Sunday, January 13, 2008

Winter projects...

Okay, January started off slow. But hey, I'm 100% ahead of where I was last January ;-). I figure January is time for personal projects. I've got a few bikes that are in need of work and a couple of frames that are in need of building up. So, here's Project #1.

I built this frame at Pacific Coast Cycles sometime between 1989 and 1990. I can't remember the exact year. I wanted a Bontrager cyclocross frame, but couldn't afford one so I think to myself, why not build a frame myself. At the time there was no 'cross scene in San Diego. We had one race, the Sorrento Cyclocross that was laid out on a super fun course among the eucalyptus trees around the UCSD campus. I wanted a 'cross bike, not to race, but to ride. I liked taking my road bike and riding it off-road. On some of our shop group rides, I would ride my road bike to the ride and then ride it off road with the group. Super fun, but made more fun with a 'cross bike.

I laid out the frame out full-size on a big piece of butcher paper, ordered lugs and a tubeset (Tange #2) from Nova Cycle Supply, and began practicing my brazing technique on scrap pieces of tubing.

I was fortunate working at Pacific Coast Cycles because Chuck, the owner, had been employed by Masi when Faliero opened shop in Carlsbad and had skill brazing. In addition, the shop had previously employed a very skilled frame builder named Leo Castellon. Between the two of them, I had sufficient guidance to braze my own frame.

The tubing and lugs arrived and I went to work mitering the tubes which was done by hand with a file. I also got an excellent lesson in filing and preparing the lugs so that once I got to brazing, the shape of the lug would facilitate that introduction of molten brass. Basically, you want the edge of the lug to be perpendicular to the tube throughout the lug opening's circumference.

With help, guidance, and a little hands-one from Leo, I got my frame and fork brazed up. I even created a pretty cool seat stay bridge with a boss for a fender. A little black powder coat, yellow paint details in the lugs and sweet black and yellow checker panels from the hobby shop (we were way into black and yellow checkers at the shop), and it was ready to go.

Fast forward about 19 years, and it's time for a second life for this beauty. It's current duty had been as a loud display indicating that a bike shop was located here. It will still serve this duty, but with the addition of some new parts, will also be my new commuter.

What's new? Well, off came the old Ibis drop bars and on went a set of Nitto Swept Back bars. In place of the Ritchey Logic cranks went a set of new shorter 170mm Sugino XD arms with a 40t ring. I crafted the chainring guard out of a 46t ring, removing the teeth and then filing it round. A set of really cool Wellgo caged pedals went on (I picked up these pedals probably 5 years ago in Taiwan and kept them for a special project - guess, this project qualified). A set of Tektro canti brake levers replaced the old Shimano 600 aero levers. Off came the Shimano 600 front derailleur, Suntour XC Comp rear derailleur, and Suntour Accushift indexed barcons. Finally, the fixed gear wheel (White Industries Eno hub, Campy Lambda Strada rim) from my RB-1 (hmmm, could this mean another project around the RB-1?) replaced the old Specialized hub/Campy rim combo.

So, how's it ride? Just like a bike. And best of all, it's the only one like it in the world.


Tooth extraction


(What's playing: John Coltrane Blue Train)