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Thread: Framebuilder or production line worker

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    Default Framebuilder or production line worker

    Im not trying to start to much of a rant here, although I am ranting, hopefully it leads to a good conversation and not any fighting.

    I know this is not anything new, but all the new builders,frames,and tools being put out by the novice in the last several months that has been catching my eye has me thinking about it. And notice I did say novice not hobbyist, there are several hobby builders who are great builders but for there own reasons dont do it for a living.

    You can go to china and walk up and down the production line and learn every job and get very skilled at every job, but does that make you a framebuilder, no it just makes you a factory worker, nothing wrong with that, I started working at GM this spring as a way to offset some of my cost of doing business I can put the dash board in a van like a champ but I cant design a vehical, and I work with a lot of great factory workers- but lets face it GM is not going to come up to any of us and ask us to work on the next design.

    Now lets say you take a framebuilding class, you learn every step, you buy a mill and a fixture for everystep, you go home and follow the ABC's step by step. Are you now a framebuilder or are you just a factory production line worker- working in a one many factory.

    When I see newbies with only a handfull of frames getting websites and calling themselves a framebuilder, or buying a mill or an anvil journeyman for there first frame, building tools that are meant to overcome their lack of skills instead of developing those skills, or tools that are not thought out well due to their lack of understanding of the prosess, etc. It makes me think what drives us to become a framebuilder in the first place, and why do we make the decisions we do along the path, is it a lack of understanding, do we not believe our peers when they say learn "this" first.

    These kind of things always pop in my head as I contemplate my own future as a "hopeful" framebuilder. I have taken it extra slow on purpose, I have avoided taking a class to early in the process and tried to get as much guidance from other framebuilders, thanks as always to those that have helped and you know who you are. I have been contemplating taking a class recently due to the fact that the second job makes me very cramped for time- but am still a little hesitant as I dont want to start building by numbers, step1,2,3,etc and would rather develop the skills, but it is hard to do on your own without someone to look over your shoulder and give a hands on example. All this always leads to the same questions.
    should I become a framebuilder, or will I be just another guy watering down the system?
    what do I offer, its not like I can redesign the wheel?
    why would someone buy my frame, is my style that awesome haha?

    Well not sure if I really had a point to this or not, just wanted to ramble I guess
    Sam Markovich

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    Default Re: Framebuilder or production line worker

    Critical thinking is a component of the profession. If you can get it after a course, or being shown how a frame is made, or after just 6 or even 206 attempts, you can call yourself what you want. But I am not sure the experience behind this is enough to begin an independent career in the trade. I'm sure it's more than enough to end one though.

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    Default Re: Framebuilder or production line worker

    I decided I wanted to do this because of the design process. I needed to develop the skill to build. With those covered, I think I could call myself a framebuilder. But that, still, is no guarantee that I can scratch out some kind of income from the market. There's a whole 'nother set of skills to tap for that to happen.
    DT

    http://www.mjolnircycles.com/

    Some are born to move the world to live their fantasies...

    "the fun outweighs the suck, and the suck hasn't killed me yet." -- chasea

    "Sometimes, as good as it feels to speak out, silence is the only way to rise above the morass. The high road is generally a quiet route." -- echelon_john

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    Default Re: Framebuilder or production line worker

    enjoy the process.all steps of the process.I'd say the most undervalued skills are people skills, and marketing/selling skills.
    as to tools. I have a factory full of fixtures. I use only hand tools because
    a)It's quicker for the single operation I'm doing.
    b)as my dad used to say:first you get good then you get fast.
     

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    Default Re: Framebuilder or production line worker

    -- always puts a smile on my face and a head shake in my heart..

    over 40 years in the lubricants, chemical, care care products & sports marketing corporate life --- i still find myself wondering when i will reach that product knowledge / csi perfection plateau..
    i have been the worst salesman and the first valovline hall of fame salesman --- marketing kudos and marketing failures --- lower management, executive management & shit management..
    what makes me keep putting one foot in front of the other, looking ahead - not back, trying to gain more knowledge with the ability to transmit ---- "is knowing that i will never reach perfection, but a desire to improve my imperfection within my life-span" (plagiarize)..

    ronnie with a smile
     

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    Default Re: Framebuilder or production line worker

    I say that I build frames but that i'm no frame builder these days. Only been that a couple of times when my pay was from my building frames.

