Thursday, December 21, 2006

Is that thing Ti?

I'm pretty sure those will be the four most commonly heard words directed at the new owner of this beauty.

Finally, some pictures of a complete 953 lugged bike. Sorry it took so long. One editorial note, I'm leaving the steerer uncut for the customer on this one, hence the goofy looking steerer in this picture.

It's a pretty flashy bike, decked out with all that Campy Carbon stuff, Eurus wheels, Carbon bars and post, and most importantly: a matching stainless steel headbadge!

I don't usually put tubing decals on my frames as I mix and match tubes quite a bit and I never felt the tubing mattered much to the finished product. But in this case I think an exception needs to be made. The stainless tubing is what makes this thing possible and besides, who can resist such a sparkly decal!

All the logos other than the 953 decal and the headbadge were etched into the frame. I had suspicions about how this would look, but in the end I'm quite pleased with it. All the lettering came out very crisp and clean. I enlarged my downtube logo a bit from my usual size. This helped fill the big 35mm downtube, but the larger font size makes the letting look more crisp as well. It shoudl hold up quite a bit better than any decal would as well. It's very difficult to scratch, I tried on a few test samples and the only way I could ruin it was to go over it with some kind of abrasive.

The owner requested his name etched into the top-tube as well, I thought that came out really nice. Hopefully he doesn't mind me showing the world his name.

The complete bike came in around 17lbs as shown (including those 2 weighty Record bottle cages!). Not bad for a lugged steel bike.

In other news, both bikes I posted last time are still up for grabs, Probably not the best time of year to be trying to unload a couple really nice bikes, but they're both really, really great deals. You know you want one.... buy 'em before they hit ebay!

Finished up another frame this week as well, a nice sport tourer. I added a couple of fun details to this one too. Here you see the top of the brake bridge with one of my "B" 's added on top. Then I brazed the headbadge on this one and will be masking the paint around it. Thought I'd try something different, I think it'll look pretty sweet after paint.

In addition, I'm getting better with my engraver, this one has the owner's name engraved on the BB shell right below the serial #. I had hoped to engrave my double "B" logo on the brake bridge, but by the time I got both B's on there, it was pretty darn small, I thought the raised letter was more visible.

Well, I'm about out of time today, Have a great Christmas everone and remember...

Buy my bikes!


Thursday, December 14, 2006

Still looking for that perfect gift?

Just in time for Christmas, I've decided I have too many projects and bikes hanging around the shop. Not to mention that developing this 29'er project and a custom fork crown have most of my monetary resources tied up right now, so a little extra cash couldn't hurt. Therefore I offer you the exceptionally unique opportunity to purchase a used Bob Brown Cycles bike or frame.

I've got 2 of them to offer right now, one for the roadies, one for the off-roadies.

First is BBC serial # 0304. it's a 60cm seat-tube x 57.5cm top-tube road frame. 73 degree parallel angles, 75mm drop, 41.5cm chainstays. The top-tube has a 2 degree upslope to get the bars up slightly higher than a level top-tube. Polished stainless lugs, Matching polished stainless lugged stem, polished S & S couplers and polished fork crown and all lettering on the frame is actual Sterling Silver leaf!

The tubing is Dedachiai Zero Uno (.8/.5/.8 wall). Lugs are Long-shen long points, hand filed to shape and hand polished. Rear dropouts are Henry James stainless with polished faces.
The paint is a custom mix, it's white with a metallic silver pearl over it. It's quite stunning in the sunlight.

The bike is overall in good shape, but the paint is starting to show signs of several years of traveling with me around the country. There are a few paint nicks and chips, I've taken close-up pics of the main offenders. Shown below, there's a good chip on the underside of the downtube that's been roughly covered with white paint (note the nice silver lettering). The top side of both seat-stays has a small chip above the dropouts from a packing incident. I simply wrapped this spot with white tape and it's pretty unnoticable, for the picture I obviously removed the tape. And the driveside chainstay has a couple bigger nicks shown below, towards the underside of the stay.

There's also a very small nick shown above at the edge of the top-tube coupler. This one is pretty minor, but it's on top of the top-tube, so I wanted anyone interested to know about it.

In addition, this was the first frame I clearcoated over the polished stainless lugs, which really brings out the shine in the stainless, however it had a downside on the seatlug and rear stem lug. The clearcoat doesn't adhere to the polished surface very well and I've had some chipping of the clear around the seatpost binder and the stem binder bolts. It's not noticeable from more than a foot away, but if you get in close to look, it's there.

I'm really focusing on the little flaws here because I want anyone who might buy this to know exactly what they're getting, but honestly this bike is still in pretty good shape, but it's not in show-room condition. I've been planning on refinishing it for about a year now and I'm realizing I just won't have time to do that for quite a while. It's still a great riding bike though, so I figured why not offer it up to someone in it's current state. I also couldn't bring myself to strip it down and do a full repaint quite yet because it's not _that_ bad and I hate to lose to beautiful Sterling Silver logos in the process.

Let's talk about how neat this bike still is. Even in it's current state, I get compliments on it wherever it goes. The lugged stem is a great finishing touch, and with the full silver Campy Record kit that is on it, it will turn heads.

The picture below shows the downtube lug and it really captures the look of the paint in the sunlight. Lots of silver sparkle, but overall still looks white.

The bike currently has a full Campy Record kit (9 speed) on it from 1999. It's the last generation campy with all polished aluminum parts and no carbon, which is why it's on here. Everything on the bike is polished basically. The wheels are 28 hole Record hubs with Sun Venus deep v rims (polished of course!). Bar is TTT Prima, Avocet saddle, Campy record post. Complete this bike weighs in at about 19.5 lbs, which isn't bad for an all steel S & S bike. It rides great. Anyone local to me is welcome to come over and check it out or take it for a spin. All components are in excellent condition both mechanically and cosmetically as are the S & S couplers.

I'm flexible on how it's sold, it could be a frame and fork, could be a whole bike if you want, or I can sell you whatever portion of the parts you want. If I were to recreate this frame and fork today it would have a price tag of about $2500, the stem would be $300, and the build kit would be another $2000. I'm thinking I'd like to get $1000 for the frame, fork,and stem or $2200 for the whole bike (minus seatpost, and pedals). I can make you an excellent deal on any S & S accessories you want to go with it as well.

