Monday, May 8, 2017
It had been almost 2 weeks since I had been on a bike when I threw a leg over my new steed and I wasn't anticipating great sensations in the legs, however, just a few minutes into the ride I came upon a short, sharp uphill and I immediately knew this bike was faster than my other. In all fairness, it very well could've been the fact that I had a clean, fresh drive train but the bike definitely went up hill with less effort. It's probably a pound or maybe a pound and a half lighter so maybe I felt that. This is also the first bike I have personally ridden with a tapered head tube and steerer. I have built plenty of them but never had the chance to ride one for myself.
When I stood up out of the saddle it was like the bike wanted to remain upright and didn't want to rock side to side like I'm accustomed to. It felt odd at first like it didn't want to change directions but I quickly got used to it, and after riding it for an hour or so the last couple of days I'm good with it. I can ride at least one more gear and sometimes two on both the uphills and the flats. Once again, I'm sure the new drive train helps a lot. My old chain and rear derailleur were so gunked up with crap that it took me almost an hour to get the derailleur clean.
The surprise of the build, and probably of any and all builds of my lifetime, came when i I had finished cleaning the derailleur and started putting the pulleys back into place and realized I had lost one of the little bushings. I had taken the derailleur outside and sprayed it down hard with brake parts cleaner to ease some of the caked on oily grit that had built up over months of riding. I was under the overhang of the house since it was raining fiercely but I was holding the derailleur out over the grass so that all the greasy parts cleaner wouldn't get on my steps. So after all the spraying, cleaning, and wiping down, i go back to the shop table to put it back together and realize the pulley is locking up because the bolt is pinching it. I had briefly forgotten about the pulley being in there but immediately knew something was wrong and so I took the other pulley off in order to find out exactly what I had lost. After seeing and remembering what I was missing I honestly wasn't even gonna look for it, I knew it was gone. I glanced over the shop table in hopes that my little dilemma would be easily resolved with no luck and then started looking around the floor between the shop table and the back door which are on opposite ends of the house. Had it been anywhere on the shop floor and I would've found it, I would've considered that to be a small miracle, but step after step led me closer to the back door and before long I was back on the steps, under the overhang, looking down at the wet, greasy grass where I had sprayed about a half a can of parts cleaner on it. I asked myself, "Why would I even attempt to go down these steps and look for a little greasy bushing in the rain that probably doesn't measure much more than 5 millimeters across?" It didn't even really seem like a smart thing to do as i stepped out from under the overhang, down the stairs, and out into the pouring rain. Not only was it pouring rain, but I was standing directly under the overhang where all the water is running off the roof and puddling up in the yard below. I half-heartedly gazed around the blackened grass that I had refused to weed eat a few days earlier when it was dry and obviously didn't see anything. My eyes were roughly 6 feet away from the grass and have I mentioned that my eyesight isn't quite what it used to be, and that I've got an eye prescription for glasses that I have yet to fill? So at this point I had only been looking in the grass for maybe a minute and my shirt and cycling cap were already soaked from the steady dripping of the rain off the roof. Just as I was about to take a step back toward the stairs I told myself that unless I bend down there would be no chance in finding it and that not looking would have been just as effective. So I reluctantly squatted down and put the palm of my hand on the tips of the grass blades and gently pushed them to the side until I could see dirt. Low and behold, there it was. I was blown away and just sat there staring at it. It couldn't have shown any more brilliantly if it had been a gold tooth. "Huh? What the hell are you talking about D? A gold tooth?" Ok, maybe a gold coin would have been a better analogy. I picked it up and wrapped my entire hand tightly around it like it was the key to the universe and walked back to my shop table in total and utter amazement where my derailleur laid. I had truly found a needle in a haystack.
Got some new record cranks. 177.5s no less. They're the older style but they feel like home going uphill. I've been riding 175s for the past year or more and all I can say is that I don't get along with 175s. "One seventy seven fives, you're the girl for me."
Thanks for stopping by!
MEECH Custom Bicycles
Saturday, April 22, 2017
Friday, April 14, 2017
Thursday, April 13, 2017
I never would've thought it would take me this long... wait, yes I would. Anyway I finally
finished up the paint on this gravel road frame that's been sitting
around the shop for what seems like eternity. I've had 3 frames laying
around the shop with primer on them and I told myself that I wasn't gonna start
another build until they were completed. Well, two of them are finished and I've
got a small start on the last one.
