Wednesday, 27 February 2013

Preparing for the first commute.

A short update; I have now prepared the bike for it's first commute tomorrow. This is going to be my reality check before I strip it down and add the finishing touches. I took it out for a couple of km's tonight and did some bunny hops to see if it broke, and it didn't - yay. The shifter isn't too bad to use really as the changes are pretty quick and direct anyway, so it is a pretty momentary thing to bump up a gear. It feels seriously good on the road, stiff and stable. No hands are easy as pie. To be honest I am totally stoked with how it rides.

Yet to do list;

 - Fine finishing of the joints, the pics below tell me a story of how much more is needed...
 - The chainstay bridge, this is only so I have something to fix the mudguards to as I will probably be running these.
 - I reckon I will tweak the position of the rear brake bosses, probably no one else can see it unless it is pointed out, but the funny angle is bothering me.
 - Drill and tap the front fork mudguard mount.
 - Maybe create a couple of extra brazons on the seatstays for the rack fixing.
 - Now I have what feels like a very nice riding position I am thinking of making a custom stem, although I do not have any suitable material at the moment.
 - I was eyeing up the parts for the second set of forks yesterday, that might be the next chunky thing to do... mmm triplane fork crowns.

Anyway, some pics.


Tuesday, 26 February 2013

It lives!

Things happen fast at Pogwards school of wizardry and bike building, so much so that the major effort since the last post has achieved so much that I have actually ridden my bicycle!

Totes awes as my children would say....

Firstly though I had to get through a few niggly details;

The brake cable brazons
I put the same brazons underneath the downtube (and one under the chainstay) to guide the alfine shift cable - much tidier than the cable ties of yore.

Shortly after my last post I went out to see the lovely Mr Bob, who has most of the tools needed to sort the finicky bits of the frame; cutting the fork bearing seat, cleaning the threads and facing the bottom bracket, cutting the headtube bearing cup seats, and tweaking the fork ends so that they faced each other correctly. Unfortunately Bob does not have a seatpost reamer, which is surprising given the number and completeness of the tools he does have. Knowing the incredible level of engineering that Bob is capable of I suspect he simply hasn't found a suitable source of Magnetite with which to smelt the required parts. Fortunately Dave does have one, so I dropped in there to sort that one out and purchase a couple of bits, ie a 27.2mm seatpost and a seatpost clamp.

A beautifully cut cup surface
Many, many brazons
Then came time to actually build it into a rideable bike...

There were a few issues, mostly around the recently discovered need for the riding position to be exactly like the Surly, as I may have mentioned before it is super comfy, and I wanted some more of that right there.

I popped around to a local bike madman's house and grabbed an armful of bars to try out to see what worked the best. Now as I will be using this for the 10km sprint to work every day I have no real need of drop bars and multiple positions, so the set of bullhorns that Stacey had seem to fit the bill, so this is where I am right now;

Mmmm, bicycle. Those cranks will be swapped out for my nice campy ones when I find a new Bottom Bracket. And the brakes will be those nice Paul touring canti's.
Horrible BBB stem that needs to be 50mm not 80mm, so I will get rid of it. I will probably make a custom stem once the riding position has settled down... Also see the sexy little Cane Creek cyclocross brake levers.
A pretty brake stop thingy.
The brake bridge is the chainwheel off something English and one hundredish years old - I have Jones to thank for that great idea that I had.
Stupid Alfine shifter that needed some time with the file to fit on 24mm bars and yet is still large and ugly.
The bars are still a little too high and forward, a smaller stem should see to that.
Mudguards will make it look a bit more gentlemanly.

One thing I have slightly bolloxed up is the angle of the brake bosses. I stupidly put these in line with the rim, not the stays, so the brakes angle outwards ever so slightly. It is not too bad, but I wish I had thought that through a bit more.

To get around the stupid position of the Alfine shifter I have ordered one of these puppies;

Which should solve some size and positional issues.

So there will be a gradual swapping out of unsuitable bits for lovely expensive bits, but first I need to strip it down and get it coated. And it needs bar tape, and new pedals, and all sorts of other rubbish.

And that is all, I have yet to take it on a bigger ride than the 500m around the block, but it hasn't broken yet, and feels really nice and solid. It is surprisingly light as well...

Saturday, 16 February 2013

A wild Bicycle appears

Having done nothing for a month, the tables have turned and I am now flying through the work with amazing speed, meaning the frame is basically complete except for the brake bridge, chainstay bridge and the brazons. I have decided not to split the seat stay for the belt drive now for a few reasons, but mostly because it would have stopped the momentum I have built up...

One thing I did this week was to check the frame geometry against the Surly, and surprisingly the two frames are almost exactly the same apart from the top tube height, the Surly being 1cm lower. This is quite pleasing, an hopefully means that I made the right decisions when I designed this frame.

Sorting the seat stays
Brazing the bottom of the seat stays
Brazing the top of the seat stays
Pretty much done :-)
Mostly cleaned up - I decided to just keep things simple with the top of the seat stays and replicate what I have done with the dropout joints.
I got so excited I decided to mock it up - OMG a wild bicycle appears!
Plenty of room for the Alfine mechanism
Still some fine cleanup work to do on all the lugs...
A recently brazed bottom bracket.

As I was so into the actual making I failed to take a lot of pics and did not document some of the important things that happened. One of these was cold setting the frame. After I did the head tube to down tube joint I pulled it about a bit with a long bit of pipe to make sure the angles were still the same after welding. I also did this once that assembly had been brazed into the seat tube/bottom bracket assembly. This is to make sure there are as few pre-stresses as possible in the finished frame, which would make the chances of it pulling things a bit wonky much greater.


