Friday, November 17, 2006

Catching Up Again

Tonight I put the last filler of epoxy into the filets on Linda's bike. After a little sanding, it'll be ready to head to Gordon for paint. Naturally, it wasn't possible to sand tonight, so I spent time on several other projects.

First, I've organized a work space in the basement. It's well lit and has two good-sized work surfaces. This is where I'll do my vacuum bagging. It close to the furnace, and so tends to be warmer than the rest of the house - which is good for curing epoxy. There is a little more organizing of tools and materials to do, but things are just about ready here.

Second, I attacked the first frame that I built with the intention of being painted and built up. After dropping it off, the painter got back to me with the information that the rear triangle was out of alignment - and so its sat in his shop for a couple of years. This fall we arranged to get it back to me. I should note that this frame is the one that convinced me to buy a jig - it was just too hard to build the rear-end without. The funny thing is, knowing what I do now (how to pin or tack joints), a straight, aligned, rear triangle seems quite doable without a jig.

Looking this beast over, the front triangle seems fine. It passed the check on the alignment table - and so is deemed worthy. The rear triangle was beyond repair. Out came the hack saw and I cut each chain stay about 2 inches from the BB. It was pleasing to see that the stays held their alignment even after being cut. Then I cut the first seat stay about half an inch from the seat lug. It too held alignment, so I cut the final seat stay similar to the first.

The seat lug has ports for mounting the seat stays, sort of a fast back style. These stays were cut short because they needed to be ground out of the lug. The chain stay stubs were left longer so that they can be heated and pulled out of the BB.

The now disconnected rear triangle is held together by the brake bridge and the dropouts. And, it looks good and in alignment with itself. Yea. This is now set aside for a while

Third, it was organization time. And this will take some time. To begin with, I inventoried tubing and reorganized its storage to save some space. For the record, I have 4 Metax front triangles, 2 sets of 653 (1 std, 1 OS) w/ 725 rear triangles, 2 full sets of SLX and 1 full set of SL (11 tubes), 1 set of LIFE sized for SL6 lugs, 3-4+ sets work of Deda & True Temper std & OS tubes, 4 pair of Reynolds pre-raked fork blades, 2 pair of Nivachom blades, 4 pair of ZeroTre blades, 2 pair of round track blades, a variety of seat stays (including Metax, Biconical, and normal 14 & 16mm) and chain stays (oval, round, round-oval-round), a bunch of head tubes, and a small supply of steerers. That's a lot more tubing than I realized. Everything is now organzied, labeled, and put away, and many boxes have been collapsed and put in the recycle bin.

With one frame and fork now in the car's trunk (so it can go for blasting), one frame about to be cut up to liberate its carbon tubes for practice joints, and the frame mentioned above in play - there are many fewer stray frames hanging around and in the way.

Next steps include: creating more hanging space for parts and tools, making more holder blocks for small files, and rotary tool items (sanding drums, flap wheels, buffers, grinders, etc.). Then I need a better system for storing (and making accessible) the various sand papers.

One disadvantage of my garage is that it has a very low ceiling. The tracks for the garage door use a special short radius piece so that the door fits. This means that its hard to go up for storage. Therefore, more bicycle parts need to find a place in the basement to free up more space for tools and materials. As you can see, this is going to be an ongoing project for quite some time.

Anyhow, my building priorities have shifted to: a) install the new rear triangle on Bike #1, then paint it (using rattle cans); b) Get the blue bike back from blasting and give it a good paint job; c) Finish Aram's track bike; d) Build a townie bike using some nice Tange lugs I've been hording and a set of SLX, build a Metax roadster - after that the world is too fluid to plan.

It looks like my hands will be full with re-orging the shop, refining my carbon vacuum bag builds, and a bunch of steel bikes. Stay tuned for the fun.

Tuesday, November 14, 2006

Dateline Tuesday December 15

Just a quick update.

Linda's bike is coming along and should get packed off to the painter within two weeks. I'm currently cleaning up joints and spilled epoxy from bonding the front triangle and the chain-stays. Then the seat-stays get fitted, bonded and a little cleanup, and we can ship.

Brigette's bike is held up waiting on a stencile. He name decals weren't opaque enough against the carbon tubes - so Gordon is painting her name. He lays out the name, and has a shop computer-cut a stencil from mylar. But, until the shop gives them up, we're stuck.

I got a couple of packages from FiberGlast today. I've been assembling materials from a number of sources to start practicing vacuum bagged joints on carbon tubes. This should allow me to make a stronger & lighter carbon frame while allowing my more flexibility in frame design compared to using tubes and lugs. I hope to have a production version on display in time for the Chicago Bike Show.

I'm also waiting for some more stainless tubing to arrive. I've assembled three frames worth of Metax tubing, except for the chainstays. And, I may have found a source (which is next to impossible) for one or more sets of single-bend Metax chainstays. At least one set of this tubing will be combined with Richissmo lugs, and hopefully this frame will also be ready for the show. By the time Linda's frame is gone, everything necessary will be in stock and ready to go.

I want to do another stainless frame using Slant 6 lugs and the new Columbus XCr tubing. Unfortunately, they are only offering a 38mm down-tube to start, and the SL6 needs a 35mm. It would be possible to use a Reynolds 953 downtube, but this formulation of stainless is more sensitve to staining in the presence of salt (sweat).

I am definately doing a Slant 6 frame using a set of Columbus Life tubing. This should be pretty light. Its being created to fit a friend who rides a Serrotta Ti frame. Nice bike. But with the right paint job, I think the Slant 6 will look much sexier.

Meanwhile, I've found a blaster to strip my steel road frame. I've decided to fix a couple of cosmetic issues and give it a decent paint job. The blasting is more expensive than I expected (quote of $150) so I may need to find another source long-term. But this will get me going for now. Then I have the first steel frame I ever built with a did a beautifully aligned rear triangle, it just isn't aligned to the front triangle. This was built pre-jig. The front looks good, so the back will come off and a new one will go on in its place. Oh, and Aram's track frame is close to having its filets cleaned up and being ready for paint.

Wow... that's a lot of projects. I better break the log jam and start completing some of them.

More soon.