Wednesday, May 29, 2013

Sometimes you can't see these things coming...

One of the biggest fears about buying product overseas, putting your name on it, and selling it to folks all over the country is that, despite all the precautions you've taken and steps to ensure each frame is dialed by inspecting each one before it goes out, something may go wrong.  Recently, that something was a couple of water bottle bosses.  It is evident that these two bosses were not brazed in properly. 

This actually happened once before and because it happened on a local rider's first ride, I attributed it to an anomaly.  A one-time thing.  This rider came by the shop after his ride and showed me the boss that came out and the hole in the frame.  I was horrified.  He was calm and cool.  This was one of those moments you think to yourself, "why am I doing this?  I should just be selling $400 hybrids instead of trying to do something different."  

However, once we both assessed the situation, I realized that the hole in the down tube was the same hole that was drilled for the boss in the first place and that it's not uncommon to have to replace bottle bosses on aluminum frames with new rivet nuts.  The solution of installing a rivet nut in the frame was reached and he's been going strong since that day in January.  It was a good fix.  And I forgot about it.  Until recently.

The e-mail showed up "Broken water bottle braze-ons" and I knew what happened and that it happened a second time.  One-time incidents are just that, one-time.  When it happens twice, the potential for it to happen a third time increases, but it's not likely epidemic.  I checked the frame that happened to be in the stand getting prepped for shipment by threading in a bolt and grabbing hold with some pliers twisted and tweaked the bolt.  The boss was solid.  That made me feel good. 

So, here's what's happening, two frames lost water bottle bosses (both on the down tube).  There are two solutions, as I see it, if this happens to you.
1.  Frame replacement.  I'll replace the frame to you and pay to have the frame with the lost bottle boss sent back to me.
2.  Install rivet nuts and offer some sort of compensation.  My goal is that each owner of one of my frames is happy with their bike.  This is the option chosen by the two owners.  He was comfortable using a rivet nut tool since he had used a rivet gun on airplanes.  I mailed him my rivet nut tool with a return label and some rivet nuts.  He reported back that the rivet nut install was a success.

And if, for some reason, you really, really, really want a new frame but I don't have your size or color in stock, we'll get rivet nuts installed in your frame and then replace it as soon as I get more frames so you can keep riding your bike.

That's it.  I thought about not putting this out there because that's what companies do - hide things and then act surprised when something happens.  But, I owe this to all the folks who have put their trust in my frames and I thank each of you for that.  

One final bit, this is limited to the second run of cross frames only.

And to make this long post even longer, here is the process to install rivet nuts.

Rivet nut install
The hole for a brazed in bottle boss is smaller than the rivet nut outer diameter of about 7mm.

Rivet nut install
So the hole will have to be made larger.  You can use a tapered reamer like pictured here.  Or if you have enough space within the frames front triangle, you can drill the hole larger.  Just be careful not to go too far into the tube that you punch into the other side of the tube.

Rivet nut install
A file can also be used to open the hole for the rivet nut insertion.

Rivet nut install
Verify the rivet nut fits snugly in the hole.

Rivet nut install
The rivet nut installation tool with a rivet nut.

Rivet nut install
Thread the rivet nut onto the tool's mandrell so all threads are engaged.

Rivet nut install
Back the mandrel up  so the flange of the rivet nut is flush against the tool's stop.

Rivet nut install
Fit the rivet nut firmly against tube and...

Rivet nut install
...squeeze the tool's plier handles.

Rivet nut install
When installed, the rivet nut is compressed up to the inside of the tube creating a sandwich with the frame tube. 

(What's playing:  Bob Dylay & The Band Too Much of Nothing)

Friday, May 17, 2013

More progress...

Things are cooking right along with the production of the US/Falconer made cross frames.  Cameron sent over and update yesterday.  

Mitering tubes
Mitering tubes.

Mitered tubes
Mitered tubes.  

Spray of forks
All the forks are done.

Heat Sink
Cameron made a heat sink for the dropouts.  The aluminum inserts absorb some of the heat during the welding process to eliminate deformation and burn through.

Stays
The s-bend chainstays will have clearance for the 43mm Bruce Gordon Rock 'n Road tires and any compact road crankset, including Dura Ace, Ultegra, and any from Campagnolo.

Cameron is working his ass off on the frame production.  Now, I need to get my ass in gear to get the head badge and decals made.  

(What's playing:  Led Zeppelin D'yer Mak'er)

Saturday, May 11, 2013

Closed Sunday May 12...

Like the title says, I'll be closed Sunday, May 12.  It's Mother's Day and I'm going for a ride.  And visit my mom too.  Hope you're doing the same.

(What's playing:  The Sadies A#1)

Wednesday, May 8, 2013

Progress...