This paint job went much smoother than the Van Halen Frankenstrat
paint scheme did. Trying to keep tight lines on that one complicated things but on this one I mainly just tryed to keep it somewhat traditional yet interesting at the same time.
The star stencils that I normally use on the head tube didn't fit this tapered head
tube too well so I had to improvise a bit.
Rear brake line runs through the down tube. With the derailleur cables running in the
traditional road position the brake line wasn't a clean fit. I prefer to make things as easy
as possible to work on but this isn't too difficult of a setup. It comes out the side of the
down tube, over the bottom bracket shell, and across the chain stay. It's not totally concealed but it tucks away nicely and leaves you with a cluttered look.
The paint scheme will actually help to conceal the brake line.
I always put a carbon fiber chain stay protector on my frames now unless someone
just tells me not to. I just like the way it looks too much, not to mention the protective capabilities from all the chain-slap when you're descending a gravel hill at 30 mph. I
always say that I want you guys to beat the molasses out of my frames but that doesn't
mean I'm not gonna make it tough on you.
I can't think of much to say about this except that it's colorful, no?
These letters are actually done in a lime green color. When the sun is shining directly on
them it's a little hard to tell. It looks a little greener on a cloudy day. I love the new logo
that Vince Pearcy designed for me. It let's me go in the direction that I want to go. I'll still
use the old logo for anyone that wants it but this one just fits the MEECH concept at the present moment.
I told Jack that we were gonna go take some pictures of the bicycle. So after I got the
frame in place and started trying to get some shots, he kept walking in front of the camera
and didn't understand why I kept telling him to get out of the way. I had to take a little time
out and shoot a few rounds with him before Dizzy finally got his attention and permitted me
to finish the job. Normally he doesn't want his picture taken but I know for a fact that he likes
this frame because after it was done he said, "I like this bicycle. Can I have it?"
This is the beginning of the next frame but it's a long way from completed.
Thanks for stopping by.
MEECH Custom Bicycles
Sunday, March 12, 2017
We got a good dose of snow last night in Jonesboro and since we don't see much of the white stuff here in Arkansas, the little man Jack wanted to take it all in. Factory racer Larry Yancey gave him a couple Flexible Flyers a while back and the little man insisted I get them down out of the rafters of the garage. "Gladly", I said. "Anything to get you out of the house."
Turns out, I not only had to go out in the snow with him, I had to be his sled dog too. I hate snow! Oh well, it wasn't bad and we got a few pics to look back on. He didn't quite understand the concept of snowballin when I pelted him upside the head with a big wet snowball but he was quick to learn.
Wouldn't be a stroll without Dizzy.
If you want to watch some good racing highlights Paris-Nice was decided by 2 seconds. Quite good for early season. Steephill TV has it all and you can usually watch the last couple of kilometers of each stage. It's nice being able to watch all the key moments of an entire stage race in about 10 minutes.
It's about time to get back in the paint booth. Got a fork on the way for a gravel road bike. Hoping to get it done soon. Thanks for stopping by.
Saturday, March 11, 2017
Thursday, March 9, 2017
The last time I posted I believe I said something to the effect that the next time I post it would be with some color. Well, it took a while but here it is. After seeing a few Van Halen posts on Facebook I decided to incorporate a little EVH voodoo into one of my frames. It turned out to be a little harder than I anticipated. I think painting a bicycle might be a little harder than painting a guitar but I wouldn't tell Eddie that. On second thought,
yes i would!
This was how it turned out after the first time I completed it and it just didn't seem to meld, however, as I'm looking at it here a couple days later it doesn't seem so bad. The head tube design, which I had no actual design at all wasn't even close to working. The paint job was good however it looked like it belonged on 3 different frames instead of one. After spending so much time trying to get this thing right and then to finish and realize it the paint scheme didn't really work like you thought it would was devastating at first, but what do you do? Shake it off and give it another dig. It took 4 tries to get the fork right, not to mention I got talked into some primer that didn't jibe with my painting products. That really messed things up from step one. I laid down the first color of base coat and it immediately started cracking and looking like a spider web. Took a long time to diagnose the problem but we finally figured it out and fortunately it was nothing that I was doing. That's always great to hear after you've beat yourself up for a week. The primer incident was a lot of the reason it took so long. Anyway, all water under the bridge.
