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  1. #1
    will rant for food
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    #5, almost alive

    For people who've joined since spring 2012, I'll give you a quick summary so this post doesn't leave you entirely scratching your head: I'm an amateur, hobbyist frame builder. Materials of choice are bamboo and carbon fiber. I made the world's first bamboo fat bike, because... well, because. Here's take one and take two, my second and fourth frames, respectively.

    Based on conversations during ride stops around local trails, and how much I enjoy some parts of the build process, I feel encouraged to try my hand at building custom frames for profit.

    But there's a long way to go. The major gripes I have at the moment are front triangle stiffness and lug cosmetics. So far, I've constructed my own carbon fiber head tubes with a 49.57mm ID. That accommodates a big old headset, and very large diameter bamboo poles. This greatly mimics Boo Bicycles designs. So far I have ridiculously underestimated just how stout the down tube of a bike frame needs to be.

    I have big ambitions, but I've learned to take things one step at a time. One reason that it is taking so much time is that I wanted to avoid using Kickstarter et al. I think what I want is within my grasp if I simply bide my time, and buy equipment that I want piecemeal... I'll have almost all the stuff that I would have received all at once from a Kickstarter. This way, I'll appreciate what I've earned, as opposed to feeling guilty about having things provided to me in addition to suddenly having tools, with pressure to perform, yet little to no practice using said tools.

    So, I haven't built a frame in the entirety of the summer. LAME. But I'm getting close to being equipped the way I want.

    The current step foward: evaluate a different method of carbon layup, for both increased stiffness and cleaner appearance. I'm trying out unidirectional prepreg carbon. This refers to carbon fiber that is delivered with epoxy already infused in the fibers, to a very precise ratio. The cure time is heat activated. This means either that the prepreg must be stored frozen and then heated to a relatively low temperature, or for other formulas, stored at room temperature and then heated to a very high temperature. The unidirectional means that each ply has fibers running in one direction, and I have to arrange layers of plies in a variety of directions to handle a variety of forces.

    Pros:

    - Less waste epoxy, and less cleaning.
    - Extremely wide pot life (amount of time you have to work with the carbon before the epoxy gels and starts to set). Weeks, in my case. This makes it easy to quit on time for the night so as to not burn myself out.
    - Tacks onto the mold well once placed, and stays there.

    Cons:

    - Addition of cooling and heating elements for storage and curing can be (and were, for me) additional costs. Cheap, visually beaten up high efficiency freezer was obtained at ApplianceSmart and doubles as some food storage.
    - Bamboo doesn't much care for direct, localized infra red light. Learned this the hard way. Water loss and internal air pressure changes need to be accounted for.
    - Use of heat reduces my selection of binding and filling materials.

    Interestingly, every carbon fiber professional I've talked to personally eschews the use of prepreg. But the big manufacturers use it almost exclusively. So: evaluate for myself.

    Enough words, I'm almost done with #5. Here's a teaser, below. The top layer of carbon is sacrificial, this is before compaction and curing, which is why one ply insisted on slipping off in the picture, as it was 20F in my garage at the time, which reduces the tack of the prepreg to almost nothing.

    The frame I'm building is my take on a Surly Long Haul Trucker, but with 40mm rims and Maxxis Hookworms.

    Sadly, very little work happens in my kitchen anymore.

    #5, almost alive-20121125_223309.jpg
    Disclaimer: I run Regular Cycles (as of 2016). As a profiteer of the bicycle industry, I am not to be taken very seriously.

  2. #2
    Nemophilist
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    Hooozaaah!

    Let me be the first. You are one kool dood, my friend, for you jump in while others simply sit and dream!

    Most people ply the Well Trodden Path. A few seek a different way, and leave a Trail behind.
    - John Hajny, a.k.a. TrailMaker

  3. #3
    will rant for food
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    Oh, and one note on the blatant ripoff of Trucker geometry. Did you know that Hookworms on wide rims are almost the exact same circumference as 700x25C tires?

    Aww yeah. Cush and roll.
    Disclaimer: I run Regular Cycles (as of 2016). As a profiteer of the bicycle industry, I am not to be taken very seriously.

  4. #4
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    Forced out into the garage huh?

    Cool, room for a kegerator then!

    Looks really schmooooooth from what I can see. Can't wait to see the rest of it!
    This is a Pugs not some carbon wannabee pretzel wagon!!

