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.

Sunday, December 29, 2013

Is Made In the USA Always Better?

What's up?  Its been a while huh?  Holiday season, running around, visiting my mother, and no new frame building to speak of left me with nothing to post.  "Couldn't you atleast find some YouTube videos D to help fill in the gaps?"  No I didn't.  But hopefully things will start to get back on track here real soon.  I don't even feel like a framebuilder sometimes these days, much less a bike rider.  I try to get out 3-4 days a week for an hour or so but here lately its been more like 2 days a week.  My body hurts and I feel like the Tinman in the Wizard of Oz after the snow fell.  Not good.  "Is there anything going on?"  Not much except that I did receive my experimental  Ebay Chinese carbon clincher wheelset that only cost $450 with shipping.  "WHAT?  You actually bought some of that stuff?"  I did, and I'll tell you why.  The other day when I rode home on the rim I already needed some new wheels.
It turns out I was able to salvage the wheel and am even riding on the tire since I don't have any others at the moment.  I took a good look at the wheel, and my others laying around, and  ran my fingers around the edges to see how bad it was.  There were a couple of divots but nothing that a little file work wouldn't smooth out, and so I cleaned up the rims, trued the wheel, and I'm riding on it now.  But I still needed/wanted some new wheels.  Even though I didn't spend that much on Christmas I still didn't have $600-$1000 to drop on a set of wheels.  Actually I do have it but its in the corner waiting to be spent on a milling machine, something that I can use in the shop.  

"So why did you buy the cheap Chinese wheelset D?"

Well, I was checking out the Cafe Roubaix website, thats the guy who was getting pushed around to change his name by Specialized a while back.  Apparently they have some sort of trademark on the name Roubaix. Long story short, Specialized pulled back and allowed him to continue to use the name.  All is well that ends well right?  Anyway, that guy has some pretty nice wheelsets on his site.  Lightweight, carbon clinchers, aluminum, tubulars, a little bit of everything and at some real good prices.  In an attempt to help out his cause I was gonna purchase a wheelset from him.  After looking closer and doing a little research I kind of figured out what was going on and just decided to look at Ebay for the heck of it.  I want to stop right here and add that I believe the wheelsets for sale from Cafe Roubaix are made with higher quality components than these wheelsets from China, the hubs mainly, but I haven't seen or tried the wheelsets from the little Canadian bike shop so I'm kind of looking from afar and describing what I think I'm seeing.

 I've known forever that China sells complete carbon framesets for like $500.  They're raw carbon, no name on them, and some of them even look like some name brand stuff, perhaps a couple of years old though.  I've got a friend that bought one and said he can't tell the difference between it and his high-end frameset.  There are some people that import these frames, put their name on them, or paint them in whatever colors, and sell'em for $2000.  At one time I thought about doing it but then I decided that wasn't the direction I wanted to go.  I want to play a part in the actual building/fabrication  process and to also bond with my customers along the way. 

"What about "Hand crafted in America" and all that stuff?"  Hey, I'm still for that.  My frames are gonna be handmade right here in Mountain Home, USA  for as long as I'm here.  I'm putting every bit of heart and soul that I have into each and everything I make, as I'm sure many other builders are doing the same exact thing. So then I started wondering if everything made in America is better as we always say and think it is, and I think that some of it is but not all of it.  For starters, there are other frame builders that build their frames by hand just like me and others from all over the world. Look at Dario Pegoretti from Italy. Is the fact that ours are made here in America make them better than say his?  I doubt it.  We like to think everything in America is better because its where we live, we love it, and therefore its better, right?  What about the rest of the world?  I figure they're all just trying to make a living like the rest of us and that they have some excellent ideas and products as well, some things that we can't touch, carbon fiber for one.  Accept it.  We all live in the world, not just America.

