Friday, April 23, 2010

New River WV biking...

a big shout out to Bruce, Linda and Deb for sending in a pic of them flying the colors in the New River Gorge during a recent spring mountain bike ride...sweet riding in a beautiful area.

Got a pic of you or friends sporting some Groovy product that you wanna share, send it in!


Carys frame and new digs...

Well, I busted my bum to get a ride under Cary for the first race, but it was obviously not the finished state I wanted to present to him.  So I worked on his actual frame which will be ready for the open house and next race on May 22.  Here's a quick photo tour for ya...

The whole frame starts with the backbone...the seat post.  Here I've brazed on the binder bolt which will allow me to indicate off of for the miters, keeping everything straight...
The binder is then slotted using a slitting saw and the relief hole is placed with an end mill plunged in...
and whalaa...
Fitting it into the fixture, I then cut and miter the main tubes, which have all been inspection rolled for straightness, butts measured and marked, and oriented for the strongest placement in the frame...
miters are coming together...

Once I'm happy with the fit, extra details like water boss holes, vent holes, and cleaning the tubes are attended to then she is all welded up in the fixture to insure a dead straight component.

Then the rear end begins to take shape, starting with the chainstays... slotting for the dropouts;
and cutting for the bottom bracket...
I got through the whole enchillada yesterday with the exception of the rear disc placement and a few braze ons, hoping to finish fab today and move to paint next month.

I mentioned yesterday that lifes been busy on the personal and business front.  The main succubus of my time has been the aquisition of a new property for the family that would incorporate our home and the shop. Although I like the downtown location, the break ins, running back and forth from the shop to home for incidentals, and the inconvenience of never seeing the family have taken a toll these many years.  So we found a property to meet our needs and have been busy with closing info, design and contracting the construction of the shop, and getting our current home on the market.  It is our hope that the new location will increase my productivity and focus on the primary strengths of Groovy...making customs that are truly unique for the customer.

Anyhoo, here's some quick shots of the near future...

The new home, kinda a funky modern place with an open floorplan and warm feel.  Built new in 2007 and turned over to the bank due to financial constraints after construction, we will be the first owners/occupants :)

and plans for the is designed to compliment the house.  Slightly smaller than my current digs at 1150 square feet, it will be better layed out for more efficient operation.

Thanks for everyones patience this last month as I recovered from surgery and have moved through this took a lot more time and concentration to make it all happen than I anticipated.  I look forward to a bright future in my new work space this coming fall.



Wednesday, April 21, 2010

Office time today...

A lot has been happening on the personal and business front of late, more on that later tonight. Gonna catch up on email and voicemail today, so if you have not received a response by tonight, please try again.


Tuesday, April 20, 2010

Mohican Wilderness Race Report

Hey y'all,
Steve Twining was gracious enough to pen a race report for us detailing the activities of Sunday's OMBC race.  Sorry I could not be there guys...

Take it away Steve!

Mohican Wilderness, OMBC 2010 race #1

A chilly day, that felt more like fall than spring brought several racers out to try their metal against the beast of a course known as Mohican Wilderness. Bull horn sounds, and we are off. I found myself in the lead with Jeff (Pendulbury) by my side and the single track rapidly approaching. Neither of us wanted to be first into the course, but I surely wanted one of us to be first. Ben Ortt saw our hesitation and tried for the inside line to get the first corner. I completey overreacted and challenged him for the spot. His 145 lb body didn’t stand a chance against my 180 lb rear end. Sorry Ben! The result was Ben on the deck, clogging the trail for every single expert in the class and me still up right and riding away by myself. I tried not to go too hard, but stayed steady on the gas.

When we hit a clearing I peaked over my shoulder and wouldn’t you know it, here came Jeff, followed by Ben and Proppe’. It stayed that way for the first climb until the top where Jeff and I slowly opened a gap. 

The next two laps stayed the same order until Proppe’ flatted out of the race. During this time Jeff and I stayed within 50 ft of each other at all times. We descended like mad men, with spectators cheering at our speed. When we reached the bottom Jeff asked, “how do you descend so fast?” I pointed out that he is just as fast because he was on my wheel . This in turn had him waiting on me to get out of his way on the climbs.

