About Me

My photo
Back in my hometown of Jonesboro., Arkansas, United States
My name is Dimitri Harris and I have been building frames for over 9 years now. I learned the basics after spending two weeks with Koichi Yamaguchi. He is one of the most interesting people I have ever met and I am thankful to have worked with him. Since then I have just been building one frame after another and learning as much as possible along the way. I build steel fillet-brazed frames that go by the name of MEECH, which is an old nickname that I have had since I was a kid. I build mostly cyclocross frames because I love their versatility however I also do road,single-speed, and mountain bikes as well. Custom frames start around $1400. All the frames are handmade by me here in Jonesboro, Arkansas. I am insured and guarantee all of my work so if you are in the market for a custom steel frame I would be glad to build it for you. I am also building frames from carbon fiber so if you would like to ride a prototype frame give me a shout. Thanks for stopping by. You can email me at meech151@hotmail.com or call (870)897-6703 or visit www.meechcustombicycles.com Thanks.

Saturday, March 31, 2012

Friday's Fillet-Brazing

For some reason it seemed like it had been a long time since I have done any fillet-brazing.  I guess its only been a couple of weeks but I felt like I would be out of practice when I started on this frame Friday morning, luckily everything flowed pretty smooth and I got some nice fillets laid down.  Maybe this little bit of time working on other things is a good thing and when I get done with it all I'll be ready to jam on some frames.  This bell-shaped head tube makes even a 35mm down tube look small.  Thats one of my normal sized fillets however the big tubes make it look skinny.  Honestly I don't think the fillets need to be half this size to be strong enough, there would still be three times the meat joining the tubes than on a tig weld.  I know that tig welding is actually joining steel to steel however if the brass is laid  down correctly its definitely not coming off.  In every instance that I've tried to break one of my welds the tubes always tear behind the fillet.  You can tell where I filed a bit of the fillet.  It had a bit of a divot so I cleaned it up.  Almost looks like solid gold.  Gold would make the price go up considerably.

I do like to beef up the fillets around the bottom bracket area because I believe with a larger concaved fillet-braze it will decrease any flex coming from this area.  Even so, these here aren't that large.  I've tried to get away from overdoing things.

Besides the smooth transition, I prefer fillet-brazing to tig-welds because its just much beefier.  This joint here on a tig-welded frame would almost appear like a 90 degree angle and skateboarders wouldn't be able to do any tricks on it, but with fillet-brazing, the bb area is a like a virtual skateboarding park.  I'm just talking smack now.  I've got nothing against tig-welding.  The best tig-welds I have ever seen have come from frame builders. Some of them so beautiful they appear perfect, but just never as beautiful as fillet-brazing. ;)
Tig-weld photo, not mine though cause I don't tig.  However I would like to learn just to know how, but I would still fillet-braze all my frames.  This looks pretty good to me but I've seen some better.  Only problem, where's the beef?  Also, its not a pretty gold color.  Sorry tig-welders.  We still love you though.

