When I built my first fixture I just crashed my way through it. Drew it out on graph paper and built most of it in my Dad's shop in New Mexico over a sleepless 4 day period until my own mill was delivered to Denver. Then I loaded it into my Jeep hauled it back to Denver and finished it out just a few days later. As far as the design, I just figured out a range of adjustment I needed for each critical dimension and went from there. I never really struggled with it but in retrospect, I probably should have. You have to remember that this really wasn't new to me; I didn't like machining as a kid/young man but I never said I didn't know how to do it. Plus by then I had a lots of experience working in the construction/fabrication trades. I think I was just lucky enough to have been raised by my Dad where I learned by osmosis even when I didn't want to and had the right teachers along the way to wire out how my mind approaches these types of problems. To make up for it, I completely suck at lots of other stuff like woodworking, handwriting, golf, bowling, and apparently, losing weight.
As far as inspirations from others, it's really just my Dad's voice I hear in the back of my mind. I don't know of any other way to put it. I've seen him design & build so much cool shit in my lifetime, from massive pieces of machinery to the really intricate that I think I just keep a catalog in my head of solutions I've seen him apply. When he was alive, I'd talk to him several times a week, mostly just to talk, but lots of times to problem solve or ask him a question about this or that machining operation and he made most of our lathe parts up until he got cancer a couple-3 years ago. I keep his last Machinery's Handbook on my desk and it's older than I am.
The other person who has HEAVILY influenced me is Jeff Tessier. Jeff is a Master Machinist, designer, and a CNC god (he designs and builds CNC equipment for one of the world's largest orthopedic implant manufacturers) and also as luck would have it, when I met him he was a budding bike builder. I met him when he showed up at the shop to buy a frame fixture and a bunch of other tools and we hit it off (he had gone to UBI and heard about me from Jim Kish or Ron Sutphin, I can't remember which). I was doing most things on manual machines back then and Jeff pushed hard (thanks Jeff!) to get me to move to CNC. When I get stuck on some oddball "how do I program the mill to get it to do this?" kind of deal or need to bounce ideas off someone, Jeff is the man I call.
Since we're talking influences, I have to give props to Ron Sutphin & Jim Kish of UBI for giving it to me straight when I got into this game. We still talk often and Ron still gives me the good advice. Most folks in the greater cycling community have probably never heard of Ron, but I maintain he has done more to influence the made to order bike niche than any other person I know. Can't leave Richard Sachs out either, he has always propped me lent a steady hand whether I needed it or not when I was first getting started as a builder and feeling my way around the biz (Cyclingforum and VN Techtalk, yo!) and it was seeing one of his bikes that helped push me down this road. I could keep going....Bruce Gordon was always nice to me! Mark Norstad of Paragon has answered buttloads of my questions over the years and helped me out of a few jams. Todd Shusterman. Kent Eriksen. Butch & Brad at Moots. Bob Parlee, Bill Holland, Tony Giannascoli, Carl Strong, and others whose names & deeds I'm ashamed to say I can't recall off the top of my head at this late hour. These guys all encouraged me, motivated me, and helped me find my way down the path I've taken. Bottom line: I'm just a lucky motherfucker!
All I can add to all of this is Don's stuff makes me $$$$, He's always been plenty nice to me, and I bet we could swap some crazy tales over some sauce. That's about it! - Garro.
This is the first "Smoked Out" I felt like reading. Don, I am glad you are in the business. You have helped the frame building craft, in the USA, develope to an obtainable state. Before Anvil, there was not much in the way of good tooling. At Fat City we had to make all of own tooling and then as well at Independent [which spawned Sputnik and ANT]. I was blown away when I saw you at Interbike  and yes I looked right through your bikes, straight to the tools. I did not talk to you, because I was in a daze, after working a 24 hour shift, just so I could go to Interbike ;)
Now I need to get back to work!
You'll like the Single Cab better. It's keeping the reduction boxes & getting 7.00-15 tires!
