Wednesday, December 24, 2008

Merry Christmas!

Here' s my tribute to our lady of the blessed chromoly, patron saint of the framebuilder.
Hope you all have a great Christmas, I'm outta here for a few days- stay safe and stay warm.

When life gives you backorders.....

You make dropouts! A delay from a supplier gave me just the push I needed to make some custom dropouts for the Griego cross bike. Made out of .19" 4130 plate, drops like these are much stronger than the average mild steel most manufacturers use. The mild steel is usually strong enough, but if you're making your own, why use the cheap/weak stuff?
Here's the right drop about 70% done. It will get further shaping, a rack mount, the hanger drilled/tapped. possibly a window, and stainless faces.......whew, maybe it's more like 50% done!

Tuesday, December 16, 2008

The link

Here's the video the local news shot-
And the answer to your next question is yes, I really do look that good in person.

Monday, December 15, 2008

This just in....

My local news segment is (finally) going to air tonight at 6pm on KOAT CH7.
Gotta get ready for my 15 minutes!

For those of you outside the NM viewing area, here's a shot of the super slick cable routing on Jeff's 29er to tide you over until I can figure out a way to link the video to here.

I have angered the gods of the webmosphere

I knew it had been awhile since the last post- the shorter days of winter always seem extra busy for me and the ol blog suffers as a result.
"No big deal", I thought, "I'll just take pictures of everything and do a couple of of massive picture posts".
Now, I know what you're thinking, I was asking for it- and you're right...I got it. Got it in the form of our second computer meltdown this year! All the pictures....gone!
So, while I get back up to blogging speed, here's a few words from John about his new fixed gear commuter (looks cool, dontchya think?):

Hey Chauncey,
I took the afternoon to finish building the bike. It looks fantastic. I debated the configuration of the handlebar -- drops OR more cruiser/city/urban. I decided that, since I already have a fast road bike with drops (a lugged aluminum ALAN) and an old Fuji touring, I decided to build the C. Matthews into a single-speed city bike. What resulted is a pretty aggressive city bike that maneuvers like a cheetah on crack. It's an awesome ride and everything about the bike just felt right. This will be my main get-around bike.
On the test ride, I received two compliments in a span of 10 minutes -- one from a neighbor and one from a roadie at an intersection. The roadie asked me where I bought the bike and I told him it's a custom frame and gave him your Live Wire blog site. He likes the the way the bike looks ("contemporary-retro" was his description), and he particularly appreciates the head badge.

All I can say is that John is lucky that frame didn't fit me.....I really like the way it turned out. Lugged fixed gears just speak to me. Many happy rides John!

Sunday, September 21, 2008

Gravy and Fame

A little interim lag in the build process and as we decided to do a stainless head badge on John's bike and I took my first steps towards fame. Fame? I'll get to that in a minute.

First, the bike:

Naked frame all prepped for paint w/the badge masked off.

Sitting in the "hot box" getting the paint cured after two coats of slate grey Imron.

This last pic does a good job of showing the color and the lug shorelines....nice and sharp! I love shooting metallic colors lke this- the paint looks like it's alive and moving when it first goes down. Well, I guess you had to be there to see what I mean, bur trust me, it's a cool effect.

I stupidly forgot to get any pictures, but I took my first step towards fame this week when I was interviewed by the local Channel 7 news for their "Made in New Mexico" segment. It was pretty weird having a camera man and a news anchor follow me around the shop asking questions about framebuilding, but I guess all of us famous folk have to get used to that, huh? ;)

It's supposed to air in October so I'll have to post up a link then. Of course, I might be so famous by that time that I'll have to have my people do the blog post for me........

Wednesday, September 10, 2008

Waiting for the gravy

John's bike getting the final touches as I wait to get a full day to devote to painting: This is a brake bridge, regular, boring, and the same as every other bike out there.

How's about this bridge? I took a couple of stock factory bridges, and here's what I came up with after a bit of bending, brazing, and filing. I figured that because this bridge might never actually have a brake on it, it needed to look cool by itself. It will also double as a fender mount after I drill and tap a couple of holes in it.
You can also se the upper rack mounts in this shot.
Head shot. The surface rusting you see will all be gone in a phosphoric acid wash prior to the primer coat. Not only does the wash clean all the rust inside and out, it "etches" the metal and makes the primer adhere better.

A nice and off center full frame shot. Someday I'll learn to take a good picture....someday.

Wednesday, September 3, 2008

Chef says.............

