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Thread: Strong Frames

  1. #41
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    Default Re: Strong Frames

    Quote Originally Posted by Curt Goodrich View Post
    Carl,

    There was a time you did powder in-house. Now you don't. Why? If you were to create a signature frame style and/or color scheme what what it be?
    Hi Curt, the main reason I quit powder coating in-house was that cost of the equipment, space and time exceeded what I could have someone else do it for. I also get better results from my supplier (Spectrum). I can use the time saved to build frames which is what I do best and I enjoy Framebuilding a lot more than finishing.

    I've been thinking a lot about a "Signature" paint scheme and I'm not sure on it yet but I know it will include Silver or white and black and red. For some reason I'm really attracted to the white, black and red combo which I know is overused right now but they are my company colors and I'll be using them long after they go out of style. I also like clean and simple designs so I'll probably do something with very little in terms of graphics.
    Carl Strong
    Strong Frames Inc.
    www.strongframes.com

  2. #42
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    Default Re: Strong Frames

    Quote Originally Posted by hampco View Post
    Carl,

    Boxers or briefs?

    Bestest socks?

    And who is YOUR favorite framebuilder?

    sh
    Hey Steve, I'll be coming through Seattle in June, I'll let you know when I have a schedule so we can get together.

    Boxers or briefs?

    Tighty whities

    Bestest socks?

    Pearl Izumi

    And who is YOUR favorite framebuilder?

    That's a tough one, I'd say I don't have any single favorite but here are some I like and the reasons. Sacha White for his style, Dave Kirk because he's so damn cleaver, Richard Sachs because he's a brand genius, Erik Rolf because I taught him everything he knows, Mike De Salvo because he calls me very week to shoot the breeze and you because your from Seattle and Seattle Rocks!
    Carl Strong
    Strong Frames Inc.
    www.strongframes.com

  3. #43
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    Default Re: Strong Frames

    Quote Originally Posted by Carl S View Post
    Hey Dave, thanks for the questions.

    If I had to say one thing in particular that jumps out as a practice I think the newer builders place to much emphasis on it would that all the newer builders seem to want to separate themselves with the more obvious embellishments. I think our products need to reflect who we are and in many case the embellishments may be what we're about but I think many young builders do it because they think they need to and they are trying prove their chops. It may be that's just what we have to do in the beginning and I'm not criticizing it but I think there is a lot more to framebuilding than curly cues.

    The other thing I think new builders place to much emphasis on is tools and equipment. As you know Dave, hardly any equipment is need to build a frame, all those cool tools,jigs and fixtures are meant to speed the process which until you have a good back log makes little difference. Ideally I think it should be business revenue that funds purchases as the business grows rather than loans or investments of personable money. I also think builders that graduate to the good stuff too soon miss a great opportunity to develop their skills.

    What do newish builders place too little emphasis on? I'm not sure I see anything glaring at me but I do think it's important to remember that as a professional builder you have two jobs. One is as a Framebuilder and the other a business owner. I think they both deserve equal effort and if I notice anything it's that in a lot of cases most of the emphasis is on the Framebuilding and not enough on business.
    Thanks - that makes good sense and I think your words/thoughts/ideas would benefit builders both new and old.

    Dave
    D. Kirk
    Kirk Frameworks Co.
    www.kirkframeworks.com


  4. #44
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    Default Re: Strong Frames

    Hey Carl,

    I really appreciate your thread and overall insight.

    What is it about tig welding that gets you really excited? You seem to have a real passion for it and I understand the path you took from mig and stick to meeting up with Gary Helfrich (a real master in many ways), etc., but I don't understand the allure of tig welding. While I'm sure this is just me I would really be interested in hearing about the passionate side of the equation. It obviously exists for you.

    Additionally I understand that the TFC has long term goals to ensure the continued success of the small framebuilder but I'm wondering if you can speak to any of the short term goals that the TFC may be undertaking to further the development of framebuilding as a craft along with sustainable framebuilders in business.

    Thanks,

    Conor

  5. #45
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    Default Re: Strong Frames

    Quote Originally Posted by conorb View Post
    Hey Carl,

    I really appreciate your thread and overall insight.

