[CR]Musings From the Workshop: A Day in the Life

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Date: Sat, 14 Jun 2003 06:59:15 -0700
From: "Brian Baylis" <rocklube@adnc.com>
To: classicrendezvous@bikelist.org
Subject: [CR]Musings From the Workshop: A Day in the Life


A few weeks ago, while putting the final sanding job on a beautiful Curt Goodrich frame, I had a thought. I was finishing a project for a fellow framebuilder and I realized that I am so very fortunate to have a hand in some peoples' work like this. It was then that I decided it might be interesting to share some of my thoughs and experiences with the list. I have plenty of time to think while I work around here, because there is no one to talk to. In some ways my world is small. I do not pay too much attention to what goes on outside of my circle of friends, which includes everyone on the list. My computer is my lifeline to a community of vintage bike enthuesists, without which my world would shrink to almost nothing.

As I sanded Curts' frame I realized that I am in daily contact with greatness from many periods of cycling and framebuilding. As I near completion on two Richard Moon frames, this thought returned. Here I am, doing my best to enhance some of the most incredible work ever applied to a bike frame, and feeling proud to be a part of it. My work is so satisfying. I'm surrounded by rare and exotic vintage Masis and other "to die for frames" day in and day out. I get to see lots of variations of each make, and get to see it in the "raw state" where sometimes surprises are revealed.

To further my pleasure there are the exchanges on the list, most in public, some in private. For example, had an exchange with Richie the other day related to the Masi "twin plate" fork crowns. I think we were discussing Matteos' Masi and some of its' details when we got sidetracked by the twin plate crown issue. Thanks to Richard and a collection of photos, I learned something I not only didn't expect, but is quite interesting. For a long time I knew that there was something a little different about the Italian "version" of the twin plate crown that first appeared in 1972, but I never really stopped to investigate it. Actually, I had concluded that the Italians put the twin plate crowns together differently than we did in Carlsbad. The plates on the Italian version are much closer together. I have built twin plate crowns using what I thought was the "Italian trick" of bringing the lower plate closer by a certain modification of the lower plate. Richard had a different theory, that the Italian version was actually a modified blank Fischer crown. That seemed far fetched until after some close inspection and compareing of Richards photos a light bulb went on! It now appears that the Italian version of the twin plate crown is not a twin plate crown at all! Even more interesting (to me at least) is that in fact it is the same fork crown that we considered very rare on the early 60's Masi Specials, the type that is on my '62 Special. The same crown was just completely cut to the center with a metal saw until it looked like it was in two pieces, when in fact it is a normal crown still in one piece. So why did Masi do it the easy way for about one year (1972) and then come up with a real twin plate crown that was a disaster and abandon it within a year or so? Another odd detail that adds to the pile of interesting information about Masis. Thanks to Richard, something I had missed suddenly became a new piece of useful information. You're just never finished learning in this business.

Speaking of learning. I am SO excited about the upcomming study of frame dimensions and related traits of bike frames. I'm 30 years into this business and I have learned everything I believe in from personal experience. It has been a long time since I put a tremendous amount of thought into bike design. I am about to meld my 30 years experience to the Bill Boston Accufit frame design program to further my studies and to expand my understanding of what I know already. Every bike and every ride from now on will be with greater purpose towards bringing understanding of how the bike works from perhaps a more scientific perspective that I have taken in the past. I intend to translate my experience into the terms that Bill Boston has established in an effort to put them on paper, so to speak. I will be doing A LOT of measuring of frames in my collection and then riding them to compare the reality with what the programming tells me. I expect an exponential expansion of my understanding of bike design once this is completed. It may take a while.

In my daily life I get to have contact with may marvelous people, many of whom we would call "celebrities" in the group. A brief visit to Joe Bell to deliver some braze-ons they needed brings me into contact with not only JB, but framebuilder Rob Roberson who works for him and my "protege" Adrian Arao who is painting for JB. I taught Adrian how to paint 20 years ago while I was painting frames for Dave Tesch and Richard Sachs. He has come full circle now, painting Sachs frames again at JB's place. This is a marvelous little community and it it full of helpful and shareing people. I feel very fortunate to be in the middle of a group of people like this.

A few highlights from this past week or so and then I'll cut it loose. The Mario Confente track bike that I am trading Wayne Bingham for arrived from the Cirque. I have had some time to study it a little. I like it a lot. It's an interesting piece of work, still has original paint and decals, although it's got rust in a few spots. I will try to preserve the original paint job, even though the decal job on this one is a bit of a surprise. I don't want to fix it, but I'm amazed it went out like this. Part of history, I guess. I sort of got invited to a Halloween Party where I hope to make a fantasy come true this October. Paul from Rock Lobster has a band that plays at the legendary Salsa parties in Northern California. I'm hoping to jam with them a little bit this year if I can get up there. There's just something about playing music with fellow framebuilders that really gets me excited; it's like we have these two major interests in our lives in common. It makes a special bond.

Off list certain arrangements are made. For example, we may have a "guest" for the JB ride this Sunday. Charles Andrews is planning to come down to join in our traditional Sunday fun here in San Diego. I understand he will be spending a late night at the opera the night before, but is still going to make the trip down to do the ride and do some business with JB. I think it is so cool that we get together like this. These are some of the things I think about as I concentrate on my work. What a network we have. What an opportunity we have to share not only our passion and possesions, but each others' company as well. My world is small and it is concentrated primarily on bikes, but I wouldn't have it any other way.

Without everyone out there to contribute to and to recieve that which we all experience there would be no life. I would especially like to thank Fred Parr for holding the torch under my butt until I opened up to some modern technical thinking. Now, on account of a simple phonecall from Bill Boston I am engulfed and burning with desire to learn more about this magnificent machine, the bicycle. One is never too old or expreienced to learn more and expand their knowledge. I can't explain completely the excitement I feel today. But it does come from every one of my friends. I will try to spread what I learn around for the benifit of all. I get more than my share from everyone on the list. I am growning fonder of my framebuilding friends also. The internet is allowing us to have contact that was nearly impossible in the "old days". Information was difficult to pass along and many of us were young then. It is fantastic that we are now able to be in much closer touch with oneanother. I feel like a fledgling framebuilder in some ways today, because I know that there is much more information comming my way. I truely am privileged to be amongst you all.

I am going to try to visit Sterling today to see how he's doing. Thanks to those who sent me personal comments for Sterling.

Brian Baylis
La Mesa, CA