Tuesday, August 30, 2011


I've been trying some painting using spray cans.  Not for client bikes, just on a prototype for me.  It'll be a long time, if ever, before I explore painting for customers.  Painting properly takes a bit of equipment, space and practice.  By a bit, I mean a lot.

But, even with limited goals, there's much to be learned by doing something oneself.  And, it helps to walk in the shoes of a painter, in terms of understanding what I'm delivering to them.

Anyhow, I'm making some progress.  Just using Rustoleum.  I put a light primer coat of clear on the crabon frame.  Then tried feathering in black over the joints.  The edges aren't all that I'd like them to be, it probably would have gone more easily with an airbrush.

I also tried using some reflective paint for safety.  It's supposed to blend in and then POP under headlights.  It turns out that Black isn't a good color base to hide this stuff.  So I covered most of it up with black paint.  It's still there on the bare carbon sections, and hopefully adds a measure of safety on night rides.

Clear is tricky stuff.  To get a good finish, it needs to go on wet, right on the edge of running.  In fact, sometimes a minor run will flatten out before drying.  But, when you get runs, it means sanding them back.

Spraying on shaped surfaces, its hard to maintain an equal distance from everything.  Instead, the closest surface gets wet, and the further surfaces end up with a bumpy pattern which I attribute to partial setting up of the clear coat while airborne.

The following pictures go through a sequence of layers from rough to mirror like.  Enjoy!

Friday, July 29, 2011

Slow Steady Progress

A few more pix:

Lower Head Tube Filet

I little bumpy on the the outside.

Filing away.

A little more sanding and we'll have a nicely radiused filet.

Sunday, July 24, 2011

A few more pix

Here is a downtube cable stop.  Polish needs a bit of touch up.  can you see the heart-shaped cutouts?

Hard to see from this side, but the front derailer hanger is polished.

And the bottom bracket is almost done.  Just a bit more sanding.

Monday, July 18, 2011

Shiny Bits

Working on some shiny bits for Nick's crit bike.  Looks like there are still some gouges to sand out before completing the buff job.

Thursday, July 14, 2011

Nick's Crit Bike

Charlies mountain bike is almost ready paint.  Just a bit of sanding and painting.  Meanwhile, Nick's Crit bike is coming along.  After tube fit up, I've brazed the seat tube and down tube to the BB.  A bit of filing and sanding left, then on to the head tube.  BTW, the alignment is looking very good at this point.  So on to pictures.
Seat tube tacked in.

Down tube fit up looks good even after tacking the seat tube.

Filet ready for filing and sanding.

And the head tube fit up still looks tight!

See ya next time.

Thursday, June 30, 2011

Moving along

I've been riding again for about 6 weeks or so.  They we (the family) went out west, where I managed to tear a hamstring.  Humph!  Anyway, now I don't have to feel guilty about shop time cutting into riding time.

I'm back to finishing up Charlie's small 26er.  The main thing accomplished today was to bend the seatstays, cut them to length, and cap them using pieces of 1-1/8 inch tubing.  A few pix follow:

This is my tiny shop after closing up for the night.  Less than 1/2 of a stall in the garage.

Here are the bent stays.  I like this radius much better than the sharp kink in so many commercial offerings.

A little final clean-up remaining - but pretty close to finished.

Charlies unfinished frame above.  I checked the alignment using the table and via a true wheel.  Both checked out nicely.

The end of the stay will nestle nicely in the curve of the filet for the top tube/seat tube joint. 

Wednesday, May 25, 2011

Slowly Catching Up

1) Check out House Industries at velocipedesalon.com - good stuff.
2) Also read about Suzy of Little Fish Bicycles - quite a multi-talented women who convinced any number of folks that they too could learn to build frames.

3) Step by step, things are getting better.

On the personal front, I've managed a couple of rides in a row now without disc problems.  This is a win and a sign of improvement. that puts a smile on my face.

Currently I have a couple of steel frames under construction, hopefully I can get some pix soon.  One is a small MTB for my youngest son.  Fillet brazed with Cycle Design's LFB - interesting stuff with which to work, and I'm still getting the feel for it.  One thing I'm experimenting with is using Metax (an early Columbus version of Stainless tubing) for the chainstays.  Lots of careful timely cleaning is required before brazing this stuff to make sure of a good joint.

