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The cat's name is jake
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274 Posts
Discussion Starter · #1 ·
I'm "retiring" from Co-Motion as one of their two welders (I was the "senior" welder) in a couple of weeks. I'm leaving on good terms, and I'll really miss that job in many ways. I have loved working in the bike industry, especially at Co-Motion, but have a potentially better opportunity in an entirely different field unrelated to bikes.

I started working for Bike Friday in 2006, after spending several years commuting a long distance (sometimes up to 160+ miles a day) to piece together a full time job out of part time ones (of a science and teaching nature). Working at Bike Friday was tough, but I learned how to produce fabricated structures quickly, and was able to refresh old skills, and teach myself new ones (well before working at Bike Friday, I had a mentor in the metalworking trades who was an old WWII era-shipbuilder, and I also had a heck of a industrial arts instructor, Greg Kilbourne). I often recall experiences working with Hans Scholz, one of the founders of Bike Friday with a fond chuckle.

After about 4 years there, I went to work at Co-Motion, where I got the chance to work with high end frames. I spent time all over the shop, not just brazing, welding, or mitering frames. I made carts, railings, shelves, cut down steel tables that were too long and welded them into shorter ones, then built a wooden hutch on top of that, made little tools to make jobs easier, etc. All in all, I had a lot of fun.

At the same time I was working in the bike industry, I met my friend Curt, who showed me that kids like us could have metalworking shops of our own. I bought a lathe, then a mill, then another mill, and another lathe, and another several mills, and another lathe, and welders, and all sorts of other things. Without meeting Curt, I doubt I would have believed that someone could move that kind of equipment on their own, let alone actually find and purchase said machinery!

Now here it is 2014, and I have been married almost 14 years, I have a young daughter, a house, and my body is starting to wear out in some areas. And lo-and-behold - after 12 years of searching off-and-on for full time work in the sciences (my educational background), I found a job with halfway decent pay and benefits. So I sadly have to say goodby to Co-Motion.

I still have my own personal shop and side business, and I'm hoping to have a little more time eventually to make bikes for FUN, and not for daily bread. Hopefully sidework will keep my skills from backsliding too much. I'll have to make it a point to practice, if so!

I'm posting some pictures of my last days at Co-Motion. I think I'm doing it as a means to come to terms with my career change. I've proudly identified myself as a blue-collar guy, who works hard (when someone is looking, anyway :) ) and always has dirt trapped in the cracks of his hands. Now I'm moving into a different type of working situation, and I'm trying to figure out how to adjust my identity without losing who I was before. I'm sure that some of you have had similar types of experiences.

Anyhow, after that long introduction, here are some pictures:

Welds on 7000 series aluminum, probably my last Robusta.
last days at CoMotion 2014 1.jpg

Damn straight they're handmade in Oregon!
last days at CoMotion 2014 2.jpg

Big head tube bike, a "rhinoceros". It always makes us smile to see these.
last days at CoMotion 2014 3.jpg

We FINALLY get the new filler rod in, which just welds like a dream.
last days at CoMotion 2014 4.jpg

Bob the brazer, and Billy the machinist. I pulled parts off the shelf fast that Billy, Carl, and Dan made, and piled bikes up for Bob to braze. I worked with Bob in brazing for about a year too.
last days at CoMotion 2014 5.jpg
 

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The cat's name is jake
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274 Posts
Discussion Starter · #2 ·
Logan, who I'm training to be a new welder. He'll be great, and Teryk (the other welder) already is.
last days at CoMotion 2014 6.jpg

More steel.
last days at CoMotion 2014 7.jpg

Stainless steel tandem "max-adjust" stems. These are 17-4 and 304 stainless steel, polished. We used to make these out of steel, then get them polished and chromed.
last days at CoMotion 2014 8.jpg

Why couldn't these have ALWAYS been easy?
last days at CoMotion 2014 9.jpg

This was from a year or so ago, but was still one of my favorites. For some reason, last year we had TONS of larger-than-tandem bikes. It seemed I was making a triple, a quad, or a quint, almost every few weeks. This year it's been aluminum, aluminum, aluminum. Funny how that goes.
quint 1.jpg
 

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The cat's name is jake
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274 Posts
Discussion Starter · #3 ·
And lastly, here's a couple from home. I did a little frame repair work on a Niner for a local guy, who is really quite the interesting person.

Before (youch!):
Repair 1.jpg

After:
Repair 2.jpg
 

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1,248 Posts
Been There, Done That. Job wise I understand, I certainly have no regrets, but bikes never get out of system, and as a hobby, its a really good hobby, sanity sometimes. I thank you for your very honest and enlightening contributions so far and hope you don't 'disappear' because you are leaving the 'trade'. I think many here have been truly blessed by your enlightening discourses.

