Sunday, December 30, 2007

Zach's Red Jollipop Bigwheel

Hello again folks,

it's been a busy couple of days. I fit up and talked to a few folks for some future builds and got the finishing touches completed on Zach's Bigwheel.

This is a full on geary build with custom s-bend stays, breezer dropouts, and down tube cable routing for the mostly dry, mulchy single track he frequents.

The rear end includes a really gorgeous curved brace and a custom machined disk tab.

This frame received a red metallic jollipop powder's a really nice transleucent finish. If you look close at the dropouts, you can see that the brass shows through as a different shade...very cool.

Throw in some techy componenets, like the dual control levers and XTR rear derailleur, and he has a build that will perform as well as look killer.

Tomorrow is New Year's Eve and I'll be in the shop working on Roy's El Jefe...I'll post some progress pics for ya.
Enjoy the new year,

Saturday, December 29, 2007

A little yellow luvin'

Here's a little something for y'all to check out. Dick wanted a winter bike that could handle everything from fast club rides to mild off road adventure. So, I whipped up the magic wand and this is what I came up with...
This Big Wheel is the definition of versatile; designed for use with an 80mm suspension fork, V-brakes, custom bent s-bends to accomodate anything from Ksyriums with 20mm up to 48mm tires. Add in some little custom touches like the Ho Down fork with scalloped dropouts and a box crown, polished stainless headbadge, and aero yellow paint, it's just gotta go fast!

Dick dropped by today to check it out and talk parts. Looks like she's gonna get a full XT group with SRAM shifters, Phil Wood wheels, 32mm Cross tires, Luv Handles, and some Thomson bits.
I'm looking forward to seeing this one get ridden hard, long, and with a lot of smiles. Feels really good, don't it? :^)

Til next week,

Friday, December 28, 2007

Bits and pieces and weeks gone by...

It's been a while since I last update y'all on the happenings around the shop, so here goes...

The big news was the warming addition of a new radiant ceiling heat system. Although I hated to invest in a new heat source, the old one was shot and despite my best efforts, it's tough to stay focused and motivated when you can't move your fingers due to the cold...ick! I ended up losing 4 productive days with the install; had to run new gas line, new electrical conduit, breach the concrete walls in two spots and then lift the 24' long system up by myself to hang it in place. It was totally worth it though...the warmth is soooo nice and I'm getting back to the business at hand.

I've been waiting on some Magura Firmtech brakes to arrive to begin Roy's frame, a 26" wheeled rim brake frame with Rohloff internal geared rear hub, custom bar/stem and fork. So, in the interem, I tackled those never ending little projects that seem to hang in the fringes, nagging at you for attention.

The laundy list included;

turning up some Eccentric bottom brackets for Roy's build, worked on the final design for his custom dropouts, replaced a super short threaded steerer tube in an old Slingshot fork with a bright shiny new long threadless one for Hoss, built a set of Stans Arch 29er and Phil Wood wheels with pink nipples for Chris's Bigwheel, sprayed up a set of cranks for Kaltens bike, finished paint on Eric's Ho Down fork, and began milling some new swaging plates. Whew!

So, been keeping busy through the holidays, feeling the pressure of getting my stuff together for NAHBS in Februar;y, and looking forward to posting again tomorrow night hopefully with two completed builds :^)

Here's a photo courtesy of Big K, self proclaimed photographer for the blog today...he likes this one!



Monday, December 10, 2007

Sweet and Sour...

Ok, let me set the stage...
Cold (30 degrees F) and freezing rain, totally yucky outside. I'm glad to be in the shop today and not slogging away outside. I meander in, looking forward to being productive and brrrr... it sure is cold in here. Where's the heat?

First, the sour. The heat source for the shop is dead. As I contemplate my next move, I playfully fill the air with my visible breath; it's gonna be a looooong cooooold day :^(

So, back to the trusty Volvo, put on lot's of layers of stinky cycling clothes from the back, and back at it.
Looks like I'm going to order a radiant ceiling gas heat tube...puts out 60000 BTU's. I'll have to bust arse this week to get it installed so I can get some of these frames through paint. For some reason, paint does not spray well at 30 degrees ;^)

Next, the sweet. I got my new media blast cabinet installed. I've been looking for a newer model cabinet for quite some time and was lucky enough to find an almost local guy (30 miles away) who builds them; Mark from BAD BOY Blasters. These are sweet units for frame building, as they are just the right size, have good feed rate, and the vacuum kicks arse! No stopping to dust off the glass anymore. I had to rig it up to the old compressor, as I'm waiting on my motor contactor/starter to be finished up for the new one. The poor little thing could hardly keep up...looking forward to getting the big compressor up and running later this week.

