Tuesday, July 28, 2009

Field Trip: Neon Williams: 01

Yesterday we took a little field trip (by little I mean across the parking lot) to our neighbors at Neon Williams Inc. They are in the process of making us a neon Indy Fab sign and needed to talk about the final details. (I would link to their website if they had one)
Like us, everything they do is custom. They make signs for just about everything: barber shops, palm readers, bars, and even helium inspection lights for the automotive industry.
Like us they are tube slingers... They have an inventory of tubing from all over the world.
They have been at this forever, many of their devices and wall charts are as relevant today as they were years ago.
...and they were built to last.

For each sign they make a custom blend of gasses.... it's not just neon in the tubes, they use other gasses like helium and argon as well. We also use argon to purge our frames during the welding process.
For me, it is just nice to see a place where things are made, the tools, the devices, the techniques all add to the magic of these handmade signs. Neon sign making is becoming a lost art, just like most manufacturing in the USA. I was told that Neon Williams Inc. had a total of 17 work stations, they are now down to 2.
If you work in a shop or have a home shop area, then you know about the little bins that accumulate handy goodies that you just can't throw out.... I think I spotted one....

The tabletops were covered in canvas and seasoned with years of drawings and burn marks.
One of the brothers gave me a demo. He was working on some helium inspection lights for the automotive industry. He explained why they used helium.... something about the wavelength, I must admit that I became mesmerized by the flame and the bending of the tube and didn't retain the information.
After heating the tubing he has about 15 seconds to get the glass into shape.
They are good.... real good.

Look for future installments of Neon Williams.

I will try to snap some shots of our sign being made......

Friday, July 24, 2009

Bikes, The Planet, and Good Friends: 03

Part three in our series of bikes and friends, and this one is all about the planet. No healthy planet, no wild places to ride... we all lose. My good friend and former colleague, Terry Kellogg, is the Executive Director of One Percent for the Planet. Founded by Patagonia founder, Yvon Chouinard, One Percent for the Planet is a simple concept; members give 1% of their gross revenue to the organization, and they see that it gets to grass roots environmental organizations that are making a difference right now.
Terry moved the family up to Vermont, where he can enjoy sweet single-track on his lunch break. Now being the head of a non-profit is noble and all, but it doesn't exactly make you rich. Well, one day TK and I were chatting, and he mentioned that he'd love to get a new 29'er, but that he had a pretty tight budget.

We'd just gotten this beauty back from a customer that wanted to run a Fox fork, and Fox had changed their fork crown without us being on top of the change, so the fork would not clear the down tube. Our bad (it's tough being a small builder and keeping up with all of the changes to components), so we updated our gauges to reflect the new Fox design, and built the customer a new frame.

So in the lemons to lemonade mode, I told Terry that if he wanted to run a RockShox Reba, I could cut him the deal of the century.

IF sterling silver headbadge, Chris King sotto voce head set. What IF, we all rode bikes a bit more, and drove a bit less?
A combination of bomber Shimano XT and XTR components, along with slider drop-outs should TK ever get religion and convert her to a single-speed.
Nice curves! Ride it well TK and thanks for making up for the rest of us eco-sinners.

Bikes, Bars, and Good Friends: 02

Second in a series of bikes and friends, this one is about Big Red and ProBars (bet you were thinking this post was about a different kind of bar). Jules Lambert, fearless leader of ProBar, is a good friend, and friends don't let friends ride mass-produced bikes. So, Jules sold his existing bike, and Big Red was born, or I should say re-born. Big Red was a woopsie for another customer, destined for a lonely life in the Land of Mis-fit Toys here at IF, until we discovered that she was a perfect fit for Jules. Gotta love it when that happens.

Many hours of hand sanding and a beautiful Corsa Red paint job later, and Big Red is on her way to ProBar's HQ in Utah, home of the most delicious, organic, unprocessed food that you can eat. I keep trying to get them to make a t-shirt that says "Not Baked!" to promote the whole food goodness of the product, but so far, no luck. Available in twelve amazing flavors (my personal fav is Koka-Moka), they are the perfect meal replacement for on or off the bike.
Lazer cut ti lugs, SRAM Red drivetrain, Mavic Ksyrium Premium wheels, and Deda bar, stem and post to complete her ensemble.
Big Red showing some leg. Ride it well Jules-man, and send more ProBars, this crew can throw down the whole food deliciousness!

