Doing a little down tube repair on factory racer Larry Yancey's 'cross machine. A couple of weeks ago Yancey had a pretty knarly crash and jacked up the down tube on his S3 race frame, not to mention ripping apart one of those sweet Campy Record shifters, and a couple of other small parts. But in true Yancey race-style, he remounted the mangled mess and rode the last half of the race to finish, mind you, only one place out of the money. This frame started out as our experiment to see if S3 superlite tubing would stand up to the rigors of cyclocross and after more than 2 years of beating the molasses out of this thing I would say the S3 is capable but if you plan on racing it hard you may want just a little more meat, or if you don't mind replacing an occasional tube, roll with it. Any tube can get dented up when it takes the right hit so I'm not sure it matters what tube you choose, this is what carbon frame racers live with everyday and it doesn't stop them. Anyway, this is my first down tube replacement and I'm gonna replace the S3 tube with an OX Platinum tube. The S3 butting is 6/4/6 whereas the OX Platinum is a 7/4/7. Not really any heavier, actually the OX Plat. tube is a hair lighter just because its not as large a diameter, after all, this is a factory race bike, not gonna use water pipes on it, besides I love the lightweight stuff. In the meantime Yancey is riding his backup machine that I built for him a while back. I actually saw this day coming, only I figured it would've happened a lot sooner, you just have to ride with Yancey to understand. After getting the frame back to the shop, while cutting out the down tube, filing down the brazing, sanding everything as it sits, I found myself saying to myself on numerous occasions, "Man, he has just ridden the hell outta this thing." And thats all there is to say about that. Check back for the finished repair.
Monday, November 21, 2011
A while back when I was caught up I started on a fixed gear frame, basically just because I've had these track dropouts laying in the toolbox forever. I've only built a couple of fixed gear frames since I started building frames. They've never really interested me that much and I don't get any calls for them. Around here, Mountain Home, with all these little punchy hills, you're gonna need some gears, they never stop. I do like the simple idea of just jumping on a single-speed bike and going, don't worry about what gear you're in, its the only one you got. So anyway, I got busy with orders and put everything in a box and forgot about it till the other day. The straight track dropouts are basically made out of steel stock and the paint will get knocked off first time you throw a wheel in, and then rust starts to form on them. No big deal really, its only an eyesore, its not like a 1/4" thick piece of steel is gonna rust out in the next fifty years and most of the fixie riders I've seen like to beat the hell out of their bike anyway, more like free-stylers. But, if you want your bike to have a little extra flare then some of these little stainless track end dropout things are nice to have. I'm not sure what the real name for them is but I've seen these for sell, I believe at BikeLugs.com, and was gonna buy some but by the time I find them, order them, and receive them, I can have them made. I don't have any machining equipment in my shop so I cut these out with a Dremel and cleaned 'em up with a file. A machinist could've cut them a little cleaner but they turned out alright for the first set and they only cost me a little time. That silver brazing ribbon that my buddy gave me came in handy, first time I've tried that stuff. I shined them up a little bit and will do a better job after the frame is finished. Still not sure exactly what the frame is gonna look like but I think I'm gonna make one of those 80's looking time trial frames with a down sloping top tube, maybe some bull-horn bars with fuzzy dice and a rattle snake's hide on the down tube, we'll see. After I finished brazing the dropouts it was getting a little late so I spent about 10 minutes on a little fillet-brazing experiment. I was wondering how small of a fillet you can use and still have a structurally safe frame so I laid this one down for a little test. Its about half the size of my normal fillets and not even a good one at that. After bending the tube down and back and wadding that tube up like a piece of paper a small crack finally showed through, but its actually the tube, the fillet was plenty strong. Tomorrow I may go a little smaller. Thanksgiving is closing in so its time for a couple of days of eating and maybe get a couple of rides in. Hope everyone has a good one. Hasta luego muchachos.