So after looking at a hundred different wheelsets that are all made by maybe 3 different companies in China and perhaps Taiwan I settled on these.  The name on the web page was DIY Bike.  They gave lots of information about not only the wheels but also on shipping and how they do business.  They provided quite a few photos, some of them with actual measuring gauges and truing stands to show the accuracy of their product.  All that stuff looked pretty enticing but was it true for every set of wheels they sold.  Well, the price on the wheelset was something like $380 with roughly $75 for shipping, thats the price of one good wheel and so I had to check these things out. I started out wanting to buy them because i wanted some new wheels and I didn't have much to spend but the more I studied them I became obsessed with seeing how good they actually would be.  I pulled the trigger (clicked BUY).  Not long after I had paid the bill did I receive confirmation from them that they received the order and were working to ship them out within 3 days.  They will build the wheels in your choice of a matte or gloss finish rim and 3 different colors of hubs, spokes, and nipples.  White, red, and black in any combination are your choices.  I started to go with some white hubs and nipples in order to look cool but its so hard to make white stuff look clean.  I would've been rolling around with black and greasy brown wheels most days.  Red and black it was. So the estimated shipping date showed the wheels arriving between January 2 and something like the middle of the month.  "Ok, sit back and they'll eventually get here."  I've only ordered one other product like this from China and it was carbon fiber water bottle cages.  They showed up quick and were a nice quality,  I'm running them on my current ride now.

When I got back from Jonesboro on Friday I had a little slip in the mail saying I had a parcel waiting for me and low and behold it was the wheels, a week earlier than the earliest estimated arrival.  I was excited to get them but i was so tired I didn't even open them until later that night.  I immediately started checking them out and here is what I found:

The rims seemed flawless.  Couldn't find any imperfections.  I didn't look at every square millimeter, just a quick glance but they seemed fine.  38 millimeter deep carbon clincher rims.  You can see the red spoke nipples in this pic.  I love the fact that i can true them up so easy without all that inside the rim crap.  This made me happy.  If you're losing speed and positions because your spoke nipples are catching too much drag then its time for you to try a new sport, maybe soccer. 

Here is the clincher bead.  Looks as good if not better than my aluminum rimmed wheels.  I've yet to mount any tires as I'm waiting to get some new ones.  

The hubs were where most of my concern was lying.  I have no idea how good they will be but they seem smooth enough and as cleanly made as most of the other hubs on the market.  The way I look at it is like this, should the hubs disintegrate on me, I will just go buy some quality  hubs and rebuild the wheels, no worries. The wheels only cost me $450 but I'm actually pretty positive about the hubs at the moment, I think they'll be fine.  These Chinese companies seem to be wanting to sell this stuff pretty bad.  They seem to go out of their way to make you happy.  I received a couple of emails that said, if there is any problem with the product to please give them a chance to fix it, that they would do everything to make me happy.  The wheels seem perfect now and with all the communication back and forth with them I'm not worried at all.  There are even a couple of YouTube videos by people who have purchased similar wheels and they show you what they got and give a little review.  I haven't heard anything bad yet.

The rear hub sounds like most other hubs so far.  I read one review that said the hubs were very loud.  This guy compared the noise to Chris King hubs and apparently he liked loud sounding hubs.  These don't seem to make much noise when spinning them by hand however  until I coast on them I won't know.

I tried to take a photo to show the trueness of the wheels but its a bit hard to tell in the picture.  All I can say is that they are as true as any wheels I have, even the wheel I just finished truing up.  The roundness of the rim is perfect as is the dish, I can't wait to ride them.  Did I mention that they came with skewers (good looking too), carbon brake pads, and extra spokes and nipples should I need them.  I don't know how good they are yet but this company has done nothing wrong so far.

While I'm sure these wheels will be fine for the amount of money I have invested in them, remember that I still don't mind paying more money at my local bike shop.  I have a lot of friends who own or work at bike shops, and being able to speak face to face and interact with your local bike shop is worth a little extra money.  You can also learn alot from your local bike shop as normally they are more than willing to teach you things.  Thats what you don't get when you buy things like this so always keep that in mind.  The experiment actually took more hold on me than the price did, I just had to see for myself, and I'll give you the lowdown on them good or bad just as soon as I know.  I just like to keep an open mind regarding most things.  I don't shop at just one store, or bank at just one bank.  I like to check out different places and hear different people's point of view because you can learn a lot more that way.  America is a beautiful place and we make some excellent products but lets not act superior to anyone.  We're all in this world together.

