[CR]Situation Desperate

Example: Framebuilding:Norris Lockley

Date: Wed, 25 Feb 2004 14:28:05 GMT
To: classicrendezvous@bikelist.org
From: brianbaylis@juno.com
Subject: [CR]Situation Desperate

Dear listmembers,

As much as I enjoy writing to the list(s), this is one writing I was hoping to avoid. I awoke a short time ago, at 4:00am, to the realization that to write this is now a neccessity.

I have reached my human capacity to keep all that is required of me and my attention under reasonable control. As you are all probably aware, somewhere about last July or August I put out a call for a working partner to join me and help me take on this massive load of work I have accumulated. Within a few DAYS I had found the perfect partner in the form of Craig Fenstermaker. There was only one catch, he had to finish out working for his previous employer as they wraped up the sale of their buisiness to a company in Minn. The target date for his release was originally Oct.31, 2003. Unfortunately, this turned into a delay that is scheduled to end on Feb. 29, 2004. That date is now officially March 15 (the Ides of March!) which I now feel is the actual date the calvery will arrive. I was prepared to wait the month ot two for the help to arrive because I have supreme confidence in Craigs' ability to help me and the perfectness of his complimentary skills as a person, businessman, and a craftsman. I have supreme confidence in my ability to direct the operations while Craig learns the ropes from the ground up and my ability to teach him the esoteric aspects of frame repairs, painting, and other aspects of restoring fine bicycles. My confidence in Craig is greater now than ever, but the wait has be excruciating. I have gone way past anxious and deep into desperate for help.

Please indulge me as I explain my situation a little so that you can get a picture what I have been up against. My personal philosophy of trying to maintain a hands on operation from start to finish is one I'm still fond of; but the reality is that there isn't enough time in the day to even do a 10th of it as only one person. There may be others, but I know of no one in this business who has taken on a wider range of different kinds of work and difficult and unusual projects than I have; and do it all personally and without compromise all by themselves. I have recognized that the more common way to deal with this much work of taking on capable help to keep up, is the way I must go. The wheels are in motion (almost) and solutions are forthcomming. But currently I'm at the point of near incapacitation just by the number of things that are "on the hot seat". At this level, even a simple task of locating an address, writing a check, and putting it in the mail for something is dibilitating. Seriously. It takes me a long time to answer some email, deal with small details, and keep a zillion details in my mind, in the right order, and actually do it all. Let me give everyone an idea of what sorts of issues even one moderately involved project requires.

Suppose a bike needs a tube repair, rechromeing, and a repaint. I have quite of few bikes here that are in this catagory. I have several that are more involved than that. Most have either minor repair work or braze on removal or addition if not a tube replacement. It begins with communication with the customer, which usually isn't real time consuming, but can be if the job is complex. Care and time are required and some organization and record keeping are involved. The bike must be unpacked, often some parts removed, labeled, and stored and then the bike assesed and cataloged as to original features in many cases. First the frame needs to be stripped of it's old finish, and care must be taken not to just blast off the paint, burn it off, or other "quick and easy" methods I've seen used. Repair work must begin which often requires that I look for some unusual tube or braze on, or in some cases fabricate something to accomplish the task. That may also mean locating materials for the fabrication. If there is chrome on the bike I must take it to the plater and have the old chrome removed before I can work or repolish for new chrome. Back and forth to the plater, twice just for that. Once the repairs are done the new chrome must be done. I don't know of any repair outfit that takes it upon themselves to HAND polish the frame themselves before handing it to the plater. In some cases it really doesn't matter if the plater dones the polishing if they are good at working on delicate and sensitive bikes; but much of what I do requires special atterntion caused by the repair work. Sometimes only a framebuilder with experience can really do justice to these delicate situations if the work is to be first rate in every way. It is difficult to do at times. Polishing is dangerous, dirty, and very hard on the hands, fingers, elbows, and sholders; not to mention time consuming. But the crispness and thinness of the end results can not be accomplished any other way. More trips to the plater. When I have the replated frame back, then masking the chrome begins, then the laborious prep work, which is often complicated my the chrome work. The quality of the prep is paramount. You cannot cut corners or look for the easy way out. Most of the work in a paint job is in the prep stages, and the quality of the prep will make or break the project either immediately or in the future.

The painting is usually the easy part for me, but still making colors, locating special paints, decals, and who know what else is a full time job in itself. Keeping each job straight, attending to every detail of every frame, and doing the best job possible, hands on, is demanding. I do all my own pinstriping (except box lining, which I source out to professionl pinstriping specialists), prep, paint, and detail/finishing myself, which could easily keep two or three people busy full time. Add answering the phone and email, locating materials, unpacking and packing the bike, and billing and that's another job for one person. The problem becomes obvious, I can do all of it, some things in a way that no one else does, even if they are capable, but there isn't enough time in the day nor energy to do it. I frequently don't eat breakfast or lunch, simply no time to go shopping or make something since there is some much work to do. Skipping dinner can help buy back some time, but I usually take that up with keeping up on both the framebuilders list and the CR, answering questions, estimating, jobs, and conducting private communications. There is no pay for this time spent, other than the pleasure of helping people understand and appreciate our common interest and keeping the information flowing to new framebuilders and bike collectors alike. I consider this my "free time" as opposed to my "work time".

