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Discussion Starter · #1 ·
(sigh)

(bigger sigh)

It's been almost two years now that i've been a part of MTBR, for which i'm truly gratefull to have found. (wipes tear from eye) I these past two years i've changed in some ways and remained the same in others. My resurgence into my first true love, biking, has brought me new friends, new toys and new goals. Goals, now more so that ever, seem to be something I ..... need.

Being mechanically inclined since before I can remember (I still have all the pieces of my fist Tonka - just pieces though - LOL!) and living the life of a machinist since HS and working for a company have brought me into a life I have enjoyed, but something has always been missing. I love making stuff. LOOOOOOOVE it. Give me a chunk of material and a milling machine and stand back - the chips they will fly! However, lately i've been ..... annoyed. Annoyed? Yeah, sure, we'll go with that. Annoyed. My hunger for fabrication has been teased. Some small custom one-off pieces here and there have appeased my appetite, but it's not enough. I ..... need ..... MORE!

Or do I?

What chances does a small-time, wanna-be fabricator have in today's day and age of bikes mountainous? Competition is more fierce that ever - plenty of fabrication is "simply" farmed out overseas to cheap labour, then slapped with a sticker to say "it's ours" and marked-up the ying-yang and ..... there's our profit (ummm, NO offense to fellow fabricators!!!! - lots of respect coming from me). I don't want to farm stuff out - I want to make it. Oh, well that just got more expensive.

I'm not looking to quit my job right now (at least not yet), but I gotta do something to get me outta there. The money is good and partially offsets the BS, but it's a daily struggle. I want to buy a house which I may actually be able to do later this year - probably not if I try to start something like this, full-time or otherwise. So many things i'd love to make and share, yet not enough balls to go full-out (what?!?!?! i'm being HONEST!). I'm not looking to play David and overthrow the Goliaths (well, you never know ..... okay, pipe dream!). There isn't anything I won't try within reason and nothing I don't think I can't learn. Heck, i'd love to learn how to weld and lay 'glass! Ooooooohhh, the possibilities!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! Some of the stuff isn't as much about start-up cost, but that of skill and experience - I have some time to kill. And of course other things ARE about start-up cost ..... well, I have stuff here I wanna sell anyways - the end justifies the means.

What's a guy to do?

Gimme something here. I don't care what, just gimme something.

As always - PATIA!

p.s. - i'm not having a mid-life crisis, am I?????
 

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govt kontrakt projkt mgr
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concentrate on the job that earns dollars.

p.s. since it seems to be a subject you dwell on---yes i'm post whoring. but u? 3000+ posts in only 2 years--wow.

p.s.s or is it pps? --yes u probably are having 1. go ride.

well i'm back to surfing now.

edit--u said u didn't care. just anything--haha

in all seriousness--good luck!
 

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Hey Andrew, as for small boutique builders I met Hugh Black of True North years ago and he's still in business and doing quite well as far as I know. He has certainly built some sweet rides. As any business is, it has probably been a long slow haul. 'Love money' and support (or other financing) is probably crucial. He, like a martial arts freind of mine (Heritage Martial Arts) had business beginnings with the help of parents. Hugh Black began building at his parent's farm; my freind Jamie, whose parents are farmers too, helped Jamie build his dojo. Could they have succeeded otherwise? Probably, but that kind of help is a good thing.

If you want to fabricate, get a tube set, some basic tools, and a torch. It won't cost you too much, and the results may not be pretty, but you've got to start somewhere.

If you are doing what you love getting rich at it doesn't matter.

Drew
 

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Discussion Starter · #4 ·
ArmySlowRdr said:
concentrate on the job that earns dollars.

p.s. since it seems to be a subject you dwell on---yes i'm post whoring. but u? 3000+ posts in only 2 years--wow.

p.s.s or is it pps? --yes u probably are having 1. go ride.

well i'm back to surfing now.

edit--u said u didn't care. just anything--haha

in all seriousness--good luck!
HEY! When did THAT happen? Holy **** - i'm a post whore!!!!!!!!! :madman: I swear someone messed with that - it was below 3K earlier this week. Oh wait, i've been blabbing a lot lately. (shrug) :cool:

HAHAHA! Thanks Pete! As always, you crack me up. :thumbsup:

not an edit - yes, you're right ..... and thanks. Happy surfing!
 

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Discussion Starter · #5 ·
dru said:
If you are doing what you love getting rich at it doesn't matter.