Here are a couple of stats about where America ranks on different things.  I'm not sure how accurate these are as i just grabbed them off of a website.  Some of them may be a few years old and can vary but you understand the point.

#1 in military spending
#1 in "the super-rich"
#1 in locking people up
#1 in plastic surgeons and breast augmentation
#1 in wine consumption (doesn't sound right)
3rd in steel production
14th in government debt
17th in corruption 
21st in overall happiness
27th in life longevity
11th in hard work 
19th in honesty
24th in literacy (I need to read more)
24th for sex in alleyways (thats weird, who's #1?)
99th for peacefulness 

Here is a short video from the Arkansas Cyclocross Championships that I accidentally shot.  I thought I was taking a photo but had it on the video setting.  Don't get too excited, its not much.  However the overall day was a great time with some good racing.  The course was excellent and i have some more pictures that I need to upload.  

Happy New Year!

Thursday, December 19, 2013

Head Tube is Wrapped

Today I managed to get the front end of my frame wrapped and bagged.  It turned out pretty good.  Everything seems good and tight, feels pretty solid to me.  The head tube looks consistent with the exception of being able to see some of the other layers under the final layer.  I know what caused it and I'll make sure it doesn't happen again.  Basically what happened was I put one layer on top of another and the ends didn't have any overlap so you end up with a little extra height on the corners and it shows through.

Here it is after pulling everything off.  Its gonna require a bit of sanding on any rough spots but for the most part its pretty clean...

...except for this seam down the middle.  No worries.  

I'm gonna try the seat cluster tomorrow if everything goes smooth.  Thanks for stopping by.

Saturday, December 14, 2013

Mission Accomplished, Part of a Mission Anyway

I have one complete carbon fiber tapered head tube finished, and it only took two attempts to get it right.  Well, two and a half.  This is the second one that I did the other day but i decided it would be better with a layer of uni-directional carbon in there and then I threw one more sock on top of that for cosmetic purposes.  Its a tad over 2 millimeters thick and this thing feels very solid in your hand.  I'm almost certain that its more than enough for a mountain bike which makes it enough for most any bike.  I'm gonna use this on the next carbon frame I build.  "Are you ever gonna finish the first one you started?"  I'm getting closer.  Needless to say, I'm very happy with how this turned out and I can't wait to use it.

In other news, I couldn't let yesterday's failed bike ride attempt go on any longer.  So as soon as I had a cup of coffee and took Dizzy for his morning walk, I slammed a PB&J sandwich, mixed up some Psycho Ragin' Punch, and got the horse out of the stall (bike out of garage).  I skated through the first 300 meters like I had done this before (I did, yesterday), without falling mind you, and out onto the  road out of the neighborhood, then onto the main roads where I proceeded to ride for over 1 hour, yes, over an hour.  And oh what a ride it was.

"Really?  What could happen in an hour?"

"Well I'll tell ya Virginny."

