Thursday, August 30, 2007

And now for something completely different....

Okay, this is something that I was totally unprepared for. I loaded a couple of pages in the fax machine, punched in the number, and hit send. That’s when things went horribly wrong. Immediately, the paper jammed in the feed and I got the beep alarm that a jam was occurring – as if the paper being crumpled in the loader wasn’t clue enough.

I opened the lid, looked inside at the rollers and found … what the heck is that rubbery looking thing. Whoa! That’s a frog’s leg! The little bugger musta found a nice quiet, dark spot within the confines of the top paper loader in the fax machine. I wonder what he was thinking as I was punching in the phone number and then hit send. “Hey, what’s the white stuff being jammed in my bedroom? What’s that beep, beep, beep noise? Whoa! Stop! Everything’s moving! Oh darn, there goes my leg. If this doesn’t stop soon, my frog buddies will be calling me tripod and I’ll only be able to jump in circles.”

Okay, maybe it was simply “akdji sdfkjswe djkjnnwo;akjd @%%(@&#” that went through the frogs mind. Guess that’s better than his butt.

I thought the little dude would have been rollered flat like the Coyote in the Road Runner shows. Nope. I pulled the paper out and out he jumps. I don’t know if he cursed me or thanked me. Judging by what looks like his toes giving me the “finger” while his leg was jammed in the rollers, I’m pretty sure he cursed me. Actually, I’m pretty sure it’s the same frog that peed on me when I rescued him in the shop. He’s got it out for me. I can see now he’s going to play Coyote to my Road Runner. Beep, Beep.

Wednesday, August 29, 2007

Workbench organization...

I hate a cluttered workbench. And, yet, that's what I've suffered through for the past couple weeks. Tools laying around, a portable mechanic's tool case precariously perched on the edge of the workbench, not enough room to work... But not after today.

In my brief time at B&L in Solana Beach, I really appreciated the organization that the work area afforded the mechanics. It's the little things that make us happy behind the stand. One of the little things is a tool board that is angled back just slightly so that tools always lay flat against it. With perfectly vertical tool boards, the tools just dangle in space...well, sometimes.

I spent most of today arranging tools on my tool board, trying to position them in clusters of areas of the bike where they get used. I'm pretty happy with the orientation. I did all this with the tool board back laying flat so placing the tools was easy and I didn't have to go through a lot (heck, any) trial and error. Then, with a Sharpie, I marked where I would screw a drywall screw in to the board - making sure I didn't go all the way through the masonite and into my workbench top.

To get the angle, I secured a 1x2 to the work bench top that when the masonite was leaned up agains the back of the workbench, would provide a stand-off that gave me that slight angle to the tool board. A few more drywall screws through the masonite into the 1x2 and along the top of the board and it was in place. A final more secure screwing of the screws that would hold the tools and it was done.

Oh dang! Now I got to remember what all those screws hold since I took off all the tools prior to securing the tool board to the work bench. Good thing I took a photo! Mama didn't raise no idjits.

Thanks to the guys at B&L (again) for the sweet idea of an angled back tool board.

Laying out the tools.

It's up! Just gotta get a screwdriver rack.

A better look at those sweet old Bridgestone prints.

And, hey, Gordon - what's up with you and Tony not coming up to pick up his frame? I thought you were going to come see me - sniff, sniff. Was over at Sycip getting an old frame powder coated yesterday and Jay said he had already shipped the frame.

Sunday, August 26, 2007

Things must be okay...

Things must be going okay if I need to start placing reorders after being open a week, right? Yeah, that's what I think too. Seriously, folks are coming in to get bikes tuned up, replace tires, get cycle computers...I'm having a great time so far. Now I've got to figure out how and what I'm going to do about stocking "just the right amount" of things like helmets and clothes.

I visited Swobo recently and had a great time talking to Sky and Erin. They've got some really nice bikes and clothes. The bikes are the kind of bikes that defy categorization. They are bikes I call "ride to" bikes - actually, I just started calling them that because I literally just thought that up right now. "Ride to" bikes. I like it. Ride to the store. Ride to soccer practice. Ride to work. Ride to the bar. Ride to school. Ride to the beach. Ride to ... well, just about anywhere you want to go on a bike. So, I think I'll get a couple of Swobo bikes for the shop and some clothes. I want to sell stuff I like.

Hey, I got water bottles in too! Sweet! I got a little artsy taking pictures of the bottles so there's two photos. Sheesh, taking pictures of water bottles.

Monday, August 20, 2007

Moving in the right direction...

The door's open, folks are coming in (I need to get some generic replacement wheels) and things are moving along about as expected - slowly. I knew it wouldn't be great guns right out of the gate, but it's all good.

