Thursday, July 29, 2010

The next hurdle, the seat tube

Where as the head tube has a lot going on from a machined specification perspective, the seat tube really is the spine of the build and needs a lot of loving.
The seat tube is the priority of the main triangle, as it in important to keep it oriented and in phase to build the rest of the main frame off of.  With a ti frame, the work necessary to prep the tube before it enters the fixture is a bit more involved, as there are no "ready to go" butted tubes that have the proper inner diameter for your standard sized seat posts.  So, how do you get a tube that is right size for your desired seatpost and still light and responsive for the characteristics you are shooting for in the build?  You use two tubes.

Let's cut the first tube, a 3/2.5 1.25x.089 ti tube that will be our seat tube top portion. I'll square up the parting tool so we can get going...

And are our two pieces that are destined to become one single seat tube...

With the piece successfully parted off, I'll now face it, bore it, and then remove material from the OD to allow a press fit into the 1.25 x .035 seat tube material. 

I've accounted for 2.25" of internal overlap, which will give sufficient material for the top tube intersection to prevent post weld distortion as well as offer a rock solid interface for the seat post.

Pressed in with about 500 pounds of pressure...

With the top insert in place, let's cut our 12 degree angle cut for the top of the seat tube...gotta be precise :)

pretty darn close, eh?  No wasted length of the tube here :)
and the finished cut...

After a good cleaning, it's off to the weld table to sew these two pieces together, place the binder bolt, then ready for the mill to cut in the bottom bracket miter.  The shop was like Grand Central Station this afternoon, with emergency after emergency popping in; a broken spoke here, help with a motorcycle design issue there, a little fire department business and a crashed bike that needs to be fixed by tomorrow morning as Jeff is traveling towards Philly for a race this weekend.  Crap, the seatpost is gonna have to wait...this is the last repair I wanted to do right now.

Racing in Alum Creek on Sunday, Jeff hit the terra firma hard, and learned why it's called "FIRMA".  He's pretty bruised up, ego tweaked, and his bike is a mess.  He twisted and fractured his derailleur...

and broke his Paragon dropout, fracturing it in the web while twisting the dropout inward.  Given the time restraints, the best approach was to realign the dropout, machine a steel insert to fill the window, weld it around the periphery and silver braze in the last portion that abuts the silver filled stay end...

Not real pretty, but hopefully functional enough to get him through the rest of the long as he stays upright :)

Back on the Ti frame in the am..


Chad's road frame taking flight

It seems like this road frame has been more difficult to get started than corraling a bunch of cats with a hyena by my side, regardless, it's finally moving.

I had talked with Chad about the final geometry; he is a fast club rider in Texas who typically turns out 30-50 mile rides on flat to rolling terrain at a nice clip.  Hindered by standard geometry that allows for appropriate standover but extends his cockpit longer than desired, we've designed a position that will accomodate his long legs and shorter torso, position him balanced between the axels to provide both comfort and performance.  The bike is on the sporty side of handling, but will still maintain the stability he needs when he's turning mile 80 of the Hotter then Hell 100 and his mind is fried from the waves of inhuman heat rising from the pavement :)

The bike will be a titanium road frame with a slightly sloping top tube, oversized down tube for controlling the torsional twist put out by his powerful size, and utilizing smaller diameter seat stays for a bit of vertical compliance and comfort.  With the end goal in mind, here's the numbers we'll be working with...

So, let's get started setting up the fixture, shall we?
Some folks have asked to see more detail on the fixture, so I thought I'd share a bit of the set up/adjustment process...

