Discounted Lug Vises Available (50% off)

Friends & Framebuiliders, 

In a recent effort to reduce the complexity and cost of my lug vises I simplified the design and reduced the number of machining processes required to make these things.  While I was successful in cost/operation reductions as well as improving a few areas, they didn't turn out as silky smooth (especially the sleeves) as my old design which I plan to return to when these are gone.  That's not to say these aren't functional and wouldn't make a great addition to the toolbox of a lugged frame builder, the larger sleeves (specifically the 1.375") are just a little difficult to open.  That being said, I'm offering up the 15 units I have in stock at a special discounted rate of 50% off ($125.00 + shipping). If you are interested in buying one of these discounted lug vises please get in touch with me through the contact page.   You can see the pictures below:

Happy Building - Todd 

A New Round of Bringheli Upgrades on the Way...

Hello everybody, it's been a while... Well, my wife and I finally relocated back to the states ~4 months ago after a 3 year Expat Assignment in Asia (Taiwan & Korea).  On our return, however, we actually ended up a little more South then where we started.  An opportunity presented itself in the Bay Area that we felt we had to pursue, and long story short here we are alive and well in Los Gatos, CA.  Being back home (with a garage, MiSUMi & McMaster-Carr) already has me itching to start a few  projects again.  While I was overseas, I was pinged with the occasional interest in the tools I've built in the past and I figured these would be a great place to start again as the demand is there and I have a long history with their functionality and performance.  

I, like most builders, build frames as a serious professional hobby.  I do it for the love of bicycles and the passion for understanding the bicycle at it's fundamental core "the frame."  However, this leaves me with little incentive to fully commit to the heavy investment in the coveted professional equipment.  While there is maybe a jump in functionality and the overall fit & finish of these tools it also comes with a big jump in the associated costs.  This is where I think Joe Bringheli has been able to fill a gap of entry level jigs in the bicycle industry.  I think it's a great jig for the money (especially second hand) and I used it as sold from Joe for my 2nd & 3rd bikes.  However, by #4 I'd become handy enough with the file that actually jig checking & fixturing with the Bringheli became the bottle neck in my process and not my miters.  This is where I really started to examine ways to improve the jig with the greatest impact at the lowest cost. 

My first project was the Bringheli Backend Replacement.  I'd used Anvil Dummy Axles in my DIY Fork Jig and they are simply the best.  The keyed design to keep the dropouts in sync are not just a luxury but IMO a necessity.  I built the first Bringheli Backend Upgrade Prototype on a Manual Bridgeport way back in 2013. 

The first Bringheli Back End Upgrade.  Circa 2013

It was simple, the positioning and mating between parts was mostly uncontrolled and parts were simply squared up prior to tightening the bolts... but, it worked, it worked really good actually.  The back end of the next bike I built was the most complicated (my wife's Mixte), but it went together faster with less effort than any bike that came before it.  It was months later when someone noticed this little modification from one of my process pictures.  Other Bringheli Owner's with the same pains I had started to take notice.  Enough notice in fact, that I actually committed to properly redesigning the fixture and producing a run of 10 sets.  

It took 3 months from the 1st day of CAD to when the units started shipping.  Precision dowels were added at all mating & slide locations, a complete piece from the original design was removed to reduce stack up tolerances and each component was subtly refined with CNC engraving to give a premium look & feel.  All 10 were spoken for in less than 1 month.   It was during this time that I had realized maybe I was onto something here and I had already diverted my attention to the front end of the Jig.  

I was luckier than most others as my Jig had already been slightly modified by it's previous owner.  The main shaft that holds the HT cones was actually made to split in the middle.  This allowed me to at least load/unload the bike from the jig with a slightly minimized effort but it was still a pain as I had to make sure my datum was reset correctly each time.  Again, I went to the drawing board and sketched out a simple prototype I could make.      

The first Bringheli Front End Upgrade.  Circa 2013

This design followed the more widely accepted standard of having a flat puck on the bottom of the HT as a datum and a centering cone for the upper part of the HT.  I also took the time to add a ruler that would allow me to easily setup the jig to X, Y coordinates (BB to HT) taken from the frame drawing.  With these additions my Bringheli was a completely different jig.  It became a joy to use and frames were coming out of it far straighter and far quicker than before.  I built frames for the next 6 months with this setup, until I got a job offer from Nike based overseas as a Machine Design Engineer.  The opportunity to travel and see the world was just too good to pass up so we packed up all our stuff in a storage unit and we moved to Taichung, Taiwan.