By the third lap Jeff had enough of my climbing and asked if he could take a pull. His pull felt like an all out attack. His fitness is so superior to anyone else racing currently. Upon reaching the first descent Jeff quickly showed how not to ride over a huge rock. I checked if he was okay , smiled that Brad Wilhelm saw the whole thing while climbing right beside us, and put my head down and rode for home. Jeff won’t give me many opportunities like that this season.

The Groovy Bigwheels were wonderful. The steel frame and the geometry soaked up all the nasty stuff and had us ripping it up every chance we had. Food for thought…… I am not sure my fitness is that great but I rode this race 9min faster than I ever had before on any of the cookie cutter carbon fiber rigs.

Jeff’s transition to gears is still only beginning. I am not sure he will lose this year. He is still learning and it is an absolute blast to be there for his rise to the top. I have never seen a third lap acceleration like that before. 

I had a fun day. I really enjoyed racing and talking with everyone. Thanks to all who could make it to the race. Oh yea I almost forgot, I rocked the Groovy/NEO series number plate for the race. Kevin that was for you!


Sunday, April 18, 2010

Working on Ti bars...

I'm about 2 weeks behind due to the surgery time off, hope to have them shipping monday.  Thanks for everyone's patience.


Thursday, April 15, 2010

a few fixture details...

As promised, I thought I'd throw up a few detail pics and share some about each of the new fixture.

This fixture has been in the conceptual phase for many many years, and has been actively developing over the last year and half.  The brain child of Bill Grove, I've been fortunate to have some input into it's development, while he's done all the hard work :)

The goals of the fixture were to provide full access to all joints for easy welding/joining, to have a precision set up system that allowed for accurate repeatability, simple smooth movement and articulation, rigid design to prevent flexion, maximum flexibility in desired sizing/specs, and it had to look cool ;)

While certainly not the complete laundry list of desired features, these listed filled many of the gaps that we've experienced with our previous fixtures, my design now going on 15 years old.

So let's take a quick tour...
The main fixture is made from K100 cast tool grade AL, annodized black.  Basically the same product as Mic 6, just made by a different manufacturer.  It is water jet cut to the required dimensions then gets some CNC time to chamfer the edges, place critical slots and holes, and make it dead sexy. 

You can see from the basic layout of the fixture that it allows for independant movement/adjustment of each of the critical dimensions.  The fixture is set around the fixed bottom bracket point, with independant movement for the chainstay length, axel heights, fork offset, seat tube angle, head tube height and angle, and top tube length.  The entire fixture shares the same bolt head sizing, allowing a 1/4" ball end T wrench to adjust each element.  Rolling on a tripod stand with the ability to utilize adjustable fixed feet, the fixture is counter balanced and is able to rotate 360 degrees freely in the vertical position, 360 degrees in the horizontal direction (180 each way, fore and aft), and then 360 degrees swivel on the base with the most minimal effort. 

From the side shot, you can see the counter weight arm that pivots around the main beam...

The base rotates on leather washers with adjustable tension and has two quick clip sprung knobs that can lock the fixture in place if desired...

The bottom bracket uses a unique adjustable post, allowing for bottom bracket shells from 68 to 80+ to fit on the centerline of the fixture...simply loosen the collar and rotate to change the dimension.  The fixture plate is designed  to allow for maximum accessibility for fitting and joining.  An adjustable tool can affix to the plate to allow for symetrical positioning of the chainstays on the bb, equal centerline spacing of the wheel/tire position, and centering of the seat tube over the bottom bracket.

The head tube uses a machined puck for the bottom locator and a tapered cone at the top, all headtube sizes are available from 1.0 up to the new 44 headtube. The bolt that holds in the bottom puck utilizes an inset c-clip, so that once it is loose, it will not drop out and roll under the bench. This allows the puck to slide freely out with the frame for easy removal once the frame is joined. The top of the head tube cone has a tension adjuster, so that you can gently set the head tube plate/cone into place, then snug it up with the tension adjuster to prevent any cocking stress on the fixture during securing.

