Saturday, January 21, 2012

Equipment - Tsunami (Orange) Updates

I got word that the frame that I (finally) sent out arrived at Tsunami central, out in the warm Arizona. I wanted to do this ever since I first rolled up a hill on the black Tsunami, with its ultra short 39 cm chainstays.

Geometry-wise the two frames are otherwise identical, with the same reach and such. But with the orange bike I found the rear tire chattering when powering through even regular 90 degree turns, and sharper ones sometimes became a bit "interesting".

The rear wheel didn't have enough traction because of the unusually long front end, determined by the long top tube and steep seat tube angle (which in turn were determined by my long torso and short quads respectively). The combination of sticking the front wheel out an extra 5 or 6 cm meant that I unweighted the rear wheel a bunch, enough so that normal pedaling through a turn resulted in the tire losing traction.

I contacted the builder Joseph about altering the orange Tsunami. To his credit he didn't say "just buy another frame"; instead he said he'd work with the existing frame.

(On a side note I didn't think the frame very saleable because of its odd geometry and the fact that anyone that fit it would have the same problem with the back tire skittering around in turns.)

With some idea of my requirements (I train on a 23c tire, I want minimal tire clearance, and aesthetics is a non-issue), Joseph demurred on any plans of action until he had the frame in his hands.

He did point out that he wouldn't be repainting the frame. This meant I need to figure out a solution to the finish thing - I'll probably take the easy way out and spray the rear triangle black. If he has to heat treat the whole frame, I'll paint the whole frame black. If I get ambitious I may try and recreate the candy orange, but from previous experience I know that only automotive paint comes out looking real good, and I don't do that stuff.

Since I'd partially built the orange frame as a spare, it wasn't a matter of just tossing the frame in a box. I got lazy and left the "disassemble the frame" task for another week, another month, and finally, when it came to "another year", I drew the line.

I spent all of 30 minutes disassembling the frame (including removing the fork), boxed it up, and sent it out. I was amazed at how much I beat it up - one fall at 30 mph (dent in top tube) and a slew of packing-chips, where a cassette or some other edge thing jammed into the frame.

And once again I taught myself that waiting to do something doesn't accomplish much.

This time I have no sketches, no unusual ideas; it's just shortening the stays.

Of course I didn't think of what needed to be done. I defined the goal ("shorten the stays as much as possible"). Joseph came up with the plan.

This communication worked well.

Oftentimes, at work, I'll have someone describe exactly what they think they want to get. When I delve a bit into their project goals, it sometimes becomes painfully apparent that they need something totally different. Think of it in bike terms.

"Hi, I think I need a new chain."
"Okay, let me write up a work order. What's happening with the bike?"
"Well, it shifts into the spokes."
"Um... when you ride the bike does it feel like it's skipping gears at all?"
"How old is the bike?"
"Couple months."
"It may not be a chain. It might be just an adjustment."
"Really? I figured it needed a chain."

This is where a self-diagnosis (chain goes into spokes) and troubleshooting (needs chain), communicated well (I need a chain), could be totally inaccurate.

Likewise I could have asked Joseph to execute step-by-step instructions, steps that I think he'd need to take to shorten the stays.

And what would have happened is that I'd have ended up with a frame where the rear wheel wouldn't fit.

Because when the stays get shortened, the rear brake bridge would end up too close to the wheel.

So the plan of action, as Joseph let me know, is to cut off the seat stays completely, cut the end of the chainstay off, reset the chainstay (i.e. bend it a bit), and weld on new seat stays, a brake bridge, and dropouts.

At some point I'll be getting back my frame, trimmed down a bit. And hopefully I'll be able to do it some justice.

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