I made it through almost a whole year in Taiwan before the e-mails reached the critical mass required to pursue both the front & back sets.  I tend to push for a constant refinement of a product even if it's small changes, and with the front & back upgrades, this mindset was no different.  The first thing I noticed during the redesign process is how similar the holding methodology was between the front and back end of the Bringheli Jig.  This led me to pursue a commonality between the main bracket between the two fixtures.  It was almost as if by accident I stumbled upon this, but I really do love the way it turned out.  For these new versions the refinements came in as removal of hard corners with chamfers, the addition of an angle pointer on the front end and a continued refinement of the corner radii and jig lines.  Also, since all Bringheli jigs are not equal in terms of the C-Channel widths, these new versions included adjustable brass tipped set-screws to custom fit any Bringheli jig and ensure smooth sliding. 

I produced 10 sets of these modifications and again was able to sell out, it took a little bit longer, but all were gone in about 3 months.  While I believe the Bringheli modification market is probably pretty close to saturation, I still have enough interest to build the last set of 10 that I will ever make.  However, only 9 will be available as one of these new set will adorn my own Bringheli.  The back end will be the exact same design as the last set, but I took the opportunity to continue to refine the front end, which naturally is 1 revision behind the back end anyways.  A newly sculpted main plate moves the angle markers to the front of the plate so you no longer have to set this from the rear of the jig.  Also a counter sunk main slide handle drops it out of the way so there is no longer a fight between it and the bottom HT support handle.  The final change is direct central plumbing for argon gas resulting in a more laminar type flow and a cleaner route of the tube away from the torch.  

Both these modifications will be available some time in mid-late April 2017.  Also, the purchase list is filling up quickly, so if you are interested please drop me a note in the contact section.  As mentioned previously, this will be the last set of the Bringheli modifications I will make as I look to turn my sight towards other projects that have been on the back burner for a while.  

Happy Building - Todd  

Haedong Yonggung Temple (해동용궁사) Busan, South Korea

A few weeks ago we had a friend/co-worker in town visiting from Taiwan.  As if almost by law I think every first timer to Busan somehow makes their way to Haedong Yonggungsa aka The Water Temple.  Maybe it's the recent rise in popularity of Tourist Trap Advisor in Asia, and the fact that it's # 1 or 2 on the list (last time I checked), but I like to default to the fact that it's just an awesome place.   Audrey and I first visited Headong Yonggungsa last June 2014 for Buddha's birthday.  At that time the entire temple was a glow and covered with lanterns for the celebration.  Truly an awesome sight to see, but with the lanterns gone the temple still does have an almost "romantic" charm to it.   I personally think anything built on the rocky shores of the salty sea is a magical place, but couple it with the culture and history of an ancient religion and you truly have something special.  

Built on the rocky shore of the salty sea in Busan, South Korea

If you happen to make it to Busan in your life time, especially if you know me and I'm still living here, I'll personally put you in a van and drive you to this cultural getaway.  Hopefully it will still live up to the hype as this last time we were there I could start to feel the spindly fingers of commercialization taking hold of the surrounding areas.   Anyways... without further ado... Pictures! 

Big Golden Happy Buddha 

I actually quite appreciate these rockstacks or cairn, you'll find them all over in the mountains of Korea, not nearly as pretty and polished as these ones, but still feats of minor megalithic engineering... 

Rockstacks (cairn) and a view of the ocean 

Something...something...something... everyday... Sorry folks that as good as my Korean is at this point.  Even typing in the first part to google translate just returns phonetic Korean, so unless you know someone who's fluent you'll just have to use your imagination.  I'm thinking they are students of the religion maybe and need to study it everyday??? But don't let me make up your mind for you! ;)  

Something to do with studying? I know 날마다 means everyday, but that's it. 

Standing at the highest point of the temple is this Great Goddess Buddha statue. 

The motto of Haedong Yonggungsa is "At least one of your wishes will be answered here through your heartful prayers."  Whether you believe or don't there is a sacred air to this place.

Well those are some of my favorites from the day.  I'll make sure to dump the rest on my flickr page.  As always feel free to ask me any questions you may have in the comments section or by shooting me an e-mail on the contact page!   Also, if you are interested in the history of the temple, here is a clearly written in Korean then translated to English 3-4 paragraph quick download for you!!

