Tuesday, January 31, 2012

Around the clock service with a $mile :)

Anyone that knows me personally, knows I love to work.... Maybe its my Midwest roots that make me driven to work around the clock but when a job comes in and it has to happen ASAP, I will answer the phone anytime of the day.

Those phone calls come in more then I would like, but really thats almost best for me to crank it out under pressure, I love it for some reason. Being a prototype metalcrafter willing to work around the clock to make sure its done correct the first time and done in a very timely way apparently has become hard to find nowadays. Maybe the older I get I will get away from this but who knows, I have a long time until I am old.

I am so lucky to have people that are willing to see that I am so in love with my craft, that they are willing to help fuel the fire and make it burn hotter...

I drove past a shop located on the edge of North Oakland and had to do a drive around the block again to look inside one more time....

The place was mind blowing, the amount of work involved in the building in every thing was overwhelming, so I stood at the gate and waited............. waiting for anyone to walk past so I could yell in to the shop to see if I could get a tour............. waiting.................   then an older dude walked past and it happened to be Daryl Rush, the owner of the shop.

The shops history is crazy as well, it use to be the Union Hall for the East Bay Machinist in the 1940s thru the peak years of manufacturing in the Oakland ( east bay ) area.

I chatted for a while, only to find out that this guy had brought up a lot of people I knew in to metal crafting and showed them some fun tricks over the years, even some well known bicycle frame builders.

Its been over a year since I met Daryl and I make my stop by the shop at least a few times a week and those days come up when I don't have a machine but I know hes in his shop almost 7 days a week building really crazy architectural concept projects with the machine I need, so with a box of donuts in hand I roll in to the shop and ask nicely if I can use the machine.

The guy has an eye for making concepts and building it correct. Don't let his age fool you, he is a true American Craftsman 110%, take notes these guys are one in a million.

This is a Nazel power hammer
One of the most badass machines built I think
Its used for forging metal, such as large steam locomotive parts
A lot of these machines spent their life in repair shops and forges across the world
Now they are one of the hardest to get machines because of the way they are built and put together, most  produced for so long ( 100 years )they got worn out and they were scraped. Its normal in old photos to see them in the background of old steam train repair shops. 
The odds of anyone building a machine that works as well as a Nazel from the early 1900s would be rare and if done would cost so much, and like the Pullmax machine due to Jesse James showing a Nazel on Discovery Channel its now put them in high demand, once again " thanks Jesse for making it not possible to buy cool things unless your rich " 

Heres Daryl testing out the cylinder rebuild. It uses about 17 to 40 PSI of air or steam but extreme volume of air, which is way different then would you would expect from a giant machine that puts out about a 100 tons of hit pressure at the head. 

This is the Verson Mechanical 6 foot press brake
I wish I could tell you what I am making but you will have to wait to find out, just know MLS is part of a big project that may change history and these old 1940s machines across Oakland are making the future. Trust me, MLS is not sponsored at the moment, I really just like DAD'S rootbeer. 

Making parts and tooling can require some mods to the machine and adjustments to make the perfect cut. 
This is back at my shop on my late 1960s Ex-Cell-O milling machine making custom press brake tooling .

These mechanical press brakes are really neat in how they work.
This one is really fast 
The T-shirt fund raiser is going to buy a machine just like this one. 

Trust me - Check out Daryl's stuff, his site shows about 5% of it.. but you get the idea

Friday, January 27, 2012

BINGO was his name O

Or something like that.....

Yesterday Sal ( the owner of Actual Caf'e ) appeared at my shop door with a bingo ball roller in hand....

 Note : If your from Oakland or the bay area you might have heard of Actual Cafe, its really cool and very bicycle related cafe, I mean you ride right inside of the cafe and hang your bike up next to a lady drinking coffee reading a book most of the time, its really a great place. Most of the time MLS concept projects can be seen hanging from the ceiling around the cafe, such as the gravity bike.

" We are pressed for time and the event is Thursday, do you think you can build something to rotate these bingo balls that is bicycle related? " Sal told me.

So tonight I figured I better just get it done. With the help of Matt Ducot ( the dude that does a lot of the movies on my blog ) and a few DAD's root beers we were able to hammer this bad boy out from design to finished in a total of 4 hours.

Not bad, for a Thursday night hammer secession or should we call it Friday morning... Thursday night build sounds more dramatic and badass.

Lets see how we did it.

If you read my blog you know I am a big Schwinn collector
So I pulled this one down which was on display, from the ceiling above my welding table
A good old 1960s Schwinn American 24" Boys

I had a plan...
Thats a kids 16" steel rim, tacked to the side of the ball hopper

Now the rear track stand was built and a custom piece to replace the rear freewheel on the bike with no teeth, the chain just slides where the freewheel should be. 
Matt thinking hes training while drinking
There is NO product placement in this photo.... Sponsors always welcomed !
How about a side profile, sorry I built faster then we could take photos.

There she is.... 
Ready for action at Actual Cafe's Non-Profit fund raising events

Matt wanted to show you how it works.
Sounds like an old tractor!

Want to know more about the event in Oakland at Actual Cafe.