To begin, the bottom bracket is in a fixed position, so the axel position needs to be adjusted front and rear to accommodate for the necessary drop, or difference between axel and bottom bracket height.  The fixture is designed so that each adjustment has a dedicated measurement point utilizing calipers, there is never any opportunity for variance from the actual position due to a visual scale and indicator arrow like many designs.  Here I'm setting the rear axel position to our intended 68mm of bottom bracket drop.  The "T" allen wrench in the bottom of the picture is moving the tower using an internal lead screw, so you are not fighting gravity or friction when trying to dial in the position.
Once the front and rear axels are in the correct position, the axel to crown and offset are set.  Here I'm setting the axel to crown...there are three pin placements for the blue pin from which to utilize dependant on the length of the fork you want to design around.  In this case, I need an axel to crown of 14.44".  The first pin placement has a value of 12 inches, so I need to add 2.44 with the caliper adjustment to achieve my correct dimension...
Once the atc is locked down, the offset is then adjusted...
Then I simply drop the main beam until the pin on the back side of the offset plate touches the top of the "L" which represents the axel centerline and those are all set.

I can then adjust my seat and head tube angles, once again utilizing the calipers and the degree equivelency chart.  Setting the head tube angle to 73.25 degrees...
and the positioning for setting the seat tube angle...
With those set, the last adjustment is to dial in the effective top tube length using the lead screw in the rear of the fixture and I'm good to go :)

So let's start cutting some's some head tube stock in it's raw form, measured and ready for the cold saw.
and making the cut...
Facing the ends in the lathe requires three steps; facing, deburring the internal edge, deburring the exterior edge...
Then the internal diameter is bored out to accommodate the correct press fit for the headset.  As I'm using a raw stock, I then turned down the center outside diameter, leaving the ends thicker to handle the stress, to relieve a bit of weight and give the headtube a nice look...

Checking for the correct wall thickness...

In the true sense...matter never is destroyed, it just changes form ;)
Moving on to the main triangle today.


Wednesday, July 28, 2010

Finders Keepers?

I've been blessed to have a customer base that spans the globe, literally, as I now have product in 28 countries.  As cool as that is, the one aspect of international business that I cringe in fear about is shipping.

After spending so much time on a bike/bar/fork/stem etc... it becomes like one of your children, and the thought of sending him/her out into the cruel shipping world, to be battered by those with little regard for the craftsmanship and care that we exhibit, can be stressful at times.

I've been very fortunate that in all these years, I've only lost three parcels.  One was a restored frame that I had sent to Germany that went missing for almost a year.  How do you replace a vintage frame?  I began looking for a similar frame from the same era with a promise to make it right, as working through the "insurance" of the shipping systems is a sour joke.  I was not having much success when the frame and fork miraculously showed back up on the doorstep of the shop.  Hooray!  A second attempt got it there in less than a week, go figure.

The second and third items were bars, one to the pacific northwest and one to England.
The England bar was for a German customer who was visiting his parents over the holidays when he saw the Black Friday scratch and dent sale.  Grabbing a bar at a reduced price, he was eager to receive it and mount it to his steed.  Weeks passed with no bar, months, then as time moved on we finally gave up and sent Dave a new bar in exchange for the lost one.  Bugger!  I could only imagine where it ended up...probably in a huge parcel cart at customs, sitting lonely and covered in dust with other packages that have met the same fate, awaiting some postal newbie with a pimply face and orange hair to immerse himself in the dark corner, ordered to sort out the lost parcels one rainy afternoon.

Now almost three years later, look what showed up :)

Thank goodness I've got one of the best packing chicks around in Christi, cause it still looks as good as the day it went out.

So, my good fortune is also yours.  Adopt this bar (26" black steel).  Write me a story of why you would be a fit parent and send it to by Sunday evening and we'll award guardianship to some lucky reader.  Remember, gotta be a "follower" of the blog to qualify.  Good luck!


PS...Cibi, please send me an email with your current addy, I've still got the last contest winnings in a box for ya :)

Friday, July 23, 2010

shops a rollin...

Despite being on vacation from the fire department, I still got called back to work the last two days.  I stumbled out of there at noon yesterday and met Christi at the shop for some office work and shipping.  Though I didn't feel like I got a lot accomplished, I was pleased to see the new shop progressing while I was away...

The guys were able to get the excavation done, the footers poured and the block started.