Saturday, November 19, 2011
Here are some pics of the first MOTO-BICI paint scheme we've been working on. Its really really close to what I wanted but we're gonna make a couple of small changes on the next attempt. The bands around the chain stay and fork legs were meant to be much larger and to have a little angle on them for a little added flare, and the "handmade machine" logo is going to be on the other seat stay but for the most part I'm happy with the way this one turned out. Its the first one and will always be unique. This frame here is all True Temper steel front to rear. Its a mix of OX Platinum and Gold with their s-bend cyclocross stays. My actual plan for MOTO-BICI is to incorporate some carbon tubing into the builds and they'll all come with carbon forks unless someone wants that "all-steel feel" but M-B is gonna be bikes that are made to go off road, mainly cyclocross racers but we'll paint MOTO-BICI on 29ers all day long. Check out that handmade carbon fiber chain stay protector, no stickers here. These will be a standard on all MOTO-BICI frames. And I'm also working on what will be called the MOTOreo but thats top secret and in the future, you'll definitely want one on your cross bike when they are available. I don't have the head badges made yet so I just used one of the MEECH Pegasus badges, after all, they are all made by me. MOTO-BICI is gonna be bike frames built the way I want to build them with my paint scheme but custom fit to you however you like. I will always be building handmade custom frames with paint schemes the way you want desire but with M-B I can pursue building racing frames and experiment with carbon frame building techniques as well. My original idea behind MEECH Custom Bicycles was to build only 'cross machines with a blend of carbon and steel. I always liked riding carbon frames with lugs. My favorite brand before I started building frames was LOOK, carbon tubes with aluminum lugs, like the KG171, 281,381, etc. Those bikes just always rode so smooth to me. I always wanted to ride the LOOK 595 but I started building frames before I got one and once you start building your own, well, you ride your own. Now of course the lugs are made of carbon as well, no difference, I just always felt like a lugged carbon frame would ride better than a monocoque frame. Thats only my opinion so take it with a grain of salt. I haven't ridden a carbon frame in almost 4 years now and thats why I am pursuing it now. Trying to shave a little extra weight off to compete with these ultra-light machines they're making now. Honestly I don't think anything will ever ride quite as good as an all steel frameset but everybody is trying to build a bike that does so I might as well play along to, after all, its only educational. If everything goes well the first MOTO-BICI MEECHcrosser will be done early after the new year but your guess is as good as mine. The customer always comes first. I'm just one man building bike frames by hand one, and it seems like with every frame I build I come up with another idea. I just love making something for people that has a positive image and the fact that its healthy and rideable/raceable makes it just that much more enjoyable. I almost forgot to say thanks to Paul and Wayne from Ace's Wild Custom for the swanky paint job. Did a killer job. Thanks guys!
Vaya con MOTO
MEECH Custom Bicycles
Mountain Home, Arkansas
Friday, November 18, 2011
Monday, November 14, 2011
I got Phil's fork finished up this morning so this frame set is ready for some color. Everything went pretty smooth for me on this frame. I took some extra time on this frame because it has a couple of little details that are new for me. I have always used fastback-style seat stays on my frames and so this was the first frame that I have mounted the stays to the sides of the seat tube. Actually, the very first frame I built at the Yamaguchi Frame School has the stays mounted to the side, almost forgot about that one. Anyway, I don't care much for those heavy plugs that they normally use so I just put a little miter in the ends and brazed in some tubing to create the look. I saw someone else do this at some time or another and I thought it was a little more original and a chance to do something new. I got my buddy Mark, from Mainline Awards here in Mountain Home, to engrave the BB shell as well as the seat stay bridge. It was easily done and I thought it made for a nice touch. And a little handmade brake cable hanger for the rear brake was super-easy and didn't require too much time. This frame is made out of True Temper tubing, a mix of OX Platinum, Verus, and some RC2. Most everything on this frame is roughly 8/5/8 double-butted, the down tube may be 8/5/7 and I believe the chain stays are 8/6. Plenty strong with no excess weight. I think this bike is gonna be built up with some 38c touring tires so I'm guessing this thing is gonna roll like a Cadillac. Time to work on a paint scheme now. Check back for the finished product.