Bike #2:

BBC serial # 1013 Headshok singlespeed S & S mountain bike!

Sorry for the crummy pics, I didn't take the time to setup a proper backdrop.

This one has a 19.5" seat-tube, 23.5" top-tube, 50mm BB drop, 72 degree head angle (with sag), 73 degree seat angle. The frame is very light, it's Columbus Foco mtb tubing, 35mm downtube, 31.8mm top tube, 28.6 mm seattube. Track dropouts with stainless steel faces (to prevent paint damage), wishbone style seatstays. Two panel BBC/Kenwood racing limited edition paintjob. Entire frame is fillet brazed. The fork is a cannondale Fatty SL, 70mm travel, damping dial with 5 position damping adjustment (including lockout). The fork was recently rebuilt with new seals so it should be good to go for a while. Air sprung, oil damped, very nice smooth action.
I also have a 50mm travel fork that matches this bike, if you prefer shorter travel and less weight, this is the option for you. This fork has modified steel legs and reduced height similar to the one shown here(scroll to the bottom of the page).

Here are a couple of closer shots. The paint is in great shape on this one, overall condition of the bike is excellent. This was designed and built as a very lightweight cross country racer. Therefore it's not the stiffest frame on earth, but it's very light and climbs great. If you want a bike for huckin' big gaps, this isn't it. It's a full-on race machine. Infact I rode this bike to a 3rd place solo finish at the 24 hours of Afton (as a singlespeed), and 2nd place team finish at 2 hours of 9 mile.
The parts are also quite light. Currently it's built up as follows:
Wheels: Rear- Ringle singlespeed freewheel hub, 28 hole laced to Velocity Razor rims (dark blue anno) with 15g spokes. Front- Real hub, laced to Velocity Razor rim (dark blue anno) 15g spokes. Tires Michelin Comp-S lites.
Cranks: Specialized cold-forged, the super-nice old style 110bcd cranks, very low Q, polished finish (note these cranks aren't shown in the above picture), Shimano UN72 BB
Stem: Cannondale Headshock, Bar: IRD Carbon Riser.
Brakes and levers: Cane Creek Direct Curve
Seatpost: Ritchey WCS, Saddle Bontrager Ti (I might want to keep those)
Headset: custom machined to fit headshok! Sealed bearings, aluminum cups.

All together the complete bike weighs in about 18.5lbs with the 70mm fork and S & S couplers! It's a little lighter with the short travel fork.

You might notice in the top picture I have 2 chainrings on it. I often did that for traveling as I could have a big gear for riding on the roads and a low gear for off-road. Sometimes I wouldn't know how much off-road riding would be available where I was traveling, so it was good to have a big gear to cruise the roads.

This is an absolute one of a kind bike. It is a used bike, so I won't offer any kind of warranty on it, but the frame is quite sound and will provide years of service if not abused. This is really the bike for a lighter weight finess rider who want's to go light and fast.

Again, anyone local to me is welcome to take it for a spin. Brand new this frame and fork would cost about $2500, parts are probably another $800. I'd take $1000 for the whole shebang (minus seat and post), which is a stellar deal. Or make me an offer. or if you want any other parts let me know, I can probably get them for you. Frame and fork and headset alone :$600

This one has just been hanging aroung the shop, there's nothing wrong with it at all, but at this point a complete and utter 29'er addict and I can't see that I'll use this one much anymore. If you want any S & S accessories I can make you a great deal on those as well.

email me with any questions


Wednesday, December 13, 2006

a few pics

Today I've finally got a few pictures of things.

First, let's start off with the 953 frame. Here's how it looks today, but it's going to change slightly. The customer decided to go for etching in the logo in the downtube instead of the black decals shown here. It will also be getting a stainless headbadge (see below).

My headbadges finally came in. Actually, they're just stainless letters, but I make 'em into headbadges. To the left is what the raw letting looks like. These can be brazed right onto the head-tube, or brazed to a stainless backing to make a more traditional looking badge.

To the right is what the final product looks like when brazed onto a backing and curved to match the headtube.

Cranked out another bedframe as well this past weekend. This one is a little different from the one I made for myself. The headboard is styles differently, and the frame comes apart into smaller sections (the house it's going into has a tough corner at the top of a set of stairs, so it needed to be reasonably compact). Once again, I like the look, industrial, but not overly so.

The frame is all 2" square tubing as usual, but the internal tubes of the headboard are 1" square. The two side beams are bolted to the headboard, and the foot beam is bolted to the two sides so the whole thing comes apart into 4 pieces. The finish is my usual black oxide coating hand rubbed into the steel, then clear lacquer over it to give it some shine and prevent any rusting. I like that finish because you can still see the shininess of the metal below, but it's nicely darkened. Looks much better than paint. Someday I should try it on a bike frame just for fun.

I've got one more like this to make, then hopefully an entertainment center. I think I'm going to be adding a page to my regular website with some of this kind of stuff on it for sale, so if anyone is interested, let me know. Doing some occasional projects like this is a fun diversion of frames once in a while.

I'm putting the final details into a nice little sport tourer frame this week too. Once I have that done, I'll probably have some time to crank out a couple more Route 29'er frames. busy, busy, busy!


Friday, December 08, 2006

long time, no write.

I haven't had the time or the inclination (at least not at the same time) to write here lately. I was out of town for 5 days at Thanksgiving, then got sick at the end of that trip. Spent most of the next week in bed, then had to leave town again. Fun stuff.

But that's not to say that a lot hasn't happened. Sure being sick and out of town slows me down, but I've still managed to get a few things done.

First off I had the good fortune to finally get to meet up with Doug Fattic over Thanksgiving. He lives about 25 miles away from my in-law's in MI, so while we were over there, I made a trip over to his shop. For those who don't know, Doug is another framebuilder, located in Niles MI. His work all looked great, and he's known more for his painting skills. We spent quite a bit of time talking paint since there are so few that actually do paint. He's got a pretty killer set-up for a shop, he owns 7 acres of land right in town with a lovely old farmhouse on it. Then there's a 1100 sq. ft. concrete out-building a couple hundred feet away in which is his shop. So his commuite is a short walk out in the yard.
He's got a tremendous amount of equipement sqeezed into that building too. I always thought I was kind of an equipment whore, but he's got me beat by a good amount! Toys everywhere, and he knows how to use them. I guess that's part of teaching framebuilding classes, you need to have stuff for multiple people to use at the same time.

