Friday, December 30, 2011

Communication breakdown...

Ok, it's official, after 4 years my phone is dead.

The problems started a few years ago when I forgot that I left my phone on the layout table.  As I was focused on brazing the dropouts to the rear end of the frame suspended from the stand, I failed to realize that the rest of the torch's flame was slowly cooking the touch pad face of the phone into a wrinkled, loose fitting shadow of it's former self...oops.

As is human nature, unwilling to admit defeat (stupidity?), I modified my use, opening the phone to access the keypad, soldiering on diligently.

The last three months, the battery has been whining that it is tired, worn out, and ready to retire.  So am I, I up!  Despite my admonishment, I still need to charge it twice a day to continue my on the go use or face dropping calls mid sentence, having it shut down unceremoniously while texting, and don't even think about checking email or pictures...poof!  Thus is the price we pay not to be anchored down by a cord.

The last two weeks, voicemails have been sporadic at best...nothing for days then it will dump 10 into the inbox, only half of them opening up. the others only offering a clue, a simple tease of what or who could have been requesting my presence

So, despite the moral and financial pain, I'm being thrust into another upgrade in technology...gonna have to get something new.

I feel slightly defeated.  At least the old red Volvo is still hanging on to life.  Excuse me while I find something wooden to knock on.

In the interim, if y'all need to contact me...don't call.  Please drop me an email and we'll get back to you as we can.



Wednesday, December 14, 2011

2012 Luv Handles...

Hey folks, if you've not yet contacted us about getting on the list for 2012 bars, it is filling rather quickly.  We are burning through the calendar...

We've already filled our wholesale orders through May and are into March for individual customers...

Available for late March Delivery:

4 steel spots left
6 Ti spots left

If y'all would like to get on the list for a bar, please contact us by email and Christi will get you sorted.



Sunday, December 11, 2011

Christmas fun...don't shoot Santa

Selling for a customer...

A custom Yo Eddy Slingshot.

Made from a Yo fork that met an untimely demise, this piece was cut and milled down, painted in a black and metallic silver FAT theme with little Yo guys hanging out for the fun.  The top corks are removable to keep the slingshot fodder in, the steerer is wrapped in a nice beige cork tape, and a wooden plug was turned down in the lathe to cap the steerer end.

A nice collector's piece that is one of a kind...just keep it out of the kids hands or you'll be replacing windows :)

$125.00 plus shipping

Respond here on the blog if interested, then follow up with an email to please.  Sold in order of interest.



Friday, December 9, 2011

Ceramic coatings and Hot Rods...made for each other

One of the advantages of making your own cranks is that you can paint them to match the bike, giving the project that little bit extra.  However, as anyone who has ridden off road for years knows, your shoe/ankle tends to rub the paint/annodizing right off the outside aspect of the arm.  Looking for something that provides  more durability and a different look, I've been researching and playing with some ceramic coatings that I can apply in house.  Long story short, I've found a product that meets my parameters and we're now ceramic coating parts.  I'm REALLY happy with the results.

Parts after baking in the box for 2 1/2 hours...

A nice titanium blue finish...

and a graphite black...

They really play well off the anodized spiders and provide a very durable, visually pleasing finish.

The coating only builds .001", so this will make an excellent, scratch resistant finish for steel bars as well without building the od like powder and liquid paint does.

EDIT... update with the finished product.  I played with some stencil/masking techniques and now have the process dialed (quite a bit different than paint) and here is what the finshed product will look like with ceramic. 

Matte black with titanium blue graphic and annodized spider...


Wish that dent away...

One of the most difficult aspects of a old restoration project is what to do with BIG I'm not talking about those pesky little dings you get from a rock popping up and ringing your tube, but those large, tube destroying depressions that make you want to cry, take the bike apart, and hang the frame on the wall.

