Monday, June 30, 2008

New goings on in the shop

Howdy everyone. Things have started to pick up around the shop again lately; some good work is getting done. First, I'm starting to make some templates of commonly used things like dropouts, so I don't have to spec it out with the calipers and make a new blue print every time. This way, I'll just get out the corisponding template to whatever dropout I'm using, set it at the right spacing, and trace it out. Time saved for me, means more bikes getting done, and that much closer to being able to make it worth my while selling them in the future.

My 26" mountain frame has been coming along. I've got all the miters done for the main triangle except the second part of the compound miter for the down tube that buts up against the bottom bracket shell, as well as the seat tube. The reinforcement ring is brazed in place. So now I've just got to put the water bottle bosses on, and that part will be ready for assembly.

Also, I've got the seat tubes bent for tire clearance. This is the first time I've done bending other than for fork blade rake. It was interesting to bend a certain amount, in an exact spot on the tube, and have both of them match. I think it turned out pretty well, and would include it on other people's frames without worry.

(The drawing shows the clearance of the chain stay. The left tube is the chain stay; the right is the seat stay with a similar bend in it. Look here for more pictures and explanations.)

Tuesday, June 24, 2008


It's amazing how spoiled one can get with a faster bike. After riding my road bike for so long, my townie suddenly feels slow. 28c tires, Mr. Tuffy's, having only one gear, and not exactly the lightest component spec. But you know, I love every pound of that portly girl. I've been stopped at least a few times by people wondering what kind of bike it is, what's the little fender thing on the front, and who made it. (the 'fendette' is proving to be way more popular than I expected) Even though I'm not beating my record on the way to work, it's just fun to ride something that does it's job, rides well, and people love to look at it. And it's even more fun to think of how I made it.

As far as the actual ride itself, I'm stoked to finally have a disk on the front. The fork does have more flex than say a mountain bike fork. But overall, not bad at all. And luckily(?) I've been able to test it out in some emergency slam on the brakes at full speed situations already. I haven't been caught in a full on downpour (yet), but in a slight rain, the brakes and fendette are pretty awesome. The spray that pops up in front of the fork from only having clip on (rear coverage only) fenders is curbed quite nicely by the lugged-looking fendette. Beauty and function!

This being the first version of this particular bike, there are a few tweaks I would make for next time. But then again, I always want to tweak something better for next time.

(The 'Fendette' works! and people love it!)

Mechanical side note: The crown race was in fact widened out by the old fork not being exactly to spec. Once I got the new one, it pounded on quite precisely.

Sunday, June 22, 2008

Big Flood in the Midwest!

Hey all, in case you've been living under a rock. (or just don't have much to do with the Midwest), there's a big flood right now. I've got some pictures on my flickr site, but if you can get down to the river to see for yourself... It's crested a good ways up the huge stairs in front of the arch. Quite spectacular.

In other small news: I've got brownie up and running again. I've had a few good rides on her (and am meeting some nice folks along the way), and I'll say it's good to have her back. I've also got a few miters done on the next mountain bike. So it's good to be back to work. (mostly) Still have tons of planning to do for the big day, but I can't keep slipping behind schedule on the frames. More, and more pictures to come.

Stairs in front of the arch. There were more people here than looking at the arch itself.

Parking garage north of the arch by the landing.

