Monday, July 21, 2014
Here are a couple pics of some recent work I'm doing for Garrett up in the New York/New Jersey area. Those guys up in the Northeast give me quite a bit of business and were some of the first frame builds I got orders for when I started. They try to keep me busy and I appreciate it. I also love the idea that my work is floating around different areas of the country. Makes me happy. Sorry, no video for that one. Its a catchy song but this is purely a R'n'R blog.
Garrett wanted to go back in time a little with a single-bolt, no face-plate design for his commuter. Its along the lines of a Nitto stem that he had, clearly with fillet-brazing though. This is the deepest dropping stem that I've ever built, -25 degrees.
Getting down low
Talk about 'stealth mode'
If you're wearing camo
they'll never even know.
There are way too many folks wearing camo around here,
to church that is.
This stem resembles a slide as much as a stem but I love it and am glad he called me to build it. As much as I love to see all the new ideas that come out every year I also love to take a trip down 'memory lane' every now and again also. Lets go check it out.
When its your work thats sitting front-center on someone's bike you want it to look as good as possible, so I layed down the best fillets I could and they cleaned up really nice with minimal work, in other words, no blood.
Handlebar clamp is for one inch bars with an inch and an eighth steerer.
Its a little hard to grasp the drop on this stem until you see it on a bike but its got a cool look and I want one for one of my bikes. If only my back can take it.
What else is new? The tour has been interesting to say the least. Froome didn't make it to the mountains, Contador does the "road grater", and Talansky really didn't stand a chance as far as I'm concerned. He's good but I lost a lot of respect for him when he looked backwards in that sprint. I'm sure he's happy about having that on record for the rest of eternity. Besides, I don't care much for pit bulls, the dumb ones anyway. TVG from BMC is gaining some steam going into this final week and he's better looking than Talansky ever did. If an American is gonna stand on the podium at the Tour de France I would think it would be better if they're good-looking. I'm not sure that Tejay is exactly easy on the eyes, but as far as cyclists go at least he has all his teeth. Did I ever mention the time my little sister was riding downhill with no hands. OUCH! Me and my dad were standing there while my sister was sitting in a dentist chair, after hours, screaming her head off. It wasn't pretty and my dad just passed out cold on the floor. I had never seen anyone pass out before, I didn't know what to do. "Here dad, you want some of my Cheetos?"
If there was one place I would not want to be, other than that seat that my sister was in that late evening years ago, is in Alejandro Valverde's cleats. He's been dreaming of standing on the Tour podium his entire career and now he's sitting in third with only a few seconds between himself and three other pretty strong climbers. I would like to see him finish on the podium as I'm a bit partial to the Spanish riders but I wouldn't bet money on him, no way. I'm thinking he may crack big time. Maybe not. I wish him well.
Well, I'm outta here for now. I need to go find some type of clearcoat to put on this thing because we're not painting it. So there may actually be a couple more photos here shortly. Thanks for stopping by. Chao, or adieu, as I think they say in Fraince. Yeah, I know I spelled in wrong.
Ya got aints
in yo paints
on the last week
Mountains are looming,
time-trials are dooming,
so ya better get ready
Can you believe that Creative Writing professor gave me a 'C'?
Wednesday, July 16, 2014
Friday, July 11, 2014
Were you beginning to think I wasn't coming back? I know, I'm always thinking about you guys but I just didn't have anything to show you until now. I finally got caught up a few days back and have been playing around with some of my own ideas, and trying to finish up some of the older ones. This frame has been laying around forever and so I finally decided to put some paint on it. The colors are Creme Brulee and Torn Hemorrhoid red. Ok, I may have just made up one of those so I'll let you figure out which one. First person who knows will get a free MEECH cap. I tried to throw a couple of pieces on it to make it look like an actual bicycle, as I know you guys get tired of just seeing frames. I wish I had the time and money to build everyone of 'em up and take 'em for a spin. If only.
This frame was an old project and wasn't built for anyone in particular. It started out gonna be one of those downward sloping top tube track/time trial frames but I didn't get as much slope in there as I wanted. I had planned on just putting some drop style bars on it (I still can if I want), but then I decided to try my luck at making some aero bars and they turned out alright, a bit heavy as they're steel, but overall not bad at all. I'm gonna definitely need to put some grip tape on the bar ends because they're just way too slick. Lets go check it all out.