    What is it about tig welding that gets you really excited? You seem to have a real passion for it and I understand the path you took from mig and stick to meeting up with Gary Helfrich (a real master in many ways), etc., but I don't understand the allure of tig welding. While I'm sure this is just me I would really be interested in hearing about the passionate side of the equation. It obviously exists for you.

    Additionally I understand that the TFC has long term goals to ensure the continued success of the small framebuilder but I'm wondering if you can speak to any of the short term goals that the TFC may be undertaking to further the development of framebuilding as a craft along with sustainable framebuilders in business.

    Thanks,

    Conor
    I Conor, great questions. I'll start with TIG. I think our personalties have a lot to do with the types of frames we build. For me I found the honesty and flexibility of TIG intriguing. With TIG you get what you put down, there is no finish work going on top of it, you get one shot at it and it happens pretty fast. It's also very challenging to learn to do it well. It requires very fine motor skills and until you are good it is very obvious that you aren't. I also like it's flexibility. As I've talked about earlier in the thread, I'm very interested in material. TIG is the only practical way you can build with steel as well as titanium and aluminum. You are also not restricted to frame specs and tube shape as you are with lugs.

    Currently the TFC's short term goals are our long term goals, meaning we are doing now everything we propose to do over the long term. Many of us currently mentor other builders either formally in-house as I do with Erik or in an advisory capacity, over the phone and everything in between. Several members also currently work toward the continued development and supply of raw material's producing and making available lug-sets as well as tubes, tools and parts. We've also make ourselves available on this board and others and as you know Richard is responsible for this section, FNL and the framebuilder section . Finally a couple of us do seminars at NAHBS and will continue to. We also have a couple plans we are working on and as soon as we're ready we'll make sure everyone knows.
    Carl Strong
    Strong Frames Inc.
    www.strongframes.com

  6. #46
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    Default Re: Strong Frames

    Hey Carl,

    What do you think is the best way to get started with frame building? I've taken a class on TIG welding already but other than that, I feel as though I am not sure of what step to take next. I may take a frame building class next year at UBI, but what should I do now to get introduced? I don't have many tools to work with and have nobody to help guide me. I could try reading something like the Paterek manual but I know I won't get as good results as if an experienced frame builder were next to me. Essentially, I'm trying to figure out what should I do now?

    Thanks,

    Brandon
     

  7. #47
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    Default Re: Strong Frames

    Quote Originally Posted by BrandonC View Post
    Hey Carl,

    What do you think is the best way to get started with frame building? I've taken a class on TIG welding already but other than that, I feel as though I am not sure of what step to take next. I may take a frame building class next year at UBI, but what should I do now to get introduced? I don't have many tools to work with and have nobody to help guide me. I could try reading something like the Paterek manual but I know I won't get as good results as if an experienced frame builder were next to me. Essentially, I'm trying to figure out what should I do now?

    Thanks,

    Brandon
    Hi Brandon, I'd start by exhausting every resource on the Internet. You are off to a good start right now. You should seek out and find every single framebuilding site that there is. Go to all the builder sites and read the builders bios, follow their blogs. Go to supplier sites, distributors, tube manufactures, tool makers. Visit this site every day and all the other bike boards. It will take a lot of time and research but when you are done, you will have the answer to your question.
    Carl Strong
    Strong Frames Inc.
    www.strongframes.com

  8. #48
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    Default Re: Strong Frames

    Carl,

    Will you write a bit about your approach to marketing your business? I think your website is amazing and remember watching your first webisode and thinking, "Wow,this guy is definately going to be on my radar next time I buy a bike"! Three questions:

    1. Did you develop a long-range marketing plan, or did it evolve a little bit at a time? Not only do you have a killer website, but I see that you also have a solid presence using social media like Facebook.

    2. How do you measure the success of your marketing efforts relative to the time and money you put into it?

    3. How much personal time do you devote to marketing each week, and does this take away from your core business?

    Thanks,
    Steve
     

  9. #49
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    Default Re: Strong Frames

    Couple questions:
    1. Do you wear adidas sandals in the winter and at formal events and why wear the socks with them?
    2. You have so many cool old skool tools at the shop, which is your favorite (shop tool or not)?
    3. When are you going to write a book about the business of framebuilding?
     

