Archive for November, 2009

Step: Basic Research

Friday, November 27th, 2009

Research BooksIn my experience, research is not a particularly fun job for most people.  Oddly, I really enjoy research of all kinds.

For most, the product design stage is a lot more fun, even the testing phase can be a lot of fun—particularly if the test involves test riding.  But, basic research is often a bit of snooze for “kids these days”—this MTV generation loves to get to the end point as fast as possible:  destination is all; the journey is a bit like bad wrapping paper.

It’s true that research takes a lot of time and can be frustrating; there’s no simple, clear, and universally correct way to do fundamental research. Often the way forward is a series of dead-ends and mistakes; and, more often than not, the results of research do not lead to a new product or process.

Fortunately, a lot of learning goes on during the mistakes and missteps.  In fact, isn’t that how most learning occurs? At least, that’s what I tell myself when I’m making my moment by moment mistakes.

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Happy Thanksgiving

Thursday, November 26th, 2009
Giving of thanks with donuts

Giving of thanks with donuts

From then Seven Cycles Collaborative:  Happy Thanksgiving—or happiness during whatever you do on this likely day off.

Not much happening on the Collaborative today, other than eating.

The customary thank-you-giving in the Seven Cycles universe often includes donuts—and an occasional beer.  These donuts are from yesterday—some employees brought in multiple boxes of donuts.  Lots for which to be thankful.

Fork Design: Step One

Wednesday, November 25th, 2009

As this project progresses, the bike’s fork has been coming up more and more.  It’s become clear that we can’t work on the frame design without the fork getting in the way.  Here is a super brief summary of how we ended up talking fork design.

First, we discussed, “What is a frame?” Many people, including the team at Seven Cycles, consider a frame to include a fork—often referred to as a “frameset”.  Seven feels strongly enough about this idea that we have been building our own carbon fiber forks for many years.  We tailor the fork for the frame.  So, on this Collaborative project, it was an easy conclusion to reach—we’ll make a fork to match the lugged steel frame.  Easy conclusions can be dangerous because easy and right are so often at opposite ends of the decision scale.

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Why Fatigue Testing?

Wednesday, November 25th, 2009
Seven's fatigue testing machine

Seven's fatigue testing machine

What’s the deal with all this talk about fatigue testing?  Why has Seven Cycles brought this topic up a few times already in the Collaborative journal?  Who cares?

I’ll provide a few quick reasons why testing for Seven is so important:

  • Barely any bike companies or suppliers do fatigue testing
  • Proof?  Try a Google search
  • It takes a lot of time and tenacity
  • Everything is subordinate to safety

First Up:  Barely Any Bike Companies Do Fatigue Testing

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Brazing Clinic

Tuesday, November 24th, 2009
Brazing the first lug at the clinic

Brazing the first lug at the clinic

This evening we had our brazing clinic at Seven Cycles.  I have video that I’m trying to get posted but it’s being a drag.  So, just a couple photos for now.

During the meeting we reviewed some of the elements on which we’re focusing—see the previous post—and then we watched Yoshi Nishikawa braze a frame joint.  Yoshi’s done a lot of lugged steel brazing over the years so he was a good person to watch.  And Tim Delaney was the commentator—with 30 years of brazing under his belt—so he was perfect for explaining what was going on.  There was a lot going on during brazing so it was impossible to cover all the bases in one clinic.

Throughout the Collaborative it’s been fun to have this large group of people with very different backgrounds.  A great example of this diversity was in the brazing clinic.  We had lots of questions, ranging from, “Why would we use one brazing alloy over another alloy?” to, “What’s flux?” We’ll try to answer those questions at some point.

Explaining how the process works is possible in a few short words.  At a very high level, here are the steps:

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Elements of a Lugged Frame Joint

Monday, November 23rd, 2009

A brazing station

A brazing station

Just as we deconstructed a typical lugged steel frame last week, we’ve started deconstructing each element of a lugged joint. The primary aspects on which we’re studying include:

  • The Lug: including type, shape, material, finish, tolerances, etc.
  • The Tube: material alloy, surface finish, diameter, wall, etc.
  • The Brazing Material: including alloy, base metal, and material preparation
  • The Surface: including preparation, treatment, surface grain, etc.
  • The Flux: what type, environmental factors, application, timing, etc.
  • The Process: including elements of time, temperature, mixture, fixture, etc.
  • Environmental Elements: including temperature, humidity, circulation, etc.
  • Component’s Interfaces: tolerances, cleanliness, etc.
  • Artisan Variables: inherent variability of the individual one-at-a-time process we do

Tonight we’re going to do an overview clinic and then tomorrow we’re onto diving into each element of the above. Bringing a snorkel. I’ll post the testing matrix soon.