The fork was made from scratch by me and all the end caps on the fork and bars were made by my good friend Bob Davis. I told you all that I got a small milling machine this past winter and its basically nothing more than a glorified drill press with me at the helm. I know nothing about machining parts and I don't have a clue as to how Bob does what he does but he's good at it. He's 85 years old and been a machinist all his life. People contact him from all over the world to make custom parts for their BMW motorcycles. He's got a palmares nine miles long. Did I mention he plays the bagpipes?
These are aeroplane bars.
I like this pic.
How's this for custom tire clearance?
These little snap-on cable guides caused me a lot of pain this morning. After debating back and forth about whether or not to put braze-ons on this frame (in case someone wanted a rear brake), I decided on these clip-on cable guides here. I knew there was a chance that they would scratch the paint as they are very tight and don't snap on easily, but after playing around with them on a painted tube I thought it would be okay, however I scratched the top tube with the first try. Oh well, it hurt for a minute but if you're like me you don't worry about scratches on your bike because I'm no pretty boy. I'm just glad it wasn't for a customer or it would've really stung. This bike has no braze-ons for nothing, not even a water bottle.
Just noticed that there is a small piece of tape on the edge of the dropout face.
Ok, like I said, this frame was not made for anyone in particular, but after I finished shooting photos I decided to throw a leg over this thing just to see what it feels like. There is no headset in it yet and the tires only had about 25 psi, so it felt a little shakey but outside of that this thing screamed my name. It felt perfect to me, and it feels super-fast. Then I just grabbed a yard stick to measure the seat height to see where it was sitting and it just happened to be right at 83cm from the center of the bottom bracket. What height do I run my saddle at you ask? You guessed it. This one is all mine, scratch and all.
I heard there is some race going on over in France. Lawl! Its been excellent so far. Stage 2 had an excellent finish and Nibali played it to perfection. Stage 5 was a beautiful day to have a bike race or go cobble-skating, and now the mountains are coming. Nibali is wearing yellow after I gave up on him two days before the tour started. Just goes to show, you need to go with your gut feeling always, however, I think el Pistolero is fixing to light things up under everyones' arse. Talansky doesn't look too bad either, he looks backwards. Get it? Like my granny used to say, "Keep your eye on the road corn nut or you'll kill us all!" Don't forget about Valverde. Hang loose.
The same rawness that makes Nibali great is the same feeling that makes him vulnerable. He’s a wonderfully poetic rider in that sense.
MEECH Custom Bicycles
Mountain Home, Arkansas
Sunday, June 29, 2014
Just for the sake of it I thought I'd share how to make an easy carbon fiber chainstay protector. Whenever you're doing anything custom the last thing you want on your finished product is something fake. Chainstay protectors aren't that big of deal, I've even used a piece of black duct tape in a pinch, but its nice to have the real deal. You can't just go out a purchase a carbon chainstay protector for any frame because there are so many different styles and shapes of chainstays. This is an easy way to make one that will fit your frame. Personally, I prefer to make the protector on the chainstay before its ever incorporated into the frame because its so much easier, but if you're wanting one for your current bike then you have to make it on the bike and its not that hard. In this photo you can see the main materials needed. A little expoxy resin (this photo shows some of the cheaper stuff that you can buy over the counter most anywhere, afterall its not a real high-end part),carbon fiber of course (any type will do, I just used a couple of scrap pieces that I had on this one), some flash tape or even electrical tape will work fine, and some nylon peel ply. I prefer to work off of a piece of parchment paper because its reusable. Any epoxy that gets on it will flake right off after it dries.
Cover your chainstay real good with the tape so as not to get any resin on your frame. Epoxy can get messy real quick if your not careful. I try to lay it down as smooth as possible and without many seams. Peeling the finished piece off is not always as easy as you'd like it to be, and it takes a little care so you don't crack it.