"Your fork is done!"
Can you tell Halloween comes early at our house?

Sunday, August 31, 2008


Been busy with the day job and building frames at night so I've missed a few blog days! Good progress has been made though, John's frame is starting to resemble a Bicycle Type Object! A little extra miter work here: double compound miters on the seat tube and down tube. Why? No good reason other than it looks neat inside the BB shell. A lot of folks will just put the extra cut in the seat tube, and that's fine, it just won't look as cool later. Although, the only people who will ever see it are me and Jogn, but still.........
Seat tube brazed in here and getting one of the 40-50 alignment checks a frame gets through the build process. Nice and square here!
View from inside the BB after the downtube is brazed in- it's the little things......
Top tube mitered and fitted. I like to be able to rotate the frame for this braze, so the frame is clamped in a workstand that allows me to turn it whichever way I need.
A trip to the Morroni jig to get the chainstays fitted up. I love this huge chuck of machined steel, there's only one other jig like this in use today. But I do know where another one is sitting and can be had for a song!

Tuesday, August 26, 2008

Starting the front triangle

Here's how I like to start the front triangle, the down tube to head tube connection. All the frame's geometry follows this angle, so it's important to get it right. A perfect fit, with no gaps in the miter is essential for maximum strength and alignment. For this frame, the angle has to be 58.5, a typical angle for a smallish frame and only half a degree off from the angle of the lug- just a tiny bit of tweaking and it will all go together perfectly. A light-tight fit done with only a hacksaw and a file.
All brazed up! It looks like hell with the flux still on it, but trust me, it's a nice braze!

Lining up the angle with the blue print- spot on! If it were off, I'd have to cold set it (read: bend) something I absolutely hate to do and something I haven't had to do since my first frame. If the miter is right and the proper brazing sequence is followed, it will be right every time.
You can also see the water bottle bosses have been brazed in too- this is another one of the little things you do to before the frame is together, it makes it easier to maintain alignment later on. Building frames comes down to the millimeter, so every little bit helps!

Saturday, August 23, 2008

Saturday night blog down.....

Time to personalize this a bit before the big brazing is underway: Drawn on.
Drilled out.
Excess cut away- only broke two blades!
Approximately 3,476 file strokes later and the Dark Knight approves!

Thursday, August 21, 2008


Getting the seat stays, chain stays, and fork blades sorted. The seatstays will have the traditional caps- made from scratch to give it the custom flair. Because, as you must know, every custom has to have the required amount of flair.

Here you see the initial cut out. It kinda makes the stay look like a big hypodermic needle, huh? A blurry pic of a scrap piece of seat stay brazed in place. I like to use this diameter because it gives the cap a more scalloped look.Excess tube cut away and a bit of file work later......and we have our cap!

Got to working and left the camera in the house for the chain stays and blades. Blades have been raked to 50mm, with a nice curve to them.
Also, you can see I've used two types of dropouts. The fronts are the plug-in type and the rears are attached by cutting a slot in the stay and then filling the gaps with brass. One thing I don't like is drops that don't match between the front and back, so I spent quite a bit of time blending in the rears to balance with the front. Once painted, thy will look like a matching set.
Next is lug prep, miters, and some real working shots of the greatest frame jig ever.

Tuesday, August 19, 2008

First Steps

Ah, here we are, on the eve of a new frame build....gotta love it! This will be John's fixed gear commuter/long ride/fun bike. Since John can't be around to see the progress first hand, I though a little on-line build chronicle was in order.
After all the dimensions and geometry is hashed out, I draw up a full size blueprint for the frame- no computer needed.
Then, all the tubes have to be cleaned inside and out and inspected. I look for any imperfections, mark the butt lengths, check the tubes for straightness (by the way, no tubeset is perfectly straight), and orient the bows in the tubing so that when the frame is built the bows won't affect the alignment. I'm using a Dedacciai tubeset here, and as is typical for this brand, everything is very nice and within 1mm of being true.

Laying the tubes against the blue print to balance the butted sections and make the marks for the rough cuts....looks like there's a rogue spider on there too!Checking the downtube lug angle. This lug will have to be adjusted a bit as this frame has a taller fork (fender clearance) coupled with a higher BB (pedal clearance) that puts the lug about a half degree out of spec- well within adjustment (read: bending to fit) limits though.
This is my first time using a Pacenti fork crown too, it is super nice!
Drop out mods underway.

Next: sub-assembly fabrication.

Saturday, August 16, 2008

Short, but is it stupid short?