Here's the "do-over" as we used to call it when we played football on the playground. I feel much better about it now. A buddy of mine even said that it looks just like me. Was that a compliment? Not sure. Anyway, I'm still not sure it's done. I think it needs some black where the top tube and down tube meet the seat tube and then also on the other side where the stays connect. Geez! When will I be able to move on?
Monday, February 27, 2017
Saturday, January 28, 2017
Here are a few shots of the first frame I've completed in a while. I started messing around with it quite a while back and finally put the finishing touches on it in the new shop. Finishing this thing up made me feel like a frame builder again. I was beginning to wonder if I'd ever get back to doing what I enjoy and I'm hoping this is the first of many more to come.
I was afraid that with so little time in the shop I might be a little rusty however fillet-brazing is a little like riding a bicycle.
Tapered head tube from Nova Cycles. 1 1/8"- 1 1/2" with 44 mm diameter ream on the lower end. This is the lightest way to do a tapered steel head tube, that I know of anyway. For a mountain bike you may want to go a little heavier, but for cross or gravel road I think this is plenty strong. Enve makes a nice fork that is gonna be perfect for this build.
Flat-mount disc-brakes. This was definitely the most difficult part of this build. I'm guessing someone has a more precise way to just go in and cut out the proper amount of chain stay material and just drop this piece in place, but being the first one, I took it slow and filed a little at a time until everything was in place. Paragon now makes a dropout with this piece already in place so that's what I'll probably use next time because it's a bit stressful always being on the edge of ruining a chain stay that's already built into the frame. Destroying the chain stay at this point would have been a major bummer and I was extremely relieved to have this piece brazed in and the wheel spinning freely within the caliper. I would love to watch someone who is more experienced with this process.
142 x 12 thru-axle of course.
Last minute decision to go internal with the brake line in the down tube. It's the only fishing I do these days.
This was a bottom bracket shell from last year. Normally everyone likes to personalize their frame and so my planned serial number methods are never in order, they serve their purpose though.
I don't keep many tools on the wall, just the beater stuff. The good stuff stays in the drawers. Not quite as convenient but I prefer to keep things as tidy as possible. I can get messy when I'm busy but a clean work environment is golden to me. The other day I had a sofa repaired by a guy who I'm pretty sure had the messiest shop I've ever seen. Not even gonna try to explain, just take my word. He fixed the sofa, and nicely I might add, so hats off to him.
Couple pictures of the finished shop minus the alignment table. I had to take the frame out to the old garage to put it on the table and I could've saved myself a trip. Come to find out it was perfectly in line, no cold-setting needed whatsoever. Makes my job easy.
Dug out some NOS Adidas after a really cold ride in my other shoes. The DMTs are extremely lightweight and airy and so with these sitting in the closet for many years I decided to break them out. They're a little heavier but they're warmer on the cold days and they've got 3 velcro straps which is my favorite. The DMTs have the BOA system on them and while it works I don't care for it, especially with shoe covers. I don't think they'll ever come up with something as simple and solid as 3 easy straps, but that's just my opinion. These are the model that Jan Ullrich used to wear and I had a pair before that got many years of good use. Then I found these on closeout and couldn't pass them up.
The new MEECH headquarters has a record player. It was a Christmas gift a couple years ago and hasn't seen much use. Probably won't see too much here either as it's too time consuming to change and flip records. But it's fun when you have the time. I have a couple of bikes laying around as well. Go figure.
Little reading material. Basically a handful of books that I didn't want to trash along with an old table given to me by my late grandmother made from an old tree of sort. The same granny that had the pistol with a bullet wedged in the barrel. She was a wild one.
Old pastel artwork of my dog Mickey. He was a character. He's the main reason I bought this house so many years ago. He was tearing my apartment to shreds. He needed some space and it all worked out for the better. Thanks Mick!
More old art.
Leather elephant. He's been with me a few years though he remains unnamed. I need to get on that.
Frames waiting their turn for more personality. Gonna be finishing up a table for the painting room today. I was gonna try to do some priming yesterday and realized I got nothing to work on. Also gonna need a new repair stand mount to hold the frames while painting. Moving the other one back and forth gets old. Streamline.
Thanks for stopping by. Next pics should have more color.