I stopped at the car wash before pedaling out onto the main road in order to get the ice sludge out of my cleats so that I could clip in, then I was off.  Man it felt good to be spinning circles again after 10 days of walking the dog on ice.  Ok, they weren't circles that I was spinning but more like squares, but they felt good anyway.  It was 32 degrees, wet roads, and a North wind blowing around 20 mph and I wasn't feeling any of it because i was just so happy to be on my bike.  I quickly dropped a couple of gears down into what I consider my cruising gear (53 x 19) and after about 45 seconds of that I realized that I wouldn't be doing any cruising, so I backed it off a couple of teeth and just decided to enjoy the ride and not worry about going fast.  The wind was slapping me in the face as the icey water on the road was trying to get me legs a bit wet.  I felt a little like I was on the Cornelia Marie catching crabs in the Bering Sea, not really, but i was a happy camper, all the way till about mile 6 when just as I crested the top of a little half-mile long hill the rear tire starting feeling a bit soft.  "PISS!"  Pardon my language Virginia, I'm no saint you know.  Not a good time for a flat.  "Is there ever?"  The part that really lathered my arse was that this was the third time that i got a flat at this same exact spot.  "Whats going on here?"  So I crest the hill and find a small clearing to change the tube.  At this moment I felt fine, not cold at all, just a little put out with having to change a flat.  The flat tire change went pretty smooth for the most part but by the time I was finished the fingers were wet and greasy and starting to get a little cold.  I packed my bag, threw the gloves on my dirty, wet hands and I was off again in the big ring going downhill anticipating getting warm again.  I pedaled for all of one minute when the tire started going down again.  All of the drivers that were passing were kinda staring at me as I stood there bellowing  Sunday hymns out loud.  I was not happy but there was nothing I could do about it.  My first instinct was to call someone, but who? I didn't really want to see anyone at this moment.  My second thought was to stick out my thumb, as I've always seemed to be able to catch a ride when I needed it, but I didn't really want to talk to anyone.  So I climbed back in the saddle, big ring and all, and just started pedaling back up the hill.  The tire and tube were screeching against one another as the rim bounced an inch off the ground every time the valve stem came around.  I didn't care.  I normally take pretty good care of my stuff but at this moment I didn't give a tootleey squooot.  That little man inside my head, Partially Semi-Smart Dimitri, said,

 "You're gonna trash that tire."  

I replied, "I don't care."

Then he said, "You're ruining that wheel."

I retorted, "Good.  I want some new ones anyway."
I even told that little smart aleck that I didn't care if the frame broke in half because I'll just build another one.  

This was my S3 frame and if you've ever seen how thin that stuff is then you probably know its not a good idea to be riding on the rim, at this moment though it didn't matter.  I even dropped a couple of teeth on the back and accelerated while standing out of the saddle.  All and all it wasn't even that bad.  I actually think I rode the 6 miles back to my house faster on the rim than I did with 110 psi in the tire.  Yeah the tire is toast, and yeah the rim is garbage, but I think the frame is still ok, I think.  I'll have to check it out later.  Anyway, that edge that was building for the last few days has been dulled a bit. I feel pretty good for the most part.  I may be in better shape than I thought I was.  No, I'm not.  Did I mention that I stepped in a pile of Pinky's poo while cutting through my backyard?  Nothing like having frozen dog crap embedded in your cycling cleats.  I'm switching back to Vredestein.

Friday, December 13, 2013

Blogging is starting to pay Dividends

I received a little package in the mail yesterday from Kevin Waggoner of Scivation.  I had never heard of them before but they make a variety of performance workout/recovery drinks.  Turns out someone sent Kevin a link to one of my old blog post, The Highway Salute, and apparently he enjoyed it enough to shoot me an email and also send me some of their products to try. http://meechcustombikes.blogspot.com/2012/12/the-highway-salute.html
  I don't train much anymore so I never buy any of these type products, but if someone is gonna give them to you then why not.  I couldn't wait to try them out so today I decided I was gonna go ride for a short bit since I haven't been on the bike in over a week and it would be a good excuse to mix up some of my new juice.  

When I don't get to ride a little bit every couple of days I start to develope a little edge. I guess all cyclists are like that.  I wouldn't make a very good caged animal.  Ever seen Katt William's standup act about the tiger attack at the San Francisco Zoo.  Pretty funny stuff.  I'll see if I can't find a clip.  So anyway I'm itching to ride pretty bad.  The main roads are clear of ice however my neighborhood is still pretty bad.  The roads are about 50% ice with a clear tire path for cars.  Normally I wouldn't even consider going for a ride in these conditions but I needed to take the edge off.  I thought that if I could just get out of the neighborhood and onto the main roads I could get a short ride in to curb the enthusiasm.  The conditions were less than stellar.  It was 34 degrees and starting to spit rain but I got dressed anyway, got my bike, closed the garage door, and then just kinda stared down my driveway for a few moments.  I knew this wasn't a good idea.  It was gonna break my record for the worst day I've ever ridden.  I've ridden when it was 10 degrees before but it was dry on that day.  The coldest day I have ever ridden the temp was 37 degrees and it was pouring down rain,  and I could only stand it for an hour and a half.  I'm sure others have endured much worse than that but that was one long 90 minutes as I was soaked and freezing within 5 minutes of being on my bike. 

