Saturday, June 21, 2008

My new babies

I am VERY excited about both of these new apples of my eye. In fact, I'm having a hard time deciding which one to write about first.

I guess I'll start with the less-attractive picture. No, I am not wearing a shirt. Luckily for you, I have cropped the photo for safe viewing at work - and no, it's not my farmer's tan I'm proud of (though I kind of am...) Ladies: I am happily married, and my supply of dainty undergarments is more than adequate for my needs - please think before you throw and/or mail your unmentionables at/to me.

Actually, it's our new 2.5kW solar cell array - our house and the Waltworks shop are now 100% solar powered. Not a single nugget of coal or drop of oil or, um, glosh of water through a hydroelectic dam is required for me to run my milling machine, lathe, welding stuff, etc. Of course, I do still drive a car to transport your frame to the powdercoater, and DHL probably burns a few gallons of fuel along the way as well, but I'm still pretty pleased to be powered (at least in the shop) entirely by the sun. As well as good old human muscles (which in turn are powered by tamales and beer. Mostly beer.) I'm not sure that anyone will be rushing to buy a bike because it's built with solar power, but as a long-term investment, I like it.

Also, it tells you how much power you're generating in real time (as well as how much you've generated for the day). Thus far today I have stood outside staring at it for about a total of an hour. Sarah laughs at me every time I walk outside.

Second, though also close to my heart, is my new cyclocross bike. Yes, I'm aware that CX season is about 6 months away. I'm also aware that I'm about as good at cyclocross as I am at, say, tango dancing, or playing the cello, or making up dirty limericks. Which is to say very, very bad. In the one case that I did well in a cyclocross race, I was on my singlespeed town bike, and the mud proved to be so sticky that 90% of the field quit in disgust, leaving me to ride to a (last place) 8th place finish, from a starting field of something like 60 guys. Nice. So I didn't build this bike to race on. No sir. I built it to toodle around the roads (and dirt roads) of Boulder whenever the urge strikes me.

Now here are the geeky details:
-Custom steel frame/fork, of course. I did use a funky (now discontinued) super thin seat tube and reinforced it with a custom-made lug/sleeve. Came out pretty nice, I think. Frame/fork weigh something like 5 pounds total.
-Old road wheels of Sarah's. The hubs make horrible noises and the rims are full of dings and gouges, but I really can't justify buying new wheels for myself when we just bought the solar panels (ouch!) MC, I'm sure I'll be getting those wheels from you someday.
-SRAM Rival drivetrain and shifters, 105 compact crankset. FWIW, I've not had a bike with dropbars, or a bike with gears, in at least 5 years. So my ability to analyze how well any of this stuff works is pretty limited. Seems to shift nice, pedals nice, etc. The SRAM hoods seem kinda small and uncomfortable to me, but maybe I'll get used to them.
-Old bonty saddle and thomson post. Grabbed these from my travel bike. I'll have to get a post that's <410mm at some point, there's so much seatpost in the frame it's ridiculous.
-EC70 handlebar and WCS stem. I thought these were a good deal, and the bar seems pretty comfy. I like the flat part on top - that hadn't been invented whence I last threw a leg over a road bike.
-Paul touring cantilevers. These are the best canti brakes on earth. I can't believe I ever used those craptacular Avid shorties - the Paul brakes kick the living snot out of them, and best of all, I don't see any way they can fall apart like the Avids do every season or so. Then again, they cost 3x as much. Thanks to Nick for the snazzy cable hangers.

The whole bike weighs like 18 pounds (and I wasn't even trying to make it that light!) and it feels (after years of riding singlespeeds with 2.5" tires) like, as the bike snob would say, a bicycle particle inside a particle accelerator, which is ITSELF just a particle inside an even bigger particle accelerator. It's probably dirt slow as road/cross bikes go, but I wouldn't know. My Flagstaff record is going to be dropping considerably, methinks.

Stand by for tomorrow's snide restaurant review: The Kitchen (aka Shoney's)


eszter said...

Walt riding drop bars? Has hell frozen over?

Anonymous said...

are you the first off the grid frame builder?

Walt said...

Anon -

I *think* I am. Though obviously lots of the peripheral (argon, acetylene, O2, raw materials, etc) obviously aren't produced off the grid.

I'm pretty sure I'm the only solar (or wind/wave/geothermal/old cooking oil) powered framebuilder in the world. I could be wrong about that, though.


Anonymous said...

so are you storing your power or selling it back to the man? is a plug-in hybrid next?

Feldy said...

Walt, don't you know that solar thing will never work? What the hell were you thinking? It would've made much more sense to buy yourself a diesel generator. Or better yet, you could have a windmill sticking out of the top of your garage to drive the mill.

And not to disappoint too much, but from>Ellsworth
"We make everything in the USA, and we do it in environmentally conscious ways. Our facilities are clean green powered with the Sun, and soon with Wind power." I bet they don't have the production/consumption ratio you do, though.

kurt said...

Keep us posted on your solar cell *experiment* findings. I keep looking at a home implementaion, but the decade plus long wait for roi... keeps me looking at it.

Shoneys? They don't even have a good gift shop! Don't you have any Cracker Barrels in CO?

Nice bike!

Luis G. said...

That's awesome Walt!