Drew
I hear ya, Drew. Getting "rich" doesn't mean money to us all, but making ends meet ..... i'm sure that's a language we all know too well. (hmm, kinda prolific)

Help form parents - yeah, my Mom rocks. She's good with "the books", too. ;) Kinda handy to have that kind of back-up, if you know what I mean.
 

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Gone riding
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I can feel your frustration Andrew!

It's an extremely hard industry / market to crack. Would you be happy just working within the cycling industry, or do you really want to be on the design side of things too? I have no real idea, but to get started finding work for small time custom frame builders may be a possibility. As mundane as it may be, custom bash guards, chain guides, fork crowns, top caps, freehub to fixed adaptors, chain rings and tools with machined slogans for the client could be an option to get started.

Either that, or go all out and release products on your own. To do that you're obviously going to have to find and design something unique or superior in comparison to currently available parts. To crack a market this way would be a real battle.

In Australia I understand Aireal Australia started off with a couple of employees from a large family owned machine shop that made bodies for high end audio microphones. Frustrated with the lack of quality Australian made gear, a couple of the boys started making bike components in their spare time and realised they were on to a good thing. They wound up with their own very successful business, and haven't looked back. You can find a general overview here. I just thought I'd use these guys as a success story example. It's definitely doable but I think it would be a very rough journey.

On a non bike related note, have you thought about doing one - offs and prototype work outside of your normal job? Obviously the setup time and complexity of singe jobs rather then large runs drives up the price, but some quotes I have seen from various machine shops have been absolutely crazy. I'm sure you would have plenty of work if you were able to offer competitively priced prototypes and one - offs. ;)

I think I've just about exhausted any ideas in my mindless ramble… Good luck! :D

Cheers, Dave.
 

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Make me an Epic-Adventure-Endurance MTB touring bike.

All I demand is large wheels and a buttery ride. I want it light and strong. I want it versatile in all ways.

Ohh yeah... no Jones bike wait times either.

Now, snap snap. Get to fabbin!

You need to fab, and I need cool, new stuff. Are you working yet? Don't sit there and read this, get the plans going. There is no new bike for me in "teamwork". There is no great new Andrew-Extreme, trekking, ridge-running, epic adventure, endurance MTB bike line without proper use of freetime....



Is it done yet?

:thumbsup:
 

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DeForest Stump
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AndrewTO. I want to buy a house which I may actually be able to do later this year - probably not if I try to start something like this said:
I would buy a house first, that way you'll be building your own equity instead of someone else's. Then as the funds become available you could set up a shop in the basement or garage and take on projects that could eventually lead to a full time business.
 

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Gone riding
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I’ll be the team, and you can do the work… suits me just fine. :D :p

Seriously though, I think Andrew is more interested in machining things rather then fabricating frames and the like?

Dave.
 

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over 50 years of cycling
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you can do it!

Seems the primary concern here is supporting a lifestyle that can afford a house, family, and a few bikes by making chips fly, while trying to compete in a world where things are made in countries where they can get away with paying people a dollar a day and bowl of rice to do the same thing.

Its doable dude! Assuming you can crank up and work the hours when the workload comes through. Some nice places to live and bike have a lot of Electronic and High Tech companies that need QUICK TURN machining LOCALLY. The companies are usually in panic mode and can't wait the time to get prototypes done offshore for their projects that are running way behind schedule because the marketing guys ate up all the schedule trying to figure out what they should make. The companies are usually a pain in the arse to work with, and the Engineers can really be a pain(Oh yah....that would be ME :) ) but the work can be interesting and most importantly you can really sock them with "expedite charges."

Downside is they usually need the stuff by Monday morning on the best biking weekend of the year. You just have to adaptable on your riding timing.

And then you can sneak in the bike parts on the side, with CNC machines paid for by the bread and butter stuff. Maybe eventually hit on a good product that sticks and make it your full time gig.

I have played around with machining a bit myself and its a very rewarding thing to work with. I have also done enough machining (and designed enough parts) to have a helluva a lot of respect for a GOOD machinist.

Biggest challenge is breaking into becoming the "regular" quick turn machining place for SEVERAL thriving small companies.

Go for it!
 

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Discussion Starter · #11 ·
HAHAHA, damn there's some great stuff here.