It was a great visit, I really enjoyed talking to Doug and hearing some of his stories from England in the 70's where he learned to build. He's a great guy and for anyone looking to take a framebuilding class, I would highly recommend his. He knows what he's doing and has a good teaching background.

Lets see, what else....

I finished up the first Route 29'er (that's the name of the production bikes) prototype and it's out for powdercoating right now. I'm pretty axious to see the results. It was a tough decision to go with powdercoat because in general I'm not a fan of powder over lugs. The powder finish is thicker and tends to obscure the detail on the lugs. However it's also very durable and considerable cheaper/faster than wet-paint which is pretty attactive for this application. I've got most of the graphics worked out for the decals, so I'll have those on order soon.

I promised the owner of the 953 frame I'd put some more pictures up here of the completed frame, so I'll have some next week. I'm etching in the logos on the frame instead of using decals. It looks really nice.

Headbadges! Yes, they came in early. Again, I'll have pictures soon, but they're nice, cut stainless with my overlapping "B" logo. Should be a nice touch on future frames.

Engraving. I am finally figuring out how to use my Pantograph machine and it's working pretty well. I engraved the serial Number and owner's name on the BB shell of my most recent build with good results. I'm still working on figuring out how the cleanly engrave wide block letters so I can recreate my logo on more items, but I'm getting close. I think once I get my micro end-mill adaptor made, that should solve my problems. Again, pictures soon. I made up a nice little jig to hold BB shells on the engraving table, now I need a small rotary table on there, so I can put my name on the raised dropout faces!

Crowns: I made more modifications to my crown design based off the prototype, thickened up a few areas, and increased the size of the fork blade ports slightly to fit more blades. I also shortened the overall height, which I feel makes it look better. I also changed the width, so the front and back of the crown are parallel with a small radius out at the steerer tube area.

Other stuff:

I'm hoping to crank out a couple more steel bed frames this weekend. People have been seeing the one I made for Beth and myself and liking it, so I'm making more. I'll probably add some pitcures to the website soon, under a class of "other stuff I build". There's a growing number of things that fall into that category, and I think I'd like people to know about them. I've got another entertainment center to build for our living room coming up and a few other small ideas I'd like to see come to fruition.

Are bike builders all audio nuts too? I've noticed this trend, I know Curt G is into nice audio stuff, while I was Doug Fattic's shop I noticed some ADS monitors in the shop, which are aweful nice for an industrial setting. It's one of my older passions. I started building speakers in college and still enjoy it (although I don't have much time for it now). My Jetta has a pretty swell combination of parts in it, but recently I had been really annoyed at mystery noises and speakers cutting out. So I finally took things apart one night last week and found a loose connection in one of the cross-overs for the front components and a loose voice-coil dust cover in one of the speakers. A few minutes with the soldering iron and some super-glue and things were instantly improved. I'm still amazed at the sound from the ADS 320 components I've got in there. They're 17 years old now and still have the clearest sounding vocal range of anything I've heard. Had to repair the flexible surrounds twice in that time, but otherwise they seem to hold up great, that's amazing for a set of speakers that have been in and out of 4 different vehicles now.

I've been having issues with our home stereo too. Actually not the stereo, but one amp in particular. I've got an older Audiosource amp in there running the masive 4th order bandpass sub I built into the bottom of the entertainment center. Well, somewhere inside that amp is a power relay that isn't funtioning right, so it only turns on occasionally. I hear it click in and out when it actually decides it wants to turn on, but I can't find the stupid thing. Once the amp is on, it works great, but it just doesn't come on very often. I need to tear into it a but further, but in the meantime I found another solution. I picked up a set of Def-tech 2002's off ebay which were in terrible cosmetic condition, but all the drivers and amps are perfect. Thankfully that made them sell for a song. So I'll be refurbing those and putting them in the living room. That solves 2 problems, the first if the mystery amp power thing, since these have built-in poweder subs, I won't need my external sub amp. Secondly, we both want a new entertainment center, but I've been hesistant to build it because the sub for our existing sound system is incorporated into the base of our existing entertainment center. I was going to have to cut up the existing one and remove the sub, than make a new, nice looking enclosure for it and place that in the room. With the sub built into the new speakers, that problem is solved too.
Anyone local want a fairly nice hand-made solid Aspen entertainment center with a really good sub suilt into it? you'll want a new amp : )

I promise pictures next week. Really.


Monday, November 20, 2006

Showin' and tellin'

Today's edition will be complete with full color photos, something which is becoming a rare treat around this blog.

As I said earlier, my first prototype crown showed up. Here it is in all it's glory:

As I mentioned in previous posts, this one isn't perfect and I'm going to have to do some work with the supplier. The lower span that connects the steerer to the fork blade is below spec. thickness, and the steerer tube bore is under spec as well. In addition, now that I see it in person I have a few ideas on making it slightly more visually appealing without complicating it. I think I'm going to have the from and back face machined down parallel to each other, and put a radius out to the center section (where the steerer goes).

I heart Richard Sachs Lugs:

Quite literally in this case. The customer wanted Richard's lugs, but with the cut-outs changed to look more like hearts. Richard has a geometric shape cast in that's kind of a stylized heart. The customer wanted a more literal interpretation, so I added some brass to fill in parts of the window and re-filed things to what you see here.
I like how the shape of the cut-out follows the shape of the lug edge so nicely.

Richards lugs are really nicely done, simple and tasteful, but with enough room to be a bit creative. I like 'em. These should make for a nice sport-tourer with a little extra flare.

29'er talk:
Yup, here's the first prototype of these too. Can you tell I've been busy?
This one isn't exactly how the finished product will look as they'll have sliding rear dropouts, but it's a close appoximation. It's not quite done here, I still need to add the brake bosses, bottle bosses and cable stops, but you get the idea.
It's fully lugged, clean and tidy, just how I like my bikes. The sliding dropouts will be about the cleanest you've seen, I've been working hard to make them match the style of the bike.

I'm glad I went through the process of building this one up front, I came across a couple of snafu's that slowed me down and I was able to work on ways to solve them now, rather than on a finished frame. This one will just be for show to give the shop an idea of what to expect. They're double oversize tubes, 31.8 top and seat-tube, 35mm downtube. S-bend seatstays and chainstays for great tire clearance, disc and rim brake compatible, suspension corrected for an 80mm travel fork (they'll probably have the Reba or White Bros fork stock).

