Dave Moulton

More pictures of my past work can be viewed in the Photo Gallery on the Owner's Registry. A link is in the navigation bar at the top

Bicycle Accident Lawy

 

 

 

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Sunday
Nov122017

Twelve years and still going

Twelve years ago on this day November 12th. 2005 the first post appeared here and “Dave’s Bike Blog” was born.

Blogging was still relatively new in 2005, probably a few million of them. Today it is tens if not hundreds of millions.

However, how many blogs that started back in 2005 are still going today? Not many, I would guess. In fact on August 25th. 2008, I quit writing here.

I was writing two, sometime three articles a week, and that is tough to maintain, and I had self-doubts that it was even worthwhile.

I recall, people were so kind. My post, “The Party’s Over,” drew 88 comments. No criticism, just thanks and well wishes. It was people’s kindness that would bring me back six months later in February 2009. A group of people got together and presented me with a “Tribute Bike.” Built with one of my rare custom frames

I was deeply touched, and could not let the occasion pass, without writing a thank you post here, and that was enough to get me restarted. Quitting was a huge mistake, I lost the large readership I had built and had to start over. It left me with a resolve never to quit again.

I will keep going until A.) No one reads it anymore, or B.)  My health does not allow me to continue. Even then, I would hope someone else would take it over and continue.

I am amazed to think that this blog has lasted longer than my California business. I started in San Marcos in 1982, later moved about 60 mile north to Temecula and was forced to quit in 1993. That is only eleven years. Because of the Internet and this blog, more people know of me as a framebuilder now, than when I was actually building bikes.

In August 2010 I opened a Bike Registry. Wow, that’s been seven years already. I have a few bikes short of 500 listed. Not many really when you consider I built 2,400 of the Fuso Brand alone, plus all the others.

There is a Facebook Group for owners of bikes I built. With 910 members there, they are not all ‘Dave Moulton Bike’ owners. but, that is okay, some are future owners.

Over the years I had tried to get a group like this going, there was a short lived Google Group, and a Forum that went the same way. This Facebook Group was started by Texas DM Bike enthusiast Mitch Pullen. Mitch also started an ‘American Built’ group. Please take a moment to check these groups out and possibly join.

I think back 30 or 40 years when I was building some of these frames. I never could have envisioned the Internet. That people would be corresponding with me thirty or more years down the road, sending pictures of these very same bikes I was working on at that very moment, and asking questions.

The same when I started this blog twelve years ago, I was a young man just 69 years old, today I am… Well you can do the math’s. I never thought about where it would lead. It is all part of this strange and mysterious journey that is life, where it takes us, no one knows?

So I wonder as I type these words and post them here, where will they go, how many will they reach, and how long will they last?

I would love to hear your experiences via your comments, were you here in the early days, or have you found the blog recently? What would you like to see from me in the future?

 

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Tuesday
Nov072017

Look what just showed up

Way back in 2007, I wrote this article about the US Team Time Trial Bike Fiasco. Wow, has that been ten years already. Yet another chapter in my life that I would just soon forget about, but never-the-less popped up again when Dan Kehey emailed me pictures of one of these frames.

Dan had bought the frame from framebuilder Bruce Gordon, who is in the process of selling off his collection of frames. It has to be one of the US Team frames, they were the only ones built in this fashion. There are no frame numbers stamped on the bottom brack, which was normal for Paris Sport frames. Don’t ask me why, I don’t have the answer.

I am not suggesting for one moment that Bruce Gordon stole it, but somewhere along the line of ownership someone did. Of course as people were stripping these bikes of their Campagnolo parts, back at the USCF Headquarters in Colorado Springs, their excuse would be, “Well, everyone else was doing it.” Which is no excuse at all really. Remember how your Mom told you. “If your friend jumped off a cliff, would you follow him?”  

If you don’t remember this story, you will need to read the original post from 2007 for what I have written here to make sense. In the meantime here are the photos Dan sent. If the build seems a little crude, remember they were built under a very tight time schedule.

 

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Monday
Oct302017

Chasing Charlie

I neared the top of the hill on an evening training ride on a road so familiar to me I knew exactly what lay ahead. I had ridden my bike on this country road in the rural West Midlands area of England many times before.

There would be a short steep descent, a slight right hand bend at the bottom over a narrow stone bridge, then another tough climb even longer than this one. I lifted myself out of the saddle and stomped hard on the pedals, legs aching, breathing heavy, but knowing there would be a brief rest as I coasted down the other side.

At the top I sat up to allow my lungs to gulp in more oxygen. I saw him for the first time, he was just cresting the next hill ahead, silhouetted against a pale vanilla sky as the sun set. He was too far off to make out who he was but as I knew all the other racing cyclists in the area, I was sure I would know him.

All thought about coasting down the short descent was gone as I slammed into my highest gear and increased my speed, the chase was on. This is something that all racing cyclists will do instinctively, never miss an opportunity to chase down another rider.

