18 February 2012

On Failing Street

View from the Peruvian Restaurant next to UBI (Thursday I had their vegan Portobello mushroom and pesto sandwich -- very tasty). 

Bike Parking in the Hub Building, next to the restrooms.  A nice option on a rainy day.

North Williams -- Lodekka dress shop ... in a double decker bus (and old camper trailer on the far side of the bus).
Thursday was a tough day for me at bike school.  I came down with a cold on Wednesday, and on Thursday I was so sick that I really did not want to get out of bed.  But I did, and went to class (I figured that both instructors and one student already had a cold, so what more risk of contagion if I'm there?).

My head was in a fog as I tried to concentrate on the various presentations and to practice my welding, keeping in mind the many parameters and trying to hold my hands steady, when I really wanted to go lie down. In any event, on Thursday I did not get much done, my concentration flagged, and my welding seemed to get worse, if anything.  everything else -- the drawing/measuring, the tube preparation, the cutting, seems easy in comparison, with the guidance we are getting.

Mike DeSalvo is leading our class for Thurs/Fri and again next Mon/Tues.  At the end of the Thursday class in his wrap up presentation, Mike mentioned that the instructors will help us as much as we want ... they will fill holes we melt into our frames if needed.  They will help with mitering the tubes.  Many students want to do 100% of the work by themselves, especially those who are planning to enter the framebuilding profession.  Others (like me) have no such plans, but really want to go home with a bicycle frame at the end of week 2, and don't care if someone else helps a bit to miter the top tube, weld a tricky spot or fill a hole.  Mike has his own framebuilding business out of Ashland, Oregon, where UBI's "main campus" is located.

As I headed out to find lunch, I decided to stroll the length of the Hub Building's internal hallway.  At the far end, I came upon a jammed restaurant, with people waiting in a line outside the door.  It was Tasty n Sons.  Lots of fried food, meat, thick slices of fatty bacon, eggs, and other comfort food at upscale prices and with positive reviews.  Nothing exotic or vegan here ... but this seems to be where most of people want to eat on a cold, rainy February day.

Again, I saw only iMacs at Ristretto Roasters, where I picked up coffee.  I moved on to Cha Cha Cha for another Burrito Fundido.  Mike DeSalvo was there, so I sat down and joined him.  He mentioned that in recent years a significant number of his custom frames actually end up going to Japan, via a bike shop in Nagoya named Circles.  I noticed on Mike's website that he has won "Best TIG Welded Frame" prize at the North American Handmade Bicycle Show in 2005, 2008 and again in 2010.  Impressive.  This is what his welds look like, on the bike he is building that Ron started (for Ron's 15 year old son):

My practice welds ... look slightly different.

At least my results finally started to improve again on Friday afternoon ... so there is hope.

Friday morning, as I rode my rental bike to UBI in the rain, I passed N. Failing Street.  Would I fail at framebuilding?  Was I failing already, as others already started to cut their tubes, put their front triangle into the frame jig, and to pass the "bottom bracket/seat tube destruct test"?  (My Thursday handiwork did not pass this test, so I went back to practice more)?  Who would name a street "Failing"?  Who would want to live or have a business there?
This "jig" or "fixture" holds the tubes in place while you "tack" them with small initial welds.
You then remove the stabilized frame and complete the welding at your work station.
On Wednesday I had ridden home with Bob K., our second chair instructor, who lives out on the edge of SE Portland and so takes the Vera Katz Esplanade along the East Side of the Willamette River, as do I.  This morning, Bob came up behind me as I waited at a traffic light.  I mentioned that I had seen Mike's website and that I saw his TIG welded frames had won prizes at NAHBS.  Bob's rejoinder "I've got some of those too."  He quickly clarified:  Bilenky Cycles won the awards  ... for bikes that Bob had largely built when he worked there (as the "master framebuilder").

In any event, Friday I was feeling better, and the session went better.  By end of the day I had done my best practice welds yet, and my front triangle was cut and ready to start assembly on Monday.  On the evening commute, there were stiff headwinds, pelting rain and dark, low clouds over downtown.  But at least the fog had cleared from my head.
Add BB shell, and this will be my cross bike's front triangle!

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