Friday, March 30, 2012

Blurred-Slow Motion Vision

"Is that the same frame?"  Yes Virginia, thats the same frame.  My blogging has slowed as has my frame building.  I got started on too many little projects and now I'm so spread out I don't know if anything is getting done.  It is, but just a little of each project at a time so it appears that nothing is getting done.  Hopefully its gonna all come together here soon and "BAM" it will all be done at once.  Wishful thinking baby.  I've been working on having a new website built and also just started on having a cycling outfit designed for MEECH.  I've wanted to do that for a while and it just never was a priority but someone mentioned it the other day and so now things are in motion.  Its pretty well designed but I'm looking for one more sponsor to balance the look out.  For some reason I got the idea that having a winery sponsor would look cool on there.  Maybe so during times like these I can just drink wine until sweet oblivion.  Are you kidding me?  I can't get anything done sober.  The last thing I need to do is start drinking.  There is a local resort here in Mountain Home called The Blue Lady and they also make wine and import olive oil and such.  They have a really cool logo and I thought it would look good on the jerseys.  Thats how the whole winery idea came about so now I'm calling wineries all over the state to try and get them on board. I had no idea wine could be made in Arkansas but its fairly common practice in some parts. I only need one but they don't seem to be in the same hurry that I am.  Oh well, everything will be alright.  I might just have to buy my own wine to pass out.  I just got back from my home town of Jonesboro a couple days ago as well.  I've still got things there that I have to take care of.  Mainly mowing the grass during the summer and any repairs that need done on the cabin thats falling apart slowly.  My mom is selling the house that we grew up in, actually its already sold, and moving to Nashville to be close to some of her grandchildren.  Shes been in the house nearly 40 years, it was the one my dad built, and I have no idea what type of changes are gonna come about in this deal.  Hopefully all for the better.  I did manage to get in a good ride with some of my buddies there.  The weather was perfect and we were rolling when we left town and rolling even faster coming back into town.  Loved it!  Everything is going ok.  No real problems, I'm just a little scatter-brained right now.  I prefer to focus on one thing at a time however I also get very bored doing the same thing over and over so I invent new stuff to occupy my mind (remember MOTO-BICI?) and before I know it I've got myself all over the place and just wishing I could go back to the one thing.  Thats where I'm going right now, to finish this frame up today.  Thanks for listening.

I did manage to get a few extra frames out of my way.  I have frames in bedrooms, storage rooms, the garage, in my car, etc.  I got tired of tripping on them so I hung a few up to make things a little neater.  I'm gonna get back on track starting right now. No wait. Ok starting right now.  Wait just second.  Ok, starting now.

Thursday, March 22, 2012

Tough Mitering

With the exception of the first couple of frames that I built this frame has been some of the toughest mitering that I've done.  The seat stays gave me fits only because it was a Monday and I guess my head was else where.  This bell-shaped head tube was tough but honestly not that bad.  The other day when it arrived I immediately did a test run to see what  was in store for me and I had the tube mitered perfectly within 15 minutes.  This one took me quite a bit longer, mainly because I took extreme care since I had only one of these 35mm tubes.  Nothing like ruining the one tube you planned on using and then having to order another, pay again, and wait another week for it to arrive.  I always cut the down tubes a little long so that it gives me some room to work it into place.  I took my time whittling this one down but it was worth the wait. A water-tight fit is the result.

I would be lying if I said I wasn't proud of this miter.  Its the first one I've done on a tapered head tube.  In these close-up shots the bell-shape is hard to see. Oh its there though, I'm all sure.

This pic is a bit fuzzy.

This is a better look at the top tube.

This frame is basically a 57cm but its a very tight build so it looks smaller.  My original plan was to put carbon tubes in the top and down tubes in order to shave weight, that means cutting this thing up.  I'm gonna wait and see what the scales say before breaking out the chain saw. I don't think its gonna be quite as heavy as I originally thought but its gonna weigh a little more than my usual cross racing frames.  Those disc-dropouts have some pesos in them, and the head tube isn't exactly S3, not to mention the 35mm down tube. This thing is gonna roll like a locomotive though and the disc-brakes will stop it, should you want to stop it.

Not again.  You may remember me posting a similar photo like this one last year.  It had rained for 3 straight days and we couldn't drive out of our driveway.  This happened only after Tuesday night and its deeper than last year.  Thats our mailbox down there in the middle.  Fortunately there is some sort of natural drain hole out there and this morning it was all gone but I don't understand how leaves and debris don't clog it up.  If that ever happens its gonna be bad.  Luckily we don't have alligators in north Arkansas.  I'm working on getting us a driveway in the back. Maybe it will lead up to a new shop/carbon fiber frame building facility.  Its just a dream right now but I enjoy dreaming, especially when they come true.  Like Ty Webb (Chevy Chase) said in Caddyshack, "See the ball, be the ball." Or something like that. Later alligator.