These are the dropouts I had originally spec'd as I thought the socket style would go nicely with the lugged frame and they'd save me time by not having to file scallops in the dropouts. Well, I used 'em here since I don't have the sliders in yet and I'm glad I'm not using them for the rest. First off, they have 14mm chainstay ports, which is perfect for the 4 year old Columbus mtb chainstays I have, but Columbus changed their stays to a 12.5mm tip now and my stock of old ones is almost gone. So that would be a big hassle. Secondly these really didn't save me much time over regular flat plate dropouts. By the time I smooth the braze around the seat-stay adjustable socket, I could have finished a set of regular dropouts. But on the plus side, they do look pretty good overall, and I like the cast-in disc tabs.

So I'm one step closer to these things being reality, but there are still a few kinks to work out.

and finally, here's a link to a nice video of the state CX race:

About 3/4 of the way through is a nice pan of me rounding the corner into the creekbed dismount. Look for the gold skinsuit. Lots of good footage out there!


Friday, November 17, 2006

recap -o- the week

I haven't had much time to write here this week, so I'll condense things down.

Last weekend was the state cx race, it was fantastic as usual. Lots of volunteer here, and tons of work put in by the Vitch. Thanks Vitch!
I headed out Friday afternoon to help put poles in the ground for all the snow fencing we were going to install on the course. I had no idea what we were in for. The "stakes" were steel sign posts (like the stuff that holds up stop-signs) and the city gave us one slide hammer to install them with. It was a pile of work, well mostly for the Vitch and Ezra as Ez kept telling me not to do the pounding because he thought my shoulder was still too injured. But eventually as they got tired, I took over and put my share into the ground. We got it all up before dark and it looked great. I had to high-tail it back to St. Paul though as I had a show to get ready for.

Packed up all my drums and other gear in the car, loaded up the other guys cars, and we headed out to the Guthrie. We got there a little early, so we parked out by the loading dock and waited. Didn't take more than 2 minutes and a security guard was out there to ask what we were doing. We explained and he let us go, but told us to be sure to move our cars as soon as we were unloaded. They're on top of things at the Guthrie, especially on opening night of a play.
We got unloaded and moved all our gear up to the Bar. It sure looked like a lot of stuff in a tiny space sitting in the bar, but once it was unpacked and set-up we seemed to fit in the space quite well.

We started playing early because it turned out the new show was shorter than expected and they wanted us playing when the show let out. So about 9:30 we started off gently. We kept the sound a bit low for the first hour as we didn't know how things would sound in the long, narrow space we were playing in. But as things went on, we got louder and more into our usual deal, and the people were still diggin' it. We ended up playing for almost 2 1/2 hours (with one good break) which is a hugely long time for us. All seemed to go great though, people thought the sound was good and we certainly had a blast. The bar did a good business, so everyone was happy. In the end, the Guthrie folks seemed thrilled by our turnout and performance and said they'd like to have us back again. We can't wait.

So after packing up all our stuff and getting home, I managed to get to bed about 2am. Slept till about 8:30 and that was all I had in me. I'm just not very good at sleeping in, I don't like trying to sleep when there's daylight. So I got up, feeling mighty tired, had my morning bowl of Lucky-Charms and figured I better head over to the 'cross race to help out. I got my stuff all set, headed out to the garage and promptly remembered I had a car full of drums out there that I had to empty before I could leave. Sigh.

Unloaded that, loaded up a bike and a bunch of warm clothes and headed out. Things were pretty under control at the race, so I helped out with a little last minute course marking and watched the C race start. I had made up my mind before I left that I wasn't going to race on account of how tired I felt. But that was before the Kenyan showed up. He shows up at the race and promptly spends the next half hour talking me into racing, so I go register and change my clothes just in time to get to the start line.
I figured I'd just hang out in back, ride the race, finish and feel like I accomplished something. That was my plan anyways, but I'm not very good at sticking to a plan like that. The gun went off (metaphorically speaking) and I was near the back, riding down the first straightaway. Already I was frustrated with people and feeling the need to move up, so I did. I started passing people, mostly on the runs, and I just never seemed to stop. By the third lap I actually felt pretty good, but the whole time I had the thought in the back of my head that all I had eaten all day was a bowl of lucky charms, and that wouldn't sustain much.

Side note: I had blown up the bearings in my usual Cane Creek CX rear wheel, so I needed a replacement singlespeed wheel and had brought my Stan's wheels with, complete with the Crow's mounted. I had been thinking I wanted to see how they worked for CX, and here was my chance! Believe it or not, that wheelset with those fat tires weighs virtually the same as my racing CX wheels with 27c tires.

Those tires turned out to be just the ticket for ths course. There were plenty of bumpy grass sections and washboard dirt roads, and these things just flew. This was the first cx race I had ever done on a singlespeed where I passed people on the gravel road section on every lap. It all just worked and I just kept hitting it with everything I had left.

I started really feeling the effects of my complete lack of preparations with 1.5 laps to go. The legs started feeling rubbery, but I figured this was the end of the season, so why not just push through it. The barriers and runup actually kept feeling better and better for me throughout the race, it was the flat grassy sections with the headwind that really took it out of me.
In the end I finished, 18th. Yup, that guy listed as #186 in the results is me, guess Billy didn't feel like putting in my name! I was in the back 20 or so people, so that means I passed about 40 something people in the race, no wonder I never felt like I was riding alone.

It was really good for a race I wasn't going to do.

This week I've been stocking up on shop-time. I'm working on several frames right now, and nearly have the first prototype 29'er frame done! That one has gone really quite well, despite a few set-backs. I wanted to see what glitches I might run into that will slow me down building these, and after this first one I think I'd identified most of them and I'm well on my way to having them solved. More details on that later.

I got my first sample of the new fork-crown. Came in Wednesday. It looks really cool and the fit and finish seem good, but there were 2 areas that were off substantially in dimension. There hole for the steerer tube was .015" undersize in one axis and one of the cross sections was too thin. Despite that, the look is good, and it definitely looks viable, I just need to get these Q/C issues resolved. I also have another possibility of getting them made locally, which would be awesome.

I've had a few folks bugging me to post some pictures of the completed 953 frame and I will. I've been waiting for my new headbadges to come in before I took final pictures of it, but I'll try to get some of the whole frame so you can see what it looks like complete.

