If you find a fork in the road, take it. If you make your own damn forks, use this tool.

Are people still building their own forks these days??  This past weekend I spent a good majority of my Sunday working through an old Fork Jig Design of mine modifying every single part and incorporating design principles I've learned over the past 3 years working with Extruded Aluminum on my Bringheli Modifications.  I use extruded Aluminum for a number of reasons, but the main one is that it strikes the perfect balance between quality and price, especially when sourced through a reputable vendor.  This has always been very important to me because while I love building bikes, I also love to provide frame building tooling to enable people to build their own bikes even more.  There's just something magical about being able to ride something you created.  I want more people to experience that feeling I felt the first time my feet left the ground and the only thing holding me up was a FARR frame. 

From what I've seen, most frame-building tooling on the market falls into two major price categories.  One, it's just too expensive for the average builder or semi-professional hobbyist to use.  Or two, it's more cost-effective but sacrifices what I feel to be fundamental aspects of how these tools should function.  In all my efforts I've tried to strike a balance or middle ground between these two approaches.

This fork jig has been on my to do list for almost 4 years now, and there have been quite a few people patiently waiting.  I've been through numerous design revisions, built countless prototypes and used my previous design to build a number of my own forks.  All these efforts have led me to what you see today.  A no-nonsense (except for the sense of being a sensible price) Fork Jig coming in February 2018.  

The new FARR Fork Jig - due early February 2018

Happy Building - Todd

OMG Becky... Look at that Butt (Checker)!

I've been wanting to come back and revisit this one for a while...  Truth be told the butt checker was the first frame building tool I made when I started looking at picking up this craft.  It's never been the sexiest tool in my tool box, but it makes quick work of one of the most important aspects of frame building: understanding where your butts are and how to position them relative to the miters.  

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THE ORIGINAL BUTT CHECKER...

CIRCA 2013

My goals for this redesign was to build a quality tool that does the important job it was meant to do for a reasonable price.  There were a few things that I never liked about the original design: First, (just being a form guy) the design always seemed a little stale (the left the cereal box open for a week kind).  At the time it was primarily because I was limited by a manually milling setup.  However, now that a majority of my work is done on a CNC it's opened up opportunities to be a little more creative and make the tool a little more polished.  Second, the standoffs were always a problem, tweak it a little to hard in the vise and the bottom end would slip under the standoffs misaligning the ball and dial indicator tip (an inconvenience more than anything).  Well, that has also been fixed with a full half round of surface contact between the upper and lower machined pieces making it a rock solid joint.  Lastly, the final minor annoyance was the flat front on the lower tube shaft, making it so there was never a smooth guiding transition into the tool, but that is also no more with a full round radius taking it's place and leading the tube straight into the mouth of this beast.  

With the new design I feel like I've solved a lot of the previous problems while still being able to keep the costs to a minimum.  In fact you can still buy the tool for my original price of $100.00 with the minor caveat that I do have to sell it that way as a BYOD (bring you own dial) setup.  It actually makes more sense this way anyways as a lot of you already have a suitable dial in your toolbox or you can simply pick one that meets your specific needs.  Anyways... without further ado, the new FARR Frameworks Butt Checker...

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THE NEW AGE BUTT CHECKER

CIRCA Here & Now! 

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