Monday, November 28, 2011

A busy Thanksgiving.....

Thanksgiving like most years was spent working....

This time I got a call last minute on the day before Thanksgiving telling me that I was needed for building stuff for a movie ( name no given at this current time ) and needed to be in LA in a few hours to start work.

So I took a small jet down to LA, why not?

Leaving Oakland at 8pm Wednesday and showing up in LA shortly after I was brought to the laser cutters at 10pm to start the weekend adventures...

Note : if you walk thru an airport with no luggage and just a welding helmet, people think you are on a tv show for some reason. don't ask why?

My only thing in hand....

Trust me it was a little chartered jet
just me and 30 of my most unknown friends headed to LA
To weld for a day, not bad way to travel.

I welded Thursday on movie stuff that needed to be loaded on a truck for a shoot that night and then Friday made a visit to Exile Cycles to work for the day on some new fun stuff Exile has coming out.
 I had to put down some welds to make the kids happy and collect the check. 

Blake asked what I was doing standing at the table, so here was my answer - 
"Self-timed photo, someone has to take the photo and you were busy so I set the self timer,
And quit making fun of me and I don't like getting hit in the face while I am sleeping on your couch even if you think its funny"

Blake Schossler from Exile and I on lunch break
If anyone is in the Los Angeles Valley (818) area they need to hit up Vicious Dogs!
Best Chicago dogs on the west coast. 
Anyone that knows me, knows I went to school to become a chef only for my 2 true loves
Donuts and Hotdogs. Thats why I have been going to this place for years

Hammering away welding at Exile most of the day Friday,  my ride to the airport showed up at about 4pm.... 

None other then my brother and his lady in the PreRunner race truck.
This truck is very special to my brother and I, because its got some serious history with us.

1993 Ford F150 - Metal Morphosis Engineering Rig #2 
This project is my brothers truck that got started maybe 7 or so years ago between him and I.
Its been a fun learning tool for both of us because we built just about everything, at that time when we started we had more time then money, It was such a fun learning project for me fab-wise.  

As you can see...
The top of the truck is a soft top
The reason...
I rolled it a few times crushing the metal top 
so I had to repay my brother in fab work for wrecking it
Sorry for that....

 Custom mount my brother designed for a cheap Craftsman jack , Aluminum Fuel Cell ( old blog post ) and other stuff.

One of my first big welding projects year and years ago was these I-beams for the suspension
I Mig welded them and my brother machined all the parts. 
Still look at them and remember how nervous I was about them working and looking good. 

Had to post the picture of my brother as some repayment for rolling it and plus the hours he has worked on it to make it such a rad rig to beat up in the desert. 
Maybe this funny photo will make him famous and he will forget about me rolling the truck so many times. 
Racing to the airport, Bandit style! 
Back to Oakland for meetings and more building !

Monday, November 21, 2011

Espresso machine part 1 of a long saga

OK... I am just getting started on this project so don't expect it to be done any time soon but figured its time to post some photos, I am still building the Top Speed bike and a bunch of other things for myself not to mention my day to day work so this one will be my lunch time project for a while.

Any one that has met me most likely has met me at a coffee shop, its where I seem to hang out a lot. If your in Oakland and you see someone inside the coffee shop on a bmx bike doing 360s and flat land tricks or maybe a Yeti Mtb crashing in to chairs, I can almost bet 100% that you are seeing yours truly.

Some times I just shut down Actual Cafe and bring in all the bikes for the kids - 
photo J. Suzuki - Actual Cafe - Oakland, CA

Ok besides my bad habits around coffee shops, I do have a true love for coffee and espresso. So anyone that reads my blog knows that only means on thing....

I have to build something......

I decided to build a espresso machine from scratch with about 0 experience in how a machine works, what makes a good shot or really anything about espresso other then I really like to drink it, it makes me type really really fast !!!

I did a ton of drawings trying to figure out what I even wanted it to look like, but one major goal in mind " make it look like a laboratory experiment ", I make them everyday anyways, so it shouldn't be to hard.

