Today as part of the rounds we had to make, we got to drop in on Brett Flemming of EVT in Vancouver WA. Brett is a huge source of tooling and knowledge for Signal and we know we are lucky to count him as a friend.
This is Brett's newest lathe. It's a Monarch 10ee. It's a newer version of the lathe that we are buying from him. These lathes are amazing, they were built to do very accurate work and are considered the benchmark for small toolroom lathes by many machinists.
This is our 10ee! Nate is getting a fork set up to cut the crown race. I think the tealish green is WAY cooler than boring gray, so I'm pretty sure our machine is cooler than Brett's. It's older (1946), so that makes it cooler, right? I know that the lathe won't make a huge difference in our ability to make a frame faster, but it will open a lot of possibilities for design and small parts manufacture. There are a few operations that we rely 100% on Brett or someone else to do that we will soon be able to do in our own shop, and that should help productivity overall.
I love these little drawers. You can tell which ones have the parts that are needed most by the film of grime on the outside. Some would say patina. Part of this purchase we are making includes an alignment table and tooling to go along with it. The table will allow us to make more frequent easy checks of the frames we build along the process. Now we have to take the frame to the Bike Gallery and use the alignment table there. It's about a 1/2 hour or longer round trip, so those checks usually have to wait until a lot has gone on with the frame. This will really help us with time savings. As a conversation piece (and perfectly usable tool) Brett made us take a ginormus Tumico height gauge. It's complete overkill, but should make interesting fodder for photos in the future.
It's pretty incredible that we have been doing this for the past three years with only the most basic tools, hack saws, a drill, files and a grinder. I think the future looks bright, and I'm glad that we didn't jump into over buying tooling before we payed our dues with bloody hands and long hours in front of the vise. Oh speaking of vises, Brett happens to own one of the baddest vises I have ever seen:
The Reed is a beautiful piece of equipment.
We dropped off Ryan M's bike at the painters and had a look at the next two bikes that we'll be picking up, Fasil's road bike and Shinja Imafuji's CX bike that will be heading to Japan. As soon as we have some pictures, I'll post them here. I am so glad to have the blog up and running again. I hope you are too! Thanks for looking.