 As I stood at the top of my driveway looking down the rain started coming down a little harder.  The driveway was wet and seemed slicker but i told myself that the temp  was over freezing so that it couldn't really be ice, only wet. If ice isn't slick enough already just add a little rain on the top of it and see what happens.  Then, right before my very eyes, a fight broke out.  A fight between the old, young and dumb, do anything Dimitri, and the new, older, partially-smart, wiser Dimitri. 

 The wise Dimitri said, "Its not a good idea, wait another day."  

Then the old, young, dumb Dimitri shoved me a bit and replied, "You only have to get to the main road and then its gravy."

Then the partially smart Dimitri said, " This driveway is already getting slicker. Your bike is already sliding and you're standing still."

Then the dumb Dimitri landed the knockout blow when he said, "If you had any balls you'd do it."

"THAT'S IT! Screw you smart Dimitri, we're going riding."

So I clipped my right foot in and dragged my brakes down to the bottom of the driveway to see if it was slick or just wet.  I came to some patches of ice and I sort of skated my way over them to any little pavement I could find.  I didn't see anyone looking at me and I hoped I wouldn't. Then about 100 meters in there was a lady turning her car around.  Her eyes said it all but I just looked the other way.  I found a patch of pavement and clipped in and actually started pedaling with both legs.  Then there was a lady on her porch smoking a cigarette, I didn't even look at her. I could see her looking at me out of the corner of my eye but I just pretended to be focused on the ice, which I was.  Then there was a car sitting at the next stop sign. 

 "Don't even look at them."

  "Why do I feel guilty of something here?"
"Because you're guilty of being stupid."

Finally, after 200 meters of skate riding I reached the main road that leads out of my neighborhood and it looked to be clear.  I clipped in and took off pedaling down the hill and no sooner than I got a little speed up the front end washed and I was sliding on my side like a flounder on a wet boat dock.  It didn't hurt but I was pissed off.  I didn't even look around to see if anyone was watching.  I just picked up my bike and walked across the neighbors yard and into my backyard.  "Rides over!"
So I'm sitting here typing this with a headache.  Thats the first time I've been on the pavement in quite a while, probably since I put my head through the back glass of the Ford Taurus that was parked on the overpass a few years back.  "MEDIC!"

This is the view I was staring at while the revelation was taking place between Smart Dimitri and Dumb Dimitri.  The entire neighborhood looks like this for the most part and I never even got out of it. 

 Anyway, just wanted to say thanks to Kevin for the workout drinks. I'm still drinking the Apple Asylum that I mixed up as I wasn't gonna waste it.  It taste good.  If only I could get the guys from Preparation H and Little Debbie to read my blog.  Have a good weekend.

Wednesday, December 11, 2013

Head Tube #2

Last night I peeled off my second attempt at a tapered head tube.  This one turned out a little nicer than the first one mainly because I only used the fiberglass and carbon sleeving on it and no uni-directional.  The uni-directional has a tendency to wrinkle easily when doing wet layup. This one turned out much better but did have a couple small wrinkles that were easily sanded out.  After talking to a tech specialist at West Epoxy Systems I think the head tube will be a little more frameworthy with a layer or two of the uni, however I still think this tube is plenty strong.  You also have to remember that its gonna get even stronger when I wrap the joints with another 2-3 layers of carbon, but its better to be safe than sorry.  This second head tube didn't slide off the mandrel quite as easy as the first and I'm not quite sure why.  I fought it for quite a while and didn't really know what else to try so I decided to put it  in the freezer and hope the mandrel would shrink a bit.  Not sure if thats what did it or not but it did break free with the next attempt to spin it off.  I think I may have tried to pull it off too soon and the epoxy wasn't dried enough.  Honestly I don't have any idea but its off now.  I am gonna add a layer of uni-directional for strength and another layer of sleeving for cosmetic purposes and then use this tube on the next frame I build.