We had some incredible help from friends over the weekend helping unpack, check in, and price my first order of bits and pieces. We would still be swimming among the boxes if we didn't have their help. Got some slatwall up as well - dang, that stuff is heavy!

I also got a call from Monkey Wrench Cycles in Lincoln, NE. The call started off with Nate asking me if I rented used tubes. Deciding to play along, I promptly confirmed that yes, we do. But all tube rentals have to be back by closing on the same day. He asked if I was going to be at Interbike. I realized that the show is only a short time away and I hadn't really thought about the going at all. I've been involved in setting up company booths for the past 13 years and, honestly, I don't really want to feel like I have to go to Vegas.

Welp, got some more photos of the shop, which is looking more and more like a shop. All the bikes in the shop, unfortunately, aren't for sale. Most of them are my personal bikes (well, I might sell off a few of these) and some of them are vintage mountain bikes that friends have generously loaned to be put on display. I like the idea of showing some of the history of the sport that I love.

Sunday, August 19, 2007

Mine goes to eleven...

This one's for the Allen boys. When you are the boss, you get to listen to what you want and when no ones around, you can turn it to eleven!

Tuesday, August 14, 2007

More progress and my first sale...

Being on scenic Highway 1, I see a lot of tourists pedaling south (to take advantage of the predominant tailwind). A couple from England came in yesterday as I was working on getting the racks up and the shop a little more organized. When they got their bikes off the plane, her derailleur was bent up pretty bad, she says, and the first thing they had to do before starting their California coast tour was replace the derailleur.

When I looked at it, the hanger was still bent a bit, the limit screws needed attention, the B-tension was too low, and somehow, the head of the cable had come out of its recess in the shifter and had limited how much the shifter would move. She was stuck in #4 as she described it. Fixed the derailleur alignment, limits, and B-tension; removed the cover from the shifter (Shimano Easy-Fire) and saw the head of the cable bent at 90 degrees to the length of cable - just waiting for that inopportune moment to snap off so I replaced the cable too. Lubed the cables at the BB cable guide and her bike was performing just like new again. Payment: $10, a cup of Americano and a biscotti from Toby's across the street and everyone was happy. Made me feel pretty darn tootin' good.

Okay, so someone wanted updated shop photos. Bike rack in progress. Flanges custom bent and formed by Steve Potts in his brake. We also bent up the braces to tie the front of the rack to the back out of some galvanized steel sheet. It's pretty amazing watching him custom make these bits. This thing is solid. It ain't going anywhere.

Thursday, August 9, 2007

Ahhh, the centerpiece...

Finally, the centerpiece of the shop - the work bench and work stand.

When you need wood in Point Reyes...

I need bike racks to display bikes and after seeing the cost for steel racks that are commercially available, I realized I had to build my own. Taking a cue from Pacific Coast Cycles, where he built his own, I will do the same. Instead of a rack system that costs in the thousands of dollars, mine will cost me $205 and some labor.

They would have cost more if I bought the lumber myself, but Steve Potts told me he had plenty of lumber that I could use. I thought that he had 2x4's and such, but this is Point Reyes and when you have your own lumber mill, you make your own.

So, off the the lot where Steve has his mill and we pick out some raw timbers and run them through his re-saw mill and then take them back to his house to run them through a planer. Out comes some beautiful, close grain, high grade wood. These, along with some aluminum u-channel will make up my bike racks.

Thanks, Steve.

When POS doesn't mean POS...

Deciding to open a bike shop is one thing. Figuring out all the small details is another. Things like cash registers, POS systems (that's Point of Sale not Piece of Shtinky...although they may be interchangeable), credit card services...all become quite hard to figure out when you have no point of reference. My main point of reference is the shop I worked at in the '80s where we had a simple cash register (money-in, money-out, no USB cable port...) and a "want list" where we noted things we were getting low on or out of.

I researched POS systems and figured that the cost was just too prohibitive and settled on a simple cash register, QuickBooks for accounting, and a simple credit card reader through a service a friend recommended because the service charges were low. And I have a super high-tech new fancy clip board to keep track of my inventory needs. Just one step up from a stone tablet with a hammer and chisel, but I know how it works. By choosing this system I saved at least $3,500. I can think of much better uses for this money at this point in the shop's life. Things like stuff to sell comes to mind.

Simple cash register - yeah, right. Simple unless you want to program the name of the shop and any other message on the receipt. After more than an hour, I ended up with this receipt. Now if I could only figure out how to center justify the custom lines, I'll be 100% satisfied. As it is, I'm 99% happy with it and that's just fine with me.

And thanks to this new sign, I now know where the can is. Whew, that's a relief!