That's about all for now.


Thursday, November 09, 2006

more rambling

So apparently the Guthrie has a daily internet scanner that crawls the web looking for any new text with the word Guthrie in it. I know this because I met with the nice fellow from the Guthrie again yesterday to actually get the correct tour of the space and he was pretty embarrassed because appearantly many of his co-workers were filled in on my last blog entry. I think I've used the word Guthrie enough in this first paragraph that this entry should also show up on their daily scanner, so I just wanted to say, sorry James, but your tour was fantastic and someone over there should give you a raise for having to put up with people like me! Thanks for the opportunity to play.

One more note probably worth saying, for those thinking about coming to the show Friday, we'll be up in the Target Lounge. When you walk in take the very long escalator to your right up, then take a left at the top and we'll be in the lounge area just up on your right.

The weather was crazy nice here the last couple days. I think it hit 70 yesterday. I was able to sneak out for a short ride yesterday in the warmth, it felt great riding in shorts and short sleeves. I was hoping to ride a little dirt as I love fall mountain biking, but they had Battle Creek closed again this week for a controlled deer hunt, and I didn't feel like going farther that that, so I took out the road bike. I've been really diggin' my road bike again, now that I finally figured out what was creaking on it. All summer it had this creak, once per pedal stroke, seemed like the BB, but amazingly it would usually go away when I got out of the saddle. I must have greased everything in the drivetrain, seatpost, saddle and pedals to no avail. Things like that really bug me, I mean enough that I didn't even want to ride the bike. It's not necessarily the sound that bugs me either, it's the principle. It's like a sign that my bike isn't perfect, and I can't figure out how to fix it. That bugs me to no end because I like to think (yes, I have some ego issues) that I can fix anything, especially on a bike.
Well, I finally found the creak, it was the stem clamp on the steerer. All the bolts were dry just the slight shifting my weight when pedaling was enough to make it creak. Greased everything up and it's been beautifully silent since. I love a really quiet road bike, it just seems right.

I probably don't have to tell anyone reading this, but this weekend:

This is it, the last MN race of the year, the State Championships. Git yerself down to Basset Creek Saturday to race, volunteer or just spectate. It'll be bigger than ever and you'll be kicking yourself until next Buck Hill season if you don't show up.


Tuesday, November 07, 2006

Short stories

Two kind of funy stories today. First off, it's November 7th, get' yer arse out and vote. Please.

First story has to do with voting. I went to my polling place to do my civic duty. As usual there were quite a few seniors there and there was a small line. I signed the form and got my ballot, then proceeded to get in line for a booth. The kind woman directing the line said a few times that the new electronic polling machine was available, but nobody would use it. The polling had been open for almost 5 hours and she said only one person had used it.

So I said," I'll give it a shot, is it self-explanatory?" All the seniors in line looked at me like I was a crazy fool, trusting a machine to fill in the little circles for me! As soon as I sat down at the machine I could tell, all eyes were on me. It was very simple, feed your ballot in and then it walks you through each item on the ballot one screen at a time. You simply touch the person you want to vote for on the screen, it highlights that person and you touch another button on the screen to move onto the next question. At the end it gives you a summary page to check your selections, then it prints right on the regular ballot card, filling in the circles you noramally would with a pencil. Then it kicks out the ballot, you can look at it and check it over, then put it in the ballot box to be couted just like everyone else.

The volunteers were thirlled that someone had actually used the computer. It really wasn't anything special, it wasn't any easier or harder than filling the thing out by hand (unless you really hate filling in circles with a pencil). But each screen was really clear and obvious as to what you were voting on. I could definetly see how it scares off people who don't use computers, but come on folks, this is 2006 I'm not one of 2 people in my polling district who have ever used a computer. Try it out, you might like it!

Story Two:

As you know my band, Derailleur has a show this Friday night at the new Guthrie theater. The guy who set-up the show had asked me to meet him today at 11:30 to go through where to load in, where we'd set up, etc... That's an unusual amount of forethought for the type of places we usually play, but this is the Guthrie, so I figured it was ok and I agreed to meet him.

So I get there at 11:30 and the guy is running a little late. Once he shows up, I introduce myself as Bob and he says "Oh I thought you were scheduled for noon." I told him I had 11:30 on my calendar, but whatever, I'm flexible. So he seems kind of flustered and says, how about a tour of the place first, then we'll meet one other person to discuss things. I'm thinking ok, how much can we really need to"discuss", but a tour sounds cool, so sure. So he proceeds to give me a full tour of the whole new building, behind all the stages, each theater, all the costume and prop building areas, the works. I'm thinking, man this is great, then he says we're going to lunch!

The whole thing is odd. I mean he never mentioned where we'd be playing during the tour, we went through several bars. I even ran into my Cousin Ann (hi Ann! Thanks for letting me know about this opportunity) along the tour and we talked about the fact that Derailleur would be playing Friday night and she'll bring some folks over after the show. Next he says, it's time for lunch, which kind of shocks me. So we sit down to lunch at the restaurant on site and he starts askingabout my connections to the Film Board, and such. I'm like, ahh I don't have any connection to the film board.... Then it all came together and I said "I don't think we're having the same meeting!" His eyes opened up really big and he figures out who I am and has a moment of panic because he's appearantly supposed to be meeting a memeber of the Film Board who is also named Bob at noon! He forgot about me coming in at11:30 and assumed I was the Noon Bob. So he's really embarrassed, I'm really embarrassed, I tell him he better get to his meeting, and I'll take off. I just ask him to email me specifics of what we need to do Friday.

I left to go back to work to find out I had a parking ticket because his tour took over 30 minutes and I figured I'd be in and out in about 15. damn.

He called me back later and felt really bad about the error, which was really an honest mistake. Heck I got a really cool tour out of the deal, so I wasn't too worried about it. We got our arrangements sorted out and all's good.

What an odd day.

please vote today. really.


Friday, November 03, 2006

many small topics

It's Friday and what better way to end the week than to recap a bunch of smaller things that occurred this week.

