Wednesday, November 25, 2009

Happy Turkey Day from The Group W bench!

No pictures for ya, but a lot has been going on. Deep in the process of my first rando frame and I've been making up the forms to do the bending for the custom racks. I remember saying to someone last year that I doubted I would ever be making racks.... and now it's looks like the next three frames will have them!
So, while we're at home trying to figure out how we're going deal with a sick kid, travel to Texas, and cook two turkeys by tomorrow- I'll leave you with your required holiday viewing:

Sunday, November 1, 2009

Ready for the road

Izzy has his bike all built up and decked out with some pretty nice parts. He sent these pics and I must say it's looking good and ready to rock!
In his words:
As for the frame, I love it! It's responsive, light, and extremely fast. I have been and will continue to sing your praises to anyone interested in getting a new bike and the guys at Fixed and Free love it almost as much as I do. Thank you for building me the perfect bike frame!
Gotta love that.

Sunday, October 18, 2009

Ding! Ding! Frame's done!

Israel's frame all buttoned up and ready to go out the door. It's basically a British Racing Green with a metallic added to it. A very cool color that I somehow failed to capture until the last pic. Oh well, someday I'll get the lighting thing figured out. Experimenting with new a logo design. I like this one- an "almost script" style while still being easy to read from a distance. I'm planning on having more made that will be a little smaller and have a contrasting outline to the letters.
Another headbadge I blame John for! ;) This time it's the Greek letter sigma. I'd better tell Israel to not park it near any of the frats on campus.

The semi-wrap seatstays- a first for me. I usually make a scalloped end. I think these are a nice classic touch for a lugged frame.

Here is what it really looks like in the sun. If you look close, you can see another feature that personalizes this frame.
What you can't see are the ports for the internal brake cable guide inside the top tube- I put them low on the tube to keep them out of sight, plus the color hides them well.
Next up, a different kind of I'll have to do some research for to be able to pull it off. Let's just say I hope Velocio will be proud!*
*If you get that reference you're as big of a bike geek as I am!

Sunday, September 27, 2009

Not much left to go...

A few shots for ya as the frame gets done.
Loving the drops, but not as much as...
The seat cluster!
All those points come together quite nicely. I'm diggin the semi-wrapped seatstays points- a first for me!

The beauty of a lugged frame.

This was my favorite shot. The lighting is perfect, the angle, the transitions between hard and soft outlines...the freakin fly on the top tube! I was all set to make this my new header picture for this blog too!
Nature can be a know.

Tuesday, September 22, 2009

Tune in for the dropouts

OK, I'll admit it...I'm a bit obsessed with rear ends.
Of bike frames! Get your mind out of the gutter already.
Anyway, rear ends, or rear forks, or as most people call them- dropouts. The dropouts are key to completing the whole look of a frame- especially on a fixed gear bike. Way too often you see a great custom frame ruined with cheesy premade drops that don't match the angles of the frame. This isn't to say there aren't some pretty nice drops out there, but if you want it done right.....

Towards that end, here's where Israel's drops begin- in a sheet of 3/16" 4130 steel. Much stronger than the 1010 steel most drops are made from. Three hourse of grinding, drilling, and filing nets us these (this is usually where I cut myself and today was no exception- a little blood in every frame, free of charge!)
How it looks about 30 seconds after the torch is shut off. I leave the seatstay tab a little wide so it can be shaped to the perfect angle later.

Stage one complete. Notice how the line from the top edge of the drop flows perfectly into the line from the chainstay scallop. When painted you won't be able to tell where the chainstay ends and the dropout begins.....that's money baby!

The Quality Control inspector agrees!

Sunday, September 20, 2009

A new bike is born

Sorry for the delay, but for once it wasn't my fault- we've been waiting for a new modem since ours decided to self destruct (one month out of warranty of course) and that's kept me off line.
Didn't keep me out of the shop though!
Here we have Israel's new fixed gear just waiting to be cut and welded- all True Temper tubes. The first step is tube inspection- they are cleaned thouroughly inside and out and inspected for defects. Then the butted sections are marked and the bows (all tubes are a tiny bit bowed from the factory) are placed in the right orientation so they won't affect frame alighment down the line. Were talking less than a millimeter here- but it all adds up.
Here are the tubes laying on the frame drwaing so I can mark the cut lines on them- making sure all the butted areas are in the right place for maximum strength.