All the best in your new direction.

Eric
 

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1,855 Posts
Congrats on finding something back in sciences.

As Eric said we hope you stick around and continue to share your knowledge.
 

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Best of luck! Thanks for sharing your insights and being a teacher to those us here in this internet classroom. Your work is an inspiration to those of us trying to be better welders. Would that only one day my welds look a fraction as completely and consistently well done as yours! I hope you have time to stay involved in this forum, it is better for your being here.
cheers
andy walker
 

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650b me
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1,486 Posts
Best wishes to you! The folks at Co-Mo must be bummed to lose such a talented welder. I'm not a welder, but I hope you'll continue to participate on this forum if time permits.
 

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Nemophilist
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1,873 Posts
Around the Circle;

Some of you may have wondered given some of my postings here, and yes indeed, I am proud to call Peter a friend. Leading up to that, he was also my private e-mentor when I was wading through all of the tall grass to get to making my first bikes. He graciously offered, and then devoted many (MANY!) hours to answering questions and sharing experiences, from the simplest to the most indepth topics. I am very certain I would have succeeded anyway, but I am equally certain it would not have come so quickly without his sage guidance. As frustrating as it was to battle my immense ignorance on the subject, I look back on that process, and my tutelage with The Professor, with exceptional fondness.

I can say without hesitation that I see nothing changing who you are; that rare combination of insatiable curiosity, a tremendous technical mind, unwavering craftsmanship, and yet utter humility. Down-to-Earth is an understatement. Best of luck, my friend. I'm betting your best work - and bikes - are yet to come!
 

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BungedUP, you are this frame building fourm's saint. I crown you Saint BungedUP. You are unflappable and unbelievably generous with your knowledge. I can't thank you enough. I have learned a ton from you and been duly inspired. Good luck with your new direction. I hope you continue to post here in the future.
 

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The cat's name is jake
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274 Posts
Discussion Starter · #10 ·
Good gravy! You guys say such nice things, I'm embarrassed! It both makes me smile, and feels pretty good.

I'm having a good time showing Logan the ropes, and I'm getting excited to do something different. I also placed a few last big orders with Shimano, Sram, and BTI, to hopefully stave off having to pay retail prices on parts for awhile.

I'm hoping to build up 4 bikes within the next year or so. Two commuters, a 29'er for me, another for a friend, and who knows what else. I'll continue to post about such things. I still have an article on filler rods to finish as well.

What John doesn't realize is, the little bit of time I spent talking with him was just to butter him up so he'll show me how to do wet paint! I learned to do powdercoating and some paint prep, but I never really learned the ins-and-outs of wet paint, and I know that it takes some real skill and knowledge of equipment to get it right. Based on some of the photos of cars John's worked on, I know he's the right guy to teach me.
 

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Nemophilist
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1,873 Posts
Oh, Butt Gas!

With all of the talent you possess, most notably in this case for observation, correction, and self-discerning of process, your first paint job would be at least as good as my first bike, and without any help from me! No it is not perfect, but it was/is good enough that I did not feel the need to change it, and have no desire to cut it up! In fact, I'm willing to bet that the quality of your first efforts at wet would tend to annoy me considerably!

The price of materials and the labor involved make PC look ever so much better (for the average job)...
 

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The cat's name is jake
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274 Posts
Discussion Starter · #12 ·
Heh - you should have seen my attempt to paint my lathe! I spent days taking it apart, strolling all the old paint off, masking each price, and then after struggling with mu pai t guns, and all the solvents, a gave up and put it on with a brush! I just put the guns in a cabinet and I haven't had the courage to use them without some real idea of what I'm doing. I don't even know where to start with tip selection, pressure, etc. I'm not even sure what I don't know about paint!
 

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Congratulations! Even though this is going to sound similiar to what was said above, I would like to add my most sincere thanks and gratitude for your contributions to this forum (and to my first shot at bike building). It literally is a "classroom" of sorts, and you're one of the HUGE peices of that. I do hope that you'll continue to contribute- really looking forward to the welding rod article! :)
 

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Thanks for doing your thing and sharing.
This was from a year or so ago, but was still one of my favorites. For some reason, last year we had TONS of larger-than-tandem bikes. It seemed I was making a triple, a quad, or a quint, almost every few weeks. This year it's been aluminum, aluminum, aluminum. Funny how that goes.
View attachment 888975
How do you align such a beast? Is the tolerance greater due to the huge wheelbase?

I've got a tandem, but I'm trying to wrap my head around how you reasonably cable a bike like this? Stretch has got to foul adjustments regularly.
It's got to be easier to radio the stoker and tell them what gear you need. :D
 
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