Shop Improvement Surge

Over the last few months, while building a few frames, I have conducted a shop improvement surge of sorts and I completed all the goals I set forth.  I have made a personal pact to not move any machines or procure anything new for at least 3 months to flush out the new system and really try to dial it in.  While I still maintain the engineering job during the day I have been outfitting and designing my shop over the last 5 years such that, when the orders reach a certain threshold, I would be able to walk into my shop “the next morning” and be completely outfitted and ready to be a full-time framebuilder & painter. As of yesterday I am 99% there and essentially self-sufficient. I keep a running list of tools I have to borrow or use from Hot Tubes or Mike Zanconato and then, when I stumble upon a very good value on something from the list I attempt to buy it. Here are some pieces I have picked up over the last 2-3 months.

Granite Inspection Table
While killing some time one night in a Manitoba hotel room I found a great 3′ x 4′ x 10″ high quartz inspection table on Long Island (via Craig’s List). I fabricated a bottom bracket post and drilled a 1.5″ hole through the 10″ thick slab. The bottom bracket post is parallel to better than 0.0001″ and the granite is Grade A last calibrated in January to 0.0001″. Through a shipping accident I received the granite/stand and shipping for free.

Anvil Brake Boss Jig
I purchased Aaron Hayes’ (Courage Cycles) BBG jig while I was out in Portland on business. Very gently used.

Bench Vise
A classic case of “they don’t make them like they used to”. Found at an antique shop in Maine for $5.

Wall Wheel Rack
After years of having the wheels I use during building just getting moved from random spot on the floor to random spot on the floor I build a wall rack using Thule Wheel-Ons. There is a road front, road rear, track/fixed rear, cross rear and mtb rear.

Anvil Main Tube Mitering Jig
I was using a setup a designed and cobbled together a couple years ago when I first started to outfit my shop. This a huge improvement in many respects, most notably clamping on v-blocks to maintain centerline height. This was purchased from Drew at Engin Cycles as he transitioned to a Sputnik system. I was able to sell my system to a framebuilder in the PNW who didn’t have a setup at all. I was able to get the unit at a very good price and three framebuilders got what they wanted.

BikeCAD Software
I may have been using a friend’s copy of BikeCAD more than I should have, and I finally decided enough was enough, so I finally ponied up for the software I should have but years ago.

CK130 TIG Welding Torch with Gas Saver
Per Carl Stong’s recommendation I upgraded my TIG torch to a lighter unit, with a better hose. During my research I also noticed they have a proprietary gas lens system called the Gas Saver. The new setup is perfect and the Gas Saver provides better purge while using 40% less argon; amazing!

Fireproof Paint Cabinet
A necessity to have your paint booth setup approved by the town Building Inspector and just good practice in general. I was able to procure this for free.

Also in this picture is the new location for my Anvil Journeyman Frame Fixture on the welding table.

Air Dryer
This is the primary air drying unit I use and I finally plumbed it in. My step-father helped troubleshoot the electrical issues. I got it for free from a neighbor in my building because it didn’t work. Dave’s reputation is being able to fix anything, and he didn’t disappoint. I re-plumbed it completely with copper.

Dry Air Manifold in Paint Booth
These are the 2nd and 3rd driers in my system to provide the cleanest and driest air possible to my paint gun and airbrush. This is my first copper work and I must say that it is quite enjoyable and gratifying to see something manifest so quickly.

Painting Mask
A fresh air full-face paint mask. Conventional respirators really just don’t cut it (as I found out).

Paint Booth Filtration
I contracted with a local sheet metal business to add the duct work and filtration system to my paint booth. Additionally they installed a drywall floor (fireproof) with a galvanized metal sheet on top.

Because of my eBay sale (9 days left a few open spots left) I have plenty of bikes in the queue and now it’s time to build and paint!

Thanks for reading.


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