A lot of good progress has been made on the Falconer Cycles made Black Mountain Cycles cross frames.  One of the more difficult aspects of producing a frame that has clearance for low q-factor cranks and clearance for fat tires is the chainstay shape.  Easy to design one.  Not so easy as one would think to produce.  However, between a few pretty smart guys including Sean at Soulcraft, Cameron Falconer, and myself (I'll throw myself in the mix just because), a design for a clean looking S-bend chainstay that has clearance for any 50/34 compact road crank, including Campagnolo and Shimano Dura Ace, Ultegra, or 105, and Bruce Gordon Rock 'n Road tires. 

The sample fork was also powder coated to make sure the color was proper.  There are several "International Orange" shades and the Golden Gate bridge color is different that some of the other shades.  This is what we came up with and I like it.  It's definitely more pumpkin/brown than the orange on the current frames.  The powder coat is a bit thick on the crown.  Crowns like this are a tough job to get the powder thin enough for crisp edges while still coating everything within the crown's cavity.  Our goal is to have the powder be a bit thinner than this sample so the edges of the crown are a bit more defined.

The sample frame should be ready this week and powder coated soon after.  Stay tuned.  Additionally, there are still spots available to pick yourself up one of these in size 56cm, 59cm, or 62cm.  About half are spoken for.  If you want one, get in touch with me soon.

Painted fork

Painted fork

(What's playing:  Big Sandy & His Fly-Rite Boys Power of the 45 (Pt. 1))

Monday, May 6, 2013

New road frames on order...

As I mentioned in the previous post, I have a new road frame order placed.  I'm anticipating the frames will be here around the end of July into August.  The sooner the better I say.  In anticipation of the new frames, I'm looking at a new color.  All the trends are indicating a light blue is the new hot color for the year and as it happens I had already been thinking about a similar shade of blue as one of the colors.  

This new production of road frames will have no surprises.  Same geometry.  Same tubeset.  Same clearance for big, fat road tires.  Same long reach brake caliper requirement.  The one change I made is the same one I made to the last run of 'cross frames:  a reinforced, machined head tube.  Just a nice little addition.  

Color.  Here's the new blue color against the orange frame.  I think it will make a great looking road frame color.  

New blue

For the second color, I'm waffling on more orange or maybe black.  What do you think?  
Black

(What's playing:  Bill Kirchin Truck Stop At The End of The World)

Friday, May 3, 2013

No news is good news...

I guess no news is good news, but wouldn't any news be welcome? However, sometimes there's so much new news that it's hard to get it all out.  Or rather, it's difficult to figure out how to get it out.  Sometimes your "to do" list is so lengthy and every item is equally important, but getting started is difficult because where do you start.  You start by just diving in.  Head first.  

I have a new tumblr account.  Actually, I have two.  Yes, more things to manage.  Tumblr seems to be a simple, clean method of posting photos or words.  In the world of the internet, the way I see it, there is a hierarchical order of social media medium I now manage.  This here blog is reserved for writing more lengthy informational pieces (and for keeping my parents apprised of what I'm doing).  The Facebook page is used for posting links and/or photos of daily shop things.  The tumblr page will have a singular focus of highlighting "what's in the stand," hence the name of the page:  What's In The Stand.  Not fully understanding what I was doing when signing up for tumblr, I also created a Black Mountain Cycles tumblr page, but probably won't be adding much there.  It's probably a good thing to keep for future use.  My Flickr page (what is it about misspelling a common word by removing a vowel?) is used mainly to host photos that I use in the blog.

In other news, 56cm road frames are sold out.  In addition to the 59cm road frames being out of stock, the last 56 left the building last week.  There are still several 50cm, 53cm, and 62cm frames in orange (and one 62 in champagne) available.  I did place an order for more road frames several weeks ago.  I've got a new color in the works and will dedicate a full blog post to the road frame order and color soon.  

The new cross frames have been selling like gangbusters.  I'm pretty surprised and excited at their popularity.  I'm sure there is big potential to ramp up production and marketing for Black Mountain Cycles and turn this thing into the next Specialized, but I don't want to.  I want to remain small and keep doing what I've been doing.  I don't need the headache of growth for growth's sake.  

Regarding the availability of the cross frames, gray is sold out in all sizes except 65cm.  As of yesterday, the 50cm size is sold out in orange too.  There are only two 53cm orange and one 62cm orange available.  There still are a couple of 62cm root beer still available.  I really like the root beer.  There are a few 56cm orange.  I've got a lot of 59cm orange frames because they were the first to sell out during the first run, so I bumped up the quantity I had made by a few.  First to sell out in the first run, slowest mover in the second.  Go figure.  

The US made frames are moving along.  We are building one sample frame and fork to verify clearance - form, fit, function test.  The sample fork has been finished and powder coated and the frame will be finished next week.  It's taken a little longer that originally intended, but it's coming along nicely.  I'm really looking forward to building a new bike for myself.  

Future Black Mountain Cycles framesets

Fork assemblies

Pacenti PBP crowns

(What's playing:  Howard Jones What Is Love)