    - FrostyStruthers



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  5. #5
    This place needs an enema
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  6. #6
    Bad cat!
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    Looking awesome... Be watching this one. Drew, what's the chance of building a boo/carbon frame that can take the knard/rabbithole and use a 73 bb shell a la the Krampus? Run it SS or 1x9. Possible? Inquiring minds (i.e. potential future customers) want to know...

  7. #7
    All fat, all the time.
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    Thanks for the write-up, glad to see thing progressing. Keep us posted with new pics please

  8. #8
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    subscribed always awesome stuff from Drew

  9. #9
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    Quote Originally Posted by montana_ben View Post
    Looking awesome... Be watching this one. Drew, what's the chance of building a boo/carbon frame that can take the knard/rabbithole and use a 73 bb shell a la the Krampus? Run it SS or 1x9. Possible? Inquiring minds (i.e. potential future customers) want to know...
    The name I've settled on marketing will - jokingly - imply what kinds of bikes I want to make.

    One of the thing that generally depresses me about life is limitation. I want to remove as much of it as possible. But, in some hypothetical situation where I actually sell frames (whereupon I would be paying for ads on this site), I also have to balance fantasy with practicality.

    Short answer, if you need a Krampus now, buy a Krampus. If you need a Krampus in general, buy a Krampus. I rode one exactly a mile and a half and was all I waaaaant oooooone the entire way.

    I wanted to show something amazing at NAHBS 2013, but that will not happen in time.

    Practically speaking, a bamboo Knard capable frame would likely have all carbon chain stays. One design challenge of bamboo frames is the relatively large diameter bamboo poles necessary for rear triangle stoutness. In close quarters situations with fat tires, by the time you've cleared the cranks, there's very little bamboo left in the picture, so in some cases, why bother...
    Disclaimer: I run Regular Cycles (as of 2016). As a profiteer of the bicycle industry, I am not to be taken very seriously.

  10. #10
    R.I.P. Pugsley.
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    Quote Originally Posted by sasquatch rides a SS View Post
    subscribed always awesome stuff from Drew
    ^^What he said^^

  11. #11
    I'm a Target Too.
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    Very cool, Drew! Looking forward to seeing it in person. It's gonna be cool...

  12. #12
    drev-il, not Dr. Evil!
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    Can't wait to see more
    "Keep your burgers lean and your tires fat." -h.d. | ssoft | flickr

  13. #13
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    Very nice Drew!

  14. #14
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    Practically speaking, a bamboo Knard capable frame would likely have all carbon chain stays. One design challenge of bamboo frames is the relatively large diameter bamboo poles necessary for rear triangle stoutness. In close quarters situations with fat tires, by the time you've cleared the cranks, there's very little bamboo left in the picture, so in some cases, why bother...
    That's what I was wondering about, thanks for answering...

    Totally get what you're saying about 'hypothetically', business-wise. But figured it's nice to have a certain confidence and drive to go forward on different builds and designs that's based on people expressing their interest as potential customers, down the trail as it were. Cool to watch your refinements and progress from build to build!

  15. #15
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    Very Nice !

    Hi, I'm one of those newcomers your referring to..... And I am Impressed! Very nice work.. I will be watching your progress with great interest. And now, back out to the shop..... I got my own little somethin I'm workin on too... Keep up the awesome work !

  16. #16
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    Quote Originally Posted by Drew Diller View Post
    ...Practically speaking, a bamboo Knard capable frame would likely have all carbon chain stays...
    Good to see another design from you, Drew.

    Sadly one of the things I have noticed about bamboo framed bikes evolution, is that as the design progresses, the lugs get longer and longer until there's hardly any bamboo.

    You're well on your way to a full carbon bike though
    As little bike as possible, as silent as possible.
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  17. #17
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    Awesome work so far

    What's the color difference between the seat tube and the rear stays? Are they different species or cured differently? Sorry if im missing something from one of your last posts.

  18. #18
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    Quote Originally Posted by AC/BC View Post
    Awesome work so far

    What's the color difference between the seat tube and the rear stays? Are they different species or cured differently? Sorry if im missing something from one of your last posts.
    Different species. I didn't specify, so you're not crazy.
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  19. #19
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    Quote Originally Posted by Velobike View Post
    Sadly one of the things I have noticed about bamboo framed bikes evolution, is that as the design progresses, the lugs get longer and longer until there's hardly any bamboo.
    Agreed. That's basically what I wanted to try: a bamboo bike with ultra short, old school lugged road frame joint appearance.

