Wednesday afternoon I stopped by the new Anvil shop and picked up my brand-spankin-new Journeyman 3.1 frame fixture. Wow…just freaking awesome! I completely spaced taking pictures of the inside of the shop, sorry. I was too preoccupied with gawking at the Master’s lair.
As you enter the building, on the left is Don’s office. He had his three dogs in his office with him all lounging on the various dog beds (couches) and was sitting behind the computer working up my invoice (ouch). Beside his desk is a vintage Harley-Davidson motorcycle with welding mask hanging off the bars. After sufficiently giving scritches to all the dogs, we got onto the business of the day. My fixture was waiting by the door and that’s when it hit me. I’m going to bring that baby home!
First, I got a short tour around the shop with Matt. He was kind enough to show me the pieces of the tools-in-progress, and also ran a process on the CNC mill for me to check out. I had never seen such a machine in action so being there first-hand to see these huge massive tools was pretty damned cool! The rest of the shop was complete with lots of huge and heavy granite surface plates for proofing stuff, a ‘clean-room’ to house the finished tools and do measurements, welding, etc., and a ‘dirty room’ for making the boxes to send off the tooling. Don went over the basics of the fixture – how to set up using the measurements in BikeCAD and such – before giving me a quick tutorial in getting weld beads like him. Very cool of him to take the time. I learned more in 5 minutes from Don about using the pulser in welding bike frames than I have in the last two years of practice and online learning! Now I’ll just have to put it to work.
The new Journeyman fixture is a thing of beauty. There’s a reason it costs more than most other frame fixtures out there. It’s hard to rationalize me having this nice of a fixture right now, but it is what it is. I will certainly use this thing to pump out at least a dozen frames a year and hopefully more. Along with the fixture I purchased the Universal Tube Holder, 44mm head tube puck, the Notorious BBG, and the FOG so I can stop dropping all the tubes on the floor accidentally while mitering and testing their fit. I can’t wait to use the tube holder so I can much more easily tack the frame together without playing a game of twister to keep the tubes and jig together!
The BBG is a really nice step up for cantilever brake boss fixturing, and the FOG will be great to help hold the bridges in place while tacking too. I love how the fixture is already set up for back-purging — with a flick of a switch, the argon flows to all main tubes just like that. No more using the Paragon purge valves that sometimes fall out if the frame is rotated while welding. The fixture actually holds the seat tube in place AND reads seat tube angle (unlike the Access65).
The new version BB-tower on the JMan is a thing of beauty. It has markings for 100, 73, and 68mm BB shell widths. There’s no measuring the centerline of the BB and measuring out from the edge of the fixture anymore to get the frame’s centerline! You just set the tower at the right BB shell width and voila’. I’ll have to take more fixture-porn shots soon, but for the last few days I created a mobile fixture stand copied directly from Anvil’s drawings (thanks to Don for sending me that to copy!). It’s an extra $350 to buy one from him, but I decided like many, to make my own. I kinda wish I had spent the extra cash up front, but oh well…i did it myself. I think I spent more than enough time making the stand, especially since I don’t have my abrasive chop saw to cut the steel, so had to use an angle grinder with a cutting wheel to do all my cuts.
I used mostly 1/4″ thick by 2″ wide angle iron from the hardware store to make this fixture. I had some 1/4″ flat 4130 lying around to so I used that for the plate the fixture stand connects to. A drill press with a 3/8″ bit made the holes for the bolts as well as the sweet locking 3″ casters from Rocklin tool supply. I, of course, don’t have my MIG machine with me so I had to push the limits of my TIG torch. I have a 185 amp machine, but only wanted to turn it up to my only torch’s max capacity of 125 (it’s a WeldTec 9F). So even though my welds look good (and plenty hot actually) I was welding below the recommended amperage for 1/4″ thick steel. I’m hoping there’s enough penetration to make a strong enough bead to hold this expensive fixture up for life! I had some bad dreams last night of waking up to a face-down fixture…
All said in done, it’s not the prettiest piece of equipment but it’ll do just fine. Even though I copied the specs of the Anvil, it seems to want to tip over if i try to tip the fixture frontwards. It could be that I didn’t mount the wheels far enough forward on the legs or that you just need to push the fixture’s main swivel-arm back enough so that the balance point is better…not sure which (or just don’t pull in the fixture that way).
I’m sure I’ll have more words to say on the Anvil once I get building so i’ll just shut it for now. Cheers!