- Todd Farr 

Hiking In Taiwan: Pingxi District (平溪)

I've lived in Taiwan for a little over a year now, and as we are getting ready to pack up and move to South Korea next month, I wanted to document and share some of my favorite places I've visited.  Hopefully this will be helpful to anyone else who happens to make it out to this great country and it will also help avoid the headache of having to find some of these places like I did.  

I love being outdoors, and Taiwan is heaven when it comes to an abundance of unique and challenging hikes.  The same aspects that attract me to cycling have also recently drawn me to an increased desire to hike and be in the mountains, forests and wildernesses.  As we (as a society) develop and create new means of travel and enhance the technologies that assist us to reach our destinations we are significantly reducing the time it takes to travel from Point A to B.  But I still advocate for taking the long road.  I feel that part of the destination is the journey you take to get there, and given the option my vehicle of choice is more often my bicycle or my own two feet.  These human-powered modes of transportation allow for a much more immersed experience.  They are quiet so you can not only see your surroundings, you can hear them, and because there is nothing between you and the air you can feel, taste and smell them too.  

Located about 30 mins outside of Taipei, Taiwan is the rural district of Pingxi (平溪).  Although it's most famous for it's yearly lantern festival, this is also the location of one of my favorite hiking areas in Taiwan.  What attracts me to this place is not only the beautiful lush landscape, but the thrilling ridges and crags that are to be explored in this area.  

Coming down of the summit of Mt. Putuo.  One of the famous Pingxi Crags. 

Coming down of the summit of Mt. Putuo.  One of the famous Pingxi Crags. 

BEFORE YOU GO

I will say this hike is not for the faint of heart.  For those who are scared of heights or are proclaimed vertigo sufferers there are a few sections that can be a little sketchy.  However, you are not required by any means to climb to the peak of each trail as most are an out and back kind of thing.  That being said it can still be a fun day out for all levels of adventure seekers.  Most of the trails here are actually steps carved into the rock faces, so be prepared to to do a lot of climbing, it can be quite a workout if you keep a decent pace as you climb higher out of the forests.  When I hiked Pingxi (平溪) it had rained a little bit in the morning and the areas under the tree cover were still damp.  I will say these trails can get pretty slick when it's wet, so make sure you bring appropriate shoes or hiking boots.  

GETTING THERE

Getting to Pingxi (平溪) is quite easy if you have a car, but almost equally as easy if you don't as there is a train station right in town in which buses and trains run to for most of the day.  If you want to take the scenic route, I would suggest taking the train which actually loops around and enters Pingxi (平溪) from the East.  For directions and train/bus routes to the Pingxi Station, simply search for it in Google Maps, but just for fun here is a quick breakdown of the steps...

  1. Head to Taipei Main Train Station.   
  2. Buy a ticket to Ruifang Train Station - it will set you back about 48NTD
  3. At Ruifang exit the station to the ticket counter outside the gate and buy a ticket to Pingxi - This was under 100NTD
  4. The ticket for the Pingxi train is all day, so you can pretty much get off at any of the stops and get back on to explore the sites along the way. 

Once you are in Pingxi (平溪) the trail head starts less than 0.5km from the station and I've done my best to pin the exact starting location in the map below.  

 

THE HIKE & TRAIL MAP

I only had time to really explore the famous crags.  Rumor has it these steps were hand-carved into the mountain faces by the retired bodyguard of Chiang Kai Shek (the leader of the Republic of China from 1928-1975).  With the time I took snapping a couple pictures and enjoying the views it took me around 2.5 hours to hike up and down the 3 main crags near the trail head.  Unfortunately I didn't have time to do the back half of the trail network which goes up over Zhongyang Peak. But I had a ton of fun during my trip, and I would highly recommend spending a day out here.  It can be quite thrilling hiking up the faces of the crags, and the views are just phenomenal.  I would say the only complaint I had about this hike is that the forest is littered with lanterns that are constantly being launched from the Township.  It seems to be a year long attraction these days.  

The Pingxi District Trail Map

The Pingxi District Trail Map

A FEW PHOTOGRAPHS

I'm hoping to upload a slew of images to my flickr account when I have time to go back and edit them all, but for now here are a couple of great images showing the uniqueness of this wonderful place to spend an afternoon. 

