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, June 29, 2014

Making a Carbon Fiber Chainstay Protector

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

Fun In the Sun

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

Seat Tube Replacement

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.  

"Back pocket?"

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.

New fillets.

Same as it ever was.

Cleaned up...

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.

Wednesday, June 11, 2014

Caesar Di2 Frame

I finally finished up Caesar's frame this week.  Talk about dragging arse.  If I had dragged my arse any more on this thing I would need some skin grafts on my butt cheeks.  Geez.  I truly don't know what happened other than things just kept coming up that had to be addressed.  I'm kinda weird when I'm building frames.  When I'm working on a frame I don't like  having anything else hanging over my head that needs to be done.  I have to finish everything first so that I have clear eyes and can focus on the frame, its just the way I am.  Frame building is fun for me but it all has to be right for me to truly enjoy it because safety is very important.

"Safety, safety, be alert
Cause if a car hits you, 
its gonna hurt."

Remember that one?  But what if you hit the car? It still hurts, trust me. Anyway, like I was saying, if I don't have a clear head then I'm very seldom working on someone's frame.  Sometimes I feel like I'm a little too spread out and I would like to tighten things up, streamline them a bit so that I can focus more on frame building, however it seems like the more I try to do it the more there is to do. I don't know, there's a wild fire and its burning outta control, its not a problem you can stop, its rock 'n' roll, or something like that.  Lets check out some photos of the finished frame.

The colors we chose on this one is clearly black and what appears to be white in these photos, however its actually a cream color called Creme Brulee.  The lighting doesn't seem to show the cream color but its there.  I've actually been wanting to do a paint scheme in colors like these because my friend Bob Davis has an old Scott motorcycle painted in similar colors and it looks super-classy.  I'll try and find a photo of it.  I've actually got a single-speed frame hanging up that I'm gonna paint in similar fashion only I may add some red highlights, bands or something.  I like the scheme that Caesar chose, it keeps it interesting for me to change things up, and try new stuff.

How's this for a 'bad motor-scooter'?  The colors are almost identical however you can't  really see the cream color in either photo.Guess it has to be live.  Does anyone know where I can get some pants like Sammy Hagar is wearing in this video? Just what we needed in the 70's, another Robert Plant look-a-like. This song never did much for me however I just wanted it to get stuck in your head like it did mine.

I always like the way these decals reflect off of black paint.

Handmade carbonification in all its glory, and bullet-proof. 

Who doesn't love a tight rear end?

I really like the new brake bridges.

Thanks for stopping by.

MEECH Custom Bicycles
handmade in 
Mountain Home, Arkansas

Tuesday, June 3, 2014

Colombia Celebrates Quintana's Win

Here is a quick video off of Velonews showing Colombia's support for cycling and the celebration after Nairo Quintana recently won the Giro de Italia.  Its good to see a country that is known for its problems receive a little positive energy.