I am very inspired by lab experiments and one project came to mind that really stokes me out.

The USA has been working on a project called NIF or National Ignition Facility located not to far from San Francisco.

 In a nut shell the quick way to understand it is - Using basically the most powerful laser in the world, a flash is created and that flash is broken over and over until its become 192 beamlets (small laser beams from the single beam) which are then shot in to a huge sphere, and then at a tiny target the size of a pencil eraser. When all the beamlets hit the target it creates a fusion reaction which means a mini star on earth for researchers to study only arms reach away. CRAZY !! it gets me pumped just writing about it.

YouTube on how NIF works

this drawing doesn't really do good for showing its massive size

This was when they were building it about 10 years ago, getting ready to lower it in to the ground.
Its huge and made of 10cm thick Aluminum plate made in to a sphere!
There is 200+ holes for both inspection and also the beamlets.

This is where I start with my Espresso project and its bits of inspiration from NIF and other projects I have seen at laboratories begins.

My brain had the design already now just to connect the dots with my hands.

I always like to make a quick sketch of what I thought of so I don't forget, having like 50 projects going at one time can cause you to forget good ideas or open you up to some new ones.
Don't judge my quick drawings... this is one of my 10 concepts I did, this one is a side view of the machine with a lot of NIF style to it. 

Next step get some stuff made.
Projects like this I some times draw on Solidworks but other times I just like to go freestyle like the good old days... This one I am going to freestyle!
I heard word on the street of a old man and his son located in the San Francisco Bay Area that were some of the best metal spinners on the west coast, these guys might not know all the crazy details on material specs and tech stuff about the metal they are working on but they have enough experience with every kind of metal, they just know how to feel the metal and know what it needs! Theres a reason theres piles of Aerospace, Government and other precision parts around their shop, because they know how to get the job done right. 
25+ years of metal spinning experience!

This is Roy Sr. spinning the lower half of the boiler out of 14g Copper sheet
Roy Jr. uses heat to help with the bending and soften the copper
The last photo in this post shows the finished spun copper. 

Time for lunch and some lathe work!

This piece of copper will become the 3 viewing windows in to the copper boiler
I will weld them in and then the glass windows drop in, hope they don't fog to much. 
There will be a small stainless ring on the outside that holds the glass in to the copper.

Lunch is done, I didn't get finished in the 45 minutes.
They still need holes drilled and tapped all the way around them for the stainless glass holders. 
Maybe another lunch break would do the trick. 
Remember I am freestylin this, so I am not using the CNC machines or blueprints, rollin dirty!

The other little sphere is Stainless and its 14 gauge because it will become the steam generator and be under pressure up to about 50 PSI, so not risking it due to pressure I decided to make it stainless, also for cleaning. If you know about making espresso shots you will understand having a boiler and a steamer separated is the best. Espresso shots pull the most rich at about 202 deg F. where as steam starts at 213 deg. F and above which makes for a bad tasting shot because of the high heat extracting to much acid.

Keep ya posted and be sure to enjoy

Tuesday, November 15, 2011

pushing the limits of perfection

I received an email from a younger aged welder ( like myself ) with a bunch of questions. He was asking about different levels of measurement tolerances on welded parts I work on and tips about fixturing projects.

 Its really not a very specific question that I could give an answer to because every project I do is so very different and working with such a huge range of materials causes it to be always changing, especially being a prototype fabricator because its more sometimes about the look and relatively close tolerances for testing with great efforts to keep the cost of time and money down.

A good example is the Top Speed bike I am building. The tubes on that bike are first rolled with a slight curve then some how with my tricky ways, machines, a bit of magic and wacky bending dies, I am able to put tight bends on the long curved tube. This kind of bending is very complex in a lot of ways both in measuring and in manufacturing.
The odds of hitting exact numbers that Solidworks is giving me on the blueprint is next to impossible, I am close but never exact, it then become more visual and getting the look and flow of the frame then getting the exact numbers ( I would have a pile of bad chromoly tubes touching the moon if I tried to get it perfect like the computer model )

Love my Starrett stuff - worth every penny!! 