Chutes and Ladders to the top of Mt. Xiaozi 

Chutes and Ladders to the top of Mt. Xiaozi 

On my way to the top

On my way to the top

A quick look back before committing to the top of Xiaozi Peak 

A quick look back before committing to the top of Xiaozi Peak 

Looking back at Xiaozi Peak on a foggy day in Taiwan 

Looking back at Xiaozi Peak on a foggy day in Taiwan 

A statue standard guard on the peak of Cimu Peak 

A statue standard guard on the peak of Cimu Peak 

If you have any questions please comment, or send me an e-mail.  You will not regret taking the time to get out here and explore the crags.  Also, I was surprised at the lack of people on the trails, it seems the attraction of launch lantern keeps most visitors in town.  I was here in the heart of the weekend, with decent weather and I was one of maybe 12 out and about exploring this hikers + photographers paradise. 

Introducing FBBER V2.0 + FBFER V1.0

It's been a long road and I appreciate everyone who's sat in the passengers seat with me.  Life is a scale, and it functions best when balanced, but more importantly when loaded within it's limits!  Sometimes you have to slow down to speed up.   I've personally been "brake-checking" a lot of projects coming out of FARR Frameworks because I believe that the quality of these parts should be second to none.  For some of the builders that buy this tooling, it's a matter of putting money in the bank and feeding their families.   I take this very seriously and only want to deliver products that I can be proud to put my name on.  With that said, I'm finally to a point where FBBER V2.0 (The FARR Bringheli Jig Backend Replacement) and FBFER V1.0 (The FARR Bringheli Jig Front End Replacement) are now available.  

The FBBER V2.0 features subtle changes to the design that make it a more refined package.  Details like machine-chamfered edges, a laser-engraved chainstay marker, washer-couterbores, a new industrial stainless steel BB-Drop scale, and most importantly an adjustment system that allows for precise fitting on any Bringheli Frame Jig.  From FBBER V1.0 I quickly found out that not all Bringheli's are created equal.  Each C-channel has varying dimensions in width.  Therefore, instead of using shims, like in the previously design, V2.0 uses specialty set screws with wear-resistant brass tips to adjust the width of the FBBER to fit any c-channel dimension from 2.875" - 3.250".  This range is quite a bit larger than necessary, but the space will allow users to better see the adjustments they are making.  

The FBFER is a completely new animal.  I've been through a couple CAD design revisions up to this point, and even made a BETA version that I've used myself for the past 2 years, but this is the first official release.  This design comes from learning from FBBER V1.0, listening to current Bringheli users, and of course from my own experiences using the Bringheli jig.  Originally, I was thinking the best way to design this piece was to add three new components that control - Independent X, Independent Y, and Independent Ө (angle) respectively.  This would allow a system similar to the Anvil or Sputnik Frame Jigs, where the lower HT center point is at X-Y from the BB and rotates around Ө.  However, the Bringheli's foundation is not really designed and built to support this method with it's fixed Z-Type base.  This means that additional components would need to be added to separate these movements completely.  This stacking of components on top of one another would result in stacking tolerances that have a high chance of affecting the HT center-line.  A quick survey of Bringheli users revealed that using Dave Anderson's Tutorial is the best way to setup this jig, and that the major headaches lie in the silly Rod + Cone design and the fact that X-direction movement and Angular movement are coupled. 

After the scope was decided, one of the main things I wanted to accomplish when designing the FBFER V1.0 was to limit the amount of NEW unique pieces I had to design and manufacture.  This lead me to the idea of using the same vertical piece used for the Backend Replacement for both HT supports on the FBBER V1.0.  Since I had already designed this part, proved that it works, dialed the tolerances to be paired accurately with extrusions, and could also produce higher quantities it seemed like the best option.  It also meant I could use the same stacked component widths to ensure the HT and Rear-Triangle are on the same center-line.  Some added benefits beyond this include: Laser-Engraved Angle Indication, the same adjustable mounting system used on the rear replacement piece, and a super rigid main beam with the virtual center-line machine engraved.  There are also 3 locations (100mm apart) for pivot point relocation.  This allows framebuilders to produce extreme sizes, without increasing the size of the length of the main beam.     

I guess the next step would be to design a replacement for the BB + Seat Tube Tower.  After that it might be time to go direct to Bringheli and see if he would be interested in adding these as an up charge option for those framebuilders purchasing new jigs from him.  Anyways, if you are interested in either of these modification, please send me an e-mail.

-Todd Farr