As a guy who is used to doing all his own construction work, it feels a bit odd having someone else do it, but then again, they'll have it done in 3 months whereas it would take me much longer ;)

Bike build pics tonight before I have to to back in to the FD again :(


Wednesday, July 21, 2010

Monday lesson learned...

You know how you get a little complacent about the details, particularly safety items, when you perform a certain activity or process with great frequency?  Well, I had fate jump up an bite me a bit this week.

A number of years ago I got out of the habit of using gloves when tig welding on thin steel, partly because it's low amperage, low heat and I like the increased dexterity...mostly because it's easier not to pull them on.  I know, it's really just pure laziness.  I've never really had an issue until just the other day when the heat and humidity conspired to reaffirm a few points I'd become rusty on...

#1... when it's hot out, your skin expresses water through it's pores (even your hands)
#2... water is a better conductor of electricity than steel
#3... electricity follows the path of least resistance
#4... it hurts, like real bad, to have electricity run through you instead of the work piece.

So, points made, here's what happened.  I was welding up a fixture piece for Chad's build, sweating my arse off, when I hit the pedal to start a new bead...Wizzzap!  The arc, instead of establishing on the work piece, jumped across the handle and into my moist, un-clad hand that was holding the tig torch.  You can see the entry point below in the form of the dead, lumpy nodule...
and the path the electricity took through my hand to ground, indicated by the dark streak of bruising...
Lesson reaffirmed - wear gloves dumb ass.


Monday, July 19, 2010

Thorn Time Trial

What can I say...Sunday's time trial at Findley State Park was a hoot.

The day dawned early for all the folks at 331 Racing as we hit the park en mass to set up for a beautiful day filled with racing and smiles.  By the time I arrived at 0900, the guys and gals had most of the start area ready to go with just a final check out ride to confirm the directional markings to be completed.

Nab and his crew had done a spectacular job getting the trail ready, but Mother Nature had cursed us with a hour long down pour the night before.  Kevin and Mike C. returned from the check out ride looking quite a bit dirtier than they left a mere hour before, but the sun was in full force and fingers were crossed that the few wet spots would succumb to the heat and yield a dry, tacky trail.

With a 115 riders of all abilities ready to go, a printer error delayed the start a good 45 minutes...really a double edged sword.  The participants were gracefully patient and were rewarded with much better trail conditions once finally released from the start area.

The race it's self was quite rewarding, as regardless of ability, each racer could ride to the pinnacle of their skills in a match against the clock.  From Expert to first time racers in blue jeans and converse tennies, most everyone had a grand time.

Team Groovy did really well.  Jeff returned from his extended family vacation to turn in a solid performance.  Despite hitting the ground on three occasions (sampling trail conditions I'm sure) he turned in the winning time for the Under 35 Expert class.

Steve was dismayed with his performance...riding the course for the first time and confident that he did not ride well, he surprised only himself with his 2nd place finish, the rest of us knew he'd kill it.

Cary continued to represent with a blazing fast time for the over 35 Expert class, riding away with a 1st place.  Although he did not meet his personal goal, to finish before his wife Andrea hit the trail for her personal time trial, he still broke out his characteristically subdued smile at the end.  Andrea really stroked the pedals and charged all the way across the finish line...not bad for a slightly older than twenty something mom who only likes to ride downhills :)  Maybe will be lucky and catch their oldest daughter Sidney on the trail for the next race, hint hint.

Kalten spun out the 9 miles on his single speed, carving up the turns and finishing a respectable third in the 18 and under Sport class despite taking a wrong turn for 300 yards and having to retrace his steps back to the proper trail branch.  The necessity of proper maintenance was reaffirmed, as he lost his chain twice on the fast rooty down's always the mechanic's kid's bike that is in the worst shape ;)

It was great to see so many new faces out enjoying the venue.  If y'all enjoy the trail systems we have in our state parks, make sure to drop a line to the State Park office an email of appreciation, user feedback is so important.