The first miter! 59.5 degrees to be exact.

Fork crown time. The points have been shaped to better match the lugs and a little design is drawn on per Israel's request.

A little lightning carved in and the crown brazed on. This will be a very subtle detail, one of those things you wouldn't see at first, but still pretty cool.

Fork's done!

Next up, custom dropouts for a custom bike.

Sunday, August 30, 2009

What would Dave do?

As in Dave Elliot an offroad/ultra marathon running tough guy I know. You see, Dave has all the time constraints (and probably more) that I do and they always seem to keep me off the bike...or at least cut rides short. Between our day jobs, kids, and framebuilding (that's for me, not Dave) it just doesn't leave much time for our chosen forms of self-inflicted punishment. Now, the problem is compounded by the fact that I have to train for a big event, and even though it's not till next June, I can't afford to be cutting miles in September.
So what would Dave do? He'd put the kids to be, go to some trail, meet some other crazies...errr, I mean runners, and run till sunup!
So here was the scene this morning at 4:30 before I headed out for 55 miles of dirt road riding. I hope Dave would be proud.

So what's your excuse? ;)

Sunday, August 16, 2009

Like Granpa's ol shotgun

I've been playing around with some alternative finishing ideas and decided to start with bluing- the same finish most firearms have. After seeing a bike from Ezra Caldwell of Fastboy Cycles with a similar finish I knew this was the way to go. Check out the Thunderf****r here: (By the way this is reason #742 from the list of "Why Ezra Rules")
I started small with the stem and after a couple of adjustments to the application process this is the result:

Pretty flippin cool, don't ya think? I came out even better than I'd hoped. The bluing will discolor the brass in the joints, but it doesn't really stick to it and can be buffed out pretty easy. I'll leave the brass mostly discolored because I think it really adds to the overall look.
Gotta do the rest of the bike now- this should be more of a challenge as you only have a 30 second window to neutralize the acids in order to make the finish pressure there!

Tuesday, August 11, 2009

Fork this!

I think a custom frame really needs a custom fork. The right fork ties the look of the whole bike together, and more importantly, it can be designed to give just the right handling for a specific rider.
Here are three forks from current builds- they are all about 75% done still needing final finishing and brake mounts. Three different routes to the same destination: From left to right 1. a 26" Fat tire fixed gear fork (getting a disc mount) 2. a much narrower 700c road fork (also getting a disc mount), and 3. a burly 26" BMX fork.
The rake in fork 1 is achieved by putting a 6 degree offset angle in the crown...really keeps you focused when hand filing it. I think this is the right look for the oddball fixed gear frame it will be going on. It has lugged leg sockets for strength and the shape will reflect to seat tube lug on the's the little things.

I went for a more traditional look for #2- the rake is in the blades and the narrower crown lets the top of the fork legs be flat (you'll notice the wider crown have angled leg tops to make sure they clear the down tube when the wheel is turned) giving it a nice old school profile.

#3 is one is a beefy bastard. It's going on a BMX/dirt jump bike so niceties like tapered legs for a springy ride aren't really a consideration. It's all about strength and stiffness here. Rake is acheived by rolling the crown peices forward and by the offset in the drop outs.

Up close on the crowns.



Next, frames to go with the forks!

Tuesday, August 4, 2009

Two posts in one day!

More of Cara's bike:

Seat tube sleeve cut to mirror the fork crown and bring the bike together.

I have John N. to thank/blame for this. The spade headtube badge on his bike ( makes everybody want a version of their own. I don't blame them, it is a nice way to further personalize your dream bike. So much so that I'm thinking of making this standard for all my frames.