Come out and support some good bicycle related causes!!!!

 See you there !

Sunday, January 22, 2012

working working working


Wasn't expecting to turn MLS in to a T-Shirt factory but it kinda happened the last weeks. Super stoked to see people worldwide making it happen and showing the love. Thanks Everyone, The shirts are boxed and shipping!

I don't mind screen printing and you get a real custom MLS made shirt.
Doing the little green DiAcro Press brakes.

Done - This lucky person will be an investor in the DiAcro press brake as shown on their arm with the little green press brake. Other tools include a blue patternmakers vise, Calipers, Drills, Tig torch and so on. Every shirt is a surprise....

the little green press brake that could...
If you want to buy a shirt and help out heres the link -  To the Buy a T-shirt blog page

Back to the metal shop 

Some times you just need to know when its a good idea to say, " Theres a better way or person to do this job". I had to say it the other day. I was machining out the front hub for the top speed bike on manual lathe and I had it almost done and looked at it and said, this works for a prototype for me to make the front steering but really its not the quality I need for the look to be correct.

If Cane Creek didn't do such a good job making the hubs on the carbon rear wheel maybe my manually made hub would be fine but I really want to show off the machining marks on the outside of the hub. On a completely contoured machined hub with no straight lines its next to impossible to do on a manual machine and leave the raw machined look. This hub is really a pain in the ass to make and I can thank my brother for designing it like that.
I might not be a " True Machinist" to the " OLD Guys " but I still can give them a run for their money.
Doing some hoggin out of the center of the hub. That 7075 Aluminum is a dream to machine if you know what I am talking about. 

The hub is very special as the steering is inside the hub shell in the big pocket.
This hub takes a lot of operation changes to make it happen on a manual lathe or CNC lathe, I took it out after roughing out the rough shape for the photo and to start machining the steel mandrel to hold it in the center bearing bore, so I could do my final profile cuts on the outside of the hub shell. 

Like I said up above, I decided its time to ask for help so I got on the phone and called my buddy Derek over at Moss Machine in San Francisco. Derek is one of those machinist that looks at super crazy prototype stuff and says " OK ". The dude has maybe touched something thats on your high end bicycle in some way, he does a lot of prototype machine work for big companies like Easton and so on.... He said " OK " give me the block of aluminum and come back next week to get it, I owe you anyways for hammering out the stuff for the BRD RedShift bike ( video of Dereks machine shop ).

I finished up some of the last fab on the frame other then the crazy seat mount, it was just making all the stainless steel brackets for the rear dropout aluminum sections to bolt too. There is a Paragon Machine Works belt disconnect in the frame because I figured why not set it up for belt drive... Isn't it suppose to be a futuristic concept bike when chains don't exist on bikes, right ...?

 The tube ends are capped and threaded for the built-in belt tensioning, don't worry you will understand later when you see the rest of the parts...   And thanks to Best Buy telling me I am 2 days over on my extended warrantee on my broken digital camera, I am forced to use my Iphone for photos until I get a new camera... What a buzz kill

see the little seam for the belt disconnect?
This was just before I welded it all up and make it look fancy.... 

Friday, January 20, 2012

Make it happen !!

If you read my blog you know that I get frustrated somedays about public schools across the USA dropping shop programs to save money and time.

I try my part to keep the kids a-buildin' and the dream alive....

This is a new edit from Matt Ducot for his work Connect-Ed which is a non-profit with the vision of getting videos out there for the kids in high schools to see what " A day in the Life " looks like for different careers.

Matt followed me around for a day and I built some stuff... He did a quick edit a while back for my blog, but this one has audio and a bit more footage from that first shoot that turned out so rad.


Prototype Fabricator from ConnectEd Studios on Vimeo.

Tuesday, January 17, 2012

Happiness comes in all forms....

Anyone that knows me, knows my brain can work in odd ways and thinks outside of the box. Sometimes my brain runs wild and I get so trigger happy, my hands try to keep up with my brain, but as we all know thats not possible to keep up with the brain...

When you meet someone that feels the same way and runs on the same wave length, its something that catches you off guard and everything stops for a second to ponder how and why?

For the last 5 years theres been a pretty girl that for some reason runs on a similar wave as me and its always thrown me for a twist.

Back years ago when MLS was just getting the wheels moving for the first time in downtown Los Angeles, this girl lived next to me and we shared a wall between my machine shop and her workshop.

This proved to be a huge distraction for me, as she always seemed to be doing something or building something cooler then I was, so it proved to be be one of my biggest distractions but biggest loves. When the s#!t hit the fan at our crazy art compound in downtown LA. The whole crew like Goose, Dan, Sarah, Brie and everyone else was forced to split up, it truly was a sad day. Yes, the building was a complete S#!t box and over priced with a super shady landlord but it was all of us friends together in a amazing time, mindset and place in the ghetto of South Central LA.

I still miss that place ( maybe not the place ) but really times spent there.

Things have changed but what I do hasn't, and thats truely why I get out of bed every morning - to work with my hands and my mind.