Here are the two side by side for comparison.  The shorter one is much rougher, more wrinkles.  That LMR stuff is the mold release that I bought locally at the paint store.  Its apparently used on bed liners in some way or another, perhaps bed liner molds or something.  Its worked pretty well so far but I'm gonna experiment with other release agents to find the best one.

I'm fixing to lay down some laminate on this frame in the coming days and so I wanted to become a little more comfortable with the bagging process.  The few times I've tried in the past it was kind of a hit and miss thing, never leaving the experience feeling like I knew what I was doing.  This was a dry run and I took special care in making the bag, and I used quality components as well.  Everything seemed perfect but i never could get it to pull a good vacuum.  Kinda like my ice-driving escapade the other day, everything appeared to be right however the results weren't making sense.  Everything on the pump checked out and I could find no sign of leaks anywhere in the bag but the pump was only pulling about a quarter of the vacuum needed.  Then a thought struck me like lightning.  "Could it somehow be pulling air through the frame?"  The head tube is plugged but only with steel cones and they aren't air-tight.  Then I looked at the open end of the seat tube and the bottom bracket shell and remembered the vent holes that are cut at both of those junctures.  "No way!"  I plugged those holes up and it pulled a full vacuum in about 5 seconds.  "Wow!"  Just like finding the emergency brake on with my car spinning sideways on the ice. But I have to say that I didn't feel quite so dumb this time because this was an easy one to overlook being unfamiliar with the vacuum bagging process. Maybe that whole parking brake thing was easy to overlook too since I'm not familiar with driving on the ice? "No Dimitri, that was just plain stupid."  What can I say?  The cold weather really does give me brain-freeze. My mother is a blond and I think I may have some of her airhead genes.  I most definitely do.  Love you mom!  My mom  can be pretty ditzy sometimes.  Once when she was driving through Mountain Home to visit me with one of her friends and she got pulled over by a cop who had been following her for like 5 miles with his blue lights flashing.  Her and her friend were just blabbing and laughing and never saw him.  When the cop told her that he had been trying to pull her over for like 5 minutes she just told him that she concentrates on whats ahead of her and not behind her, then her and her friend just busted out laughing again. I don't even think she got a ticket.  If I as much as walk to the mailbox without a seatbelt on I'll get busted.

Here is the gauge before I plugged the seat tube and bottom bracket shell.  This gauge actually starts at the red and goes counterclockwise.  The green is a stronger vacuum.

This is what you're looking for.  "Thank goodness."  I'll sleep good tonight.  And after 4 days of driving on ice I'm getting a little more comfortable with that too.  Not knowing what mistakes you're making can almost drive you crazy but when you figure it out it sure feels good.  Never give up!

Thanks for stopping by.  Later.

Sunday, December 8, 2013

No Bike Stories Here

This is the beginning of what rolled over Mountain Home the last couple of days.  Its roughly 2 1/2 - 3 inches of ice and then the snow started and it didn't stop for 24 hours.  I know thats not too big a deal but I've got no other material to work with right now.  I'm trying to make something out of nothing.  I haven't done anything in the shop since the carbon head tube because I've been shoveling snow and ice, taking Anne to and from work, getting her car unstuck and restuck multiple times, etc. I did one of the dumbest things that I've ever done in my life.  We parked in our neighbors driveway on the first night so that we could have an easy time of getting out onto the road, as we have to go up a hill right out of our driveway.  Anyway, so we get in the car early to leave and I can't even get this thing rolling.  The tires are spinning and we aren't moving an inch. So I shoveled everything out from under the front wheels (front wheel drive car) and we manage to get out into the street but then the car is only sliding sideways and not going anywhere basically.  We are on a decline, we're not stuck in anything, and are defying all laws of physics here.  Someone even stops to help push and get us started and the car just slides sideways again and comes to a stop blocking the whole street.  I was lost, totally lost, didn't know what to do anymore.  I know that I'm not a good snow/ice  driver but this made no sense at all.  Then I saw it. The parking brake was on.  I wish someone would've been there to slap me so that I could at least feel punished for being so stupid, but as it is I'm just having to live with it.  I've never shoveled so much snow and ice in my life.  I seldom even pick up a shovel these days, maybe 1-2 times a year.  My back has never been this tight ever.  Its kind of a good thing though because I don't use my core muscles enough and my back could use a little strengthening and having to do it is about the only way I will do it.  Lets move on.