  10. #50
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    Default Re: Strong Frames

    Quote Originally Posted by steve d View Post
    Carl,

    Will you write a bit about your approach to marketing your business? I think your website is amazing and remember watching your first webisode and thinking, "Wow,this guy is definately going to be on my radar next time I buy a bike"! Three questions:

    1. Did you develop a long-range marketing plan, or did it evolve a little bit at a time? Not only do you have a killer website, but I see that you also have a solid presence using social media like Facebook.

    2. How do you measure the success of your marketing efforts relative to the time and money you put into it?

    3. How much personal time do you devote to marketing each week, and does this take away from your core business?

    Thanks,
    Steve
    Hi Steve, thanks for the complimnet on my site, it's my baby.

    1. In the beginning I developed a long range marketing plan as a component of my business plan. It was pretty detailed but unfortunately I didn't really know what I was doing so it wasn't very effective. As I continued along I learned where money was well spent and where it wasn't. One thing to remember is that when you are new you need to work really hard to get people to know you. Now that I've been around a while it seems I'm pretty well known. These days my marketing plan includes NAHBS writing my blog which feeds to my Facebook and Twitter accounts and a lot of happy customers that really work to spread the word which I back it up with a good site, fast email replies and friendly phone demeanor.

    2. I don't really measure the success of my marketing efforts, I don't really spend much money on marketing. I focus my efforts on creative ways to generate interest and excitement that don't cost money. My site is nearly free, I've had it for more than 15 years and the cost is primarily time and the occasional remodel and development. Otherwise NAHBS is my only expense and I believe I owe it to myself and Framebuilding in general to attend and the results easily pay for the expense.

    3. I spend about 10 hours a week on marketing and consider it part of my core business. I've scheduled it into my routine and I'm sure If I stopped my business would suffer. Marketing is an ongoing process with no end and you can't just throw money at it, you need to create the content no matter what the medium is and that takes commitment and work.
    Carl Strong
    Strong Frames Inc.
    www.strongframes.com

  11. #51
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    Default Re: Strong Frames

    Quote Originally Posted by theckeler View Post
    Couple questions:
    1. Do you wear adidas sandals in the winter and at formal events and why wear the socks with them?
    2. You have so many cool old skool tools at the shop, which is your favorite (shop tool or not)?
    3. When are you going to write a book about the business of framebuilding?
    Oh Todd, I should have known I'd see you here.

    1. Sandals only in the Summer, sock because I think my feet are ugly. I get teased by anyone under 30 but I'm OK with it.

    2. My alignment plate. It has a ton of history and it's just plain bad ass.

    3. Maybe soon, I was thinking of putting a infomercial on late night TV and selling it for a lot of money. My ad line will be "Make money from your home with nothing more than a computer".
    Carl Strong
    Strong Frames Inc.
    www.strongframes.com

  12. #52
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    Default Re: Strong Frames

    brilliant as always. (loretta too)

    alrighty then, i understand your passion and history wrt bicycles/frames/bikeshops, but i'm curious as to whether or not you have always been so efficient, meticulous, and measured?

    or did it develop as a natural progression of life and self-improvement?

    *will continue my side of this one when my turn (yes i'm taking one) comes up.






  13. #53
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    Default Re: Strong Frames

    Quote Originally Posted by Carl S View Post
    I Conor, great questions. I'll start with TIG. I think our personalties have a lot to do with the types of frames we build. For me I found the honesty and flexibility of TIG intriguing. With TIG you get what you put down, there is no finish work going on top of it, you get one shot at it and it happens pretty fast. It's also very challenging to learn to do it well. It requires very fine motor skills and until you are good it is very obvious that you aren't. I also like it's flexibility. As I've talked about earlier in the thread, I'm very interested in material. TIG is the only practical way you can build with steel as well as titanium and aluminum. You are also not restricted to frame specs and tube shape as you are with lugs.

    As someone who is experienced with classic lug and brazing framebuilding, I can tell you tig welding is EXTREMELY difficult to learn because unlike brazing, there is no middle ground with tig. It is either done well or it sucks!!