Tonight we’re going to do an overview clinic and then tomorrow we’re onto diving into each element of the above. Bringing a snorkel. I’ll post the testing matrix soon.as we deconstructed a typical lugged steel frame last week, we’ve started deconstructing each element of a lugged joint.  The primary aspects on which we’re studying include:
The Lug:  including type, shape, material, finish, tolerances, etc.
The Tube:  material alloy, surface finish, diameter, wall, etc.
The Brazing Material:  including alloy, base metal, and material preparation
The Surface:  including preparation, treatment, surface grain, etc.
The Flux:  what type, environmental factors, application, timing, etc.
The Process:  including elements of time, temperature, mixture, fixture, etc.
Environmental Elements:  including temperature, humidity, circulation, etc.
Components Interfaces:  tolerances, cleanliness, etc.
Artisan Variables:  inherent variability of the individual one-at-a-time process we do
Tonight we’re going to do an overview clinic and then tomorrow we’re onto diving into each element of the above.  Bringing a snorkel.  I’ll post the testing matrix soonJust as we deconstructed a typical lugged steel frame last week, we’ve started deconstructing each element of a lugged joint.  The primary aspects on which we’re studying include:
The Lug:  including type, shape, material, finish, tolerances, etc.
The Tube:  material alloy, surface finish, diameter, wall, etc.
The Brazing Material:  including alloy, base metal, and material preparation
The Surface:  including preparation, treatment, surface grain, etc.
The Flux:  what type, environmental factors, application, timing, etc.
The Process:  including elements of time, temperature, mixture, fixture, etc.
Environmental Elements:  including temperature, humidity, circulation, etc.
Components Interfaces:  tolerances, cleanliness, etc.
Artisan Variables:  inherent variability of the individual one-at-a-time process we do
Tonight we’re going to do an overview clinic and then tomorrow we’re onto diving into each element of the above.  Bringing a snorkel.  I’ll post the testing matrix soon.

Lug Testing Research

Sunday, November 22nd, 2009
Lots of interesting lugged construction articles--from the 80s.

Lots of interesting lugged construction articles--from the 80s.

I’ve been digging through all my old articles and periodicals for anything that relates to lugged frame construction.   It’s been a while since I read through it all.   Some of the best data I’ve been able to find is from the late 1980s.   Some of the other Colabbers are digging up old articles, too.

In the 100+ pages of reading I haven’t found any good fatigue testing data for lugged steel frame construction.  We’re not done searching but I’m starting to have doubts.  If you’ve seen any, let me know.

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From Open Book Management to Open Workbook

Friday, November 20th, 2009
Now, if someone could just explain all this to me, that'd be great.

Now, if someone could just explain all this to me, that'd be great.

Over the years we’ve done a lot of open book management with the Seven Cycles team.  Even to this day we have an average of six meetings each month where we discuss the business—in all aspects—with every employee at Seven.

When we started this project, having an open book system was so ingrained in our thinking that it was a basic assumption or the CoLab.  We’ve already discussed topics ranging from the cost of labor and materials for a steel frame, the cost of all our meetings, and even the cost of tooling—whether repurposed or not.

Following the “open” state of mind, we also discussed two other “Open” concepts, one of which was an idea we’re calling an open workbook.

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Monday Night Brazing Lights

Friday, November 20th, 2009
Brazing tools of the trade

Brazing tools of the trade

We’re about to have our first hands-on Collaborative clinic:  Seven’s lugged brazing workshop.  Some people here are excited about it.  We’ll post details—maybe even a video if I can get it together.

When we set up the workshop, it was interesting to note the dichotomy between Seven’s lack of lugged construction experience and the extensive experience of some of our employees with lugged construction.

What?

While we’ve been brazing at Seven Cycles since our first day—Seven’s first bikes were steel—we’ve not brazed lugs in production.  However, we have a deep wealth of lugged brazing knowledge within the company.  It was interesting to review—and in some ways, discuss it for the first time—with the team.  Some examples we discussed regarding our experience included:

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Fatigue Testing Fixture in Process

Thursday, November 19th, 2009
Repurposed parts for the lug testing fixture.

Repurposed parts for the lug testing fixture.

We’re in the midst of making the lug fatigue testing fixture.  Seven’s own S.B.—our prototype machinist—is making the fixture as I type.

Here’s a few fun tidbits about the fixture making process at Seven that some we’re interested to learn–after the jump:

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