But when it comes to other projects for clients of the aerospace, medical, and science world, the level of expectations are very high so I then turn the attention to the numbers and getting it near or exactly what the customer expects.

Thats my job, and I think I do a good job at it !

Some projects come in that almost make me cry looking at the blue prints, because they expect near perfect things ( most of the time it seems these are not important things needing perfection and sometime are just errors on blueprints )
Learning from the old dudes over the years has stoked me out and stressed me out ( more on the stressed ) because there is those days where you build for days, weeks and months on a project only to find out things moved while welding, machining or handling and now you gotta fix them.

Some of the ideas we come up with to fix them scare or surprise me, thats when the years of experience come in...
Thats will be a great blog post of another day...

On a normal day to day I find myself holding very tight tolerances of measurements mostly because I make a lot of laboratory stuff where mishaps can throw everything off.  Some times the worst looking weld seems to be the straightest and strongest and other days when you don't drink 15 cups of coffee and 2 cans of Mt. Dew at 5 AM before welding, things look great and are some times straight too.

Either way the lesson is " Metal loves to move " ( people in to having fun in large groups while drinking a lot of beer (  if you read that without the punctuation, it covered 2 lessons in one))

These Titanium Elbows have very tight measurements in all ways so the fixturing is design  to be very restrictive to hold them in to the shape while welding and cooling. That leads to another problem of being able to get the torch in there to weld the parts and preform good quality welds.
 If you seen the fixture that I use to weld these, you would ask how do you even weld it all in there, there is no room for the torch ? I was kinda happy with the welds for how restrictive the fixture was to welding, no show winners but defiantly not leakers and thats what matters to the customer.  The tolerance is .008 +/-

I should have put a penny next to these Titanium parts so you know how small they are!
The Ti tube going in to and the bottom is a bit smaller then a wood pencil.

 the part on the left is boarder line being to short 
the part on the right is board line being to long
They both pass but on the limits
 ( side by side makes it easier to compare for the photo)

The measurement tolerance on these Titanium parts is .003" +/- or about 0.08 mm +/-
For you kids out there - thats the thickness of a piece of paper
 Titanium tubes with 2 - 360 deg. welds holding parts to the blueprint specs while being leak-free
I love these... I do thousands of them in all different sizes and shapes
Skill testers and good time to listen to books on tape!

Well that didn't answer any questions so now that I am done writing I see its kinda a waste of a post.
But its getting posted anyways regardless.

Espresso Machine build is coming soon!!! 
Get ready

Faucet Flower Vase

Ok, I am sitting here and got an idea.

I know, I have an advantage with having a machine shop filled with weird stuff but I thought of a fun project to do quick, its great for anyone with any skill level to impress someone for the holidays coming up with a hand made piece.

Ready, start the timer!

Go to the junkyard or where ever to find a cool looking bath tub faucet and pull it all apart until its just the body. Also when your out looking for that perfect looking Brass faucet find some kind of tube ( I would recommend getting a plastic one so you can cut it )

I found this old chrome plated brass one so I gutted it
I also found this new test tube made of plastic. A small plastic drinking glass is an idea as well

Find a way ( hole saw, saw, ect. ) to cut a hole the size of the tube.
I have a milling machine but a hand drill would work as well with a hole saw 

Give it !!!!

I cut down the plastic test tube and dropped it in! 
Fits great!

Done - 15 minutes later !!!
I mounted a screw ( you decide how to mount it ) thru the plug pull hole

TIP - IF you find a brass one, sand or file off the chrome and under the chrome will be a beautiful raw brass body that will have a great GOLD glow !!

MLS works 365 days a year for the love of metal crafting... 
Enjoy the fruits 

Monday, November 14, 2011

The wheels keep turning.....

This weekend I was working on my Lab style Espresso machine ( post coming this week ) and on the Top Speed Bicycle.

