So this is exiting news about the results of a level of human achievement that I can barely comprehend. I listened to the live feed of the announcement while I typed this.
Far less momentous is my own announcement that I am no longer taking deposits on bike frames and on the lookout for gainful employment. I announced this on my Facebook page, and was really pleased at the encouragement of folks who believe in me and want to help me transition to a new career, and was also asked to satisfy the curiosity of some folks that were wondering why I was getting out of it. Was it because there weren’t enough customers, or not enough profit. Kind of made me think about what I’d been doing it for in the first place.
The following was my response.
I’m pretty proud of the commissions that have come out of the little basement workshop in the last 4 years, the handful of customers I’ve had have so far have been glowingly positive about the way their bikes perform for them and that is a great feeling. I was drawn toward designing and building bicycle frames and components for as long as I can remember, I don’t think I could see over the counter the first time I was awed at the perfection of these machines and yearned to understand them.
Anyway I’ve done it, fairly dedicated my life to building and riding bicycles, I can ride a wheelie three city blocks and i can hand miter then cleanly tig weld something fairly exacting to whatever specification I see fit, it has been been a wonderful exercise unto itself, and I am forever indebted gratitude for the opportunity I’ve had to pursue it, I’ve had incredible support from family and frustomers (freinds/customers) who understood that I was trying to do something special and really appreciated it. It has been a long learning process but I’ve gotten enough under my belt that I have a lot of confidence that I am offering a pretty high level product.
I never really charged enough for my time because I’d never felt justified to bill a customer for my education, if something is taking longer because I am doing it for the first time, that is my fault, when I want to do something that takes longer because I think it is better, that’s a little bit different, and that is where I am at with the bike frames right now. Chasing that sliver of that sliver of a high end bike market willing to pay the kind of premium demanded by the true hand craftsmen has never really been my goal, making something that is too precious to be enjoyed as the kind of rough and tumble companion a bike has always been to me would take all of the fun out of it, besides I don’t think I can pull off the kind of polish it takes to present the picture of the aughteur . So what I am feeling now is what I would have felt at graduation if I’d felt adequate to call myself an mechanical engineer when I graduated from college 12 years ago, a bit of that alright,” I know that now, what next” sort of feeling.
The short answer is that I guess it was never really the point, the bikes I was building were an exploration and the customers were just facilitators, I a was glad for the chance to try things out, never mind making a profit, and until that exploration was complete, as I feel it now is, there was no point in trying to pursue more customers. Now that I’ve a ream of designs that work and a novel construction that can be executed efficiently it may be worth pursuing volume production and maybe if I can raise the capital to tool up for it that may be the thing but for now I am a restless problem solver, and whether I build it or someone else does, a bike frame isn’t all that problematic, they are fairly perfect in design from the get go.
So what is next, for now I’ve the last few commissions to tie up in the shop and get my resume revised. After that we’ll see, skiing on mercury maybe.
Asked “I What kind of work are you looking for? Do you was asked what skills I brought to the table as far as modern manufacturing goes as well.know solidworks? Can you tig weld aluminum? Do you have any Internet in CNC machines or Mastercam? “ Cutting and pasting that response here as well.
The answer to your last three questions is yes, sort of. I’ve spent embarrassingly little time with the torch turned to alternating current, as soon as I clear the decks of the remaining bike orders I intend to amend that with some aluminum welding projects, things happen a lot faster with the rate at which the light metal heats up, takes a bit of a different approach to feeding the filler than with steel, I imagine I could pretty readily develop the touch. I spent a good bit of time on Solidworks in my last professional position, its four years out now so I am surely a little rusty and looking to get into a refresher course for it. So far my understanding of the mastercam and CNC stuff is academic, the last production facility I worked at needed me supervising on the floor too much to grant my request to delve into programming. Short answer to your last three questions is yes, sort of. As for the first I don’t know exactly, I like manufacturing but am not entirely sure I want to get hemmed in to the grind of just meeting production goals day in and day out, I like design but can’t imagine sitting still for weeks on end. it is funny how many aspects of the manual labor that I’ve taken on to pay the bills there are that I actually like, thinking on my feet in a small team where leadership responsibilities are arrived at naturally and going in and getting stuff done is a lot of fun, I’d imagine there are jobs in the power industry doing installs and the like that would hold the same kind of appeal. Kind of need to see what’s out there a little bit.
Anyway, that’s that.
Would love to here from anybody out there excited about the work they are doing, don’t be a stranger, especially if you are strange….