    But, how to do that in a structurally sound way, and not using the bamboo as simply a veneer... it is an unproven idea, one I want to try. A master wood worker could probably do it, but the extra difficult part with bamboo is that it isn't strong from the inside out. It is strong from the outside in. If I were to put a lug on the inside, I'd still have to reinforce at least *some* of the outside. So I don't think you'll ever reach the point where two bamboo poles would be mitered together and that's it. But I'd like to get close to it.

    Ironically, it would probably only bolster the number of people who insist, to my face, that my frame has been painted to look like bamboo. One guy really got on my nerves late this summer where I almost lost my tact, what, do you want me to cut it open so I can satisfy your skeptical mind? I didn't let that spill out of my mouth thankfully.
    Disclaimer: I run Regular Cycles (as of 2016). As a profiteer of the bicycle industry, I am not to be taken very seriously.

  20. #20
    Geordie biker
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    Sweet
    2014 milage so far - 2,485
    www.ukfatbikes.co.uk

  21. #21
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    Outstanding! I find the lugs are so much easier to finish when using carbon fabric vs. tow.

  22. #22
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    Drew, I've been hanging out on this forum for over a year, but have somehow just now tapped into your awesome madness. So thanks for the history and context. And the great writing and pics. Totally digging this thread.

  23. #23
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    Since you all are being so nice, and want pictures. Vacuum bag before pulling the air out, and then during suction and heat. Such a tidy amount of waste epoxy

    Eventually I want to *not* use my huge open air heating element because it is terribly inefficient.

    #5, almost alive-20121129_231902.jpg

    #5, almost alive-20121130_004614.jpg
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  24. #24
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    Not terrible. I see where my mistakes were with giving the bag room to walk in some spots. The concave radius above and to the front of the BB shell, as well as the top of each chain stay. The top layer or two of fiber was pulled along forcefully where the bag was left to stretch the most.

    Genuinely surprised by the amount of epoxy that was actually squeezed out. Still, much cleaner.

    #5, almost alive-20121130_024907.jpg
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  25. #25
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    ZOIKS;

    How much cleaner is that than your previous tow & goo efforts, eh? How much less finish work required?! With more advantageous resin-to-fiber ratios, how much stronger and stiffer too?! Hopefully not so stiff that it stresses the bamboo too much....

    as always.
    Most people ply the Well Trodden Path. A few seek a different way, and leave a Trail behind.
    - John Hajny, a.k.a. TrailMaker

  26. #26
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    Have you ever tried a stretchable bag material like Stretchlon for example? Seems like it could help out with what looks like a bit of a bridging issue. Speaking of which, what a challenging area to vac bag!

    Cool project, to bad we're not neighbors.
    Whatever floats your bike, dude

  27. #27
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    TrailMaker - no kidding. My cleanup took about 5 minutes.

    I'm a bit bummed out about the wrinkling, but I've learned how to orient the sacrificial layer for next time. Overall the direct heat is the biggest problem, and motivates me to do things piecemeal all the more. For that I'll need to move to a flat table jig so I can move pieces around within a plane.

    Dustin Mustangs - I'm using Stretchlon 800. I just don't have enough bagging experience. As soon as I pulled, a few lightbulbs went off about how I could do it differently. That said, I'm not excited about the seat/top/stays joint that's left, as I have to deal with 5 vectors instead of 4.
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  28. #28
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    Dustin Mustangs - I forgot to mention, I appreciate your note on the BB area being difficult to vacuum bag. I have mostly theoretical knowledge on how to set up a bag. Every single ****ing example on the net deals with a really easy outer bounding frame to seal up. It took me three tries to settle on an approach to cutting the film that I could seal up. Some of the guys at the local composites retailer have laughed at me because I'm getting my beak wet with the "most difficult" sort of thing to do with composites. When referring to easily laid up flat spots vs difficult tight radii - WHAT flat spots?!