Good weekend of just hammering in the shop on all the projects and keeping the young kids happy teaching welding, by the way I had my youngest TIG student this weekend, 8 years old and I was proud to see him running the torch. Its amazing what kids can do if you get the wheels turning on proper methods and safety!

Friday I picked up the huge block, all 26 pounds of 7075 aluminum to make the front hub for the Top Speed bike. If you look at the 3D model you can see the front steering is inside the hub so it requires the hub to cup over the front steering point on the bike. Its not a big deal except for the fact that I need to start out with a huge 4 3/4 inch round of 7075 aluminum. This grade of aluminum is an amazing grade to machine and makes very light parts out of, but your welding fact for the day is DO NOT weld it, and there is a link why if you have some time to read about welding.

Yep, I used a can of Murry's for a size reference!!
After I am done making the hub I will have a good chunk left of this bar left and the hub will be under a pound   with a huge pile of chips left in the lathe, which to me might as well be my paycheck laying in the machine.

I love my shop, its coming together very nicely
Thats Margaret Holland's Oil Painting of  " Chuck " on the right
Chuck is a living legend in the Santa Cruz, CA area I've heard
She is a really good oil painter and I get to hang it in my shop as inspiration !!!
And on the left is Louise Chen's " Love to Bee Home" painting 

Oh Yeah, the bike is coming along as well, got some 4130 tubes tacked on after 9 hours of making about 15 mistakes trying to put tight bend after tight bend on to rolled tubing ( kids don't do this at home, its not a good idea if you only have one shot to get it right ) 

Saturday, November 12, 2011

A day in the life.......

Somedays when I move about my day to day life, I never really stop and think about what I do and how much fun its been the last 5 or so years...

Some times I get the chance to look at it from a whole different prospective and see how it looks from a different way and it makes me smile...

This video is a quick view of the BRD Electric Motorcycle  that I did some prototype work on a few months ago ( older blog post ) such as the aluminum skid plate and display stand, I don't appear in the video but it doesn't even matter to me, I was there with all those amazing designers, craftsman and thinkers and in the end the results with the project were amazing and I thank them for letting me be a part in the fun.

MLS has arrived and is here to stay, the San Francisco Bay Area is truly an amazing place for thinkers and builders of all kinds...

BRD RedShift from Sam Erickson on Vimeo.

Wednesday, November 9, 2011

Here we go..... You ready?

100 MPH + on a track bike with no fork?

This project between my brother Jason Tiedeken and I has been on the burner for a while and its time to just hammer it out. I did the mock up of the bike and some of you got a sneak peek of it in the 360 deg view of my shop weeks back but its time to put it on the blog, plus a quick teaser video from Matt Ducot

The vision started about a year or so back when I asked my brother to team up with me to design and build something fun and fast, something that would get people thinking different about the bicycle industry and all the possibilities still out there when it comes to design.

He sent over some sketches for me to think about...

This one of the many 30 second sketch that caught my eye!

In my years of working in the prototype industry, I have got the opportunity to work with some of the most famous designers and engineers but my brother scores in the very top few because of his mad skills of thinking outside of the box as well as being one of the fastest design engineers on a computer, and then being able to walk in to the shop and build it, to put the cherry on top.
He is very highly in demand across many industries for that very reason.

Jason T, my brother and owner dude of Metal Morphosis Engineering threw a quick 3D drawing together of the creature to see what it would look like 
in Solidworks so we could decided the layout. This was a quick drawing to take some of the guess work out of it, there was nothing specific about his drawing to build off of, most of the time this style of 3D modeling is done as a point of concept to clear up any questions before the specific drawings are made and building starts. This is the reason there is no seat, the chainring goes thru the tube and so on, its nothing more then a good way to view your project in a different way then a hand drawing.

My brother's concept was locked down and it was now my job to make it a reality, my brother stepped back and let me do the magic in my Skunkworks shop in Oakland,CA. 

Peter from Cane Creek has always been a believer of anything rolling out of the MLS doors and was quick to join the effort with some sick carbon wheels and AER headset.

