Wednesday, December 9, 2009

Getting comfortable..

Recently I was going through some photos from about 2 years ago
and I came up with this,

It's a tachometer mount I made for a vintage Sun tach
meant to mount to the steering column of a Model-A.
The car(and tach mount) belong to Ryan Cochran
from the famed Jalopy Journal and the HAMB.
Making cool parts for guys who are REALLY passionate
about their equipment is one of the things I really miss about Texas.

Saturday, October 10, 2009

Settled in Seattle

After a 2300 mile drive and two days of unpacking and
storing our stuff, We've finally settled in.
Now my main goal in to find a nice steady and
hopefully interesting job here.
Monday I'm going to take a little time to stop by and
see all the shops I'vebeen reading about lately.

Saturday, September 26, 2009

CNC work

Lately I've been really been putting the Haas VF-2 to work making and modifying all sorts of things.

JSF parts for work.......and......Scooter triple trees.
Designing and making parts for high-performance vehicles
is what I love doing.

Monday, September 7, 2009

Makin' the donuts

Just your average everyday run of the mill jet fighter fuel pump..

Wednesday, September 2, 2009

Engineering eye candy

This past week I took off for a short vacation and along the way we visited the Smithsonian Air and Space Museum in DC. I spent four and a half hours skimming over everything and I tried to take pictures of everything worth studying later. The design and construction of this type of machinery produces a form of unintentional art in my opinion.

Friday, August 21, 2009


Cleaned up the titanium swing arms and the wheel spider today. I'm really happy with the finish that garnet blasting leaves.

Wednesday, August 19, 2009

The Flying Jackhammer

The custom scooter rebuild is getting more attention this week with the remaking and repairing of the front suspension. I've managed to straighten the slightly tweaked titanium wheel center, lighten the Ti swing arms and clean up the aluminum wheel hub pieces. Also remade the stainless swing-arm pivot axle while I was at it. Still have a few more parts to rehab but not many.

I thought I'd model the front end as solids in the process of rebuilding everything, That way I can brush up on SW a bit.

Saturday, July 25, 2009

Moving again

Well, Em and I are moving to Seattle and possibly Portland in the next 2 months. I'm pretty excited and looking forward to living somewhere else besides Texas for awhile. The PNW it seems, has a lot going on as far as advanced vehicle development and I'm hoping to be a part of it somehow. DP Cars and MotoCzysz are developing interesting high performance vehicles for sure and there seems to be a wealth of experience in the region working with composites as well as machining. I suppose Boeing can take credit for that.
Last week I started disassembling the front end of my wrecked scooter. The front end is pretty much the only thing preventing it from being rideable again and in the process I've redesigned it to accept a 12" wheel and tire as well as a much lighter monoshock. USM has graciously allowed me to remake the parts as needed and I'll have this project up and running before the move if everything goes well.
I can't wait to get moved and settled in so I can start getting back down to doing what I like.

Saturday, May 2, 2009

Change of Address

About a month ago I was laid off from my position as a model maker at VisualCNC in Austin due to a serious slow-down in work, Which I personally believe could have been avoided by a little preemptive marketing.. But no matter, I was lucky enough to get laid off right before USM needed a replacement model maker in Houston.
So, USM is a great opportunity for me to expand my horizons a bit. I'll be in a similar situation as I was at Flyrite, They need someone that can set up and run a cnc operation from the ground up. Granted, They do have a couple of top rate manual machinist with some cnc experience but I'll be the master of my domain(er, corner). USM is just the kind of shop I like best, Varied. They have the facilities for cnc, welding, model making, painting, fdm rapid prototyping and engineering. They lack in the cad/cam and cnc arena but thats why its a good situation for me. I can help.
I've also had to move to Houston for this new job which has me leaving behind my home shop for awhile until I can find better facilities to conduct my research into composites.. And Em and I are taking a 2 week trip to Europe in the middle of May so I have little time for side projects at least for the time being. I will however be visiting as many automotive and scooter related operations as the itinerary will allow... pictures and posts pending.

