Friday, August 16, 2013

The Ultimate One-Off

Mike Swartz blogs about his experience in taking 9 months to build a bike. I mean seriously build: he started with the designing the bike he wanted and then building it from tubes.

Melting metal

This was by far the most fun, scary and rewarding part of the build. I decided to fillet-braze the bike, which means mastering the handling of the oxy-acetylene torch. If you’ve never seen one, it’s a pretty hardcore setup. One tank of oxygen, one tank of acetylene, a ridiculously flammable gas. This potent mixture can produce a flame that burns at around 6000 degrees Fahrenheit. It can also explode and kill you. So being careful is pretty key.
It's a really interesting journey. Just as biking will occasionally put you in a space you weren't expecting, so does building.There is something primal about the maker urge.
It took about three weeks to build the whole thing with the setbacks, parts that didn’t fit, and the wheel building. There were a few nights out in the garage where I was tempted to just rip through and finish the build if I had to stay up all night. But I decided to wait, and give myself some time to think about the problem or order the right part instead of scrounging/modifying what I had. I heard a great piece of advice from another guy at the workshop:
Whenever I think I’m 30 minutes away from finishing a project, I stop and come back to it the next day. This way I don’t rush, and force myself to be smart and do it right.
I think about this a lot and how useful it is when applied to basically everything. Don’t rush, do it right. You don’t want to ruin 9 months of work because the hardware store was closed.
Mike's posts are a short and interesting read.

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