Tuesday, June 17, 2008

Mission Accomplished

Greetings friends, I haven't posted in a while, but this time I have a great excuse. I've been planning a nice trip with the lady in which to propose to her. Through much research of the local rock formations necessary to gain entrance to this land, as well as much recon into the different locations to accomplish this goal, I had a plan so tight you couldn't see the light through it. We were going to ride the Katy Trail to Hermann, and stay at the Hermann Hill Vineyard and Inn. A masseuse was scheduled to give us an in-room massage after a long day's ride, and after some local food and libations, there was a hot tub on our own personal patio, looking over the river that was to be the last seen location of two single persons.
Well, that was until some weather started rolling our way, and not only kept us off of what would have been a muddy tail, but the lightening kept us off our bikes all together. But the day of the mission was still good weather, so I took the lady for a day hike to get her good and worn out, in order to make necessary the massage later that evening. While we were hiking, the Inn called to let me know that the hot tub had broken, and wouldn't be fixed by the time we arrived. That being the plan of attack, I needed another location quick. Luckily, I had programmed every eatery in the town of Hermann into my cell phone, and went down the list until I had reservations at a quite fancy European cuisine restaurant. Things were still shaping up for a good trip.
Upon arrival to the Inn, we were informed that we were switched rooms in order to accommodate a handicapped individual that would have had a easier time in the room we reserved. Luckily, this room did have a working hot tub, and with some last minute correspondence, the masseuse was re-directed. The massage was great, and everything was shaping up for a fancy engagement dinner. When we found the "Europa Restaurant" that I had reservations for, here's what we saw:

And while I didn't manage to get pictures of the inside, it only got worse. The warm stuffy air and dead silence, interrupted by a creaky carpeted floor and a portable fan by our table in the living room gave one the feeling of someone else's grand parents' house. We were one of two couples that ate that night in an awkward whispering silence, being served by a scruffy young man terrified of eye-contact. Not so suddenly, the idea of the waiter bringing out the ring with the dessert didn't sound as romantic. So after a tasty meal that was serenaded by the waiter randomly walking over to a piano, playing something he had come up with, and leaving without a word, we made our way back to the Inn.

After a nice soak in our own hot tub to wash away the weird vibe, we sat in front of a fireplace in bathrobes. And while this was now about the fifth time the original plan had been revised, that was where the proposal took place. I am now happy to announce that Melissae Diane Stuart and I are to be married. (whenever we get to working out all the plans for that day)

(More pictures of the ring on my flickr site if that's what you want to see)

Friday, June 6, 2008

Things going slowly...

Hey everyone, I know I haven't posted in a while. And mostly it's because my mommy told me that if I didn't have anything nice to say... well, I just haven't had anything nice to say.

Last week, I got Brownie back from paint, and it came out quite well. A few bubbles in the paint, but hey, I'm not complaining. That day, I was going to cut and face the crown, frame save her, and take some pictures. Well after cutting the crown, the race just plopped on. Instead of having to be pounded and pressed, I could just slide it on with my fingers. It's a brand new Park Tool cutter, I triple checked the specs to make sure I used the correct sized 1" standard, and something came out wrong. Right now my theory is that I had previously pounded this race onto the fork that I built and cut at UBI, and possibly their cutter was old and worn. So it left the race a tick on the big side, wallowing out the race I pounded on, and now it won't fit anything else. I've been too frustrated to check, but I hope this is the case. It's definitely the easiest to solve with a new race.

In the mean time, I've started on my mountain bike frame. After just about completing the blueprint for her, I sleepily spilled my coffee all over the drawing, ruining everything. I started over, got it finished (again), and started inspecting my tubes. Then I come to find out my top tube is actually a down tube (making it too long, where I would have to cut off pretty much all of the butted section). And my down tube is some sort of oversized beast (~35.2mm, instead of the 31.8 that it was supposed to be) But I figure this out after I hastily started cutting the down tube. After talking to the folks at Nova, they were nice enough to take back the top tubes, and send me the correct ones (even though the order was a couple months ago). But - and rightfully so - I'm stuck with these beastly down tubes. It's ok, I guess I'll have an extra stiff frame. I guess this was supposed to be my race bike anyhow.

So lesson for the week, check everything twice as soon as possible, and be ready to handle when things still don't go right. Oh well. Next week we're going to a bed & breakfast, so I probably won't get a whole lot of building done. I plan to get back to it afterwards, as I'm behind schedule. In the mean time, here's some teaser shots of Brownie:

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