    So yeah, to get recognition from a more experienced person that I'm trying to do is challenging - it makes me feel a bit at ease, because it has been very frustrating at some points. Thank you.
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  29. #29
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    A good sign: the majority of visible wrinkles that show up brightly... are just epoxy! Only the with-the-grain carbon got wrinkled, and only on the top of the stays. This is impossible to photograph with my cell, and my other (otherwise unimpressive) camera is out of commission.

    Normally I'd break out the booze to celebrate an encouraging marker, but I don't want to be all dehydrated for global fatty day tomorrow

    Minor bummer: not sure yet, but I might have to sand off some of the dark brown skin of the weird gigantocholoa atroviolacea bamboo. Near the head joint is even worse... I stupidly protected the skin of the bamboo with duct tape as I had in the past, forgetting all about the application of heat. Yeeeeeeah...
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  30. #30
    One What?
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    This is very impressive work, Drew. Thanks for sharing.

  31. #31
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    This is a very impressive undertaking. Much respect for your persistence!

  32. #32
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    Have you looked into heat shrink tape at all? It's typically used when forming composite sleeves over tube mandrels but maybe it could work here with the right wrapping technique??
    Whatever floats your bike, dude

  33. #33
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    Quote Originally Posted by Dustin Mustangs View Post
    Have you looked into heat shrink tape at all? It's typically used when forming composite sleeves over tube mandrels but maybe it could work here with the right wrapping technique??
    I have absolutely spent some time trying this approach. Dunstone tape is priced not that badly.

    It works great for making tubes. It's what I used to make some head tubes. (Incidentally, they are tougher than snot, I am unconvinced of carbon's bad reputation with some folks.)

    It sucks at everything else. With even the tiniest bit of shear, it loses all tensile strength and will quickly tear. It also doesn't account for concavities, which means I'd have to design the fillets in such a way to not have any, which ends up being blocky and ugly (and heavy, with my current materials, but that will change by Dec 24th).

    It also wrinkles in a strange way if used on anything other than a tube, and cause ... gouges, is the best way I can name them. I did have some reasonable success with it on my head tube joint by using an excessive amount of the stuff and insulating the carbon from wrinkling using, uh... heh... damp clay. I was surprised it worked as well as it did, but the head tube is relatively simply shaped.

    Bummed me out, I really wanted it work because it uses far less material by mass than vacuum bagging, and tossing dried out clay into a landfill is hardly what I'd call environmentally unfriendly.
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  34. #34
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    I was a little hesitant to even suggest it because it seems you are already pretty heavily vested in the vac bag route and the tape would side step all of that. You have certainly done your homework though, kudos for that!
    Whatever floats your bike, dude

  35. #35
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    Quote Originally Posted by Dustin Mustangs View Post
    I was a little hesitant to even suggest it because it seems you are already pretty heavily vested in the vac bag route and the tape would side step all of that. You have certainly done your homework though, kudos for that!
    On the contrary, I've tried vacuum before and found it a hassle for non-rectangular-framed objects (like, say, bike frame lugs...). It also goes through a non trivial amount of waste material for what it accomplishes. Long term goal is to avoid it as much as possible.
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  36. #36
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    And now, one from the "Don't Feel Too Good About Your Successful Progress, Drew" department.

    I totally put the BB shell in backwards. Guess I'll need to get another pair of Profiles, or maybe build myself a better fat bike that can actually clear Race Face cranks that I got for a steal and have since been collecting dust.

    Whoooooooops.

    In other news, the cranks clear! By oodles and oodles of millimeters. And the tires come real close to clearing, just a touch of rub on one side from tire wobble, will need to gouge out a little from the chain stays and reinforce so I can have room for gunk / pedaling out of the saddle.

    Ahh... hell.

    I have, at least, grown in terms of how severely I beat myself up over a mistake.
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  37. #37
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    I'd guess a little blue loctite would solve your BB problem. I'll admit to being reeeeeealy paranoid about doing the same thing.
    Slowly slipping to retrogrouchyness

  38. #38
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    Quote Originally Posted by G-reg View Post
    I'd guess a little blue loctite would solve your BB problem. I'll admit to being reeeeeealy paranoid about doing the same thing.
    The funny part for me is that I distinctly remember being paranoid this time around and marking right and left after putting in the specific BB cups.

    I wonder if I put the BB cups in backward, or if I was thinking of the threading wrong or... I dunno. I am certain it will drive me nuts at the start of the next frame.
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  39. #39
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    Quote Originally Posted by Drew Diller View Post
    The funny part for me is that I distinctly remember being paranoid this time around and marking right and left after putting in the specific BB cups.