Everyday has a different feeling and passion, from the little projects like an quick concept project for a science museum to have kids fill sand in to a plastic tube, to crazy projects like making parts for USA Government Laboritories where something I crafted could change history and science for ever, down to the basics like making a basic coat rack so I have somewhere to hang my apron at the end of the day.

My brain moves thru my hands - and I am in love with every second of it.

Ok, enough is enough, back to the topic about building stuff

Sarah, the girl that lived next door to me, is an amazing photographer that has traveled the world and enjoyed every second of it with a smile... That alone is rad, but it is her work that twist my brain and keeps me asking for more. When she lived next door, I had to be involved in her prop building because building stuff by the book is fun but what if you don't have a limit to how weird and how twisted you can make something. Thats when the fun starts....

Movie and Photo Prop building is one of my greatest hobbies because I can throw the blueprints out the door and let the brain run wild !

Now you combine that with another person thats on the same wave with the same motives but a different skill set and you have a run away train with two locomotives wide open until who know what happens...

But it is truly one of my most enjoyed times in my life, just sitting around thinking, laughing and building stuff with Sarah. I got to enjoy a weekend of building props when I visited her this last weekend and she put me to work in her workshop building props for a shoot with a band called Little Red Lung plus just having fun in the redwood forest for some "on the fly" random shoots.

This was the final out come of Sarah and I making stuff for the band Little Red Lung this weekend
The band seemed stoked... and so were we !
We couldn't go to crazy that you couldn't recognize them, think we got just the limit.

We made some crazy neck piece, using parts from my Espresso machine I am building and wood hands.
I love these behind the scene photos 
Yep thats me, doing a light test before the band showed up to test the look and light.
Sunday in the morning, we decided to have some fun of our own

Lead Grip ( me ) on set getting things ready.

Bird on a wire.... 
Crazy forest woman 


The magic !

In the end, I even got a kiss in, for a Hallmark style photo
A solid weekend !

So that sums up the weekend of making stuff with Sarah 

Heres some old photos of years back. I got to be part of...

Dan and I built this thing over a few beers and a evening of board-em 
We made it dispense beer can in the seat tube like a PEZ dispenser 

TV man entering the room 

Art and I had to have some fun across the street from the old shop in LA before he took off for the NAVY.  

I will leave you with this photo. 
Just something I made for a shoot... 

Need more....
Sarah Sitkin - Website  or  Flickr
Trust me you won't be let down...

Sunday, January 8, 2012

T-Shirt fun raiser..... Hot off the Press and Shipping NOW

Buying T-Shirts is really cool I read on the internet, but what if you were really an Investor in MLS by purchasing a T-shirt, is that a double bonus ?

The other day I was thinking of an idea,

I have been designing this Hydrogen Fuel Cell Race bike and have been thinking of what machines I need in the shop to build this thing. My goal with the frame of the Hydrogen Fuel Cell bike is to be 100% full Titanium sheet metal with 0 ( ZERO ) round tubing.

So heres where you come in....

I have been looking at getting a small DiAcro Press Brake to build the
Hydrogen Fuel Cell Bike frame and parts.

This is a little 4 foot DiAcro Mechanical Sheet Metal Press Brake
made in good old Minnesota for over 60+ years
cost for one of these 1960's used beauties is about $6,000

So here is my idea with the T-Shirts...

All the profits generated from the T-shirts will go towards getting the machine, with each shirt it will come with a small screen printed silhouette of the machine on the arm sleeve that the profits are going to.

That way when your riding around you might see someone else sportin' a rad MLS shirt, BUT they have a different machine silhouette on the arm sleeve indicating that they helped fund a different machine in the shop then you did.

Thats my little idea to make each shirt a little personalized and custom.

This is the first time that I am trying something like this, who knows if it will work but its worth a try!


If your ordering from overseas extra shipping will be required.

International Order

Just remember the small detail about the shirts - Just like Henry Ford put it best

" You can have it in any color you want as long as its BLACK !

If you are feeling like you just need to help make the shop a learning tool for the next generation of metal crafters and group of 10 year old kids taking my welding class right now ( extra points ), then I am going to put the donate button up for you.

Consider yourself as an Investor in the creative thinking and progression of concepts World Wide!

If you ordered shirts already they are going out this week if they haven't already... Thanks to the early birds that have helped get the project rolling.

                          A true MLS made shirt here in Oakland,CA
                        Printed on an American Apparel USA made shirt !
                                              MLS is a Non-Profit
                       because we burned it all up having fun building stuff !

Sunday, January 1, 2012

#1 and Proud

Today I got the news that my bike make it as #1 Bicycle of 2011 according to CycleExif as the most popular bike on their site.

Top Ten Bicycles of 2011

Super Proud - a great way to start off the new year !

Special thanks goes to Kyle of trackosaurusrex for taking some amazing photos and enjoying a day of ripping this thing down the hills in LA and not crashing it ( thats my job ).

Some extra photos Kyle took on his Flickr of the Gravity bike.

And a big thanks to the crew at CycleExif, Tracko, Prolly and everyone else for putting it all together over the last year and making it amazing !

Happy New Year to everyone and keep those hands building !