Friday, March 28, 2008

Work and Play

I've had my days off this week, so that meant getting more work done. Hoffmeyer's frame is coming along. I've got a few miters done now; one and a half more and the front triangle will be set. But before I finish up the last bit, I've got to braze in the H2O bosses and the top tube housing stops. That way, any slight deformation of the tubes from brazing those in, will be accounted for when brazing the frame together. I've also got the new dropouts all spec'd and angles figured out for the chain stay miters. I'm using "breezer" dropouts this time around, which ends up putting the stay spacing a bit wider than typical, and makes for a stronger joint. (things this frame needs to handle this guys' record for being hard on equipment) I haven't used these dropouts before, so we'll see how much I like them for future use.

Here's a few pics of the miters: (I don't know why, but there's something sexy about a hand mitered joint.)

I also finally got my fork jig, top tube/seat stay jig attachment, and disc brake tab fixture! I will say, even if he does occasionally misplace an order, Don Ferris (owner and one of the two tooling machinists at Anvil Bikeworks) makes some damn nice frame building tools. It does take a good while (as he hand machines and proofs each tool), and it does cost an arm and a leg, but they really are nice. So next up after Hoffmeyer's frame: A disc brake fork for "Brownie" - my single speed disc braked townie.

(Note: this fork is not actually assembled, I just threw the parts in there to illustrate how the jig worked)

The top tube holding attachment mounts right up to my jig.

Then it flips over to be a seat stay holder. No more spoke and cable rigging for keeping things in place!

Tuesday, March 25, 2008

Spring on the way... maybe?

Well I'm still watching those videos, but I figured I'd make a quick post about the coming spring. Yea, I know... I'm just being hopeful at this point. But I know it's on the way. I had the pleasure of riding to work twice this last week, not having to wear a full jacket and pants. Man did I miss that feeling. Being able to move freely, not getting at all clammy, being able to brake and shift without bulky gloves on. Man it's nice. (Except for that whole day of hard pellet snow flurries, stinging your face. Where did that come from?) Anyway, I'm not the only one that's been noticing. I've seen some other commuters out there, that I haven't normally seen. So it's that time of year, when people are getting the itch, needing to get some outside time.

And it is on that note, that I thought it would be fitting to post a link to this video. I'm sure it's made the rounds already, but I thought they did a pretty good job of showing how it can be easy to miss noticing a cyclist, while driving in a bunch of traffic. I know I'm probably preaching to the choir here, but pass it on to your non cyclist friends/family. And as the weather gets warmer, and there's more of us out there, I wouldn't mind it if drivers were looking out.

Monday, March 24, 2008

Back to Work.

Well, I just finished up my first week at Big Shark, and I have to say I'm pretty happy so far. Most of the people seem pretty cool, and there's definitely some guys there that really know their stuff. So it will be cool to keep expanding and learning from them.

I haven't posted much this last week, as whenever I'm online lately, I've been doing the "SellingCycling" program for work. It's interesting. There's a couple good tips that I might not have thought of, and then there's some flat out corny stuff that I'd never tell a customer. Like when I show someone a bike, they seem to like it, but they want to look around because this is the first store they've been to. I'm supposed to say something along the lines of "What's in the way of you getting this bike right now?" Then, I'm supposed to fix whatever that is, and then ask again if they want to buy it today. Maybe that's what it takes to be a great salesman in numbers, but that's too pushy for me. But after talking to Mike, he just wanted the employees to learn the good tips, not become pushy. So that's good. Because sometimes, this guy is a bit much:

Aside from that, I've got Hoffmeyer's tubes inspected, marked, and am starting in with some miters. Once I've finished up this selling program, I'll have some more time to take pictures and post some of the build as it's going on.

Friday, March 21, 2008

River-Flood Trail

I figured I'd take a tour of the flooded river today. So, off I went for a nice (windy) ride to the Chain of Rocks Bridge.

Bonus points if you know where (in the city) this is.