Here's the frame that didn't want to get built! Last year, I had some leftover tubing from making a curved TT that I thought might make a cool curved ST. So, I decided to make a "What if?" bike. As in "What if I built a frame with chainstays way shorter than most pro builders recommend"? I did the front triangle and then set it aside to build some other frame, then another frame, then another, until I had forgotten about this one. I unearthed it while attempting to clean the shop last month and figured it was about time to finish it.
So here it is:

Most agree the 370mm is too short for chainstays, this bike can run at 360. Head angle is 74 and the seat is an effective 73.
I also figured that since this is just a test frame, it should have some curved seatstays to see if they really help to smooth the ride.
The seatstay angle looked funny if they were to attach to the top of the seat tube, so I stuck them on the top tube in fine Hellenic fashion -named for 1920's bike builder Fred Hellens so, no, GT did not pioneer this design! They aren't attached to the seat tube at all in order to take full advantage of any compliance they might offer.
Bridge is a 16 tooth cog with requisite lightning bolt.

My favorite part of this bike is the segmented fork- my first one that narrows at the top. I expect that I'll be using this fork long after I'm done testing this frame.
Just have to pick a color now...I'm thinking bright green. What do you think?
Next up, a step by step build of John's fixed gear commuter.

Saturday, August 9, 2008

"Riders on the gate......"

Yeah, BMX time baby! FINALLY had a break in our daily rains that allowed the track to dry up enough to let the first ever Live Wire BMX tear it up! It's amazing how much faster a kid is on a quality mini-BMX compared to their old 16" dept store bike.

First practice run with one of the "big" boys.

Jammin' down the start ramp- the coolest 5 year old out there! ;)

Lined up and ready for moto 1.

Riding alone after a pretty good crash at the end of moto 2- turns out the new bike is so much faster he's catching air in places he was just barely rolling over before. Still ended up with a 2nd place trophy on the day, not bad for the first time out on the new bike!

Next up, the curved seat tube fixed gear I mentioned a while back.

Tuesday, July 1, 2008

Never say never.........

I swore last year "No more kid's bikes, they are as much work as a big bike and the first thing they do is go run into Dad's truck"(true story, thankfully not my kid or truck!). So, what do I do a year later? Another kid's bike.
Couldn't help it though, my son started BMX racing (he's 5) and his too-small dept store bike wasn't cutting it.

It was a fun project- fitting a 5 year old to a 20" wheeled bike is like fitting a 5 foot adult to a end up with a funky looking frame.
This one was done with all scrap tubing: the top tube is left over from Jeff's GDR bike (the kid was adamant about wanting a curved tube!), the down tube is a former top tube that was too short, seatstays are 4 pieces of cutoffs, chainstaye are Zona seatstays, dropouts were made from a plate I found in my Dad's shop, the only new parts were the front drops and BB shell.
Nice lines on this frame, but no room for the skull and bones brake bridge I was planning.
The kid also picked the color...nice, huh? Check out the headtube decal- had to get a skull on this bike somewhere!
Vacation time for the next week, I'll have to post up some action shots when we get back.

Saturday, June 28, 2008

Is it wrong to hate a color?

Well, here's Scott's new frame, all pretty, painted, and stickered. It's also my second and third paint jobs! The first color I chose was yellow, and I was told "Well, that's probably isn't the best choice for your second paint job." But do I listen to good advice? Of course not, I plow on ahead thinking "How hard can it be?" Well, it was plenty hard to get the yellow to cover, I got a couple of runs, and to top it off, the primer I used gave it a greenish tint when it dried! Damn you yellow.....damn you.

So, I let the yellow cure for a couple of days and then went back at it with sandpaper and a new color......much better the second time around. I didn't have the downtube decals on hand, but with the others on, I think that might be enough. I'm at odds with the clean look versus my child-like need for attention.

Anyway, here's a shot of the wishbone seat stay arrangement.

Head on shot showing off the curves and fork crown.
And my new requisite parting shot.
Next up...BMX!

Friday, June 20, 2008

Fork's Done!

Big push the last couple days to finish up the fabrication on Scott's bike. Here's the fork needing a bit more finishing, but still pretty slick, wouldn't you say?
Classic segmented fork with .049" crown pieces and .058" "lugs", blades and steerer are Tru Temper offerings. So, what does this fork need to make it even sweeter?
Lightning baby! Check out the inside tangs of the lugs.....takes it all the way to 11! The three P's are next: polishing, primer, and paint!