Wednesday, March 21, 2012

Now Thats a Cone!

My blogging and frame building has been a little sporadic here lately.  I got caught up on my orders the other day and have been using my time to build a couple of frames that are unique to me, basically frames I've never built.  I'm half way into two frames because I'm waiting on a bottom bracket shell to get engraved on one and I needed a part machined in order to work on another.  That big cone on the left is what I was waiting on.  In addition to the first mixte-style frame that I'm working on I started on this cross frame thats gonna have a tapered head tube and disc brakes.  This head tube is much bigger than it appears, a little heavy, but also pretty sexy.  Are we talking about bicycles or women?  I forget.  Its 2:30 a.m. on a very rainy Wednesday here.  I went for a ride yesterday evening, rode fairly hard for an hour or so, and went to bed early.  That lead to waking up in the middle of the night hungry and now I'm unable to sleep.  Anyway, the lower diameter of this "sexy" headtube is pretty wide and I needed a much larger cone in order to hold it in the jig.  The cone on the far right is what came with my Bringheli jig. It works for up to a 1 1/8" head tube.  The middle one is a cone that I had machined in order to accommodate an integrated style head tube.  And of course the big one on the left is the new one.  Its a nice piece, quite the hunk of steel.  I'm guessing it weighs close to 3 lbs.  More than a rock-laced snowball.  Kids do the darndest things.  Did you ever have a potato fight?  Someone always gets hurt in those. 

Do these seat stays look special to you?  They didn't look special to me either on Monday morning when I started mitering them, however these here seat stays were the absolute hardest, most difficult, nail-biting, pulling your hair, pain in the arse seat stays that I have ever mitered.  For no particular reason I just could not get these things to fits right. For starters, they are s-bend stays and you have to be very careful to get  both stays even.  Imagine having two S's, (not sure how to spell S's), one is laying perfectly flat on the table while the other is tilted a bit.  See the potential problem, not to mention if one 'S' sits higher than the other.  Now add the fact that these are slotted to fit the dropout style.  Anyway, I've mitered stays like this before in less than an hour but these took me most of Monday to get right.  Funny thing is, during this whole conundrum I kept worrying that they were gonna be too short before I got them to fit  the frame and I would have to start over, fortunately though when I did finally get them dialed in (at 4:30 Monday afternoon) they fell right on the mark.  All is well that ends well.