Wet the epoxy out while its on the parchment paper. Like I said above, it doesn't matter what type of carbon cloth you use, I only worry about the top layer. I normally use three layers of cloth. I've made them with two before but three gives you a nice solid piece that won't break when you're trying to peel it off. So in this photo there are already a couple of layers of some uni-directional carbon (scrap pieces) and then a top layer of some nicer stuff. There might be some ladies around so you want to look like you have your act together. Notice that the carbon cloth doesn't go past half way down the side of the stay. If it goes past the half-way point then it goes back into the smaller diameter of the stay and makes it even harder to get off. Although, I just realized that if you make it wrap around more of the stay then you might be able to just snap it onto the stay and not even glue it in place. Not sure about that as I haven't tried it.
Ok, all the layers are wet and in place. Put your release film over it all and try not to get any wrinkles in it. You may need to kind of work it around in order to work them out if you're using a curved stay, straight stays are much easier. The nylon peel ply actually soaks up excess resin, you can even use two layers of it if you need to. Pull it down onto the carbon cloth really snug to soak up as much resin as possible. If there is alot of resin coming through the top of the peel ply you can just wipe it off with a rag. When I first started making these I would wrap breather cloth over the peel ply and then try to tighten everything up with some stretch film but I've learned that all that is unnecessary. If you go back every 15 minutes or so you can pull the peel ply down to keep pressure on everything. For the most part everything will stay in place.
If you leave the peel ply a little long on both sides it will give you something to grab onto to put more pressure on it. To be honest, on a part that is so basic all the pressure isn't really needed, however I think it makes for a much cleaner finished product.
Alright, I didn't take any photos of taking the cured piece off the chainstay so you'll just have to imagine. What I normally do after everything is completely cured is to peel up the the edges of the tape that is under part and try to lift up on it as much as possible to break the edges free. I've also used a little screwdriver before to get up under it and worked it off that way. One thing I forgot to tell you is that its better to make the protector a little bigger than what you need, this way if you tear up the edges you can trim it up. After you have the part in your hand you can trim it up with a dremel tool or I actually have a big pair of scissors that i can cut the majority of it to fit and then I just clean up any rough edges with sand paper. I've been attaching them to the frame with Loctite Silicone Gel in hopes that if you have to peel it off for some reason maybe it won't ruin the paint, however when I mount them I'm hoping that they never come off.
Here are a couple of the most recent ones. Normally I put a coat of clear on them however I like the looks of the dry ones as well.
The other day I rolled over 100,000 miles on the Nissan Frontier. I had always had Chevy trucks up until I decided to try something different in '07'. This truck has been flawless, knock on wood. Its never been in the shop for anything except oil changes. The only thing that has remotely gone wrong is that the water reservoir for the windshield wipers has a small pinhole in it and the fluid drains out after about 3 days. I think maybe it froze up one winter and got a small crack in it, but other than that its been batting a thousand.
The Tour is less than a week away and its looking prime to be a good race. I think I remember predicting that Nibali would win this year however I'm pretty sure I'm wrong, although he did just win the Italian championships. I don't think he has quite enough to keep up with Froome or Contador. But those two look like they're spot on for an outright head to head duel. Bad knews for Contador is that his righthand man, Roman Kreuziger just got kicked out of the tour by his team for suspicious blood samples. That sucks. I've always liked Kreuziger. Sad thing is, Roman never really wins anything. He's always in the top ten but seldom wins. Is anyone clean or am I just completely naive? I understand that they are all gonna do everything possible within the rules to gain as much advantage as possible but is everyone doping or are there some clean riders that can win? I've been thinking all along that the riders are cleaning up however I'm learning that I don't know jack squat. I do feel that while many of the riders have doped or may be doping, it is possible that a few are getting falsely accused. I have no idea who it would've happened to but just think about, we've put people in prison for their entire life only to find out they're innocent. It is possible. I guess I'm just hopeful. Oh well, so be it. Its no sweat off my back until they falsely accuse me. The only thing I'm gonna test positive for is caffeine, swiss cake rolls, and Nutty Buddies. If you stick a needle in my veins right now, hot-dogs, ice-cream, and potato chips would ooze out, but I'm still sitting pretty at my old race weight of 158 lbs. Go figure?
Oh yeah, I would like to tell our oldest cat Smokey that I do not appreciate him leaving his business on my wheelbag, especially when there was a fresh litter box only a few feet away. Thanks alot Smoke!
Friday, June 27, 2014
Sandy just touched base with me as he's on a vacation to Florida. He packed up the MEECH, flew south, and went exploring. This road looks like it would be a blast to ride. I told him it reminds me a little of the roads around the rice fields where I lived in Jonesboro. Yancey and I would go out there for a change of scene every once in a while and it was a blast.