Friday, March 27, 2009

Baby steps

Lately I've been busy taking care of other things and putting the carbon fiber parts on the back burner so to speak but I've not stopped thinking about new methods and materials I'd like to try out.
creation of a decent mold has been a challenge but I think I've got a decent grasp on it.. essentially I tried treating the mold creation as the same as the part layup and well, it kinda' works but the mold seems to need a few tweaks to get a decent surface finish, which is pretty hard to achieve when dealing with the wet lay-up method.

One interesting product thats come up lately is Oxeon's line of reinforcements. These are really just a different type of weave it seems, They differ in that they are woven in a much larger tow or "ribbon" if you will. The appearance is more like a checkered flag look rather than a fabric. The idea is to create a clothe with more fibers running straight instead of curving in and out of one another. Seems like a good idea. I would like to try weaving some 1\2 inch wide carbon uni-tape into a cloth and try it in a layup.

It's becoming clear that 29 inches of vacuum is not ideal for bagging parts, I need more pressure than what atmospheric pressure can apply so I'm looking at creating a small pressure chamber that I can at least double the pressure in, say 30psi would be a nice improvement and I would'nt need to make it out of steel, though that would be nice. I think also it might leave the part with smaller voids do to the compressing nature of positive pressure as opposed to vacuum.
So, I think I'll try one more time to create a better mold and layup some parts using a positive pressure environment.

Time and money allowing, I'll be making great progress.

Sunday, February 22, 2009

2nd step

The Indy Dealer Expo turned out to be very fruitful for myself, I fulfilled all my expectations and then some this year. If last year was an opportunity to experience and learn what this event is all about then this year was my opportunity to act on what I'd learned last year and of course learn more. As always, My main purpose was to be a second set of eyes and ears for Steve and The Scooter Scoop, A duty I feel fortunate to be able to perform.
As for my carbon fiber parts, I was able to produce a mold and a prototype part that I took with me and showed to a few people that seemed interested. I got back some interesting and useful criticisms, some of which I found very useful. Some new ideas were spawned during this trip as well.
In the mad rush to make something I could take with me to the show, I learned a lot about working with composites. I made a few mistakes that caused me to think harder about what this process needs to be successful and this week I'm committed to remaking a higher quality set of molds than what I had. I also learned about a neat little trick to achieve a better surface finish with epoxy. All in all, making these parts is going to be a lot more work than what I had imagined but I believe in making nothing but the best parts I can possibly produce otherwise I just don't want to do it. time will tell if I can support myself doing this but till then I am giving it my best shot.

After getting back to Austin I stopped by a friend's house and installed this prototype on his scooter for long term testing. The fit was excellent and the weight reduction from the stock part is amazing. I'll be making a few more for testing this week and start putting together my game plan for a legal business. I can't wait to make replacements of larger parts on the Vespa P-range to see how far I can push the envelope of weight reduction. The notion of making a full carbon fiber P frame is very attractive.

Sunday, February 15, 2009

At the Expo

Well, I'm here at the expo and thoroughly enjoying myself. I've seen quite a few new products that are very interesting like a 12" carbon fiber wheel by BST Blackstone that isn't currently imported to the U.S. Of course it's hard to get more info from the guy manning the both on account that he is being mobbed by tens of gawkers buggin' out on the GP wheels but I did managed to get from him that they are something made for the mini-Gp bikes that are raced in Japan like NSR50's and the like... Very interesting indeed, I can easily see these being adapted to any number of scooters, you know, if someone just happens to have the cash to $pend on these items.
I've been very fortuneate this year to have Steve from The Scooter Scoop introducing me to people in the scooter industry and letting me tag along to after parties and what-not, I'm doing my best to listen and learn from what these people have to say. It's entertaining to listen to stories of drunken scooter rally debauchery as well!
All in all this has been totally worth the time,money and trouble. I'm getting all that I hoped and more out of this trip.