Perfect.  While I've been bouncing back on forth on these two frames I've also been working on a new website as well as some MEECH cycling apparel.  I'm working to step my business up a notch.  Building bike frames is not near as hard as building a market for them, or so I've found.  I know there are some builder's out there, much more experienced and famous than I, who have 4-5 year waiting lists and are potentially making a six-figure salary but I don't think that speaks for the majority of us.  I may have to get a part-time job just to support my job.  So be it. Frame building is worth it.  Nothing good comes easy.  As I was laying in bed listening to the rain I was thinking about frame building and how to make my business better, how to make life better, and so on.  The thought arose that there is always some price to pay for just about everything.  Hence all these little sayings, like, 'nothing is free', 'you get what you pay for', and 'you've got to give a little to get a little.'  Then I thought, "Well, in order to get a lot you must have to give a lot", and ultimately, "If you want everything I guess you have to be willing to give everything." But what is everything? Who would want everything? I'm sure Jesus already covered this somewhere in the bible.  Maybe the eternal life that Jesus spoke of is "everything." I have no idea. Its late and I'm just drifting. Good luck with "everything."  "Hey bartender, mas Tequila!"  I'm just playing, I never drank Tequila, its vile.  Who the hell would want to drink something with a worm floating in it?  Goofy Mexicanos.  And the freakin Americans want to drink the stuff so bad that they sniff salt and suck lemons just to get it down.  What kind of drink is that? And whats with those Greeks?  They put the Olympics on a couple of years ago, it wasn't even that good, and now the whole world is still paying for it. Clowns!  How many more people can I offend? How much money can the governments waste? Greed, scandals, war.  The older I get the more war just looks stupid to me, nothing but a waste of good life and resources.  But then I know that sometimes in life there are occasions where you have to fight, its inevitable. So I've got a plan.  "Oh no, not another one of your plans."  Yes Virginia, another brilliant plan. When countries have disagreements, instead of wasting all those resources and sending a bunch of kids out there to fight their battles for them, how about if just the presidents of the conflicting countries fight each other, kinda like a boxing match or MMA fight. We could host them in stadiums around the world, like the World Cup, sell tickets, beer, souvenirs, throw in PayPerView.  It would generate billions of dollars. Who wouldn't have tuned in to watch a fight between George W. and Saddam Hussein?  It would've been the fight of the century.  You could have some preliminary bouts as well like Iran and Israel, throw North Korea in there somewhere. You could also give smaller, poorer countries a shot to better themselves like Nicaragua and Morroco.  They would play the underdog, the long-shot, with big odds. You know Vegas wants in on this, unfortunately the mob probably does to.  Can't be having fixed fights.  My  plan was to save lives and generate money, and at least make the man who's doing the talking put up or shut up, and put an end to these 10-year wars. However we might just end up with exactly what we have now, big guys picking on smaller guys. What?  All this jabbering and I'm back to Square-1.  This is absurd.  I think I better just stick to building frames.  One things for sure, it would  change the campaigns  for the presidency. They'd need speed, strength, and some 6-pack abs to get a vote, and maybe they wouldn't end up looking so pathetic. I bet alot of countries would be beggin for illegal immigrants then. I imagine President Obama could hold his own with most countries until you start messin with those Latinos. Those guys can fight. !Que peligrosos! I'm going to bed now. My name is Dimitri by the way.  Yep, you guessed it, greek. Chao, or avtio.

Friday, March 16, 2012

I've been waiting on a couple of much needed items for 2 different frames so I've been bouncing back and forth doing as much to one frame as possible and then back to the other.  This frame here is a cross frame I've been planning for a while and just got started.  Its gonna have disc brakes and I'm going to use that swanky, tapered head tube that I showed a while back.  I decided to swank-out the chain stays as well.  They are True Temper's s-bend 'cross chain stay with a little added MEECH-flair.

I like the cutout, chainring clearance look.  I first used this on Branton's 'cross frame a few weeks back and he said it feels pretty solid so I think you'll probably start seeing more of it.  I was concerned about flex issues from filing out close to half of the stay but after you braze in a solid piece of tubing I don't think they are going anywhere.  After all, with the wheel locked in place both stays would have to flex, not to mention the seat stays as well. I also use some pretty beefy fillets around the bottom bracked area on my cyclocross frames, but whenever I try something new that I am unfamiliar with I'm always a bit apprehensive, let's say cautiously optimistic, until its tried and tested, then I breathe a little easier.  I'm no longer concerned.  This hole was simply filed out with a half-round.

Used a piece of tubing cut in half to match the diameter of the file.  I hold it in place with a small clamp in order to tack it...,

...cut the excess off with a Dremel.  Careful with those things, they can ruin a frame real quick.

The clean-up work is the hardest part of the whole process.  I always put a couple layers of duct tape around the area just in case the file slips.  

And here is the end result other than rinsing off the flux.  Super-easy and very clean.

The weather has been crazy-good these last few days.  I got out for 3 straight rides the last couple of days, I don't want to stop now.  Thanks for checking things out and have a good weekend.  If you're racing this weekend,  ATTACK!  Chao amigos.

Friday, March 9, 2012

The "Anne Marie"

I got caught up last week and have been waiting for some supplies that I need to get here, so to pass some time I started building a different frame for my wife.  She actually has the very first MEECH frame that I built when I got back from Yamaguchi's class.  Its just a typical road frame but I had to have someone to build the first frame for. My wife is not too into cycling but she did mention a while back that she would like an everyday bike to occasionally ride around the neighborhood. The exact way she put was, "I just want a normal, regular bike."  Ok, I get it.  So its in the jig.