You'll notice there are no scales or other visual indicators to set up the fixture, this is because all the necessary adjustments are made with a digital caliper.  Each of the key elements utilize eccentric securing point and a machined post to hold the calipers.  Movements are driven by the 1/4" wrench on a lead screw to provide precise set up that has not been achievable before. All the major components roll on sealed bearings, providing ultra smooth, friction free movement.

With the caliper system setting the dimensions, there is no more sight guessing off of a scale or hoping to get it close enough to survive the critisism of the most anal customer.  The real magic of this precision system is that you have exact repeatability even years later, or you can cut multiple sets of tubes to the desired settings, come back weeks or months later, reset to the exact dimensions, and have all your miters be just as tight for welding.  Sweet.
On the rear tower, you can see the lead screw inside the fixture plate. The rear axel tower is designed to easily swap out axels for differing widths by a simple twist of the wrench and sliding the spring pressured top cap back.  Fast and smooth, especially when taking out a completed frame.

a peek inside the rear plate shows the ball bearing rollers that sit in a machined pathway to guide the smooth.

An acid etched plate will be secured to the main beam to show the dimensional measurements to achieve the desired geometry...
I've working with a vinyl sticker right now.

The entire fixture is purge ready, though I've not yet run the iridium blue tubing, and has two quarter turn valves to control the flow circuits.

Two frames down and I've made a list of small changes I'd like to make, most not necessary but fall into the "would be nice category".  As this is the prototype, I'm sure there will be a number of revisions before we achieve the final version.

Anyhoo, I feel very fortunate to have the opportunity to work with the development of this piece, as I feel it will increase the efficiency and precision of frame fabrication.  You rock Big Willy!



Wednesday, April 14, 2010

Just for Drew...

Here's a sneak peek...

Not fully finished, but functional.  Two frames built on it.  Details tomorrow...


Tuesday, April 13, 2010

The responsibility of preserving our sport....

Every once in a while I'll take some time to cruise through a few forums online and see what's shakin in the community.  I've got my usual haunts, mostly frame building or cycling related, that I drop in on.  I recently ran across a thread on the Ohio Mountain Bike Association board that bothered me a bit.  The thread was announcing the first Groovy Series race at Vulture's Knob and two individuals were questioning the cost to race and the perceived benefits.  Their assertion basically boiled down to the fact that they felt the cost, 35 bucks, was too high and that the promoters were walking away with pockets full of cash.  Typical of the internet, too little info is a garden for rumors and skewed opinions to flourish.

I felt compelled to add to the conversation, not to set the record straight, but to offer a little background to help those reading to form a more complete personal perspective.  Here's what I had to say...

Hey guys, I thought I'd chime in with a little background information to help answer some of your questions and provide you with the tools to make your best informed opinions.

I've been involved in the development of Vulture's Knob for 16 years now and have had the opportunity to watch the sport of mountain biking and the Ohio race scene ebb and flow. Much of that time, many of you have had the opportunity to ride and race at the Knob and experience what I feel is a special place. Why is it special, well let me share a bit of history with you.

Vulture's knob has existed as one of the few privately owned, legal mountain bike trails in the country that allows full access for mountain biking, trail running, outdoor use/camping without any structured fees or permits...simply show up, have fun, and leave with a smile. This has been possible due to the sacrifice, both fiscally and of sweat equity, of a very small group of enthusiasts who's desire is to share the outdoor experience with others. Before our tax dollars and advocacy opened up many of the government owned parks we are blessed to construct trails and ride in, the knob introduced the freedom of mountain biking many of us. This comes with a price, however.

For the first twelve years, we have benefited from the kindness of two independent owners, who despite financial difficulties, kept the vision alive. Four years ago, a make or break decision had to be made; the property had to pay for it's self or close. It was at this time that Kevin, Mike, Dusty, and Jason of 331 stepped up and assumed the responsibility of not only resurrecting the Knob, but caring for it and keeping it alive.