Here is an older photo that Sandy sent me not long after he had gotten his frame and was putting it to the test.
I'm actually just starting a new travel frame. Its gonna be a slow build because I haven't decided exactly which direction I'm gonna go with it yet but it should be interesting.
Thanks for stopping by. Its almost Tour time.
Wednesday, June 25, 2014
I had to do a little repair work on Yancey's 29er frame last week and just finished everything up. As a frame builder, one of the better moments is when you've finished up a job for someone and have shipped it without managing to scratch it up somehow, not to mention hoping that it gets there without any damage. I've been pretty fortunate thus far with only some minor incidents. When the frame is gone and its been built up and ridden the last thing you want to happen is for the frame to come back. It sounds like a nightmare however I've had to repair a couple of frames in the 6 years that I've been building and its never as bad as you think it might be, and sometimes you even learn something new from it or reconnect with the frame somehow and thats what happened in this case.
A few weeks back Yancey was at a mountain bike race and not long after the gun went off he realized he had broken his seat tube. "What?" How do you break a seat tube?" Turns out he had changed seat posts the night before and was running a cut off post that wasn't inserted past the seat tube/top tube junction and somehow he managed to snap it off. In the typical Yancey fashion, he stopped, picked up the broke off seat post and saddle, stuck it in his back pocket, and somehow managed a third place, mind you with no injuries to his anal region. He did complain about some arm fatigue. Can't imagine racing 20 miles with no seat and a jagged steel seat tube sitting patiently like a pit bull waiting for you to get within his chain's reach, but I reckon your arms could hurt a little afterward.
Yeah, you heard me. The new MEECH bib shorts are gonna have spandex back pockets. Don't even go there because we've got a patent pending, and they're not like those fake blue jeans ones that Carrera and Marco Pantani used to wear either, God rest him.
"What'd you say? You want me to wear what while I'm racing my bicycle in front of millions of people? Sorry pal, there's not enough money in the world. I'm outta here."
"How are you gonna patent a back pocket?"
Thats easy. Ours is gonna be better. See?
I've replaced about every tube on a bike frame at one time or another but never a seat tube. I figured I could build a whole new frame quicker than replacing a seat tube. A lugged frame would be much easier than a fillet-brazed frame I would think. I wasn't sure really how to go about it. At first I thought I might just cut the rear end off and build a new front triangle and join it. Then I realized that would be a big waste, and I figured I could get away with just cutting out the seat tube and top tube. And then at the last moment I just said to myself, "Just try to cut the seat tube out, see what happens, and go from there." So a trusty Dremel tool and a few minutes later and I had the tube cut out and started cleaning everything up to make room for the new seat tube. Things worked out pretty smooth and I learned a couple of things. First off, always make sure you have your seat post inserted into the seat tube cluster. I never imagined that a steel tube would just break off like that even if the seat post wasn't fully inserted. It was actually a combination of things that led to the failure. Besides the cut off seat post not being inserted deep enough to support everything, since this was a mountain bike I had cut the seat tube off down into the thinnest part of the butting. Thats lesson #2. Hey, what can I say, this is a race bike and we're shaving grams here. I never would've imagined a seat tube failure, who would've? Funny how you never know where the line is until you cross it. I'm pretty good at that. All is well that ends well. Check out the process below.
Little careful file and cleanup work and the new seat tube dropped right into place.
Almost blew my mind.
Same as it ever was.
Never even touched this part, I was just reminiscing. Did I spell that correctly?
I didn't have a mountain bike fork to throw on it so I just used what was available. These colors are more along the line of MEECH racing. I never cared much for the old paint job, it was white and purple and I don't know what I was thinking, but I vomited a little in my mouth when I first saw it. This is much better.
"Did that boy paint the seat lug gold?"
A little added carbon.
Of course I painted the seat lug gold, otherwise it wouldn't have matched the gold "machine" logo on the back of the seat tube. Come on, you knew I was gonna scribble on it somewhere didn't you?
And this is all that was left. Almost like nothing more than a bad dream. Now if you'll excuse me I'm gonna go throw this thing away before my momma slaps me upside the head with it.