Having done most of the brazing on the frame, it is worth making a few notes on how the jig actually performed. Overall it does the job pretty well, but there are a few things that were less than satisfactory;

 - Generally I did the brazing in place on the jig, and one thing I noticed is that the big chunks of brass absorb quite a lot of heat. I kind of expected this to happen, but it made getting enough heat into the joint problematic at times.

 - Access to the side of the joint close to the jig was difficult, but because it tended to be the last bit you did things were already up to heat, so were still relatively easy to do. Whether brazing the nearside and then the farside of every joint is a good thing for making a totally straight frame is a question, but I tried to keep the brazing start points balanced where I could.

 - Once I had the main triangle and chainstays in place it was virtually impossible to remove the frame from the jig - I removed the fitting that holds the top of the seat tube, but even then it was hard. I will probably change things to improve this for the next frame.

Overall it worked pretty well though; 7 out of 10, should pay more attention in class. Story of my life really.

The lug brazing itself I am not 100% happy with to be honest, maybe I am being too hard on myself, but I felt I was getting things hotter than I really wanted in my efforts to get silver to wick into some of the joints. The simple ones with essentially the same pipe/lug material thicknesses were ok (the head tube joints for instance), the dropout joints were not too bad either, but the ones with complicated geometry and a long wicking path were pretty stressful to achieve; the seat lug, fork crown, chainstays into bottom bracket.

I think I have enough silver in there for it to not be a problem functionally, but the bit of me that wants each joint to be a thing of total beauty created with a zen like sense of competency and completeness is displeased. Still, it is my first frame, and it is all about the learning isn't it?

Anyway, soon I shall pop out soon to the ever helpful Bob, and we shall do the prep type work ie cleaning up the bottom bracket threads, reaming the seat tube, reaming the head tube and seating the fork crown bearing race.

Sunday, 10 February 2013

Lazy Eyes, Real Work Commences, a New Bike

It has been fourish weeks since the last proper work on the frame, and for good reason; I have just  had my eyes lasered. This involved wearing my glasses instead of contact lenses for two weeks prior to the operation, which made it hard to wear dark glasses for brazing, and then two weeks of being careful about my eyes; ie, not brazing and filing and grinding stuff.

The first two weeks wearing the glasses was actually the hardest to deal with as I am (was!) particularly blind; 7 diopters in one eye and 6.75 in the other, which basically means I was so blind I could not really even read a book without holding it millimetres from my face. My vision was ok with contacts but wearing glasses it meant I had virtually no peripheral vision, and the glasses lenses were so thick that I would get a form of light dopplering at the sides of my vision where lines of contrast would either red shift or blue shift. Disturbing to say the least, but at least in idle times I could imagine I was a spaceship.

Anyway this meant that for two weeks I basically could not trust my vision to tell me that things were the way they actually were, and so I thought it best to leave off work on the frame for the duration.

The actual Lasik procedure was pretty quick and painless, the only stressful bits being; 1. Having your eyes speculumed open. 2. Having the front of your corneas cut off. 3. Smelling the bits of your eye being vaporised by the laser. 4. Watching the nice doctor brush the cutoff bit of your eye back on.

For a day it felt like a little gremlin had dried out your eyes with a blowtorch and then liberally sprinkled finely chopped glass fibers in there just for good measure, but I had drugs to deal with this. Overall it wasn't too bad really, and well worth the blood loss from where my fingernails cut into my palms.

So now I am back on track I have fearlessly dived into the actual frame build. This weekend I brazed the head tube to down tube joint, seat tube to bottom bracket and the chainstays to dropouts;

A bit wayward with the quantity of silver, nothing that endless hours with a riffler won't fix.
A better effort.
Another unnecessary view of a better effort.
After I washed the flux off, clearly the skills have not entirely deserted me...
It was hard to get enough heat into the dropouts without toasting the tubes, I think it went ok though...

Now I just need another fill of oxygen to proceed, those little tanks do not hold many hours worth.

As indicated I have purchased a new bike, which you have probably guessed is a Surly. This is a Disc Trucker, which the disc braked version of the Long Haul Trucker. I bought this because it seemed to be the only steel framed bike in the size and geometry that I wanted.

A Surly Disc Trucker last week.
All I wanted was a decent bike that I would be able to do long rides involving hills, but this thing has far surpassed my expectations. It is so comfortable and responsive that having had it for a day or so I actually braved going up Dyers Pass Road. The first section up to the Sign of the Takehe was frankly rather ugly, it wasn't so much a granny gear I needed but more like a crematorium gear. I made it eventually, with many pitying and slightly worried looks from the walkers passing me, I think because my breathing sounded like someone was felling redwoods with a handsaw.

Thankfully from that point on things got significantly easier, so much so that I also took in as much of the summit road heading towards Sumner as I could, and I was rather disappointed to realise that the road was closed. That was a good ride and bedded in the squeaky front brakes quite nicely.

Since I took that picture I have bought a Topeak rack and some Phillips panniers and handlebar bag, so it looks pretty industrial. I have been using it for commuting for the last two weeks as well because it makes every other bike I own feel floppy and uncomfortable. This does nothing for my FCN but it is so easy to get the power down I am scalping pretty well regardless. When the frame goes together I will be trying to replicate how I sit on this as it is so nice.

I think I am in love.