Tuesday, September 27, 2005

Slow but Expensive

Slow but Expensive - that's my new motto.

Frame 090105 still isn't complete. Two issues are at hand: fitting a stem and re-painting the white panels. The latter can wait, but the former keeps the frame unrideable.

Right now, the crank and derailers are installed. Interesting, for all the calculating done in advance, the hanger is a bit low. The derailer fits OK, but its at the top of the hangers slot. Have to remember that for next time.

The headset is installed and working nicely. The seat-tube needs another reaming but that's small potatoes.

So what's the holdup you ask?

STEM: Nowhere have I heard of or read about reaming out the steerer to fit a stem. Now using a traditional stem in a threadless steerer might be stretching things a bit. But, I did expect it would slide in. No go. Went back to my books, and finally found something in the Proteus Guide to Framebuilding about reaming out a stem. OK, now I feel better about that solution - I just have to order a reamer. Meanwhile, I could finish my external stem (and will) but the shop is just to disorganized right now. My shop space is about 12'X10''. Lately, my wife has been parking her car further over so it may be more like 12'X9'. Anyhow, sometimes I move task to task without cleaning everything up. And after a while the accumulation gets in the way. So, my next task needs to be clean up - but first I need to plan some improvements in how to stash everything. Hence, procrastination. Just in case, I ordered a threadless stem which ought to be here by the weekend.

PAINT: The white layers on thick no matter what I do. As a consequence, masking the decals leads to a distinct edge (cliff) when the tape is pulled. I haven't found a way to soften this without discoloring the white paint. It looks like I need to do a full white panel and re-apply decals. Not a biggie, except that I don't have any more. URG. A compromise solution: ordered some laser decal paper. I'll print my own. They may not last forever - but will probably last long enough for a test mule.

Enough of slow.

I seem to spend when I can't build. Compared to pro, my material expenditures are probably miniscule, but they add up for me. I ordered a tube set for my Newvex lugs. It's Zero (aka SAT 16.5 I think). Nice thin wall tubing. Following the lead a serious builder, I'll be using Zero Uno (s/b COM 12.5) for the rear triangle. Right now I'm thinking of a black paint scheme with polished stainless lugs. The choice of decals is less clear at the point - probably have to build it and paint it first. This frame is probably 3-4 frames out, so not until sometime next year.

Along with this I ordered some additional rear-end materials a BB and some castings. Then, there have been a few nabobs and such (like the stem mentioned above), some various minor frame-building bits. And, I need the new reamer and some allen sockets to put on the torque wrench to finish tightening down the crank arm.

Add to all this my recent purchase of a set of SL, a BB and some track DOs from Kirk (his track DOs have a lot more style than just about anybody else's), some crowns on order from HJ, plus a couple of BBs and some small cast bits. Pretty soon it all adds up.

Then there are decals. I've finally got two sets of decal designs firmed up w/ AJ and Victory Graphix. Have I mentioned that they do really good work? So, I ordered 40 sets (20 of each design). Am I nuts or what? That's probably a lifetime supply. Granted the price comes down with quantity, but its still not cheap. On the other hand, I think his prices for a one-off set are really reasonable and I'm not complaining about his volume prices - AJ earns what he charges in my book.

So, I have to stop spending and get back to building. Better go start cleaning out the shop. Then maybe do a couple of house projects. And, fit in a couple of rides.

Oh, one last thing, I'm very pleased with how my external quill stem works. To rehash, I'm using 1.125" tubing connected with a seat lug. The ears get ground off, and the gaps filled with silver to leave a nice looking lug. The top will get a stainless disk to set things off. Low on the quill, two clamps get brazed on. Because the tubing thickness is 0.58", it telescopes nicely over the steerer and clamps tightly.

Below the stem goes a BTF Headset Adjuster from Calhoun Cycle in Minneapolis. This is basically two pieces which thread together. Turning them back and forth cause their overall length to grow or shrink. There is a lock screw to hold the adjustment. So. The external quill is clamped onto the steerer at the desired height with the BTF H/A (and as necessary a spacer), and the BTF H/A adjusts the slack in the headset.

The only problem with this solution is that the stem tubes are thick and heavy. But, at least they'll be strong. If I were to do this in volume, I'd look at getting a custom lug made and having the tubes turned down to a lighter diameter. But, for a one off, its fine. Pictures when I have the handlebar clamp attached. :)

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