    You can have 95% of a joint done well and blow the last 5% which takes out the whole joint. Also when things go bad, it tends to happen almost instantly. There is a good reason why cats sharpen several tungstens all at once!!!(that is also another skill you have to get down).

    Lugged brazing is like acoustic guitar, you can fluff a note and for the most part it won’t be that noticeable. When you are tigging, you are playing electric and playing LOUD!!

    The reason why I spend so much time "hanging out" at Carl’s site is of course knowledge, (great site) but, also inspiration. Cats like Carl are IMHO, incredible talents who also IMHO, are operating at in most cases, far above the skill set of a lot of "classic style" builders. He has elevated this very difficult form of fabrication to an art form.

    Back when I built my first frames, Dave Moulton, Tom Ritchey, (Mr. fillet braze), and Richard Sachs were the "heavy hitters" that I looked to see what was up. Today, for me, it's Carl Strong, Don Ferris, and Drew Guldalian, as the premier tungsten wielders, that I examine, to make sure my tig work gets taken care of the way I feel it needs to be!!
     

  14. #54
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    Default Re: Strong Frames

    This has been a great read Carl, thanks for contributing to the greater good, as always.

    I'd love to sit in on your NAHBS seminars, because frankly, as someone who has (by pure necessity more than anything else) utilised way too many US based framebuilders as contractors, I generally find that there's not a lack of mechanical skill amongst most of the contractors we've used, there's ineptitude in other aspects that in some ways are just as important as sticking 8 tubes together that have been dealbreakers for us (and will through flow-on effect have the same results with retail customers.)

    Your generosity in talking about how you scaled your business up, then down, and educating other people who work with their hands on the importance of the other side of the business is a fantastic resource that should not be underestimated.
    FRAMEBUILDING PARTS FOR SALE!

  15. #55
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    Default Re: Strong Frames

    Quote Originally Posted by WadePatton View Post
    brilliant as always. (loretta too)

    alrighty then, i understand your passion and history wrt bicycles/frames/bikeshops, but i'm curious as to whether or not you have always been so efficient, meticulous, and measured?

    or did it develop as a natural progression of life and self-improvement?

    *will continue my side of this one when my turn (yes i'm taking one) comes up.
    Thanks Wade!!

    I don't recall always being so organized or efficient but I have always been a neat freak. When I was in High School and starting to learn auto mechanics I was terribly messy and I learned pretty quickly that looking for tools will really slow you down. As in any small business you need to squeeze every ounce of efficiency out of the operation. As Strong Frames developed I had to get organized or it could jeopardize my ability to fulfill my obligations in a timely matter as well as waste a ton of money. So to answer your question, I think the basic personality trait was there but I had to work hard to develop it. Also in all fairness, I have to point out that Loretta is the one that is really organized and when she came along she really up'd our game. She doesn't mess around and I make sure to toe the line.
    Carl Strong
    Strong Frames Inc.
    www.strongframes.com

  16. #56
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    Default Re: Strong Frames

    Quote Originally Posted by Proparc View Post
    As someone who is experienced with classic lug and brazing framebuilding, I can tell you tig welding is EXTREMELY difficult to learn because unlike brazing, there is no middle ground with tig. It is either done well or it sucks!!

    You can have 95% of a joint done well and blow the last 5% which takes out the whole joint. Also when things go bad, it tends to happen almost instantly. There is a good reason why cats sharpen several tungstens all at once!!!(that is also another skill you have to get down).

    Lugged brazing is like acoustic guitar, you can fluff a note and for the most part it won’t be that noticeable. When you are tigging, you are playing electric and playing LOUD!!

    The reason why I spend so much time "hanging out" at Carl’s site is of course knowledge, (great site) but, also inspiration. Cats like Carl are IMHO, incredible talents who also IMHO, are operating at in most cases, far above the skill set of a lot of "classic style" builders. He has elevated this very difficult form of fabrication to an art form.

