Thursday, April 13, 2017

Mentoring 2017

Each year I try to give back a week of my time to a professional who wants to take their skill to the next level; learn paint, tig, new materials, etc...

This year I had the pleasure of hosting Daan from 11 Ants Titanium Bicycles.  The owners have focused their bicycle design on Pinion and Rohloff builds in titanium, a market segment that has room for growth in Europe.  Their builds for the last three years have been commissioned in China, but due to the stresses of working long distance and inability to control quality, spec, and manage expectations, they want to move the production home to Holland.  Daan came to me with 20 years fabrication and machine shop experience, but no bicycle work.  It was our goal to expose him to the fabrication process and begin to understand the unique difficulties in working with Titanium.

Over the next 5 days, we worked through language and machine familiarization barriers to reach a level of competency that will build a strong foundation for this companies future success.

Bill and I were also able to get an Accuset fixture into their hands, only the third fixture we've sent out, nice to see it go to a good home that can truly use it's accurate set up, repeat-ability, and massive access for joining.

Best wishes to Roy, Jeroen, and Daan as they move to the next step in their journey...Made in Holland!

Saturday, February 11, 2017

January/February bars going out...

Ok, so originally I was only going to update this blog with new fabrication tutorial info, but it seems like I continue to do the same stuff over and over that has already been covered.  So, here's a quick post just to see if anyone is still out there...

Spent the better part of the last two weeks knocking out January/February bar orders and crafting up some tasty titanium cranks...

Much like welding a frame, the bars have a systematic welding process to keep them aligned and flat, starting with the linear ends of each miter

The bars are the only titanium item I single pass weld, as the additional heat of a two pass process becomes a bit more problematic with alignment.  To ensure complete penetration, a higher energy setting is used with a brief pulse to drive the arc deep into the substrate and feather out a bit wider than normal...

These titanium cranks are ran through the blast cabinet so that it will provide a mechanical surface for the ceramic to adhere to...

Colored and ready for action 3 hours later...

Thanks for tuning in,


Friday, August 5, 2016

Frame's part of long term business

Whether you have been active in the niche of custom bicycles for a few years or decades, eventually stuff breaks and your creations will find their way back to you for repair.

Creating a sustainable business plan to deal with these, supporting the customer, will build confidence in your customer base and garner long term support.

Check out this short video that looks at the replacement of fatigued tubing/dropout and the business discussion that follows.

This blog has always served as an tool for sharing and teaching the art of custom bicycle fabrication...if there are topics you would like to see visited, please let me know...


Monday, July 18, 2016

How to create custom graphics...

One of the most enjoyable parts of building custom bicycles is the ability to bring the customer's personality out in the finish work.

In this short video, I'll share the process of creating hand drawn graphics and making them a reality in paint.




Tuesday, April 19, 2016

Titanium Filler Wire Supply...Industry Pricing

Industry Pricing on Titanium Filler Wire:

G&S Titanium of Wooster specializes in titanium wire drawn products.  During the late 80’s and 90’s, they were one of the small cadre of companies from Wooster that specialized in supplying  bicycle OEM manufacturers with everything from weld wire, to bolts, and custom machined products.

Long a provider only to large OEM companies, they want to begin to reach out to the smaller manufacturers of titanium bicycles as part of a new direct to consumer business plan.  Over the last 2 months I have worked with Tyler LaFave, the head sales representative, to establish pricing for DOMESTIC 6/4 Ti filler wire.

All materials are produced and drawn here in the US:

Ti 6-4 Eli
AWS A5.16-13 ERTI-23
- .030" X 36" S/L -    $75.00/lb.
- .035" X 36" S/L -    $75.00/lb.
- .046" X 36" S/L -    $70.00/lb.
- .063" X 36" S/L -    $65.00/lb.

A three pound minimum order is required.

Any builder with liability insurance and a business license is qualified to order.

Please contact Tyler directly to begin a relationship with this excellent company:

Tyler LaFave
Sales, G&S Titanium

It is my hope that this effort will create a sustainable supply with consistent pricing to the handbuilt industry.



Wednesday, February 24, 2016

Soft Jaws...they're not just for pudding anymore

Though the process of creating a custom bicycle varies from customer to customer, the basic components are the same, allowing the use of dedicated tooling to be created.  Often this tooling is designed with a range of variability so that minor changes in design can be accommodated.

Production work, however, necessitates that dedicated, fixed position equipment be used to ensure accurate, repeatable results from piece to piece.

Today, I want to talk about the importance of "soft jaws".  Soft jaws are replaceable tooling that hold a part for machining, often not heat treated, allowing the operator two distinct advantages; the ability to shape the jaws to perfectly fit the piece being machined.  Secondly, the shaped clamping surface provides greater surface contact allowing for a less robust clamping surface, leaving no impressions on the finished part.

The example we are going to look at here is a set of jaws that were shaped to accept the spider interface for the Hot Rod cranks.  In this case, the part is water jet cut to the rough dimensions and the center hole needs to be opened up to 24.02 mm and then face relieved a skoosh so that it is a tight slip fit over the bottom bracket spindle.
The base part, before machining
To place this part into a standard set of pointed hard jaws in a lathe makes concentricity difficult to attain part to part, as there is minimal surface contact between the jaws and the part to be machined.  I used a tool post grinder, mounted to the cross slide, to create a shaped opening in the face of the jaws, allowing me to have a surface that holds the part perfectly flat and concentric to the spindle for machining.

The lathe jaws, ground to accept the part
This shaping of the jaws permits a consistent origin point from which to begin the machining process, and contacts a majority of the outer surface leaving no clamping impression, therefore meeting our goals.

The part clamped and machined in the soft jaw
Whether in a vice, lathe, or in a fixture, precision soft jaws created for the operation are an asset to the fabricator and should be considered for any production piece.