Notice I haven't even mentioned building frames yet. A whole other job; one MUCH more involved than what I have just described. The toll it takes on my body and the energy it requires to continue to build frames in the "traditional" way, using a minimum of modern time saving fittings and methods, it greater than one might imagine, That is why I build so few frames. Each and every one has character and personality that is unique. There is nothing standard, no signature color, lug patterns, frame design, or other time saving or effeciency motivated proceedures. I consider my frames to be pure, and I intend to maintain that policy, without compromise. The dedication required to actually do it and live it and not just say it is tremendous. I do not have the time to "market" myself; I am perfectly happy at this time for my frames to speak for themselves, but as I free up some time will be making efforts to inform those who are interested in such things about the details of making frames of this type. I believe I am one of the very few persons in the world who has been in this business as a full time professional for over 30 years, who still takes this to the ultimate degree. Some may be close, others have gone in a different direction or given up. In time I hope to produce enough information to educate the interested, how to recognize the differences. That takes time and effort as well. Shortly, I will produce a piece on the framebuilders list that will begin to shep light on this subject. It again is time consuming and will not generate any income, and yet I consider it to be important information.

In addition to all of this, I would like to write a few historical accounts of various framebuilding related events for publication. this will require a large amount of time, and will be for virtually no money. Considering my current situation, this is impossible. But my plan for relief is geared towards making this possible. I have clearly overextended myself and am trying to use what little talent I have in a hunderd different ways. I have other hobbies and interests also, that by my nature I must feed occassionally. I have a pile of personal projects that could probably keep a small company running if they were to do all of that work. I have plans to make a kinetic schulpture in the form of a bicycle sometime in the future; and that's the tip of the iceberg of what I would like to do. I don't have time to play the misic I enjoy and indulge in the passion of drumming that I have done since I was 12 years old. I still want to play and record, maybe even compose someday. Obviously I need help! If I had even a little money, I'd really be in trouble, since there are other pending interests.

So here is the deal. I need help NOW. I have created a monster with the amount of obligations I have. What I need is just a little more patience and a little more time. I know that soon Craig and I will begin to straighten everything out. We will need additionl help before too long I'm reasonably sure, and I already have person #3 lined up and ready as soon as we can afford to use them. I promise I will take care of everything, and do it without compromise, just as I always have. But at the moment I am having a very difficult time even just thinking about what to do next, much less doing it. I'm working on a ton of things slowly as opposed to one thing at a time in order. It's the nature of my business and all I can do to keep as many things making progress at one time as possible. I've never had a situation of such over popularity as I do now. I have this list to thank for that, and I'm very sorry that at the same time I have created a situation that has become impossible to manage all by myself. I make this promise. The very instant that the new Vintage Bicycle Specialties begins to operate, the relief and the bottleneck will begin to disolve. I am only asking for a schosh more patience, and for some of you that is a big request since I've had some of these projects for a considerable time, and enough time to get an effecient location and system in place. I am unbelievely excited about this new venture. I feel super about the future of vintage bicycles and my place among them. I REALLY looking forward to having a little fun money, spending more time with my friends and riding, and expanding my horizions in several areas. I really wish the original target date had come to pass, because by now everything would probably be under complete control and running smoothly. I can hardley wait. I'm quite sure many of you can't wait also. I must thanke everyone who have been remarkably patient with me thus far; there are a considerable number of you. I plan to make it up to everyone as soon as I'm able, I promise. If everything goes my way, Vintage Bicycle Specialties will be the center of the universe. The pool of talent and knowledge I have available is virtually unlimited. It simply needs to be organized and set into motion. I'm almost there.

I'm looking forward to some free time and relief from having to think about and attend to every single detail of every single project here. I promise the service will improve 1000% at least. Seriously. I am at he dawn of a new age. Patience my valuable freinds and customers. It is now the dawn of a new day. It is just past 6:00am. and the sunrise I see virtually every day is upon me. Many have wondered in the past how or why I would be typing at 2:00am at times. The reason; there simply isn't enough time in the day for me to do everything that is required of me. I got his off my chest, now I must sleep a little before beginning my work again. Thanks for listening and more importantly thanks to my customers who have already been extremely patient with my eccentric ways. I am about to enter the modern age of technology and comminications, while staying firmly planted in the tradition of the craft that has occupied my life since I was 20 years old. My best work is ahead of me. My dedication to running an effecient and profitable business, and still without compromise, is greater than ever. All I can say is "You ain't seen nothin' yet". Truely, my hearefelt thanks to everyone.

Brian Baylis
La Mesa, CA