Tuesday, June 4, 2013

Hello. My name is...

... and I'm an alc.... oh wait, wrong meeting.

I've tried things like this before, keeping a log of projects or other ventures. It always starts with the best intentions but I seem to lose interest and fail to update it near as often as I should. So here goes another attempt. I'll try to keep the updates coming though, rest assured, they will be sparse.

A little about me: by day, I'm a computer engineer.  I went to a large university in Austin and used to work at a major computer manufacturer in the same area.  After tiring of the corporate world, I went to work for a smaller company with a really cool logo but still doing the same type of development and design work.  I specialize in the server and storage world, in particular transport protocols.  I really enjoy what I do and welcome the challenges it brings but, after doing it during the week, I found myself looking for something completely different in my free time.  It's fun to think and talk about communication protocols, transport optimization, and other esoteric concepts but when you get down to it, it's all 1's and 0's.  At then end of a hard day of work, there's a lot to be said about being able to hold the result of your idea in your hand.

Enter fabrication.  I've always been interested in building things with my hands.  Mostly it was woodworking at first but, more recently, the world of metal working has been opened to me.  I guess it started when a friend showed me a video of the Spin Cycle built by a guy named Brad from Atomic Zombie.  I checked out his website and bought a couple of his books ("Atomic Zombie's Bicycle Builder's Bonanza" and "Bike, Scooter, and Chopper Projects for the Evil Genius").  I was amazed at what could be done using nothing more than a stick welder, angle grinder, and a hand drill.

This interest was further propagated when they opened a Tech Shop location in my area.  If there is one near you and you haven't been, you owe it to yourself to check it out.  They work along the same lines as a fitness gym.  You pay a monthly fee for access but instead of treadmills, free weights, and aerobics classes they have milling machines, lathes, TIG welders, etc.  You have to take a basic safety class before you can use a particular machine but once that's done, you have unrestricted access to use it.  I spend most of my time in the machine shop or metal "hot shop" portion of the place but they have way more than that.  There's a full wood shop, laser cutters/engravers, and if your into textiles they have embroidering machines, commercial sewing machines,  and even a CNC quilting machine.

Anyway, this blog is primarily going to be about my little fabrication projects, mainly centered around motorcycles.  Keep in mind I'm an engineer (read: geek) and have no real experience with any type of metal work.  The items I post are just my feeble attempts at accomplishing a certain task.  I probably did not do them the best or "correct" way and they either worked or failed but hopefully I can pass on information to someone that may find it useful.  Even if it's just "how NOT to do something" which I feel will probably be the case more often than not.

So, why motorcycles?  I got into motorcycles several years ago and was initially interested in crotch rockets.  I like to go fast (who doesn't?) and that seemed to be the best way to do it.  Not long after that I attended my first track day.  That ruined me on street riding, at least on sport bikes, permanently.  When you're white knuckling a bike at 160 MPH and wondering why you can't go any faster.  Then you glance down and realize you're bouncing off the rev limiter and you're only in 5th gear with one more to go....  That's not something you can recreate ("safely") on the street.  Added to that, sport bikes just aren't that comfortable to ride around on so I put my last bike in storage.  

I found myself in sort of a transitional period.  I was looking for something that was just as much fun to ride at reasonable speeds as it was full throttle.  Having something that's fun and interesting to look at while it's parked was also appealing.  I picked up a few magazines including Cafe Racer, The Horse - Backstreet Choppers, and Hot Bike (among others) to get some ideas on the direction I wanted to go.  I know I want to build something or, at least, heavily modify something.  I'm not entirely certain which way I'll go but I do know it's definitely not going to be anywhere near those overpriced pro street choppers that were so popular five or ten years ago.  I also think I may avoid Harley's, at least for now, just because everyone seems to have one already.  It's probably inevitable though that I will end up with one eventually as both my father and brother are die hard HD riders.  We'll see....

Oh yeah, the name... I like beer.  A large portion of these projects are done out of my garage, during my off hours, and are typically accompanied by 1 to 6+ of my pint sized friends.

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