And hats off to you good sir. Looking east from Washington Ave. To the left is Eads Bridge. This statue is normally not under water.

Good luck finding parking in this town... (parking lot for Presidents Casino, north of Eads Bridge)

High water, looking from the Chain of Rocks Bridge. You can't even see the 'chain of rocks.' Below is the same view from when it's not flooded.

(from a few weeks ago) To the left you can see where the water gets rough. This is the normal sight of the 'chain of rocks.'

N Leonor K Sullivan Blvd (underwater), looking at Eads Bridge from the North, to the left is(was) parking.

Watch you step. (Arch on the left)

Wednesday, March 19, 2008

Hoffmeyer's Tubes Are In!

That's right, they finally arrived! Intact, everything I ordered, and only five days late. And after all this, they just left it on the doorstep while it's raining. No doorbell, no knock... I wouldn't have even known they were here if I didn't go out the front door, on the way to work. I might have to build a bench/box for them to put packages in, as I'm not totally stoked about leaving hundreds of dollars of steel tubing on my porch all day... in the rain...

Anyway, I finally have something to do other than staring at fonts, and trying to get this down tube sticker looking good. (man, computer work is not for me) And with a couple (that's right, more than a single) days off coming up, it'll be time to get cracking! Oh, and Hoffmeyer, don't forget to drop off that fork sometime. Man I'm stoked to start building again.

Monday, March 17, 2008

Comment Option Fixed!

I just found out I had the comment option on the default setting, meaning you could only comment on my blog if you were a member. I fixed that, so all you anonymous and non-Google member people that have been storming the gates, trying to comment... well now you can. So go now, and let me know what you think about the down tube sticker design. One idea already is to get rid of the pointy parts on the "L"s, and possibly more, to better match the two words in their 'pointynes.'

Sunday, March 16, 2008

Down Tube Stickers: (Input Wanted)

Well, I decided to not waste time sitting around until Hoffmeyer's tubes get here, and keep pushing forward. I've come up with some sticker ideas for the down tube. Here's the most promising so far. Like the head tube stickers, I'll have some white ones, and some black ones made. The white won't have an outline, that's just so you can see it on a white background. Anyone and everyone that has anything to say about the font, look, idea, whatever... I'd be happy to hear it. Good, bad, even if it reminds you of those fish tacos that didn't sit well last week, I want to know.

Friday, March 14, 2008

DHL is Killing Me!

Well, I was going to have a good start on Hoffmeyer's frame before this weekend. That is before his tubes entered the black hole of DHL tracking. They're not exactly "lost", but somewhere between where they left California and here, they've been to Utah, Arizona, Utah again, Kansas, and supposedly they're in Missouri, on the way here. Normally, it takes two or maybe three days for my tubes to get here. But it's already been a week. It seems that just about every time I have to deal with DHL, something goes wrong.

A while back, when I was ordering my jig, it went out DHL. Because it was gong to arrive in a huge crate, I was going have it delivered to my house, figured out when that was going to be, and arranged to have the day off. It didn't come. I called to find out what happened, and they didn't know where the package was. After calling and calling, it turned up in the warehouse. Apparently it never got on the truck. So I arranged to have it dropped off when I would be able to be home. It didn't come. After calling, they said it didn't get on the truck again. A third day of this, and more phone calls eventually led them to discover that the package was a large one. That meant it was left at the warehouse so the truck drivers could fit and deliver all the other ones, then they would come back to deliver it. But by the time they had finished the first round, it was time to go home. Eventually, I had them deliver it to the shop I was working at, and borrowed a friends van to get it home. When the DHL guy was delivering it, he was amazed it had taken so long to get this thing delivered. Then he found the problem. (he says) The downtown DHL facility is (according to him) "horrible." If it went through the one he normally worked at, he would have had this to me a week ago. *sigh*

Sorry to rant and rave... but it's pretty sorry when there's this much confusion in a company. I know nobody is perfect, but when you do something for a living, it seems like you should actually do it. Hopefully Hoffmeyer's tubes will show up soon, and unscathed. And I will probably start stocking up at least one tube set ahead of time. That way when this happens again, I'll already have something to work on until things are sorted out.

