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!