Dave - actually, a few of the things you've commented on are things i'm "looking at". Some stuff might be "seriously marketable", some more "boutique-ish". Some is machined, some is, ummm, not machined. Part of the appeal here - buying a machine of any type right now is bucks I just don't have (which is where having the job kinda comes in handy) and the non-machined stuff "only" requires time. I'm more looking at being the whole package deal - design, test and destroy (i'd need help there for some things - I only weigh 165 loaded), manufacture, package and ship.

29 - uhhh, yeah, it's been ready for 2 WEEKS now. I've been waiting for your payment! Pay up or i'll sue. :p :D Complete bike line? I appreciate your enthusiasm, but, let's be a little realistic, eh? Ummmm, what's Jones' times like - last I heard it was like 6 months?

Cobretti - you see?!?!?! I'M thinking - buy the house, rent it out and live in the basement. My mortgage is "paid for". I get the garage and set up shop in there ..... and pray tenants/neighbors don't complain (PRAAAAAAYYYYYY!!!!!!). Between now and then i'd hone my skills, work design bugs out of existence (I might be skinny, but I have a BFH!) and make a little bit of a name for myself with a website. Pipe dream? Only if the neighbours complain!

Dave again - uuuhhhhh, it depends. There's two parts here that can apply and ..... it just depends. I should have said laying fiber instead of 'glass. Sorry, my bad. Frame? Possible. Parts mainly ..... I think.

TT - YYYOOOOOUUUUUUUUU!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! :madmax: So YOU are the reason I work endless Saturdays! YOU are the reason I get so frustrated at work. YOU are ..... actually, I hear ya'. :) I work on an EDM machine. Through the process where I work i'm towards the end of the line, of which i'm followed by surface finishing, assembly and testing (mold shop). Yeah, I know all too well about deadlines and all the associated BS that encompasses it. I have no problems with long hours or busting my ass ..... I have my biggest problems with lazy co-workers or unreasonable people. :madmax:

A lot of the stuff i'm looking at playing around with isn't even machined. Hey now, I said fabricated - the machining was just part of an example. Like I said above to Dave, buying a machine would be tough and what i'm looking at is more about material price and time than machining, per se. Could I find one used for a decent price? Yeah, actually, I could. (looks around house) Got nowhere to put it, though (more to it then that, but that's the biggest part ..... for now). Small "desk-top" style machines might be a help to reduce cost, somewhat, a keep things at a manageable level, but I don't see it as an immediate happening. I think i'd sooner see myself making molds than buying machines.
 

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ravingbikefiend
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I recently took a 180 degree mid life turn and am now working as an apprentice machinist and improving my welding skills under the tutelage of the welders I work with.

I too have been mechanically gifted since I was a wee tyke and have been turning wrenches on bikes and been doing other fine mechanical work for twenty years and have now have a goal to build a few bikes from the ground up and see how that goes.

I am already working on some one off projects in our shop that range from tools to accessories and I'm starting to lay out the plans to start turning out my own headsets.

It is like I was supposed to be doing what I'm doing and there's no sweeter music than the purr of my little Monarch when she's turning out parts...
 

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Discussion Starter · #13 ·
Sixty Fiver said:
I recently took a 180 degree mid life turn and am now working as an apprentice machinist and improving my welding skills under the tutelage of the welders I work with.

I too have been mechanically gifted since I was a wee tyke and have been turning wrenches on bikes and been doing other fine mechanical work for twenty years and have now have a goal to build a few bikes from the ground up and see how that goes.

I am already working on some one off projects in our shop that range from tools to accessories and I'm starting to lay out the plans to start turning out my own headsets.

It is like I was supposed to be doing what I'm doing and there's no sweeter music than the purr of my little Monarch when she's turning out parts...
I like that last part. It's like something's nagging at you until you do it, right?

Good luck with it!!!! Do you have a company/product name yet? (c'mon, spam a little - it's my thead and I say you're allowed ;) )
 

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Formerly DMR For Life
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AndrewTO said:
Dave again - uuuhhhhh, it depends. There's two parts here that can apply and ..... it just depends. I should have said laying fiber instead of 'glass. Sorry, my bad. Frame? Possible. Parts mainly ..... I think.
My thought would be that it would be even more exspensive to make carbon fiber parts than any millling maching will cost you...stuff like vacum machines, heat blankets, etc. I did a little fibergalss in tech school (prepreg, and otherwise) not a simple proceedure, time intensive (it was one of the only units i had to work extra time to finish in my 2 years of aviation training) best of luck though

DMR
 
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