sucks out this overweight/out of shape white boys energy :)
Back to saving lives and stamping out disease today (seriously you say?),

Hope you all are enjoying the weekend and are riding somewhere.


Thursday, November 18, 2010

A dash of paint...

I mentioned that I'd been agonizing over the paint choices for the shop...we'll, I finally threw all the sample paint chips and books away and just went to the store and bought on inspiration.

For the office, I wanted something totally funky and fun, so that I did not feel like I was at work when I'm in there.  Caribbean sunrise on the walls with Guacamole and Raspberry accents around all the doors and windows should do the trick... 

You can see that I started building the custom desk/workspace yesterday as well.  It will have two "desk" portions for a high back stool, a lower corner platform that the computers will sit beneath with room for paperwork and stuff above, and a corner book shelf running vertically that I've yet to construct.  I'm throwing down some groovy charcoal boomerang laminate on the counter tops for the final dash of "whoa".

It's not all about fun though, gotta have some function.  One of my pet peeves is hearing the air compressor kick on.  Funny, the sound of machining doesn't bother me but the two stage compressor irritates the snot out of me, so I've built a cabinet to house it in.  The interior walls and ceiling all have 2" sound proofing foam in the wall spaces, building some custom bar doors that will have foam insulation on the back, and a custom vent to prevent overheating.  Should keep it nice and quiet for me :)   It backs up on one of the paint booth walls, so it will keep the air line run very short so that I'll have little opportunity for condensation build up in the lines...with two traps in 10" of line, the air should be nice and tidy.
On the fabrication front, we are now officially no longer taking orders for Luvs for the balance of the year.  Next run will be in early 2011 and there will be a minimal price increase due to material costs rising for us, primarily in Ti.  I've been going into the old shop in the early morning and late evening to finish up the December run and should complete all the fabrication today, then off to the paint booth with them.



Sunday, November 14, 2010

The final push...

The last week has absorbed every spare minute between fabricating, the fire department, and working towards the completion of the shop for the end of November move in target.  As such, I've not updated here or any other forums much, so here are a few shots to share what's been happening...

I took an entire day to run the gas, water, and sewer lines last week.  Here's a shot of the two utility ditches leading to the new building...
 I've set the gas line and secured it to the block so that I can then run it inside to connect to the new furnace.  The little yellow wire with it is a tracer line that allows the utility run to be detected in the future if necessary.
 The water line uses the Pex system, a fiber reinforced plastic that uses compression/swage fittings to join the system.  The system has many advantages; quickly and efficiently ran and installed, capable of expanding during freezing conditions without fracturing, and interfaces with components that match it to Pex, copper, or steel existing plumbing.  Here I've connected to the main water manifold using a "shark bite" Tee connector with the white 3/4" main line for the shop...a process that took less than 10 minutes, so cool.
 While I waited on the furnace to arrive, it's been on with the slow process of finishing's about all mudded up and ready to sand.  The ceilings will be knock down stippled, still working on my anal decision on paint colors for the walls  :)

 A look into the paint prep room and the booth, where you can begin to see the filter wall taking shape.  I'm going to be bringing the glass and the old paint booth door with me...a sentimental mix of old and new :)
 With the utilities run and the ditches filled back in, the final grading and landscape work will have to wait til the springtime...
Since these pics, the furnace has been installed, the final wiring and tubing run for the AC unit, the office, bathroom, and paint prep area sanded and primed, and the ceiling completed in the paint prep area.  Whew!

So much to do yet, gotta keep moving forward.



Monday, November 8, 2010

Hoodie availability...

Ok folks,

I purchased extra hoodies for use as prizes for the final race, but being that they are about 3 weeks late, they are available for y'all to purchase.

Here's what I have left...

Charcoal - 1 XL

Brown - 1 Large, 2 Medium

Royal Blue - 2 Large, 2 Medium

Racing Red - 1 XL, 1 Large, 1 Medium

Pink - 2 Medium, 1 Small

Price is 45 bucks shipped in the US, 8 bucks extra for international.

Please drop us an email at if you are interested.



Sunday, November 7, 2010

WARNING, Caution, etc...

Got camera happy yesterday.  Here's an inside look at the machines that make up the shop...

 and while not an integral part of the shop, this one did belong to the next door neighbor before closing their doors...