I didn't intend for this picture to be here.  I thought I deleted it but apparently not.  This is a picture of  'snow in a backyard that didn't get deleted', if you've never seen that before.  

I measured the snow just for the sake of having something to do.  Its approximately 210 millimeters deep.  You thought it was 6 1/2" deep didn't you?  Thats also a 15 inch ruler. You would've known that if you would've payed close attention to the other boring picture.  Framebuilders shouldn't use inches, only millimeters and sometimes centimeters.  Inches are like big globs of unneeded cole slaw on your plate.  Notice that this is a stainless steel ruler.  What'd you think I would use, aluminum?  Titanium?  Oh man, you're making me really laugh hard now.  If this ruler was made from titanium it wouldn't be stiff enough to stand up straight like that, it would be folded over like an ice-stricken tree branch.  Aluminum would've cracked.  Ok, I'm messing with you guys.  Every material has its own rights and should be respected but I'm using the First Amendment here.   

Here is Dizzy striking a pose as the snows starts accumulating.  It would eventually get closer to his belly, and he has pretty long legs too.  He and I are built just alike, long skinny legs, big nose, big ears, and no body fat.  He seems to enjoy the snow much more than I do.  I don't like it.  It slows me down, and I move slow enough as it is. I can't help but to wonder what it might be like having four legs instead of two as I'm walking him across the icey road.  Ok, I'm out.  I just wanted to touch base as i have no idea when I'll get anything worthwhile done in the next few days, and don't even want to think about when I might get a ride in.  I rode for an hour and a half on Wednesday because I knew this was coming.  I wish I had a mountain bike or at the least a cross bike just to stretch my legs.  Anyone know a framebuilder?  Chao.

Thursday, December 5, 2013

Welcome To My Nightmare

All my life I have always had plenty of ideas.  Some of them I ignored and some of them I tried to pursue, and I have failed many more times than I have succeeded.  This was a project that seemed so easy.  Make a mandrel for a tapered head tube, lay down a couple of layers of carbon fiber, let it cure, and slide it off.  If you only could've seen me trying to get the peel ply and breather cloth off of this thing you would've thought, "At this point he's failing again."  When I finally did get all the cloth and peel ply off and got a look at the cured carbon on the tube, I quitely said to myself, " There is no way this is coming off the mandrel. Wasted time, wasted money, blah this, blah that...., when are you gonna learn Dimitri?"

Gotta love it when a plan comes together.  I can't believe I ever doubted myself.  It was coming off the mandrel and I didn't even know it.  I thought the mandrel was spinning on the threaded rod, that the threads inside somehow got stripped.  The whole time the tube was spinning on it.  Big sigh!

"Is it perfect?"  Not exactly, but the bearing cups did pop right in just as I hoped.  Only problem is that I believe I wrapped it too tight and you can see some wrinkles in it.  Its not near as smooth as when i was laying it up.  Oh well, its just the first one.

Here is a look at the wall thickness.  This is five layers of cloth, 3 fiberglass, the uni, and the carbon sleeve layer.  Personally I think its thick enough.  I tried to squeeze it together with my hand and it didn't budge.  When the cups are bonded in then it will be even more solid.  If I wanted to be extra safe I could put another layer of sleeving on.  Actually I may do that anyway to try and smooth it out a bit and make it look better.  I can honestly say that I would feel comfortable building myself a frame out of this head tube and riding it.  I wouldn't go as far as to sell it to someone without testing it but we're real close here.  