Unlike many of the race venues visited by the OMBC and NEO series that are publicly owned and cared for by volunteers, the Knob series MUST be self sustaining. Simply put, your race entries pay to keep the property open for mountain biking the other 360 days a year races are not being held. Out of your entry money, we pay the monthly mortgage, property taxes, property insurance, maintenance costs for the property, utilities, diesel and maintenance for the tractor, trail building costs, race insurance, and associated race costs (porta potty, branded prizes, race software updates, paper, etc...). The race is run by volunteers who are there for nothing more than the love of the sport and the trails we ride on. To put it into perspective, let me give you an analogy...Much like your home, we have many of the same monthly costs. Imagine the costs involved in keeping your home up and running and then throw into the mix that anyone who wants can come on in, hang out, and do what they like. That's what we've got going on at Vulture's Knob.

Your race entries buy advocacy and good will as well. Little known is the fact that when the venue changes, a portion of the proceeds are donated back to the host entity or the club that cares for it by 331...not a common practice with some of the other race promoters out there right now.

We've been extremely fortunate to have an alliance of sponsors who also see the value in supporting our efforts, with monetary donations going 100% back into the property and in kind donations of equipment/food directly back to the racers.

One of the nice characteristics of the 331 races is that the guys are willing to listen to your comments and make changes. Computerized timing gets you prelim results every 5 minutes and final results that night, tabulated series results are updated post race that night for the whole season and are available online, a strong web presence announces races, trail days, and good news, Chipotle burritos and all the Monster/Beer you can consume, and funky tunes pushed out by DJ Madnote alongside the bonfire...all requests from racers like you that have come to fruition. Would you like to see a greater split in sport classes for starting, simply drop Kevin an email and be heard, it's that easy.

It's important to note that without the participation of the riders and the sponsors, the Knob would certainly be forced to close it's gates.

35 dollars to race... personally, I feel that's a lot of bang for your buck. Believe me, there is no "pure profit" left at the end of the season. It is all returned to you, the racer, in the form of trails to enjoy for both you and your children's lifetime as long as we as a united community of mountain bikers hold the reigns.  Just a bit to chew on.



The end result for me was the affirmation that we each have a role to fill in supporting the continued longevity of our sport.  Whether you race, help out with trail maintenance, introduce a new friend to the sport, drop a few bucks in the can when you ride, or just come out and cheer on your spouse, you are fortifying the continued existense of what you that too much to ask?

I personally feel blessed to have such a enthusiastic mountian bike community immersed in our effort, thanks to all.

The first race was a blast, with 113 registered racers, perfect weather, and lots of folks who were smiling and enjoying life. 

Jason Shaffer was on scene and took some great shots of the sunset and award ceremony, I feel that his work really captured the emotion and value of the effort as reflected in the racers faces, check it out...


Sunday, April 11, 2010

Friday night blitz...

How did time move so quickly?  The first race of the year was Saturday and the realization that I had to make a frame for Cary W. as his winning bike from the 09 season drawing had come more quickly than anticipated.  The fact that I lost 2 weeks in the shop heavily weighed upon the delay, but as the calendar had run out, the time is now.  Added to the pressure was the fact that Cary had sold off his race bike in anticipation of his new toy...if he was going to race Saturday night I had to come through.

I had measured Cary months prior and knew the direction that I wanted to go.  Cary, or Wangpig as he is affectionately known, has been riding off road for like, forever, so knows what he wants in a bike focused on fit and performance.  It was my goal to introduce him the 650b wheel format, get him back on steel, and make the bike fit and handle like a patriot missile.  To get the feel I wanted, I designed the bike for a 80mm 29er fork with...

Head tube - 72 degrees
Seat tube - 73 degrees
Chainstay - 16.75
Offset - 45mm

I choose light double butted tubing, 8-5-8 and 7-4-7, and made the main triangle more compact to keep the lateral stiffness I wanted for fast/efficient acceleration.  Using my spec'd stays, I set the chainstay length a bit longer than fashionable these days.  Understanding that coming off a 26er after 20+ years, some psycho-motor skills like sliding off the rear of the saddle during fast descents are unconsciously learned traits that need to be compensated for in design...after all, I wanted the bike to feel intuitive immediately.  Getting the rear wheel back a bit more kept the bike a bit more balanced and fit Cary's riding style.  Moving the wheel back a skoosh also allowed me to set the front end geo fairly neutral over the contact patch, allowing for fast slow speed steering and fast confident descending.

