progress update

brazed the DT shifter mounts and the DT water bottle bosses a couple days ago. the shifter mounts were kind of a pain to get straight. i rested a file on the DT and let the tang weigh the boss down. that worked well, although the 1st time i did it, i used the tip of the tang, and that caused the boss to rotate backwards. i used a thicker part of the tang to do the other boss, worked well, then melted and repositioned the 1st a couple times. the boss ended up a little charred, but the tube looked fine. i used a cad-bearing silver for lowest possible heat. concentrating heat on the boss is really essential...i recall barely putting any heat on the tube.

pics here tomorrow or so.

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build kit

with this frame's completion coming into view, i've been collecting the last of the parts i need to build it up into a bike. not surprisingly, i spend a fair amount of time thinking about this.

most of the build kit arrived back in January from Universal Cycles in

Portland, OR. they were good to deal with and had a couple good

specials running.

the kit is designed to function with the frame to make a comfortable, city-proof, century-proof, commute-proof bike.

now on hand:


rear: Salsa

Delgado Cross 700C 36h rim, DT Alpine III 292 mm spokes, Shimano Deore

XT hub, Shimano 9-speed cassette 32-28-24-21-18-16-14-12-11t

front: Sun CR-18 700C 36h rim, DT Alpine III 300 mm spokes, Shimano Deore LX hub

both: Michelin green rim band, Michelin Airstop tube, Panaracer T-Serv

Messenger 700 x 32c tires, Delta axlerodz allen key skewers


cranks: Sugino XD300 175mm triple square-taper, 26-36-46

bottom bracket: Shimano UN 68

mm cartridge, TBD 110 mm or 113 mm

rear derailer: Shimano Deore

front derailer: TBD...i have an Arabesque 600 clamp-on, a newer Ultegra-ish 600 clamp-on (both doubles), and a 105 triple braze-on (i've been convinced of the merits of clamp-ons by a Rivendell article)

shifters: Suntour Power Ratchets. gorgeous shifters. crown jewels. i've been ratcheting them for the past few minutes, and it's sooo satisfying.

headset: Stronglight Delta


pedals: Shimano A520 SPD sport-touring

stem: Nitto Technomic 70 mm x 26.0 mm

fenders: SKS P45 silver

brakes: Dia-Compe 750 centerpulls, brazed on

brake levers: used Shimano 105 with white hoods

brake pads: Kool-stop Dual Compound

still to get

chain: 9-spd KMC

handlebars: Salsa Bell Lap 46 cm

bar covers: Velo-Orange white elkhide

saddle: Brooks B-17 honey

seatpost: Kalloy Uno 27.2 x 350 or Kalloy Radiussed Top (seriously, that's the name in the QBP catalog.)

lighting: S6 generator, B headlight/taillight from V-O

in a lot of cases, holding one of these parts was the first time i'd seen

one off a bike, or the first time i'd seen that particular part ever.

it's been fun playing with them over the last year, watching the

collection grow.

i've been boxing up all this stuff in preparation

for moving it down to the Corcoran shop. the plan is to try to build

the bike around the parts as much as possible. i just had the front

wheel trued earlier tonight, so i'll soon be able to check the fork's


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dummy axle plan

i'm going to try to make this over the next week's lunch breaks. hopefully it will alleviate the flexiness inherent in using allthread in my rear triangle jig.
this is designed for 135 mm between inside dropout faces, allowing for a couple mm of contraction to 133 mm, good for both road and mountain hubs. yes, i copied the idea from Surly.
it's also designed to be incorporated into a future jig of a different design. that's what the milled flats and the 2 bolts in the middle are for--securing the dummy axle to something sticking up from the bottom.
the thing is so long because it needs to go through the rectangular alu on one or both sides of the BB.

any thoughts?

can i make this thing play nice with another jig, like a Henry James, Bringheli, or Anvil?

centerpull pivots 2

i've had a chance to use a metal lathe here at Smithsonian for a couple hours. one of my first projects has been to make blanks for centerpull pivots.

material is 1/2" solid mild steel rod. other than fractional drill bits and a lathe, all that's needed is an M6 x 1.0 tap and the requisite tap handle and tapping oil. also you'll have to replace the brakes' stock buttonhead M6 bolt with one that's threaded over its whole length. 25 mm is probably long enough.

chuck the stock into the lathe. set it spinning at around 1200 rpm. face the end. use a centerdrill to start a hole. drill to a depth of 9/16" with a 3/8" bit. switch to a 13/64" or 5 mm bit and drill to a total depth of over 1". now cut off at 1" from the end where you started drilling, face the new end, chamfer/deburr all around. tap the end with the 13/64" hole.
so now you have what amounts to a sort length of 1/2" OD, 1/16" wall steel tube with a thick-walled end to support the centerpull pivot and provide a hole for the appropriate bolt.
miter the thinwall end to fit your seatstay or fork blade, and braze it up, using the stock yoke as a guide for how to space them-- around 65 mm i think.

i made a sample pivot and brazed it to a scrap fork blade with a small brass fillet. it's kinda tricky because the dang thing is so small, so i had to turn it over like every few seconds. then i grabbed the pivot in the vise and tried to break it off by cranking on the luck whatsoever: the pivot wanted to deform before the braze began to budge.

at least through May 2007, i can make these pivots pretty easily, so if you need a couple pairs, email me and we can probably work something out.

rear triangle jig

i designed this with the help of Bob Brox, a hell of a woodworker and a funny guy.