Monday, March 10, 2008

Camping! (post edit)

So we decided to go backpacking last minute on Monday, and headed to Cuivre River. We got a late start, so we ended up hiking in about 7 miles in, before getting to camp. The last hour was dark, so we ended up night hiking with our headlamps. Most of the hiking trails were in good condition (a little muddy at times from the last snow, but not bad). However, many of the trails are also open to horses, and man those things tear up the trail! Between the melting of the snow, and the high-weight/small-footprint factor, these things were like hiking through a bog!

By the time we got there, set up camp, cooked dinner and had a little fire to keep things warm, the chill was definitely setting in. I checked before we crawled into our tent, and it was about 18F. Between my lack of a cold (enough) weather sleeping bag, my shoes (in a stuff sack) and camelback crowding in with me for the night, I didn't end up sleeping much. We did hear some howling wolves(?) and hooting owls. I woke up at one point, freezing my arse off, and tried to look at the temp with one cold, sleepy, half awake eye. It seemed like it was reading 22F. But as it was already 18F when we went to bed, and it was 16F when I woke up, this doesn't seem likely. I think it may possibly have been 12F and I couldn't read the tens digit right. Either way it was freakin freezing!

The next morning was a cold icy start. Everything was covered in ice crystals, and the muddy trails were frozen solid in perpetual knee-killing unevenness. It was pretty tempting to crawl back to the slightly warmer sleeping bag and wait until the sun warmed things up. But, we headed out for the ~6.5mi hike back.

Along the way, we tracked some large dog prints (maybe the wolves?), and also some huge cat prints. And eventually found a deer that had been eaten not too long ago. There was still fur clumped on the ground, and some of the bones were still red. I'm guessing it was one of the first kills of the season, possibly by whatever made the huge cat prints. Either way, not something you see every day. All in all it was an awesome trip. And now with the batteries charged, I can plow back into frame building, and soon plow into working at Big Shark.

Sunday, March 9, 2008

Marc Makes My Frames Fast!

So after a few rides to dial in the components, work out bugs, and all other good stuff, Marc, Eddie, and I rode to Alton to give the new frame a final test before Marc's race. You can read the ride's review from the good guys at Team Seagal. Thanks to the guys letting me draft a good deal, I hung on and was able to watch Marc fly along for close to 80miles getting ready for his crit race he had today (the next day). How he does this is beyond me.

The race started out chilly, and didn't warm up much. Pretty quickly Marc (team of one today, racing for Concordia Seminary) and some guys from SLU strung out the pack pretty well. Here's Marc chasing down one of the SLU guys.

A three man breakaway was able to slip out. But here's Marc taking off the main group, looking back to see if these two guys could help form a chase group.

The chase group dropped one of it's riders as they closed in on the breakaway. Marc and this guy did a good job of working together. Eventually, the other guy was dropped as well.

Marc did a great job lurking on the back of what was now a four man lead group. He had a good position to draft, catch his breath (for a bit), and try to sprint for a podium. As the sprint got out of the saddle and really got ignited, a sudden stitch in his side kept the cursed forever domestique from getting the podium. But he did have a great race, secured a solid fourth, and said the bike worked awesome. So congrats man, you're the first rider of a Fellet Brazing frame to place in an official race.

Friday, March 7, 2008

Marc's Bike (pics)

Well this week has been busy for supposedly having it off from work. We did get Marc's bike painted, built, and ridden. He likes it lots! He says it tracks strait and true, and accelerates like a rocket. You mash the pedals, and it shoots off like crazy. (that part I can attest to, as I took it for a quick spin) I love it when a design works out like you wanted.

Well almost, I will be honest and say there was a calculatory mishap in the chain stay length. It ended up a bit closer than my numbers said it was going to. Everything still works, but the semi-horizontal dropouts end up putting the rear wheel into the front derailleur clamp before it drops out. So once it's in, everything's dandy. But you have to squish it a bit to get it in or out. Major lesson learned on that one. But will be corrected next time, and as far as either of us can tell, that's the only issue.