I started the build at 1400 hours Friday, worked through the night, and finished assembly with Cary at 1400 Saturday, a long 24 hours.  Knowing that I would not have time to get the bike where I wanted it, I built two frames.  One to get under Cary immediately and a second to paint up like I wanted and present at the next race.

I did not take time to take photos, so you'll just have to trust me that she's an ugly race bike in a rat rod primer grey.  I did cut out some custom decals to pretty her up a bit though :)

Cary raced it just hours later.  I think we both did ok under pressure as he finished first in the over 35 Expert field...nice work Wangpig!

If I can get a pic later I'll try to post it up.



EDIT... Cary wrote up a blog post and has some pics, looky here...

Thursday, April 8, 2010

Jason's 40's barn find cruiser...

Okay folks, just a quick photo post to show you Jason's cruiser 29er single speed.  Jay requested a retro cruiser that typified the colors of the 40's and looked like it just was pulled out of a barn with a nice discolored patina on it.  So here we go...

We start off with a cruiser frame that utilizes my standard stays, but keeps the curved theme going with some Black Cat Dropouts made by Todd that he hooked me up with for this project...
A couple layers of sanded primer to set a good base...
Then I laid down a nice olive green from the Ford color charts from the era...this was an accent color on a few of the cars...
Then some time masking to prepare for the next round of color, a light vanilla cream base coat...

Just like Christmas morning, only a LOT slower, let's unwrap the frame and see what we've got...
With the base colors and shapes down, we've got a good base to work from.  Normally, I'd lay down an intercoat clear before doing any airbrush work, so if there are mistakes than need to be corrected, I can do so without getting into the base coat.  As I'm going for the old patina look, I did my detail work directly on the base as I was using some abrasive techniques that needed to blend with the underlying colors.

Five shades of dirt and rust, some WW2 rising suns, a pretty lady and a whole lot of time behind the brush and the frame is starting to come together...

Given the choice of Blonde, Brunette, or Redhead, you can see what Jay choose to go with...

I'll work the clear in the later layers to dull it out some to match the image we're going for, but for now, she's a looker...
Jason is going to build it up as a dedicated single speed with a Titanium Luv, Groovy Ti Unicrown fork, White Industry wheels and cranks, and a nice Brooks saddle.  Should be sweet to behold.



Wednesday, April 7, 2010

Back in the shop...

Well, it's been a slower recovery than I would have liked but I've been released, officially, to get back into the shop as long as I "act like a normal human"...words from my doctor who loves me so much :)

I've got a lot of catching up to do, but thought I'd let y'all know that I appreciate your patience, supportive emails, and encouragement.

Getting back at it, I prepped a couple of frames for paint; Todd's Yo, Jason's Groovy Retro, and Jared's Yo.  Typical of what I find with old restos, here's what lay under Jared's Aqua Fade...

Give me a call Jared and we'll talk options for saving the old girl.

Lots to do today...bars to ship, paint to finish, and loads of email to catch back up on.



Thursday, April 1, 2010

Bike assembally and one from the rafters...

Steve stopped in to build up his bike on Saturday with a mix of old and new parts and we had loads of fun :)

The finish really looks striking in the sun...should not be another rolling up to the line like this one.
and in an effort to avoid work and get set up for some summer road training, Kalten pulled my old road frame out of the ceiling rafters.  We took off all the vintage parts; Campy Delta brakes, Campy Record shifters, Mavic derailleurs and wheels.  We then built it up with a mix match of old road kit I had lying around in boxes, mostly Dura Ace and Ultegra 8 speed.

This frame was actually the first road frame I built for myself back in 94.  It is comprised of a mix of dumpster tubing, 853 tubes that were reclaimed from the Trek dumpster by Donny K. on a trip through the facility...they were all cut to the wrong lengths so were discarded.  It's funny to look at the frame now, it makes me cringe when I see all the early mistakes or areas for improvement :)
Nice to know it will be getting some road time again by someone who is limber enough to actually ride in such a low position.
nice to see Kalten's hair growing back in after shaving it all off for swim finals.

Recovery is going slower than I want.  Pushed it too hard fiddling around the house and the incision started bleeding again, so had to resign myself to the fact that I need to be a bit more patient.  I see the Doc today, so hopefully I'll be cleared for some light welding again.