1" x 2" x 1/8" rectangular aluminum tube
3/4" x 12" threaded rod, two washers, two nuts
3/8" x 12" threaded rod, various nuts and washers
two old BB cups, English thread, with a 3/4" hole through the middle
a little red tape
metric calipers are also necessary

i used a drill press, a bunch of layout tools, a 3/4" hole saw, and a 3/8" twist bit to drill holes perpendicular to the wide face and in line with one another, with the holes' centers 450 mm from each other.

tilt your head to the right, please. flickr is being weird.

the 3/4" threaded rod runs through the two old cups threaded into the BB shell. the part covered in red tape is a pair of spacers taped together, made from the same aluminum as the big beam. the dummy axle is 3/8" rod.
the spacers are needed because if the big alu piece was referenced right against the shell, there would be no room for the chainstay.
i measured the spacer block with calipers. to position the dropouts, i take half the BB shell width (68 mm, so half is 34 mm), add the width of the spacer (51.2 mm), and assume the inside face of the big alu piece is that distance from the frame's centerline. from there i use math, lock nuts, and washers to position the dropouts at the proper distance from the alu's inside face and at the proper distance from one another.

-locally available materials, possibly excepting the alu tube, which i bought from an online metals dealer, the name escapes me
-pretty cheap. nuts and bolts were $15 or $20, alu was like $40 for 8 ft. with shipping.

- the 3/8" rod is rather flexy, so don't count on it to read identically across its whole length. a solution would be another, identically machined alu tube on the BB shell's other side. or just check each chainstay's miter with the jig mounted on each side, to double-check.
- getting the spacing right on the dummy axle is tricky and time-consuming. i had to grind down a nut to get it close on one side.
- to work well, the chainstays need to be mitered, which isn't convenient if you're trying to use it to miter chainstays.
- only good for one chainstay length. change the 3/8" hole to a milled slot for more versatility, although that might present problems with accuracy.
- i dunno how well it actually works yet.

please modify and improve at will, but email me pics of your creation.

Friday was a wonderful and unusual day

friday was the annual Corcoran Ball, when wealthy folks get decked out and pay $150 a head to eat, drink, and mingle with each other in the gallery, two floors above my impromptu frame shop.
it was also the day of the first in a series of alley cat races to determine the top male and female competitors in DC and raise money to send them to Dublin for the world championship races.
so i went to class at 9 am and did some work on a sculptural fountain thing until 3. then i worked on the frame for a few hours, trimming the right chainstay to length so it will fit in my makeshift fixture. the race was scheduled for 6:30 a few blocks away at Farragut Square. starting at about 5, the whole shop began to smell of wonderful gourmet food. the Ball is a big event; they cover all the hallway floors with plastic sheeting and set up 3 kitchens in what's usually our art school. an army of waiters mill throughout the building, watched closely by an army of security personnel almost as large.
i started cleaning up the shop about 6:30, changed into my race clothes (Carhartts, padded shorts, wool jersey), and jumped on the bike. Farragut was swarming with bikes and their riders. liquor was a common smell on the breath of the latter.
after a lot of standing around, lubing my chain, doing some warm-up rides around the block, switching to my fixed wheel, we were told to lay our bikes down in the grass and move to the other side of the park. AZ, the organizer, yelled go and the peloton took off. i was near the front, and right away i ran into a guy, who stumbled and fell into a bike, which nearly tripped me up but we both kept running, jumping over bikes in clipless shoes.
i didn't have a great race. i got to the first checkpoint ok, as it was near the Smithsonian facility i commute to every day. on the trip across town to the second checkpoint in Georgetown, i felt the wrath of the headwind and the harder fixed gear i had switched to. when i finally got to G-town, the checkpoint was so expertly hidden i gave up looking after a lot of frantic searching. i headed back to Farragut, now separated from the pack of riders i had been with, feeling more like a guy on a bike rather than part of a radical, rebellious messenger peloton.
the finish was at Connecticut and Van Ness, at the University of DC, a long way up a big hill. there was a raffle of some bike gear, more standing around, drinking in public, and finally all of us (30 or 40 by now) trooped over to the DC Independent Film Festival screening. this was a great scene: the crowd was mostly well-to-do older artsy types, but there was this group of dirty, sweaty, half-drunk bikers mixed in.
we finally filed into the auditorium around 9. there were four films screening. we were officially there to see one called Messenger, about a crazy courier in Manhattan called Kamikaze, which was great, but a couple of the other films were also really interesting.
all of the bikers situated ourselves in the two front rows, where we had a great time, whooping it up, laughing our asses off, shouting at the screen occasionally.
in particular i really enjoyed a funny and inspiring film called Recyclergy, about people in California who are reviving the old idea of salvaging, that is saving for reuse materials that would otherwise be thrown away. it reminded me of framebuilding a little in that it's an old idea they updated heavily.
there was also a great one called The Power of Community on how Cuba dealt with a huge oil shortage in the early 90s, showing how Cubans had to drastically change how they produced and distributed food. now farming in Cuba is the most cherished and well-paid occupation, and they produce 80% of their food organically.
feeling famished and a little drunk by now, i decided to head back to the Corcoran to pick up some things i had left there, and possibly grab some leftover food. i flew down the Connecticut Avenue hill, and at the last minute decided to take the Rock Creek Park trail instead of the more well-lit route on city streets. my light's batteries were fading, and i was a little under dressed for the cooler park air, but it was a fun ride and i managed to avoid sliding on any sand in the dark.
at the Corcoran, i had a fantastic meal of roast beef, herbed potatoes, a vegetable medley, and chocolate cake. i guess the caterers prefer to vastly over-estimate because there was food left over even after all the staff had eaten, and they were generous in offering me all i wanted, even gravy and cream sauce.