About Me

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Mountain Home, Arkansas, United States
My name is Dimitri Harris and I have been building frames for over 6 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, its 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 Mountain Home, 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, November 3, 2013

Laying the Foundation

Hey, what's up?  Remember me?  Its been a while.  When the weather gets colder it makes me move slower, both on the bike and off.  The time changed last night.  Apparently we got an extra hour of sleep last night but I didn't even notice.  I slept straight through it.  "OFFICER, I've been robbed!"  

I've been trying to get a couple of things in order in the shop so that I can work on a couple of carbon frames.  This foto isn't much but its a start.  I also got enough carbon tubes to build a couple two or three frames.  This bottom bracket is not too complex, basically a steel bb shell epoxied into a carbon tube.  I've noticed most builders seem to use titanium shells but the steel shell I've been buying is actually showing to be lighter than the titanium, go figure.  All of my cutting tools have been used on steel so I'm sticking to it for the time being and should I have to make a change I will.  The bottom bracket is not overly important to me at this point, it just needs to be solid.  This head tube turned out looking pretty good however this particular one is not finished.  Its for a straight one and an eighth steerer with integrated bearing.  Its one of my favorite because it has a clean look to it.  There are a couple of things with this headtube that make it insufficient as it is.  Number one is I think this carbon tube is too thin.  I'm not sure how thin you can get away with but this one appears to be only a couple of layers of laminate thick.  I could kinda squeeze it together in my hand before I bonded the cups in.  Not sure if thats a problem or not but I'm not about to put you on one of 'em yet.  I wanna be the first one to go bouncing across the road and into the ditch.  It'll make for a good blog posts.  Anyway, these bearing cups came from England.  "Ooooh!"  You can actually buy an entire steel head tube kit from Nova Cycles however I only needed the cups and Ceeway is the only company I've found that sells them.  They showed up in like 3 days which I thought was amazing.  I paid extra on the shipping but I didn't expect them that fast.  The problem with this here head tube is that the cups really didn't go down into the head tube very far.  They are kinda sitting on top of the tube with a couple of millimeters down inside and then the 3M DP 420 has them bonded in place.  It feels strong to the hand but I wouldn't trust them left like this.  My plan was to wrap a couple more layers of some carbon sleeve around the whole head tube and around the cups thus bonding the cups in better as well as thickening the wall of the tube a little, then it should be sufficient.  Then I'll test it all out by going down a hill at 55+ mph and locking up the front brake.  If I go over the bars and the frame doesn't break then all is good, if the frame shatters and I go over the bars then that will be considered a failure.  We'll see how it goes. By accident I've already solved this problem.  The next head tube will actually have a piece of steel tubing brazed onto the bearing cup and then it will insert into the carbon head tube for some added strength.  See, I'm looking out for you. I've also got a mandrel being made at Bob's machine shop in order to try and make my own tapered head tube.  I personally don't feel that a 1 1/8"-1 1/2" is that necessary on a road bike however I want to be able to offer it and it will work on cyclocross or mountain bike frames as well.  That is actually what I'm gonna start out working on this fall.  I'll be working on a frame but i would really like to get this tapered head tube dialed in and move on from there.  Then I'll go to work on my favorite part, the hiney.

No, seriously though.  I've been taking my time with this project because I want to get it right.  I've got most everything I need to build the frames but I'm also trying to get my shop set up a bit better to work during the winter.  See that new light up there.  Man, I love it.  Why have I waited so long to do this?  Who knows? I do things at my own pace, sometimes too much so.  I've actually been in races where I told myself, "I don't feel like riding this fast today, I'm just gonna back off and enjoy this ride."  I tend to get bored with the same scenario quite easily, even going fast.  I wouldn't recommend this attitude if you're planning on becoming a good racer.  Anyway, the shop is so bright that I need shades to work in it.  Remember when Clark Griswald put all those Christmas lights up and they came on and blinded the whole neighborhood?  Thats what its like in here.  Now the only thing else I need to do to get it up to par is to have a 240 volt line run for a new heater.  I'm not gonna work again this year in 35 degrees, its just too hard to get motivated to go out there and you can't get much done.  I'm gonna get a heater so strong that I can work this whole winter in a Speedo.  Wonder what the UPS driver is gonna think of me then?  Careful now!  Those carbon shards can be quite dangerous.  Carbon splinters seem to hurt more than steel and wood splinters.  Not sure why, maybe because they cost more.  I'm also hoping to get a mill drill in the near future but thats not a necessity right now.  Being comfortable and being able to see are the main things I need at this point to focus on the frames.  Yeah, I could just start building carbon frames and get better with each one but I'm actually not planning on wasting much time getting it right.  I learned a ton of info with the first one and I plan on making the second one even better.  I'm hoping to have the process pretty close to dialed in by number five.  The first frame I built a couple of years ago rode fine and there were no structual issues at all.  It was really comfortable but probably would have been a bit better with a little added stiffness.  So I've got some larger diameter tubes I'm gonna start out with on this next frame and we'll see how that feels.  The first one is for me and then I think I'm gonna offer some of the earlier frames as prototypes at basically cost.  If someone wants to try one of them out then we can work out a deal.  I already have a couple of test pilots in mind so I just need to get to work on the frames.  

Hey, sorry for the long delays between posts but its just the way it is at the moment.  I will try to keep you updated as much as possible.  You'll see the builds as it takes place. Thanks for stopping by and I hope everyone is doing well and that the 'cross legs are churning butter for you.  Gotta go sling some hash (lasagna) for a couple of hours.  See you soon.  Chao amigos.

2 comments:

  1. I've been wondering where your adventures in carbon stood.

    If you're looking for volunteers I'd be a willing test dummy.

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  2. Hey Steve, yeah, I;ve talked about it forever and just couldn't get caught up to do it. Also, I had to learn how to paint this last year and that took precedence over the carbon. Anyway, I plan on working on carbon over the winter and I'm hoping to be good enough by spring to sell them. Let me build a couple and if you're interested in a prototype then maybe we can work a deal out. thanks

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