Never built a frame like this and probably won't build anymore unless I get request for it.  I started out gonna build her a mixte but I didn't have any of the long, narrow tubes that run from the dropouts to the head tube so I just opted for a simpler version.  She liked the quote un quote, "just normal" frame style and I think she already knows how she wants to paint it.  I think just to mess with her when I build it up I'm gonna throw on some aero-bars and maybe a disc wheel."  If I painted flowers or puppies on the disc she'd love it.  We discussed putting a basket on the front of it so she could put Pinky in there and ride him around the neighborhood, but after thinking it through we decided, not such a grand idea.  My wife is a bit accident prone.  She bought it hard on the first bike and basically hasn't ridden since.  I'm gonna set this one up where the brakes are dragging the rim so she can only get up to about 5 mph and that way the dog can walk beside her.

What started out as a couple of reference marks for vent holes...

....turned into this.  Not sure who or what it is. Some little smoking samurai guy, possible an alter-ego or something that I was unaware of.  I've been known to smoke a few cigarettes, but that was a few years ago.  I enjoyed smoking but it was just a waste of money and good health.  These days I want to live as long as I can, build as many frames as I can, and I might make an attempt at the "Over 100 hour record."  Did you see that on velonews?  On his 100th birthday a guy goes to the velodrome and averages like 15 mph.  Not bad.  I'd like to shake his hand, very gently though, it might come off.  I've only got 55 years to train for it.  I'll start this weekend.
This is "the" very first MEECH frame.  You can tell I was proud of it by all the decals I plastered on it.  I was actually trying to mimick the looks of an old  Asics Carrera frame that I had.  It was very racey.  The rear triangle was a couple of millimeters off but other than that it turned out alright. This frame saw a handful of miles and one violent crash. One summer morning Anne and I went out for a ride and she lost the front end on the edge of the road.  It was pretty knarly.  The roads around here are not too smooth either, kinda rough, raised chip & seal, not what you want to be skating on.  She survived it though.  Not sure I want her to get on a bike again though.  She used to want to ride a motorcycle but I'm thinking it may not be a good idea. 

I'm still amazed at the fillet-brazing on this first frame.  It could use a bit of dusting off.

Saturday, March 3, 2012

Branton's 'Cross Build

Branton had his cross frame built up within a couple of days after I delivered it and has steadily been putting some time in on it.  He told me that each time he rides it he discovers something new that he likes about it.  Gotta love that.

He's getting it dialed in for a gravel road race coming up next week so we should have the definite low-down on it soon.

Here we are in front of the Highroller Cyclery in Fayetteville, Arkansas.  Cool shop run by cool people.  Thanks for the opportunity guys.  Hope to see you soon.

Friday, March 2, 2012

Spring Is In the Air

Here are a couple of pics of a little 53.5 cm road frame I was working on last week.  Gonna throw a carbon fork on this one to keep the weight down and make it a little more race worthy.  This frame in the raw is 3.4 lbs.

Spring classics are coming soon.  Get your "friteries" while they're hot.

Thursday, March 1, 2012

Que Curviosa!

Check out this swanky head tube from Dedacciai that Bringheli sent me.  Its made to run a tapered fork and while thats been going on for a couple of years now this is gonna be the first one that I've used.  She's a little heavy (ella es un poco pesada) but I'm probably gonna cut about 7 centimeters off the top so that will shave a little weight off.  I may go full disc-brakes on this frame just for the fun of it.  Looks like things are headed that direction.  Shimano's got disc-brakes for the road coming out pretty soon.  Things change so fast.  I try not to get too caught up in it but when people start asking for it I guess you gotta jump in. This should be an interesting build.  Chao.