Of course not knowing who was ahead meant I didn’t know his speed or level of fitness. I might never catch him, but I was going to try. This was in the early 1970s and I was in pretty good shape myself and the psychological boost of having someone to chase increased my adrenalin flow. 

At the bottom of the hill I coasted through the slight bend and without shifting down I got out of the saddle again and let my speed and momentum carry me halfway up the next climb. Before my cadence dropped I shifted down, and up on the pedals again to the top.

I thought I caught a brief glimpse of him again and I was gaining on him, but the sun was completely set by now and it was getting quite dark. I reached down and turned on my battery lamps. 

I must have chased hard for about four or five miles when I came on him suddenly, in fact I almost ran into him. He had no lights on his bike and he suddenly loomed up in the darkness. I pulled alongside. I didn’t recognize him.

“Where’s your lights?” I asked.

“I wasn’t planning on being out this late.” He answered. “But I got a puncture earlier. I did a stupid thing, I was out of tubular cement and I had stuck my tires on with fish glue. I took me forever to get the tire off.”

“Fish glue?” I thought, “Who sticks tires on with fish glue?” 

“What’s your name?” I asked.

“They call me Charlie.”

“I’ll ride with you.” I offered. “It’s a little dangerous to be out here without lights, where do you live?”

“Ledbury.”

I pulled ahead of him and increased the pace a little, Charlie pulled in behind me. Ledbury was a small town about five miles further on. After a short while Charlie came through to take the pace at the front.

I slipped in behind him. It was then I got my first look at his bike, my battery lamp lit up his rear wheel and gear train. He was using an old four speed, eighth inch, freewheel block with an Osgear derailleur, a single jockey wheel on an arm under his chainwheel.

I was thinking, “I haven’t seen one of those since I was a kid in the 1950s.” I moved to the front again and remarked as I went by, “Interesting bike you have.”

Charlie didn’t respond, and we rode on at a pretty good pace. I noticed every time I was on Charlie’s rear wheel I could not get comfortable. I could not figure out which direction the wind was coming from. I would ride slightly to his left, then right, but neither was any easier.

We were within a mile of Ledbury, I was at the front when a car suddenly appeared coming towards us. The road was narrow and the car came so close that I had to pull hard to the side and I found myself on the soft grass. There was the sound of a tremendous crash behind me, my wheels bogged down and I came to a quick stop. My feet were strapped to the pedals, there was no time to release them, and I fell over sideways.

I was uninjured but my first thought was for Charlie, both he and his bike were gone. So too was the car. “It must have kept going without stopping.” I thought. I took my battery lamp from my bike and searched back along the side of the road. I turned around and walked slowly down the other side.

I couldn't find him, I was worried he was laying somewhere injured, hidden in the hedgerow. I rode into Ledbury and stopped at a public phone box and called the police. “There’s been an accident.” I told them, and I explained what had happened. A police car arrived and I parked my bike in an alley-way and rode back with them to the scene of the incident.

The two policemen searched both sides of the road as I had done. “Are you sure this is the place?” One of them asked me.

“Yes, I remember this big tree on the bend in the road.” I told them.

“Maybe he wasn’t hit but kept on riding as you fell by the roadside.”

“It’s possible.” I answered. “But you would think he would have stopped to see if I was alright.”

Eventually we gave up the search and the officers drove me back to my bike, and I made my way home.

The next day I didn’t go to work but instead drove my car over to Ledbury and started asking around if anyone had heard of an accident the previous night. Someone suggested I enquire at the local newspaper office.

I did this and met the editor of the little local paper. He listened intently as I told him of my ride with Charlie the night before and of the accident. He told me, “It sounds to me like you encountered Charlie Finch, you’re not the first.”

“Who is he?” I asked.

“Let me show you something from our archives.” He walked over to a filing cabinet and pulled out a strip of microfilm. He placed it in a projector and scrolled through the images, he stopped on a front-page story. “Here it is, about this time of year, 1948.”

I read the headline, “Local cyclist killed in accident.” The story told of a Charlie Finch who was riding at night without lights and was struck by an oncoming car. The car went out of control striking a tree, the driver also died instantly.

There was a picture of a 1940s style car smashed against a large oak tree, the same tree I had pointed out to the police officers the night before. There was also a picture of Charlie’s bike.

The front wheel was completely smashed, the front fork was bent, and the frame was buckled at the top and down tubes. The bike had an Osgear derailleur with a single jockey wheel under the chainwheel.

 

I first wrote Chasing Charlie and posted here Halloween 2006, and again in 2012. Readership changes constantly so there will be many who have not read it previously. If you have read it before I hope you enjoyed it again this time around.

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Monday
Oct232017

How do you measure success?

I have spent many hours pondering the question, what is success, and by what yardstick does one measure success? I have come to the conclusion that success has a different meaning for different people.

Some measure success by money, but unless success brings one joy and satisfaction, is it really success? One can be successful in terms of money, but an absolute failure in terms of everything else. A relationship with a spouse or children, for example.