    But i continue because I love the sense of riding my own creation, the process of problem solving, the trying to better my skills/process.

    I have great respect for those who can pay their bills doing this craft. Andy.
    Andy Stewart
    10%

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    Default Re: Framebuilder or production line worker

    Why the existential angst?

    I know people who work on frame production lines - they enjoy their job, and they can really nail it. Very few people will be able to lay down fillets like the Brompton brazers, for example. I know other people who are very good at designing bikes, but their welding looks like burnt popcorn.

    Classes are good, but the key differentiator is whether you build on what you learned in the class. I didn't be come a framebuilder at a class, I became one afterwards in my garage when I practiced over and over building things.

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    Default Re: Framebuilder or production line worker

    Quote Originally Posted by sam View Post
    Im not trying to start to much of a rant here, although I am ranting, hopefully it leads to a good conversation and not any fighting.

    I know this is not anything new, but all the new builders,frames,and tools being put out by the novice in the last several months that has been catching my eye has me thinking about it. And notice I did say novice not hobbyist, there are several hobby builders who are great builders but for there own reasons dont do it for a living.

    You can go to china and walk up and down the production line and learn every job and get very skilled at every job, but does that make you a framebuilder, no it just makes you a factory worker, nothing wrong with that, I started working at GM this spring as a way to offset some of my cost of doing business I can put the dash board in a van like a champ but I cant design a vehical, and I work with a lot of great factory workers- but lets face it GM is not going to come up to any of us and ask us to work on the next design.

    Now lets say you take a framebuilding class, you learn every step, you buy a mill and a fixture for everystep, you go home and follow the ABC's step by step. Are you now a framebuilder or are you just a factory production line worker- working in a one many factory.

    When I see newbies with only a handfull of frames getting websites and calling themselves a framebuilder, or buying a mill or an anvil journeyman for there first frame, building tools that are meant to overcome their lack of skills instead of developing those skills, or tools that are not thought out well due to their lack of understanding of the prosess, etc. It makes me think what drives us to become a framebuilder in the first place, and why do we make the decisions we do along the path, is it a lack of understanding, do we not believe our peers when they say learn "this" first.

    These kind of things always pop in my head as I contemplate my own future as a "hopeful" framebuilder. I have taken it extra slow on purpose, I have avoided taking a class to early in the process and tried to get as much guidance from other framebuilders, thanks as always to those that have helped and you know who you are. I have been contemplating taking a class recently due to the fact that the second job makes me very cramped for time- but am still a little hesitant as I dont want to start building by numbers, step1,2,3,etc and would rather develop the skills, but it is hard to do on your own without someone to look over your shoulder and give a hands on example. All this always leads to the same questions.
    should I become a framebuilder, or will I be just another guy watering down the system?
    what do I offer, its not like I can redesign the wheel?
    why would someone buy my frame, is my style that awesome haha?

    Well not sure if I really had a point to this or not, just wanted to ramble I guess
    Here's my approach on the mundane......always learn what it is that I am doing and why. I've installed quite a few dashboards for various reasons over the years, many times all by myself. I always treat them as though someone is watching, inspecting, analyzing to make sure my work is clean and thorough. I'm always alone in my garage with an occasional dog walker peering into the garage. I don't think that is pointless and I try to maintain a consistant approach in all endeavors. Who knows, maybe some day someone will be watching, or may ask a question. I really wish Audi would ask me about their air shocks so I can tell them to shove their 12 point torx bits up their ass.

    I didn't take a class, and was never taught the abc's. I absorbed a bit through forums, videos and reading. Then I started making my own. I practiced by making frames, not just cutting miters all day long. I made frames. Watched what worked, what didn't. Made some "bad" ones just to see how bad is bad and what bad looks like. I have acquired my own routines and out pops a frame based on what I learned making my frames.
    Will Neide (pronounced Nighty, like the thing worn to bed)

    Webpage : : Flickr : : Tumblr : : Facebook
    Instagram: wilco_cycleworks

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    Default Re: Framebuilder or production line worker

    Quote Originally Posted by sam View Post
    should I become a framebuilder, or will I be just another guy watering down the system?
    what do I offer, its not like I can redesign the wheel?
    why would someone buy my frame, is my style that awesome haha?
    Just be true to yourself

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    Default Re: Framebuilder or production line worker

    You're working at the wrong auto manufacture. Go work for a company with an embedded culture of continuous improvement.