I finished fabrication on Dicks Cross Frame and fork, blasted them and went to shoot a couple of pics for y'all. Guess what, the digi camera battery would not last long enough to process a pic...too cold!
Also got a DJ fork fabbed, blasted and ready for some gloss black's destined for Eric's orange Trek Jack, should be very cool.
So today was a mixed bag. Oh well, hopefully I'll have a better/more consistant day tomorrow.

cheers to ya,


Thursday, December 6, 2007

Federal training, short nights, and a bit of fab fun.

My dual role playing both framebuilder and fireman caught up with me this last two weeks. I had the "opportunity" (read...mandated) to attend a week long federal class on National Incident Management Systems for supervising emergency incidents of significance. Yes, it was as exciting as it sounds :^)

I followed this up with 2 days of Pediactric advanced life support Instructor brain is a bit fried but I am thankful to be through it all. It's nice to be back on my normal shop schedule again.

However dull the training was, I was able to spend my evenings cranking out some work.

I got a good start on Dicks cross frame...a nice steely with matching Ho Down fork. Gotta finish up the rear stay brace and silver on some tidbits and then it's off to the paint booth.

I also finished up some forks and got them out.

Jim's Ho Down fork with 1.0" steerer is destined for his Yo Eddy. He loves the ride of the rigid bike but was dealing with a steerer that was a bit too short. His new fork has plenty of steerer and I spun up some custom spacers in a variety of heights so that the can dial in the fit for the new ride. Hoping it is all he wishes for in ride characteristics and style.
Well, breakfast is finished and it's time to boogie down to the shop.
Hope all is well with y'all,

Friday, November 16, 2007

Omph...what a week!

Ever have one of those weeks that just absorbs your focus and before you know it, you have not slept more than a handful of hours and you're gazing blurry eyed into the mirror wondering where it all went? Yeah, me too.

So, busy week recap. Built up a geared 29er with a mix of Columbus, Dedda, custom drawn down tube, gently s-bent 4130 stays and breezer dropouts. Add on a curved stay brace and custom disc tab and this is one Sweeeeeet bike. The build went very smooth and am looking forward to getting this one built up into a full bike before shipping it off. Unfortunately, I don't get to paint this one, as it is destined for a metallic jollypop powdercoat.

The first HO Down DJ fork came back from powder and was installed on one of our local fly guy's rigs. He is going to take it up to Ray's Indoor Bike Park this weekend and give 'er what fer! Already impressed with the lightness of the front end after taking off the Rock Shox Pike...a weight reduction of 2.5 pounds...should be able to sail high off the table top!

The week wound down the last two days with some 16 hour pushes to finish 6 forks; a custom Ho Down xc for Jim in Cali...destined for his classic YO, a custom Ho Down xc for Roy's build...destined for Holland, another Ho Down in 1.0" for Dicks retro build, a cross 29er fork for the Black Jellybean Bigwheel for Cubby, and 2 more DJ forks as I had the fixtures already set...need a fork for big air or a tough 29er trail fork? Email me, I've got two left.

Gonna slow down for the week of Thanksgiving to see my kids and run out to see a showing of Spamalot, a stage production loosely based on all good things Monty Python.

Enjoy the Holidays,

Tuesday, November 6, 2007

a lil' FAT loving...

Well, can't believe that November is already here, the last week has totally disapeared on me.

I cranked out a couple of forks and got started on Zach's Bigwheel geary since the last post, but the time in the shop today was interesting...

Today I had a chance to work on another retro project. Brian was lucky enough to find a fairly mint Yo Eddy from 94 that has spent the better part of the last 10 years in needed a good repack and cleaning. I do not typically wrench much anymore, as I've been very busy with the fabrication end, but took on this project for two reasons; Brian is an enthusiastic personality that you can't help but like, and I've got a soft spot for old kit.

The frame is in very nice shape, sporting a team violet to yellow paint with only minor blemishes at the right chainstay and under the down tube (from the Manitou's crown).

As I started disassembly, I could see that even though it did not have many miles on her, she was showing the years. As typical with so many Fat's, the bottom bracket/seat tube area had taken a beating due to the sealed tubes trapping condensation. The bottom bracket on this Yo had mucho rust inside with scaling present.

The bearings were toast and the spindle needed some time on the wire wheel to clean it up.