    Back when I built my first frames, Dave Moulton, Tom Ritchey, (Mr. fillet braze), and Richard Sachs were the "heavy hitters" that I looked to see what was up. Today, for me, it's Carl Strong, Don Ferris, and Drew Guldalian, as the premier tungsten wielders, that I examine, to make sure my tig work gets taken care of the way I feel it needs to be!!
    Thanks for the compliments. Compared the "heavy hitters" you mention I'm pretty green but it's a never ending learning curve and I plan t keep at it for many years to come.
    Carl Strong
    Strong Frames Inc.
    www.strongframes.com

  17. #57
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    Default Re: Strong Frames

    Quote Originally Posted by Thylacine Cycles View Post
    This has been a great read Carl, thanks for contributing to the greater good, as always.

    I'd love to sit in on your NAHBS seminars, because frankly, as someone who has (by pure necessity more than anything else) utilised way too many US based framebuilders as contractors, I generally find that there's not a lack of mechanical skill amongst most of the contractors we've used, there's ineptitude in other aspects that in some ways are just as important as sticking 8 tubes together that have been dealbreakers for us (and will through flow-on effect have the same results with retail customers.)

    Your generosity in talking about how you scaled your business up, then down, and educating other people who work with their hands on the importance of the other side of the business is a fantastic resource that should not be underestimated.
    Thanks Warwick! I hope you have somebody that's working out for you now. I know it's difficult. It's surprising that builders who can be incredibly talented craftsman can overlook one of the easiest parts of the business "do what you say you're gonna do when you say your gonna do it".
    Carl Strong
    Strong Frames Inc.
    www.strongframes.com

  18. #58
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    Default Re: Strong Frames

    Several more for you Carl.

    I know several framebuilders who don't have great communication. Rather, once they get an order for a bike, they will halt all communications with the customer until the frame is done, usually several months later, even if the customer shoots the builder a question a while after the initial order was taken place. What is your opinion on this?

    I plan on starting my first frame this summer. Do you recommend I use TIG or lugs? When you worked on your very first frame, which did you do? And did you hand miter the tubes? How'd you work with alignment? How confident were you leading up to the first frame and what went wrong? Right?

    Thanks for being patient and understanding. You're awesome.

    Brandon
     

  19. #59
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    Default Re: Strong Frames

    Quote Originally Posted by BrandonC View Post
    Several more for you Carl.

    I know several framebuilders who don't have great communication. Rather, once they get an order for a bike, they will halt all communications with the customer until the frame is done, usually several months later, even if the customer shoots the builder a question a while after the initial order was taken place. What is your opinion on this?

    I plan on starting my first frame this summer. Do you recommend I use TIG or lugs? When you worked on your very first frame, which did you do? And did you hand miter the tubes? How'd you work with alignment? How confident were you leading up to the first frame and what went wrong? Right?

    Thanks for being patient and understanding. You're awesome.

    Brandon
    Nice questions Brandon. First let me address communication. I think once you start a relationship with a customer you owe it to them to alway respond promptly to any communications. It's just good social skills. That being said I think most builders prefer to leave all design and decision making until they are ready to start the frame so a customer may not hear from them throughout the period when they are moving up in the queue. I'm a little different in that I like to start the design process immediately after I get a deposit. That allows me to break the decision making process into small bites that are usually more comfortable for the customer and it also keeps us both engaged.

    I can't recommend you build your first frame one way or another. It really depends on what method speaks to you. I'd use whatever joining technique will yield the frame that you want.

    when I started my fist several frames were TIG but I also built a lot of lugged and fillet frames early on. Roughly the first 100 frames were hand mitered and I was probably at around 500 before I started using a machine for seatstays. In the beginning I use a solid core door and v-blocks to fixture the frame and I checked alignment with a Park FSR-1 bike stand.

    Leading up to my first frame I didn't really think about it or plan much. I just bought a tubeset from the local bike shop and built it. There was no Internet and I didn't have the abundance of information to sort through. I think in that sense ignorance is bliss. I just looked at building the frame the same way I'd approach building anything else and I'd been building things sense Jr. High. It wasn't until I had built a couple dozen frames that I really started to explore the nuance.
    Carl Strong
    Strong Frames Inc.
    www.strongframes.com

  20. #60
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    Default Re: Strong Frames

    You have an apprentice. How did you go about picking one from the many that most approach you?

    Do you have an apprentice just so you can have a really bad hair day at some point and look across the table and bark out "you're fired"?


    dave
    D. Kirk
    Kirk Frameworks Co.
    www.kirkframeworks.com


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