I also got all the tubes and such ordered for Hoffmeyer's frame, so that should start happening next week sometime. It will be another fillet brazed road bike. Nothing too extraordinary, just made to fit a guy with a crazy long torso.

Post edit: I should also note that Marc picked the paint job (although I'm definitely digging it), and the steer tube was left long for the first ride or two just to make sure. I am also thinking of a down tube sticker, as this one (aside from the colors) ended up looking a tick on the plain side. I thought I was a fan of the inconspicuous, simple design. But I think I (or people) should have the option.

Thursday, March 6, 2008

Snow Biking in St. Louis

If you ever want to ride Forrest Park's bike path without any runners, bikers, or rollerbladers getting in your way, wait until the mid-west decides to drop 8in of random snow. Sunday, it was in the 70's, then Tuesday, it dropped to mid 20's and snowed all day. The snow was thick enough, and coming down fast enough, the plows couldn't keep up. Accidents were all over the road, many stayed home, and I went for a ride around the park.

First, I finally got Marc's frame done, and needed to get out on the bike again. Second, I had a ton of gear to test out, and it was a great day to do it. The Lake winter boots worked like a champ (note, I do have last years model, so they're not exactly the one in the picture). I do think a Pugsley would be awesome for this, but I still can't see getting/building one for the few days a year that I could actually use it in St. Louis. But I will say my mountain bike still worked pretty well. Aside from snow getting hub deep at times, and leaving weird tire tracks with foot scrapes on either side where my feet were pedaling through the snow, I could keep chugging along. And chugging it was, I averaged 4.72 mph for two and a half hours. Of course part of that was I had to get off and hike if the grade got too steep. But man, I tell you it was a blast. I had the "trail" to my self. The only thing I saw was a few foot prints where people were hiking or running, and I think I saw one section of bike tracks. But aside from that, just a few people at road crossings that either gave me a big smile and friendly hello, as I crawled by in my granny ring, or people giving me dumbfounded looks of "what the hell would make you think that was a good idea." There didn't seem to be a middle ground. But I'll tell ya, next time it snows and I have the day off you'll know where to find me.

Tuesday, March 4, 2008

Being Unemployed is Hard Work! (lots of pics)

Sorry to any regulars that have been waiting for anything new up here. The past few days have been a long hard push to get Marc's frame done today. We braved the snow, and Les at Powder Coat Specialists was nice enough to go into work today, and hopefully have it ready to be picked up tomorrow. (there's just nothing like going local) This way, it will be able to be build it up in time to get some riding on it before his race this Sunday.

Everything came out pretty well, I think. I've definitely learned more even from the last frame. The only thing that didn't turn out awesome, was my numbers came out a bit short on the chain stays. I drew out how long they needed to be for the wheel to come out of the semi-horizontal dropouts and not hit the seat tube. I gave it about 1-2mm of clearance on the drawing, but that was the only thing that didn't translate perfectly into real life. After I welded the chain stays on, I went to put the rear wheel in to check for alignment and position for the brake bridge. It bumped the seat tube, and didn't quite have enough room to slip into the dropouts. It would have worked if you deflated the tire, but that would suck. But with a bit of file work on the dropout, it will get in and out. So, not as awesome as I'd like, but it will work. And now I have one more valuable lesson under my belt. Thanks to Marc for willing to be one of the early buyers.

Aside from all that work, I haven't been up to much at all. The lady and I did sneak out for a ride on Saturday when it was hovering a bit above 60F. We rode the Riverfront Trail up to the Chain Of Rocks Bridge. It was so nice out, just a little breezy on the way back, but I can't complain. At least it wasn't full of snow, slush, ice, and salt. The next day it got up to the 70's... and today we're getting 6-7 inches of snow. Yey St. Louis!

Hit Counters
REI Coupon