Friday, August 5, 2016

Frame's part of long term business

Whether you have been active in the niche of custom bicycles for a few years or decades, eventually stuff breaks and your creations will find their way back to you for repair.

Creating a sustainable business plan to deal with these, supporting the customer, will build confidence in your customer base and garner long term support.

Check out this short video that looks at the replacement of fatigued tubing/dropout and the business discussion that follows.

This blog has always served as an tool for sharing and teaching the art of custom bicycle fabrication...if there are topics you would like to see visited, please let me know...


Monday, July 18, 2016

How to create custom graphics...

One of the most enjoyable parts of building custom bicycles is the ability to bring the customer's personality out in the finish work.

In this short video, I'll share the process of creating hand drawn graphics and making them a reality in paint.




Tuesday, April 19, 2016

Titanium Filler Wire Supply...Industry Pricing

Industry Pricing on Titanium Filler Wire:

G&S Titanium of Wooster specializes in titanium wire drawn products.  During the late 80’s and 90’s, they were one of the small cadre of companies from Wooster that specialized in supplying  bicycle OEM manufacturers with everything from weld wire, to bolts, and custom machined products.

Long a provider only to large OEM companies, they want to begin to reach out to the smaller manufacturers of titanium bicycles as part of a new direct to consumer business plan.  Over the last 2 months I have worked with Tyler LaFave, the head sales representative, to establish pricing for DOMESTIC 6/4 Ti filler wire.

All materials are produced and drawn here in the US:

Ti 6-4 Eli
AWS A5.16-13 ERTI-23
- .030" X 36" S/L -    $75.00/lb.
- .035" X 36" S/L -    $75.00/lb.
- .046" X 36" S/L -    $70.00/lb.
- .063" X 36" S/L -    $65.00/lb.

A three pound minimum order is required.

Any builder with liability insurance and a business license is qualified to order.

Please contact Tyler directly to begin a relationship with this excellent company:

Tyler LaFave
Sales, G&S Titanium

It is my hope that this effort will create a sustainable supply with consistent pricing to the handbuilt industry.



Wednesday, February 24, 2016

Soft Jaws...they're not just for pudding anymore

Though the process of creating a custom bicycle varies from customer to customer, the basic components are the same, allowing the use of dedicated tooling to be created.  Often this tooling is designed with a range of variability so that minor changes in design can be accommodated.

Production work, however, necessitates that dedicated, fixed position equipment be used to ensure accurate, repeatable results from piece to piece.

Today, I want to talk about the importance of "soft jaws".  Soft jaws are replaceable tooling that hold a part for machining, often not heat treated, allowing the operator two distinct advantages; the ability to shape the jaws to perfectly fit the piece being machined.  Secondly, the shaped clamping surface provides greater surface contact allowing for a less robust clamping surface, leaving no impressions on the finished part.

The example we are going to look at here is a set of jaws that were shaped to accept the spider interface for the Hot Rod cranks.  In this case, the part is water jet cut to the rough dimensions and the center hole needs to be opened up to 24.02 mm and then face relieved a skoosh so that it is a tight slip fit over the bottom bracket spindle.
The base part, before machining
To place this part into a standard set of pointed hard jaws in a lathe makes concentricity difficult to attain part to part, as there is minimal surface contact between the jaws and the part to be machined.  I used a tool post grinder, mounted to the cross slide, to create a shaped opening in the face of the jaws, allowing me to have a surface that holds the part perfectly flat and concentric to the spindle for machining.

The lathe jaws, ground to accept the part
This shaping of the jaws permits a consistent origin point from which to begin the machining process, and contacts a majority of the outer surface leaving no clamping impression, therefore meeting our goals.

The part clamped and machined in the soft jaw
Whether in a vice, lathe, or in a fixture, precision soft jaws created for the operation are an asset to the fabricator and should be considered for any production piece.



Monday, January 18, 2016

Setting standards...

Forums are places where folks of like minds can gather to enthusiastically share their interests, hobbies, and professions.  The ironic twist with the niche of frame builders is that our numbers are so small, often pros, hobbyists, and lurkers share the same space.  Professionals who desire to mentor, share, and encourage others to begin the journey to mastery, struggle with how to set standards for acceptable practices.  Keeping "the bar raised" on what is to be considered the standard for quality is no easy task.

The issue with the internet, is that misinformation spreads like wildfire.  "Experts" are born behind a keyboard and within a short time, are establishing  facts that are anything but, only to have others pass it on.  The crux is when an experienced pro who knows better attempts to correct the misinformation, only to be barraged with negativity.  Soon, the experienced mentors retreat to their shops, frustrated and unwilling to make the effort again.  This is how the loss of knowledge begins in today's classroom of zeros and ones.

Enough time has transpired through many list serves/forums/pages that it has become clear to me that one can never remove the human element of ego and need for affirmation from discourse, regardless of the subject. Moderation can provide some constraint, but will never re-direct those who refuse to acknowledge or conform, regardless of the experience or knowledge possessed by those offering assistance. 

The best way to "keep the bar high" and provide the level of mentoring we wish to convey is to be the one on the field keeping the bar in place, setting the professional example. It takes time to be a presence, guide, mentor via the interwebs, and each of us must decide if that is within themselves to share and provide at the cost of time, frustration, and little thanks. 

A unified presence/effort by those that want to make a difference and see standards set is the tool to get this job done.

I'll continue to add my voice where appropriate and hope for a chorus and not an echo.