    I worked for Honda in one of their manufacturing plants, time on the line in finally assembly and as a mass production buyer. Never once did I feel that "they" didn't want my feedback, that I was just a factory worker.

    You'll only water down the system if you just go through the motions.
     

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    Default Re: Framebuilder or production line worker

    I know this is not anything new, but all the new builders,frames,and tools being put out by the novice in the last several months that has been catching my eye has me thinking about it.
    I see this as an effect of internet forums. The sharing of knowledge, methods, videos, etc. help grow the niche of frame building, but I think it helps simplify things too. I think back to about 1999 when I started building a frame jig. At that time finding information was almost impossible. The internet had maybe a handful of small grainy pics of massive frame jigs. Through a lot of trial and error I created a rather cumbersome and crude jig.

    With the plethora of information, Flickr, blogs, etc. at our fingertips now, a lot of newcomers decide to quickly embark on their own. It appears to me that with all this info many can learn the methods and skip most of the trial and error or learning curve. However, this can either be a good or bad thing.

    Darrel
     

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    Default Re: Framebuilder or production line worker

    I like the responses here, I was kinda afraid of someone getting pissy and we have not had any of that- think that just shows we got some good people here.

    With 20 years in the industry, high quality mechanic, thousands of fittings, playing middle man for many customers custom frames, etc. and the fact that I have been contemplating framebuilding since 98 and working towards it for 3 years I actually have a good idea of what my goals are,why I want to do it,and how to justify my place in the business. Of course knowing what and why does not mean anything will come to fruition.

    How to develop the skills however are always in flux,changing, different thoughts,etc. But one way or the other the skills will eventually get learned. However even if everything else if perfect I still know it does not mean success, I have been in the bike industry long enough to know that failure is more likely then success.

    Really my post was more to stir the pot, to get new framebuilders thinking of there own place in this little world, Or there process, or the why at all. I am pretty critical of alot of things the bike industry, and I am 10 times more critical of anything I do in the industry as I never want to devalue my profession, so I was expressing the kind of questions I think to myself as I move along in the process, as long as I keep coming up with positive answers to my question then I will keep moving forward, when some of my question can no longer be answered in a positive way I will know that I dont need progess any further. I know that many other newbies have thought about the same stuff already and many have a better game plan then I do, but sometimes when I see someone argue with 10 experienced builders on a proven process I start to think did this guy really think this through.

    I also think it is good if the professionals sit down every once in a while and ask themselves these kinds of questions, and Im sure many do. You know why you did it, but why do you still do it. Are you still doing your best. Is there still passion or is it just a job you hate at this point. I know at the bike shop I run through these thoughts all the time, especially when its time to renew my lease. I dont think this stuff because I have doubts, but it helps keep me on my toes, reminds me that I love what I do

    While my post was playing devils advocate a little bit, I was also looking forward to hearing what drives some of you, and your thoughts on what I said, more info always helps.
    thanks as always
    Sam Markovich

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    Default Re: Framebuilder or production line worker

    Never understood the perspective of many sitting on the edges of the industry that frame building is all marshmallows and pink unicorns...

    Earning a living from bicycle fabrication is just plain work.

    This profession is undervalued and professionals attempting to earn a living wage have to compete with those willing to "learn" their way in, who charge less due to the starving artist sacrifice syndrome.

    Success as a professional is inversely proportional to fabrication time...have a thoughtful business plan, learn customer relations/human dynamics, practice solid accounting principals, know that you are the product and represent accordingly, then produce the highest level of fabrication possible while continuing to strive for better efficiency.

    Random thoughts...thanks for the impetus.
     

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    Default Re: Framebuilder or production line worker

    Quote Originally Posted by Rody View Post
    Never understood the perspective of many sitting on the edges of the industry that frame building is all marshmallows and pink unicorns...

    Earning a living from bicycle fabrication is just plain work.

    This profession is undervalued and professionals attempting to earn a living wage have to compete with those willing to "learn" their way in, who charge less due to the starving artist sacrifice syndrome.

    Success as a professional is inversely proportional to fabrication time...have a thoughtful business plan, learn customer relations/human dynamics, practice solid accounting principals, know that you are the product and represent accordingly, then produce the highest level of fabrication possible while continuing to strive for better efficiency.