Friends who recently returned from Africa, after several years in the Peace Corps, told me, there are people who live in mud huts, existing on a handful of rice a day, and yet are basically happy and content with their lives.

People do not know they are poor unless they have contact with wealth, and can see others who have more than they do. It would be hard to live in a mud hut in America and have the degree of contentment of someone living in remote parts of Africa, for example.

Success is meeting your expectations. If your expectations are a handful of rice a day, and that is what you get. You are successful, and you are content. If you have a little chicken to go with your rice, you have exceeded expectations and you are even happier.

Success can be fleeting, but that is alright, there are always other successes that follow. I think I can honestly say I was a successful framebuilder. I became a good framebuilder because I built a lot of frames, and repetition is the key to success with any skill.

There was a time when I made a lot of money as a framebuilder, but the success was fleeting. Market trends and consumer tastes changed. I could have changed too, but I didn’t and so moved on and set other goals. That doesn’t make me any less successful as a framebuilder now, than the day I left the business.

This is why I believe one cannot quantify success in terms of money only. To me success is measured in satisfaction. Knowing that people are still riding bikes I built back in the 1980s, and enjoy doing so, brings immense satisfaction.

After I left the bike business, I wrote a successful novel. My intentions were to write a best-selling novel, but I settled for satisfaction once more.

Without exception, everyone who reads my novel Prodigal Child, raves about it. That is highly satisfying. The book was never a bestseller, because relatively few people know of it. It was never reviewed in the New York Times or blessed by Oprah Winfrey.

This blog too is no small success. Started in 2005, coming up 12 years, draws readers from all over the world. It gets recognition from other quarters too, recently listed in the Top 15 Cycling Blogs by Test Facts.  (See this and other awards in the top right column of this page.)

Success is recognizing the small or partial successes, because collectively they too bring joy, and satisfaction. The key is to have a few more successes than failures in life, and you are always ahead of the game. Occasionally there will be a little chicken to go with your rice.

 

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Tuesday
Oct172017

Frame Jig.

In the mid-1980s I commissioned Photographer Mike Graves to take some photographs of my frameshop. Above is a picture of my frame jig used to assemble frames. My work area was not as messy as it appears here, but Mike took some artistic license and added some extra tools and fixtures to compose a more interesting picture.

The picture does however give me an opportunity to explain what was going on before Mike took over to create this picture. Frames were made in three separate parts, the main triangle, which is not actually a triangle as it is made up of four tubes. Top and down tube, seat tube and head tube.

The second part is the rear triangle, made up of chainstays, seatstays, connected by the rear dropouts. The third part is the front fork that is assembled on a separate jig not shown here.

The main triangle was assembled here then fully brazed out of the jig to allow the metal to expand and contract freely. There is less distortion and built in stresses that way.

The main triangle is fully brazed at this stage. The lugs have yet to be filled and polished, but the surplus head tube has been cut off and the head tube has been machined ready to take a head bearing. The excess seat tube has also been cut off and filed to the shape of the seat lug.

At this stage the rear triangle is being assembled, so that it matches up with the main triangle.

This is evident by the seat stays left long at this point, to extend beyond the seat lug. (Pictured right.)

The seat stays at the rear dropout will be tacked in the jig, then fully brazed out of the jig.

The seatstays will be later cut to length and a machined seatstay cap will be brazed into the seatstay top end.

The main triangle and the rear triangle will both be finished filed and polished separately, because they are easier to handle and manipulate in a bench vise as separate smaller parts.

When the two parts are ready, they are assembled and brazed out of the jig to accommodate the distortion due to heat. Because the main and rear triangle were initially assembled in the jig, they will fit accurately out of the jig for the final brazing.

This modified vise-grip (Above.) has two pieces of angle iron brazed to the jaws, these clamp onto the seat tube. A short piece of round tube is welded to one side, at right angles to the seat tube.

The seatstays are then clamped to this tube on the fixture with two engineers clamps. One shown here. (Left.)

The chainstays are held in place at the bottom bracket with a vise grip on the chainstay sockets.

Alignment tools are used to make sure a wheel will sit central in the frame.   

Frames like the Fuso were made in batches of five frames all the same. So the set up in this picture will be used to make five rear triangles, for example. Each stage of the assembly process is repeated five times. With one exception.

Front fork blades, and chainstays were identical no matter what the frame size, so these were prepared ahead of time in batches of 20 or 30 pairs. Fork blades were bent (Raked.) slotted, tips brazed in, then fully filed and polished and cut to length.

Chainstays were cut to length, slotted, and the rear dropout brazed in. Followed by filing and polishing. One extra item, the right chainstay is flattened on the inside to clear the sprockets when the rear wheel is removed.

This is where this little tool comes into play.

The thin end of the chainstay was placed in one of the slots, heated to a red heat, and hammered flat with a small hammer.

This was done prior to slotting the tube to receive the rear dropout. 

 

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