The seat tube was not as bad, but needed some luv as well. Ended up reaming the areas, chasing the bb threads, drilling a weep hole from the inside of the bb to the inside of the seat tube and then coating it all with LPS rust inhibitor; should be good for another 13 years.

If you own a Fat, you owe it to yourself to get aggressive with the preventative'll thank you for a lifetime.

New press in bearings and NOS collars finished out the attention for the heart of the bike's drive train.

The rest of the repack was quite enjoyable...M730 XT parts and lots of Phil grease, smooth!

Now it looks like Brian is thinking of building a Big One Inch fork, custom stem, and adorning her with love handles...all painted to match. This will definitely take this cool ride into the stratosphere.


Monday, October 29, 2007

Picking up where a master let off...

This was a pretty cool project. A customer out of Washington state contacted me about finishing some early 80's Bontrager Switchblade forks. Somehow, he had come across two pair of fork legs that had dropouts, but no canti bosses or paint. How cool would it be to work on a project started by Keith himself?

When I received the blades, they were pretty rusty, but some time in the blast cabinet and alot of fine scrubbing with Scotchbrite pads shined them right up. What struck me was just how simple the fabrication is; truly a knod to the roots of the developement of our sport.

A bit of weld magic and some gloss black powder loving, and the finished product should do both Keith and myself proud.

Saturday, October 27, 2007

Marketing the world...the times of a small builder.

A thread on Frameforum ( ), an excellent resource for those interested in the process of framebuilding, recently discussed how to market for the small framebuilder. The original poster was curious how to sell his prospective frames in his area. What I found curious was the response from some of the pros...that few frames are actually sold in the area they are built.

This is not a revelation to me, as it has been a common thread throughout my business career...let me explain.

I work out of a small town, population of 28,000, not really close to any "hot bed" of cycling activity. No Sedona, Moab, or Whistler here. The closest large City, Cleveland, is better known for it's rusting steel industry than for custom bicycle fabrication. So, looking for potential customers, it is a given that I have to look beyond my geographic boarders. The internet has definately been the tool of choice.

Looking over my past months receipts, I was surprised, however, to see how much global business I do. In fact, I've sold more overseas products in the last month than domestic. The countries shipped to include; Norway, Japan, Germany, Scotland, UK, and Austrailia. No wonder the chic at the Post office smiles whenever I show up :^)

Certainly, I'd love more local business, but am just fine with sending the love across the world. I'll consider it my little part for global harmony ;^) .

So, if you happen to be traipsing across the US and want to stop in for a green tea and some social chatter, please do. I'll keep the comfy chair cleaned off for ya.



Wednesday, October 24, 2007

The Groovy Ho Down Fork...fresh fabrication

Most of you that know me through the internet have learned that I'm a bit of a vintage/retro nut...I really appreciate and respect the fathers of the industry and the designs they embraced. So when I wanted to build a new / distinctive fork for customers that wanted something unique, I looked back to some of my favorites for borrowed inspiration. Some of my favorite classic forks were the Fat City Cycles Yo Eddy and the Grove Innovations Hardcore. I blended a bit of each into the new Groovy Ho Down fork...

The Ho Down is a rigid straight blade design that uses 1.0" blades, scalloped tabbed dropouts, a rectangular box crown and gently curved blade tops to give a visually unique look.

The fork offers just the right amount of flex in the lower third of the legs to absorb trail chatter while remaining stiff enough in the crown for dead straight tracking.

So, what's the origin of the name? Pondering what to call this piece, I wanted to relay two things; a name that reflected the large shape and surface area of the crown and the feeling of euphoric dancing through a wicked single track. Then it hit me, kinda reminded me of an old fashioned southern square dance or Ho Down. Got it!

This will be the first customer fork, a rigid disc 29er that will be going on Zach's Bigwheel. It's going to get a lush Jollipop red metallic finish today, should be awesome!

Saturday, October 20, 2007

Ok, trial post here...

Hey folks,

Well, I thought I try to keep in better contact with y'all through the blog option. It's a bit easier to update daily than the web page and gives everyone an idea what's been going on in the shop.

Today, I worked on finishing up Cubby's cross frame prep for paint. Got it all nailed down and am ready to send it to the blast cabinet for a little abrasive loving prior to paint.

This one is slated for a gloss black powder coat. When finished, airbrushed red/yellow/green jelly beans will be added as a nod to Scoboni's classic work.

Should be pretty trick when finished.

This frame is also getting a matching custom fork and stem, more on this later...