Bikes, Music, and Good Friends: 01

It's great when you can dance at the intersection of many good things. You all know that we get to play with bikes here at IF, and nothing goes better with bikes than good music. One of my best friends happens to be an accomplished musician. Roger Clyne was the front man for the successful late 90's band the Refreshments, and has seen continued success as an independent music pioneer for over a decade, producing records and touring as Roger Clyne and the Peacemakers. Roger walked away from the major label side of the music business to do things on his own terms, and he inspired me to do the same by leaving my executive career to join Indy Fab.

As repayment for the encouragement, I wanted to make him a bike that reflected his personality and lifestyle. Roger lives in Arizona and often finds himself south of the Mexican border... sailing, fishing, writing music and frequenting the local cantina by the sea in Cholla Bay. The roads are rough, but the living is easy.

The perfect bike for Cholla Bay, or life in and out of a touring bus? A ti Planet Cross, complete with a side mounted, water-proof guitar case and a paint scheme inspired by his first album.
The man himself was in town last week to play a Boston Harbor booze cruise gig, so we took the opportunity to shoot a few photos. No stranger to the camera, he could hardly contain himself when he saw the steed in person.
She's a full on cross racing thoroughbred, despite her primary role as a cantina cruiser and tour stop de-compression tool. Shot-peened 3-2.5 titanium, Alpha Q carbon CX-20 cross fork, SRAM Rival drivetrain, and Mavic Ksyrium Elite wheels, but a few aesthetic nods to go along with the WWII airplane theme inspired by the Refreshment's first album cover; brown leather Brooks bar tape and B-17 saddle (hey, the B-17 was a WWII bomber, coincidence?).
The guitar case features a matching paint scheme, complete with girly nose-art, "kill" symbols for each of Roger's Refreshments and Peacemakers albums, and a USAF logo that replaces the star with the Peacemakers glyph symbol.
Tyler dug deep into his special ops bag of tricks to fabricate this custom titanium fixture which mounts the guitar case securely to the bike. He even incorporated an S&S coupler to quickly disconnect the fixture.

The sterling silver headbadge looks resplendent against the Corsa red head tube paint . Phil and Paul keep using that word resplendent in their coverage of the Tour de France, so I thought that I'd slide it in here.
Nothing like being the captain of your own ship.
Ride it well, amigo...
Don't forget to support your favorite indie artists. Music makes the wheels go around.

Thursday, July 23, 2009

Recent VeloVisitors

Recently we had some friends come by and visit. I just thought it would be nice to share their perspectives. The local queen of the sexy cycling blog Pedal-Strike (click here for her visit) came by with some of her friends from one of our New York City shops NYC Velo.
Our main man Jeremy from Embrocation Magazine and Rapha came by twice recently. Once for each of his duties.... Once for his Embrocation Blog (click here for his Embrovisit).
And once again for the Rapha Blog.... (click here for the Raphavisit).

Wednesday, July 22, 2009

The Carbon Cell

Carbon fiber Corvid lugs are being cleaned up on the downdraft table above. Each lug is individually prepped for each custom frame.
This is our new do-all carbon fiber cutting machine... dubbed: "The Horizontal Plow" by Sputnik Tool. It has various modular parts that plug in to miter each tube.
Below is a close up of one of the diamond tipped hole saws that we use for plowing through the carbon fiber tubing.
Each lug is made for an individual build. Inside the lugs you can see the name of the end customer that it is intended for.
We are building a couple here... one for Spinelli and one for Wolfson.
Until we get the dust collector hooked up Jamie miters the tubes (below) and sucks the dust away with a shop vac outfitted with a fine particulates dust filter inside.

The tubes are fit up in the jig before the lugs are put on. This ensures that straight alignment, exact geometry and maximum bond surface....
The two piece dropouts are welded together in our welding department and are part of a sub assembly that ensures a good wheel check.
Before bonding the frame together it is dry fit and inspected (more like drooled on) by Sparky (Wolfson)... this is the bike from a couple of posts ago... Radly.

Saturday, July 18, 2009

IFracing Stable

I couldn't resist grabbing these pictures from the IFracing site and sharing.
The bikes just look so pro all lined up like this.
....like a team.