1. Let's start with some shameless self-promotion, rock-n-roll style. The "worlds greatest rock band" Derailleur has a big gig coming up. We're going to be playing at the new Guthrie Theater's lounge next week Friday (Nov 10th) after the opening night of their latest play EDGUARDO MINE. We'll be the only act, so it'll be a Friday night of acoustic and electric tunes, 2 full sets in a clean nice lounge setting. In otherwords, pretty much unlike any derailleur show prior. I don't think there's a cover and we'll go on around 10:15 and probably play all night if you can take it.

2. Hot tub is in and on! Finally got the electrical straightened out, there was an airlock in the circulation pump preventing water from getting pumped to the heater and the heater had a second hidden reset button on it that isn't mentioned in the manual. Thanks to the Hot Springs Dealer for showing me how to reset that.

3. 953 frame is getting the final surface finish, it looks good! Most of the parts are in, once I clear-coat the fork it will just about be ready to go out.

4. Headbadges! yes, people have been asking me for these for a while. I'm finally having a batch made up. They'll be cool, trust me, and hopefully will provide me a template for making an engraving stencil so that I can do more logo engraving on misc parts with my new engraver.

5. BB Fork Crown?!? Yes, rumors are true, I've been working on a super-custom, super bbbb type fork crown for a while. I've gone through about 5 design iterations now and supposedly the first prototype for inspection will be shipping to me next week! It'll be wide, mtb style, Bridgestone inspired, but with improvements to make it stronger and fit more modern frames/tires.
Here are a couple of images of the 3D design. It has lots of room for customizing and a nice flat surface on top for engraving my logo on both sides. My hope is to use these on the 2nd semi-production 29'er frame (the rigid singlespeed) and to offer a rigid fork option for the geared, suspension corrected frames. This will give me a way to make a fork that fits with the theme of the fully lugged frames.

Hopefully, if the prototypes pass testing, I will have these early next year. One note to other framebuilds whom I know read this, please don't bother asking about buying these yet. I'm not in a position to sell them to other builders yet, but I'll let folks know if/when that might happen.
I'm really excited about this project and hope it pans out. It's take a lot of work to design this in a manner in which it's affordable to manufacture in smaller quantities.

6. Semi-production frames are getting closer. First round will be a geared, suspension corrected 29'er, fully lugged, classically styled, and with some really clean and tidy looking sliding horizontal dropouts. That will make it a pretty darn good all-around frame, run it geared, run it single, suspended, or get a cool suspension corrected rigid fork from me. Run discs geared or single (with disc mounts on the sliding dropout), or v-brakes or canti's. Look for 'em at The Route this winter/spring. Or hopefully at the Minnepolis Bike and Travel Expo.

7. State 'cross race is coming up, get ready!


Tuesday, October 31, 2006

953 part 3

I've got lots I could talk about here this week, but I guess I'll start with 953 stuff since I know there are quite a few people just checking for that. Here's the next round of pictures. The frame is actually finished now.

With the front triangle done and the dropouts in the chainstays, it's time to attach the rear triangle. I usually jig up the whole back end at one time, then tack it all. Chainstays to BB first, then seatstays to seatlug and seatstays to dropouts. The chainstays are very straightforward, seatstays take a little more time to jig up correctly. For this frame the customer wanted them fastbacked to the seatlug. The slant six seatlug has a lot of area on the backside perfect for this type of attachment. Mitering fastback seatstay can be tricky though. They're very time-consuming to do by hand and tough to get to match perfectly. It's easy to miter one stay to the tube, the hard part is making the other stay match in perfect symmetry. Fortunately for me, with my mitering arrangement I can miter the seatstays for fastback attachment on my horizontal mill and make them pretty much perfect on the first try, it's a huge timesaver over filing.

Here's how they looked mitered up. Sorry about the bad picture, it was taken with my phone, couldn't find the camera that day.

Once the seat-tube end is mitered up just right I make sure the dropout end is cut right and it's ready to tack. I tack everything in the jig to make sure the dropouts are in the right spot, then take it out, put it on the alignment table to measure it and once I'm sure it's dead on, braze everything up in a workstand.

Here's how it looks after removing the flux and hitting it with some 80 grit. There's virtually no way to file or sand between the stays, so you have to make sure you lay that silver in there perfectly with the torch. I kept the fillet as small as possible as I didn't want a large amount of silver showing around the seatlug (remember, no paint).

This is without a doubt the hardest brazing to pull off on the frame. The lug is brazed to the tubes with silver so you need to be very careful not to melt out that filler while brazing the seatstays onto the lug.

As you can see, I keep a uniform sized fillet all the way around the stays. That's not easy to do, but again, since there's no paint to hide anything I want it to look good. I want every detail of this frame to be as clean as possible and really show off the built.

And finally, here is how it looks after finishing up the seat-post clamping slot and cleaning up the seatlug.

One challenge that came up on a frame this size with compact geometry and 19mm seatstays is the length of the brake bridge. The rear end is very tight on this frame, 40.5cm chainstays and a sloping top-tube means the seatstays are quite short. When combined with the fastback attachment that makes a very tight area for the brake bridge.

The bridge that Reynolds sells with the tubing is great, perfectly machined, looks like it might be a Paragon Machine works bridge, but made from stainless. Unfortunately in this case I would have had to cut it down so much that it would be very difficult to braze it in without making a large fillet. I didn't want a lot of silver around the bridge because I felt it would detract from the look, so I made my own bridge that fit the bill better. I had to machine it from 1" round stainless stock, then mill off the faces to attaching the brake. Then I milled out the underside to keep it light. The nice part is I was able to machine it on my vertical mill to fit the stays perfectly, so when it's time to braze I was able to just sweat in silver and braze it in pace with virtually no exposed fillet. Very clean looking.

Here's the finished dropout treatment as well. I have to admit Reynolds did a nice job of sizing the dropout tabs to fit the tubes, I hardly had to file them at all to get to the finished shape shown here. The tabs match the OD of each tube exactly. I chose to file the tabs down to fit them inside the tube ends rather than my usual technique of slotting the tubing. This made for less exposed silver in each joint and a cleaner look.

Finally here's the fully built frame. I won't say it's finished because I still need to put the final finish on the stainless, but all brazing and filing are done. I'll have some pictures of the frame with the final finish in the next episode.

In other news....

I took yesterday afternoon off work, it was what will probably be the last really nice day of the fall. About 65 degrees and sunny with a forecast of 30 and windy the rest of the week. It was a moral imperative to go for a bike ride. So I broke out the fancy road bike and headed to Afton. Spectacular day for riding, wearing shorts and short sleeves felt great. I wish my legs felt as good, but they made it though and I felt really good at the end. Today it's 35 degrees out and windy as hell, glad I rode yesterday.