This pic is a little blurry but it shows the bottom 1 1/2" bearing cup in place.

Top bearing cup. 

Outside its 20 degrees, ice all over the place, and looking miserable but inside the MEECH shop its all been fuzzy and warm. Lets do another one.  Thanks for stopping by.

Snow Day

Sorry for the long delay between posts.  Every since the Thanksgiving holiday I haven't worked on the frame at all.  I was finally able to get out there today and get a bit done.  I finished sanding the fillets so I thought I would show a couple "before" and "after" pics just to post something.  I've been at the bistro, my hometown, and cleaning up my yard here, trying to get things done before this winter storm arrived.  It just showed up here about 10:00 a.m. and we've been getting a little ice but its not sticking to the trees, which was my concern.  The road is covered but I don't plan on going anywhere today.  The electrician came a couple days ago and got my heater hooked up, so even though its sub-30 outside the garage is roughly 60-65 degrees and thats perfect.  

This are the fillets after I brushed them on.  They're not too rough however they're not as smooth as you think.  Even though this is gonna be covered with 3-4 layers of carbon, the rough spots would still show through I'm sure.

Now they won't.  All the fillets turned out pretty good so I have a good smooth surface to lay down some laminate on.  Its kind of like the calm before the storm for me because now I'm down to the hard part which is laying down carbon and then trying to vacuum bag it all.  I've vacuumed some smaller parts without issue but trying to do a whole frame is a different story.  The head tube shouldn't be too difficult however I'm a little concerned about the bottom bracket shell.  Oh well, the only thing we have to fear is fear itself huh?  You can see the flash tape I wrapped the tubes with.  This is basically as far as I want my carbon to go. Nothing will stick to this stuff.  You can kind of see the ice and snow through the window.  I thinks its already stopped now and I'm glad.

I had Bob put a threaded insert into the mandrel so that I had a way to hold it in a vise for some added ease.  I just got done with my first attempt.  Its drying now.  I put 3 layers of fiberglass down first, then I wrapped a piece of pretty thick uni-directional carbon fiber, and lastly a piece of carbon sleeving for the final layer and for good looks.

The uni is not in a sleeve form so I just cut a piece to fit the mandrel and hand wrapped it.

The sleeves are cool because they open and contract to whatever the diameter of the mold and after its on you can work it up or down in order to make it tighter.  Its like the Chinese finger trap.  Now if only this thing will come off the mandrel after its cured.  I sprayed it with some high-end mold release but I still have my fingers crossed.

Peel ply.

All compressed with stretch film.

Here is a pic of Anne cooking her first turkey.  She's an excellent cook and it turned out great, dressing was good too.  I've only cooked a turkey one time.  I did it years ago just to give it a try, it wasn't even Thanksgiving or anything.  Anyway, I forgot to take the plastic bag full of innerds (the neck, giblets, etc.) out of the bird before cooking it.  I didn't forget, I just didn't know they were in there to start with.  I had eaten most of the turkey before I realized they were in there.  I was embarrassed and never told anybody about it.  Then, one Thanksgiving a couple years later, my mom was telling us the story of the first time my dad cooked a turkey and he did the same thing.  The apple never falls far from the tree huh? Apparently its not that uncommon.  Always remember, there are two plastic bags inside the turkey.  The first one is easy to find but the second is easy to overlook.  If you bake the turkey with that stuff in there it will probably be alright, however if you fry the bird that might could give it a funny taste. Ah, just pour some epoxy flavored gravy on it and you'll never notice.  I've personally never eaten fried turkey.  Enough about turkey, I'm out of here.  I'll keep you updated on the head tube.

Friday, November 29, 2013

Kettle Cycles-SiCCC Carbon Brake Rotors

Just spotted this photo on a friend's facebook post.  I haven't read anything about them and have no idea how good it works. I do know that it looks killer.  You can find more info at Kettle Cycles.com website and I believe the rotor is called the SiCCC.  Check it out.