Last edited by Archibald; 11-23-2010 at 12:12 PM.
yo DWF i have one passive aggressive, left-handed question because that's how i roll atmo. we all acknowledge the weak link between the material (and the hand labor) juxtaposed against the precision fixturing available . the tubes are next straight (enough). the heat affects stuff. for all i know, adhesives do as well. many of us have tried a billion ways to load fixtures; some assemble all pipes at once. some do just the front part and then do a rear after that. some folks braze/tig in the fixtures. others only tack and then do the finish work free hand. for my part, i have a bike machinery hydra and know all the nuances of it, as well as my material and skill set, and have sequences that make the fixture work for me. but - and this the big butt atmo - i always wonder what someone in your position would do. you make the fixtures. you've made the frames. assuming you have a pile of parts, a heat source, and a new and improved super master, what steps would we see you do once tubes are cut/mitered for the fixture's prescribed geometry. you take a pipe, clamp it in, and then what atmo...
There is only one proper way to build the frame, IMHO, and that’s to follow these steps:
1. Set fixture up to design specs, i.e., seat & head tube angles, head tube height, chainstay angle/BB drop, and the appropriate BB spacer/setting.
2. Start with a blueprinted shell (one you know has true & parallel faces) installed on the BB tower.
3. Install your seat tube parallel to the fixture; tack it or weld its full circumference in the fixture if TIG welding. Do not remove the seat tube from the fixture at this point.
4. Install blueprinted head tube in the fixture.
5. Miter, prep, and check top tube fit in fixture.
6. Miter, prep, and check down tube fit in the fixture.
7. If the DT & TT fitment are correct, tack them in place. If TIG welding, weld however much you feel comfortable with. Rotate the fixture to allow you to weld as much of the BB shell and DT joint as you can following a proper weld sequence. Do not remove the frame from the fixture at this time.
8. Miter, prep, and check chainstay fit on BB shell in fixture.
9. If chainstays are correct, tack them in place. Install any bridging if you have not already done so. If TIG welding, feel free to weld them in the fixture.
10. Remove the frame from the fixture. You will install the seat stays later.
11. Finish brazing out of the fixture or, if tig welding, finish welding any remaining joints using a proper weld sequence.
12. Chase & face BB; ream & face head tube.
13. Check frame alignment.
Here’s the key: it is easy to align any conventional frame that NEEDS* it as long as the seat stays are not installed. If you have head tube twist or if the seat tube and the head tube are not parallel with each other, it is easy to correct now. Same with chainstays. Spacing, parallelism, and centerline are easily corrected without the seat stays installed. Once you install the seat stays, everything you do to align a frame gets a lot harder as the stays communicate any adjustments to the dropouts. If you remove the frame to check alignment before brazing/welding has been finished, you’re just chasing your tail. This is especially true at the bottom bracket since any heat application warps the BB faces and flipping the frame on an alignment table doesn't mean squat because the faces may not be warped symmetrically. You might get lucky, but that's what it is. BTW, Witch wanding or apply soft heat on steel frames in certain areas of the frame is a better way of bringing a frame into alignment than cold setting.
14. Once the frame has been aligned to your satisfaction, put it back into the fixture and lock it down.
15. Miter, prep, and check seat stay fit.
16. If seat stays are correct, tack or weld them out.
17. Check final alignment.
Note: I make it a point to install any braze-ons BEFORE I miter the tubes if possible and certainly before I install the affected tube in the fixture. Braze-ons will distort the tubing and it can make your life miserable doing it after the frame is built because it can affect your alignment.
*you as the builder determines what needs alignment to meet your own specs and what doesn't.
Don, thanks for your many contributions to framebuilding. When you've got something to say I listen carefully. I think your perspective and knowledge as a machinist really adds something to the dialogue and elevates the conversation. Your style, craftsmanship, knowledge, creativity, pragmatism are all reflected in your excellent work (bikes, fixtures, and even your writing/dialogue.)
Thanks for the great tools. I enjoy and appreciate them each time I use them, and thanks for your advice along the way.
Caletti Cycles - www.caletticycles.com
Thanks for the great fork fixture. It's the best. Not because it's black, shiny and I own one. But because it's accurate and loads repeatably without too much finessing. Coupled that with the fact that there's ample room for brazing or welding. I've used many other fork fixtures. Yours is the best. I know in the past on the framebuilders' list I championed them quite a bit. Just wanted to put in another plug for Ferris' Fine Fork Fixtures.
Now a question- Ginger or MaryAnn?