I also spent some time this weekend and yesterday working on the latest house project:

Yup, got a hot-tub. Never really thought I would, but the price was right, free. A huge thanks to my Sister-in-law's Dad who gave it to us. I had to put down a suitable pad to mount it on and I'll have to expand the deck slightly to give us a walkway. The pad went quickly but wiring it up has proven to be a challenge.

The thing has the craziest wiring I've seen. It comes stock set-up for 120v service, 20 amps. That's simple to hook-up, but it also limits the heater output and it can only run the pump or the heater, not both at the same time. So in an outdoor application the water would cool off pretty quick (especially in MN in the winter). So I followed the manufactures wiring diagram to convert it to 230v service. Well, they require a new bub-panel be installed in the vicinity of the tub, and that you have 2 GFCI breakers in that sub-panel, one of which is 120v, one is 240v. Very odd. To make it worse apparently every other hot-tub on earth just uses a single 50amp GFCI breaker in this sub-panel because they sell kits to accommodate that all over the place for pretty cheap. But the internal wiring in this baby is set up as two discrete circuits, a 20amp 120v and a 30amp 240v. None of the internal wiring is large enough to handle 50amps, so You're really stuck using this goofy set-up.

Of course no home-improvement type place actually stocks the required breakers to make this happen (you need a 30amp, 3 pole GFCI breaker!). So after calling every specialty electrical supply place in town I finally found 2. One was $168, the other $120. I opted for the $120 since they were identical part #'s. So hopefully tonight I'll be able to finish this up and start heating some water.

So between the $160 worth of wire needed to run the sub panel, the breakers, box, concrete pads,filters, etc... This "free" project is up to about $500. Oh well, it's still a great deal since the tub would have cost 10x that alone and most importantly it will make Beth really happy (and me too!).


Monday, October 23, 2006


Saturday morning I woke up about 7 am. It FE06 day.

For the non-Kenwoodies, that's Fall Enduro '06. Meaning a silly long mtb ride all over the cities, done once it gets too cold for a ride of this length to be a good idea. It was about 30 degrees when I rolled out of bed and ate my 4 waffles for breakfast. At least I had been smart enough to get my bike and gear all set the night before, so I just loaded up and headed over to Minneapolis after breakfast.

As regular readers know, my usual 29'er is currently serving 'cross duty and I didn't want to hassle with changing that. My shoulder is still far from good, so I knew a ride like this on the 'cross bike wouldn't be a good idea, so I pulled out 29'er #2. That one has one of those new-fangled squishy forks on it and (gasp!) more than one gear! I bet you didn't know I had a bike like that.

I decided to ride that one in an effort to keep my shoulder in check, and because on every other enduro I've been the only one on a singlespeed, which is usually fine but right now I'm not in shape to keep up with a bunch of fast guys on pavement riding gears. It felt weird. I had taken the bike out for a little shakedown just to make sure it was still working right, and everything worked flawlessly, but it just felt different. I think it's the suspension fork, I'm just so used to the rigid fork. It also felt heavy, even though it's not really. It's a 23 lb suspended, geared steel 29'er, but compared to my rigid single it felt like it weighed 100 lbs on every climb.

We left the coffee shop about 8:30 after waiting a little be for no-show-tree to not arrive. It was Stone, WW, Thorny, Billy and myself. Of course after all that bike changing, Thorny shows up on a singlespeed (dammit). We roll down to Minnehaha falls and start in on the singletrack. There's a lot of pretty technical stuff in there, and I was actually feeling better about the squishy fork and big tires in there. Man I forget how good tires other than The Crow's hook up!

As usual things fell apart in there. We got separated (happens every time) but eventually got back together at which point Billy decided I was still hurting from riding too many laps at Wirth the previous weekend (25 laps). So he pulled the pin and we were down to 4 riders.

We rode the usual route, down the dirt all the way to the riverbottoms, then across to Bloomington. About halfway across though Throny decides to heat it up and goes full time-trail pace to the Ferry Bridge. I shot off the back as I wasn't sure I'd even make it home riding that pace, much less be able to do the 'cross race the next day. We all hooked back up at the Ferry Bridge and prepared for the return trip. While we were waiting this guy on probably an '89-90 Giant mtb flys by wearing garp which coordinated with the age of his bike, black tights, white knit long sleeve top and neon green fannypack! He took off into the woods and we headed out a minute or so later. About 4 miles in we finally caught up to him and he picked up the pace. We weren't slacking off to begin with and honestly I think we were pushing it keeping up with him. We all finally had to stop at the raft to cross 9 mile creek, so we got to talk to him. Turns out he lived nearby but said he hadn't ever ridden those trails before nor really mtb'ed much. His bike was sporting what appeared to be the original Farmer-John tires with absolutely no tread left down the middle. This guy was ripping it up as fast as us having never ridden the trail and hardly ever ridden a bike off road and he was on bold tires! tough. He tagged along with us for the rest of the riverbottoms, rode behind us, but never really dropped off.

Time was clicking by faster than we figured and everyone was starting to feel the ride, so we decided to hit the asphalt back by the airport then down to Fort Snelling and in. Amazingly Thorny seemed as spry as usual. I don't know how that guy does it. I was in full cramp mode on the last stretch of paved path, and it looked like WW was close as well. We fumbled our way back to the coffee shop and clocked in 5 hours from our departure. Not bad for a cold day.

I slammed down a big burger and a brat and felt much better. Which was good because I still had a lot I wanted to do that day. One the way home I swung in by Tomac's house. He had recently completed a paver project similar to mine and had some extra sand left. I picked up those and headed home. It was about 2:30 when I got home which meant there should be enough daylight left to finish out the pavers, I just hoped my body had enough left to do it. So I took a quick shower to warm up and headed back out to rent the vibrating compactor I'd need and start laying the joint sand.

This part went pretty well, I pack all the pavers down and they got nice and flat, then started sweeping in the sand. The locking sand is unique, it's a polymeric sand which actually bonds to iteself and the pavers once it's wetted. So I made several passes, filling in sand then running over with with the compactor, vibrating the sand into each crevice. Once I was comfortable that all the gaps were full I'd move onto the next area. I worked until dark and then a little more, but I did get all the sand down and packed that night. I couldn't do the wetting part because it was too cold, so that had to wait for Sunday.