The other is a race bike for a rider who is strong in crits.  He's fair sized, so it uses 2XL tubes.  That's 31.7mm diameter for top and seat tubes and 25mm for the down tube.  Should be plenty stiff.  This one has a lugged BB w/ filet joints everywhere else.

I'm also getting a carbon frame ready for paint and should have finished pictures pretty soon.  So lots going on.

Meanwhile, plenty of maintenance needs doing.  The fuel line of Kevlar hoses sprung a leak, so after trying to repair it (hard to find small enough repair nipples), I went ahead an ordered new hoses and flash-back arrestors.   At the same time, I ordered a repair kit for my torches valves.  It's been dropped on the floor, and I think the O2 valve leaks when shut, costing me expensive O2.  Unfortunately, this is on back order so I'll hve to refill my oxy tank tomorrow.  Side note to this, my local welding supply is of little to no use regarding brazing supplies, or my torch (Smith aircraft torch) setup.  Even when I offer them the opportunity to order what isn't in stock.  I guess that I'm just too small a bit of business, but it also keeps me guilt-free when I order over the I-net. 

I've also ordered some plumbing for a small air compressor (like for a brad nailer) I own.  I'd like to start learning to paint frames via airbrush, and the first step is a clean reliable air supply.  BTW, anything larger than an airbrush starts a slippery slope: 1) buy a good spray gun; 2) which requires a bigger compressor; 3) demanding 220V circuit in the garage; 4) which is dependent on a new panel and upgrading house to 200 amp service.  I figure, by the time a I put together a basic spray booth with all the above, moving to spray guns would cost me at least $5K to start - which isn't in my current budget.  So, I'll start with with airbrushes, and working out doors - probably with water based paints. 

More soon.

Saturday, March 12, 2011

A little progress

Well, it looks like at least another two weeks on the IV.  While I'm chomping on the bit, it's going to be a little while yet before I can start ramping up the shop again.

With that in mind, let me share a little project completed during all this medical who-ha.

I've got a big, heavy, old Hozan truing stand.  It works, but its clumsy.  I've been thinking for some time about building its replacement.  Then my son asked for a truing stand for Christmas.- which further accelerated the process.

To me, a truing stand should be stiff, stable and well dampened.  It should be easy to adjust for a range of over lock-nut sizes and wheel diameters.  And, it should be easy to center the hub in the stand, so that centering the rim is not a separate process from building the wheel. A nice to have is the ability to mount a dial indicator for fine readings of true and round.

That's not a huge list of requirements, but buying a stand that meets them tends to be expensive.  For around $125, though, its possible to build such a stand using 80:20 extrusions as the foundation.

My son lives in CA, which added on further requirement: the stand has be able to be knocked down and shipped in a fixed-rate Priority Mail box.  As a consequence, on the stand I made, the cross frame is limited in size, so I had to come up with a way to mount the uprights so they would fit the cross piece and come together for a 100mm front OLD.

Note, the adjustment hand screws in the picture have brass heads and were prior to trimming to length.  These have been replaced with plastic headed hand screws, so they won't where out their threaded guide holes prematurely.  Also, not seen in the pictures are: connector plate between the two base pieces; three rubber furniture feet on which this stand sits.  These provide a tripod support (three points define a plane) which won't rock, and make sure that the stand doesn't slide around on the work surface.

Anyhow, I don't have any plans, per se, so I can't share them.  But all you really need to know is in the following pictures.  All parts not from 80:20 came from McMaster Carr, including the self-adhesive left and right hand metric scales used to align the uprights.


Monday, March 07, 2011

Been missing you guys.

Hey gang,

Sorry to be gone so long, but I've been busy with some medical issues.  Nothing I can't get past, just stuff that interferes with life for a while.  

It started in December with a herniated disk (symptom of age).  When that was cleared up, I developed a staph infection (no one can tell me how).  The staph was kinda ugly, but its now on the run.  I'm still running a portable IV of penicillin, but I go to the Dr. on Wednesday and expect to hear how much longer that will last.  Hopefully not to long cuz I can't really work in the shop with this thing.

Anyhow, as shop work gets up to speed, I'll be posting words/pix right here.



Friday, February 18, 2011

A crucial time

Today I stand with the teachers, nurses, and all public employees of Wisconsin who are fighting for their rights. If you do too, change this to your status for the rest of the day.

You too can choose Freedom over Greedom, post this pledge to your blog or facebook page.