Sunday, November 13, 2011
Here are a couple of before and after photos from the carbon fiber experiment. I wrapped the seat stay last weekend and was having issues with my vacuum bagging (leaking), so with time running short I resorted to a method that one of the representatives from West Epoxy Systems told me about. After laying down your carbon in the desired pattern take some strips of release film or peel ply that will let the resin soak through and wrap the layup really tight. Start loosely so that you don't pull the layers of carbon to the side of where you want them and then tighten the wraps as you go. After you have all the resin coated material covered with the peel ply then wrap that with some strips of breather ply really tightly, this will soak up the excess resin. Now take some of that stretchy plastic wrap that people use to wrap boxes to pallets, luggage, etc., (you can buy small hand rolls of this stuff at Wal-Mart or Lowes for like $5 and it goes a long way, it comes with a handle and has like a thousand feet of the stuff on a roll) and wrap everything up as tight as you can compress it. The rep told me that many DIYers prefer this method over the vacuum bagging because you can actually wrap it with more pressure. According to him, a maximum vacuum pull only has about 14 psi whereas by using your fingers to compress everything while you are wrapping it can achieve a greater psi. It got me out of a jam because on the first attempt my resin had a very short pot life and I couldn't get a good vacuum pull. Anyway, now I have some West Systems epoxy with a much longer pot life but I'm out of some of the vacuum bagging supplies needed so I just proceeded with the hand-wrapping method. I accidentally deleted the original pictures of the seat stay juncture before any sanding had taken place so the ones shown are sanded a little. I still need to clean it up a little more and I may put a final layer of twill carbon over this for aesthetic purposes. On these joints I used unidirectional tape and then wrapped it very tightly with some carbon tow in order to compress it into the juncture even more. The vacuum bagging technique looks much more sophistocated and with practice will probably make for a cleaner layup, but with some time the hand wrapping can be just as efficient, maybe more-so. I'll shoot some more pics after the head tube has cured. The first joint is not quite a thing of beauty however it is only the first attempt and I'm fairly certain that it is gonna be plenty strong, actually I'm pretty certain that I have overbuilt it, however the head tube and BB area are where the real action takes place so that will need to be solid. We'll see. Ever onward!
A couple of pics of Jaime Flore's first custom built cyclocross bike. Jaime built his first frame a couple of weeks ago and let me build him a fork to finish it out. Since then he has completed the build and has a beautiful handmade bike thats gonna see miles and miles. Nice job Jaime! That first one is always the most special. Thanks for the photos. Ride on.
Thursday, November 10, 2011
Here are a couple of pics of the 650B touring frame I am working on for one of repeat customers, Phil Passantino. Phil bought a cross frame from me the first year I started building frames and has since let me do some more building for him, most recently this 650B frame. I was shooting these at night so some weren't too hot but I'll be posting more later because I've yet to do the fork. Hopefully that will be done shortly and I'll shoot some better ones. Check back.
Tuesday, November 8, 2011
My blogging has slowed a little here lately but thats not because nothing is going on, in fact, the problem is I'm working on different projects and not taking the time for photos and details. I was playing around with some carbon layup this weekend on my half-finished frame and finally got the top tube/seat stay juncture wrapped. It doesn't look too bad but it doesn't exactly look like these parts here. I would love to just cruise on the streets in this thing about 200 mph. Just leave the wings off and it would be like a bullet-car. Talk about population control. There's an idea for China. They are already at the forefront of composite engineering, and they need to slow down the population growth, its an up and up situation, no? Maybe its more of an up and down situation. The demand for firemen is gonna increase dramatically, it will help the economy, the Bullet-Car is a brilliant idea. I'm gonna go to work on it. Lets see, I need a bigger shop, more money, and a way to slow down time in order to get everything done. Man, I wish Santa would hurry up and get to the mall, I need to talk to him bad. To get everything I'm wanting Jesus will need to be there too. Last year there were two Jesus' sitting out in front of the mall. One of 'em needed a shower really bad. I told him walking on water was cool an all but that on occasion he should try getting down in it. Turns out, he can't swim, go figure. The other one still owes me twenty bucks. I'm only kidding. One day the real Jesus is gonna get sick of my jokes and plant me horizontally with a busted lip. Got photos from Phil Passantino's 650B tourer on the way, first MOTO-BICI paint job is coming soon, and I'll try to get some photos up from the carbon fiber mess I am making. See you soon. Oh yeah, here's a little poem I wrote in Creative Writing a long time ago:
Feed me speed
Crash and bleed
Jesus can heal
If you can believe
The professor didn't care for it but I thought it was brilliant. That guy was such a hater. Chao amigos.
Friday, November 4, 2011
I've been a bit behind on my blogging here recently but I finally got the artwork finished for the MOTO-BICI frames that I plan on building starting after the first of the year. Paul has a frame in the paint booth that we're gonna experiment with a paint scheme on so hopefully by the end of the week we'll have something to look at. I hope to be playing with the frame design between orders and on the weekends but the plan is that MOTO-BICI is just gonna be off-road frames. We'll see, sometimes I change my mind like writing pens. But one thing is for certain and that is the torch will always be burning here at MEECH for anyone that wants a unique handmade machine. Thanks for checking my stuff out. Now go ride! Oh yeah, I forgot to say thanks to Stacey at Dijohn Designs here in Mountain Home for the excellent work on the logo. Thanks Stacey. Chao amigos.