Congrats to Tracy... a first time racer, although she posted the slowest time on the course, she was rewarded with a Groovy Luv Handle for her effort.

Hope to see everyone out at Manatoc on September 4/5...


pics stolen from 331's Facebook page...thanks guys!

Saturday, July 17, 2010

July Ti bars shipping Monday

A quick update for y'all...

armed with a wild cherry/blue raspberry slushy and a good nights sleep, I worked my way through the heat and finished up the Ti bars for July on Friday and Saturday. Here's a group ready for bead blasting and final polishing...

I'm serving the man, working a night shift at the fire department tonight, then off to Findley State Park for the Thorn time trial tomorrow, the first stop on the NEO Power series race tour.  This trail is flat to rolley, fast, and should be a hoot.  Don't let the temps keep you away, as the start/finish will be right next to the beach for a quick cool down.  We already have 60+ pre-registered...come out and join the fun with Groovy, Chipotle, Soupcan Insoles, Gamesnake, The Edge Outdoors, and Monster, brought to you by 331 Racing Promotions.

 See y'all tomorrow,


Thursday, July 15, 2010

It was a hard decision...hit the trail or the paint booth early to beat the heat, 'cuz neither is fun when it's 95 degrees with like 100% humidity.

Ultimately, the paint booth won, as I'm better at self imposed guilt than playing hooky.

I finished up the final two clear coats on Todd's Yo and BOI fork.  They came out really nice, should be one sweet ride once built up.

I then ran to the paint shop to begin matching up some color chips for Sue's upcoming road build.  She was kind enough to sacrifice her kitchen ware for inspirations sake...

Now to rack my brain and come up with a cool pattern to work them together on her frame.

I also began parting Ti and welding steel end caps for the July bar run...kept at it til the sweat dripping off my nose into my weld helmet got too distracting :)

I finished up the day finalizing the building plans for the new shop speaking with contractors to insure all was in order...we break ground on Monday!

Funny how when it's all staked out, it does not look very big.  Once the framing goes up, I'm sure that will all change.  Shop will be a "L" shape, with the main rectangle being the shop and the small leg the office space...if you squint real hard you can kinda sorta see it (it doesn't help that I cut the picture off, oops)

Ti bars tomorrow, see ya!


Wednesday, July 14, 2010

Todd's Yo part deux

Ok, Todd has been patiently waiting for his 2.5 years, and gave me a lot of levity in how to paint it up.  The only parameters were that he wanted something a bit funky that was a little different from every other Yo you see out there.  Can do.

Yesterday, I left you off with the masks finally dialed in.  After cutting up a bunch of these then spending a good hour hunched over the desk, weeding out the masking while trying to keep the sweat from dripping on them, I started applying them to the frame...
Once the masks were on, the frame was sprayed in metallic silver again to seal in the edges and prevent any color bleed from the next layer. 

On goes the black...
I then added some brush strokes that will be less bold than the masked areas and help blend in the effect  Here she is all ready for the color layers...
I had intended on working in a candy pink color, but the opacity of the white used in the mix just did not let the metallics come through as well as I desired.  I stepped back and decided to let inspiration move me.  Pulling a 3D Violet and Turquoise blue I had mixed up to match some 90's anodized components, these two faded together beautifully to make one heck of a finish...
 A shot of the head tube...
and some close ups...

Of course, it looks so much better in person.  I was hoping that it would be well received by someone other than me, and when Kalten walked in...

"Whoo, that is sooo cool!"

I've got another layer of clear to do in the morning, let her sit for a couple of days, then she'll be ready to send off.

I've taken three days of vacation off from the FD so I can have a concerted time to focus on Chad's build...although he's not waited 2.5 years like Todd, he's been patient and quiet as a monk.  So here's how the rest of the month will play out...

Tomorrow - Final clear on Todd's frame and Cary's fork crown
Friday - Finish 6 Ti bars
Chad's road frame
Tony's 650b (yes it's true Tony, it's FINALLY time)
Reggies LD stem
Sue's road frame