    I wonder if I put the BB cups in backward, or if I was thinking of the threading wrong or... I dunno. I am certain it will drive me nuts at the start of the next frame.
    Don't feel so bad. I did the exact thing on my first frame even after marking the correct sides. As long you're as you're using external bb cups it really doesn't matter. It still functions the same even though it's threaded backwards.

  40. #40
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    It does matter in my case. Options for 83mm BB cranks are few and mostly expensive. I got the cheapest ones I could find. They're the hollow design where one crank is permanently tied to the spindle, and one bearing has a different ID than the other.

    I wonder how many builds it will take before I stop making silly newb mistakes like this.
    Disclaimer: I run Regular Cycles (as of 2016). As a profiteer of the bicycle industry, I am not to be taken very seriously.

  41. #41
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    Well...

    You could call it a feature.......
    Most people ply the Well Trodden Path. A few seek a different way, and leave a Trail behind.
    - John Hajny, a.k.a. TrailMaker

  42. #42
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    Quote Originally Posted by TrailMaker View Post
    Well...

    You could call it a feature.......
    Dude, I work in software. Don't get me started!
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  43. #43
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    Hey;

    I barely avoided a big doink on the Kroozer. In my ever ongoing battle with/against numbers, I somehow managed to re-measure and decide that my fat tires were about 1.5" less in diameter mounted than last time. Measure twice, but still don't cut because you were right the first time and wrong the 2nd, so measure again? I still don't know if I have the the right spec or not....

    Fortunately, I put the bridge in between the CSs and there is still a ton of room for the tire.

    The more things you build, the more of those pesky t-shirts you will have. Occupational hazard!
    Most people ply the Well Trodden Path. A few seek a different way, and leave a Trail behind.
    - John Hajny, a.k.a. TrailMaker

  44. #44
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    Quote Originally Posted by TrailMaker View Post
    Hey;

    I barely avoided a big doink on the Kroozer. In my ever ongoing battle with/against numbers, I somehow managed to re-measure and decide that my fat tires were about 1.5" less in diameter mounted than last time. Measure twice, but still don't cut because you were right the first time and wrong the 2nd, so measure again? I still don't know if I have the the right spec or not....

    Fortunately, I put the bridge in between the CSs and there is still a ton of room for the tire.

    The more things you build, the more of those pesky t-shirts you will have. Occupational hazard!
    Haha, right on. My brother was giving me some perspective last night on some of his early carpentry misadventures, and how he could, eventually, do the work of two people if understaffed.

    Just last night I was calculating how much carbon I wanted on the last lug and was a cool 3.33 times more than the bottom bracket. Wait, that's stupid, use your brain for a second here.
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  45. #45
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    I destroyed the rear triangle of this frame-to-be. Do not be alarmed... I am not.

    Curiosity got the best of me.

    When I was doing a totally unscientific "how hard do I have to squeeze to bend the dropouts toward one another significantly" test - more of a fondling of the frame, if there is such a thing - I heard a snap.

    Snap? That's a bad sound. Yet, I felt nothing give way. So I squeezed as hard as I could. Snap snap snap snap. Sounded like bamboo cracking? Something delaminating? Carbon cracking? Hell if I know.

    I gave it a look over. A small crack appeared in the carbon at the seat stay lug. Oh. Perhaps I should've waited to do this test until after I did the seat stay bridge reinforcement... right. It's worth noting that this particular spot had all plies running in the same direction. So, an unsurprising, even expected result, even if I had a brain fart about stressing that portion in a way it wasn't designed to handle.

    This was the gut check time of this frame. I've asked myself before - scrap it, or fix it? There were other problems with the frame that I haven't mentioned, and won't even bother with now.

    Conversation with self:

    You know, there's snow on the ground. Fatty is your daily driver now. You won't ride this frame for months. There are several heat affected areas of bamboo you have to fix yet. The BB shell is in backwards! Theo mentioned the other day how he'd like to try snow riding, those 83mm cranks would go great with some spare parts into a free snaux bike for your best friend.

    If you're serious about this, and shelve this one, how are you going to look at it in hindsight? Destructively, like usual?