Unfortunately, these are tough to work with, normally requiring you to replace the entire tube.  But for folks who want to keep the frame as original as possible, we need to get creative.  FA small ding can be filled with some silver, filed down, and is ready to go.  Filling these with silver would cost you about 15 bucks in product and a lot of much so that you might as well replace the tube.  But, if you have a way to pull the dent back out, you have a chance to save the frame.

So here is the project bike...a yo with a nasty dent in the top tube from an automobile vs. bike accident.

And the slide hammer/puller I made...

It's a simple tool that uses a stainless 1/2" rod, #0 chuck, and an 1 1/4" stainless solid bar stock.  A little time on the lathe, welding table, a sprinkle of creativity and we have a dent puller for thin wall bicycle tubing.

We'll start by tacking on a piece of stainless wire...

We'll attach the puller, tighten down the chuck and work the dent from the middle and out each side to bring the edges up.  You can see here where I attached in three places and left just the small tack marks behind.
What's left after using the slide hammer is a small detent we can now fill with silver and feather out to the edges.  Add a little heat and some 45% silver...
Wha-la, another original tube saved...


Thursday, December 1, 2011

Groovy Holiday Sales...aka stuff needs to go

Ok folks, too much retro stuff starting to collect around the shop, so it's time to unload some of it.  If y'all want something, drop me a line at , everything first come, first serve, you pay the shipping. 

1991 Grove X frame, Assault fork, Hamerhead bar/stem combo.  Serial # X-82-12-20-91, this was a Christmas present for Bill's daughter, designed around the 17" sizing with an inch taken off the seat tube length.  The frame is in nice survivor shape with typical chainsuck, a bit of paint missing around the edge of the bb and the odd chip here and there.  Overall, very nice for it's age.  $450.00 plus shipping

1993 Grove Titanium...Serial # Ti-14-1993.  This is a 19" titanium frame that was an unfinished shop project (still needed H20 bosses and rear seat stays welded) that I was happy to receive.  The frame fabrication was completed and then painted in a red on black candy with NOS decals.  I left off the large TITANIUM decal, as I always thought it was a bit gaudy.  My intent was to keep it for myself, but alas, it has sat on the shelf for years. I'd rather someone who is going to build it up and ride it have the opportunity to enjoy it.  There is a small paint chip on the bottom of the headtube edge from shelf wear, visible in the second photo.  Basically a New Old Stock frame, never built.  $1500.00 OBO plus shipping.

 Fat Chance Wicked Frame with Ho Down fork and new Cane Creek Headset - Serial # 680W09.  A 19" Wicked, repainted by Vicious Cycles, that I took in as partially payment for some work completed.  Was going to build it up into a knock around commuter...never happened.  The frame is used, and has a few chips and scratches to prove it.  The head tube was drilled for a Jen Green "FAT" headbadge, I aligned the frame, and it has a slightly sticky canti boss.  Overall a nice solid bike for someone looking for a rider or as an excellent start for a resto project.  $450.00 plus shipping.

 Various red anno parts, most used with typical wear to be expected...
     - Candy red Hot head, 150mm with 25 degree rise - $100.00
     - Caraba Double Barrel Cranks with Kooka ring, 175mm - $75.00
     - Thomson Elite post, anno red, 26.8 - $20.00
     - Paul Canti brakes - $50.00
     - Ringle cable hanger, peace sign - $5
     - NOS Caramba canti brake levers, very rare - $125.00

Stay tuned...have some modern stuff to come,


Lighting a fire...Hollingsworth visit

I've spoken many times of my fortune when I showed interest in learning a bit about framebuilding.  If not for the generous offer of time I received, I'd not have had the start to move me where I am today.  In acknowledgement of that, I try to be considerate of others needs and give back to the community that has provided me with so much enjoyment through the years.  Logging into the super information highway and assisting others through email, forum posts and critical assessment of works in progress, when requested, is nice, but there is no substitute for one on one learning.

Every year, I open the shop and a bit of my time to earn back some framebuilding karma...this week was one of those times.