This one is a "om" a buddist symbol for bliss/enlightenment/a comatose state, I don't know for sure, but Cara wanted it, so there it is.

Thanks John...I think. ;)

A girly touch for a girly bike!

I love the bottom bracket shots on fillet brazed bikes.

Cool chevron shaped stay bridge that I love to do, but seems to be getting a little too common these days, right Drew?

Until my next show and tell...

Look! A new post!

Yeah yeah, I know, same story... lot's of building and no posting. Found it hard to get motivated to post because it started to feel too much like showing off, and that's just not me. I mean, who really wants to see that I made a pair of seatstay caps today? Turns out, quite a few people do and they've let me know about it!

So, in the words of my 5 year old son, "Look at me! See what I can do!"

First up, Cara's little "Touring/rough road/no toe overlap/it has to handle like a road bike" bike.

It has an eclectic selection of mtb and road parts that work well together....with a little effort.

Like the mtb shifters on road bars. This is the third bike I've set up like this and it works great- plus, it gives you more options for different brake levers.

Friday, May 8, 2009

Psychedelic safety

Ok, now I'm getting all kinds of video links sent to me. Most are a bit goofy -like my last one- but this one is so out there, I had to share (thanks Ray)- freaky on many levels.
Maintain your bikes kids....and stay off the LSD!

Friday, April 10, 2009

Getting there

This is the frame that will be getting the bluing treatment. It will be a fixed gear with (gasp) brakes! None of those girly road calipers though, this will have manly man discs.
Here's a shot of a test fit for the seatstay. Once the stay is fitted up perfectly, I'll take it off and finish the internal brake line routing through it....should be pretty cool. Because all the joints will be visible through the bluing, I've had to really focus on getting nice even lines in the's good practice! Hmm, looks like I still have to do a little cleanup on the front entry for the cable tunnel.

Out of town for the weekend, so this will have to get finished next week.
Happy Easter folks!

Friday, April 3, 2009

Even better in the daylight

Lots of cool little touches going on at this seat cluster- including the last frame from me to incorporate a lightning bolt.

Monday, March 30, 2009

Swervy Curvy

Jeff's freshly painted 29er hanging in the hot box, getting all cured up and ready to assemble. I like how the angle of this shot shows all the curves. Because the seat tube was too short to have the seat stays follow the curve of the top tube, I went the other way and made them to match the curve of the chainstays....I'm glad I did!

I think I need to stop using the flash on the digital camera- the bike looks blue in the pic, the color is actually "plum" so it's much more purple. Plus, the weird flash effect makes it look like there's a dark stripe on the head tube, that isn't there either. Oh well, my picture taking abilities aside, it's all about the curves baby!

Sunday, March 29, 2009

Worm Hole Post- Tool Pic

edit: I sent this post off late Fri, and it finally showed today, and no, I don't know where it went in that time. I am worried as it now smells vaguely of cigarettes and.....monkeys. I didn't ask questions though, I don't want to be that kind of blogger, I'm just happy it's back!

I saw a picture of this on someone's blog and thought it was too good to not make one.

OK, unless you build frames this will probably mean nothing to you. To me, however, it is a beautiful thing- a nifty little doo dad that will do an awesome job of holding on all those oddly shaped bits so they can be brazed to the frame.

Thursday, March 19, 2009

Friday Pic o' the Week

Here's a new tradition, something to force me to update here at least once a week, and to focus on some singular (but very cool) aspect of the latest full frame shots, just parts.

The before primer shot:

Next: fixed gear frame and new paint.

Monday, March 16, 2009

First one

First post under the new name calls for another first-my first stem!

I decided it's about time I made one.

This next bike I'm doing will be a fixed gear with a blued finish. The finish will allow you to see the brass fillets in the joints, so I thought a matching stem would look appropriately bitchin.

I still need to narrow the bar clamp a bit, but it's done otherwise.

Now to go see if I can bring all the old posts over here....this may take awhile.

Late edit: so far, so bad...can't bring in the old posts yet. In the meantime, I've added a link to them on the sidebar.