Since Cane Creek always helps me out I decided why not do an internal headset using their AER headset,
I decided to make it using a bottom bracket from a BMX frame I was suppose to build for a customer, the BB is the same size bearing bores as an internal headset, the only differences being in the small angle the bearings rest on ( you can see inside the tube), I machined an angle inside for the bearing rests. Kinda cool and it took about 5 minutes to make it work, if your ever looking for great info on machining headtubes for custom projects check out Cane Creek for PDFs they show every dimension need to make all sizes of HTs. 

I did some quick layouts dimensions to set up my frame table
The frame geo is based off of Lance's TT bike.
My frame table I built about 2 years ago was built for this very reason.
not to be constrained by the requirements of where to put the tubes, it takes a bit longer to build a frame because you need to be measuring extra, but in the end, your brain has no limits to where you need to be.

I machine out all the parts to save every possible gram...
There did I sound like a roadie?
I machine out the parts just to make sure that later down the road if I need to back purge the frame with argon for better weld quality or if I need to run cables inside the frame I don't have to get ghetto crazy with the frame and do it the wrong way with a long drill bit and some beers.

I know your asking " How do this thing steer"??
good question
These good old "Morse Push Pull Cables" as seen on your dads dragster and boat
This one is for a TOP FUEL dragster hammer shifter from B&M
I havn't lock down all the details with it and the mounting but I had to start somewhere with the concept.

If you going to go over 100 MPH your going to need a big ring, maybe like 90+ tooth
Thats a 52 tooth laying on the table and check out those chainstays.. talk about a pain to make

As of right now this is how far I am.
I built the mock-up bike already to make sure it looked right.
I like it.
Now I am running a orbital sander over all the tubes to clean them and doing the final tacks and cuts on the tubes.

Matt Ducot working on the video teaser
I don't think he wanted me to take the picture?
He made this video so quick and with such little amount of footage, kinda makes me wonder what he would do if he had a lot of footage and way more time. 

                               Monkey Likes Shiny - 100mph + concept track bike
                                                    from Matt Ducot on Vimeo.

Remember tell you mom you seen it first here on MLS, she will be stoked.

Thursday, November 3, 2011

Class is now in session.

My drive in metal crafting for the last few years has been two things...

Kids and Learning

Its my true passion and love is teaching. Its the reason my dream jobs are doing work for science museums and once and a while at MLS the job comes along and I get the pleasure of crafting for museums and it makes me smile the whole time.

I have been shooting for my CWE and CWI certifications ( certified welding educator and inspector ) for a few years now, the reason I haven't got them yet is, I haven't been welding long enough to even qualify for it so expect the day I hit my qualifying year,  I will be first in line for my test!

I also have been working with a non-profit out of California that develops classroom educational videos for students to get a behind the closed doors look at what a concept fabricator/ welder / machinist does and possible strike up some intrest in someone board in high school careers class.

I saw a need to share my passion a while back when a teacher told me about their school they worked at had only ONE very basic shop related class left, as all had been cut due to budgets years before. The machines were all sold at auction and the great shop teachers that helped hundreds of kids run the mills, lathes and welders were all let go..

That school was MY school......

That school in Minnesota and others around the USA were incubators for skilled craft works and it is truly sad to see these machines filling auction floors now days, realizing that these 1930s to 1990s machines built the USA's next generation of crafters. But now seeing them at auction makes my heart sink as I realize kids will never get the chance to see, hear or touch some of these amazing machines.

I am very busy and always running around building something for someone, but there comes those days when I need to shut it down relax and take a quick break. For some reason, I don't feel like I want to leave the shop, I guess when you Live, Work, Eat, and Sleep in your shop and or other shops it becomes a complete connection of you.  I think thats why I wear my safety glasses all day every day because I am always in a shop, but either way I find spare time to mentor someone in hopes of opening a new option for that student as a skill choice or a new path on life.

