Frame Building Class Day 5

January 19, 2008

I over slept this morning, had to hurry to get dressed, and out the door, pulling a shirt on, with a coffee cup hanging out of my mouth. Its finally warm, and the snow is melting, this is what the south is supposed to feel like.

We take an early lunch because Steve’s son comes round, and we all head to the bar-be que place from day one. One of the best things about the class is Steve and Kim go out of their way to make us feel welcome in their town, showing us the good spots, and telling us a bunch of interesting stories about people and places around town, playing with their dogs, joking around and having a good time during class.

I hat my seat stays all ground in and tacked before lunch, so we take my frame out of the jig and throw it on the frame table to check the alignment. I’m a few millimeters off in front and back, but nothing serious. Steve and I get the frame welded, and after a little fiddling with the track ends its spot on. I grab the grinder, and go to town on my track ends to shape them up nicely, then its only about an hours worth of sanding, and I’m ready for the hardest part of the week: choosing a frame color.

I start out with about six choices, and slowly narrow it down to one. We clean out the powder coating equipment, chase the bottom bracket threads, and ream the seat tube. Kim and me wash the frame, and while it’s baking in the dryer I snap a ton of pictures. My classmate is catching up, and has his frame tacked by the time mine is out of the oven.

Powder coating works by using electricity to attract the color particles to the frame using positive and negative charge, this means that when you spray it, it makes an electric zapping sound like when you get got by static electricity. That is differently the second coolest thing about powder, but you have to wait until Monday to see the first.


Frame Building Class Day 4

January 19, 2008

I love the south because where other people see the useless result of making cornmeal; they see a delicious and notorious instant breakfast.good ol fud

When I woke up it was snowing, by the time we finished breakfast it had turned to freezing rain, the result is a wide field that looks like its covered in snow but is actually a skating rink, designed for doing hand break 360s in your classmates rental car.

At BREW we grab some morning coffee, and I tack my front triangle, and pick out my track ends and my chain stays, drill the vent holes in the bottom bracket, all before lunch. I’m getting pretty confidant that I might have the frame tacked by the end of the day.

For lunch we hit up another good local restaurant, Chinese today and I scarf down a massive spring roll and some tofu and mixed veggies.

Back at the workshop Steve helps me tack the track ends to the chain stays, and set the jig. I head over to the grinding wheel. Steve is looking at my classmates jig, “some thing is wrong” he says, “what’s your bottom Bracket height?” A consultation of the frame sheet, and some fiddling with the jig, and every thing is re-set right. They go to tack in his down tube, and it’s to short. They start cutting and grinding, and I finish off my chain stays, and tack them in.

I grab some seat stays and start grinding, after about fifteen minuets of grinding and not getting any thing close to a fit, I realize that I’ve done something wrong, and destroyed the seat stay. I trade it for a new one, and get them started. At this point exhaustion has set in, and its time to call it a night. I’m chain stays and a paint job away from a bike.

Frame Building Class Day 3

January 18, 2008

Last night we designed our frames on paper, this morning we set up jigs and selected tubing. I went with an externally butted seat tube, and started grinding away at it. It takes a while to get the seat tube fitted but by lunchtime we had our bottom brackets welded to our seat posts, and our jig angels all set.

We go out to lunch, and I get to see “down town” West Jefferson. The town is tiny, but it has some great restaurants, we had Japanese yesterday I had steamed veggies in a pretty good sauce, and a salad with a great ginger sauce. Today its Italian, the restaurant could have been a pretty good night club, or venue, its huge with a stage near the front, a second level that looks down on the first, and a totally isolated third floor. The food is really good and cheep. The vegan option is past with marina, salad and bread sticks.

After lunch we sort out our head tubes, get them cut and filled, and set in the jig, and choose our bottom and top tubes.

We close early for the day so me and the other student decide to see what nightlife this town has to offer. Ashe County is dry, but the town allows beer and wine to be sold in store, and by the drink. They just legalized liquor by the drink in 2007, and the sheriff still shouts down moonshine stills.

Main street is dead, so is the street on either side, we stop for gas and the station clerk tells us the only bar in town is the bowling ally. We figure booze and heavy objects go well together and heard over. We try to get a pitcher, but the bartender wont sever me because he doesn’t know what a passport looks like, and its not in his book of ids. We bowl a game, and grab a few beers and the supper market, and stay up late exchanging stories.

We swap stories about drunken wanton destruction, usualy involving fire, and that strange force that guides drunks away from the arms of the law.

A short trip to the gas station and they have every thing they need. The go down to the guys old house, light the rag, and toss a few cocktails onto the porch, which is immediately enveloped by flames. In a few second they hear sirens headed their way, so they deiced that the best way not to get caught is to hide in some bushes across the street and watch the firemen put it out. Through the cosmic forces that guides young men though the moments when alcohol and petrol bombs mix, they mange not to get caught, and not to kill anything.

Frame Building Class Day 2

January 18, 2008

We spent half of today in the shop, getting used to the welders and equipment. TIG welding uses a conductive material (tungsten) that you have to sharpen on a grinder, to create an electrical arc, which makes a lot of heat and light and melts metal. Argon and inert gas is used to keep the weld contaminant free. The first thing you learn is not to look at the arc, if your me you learn the hard way and your eyes feel like some one poured sand in them, if you catch a full view, you go to the hospital.

Steve shows us how it’s done, then leaves us to practice. Using lots of electricity to heat steel up until it melts, and stick it to something is exactly as cool as it sounds. It is also hard, really hard. At first I get the welder stuck to the table, and mange some serious burn marks on the material, after a few hours I’ve got stuff red hot, and by the end of the day I’ve gotten a pool of molten metal, and moved it in a straight line, and around a bend. I’ve even melted some welding rod in droplets close enough to each other to almost look like a weld.

My eyes are burning, so my plans for the rest of my Tuesday are to sit in the dark and debate the merits of modern medicine to those with out health care.

Frame Building Class Day 1

January 16, 2008

As I stepped out of my room this morning, I had three horrible epiphanies. First, West Jefferson is in the mountains, second it’s cold, really cold, and third it’s snowing. Now I know its January, but this is the south. Hell it aint just south, its Dixie, its Appalachia, the home of overalls with nothing underneath, kids shooting cats, and everything else you saw in Gummo, around here some where some one is probably still fighting the Civil War.

I make it to BREW Bikes before the onset of frostbite, where I meet Steve, his wife, and his two dogs, and my classmate a bike mechanic from Longmont Colorado. We spend the day half of the day in the classroom, taping Steve’s endless knowledge of bikes, tools, the industry, and library of stories about very thing cool, that he has built by building riding and racing every thing on two wheels. I don’t get back to the hotel until around 8:30 when I realize that I just sent 10 hours in a class room, and cant wait to go back for more, and that no one in this town is shooting northerners, but I have not seen a single cat yet.