I was pleased to have Steve and Kirsten Hollingsworth from North Carolina up for three days.  Steve and Kirsten had established Northstar Custom frames a few years ago and have been progressing through self education, Internet input via email and phone from the building community, base industrial classes and a lot of trial and error.  Despite hurdles, they have decided they want to embrace this as a husband/wife team and enter framebuilding as a career path in the near future.  We set aside this week to focus on three main areas they desired improvement; framebuilding as a business, tig welding, and paint techniques.

The allure of working with metal, imagination, and toil to create beautiful pieces of performance tends to draw many to this manufacturing niche. Unfortunately, desire often outstrips a strong business model and operational understanding, the act of facilitating customer interaction and needs interpretation, and lastly, fabrication ability.  Without these critical tools, the dream will end abruptly with a wake of dissatisfied people and another black eye on the framebuilding community.  Gathered around the kitchen table with Christi and I, we discussed goals and objectives, developed a business plan that would allow them to prepare and grow toward a professional launch date, and reviewed the ugly necessities of running a business; legal liability, insurance, sole proprieter/LLC/Inc ownership, Federal tax requirements, local re-sale licenses, accounting methods, COGS, estimating, brand perception, marketing/advertising, customer grievance resolution, and the list goes on and on :)  With a solid understanding of who they wanted to be as a company, a plan to move toward that goal, and the business steps necessary to achieve it, it was time to move to the shop for some fun.

Steve had been proactive and taken a college course on metal fabrication with a focus on Tig welding. I have found these types of course work to offer a good broad range of understanding of the process but are lacking on true torch technique and a full understanding of heat control.  Starting from scratch, we took him through understanding of the Tig process, machines available and the pros and cons of each, setting up an machine, choices in cup size, tungsten diameter, filler size and type, and shielding gas options and parameters.  We then began a progressive learning segment, teaching him how to tig weld thin tubing using three different styles; straight current to experience how torch angle, current/heat input, travel speed and filler rates all affect your weld penetration, integrity and aesthetic, pulsed welding to expand understanding of limiting heat build and resultant distortion, and finally lay wire technique and its small advantages and numerous pit falls if not practiced with an experienced eye toward joint penetration. 

Eight hours later, we brought all this together by dissecting the fabrication of a frame, working around each joint and discussing the appropriate technique and parameters that would offer the most efficient fabrication and highest quality of joinery.

Our third day brought Kirsten back into the mix, as we delved into the world of paint.  Although Steve has done most the paint to this point, it is their goal to include Kirsten as the painter once operational.  She has a keen eye for detail and possesses the meticulous nature necessary for professional work, allowing Steve to focus on the fabrication aspects of the workload. One day is hardly enough time to scratch the surface of a skill set that takes years to become proficient with and a lifetime to step toward the road to mastery.  One day, however, is enough time to feel overwhelmed by just how much information there is to absorb   :)

Starting from the top, we discussed available paint systems, the pros and cons of each, where the finishing industry is taking paint in the future, design and function of booths, regulatory agency requirements of OSHA, NFPA and the EPA, and the importance of quality components (guns, compressors, air filtration, regulators, and consumables).  Moving to practical application, we practiced actual paint system mixing, changes to the spray/state of the atomized mist with positive/negative reducer amounts, operation of the gun and it's variation of settings, spray technique to insure even coverage, sanding techniques, base colors, candies, suspended particulates, positive and negative masking, clear coats and most to fix mistakes. 

Consumed in a whirlwind of activity, we ran right up to the minute they had to dive into the car and head home, overspray creating tacky clothes for the 8 hour ride south, their partially cured tubes creatively in the back seat to preserve them.
I sent the Hollingsworths off with a confident feeling that if they adhere to the plan we created, they will have a long career serving the cycling industry.  Look for this dynamic team to make a splash in a few years when they are prepared enter our little world of frame fabrication full time.  Best wishes to them and their future customers.

A big thank you goes out to my brethren who have shared with Steve and Kirsten long distance;  Fred of Wolfhound, Tom Kellog of Spectrum, Hank and Monica of Henry James, and Dave of are good folks!