    Random thoughts...thanks for the impetus.
    And much needed words too atmo.
    Folks start too soon, that's all there is to it.

    And for those who say there's nowhere to work, or learn, so they can in fact get a foot in the door: consider that a pulse on the industry you are interested in leaving for independence AFTER you finally have a clue what goes where.

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    Default Re: Framebuilder or production line worker

    Not sure if this has anything to do with what you asked but here it goes.

    I am never done trying to improve my process and product. MANY of the things are lost on the common person and the end user but that does not stop me.

    An example of me always trying to offer a better product is this. I no longer sell steel bikes. Unless you are an existing customer I won't build it or offer it. Why? Because my goal is to offer the best bike possible and for me that is a titanium bicycle. It is lighter, stronger and has properties that are just not available with steel. In turn I can not sell a product I feel is inferior so it is off the menu. I will potentially sell less bikes because of this decision. I am fine with that.

    -Drew
    Drew Guldalian
    Engin Cycles
    www.engincycles.com

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    Default Re: Framebuilder or production line worker

    [QUOTE=EnginCycles;561376]Not sure if this has anything to do with what you asked but here it goes.

    I am never done trying to improve my process and product. MANY of the things are lost on the common person and the end user but that does not stop me.

    An example of me always trying to offer a better product is this. I no longer sell steel bikes. Unless you are an existing customer I won't build it or offer it. Why? Because my goal is to offer the best bike possible and for me that is a titanium bicycle. It is lighter, stronger and has properties that are just not available with steel. In turn I can not sell a product I feel is inferior so it is off the menu. I will potentially sell less bikes because of this decision. I am fine with that.

    -Drew

    ---------------------------

    drew my friend,

    as an ole 1/2 ass rider that smiles inside/outside just to be able to ride and enjoy ----
    also being a consumer/end-user/customer --- i have owned, mounted and put many miles on high end ti and carbon bikes..
    i prefer the ride of a steel lugged bike with the my own taste components.. i ride better, enjoy more, smile so large, and feel the wind in my hair and gravel in my gut.." maybe it's just the bike fits me!!

    but, if we all liked blonde ladies or men ---- redheads, brunettes and hair-stylest would be history past..

    not a handcrafted builder, just a --

    ronnie with a smile
     

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    Default Re: Framebuilder or production line worker

    ...and that is why we are blessed to have so many talented builders, so each individual may align with one who can facilitate the bike of their dreams.
     

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    Default Re: Framebuilder or production line worker

    [QUOTE=ron l edmiston;561436]
    Quote Originally Posted by EnginCycles View Post
    but, if we all liked blonde ladies or men ---- redheads, brunettes and hair-stylest would be history past..
    I'd really like to meet you one day Ronnie - I picture you as a gentleman who creates a wake of smiles and happiness which follows you around wherever you go.

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    Default Re: Framebuilder or production line worker

    Quote Originally Posted by EnginCycles View Post
    I no longer sell steel bikes.
    If you're ever looking to unload a little of that unused steel tubing.....I can help. :)
    Will Neide (pronounced Nighty, like the thing worn to bed)

    Webpage : : Flickr : : Tumblr : : Facebook
    Instagram: wilco_cycleworks

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    Default Re: Framebuilder or production line worker

    Quote Originally Posted by DeeDub76 View Post
    I see this as an effect of internet forums. The sharing of knowledge, methods, videos, etc. help grow the niche of frame building, but I think it helps simplify things too. I think back to about 1999 when I started building a frame jig. At that time finding information was almost impossible. The internet had maybe a handful of small grainy pics of massive frame jigs. Through a lot of trial and error I created a rather cumbersome and crude jig.

    With the plethora of information, Flickr, blogs, etc. at our fingertips now, a lot of newcomers decide to quickly embark on their own. It appears to me that with all this info many can learn the methods and skip most of the trial and error or learning curve. However, this can either be a good or bad thing.

    Darrel
    Agree... I didn't have the internet as a frame building resource in 93' like I have today. I bought the Paterek and Talbot Manuals... and luckily had an apprenticeship... which I value the most now that I look back on the learning process. Seeing the way other builders make frames / solve problems via the web has definitely accelerated this learning process... but you still gotta take your lumps and make bikes one at a time to gain experience.
     

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