Wednesday, January 28, 2009


Ok, well I have deduced that catalyzed urethane clear and 2 part urethane molding material definitely do not mix!
I was thinking it would be convenient to make the mold from D-shore urethane over the plug but the heat generated by the curing was damaging to the clear coat on the plug... (sigh). So, time to refinish the plug and try making a mold from standard epoxy and fiberglass.....Like I should have from the start! Live and learn. I suppose I have it pretty good though, There is a plethora of information on these sorts of processes on the internet so who am I to complain.

Monday, January 19, 2009

Plug making

Well, the carbon fiber and resin arrived on time from AVT and I'm about half done with making the plug so I need to get that done STAT! Tonight I'll be doing that and making test coupons of various combinations of fiber reinforcements.
Speaking of AVT, My first order from them went very well, they are helpful, well mannered and do what they say.. Also very knowledgeable about composites. I was apprehensive about ordering from a smaller shop but they have given me no reason to complain. It's half way across the country but worth it to get good service.
Last night I got to talking with a friend of mine in the scooter industry and we were throwing around different ideas and boy, I'm really excited about the possibilities I have in front of me! so many ideas, so little time....
I heard a quote last night that I'm fond of, "If you are working for a living, then why kill yourself working". True enough, but to me there might be a deeper meaning, as in "If you're working towards happiness, Then why not work at doing what makes you happy?"

Monday, January 12, 2009

Step 1

The Carbon fiber and resin are on the way, should be here by the end of the week. I ordered some of the best quality resins and reinforcements I could find that are commonly available to mere mortals... TETA catalyst is something that ships ground only due to it's hazardous nature but you know what they say right? "good things come to those who wait" heh.
In addition to carbon fiber, I am going to make a few parts using a relatively new material to this industry but certainly not new to any self-respecting Geologist, Basalt! Basalt fibers woven into an interesting textile to be exact. claimed properties are to exceed that of aerospace s-glass at a lower cost with much higher heat tolerance. The appearance is quite interesting as well, imagine "woven magnesium" if there were such a thing.
I'll be adding a few pictures to these posts soon as well.

Wednesday, January 7, 2009

Carbon Fiber and the Indy Dealer Expo

So I've been given the opportunity to once again attend the Indy Dealer Expo. If that doesn't sound familiar, don't feel bad. It's a convention for the manufacturers, dealers and retailers of all things scooter,motorcycle and "power sports" related. Last year I went to help my friend Steve scout products for his blog The Scooter Scoop. I'll be going again for the same reason this year but I've decided it's an excellent opportunity to put some of my product ideas in front of the heavy-hitters in the scooter industry. So to that end, I've chosen to focus on carbon fiber parts for Vespa P-series scooters, initially a light weight replacement for the shifter box cover. My task entails ordering the materials, making a mold and producing a small number of samples before the show which is in(gulp) FIVE WEEKS!.. Fine if you have a full time gig making these kinds of parts but I don't have that luxury, I'll really have to bust my but to get some made and I'll have to do it at night after work but I'm committed to this so here we go...
The engineering on these parts is non-existent since it's just a cover and a non-critical component. Making a mold should be fairly straight forward and I already have the tools for vacuum bagging parts. Now all I need is to order the carbon, s-glass and the resins, start making the mold while waiting for the materials and start thinking about flight and hotels. If anything, the critical feature of these parts is that they look really good.
I sat down the other day and did a cost analysis on a small run of parts and even at 40 pcs. I'll be doing well so that's a nice little bonus there..If I happen to sell them of course! And there is already a company in Germany selling the same thing so there is an established demand for such things. My main advantage in this market is that I can make a much better quality part, cheaper and the customer won't have to order them from Germany.
I'm excited about this, It will be my first attempt at conquering the whole enchilada on my own, concept, prototype, production and marketing..

Monday, January 5, 2009


First order of business today: Create a blog space...