    I thought about, when I was once asked, how much have I spent on this project versus a titanium frame (answer, btw, two frames worth over two years), the reaction that I had. The fear over putting this project on the internet for anyone to see. The why - for the conquering of inner demons...

    I have rewritten this current paragraph you are reading perhaps ten times. All of it gets too personal, things you don't want to read, and I don't want to tell you.

    While my interest didn't start this way, it has become, at least partially, a journey of self improvement... and I can see that it is finally working. The rest is now details.

    That's pretty sweet, if I may say so.

    So why post this post, exactly? So we don't have to have a conversation like this in the future:

    "Hey Drew, any updates on this guy?"

    "TL;DR: Nope, I screwed up and didn't get all butt hurt about it for a change."
    Disclaimer: I run Regular Cycles (as of 2016). As a profiteer of the bicycle industry, I am not to be taken very seriously.

  46. #46
    gone walk about
    Reputation: nvphatty's Avatar
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    imma ask anyway........

  47. #47
    Fat & Single
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    #5, almost alive

    Next stop #6

    Awesome work anyway
    Trek 9.9 Superfly SL
    FM190 Fatty
    Indy Fab Deluxe 29
    Pivot Vault CX
    Cervelo R3 Disc

  48. #48
    mtbr member
    Reputation: Velobike's Avatar
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    Don't worry too much about the BB. Just borrow a set of BB thread taps and cut it the right way. Won't be perfect, but saves having to dismantle that area - you can always use a bit of loctite to firm it all up.
    As little bike as possible, as silent as possible.
    Latitude: 57º36' Highlands, Scotland

  49. #49
    Nemophilist
    Reputation: TrailMaker's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Velobike View Post
    Don't worry too much about the BB. Just borrow a set of BB thread taps and cut it the right way. Won't be perfect, but saves having to dismantle that area - you can always use a bit of loctite to firm it all up.
    Yikes!

    There's a Troll Rant starter if I ever heard one. I can just hear the gnashing of their little teeth.
    ---------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------
    DD, you are indeed a brave soul. It seems apparent that what you have overcome in getting your frames to work may likely be the least of it.

    I had to do some serious self correction with my first frame. I have two personal demons (at least) that make for quite the titanic Yin & Yang struggle; Thrift -vs Perfection. My gift for fabrication and problem solving seems to be that I can come up with at least an 85% solution the first time (and often far greater), meaning it is highly effective at solving that which it is intended to straight away, even never having built one before. Anyone who builds things should know full well the difficulty in that, and that it usually takes 3-4-more versions before the process becomes intuitive and all the unforeseen issues come to the fore. Things seem to be largely intuitive to me right from the get go, and I am immodestly proud of that.

    Then there is the thrifty side. Would anyone ever know that the bends in my early CSs were not in plane? Will anyone know that those DO miters are largely comprised of weld fillet and not the result of close and accurate miters, because you were actually clueless as to how to approach the joint? Is it worth wasting that 20" of expensive tubing to make another one when nobody but you will ever know?

    I've got 4-5 sets of hacked up CSs in a scrap box. I made the for-me agonizing decision that there were too many compromises contained within each piece to make the whole something that was pleasing to me.

    In a sense, Mr. Perfection won the day. I'm glad I ignored my miserly inclinations and made it better. Beyond the immediacy of an improved outcome on the Humvee, I laid the foundation for future refinement and success in my process that allowed for the marvel of The Kroozer.

    Mr. Miser can await his victory, as it always comes eventually anyway, in the form of all of those scraps being cleverly re-purposed for other things that would otherwise require the use of a fresh piece of stock!

    Discovering the ability to create this Win-Win situation through perseverance is a great reward. Developing the patience to see it through each time is a battle never ceased!
    Most people ply the Well Trodden Path. A few seek a different way, and leave a Trail behind.
    - John Hajny, a.k.a. TrailMaker

  50. #50
    mtbr member
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    Quote Originally Posted by TrailMaker View Post
    Yikes!

    There's a Troll Rant starter if I ever heard one. I can just hear the gnashing of their little teeth...
    Yeah not ideal, but I bet most busy bike shops manage to do one of these every so often, and there's a variety of cures. The customer never finds out because he/she leaves that sort of work to the shop - and Loctite is so wonderful.
    As little bike as possible, as silent as possible.
    Latitude: 57º36' Highlands, Scotland

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