My favorites are teaching welding to kids between the age of 8 to about 16 because they don't have the " I know " attitude, everything is fresh, exciting and ready to learn all about this crazy new stuff.  My new student the last months has been little Nate, 11 years old and full of spunk always ready to grab the TIG torch and see what he can make. I wish I had an Aerospace Welder teacher when I was 11, thanks to my dad and his mad skills when I was about 11, I got to look at what was going on thru a 1950s POS welding helmet that was almost fully melted and I learned a lot from what he did and did wrong as he burned his hands and such.

Heres some cool shots and video of Nate, during one of our TIG/FAB classes.

I don't tell them what to build, I just show them how to build it.

Nate has been building stainless steel madness and learning torch angles

Nate forgetting to wear his safety glasses 
yep, he got yelled at after this photo for not having his glasses on.

Not bad for some old Schwinn road bicycle handlebars &
a 11 year old's creativity
Remember I didn't pick up the torch once on this project

even Kane wanted in on the fun by taking this sweet picture
 at MLS Skunkworks HQ. 

Tuesday, November 1, 2011

New kid on the Block.......

The last months at MLS have been off the hook nuts..... Sorry, I haven't been hiding, I have been living it large between getting flown around the USA to weld and working on some new crazy concept projects for a big airplane company, the new Gillette razor commercials, and those other kids down the street called Clorox who always have fun robotics to build...

With being so busy comes the problem of filling orders for things that MLS normally produces for various companies, the level of expectations the customers expects only leaves me the choice of hiring someone to help out that is experienced and as excited about building stuff as I am, which is hard to find....

I heard of a kid Mike Cleaver having fun building stuff in Oakland out of a Steam Engine restorer's machine shop, so I invited him to a bicycle art show I threw a few months back at the Actual Cafe and I was surprised to see his level of creativity and building odd stuff. He builds a lot of weird stuff that is quick to catch your eye and he has a good sense of style and flow to his machines.

I knew he would work great helping out around the shop so I put him to work building stuff and welding. I think he has a good out look on having fun and doing it for the love of building, learning as he goes along.

We had a booth at PedalFest in Oakland
Hard at work 
Thanks Izi for the Polaroid Photos

This was a quick build Mike did years back 
He builds a lot of normal track racing, touring and road bikes as well

I made a visit to the Steam workshop and seen this thing up on the rack
I pointed it out and he shook his head, why?
" A bike to haul a Pony Keg, I started building it years ago for a micro brewer to deliver and never got paid so I threw it up on the rack and never finished it "

I said " I need it, trade me for tools " so we traded for tools, everyone wins !

Check out Mike's Flickr for all kinds of cool photos of builds

Pedalfest Jack London- Oakland, CA

This show put on by a bunch of avid riders from Oakland and it was so much fun, I some how slipped it in to my craziness of work and thanks to Sean from Soulcraft bicycles for throwing me down a booth next to Mark from Paragon machine works. I think the whole day the most enjoyment was seeing Mark's two young kids push each other around on the Gravity Speed bike in the trade show hall. Those kids put on a few miles pushing each other around laughing. It was so cool to have a free show in an very bicycle driven community, it made it possible for new groups of people to experience all the handbuilt and vintage bicycle world without paying for admission and scaring them off.

There was sooooo many kids wanting to talk at my booth about welding and building stuff, so rad!!! 

Good work to crew for putting it on it made my day and my week!!

Izi shot this fun video of the 36er cruzin the WiskeyDrome
This was the test run by Slow Larry,  the faster run didn't get filmed and got really dangerous!!!

Later in the night a bunch of builders all met up for dinner and they for some reason kind of invited me, mostly because I pulled up while they were standing waiting for a table and did a huge brake stand burnout in my truck,smoking out the street block, then I parked and joined them to their embarrassment.
 It was rad, I got to hear all the great stories from the master story teller and master frame builder himself Bruce Gordon about the Slug Queen of Eugene,OR ( you might want to search that up if you don't know about it ). 
Bruce Gordon, Sean and a bunch of us out for dinner in Oakland

Well, I will be all over the place like normal but I got a big fun project coming up 
I will let you in on the secret - MLS Espresso machine 
Just wait......