Getting up Sunday I still had a little shred of thought in me that I'd do the 'cross race. However my shoulder was completely worked over from the Enduro and running the compactor the night before (don't worry, the doc assures me I need to keep using it as much as possible and that I'm not hurting it any worse by doing this stuff). I decided maybe a test spin would be good to see how I felt. I grabbed the cross bike and headed down the road. I had my answer within seconds. No. My legs were actually alright, but my butt and shoulder were telling me no. So I stayed home and felt soft for not racing, but what can you do. I sprayed a frame and did a bunch more yardwork instead, lower impact stuff. I filled in a bunch of low spots in the front yard and raked some area's out. Then went in and did a little work in the shop. It was a good recuperation day. I made it to almost 9 that night before falling asleep on the couch.

More 953 pictures coming in the next edition.


Thursday, October 19, 2006

More 953

So I'm getting pretty excited for this first full stainless frame to be done. It's very close and it just keep looking better and better to me. Since it's not getting painted, it will show off every detail of the workmanship with no option for covering up mistakes. I actually think that's why I like it so much, it looks pure and clean to me, stripped down to the bare essentials and yet really good.

I finally downloaded the next wave of pictures, so here goes, I'll try to pick up where I left off with the last pictures.

I think we left it at the tubes being mitered. Once all those are done, I jig the frame up and test fit all the tubes in the lugs and check the geometry.

Once I confirm that everything is fitting as planned, I disassemble it, prep all the lugs and tube ends and then flux it all up. Stainless steel is far more fussy about cleanliness than regular steel and seeing how both the lugs and tubes are stainless here, I made sure everything was as clean as possible.

Here's how things look fluxed up. I used lots of flux, especially for stainless. Making sure there's no particles or anything else in the flux to contaminate it. Stainless is very different to braze because it behaves the same as regular steel during the heat-up phase, but once it's up to temp it can overheat instantly if you're not careful. There's far less margin of error than with regular steel.

I just use regular Gasflux brand type U white flux for stainless. I know many folks use black flux as it goes to a much higher temp, but I don't like it as much and I think it can encourage overheating on stainless. I personally feel that if you're brazing properly you shouldn't have any problems with type U flux on stainless. I use it for all my S & S couplers as well.

Below are the BB and the seatlug all fluxed up and ready to go.

Once everything if fluxed I start tacking the frame right in the jig. I braze one part of each lug. Once it's tacked, I pull it out, make sure it's aligned and then proceed to braze each joint fully.

Here's a picture taken while brazing. As you can see the flux gets all clear and watery, that's how you know it's up to temp. I get the whole lug up to this point at the same time, by heating it evenly over the entire surface. Once it's up to temp, I quickly add silver and work it through the lug with the heat of the torch. You can see the two locations I added silver from in this picture, near the bottom of the headtube band and on the underside of the downtube socket. I flow the silver through the rest of the lug from these points.

I used 50N silver on all these joints. It does seem to work slightly better on stainless, but it also tends to flash out farther than 56 silver. Meaning it gets on the lugs a little more, but so thin you can't feel it, and the flash cleans sands off easily.

After brazing the whole thing is soaked in water for a few hours to remove the flux, then I sandblast the joints to remove any residue and clean them up. At this point you can really see how you did on the brazing and if there's any cleanup work to be done.

This lug looks really clean, meaning I did my work well, so I can proceed to sand the lugs down a bit and smooth the finish.

Here's how things are looking after some sanding on the lugs. Notice all the lug edges are very clean, no excess silver, no gaps. Nothing but nice clean sharp edges. That's what I was talking about at the start of this entry!

I sand them down to make sure all the surface irregularities from casting are removed and to make them smooth and flowing.

If everything is done right, this is how it should all look, just a fine tiny line of silver at the lug edge, crisp edges all around and no material removed (sanded off) from the tubing at the lug edge (undercutting).

I clean up all the other lugs in the exact same manner and move on to the rear triangle, starting with the chainstays.
As I mentioned in an earlier post, Reynolds has their own 953 dropouts. They are very well made and match the tubing diameters perfectly. So in this case I decided to just round the top and bottom of the dropout tab slightly to make it fit inside the chainstay rather than slot the stays. Same look, but this is probably a slightly stronger construction method.

The dropouts are actually made of 953 material, so they're strong, very strong. But they still file pretty darn well, I'm amazed at this material.

Again, I flux the heck out of everything and position the dropout correctly in the stay. One work of caution here. You really need to make sure the angle of the dropout and position are spot-on with the 953 dropouts. They're actually too strong to cold-set. I was unable to bend them at all without the aid of heat! I'd recommend a jig for installing them to make sure you have it right.

Again, since they're stainless, only silver filler will work. So I filled these with 50n silver, which is about the only thing that can fill a gap that big. Even at that, it's not the easiest braze.

Here's how it looks after brazing and soaking off the flux. Notice the natural fillet of the material, that's what you want since I'll be scalloping this area out in the next step.

The silver fills up the gap about all the way along the tab inside the dropout, so that chainstay is filled about 1-1.5cm back into it. With the current silver prices, that's probably $20 worth of filler in the dropouts!

Next step is what I consider one of the highlights of any well made frame. Scalloping the dropouts. This is the traditional way to finish dropouts and it takes some skill to make it look really sharp. The key here is the scallops should be even, vertical and not undercut at all into the actual dropout. I also prefer the look shown here where the top and bottom of the dropout tab seamlessly blend into the stay. I think this is able as clean a look as possible. It makes me really dig the shape on these Reynolds dropouts.

When using this technique, the driveside dropout needs to have the scallop ground further up into the stay for clearance to the cassette cogs. The amount of space needed is a function of how large the smallest cog is on the cassette.

But this means you need to plan ahead a little and be sure to fill in the inside of the drive side dropout with more silver, or start the fill further up the stay.

Again notice the dropout is angled in to make sure the axle camping face is perpendicular to the axle. My jig worked pretty well and things came out nearly spot on. Which is a good thing since I don't have much hope of cold-setting those dropouts now that they're brazed in. I guess one could use heat, but you risk melting out part of the braze if you're not careful. Better to do it right the first time!

Well, that's all I have time for right now. Look for the remainder of the build pictures to come soon.