Dave Moulton

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Tuesday
May222018

Back from the Classic Rendezvous Weekend

It was such a joy to attend the Classic Rendezvous Weekend event in Greensboro, North Carolina.  I always look to these events as an opportunity to meet old friends and make new ones. I did plenty of that.

It was also great to be reunited with many examples of my past work, and to talk with the owners. Most had corresponded via email for years, but this was the first time we had met face to face, and to actually shake hands.

For example, a 1983 custom Criterium bike, #9832. Built for the Interbike Show that year. I had corresponded with at least three different owners for the last 15 years, but last weekend got to meet the current owner John Ames. (Picture above.) Also this was the first time I had laid eyes or hands on this bike since it was picked up by one of my dealers after the Interbike Show some 35 years ago.

John has done a fine job of restoring this bike to its former glory, while keeping the original paint finish. Skillfully mixing paint and touching in the tiny chips with a brush. The result is the bike has character, a story to tell, (Read here.) but still retaining its original beauty.

Contrastingly, 1st. Generation Fuso #171, built in San Marcos, CA. in the first six months of production. Now owned by John Majors, (Above.) who bought the frame with paint and decals in as pristine condition as the day it left my shop. Like going back in time and buying a brand new frame. Makes me wonder, how many more unused gems are still out there waiting to be found.

I had met John Majors and his wife a few years ago when they  visited Charleston. It was nice to reunite with them both again.

Peter Stock (Above.) had traveled from his home in Toronto, Canada, He brought his built in 1989 Fuso FRX #1643. His bike it appears is even more traveled, it has a French Bike Shop sticker on it. This is one of two Fuso bikes owned by Peter. This one he has owned since 2010, the other he picked up in 2013. We had corresponded before, but met for the first time at the CR Weekend.

Thanks to Dale Brown, of Cycles De Oro, Wayne Bingham, and others who make this event happen.

 

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Wednesday
May162018

Track Bike

The Fuso track bike above was built 30 years ago in 1988. It is still owned by the original owner, Dave Watring, and is pictured at the Los Angeles Velo Sports Center where it is still being ridden three times a week.

I built only a few of these specialist track frames over the years, there was little call for them at the time. They were not yet a fashion fad to be used on the streets. They were only ordered by someone who actually had access to a track or velodrome.

The track bike is as simple and as basic as one can get, which is part of their appeal. A single fixed sprocket screwed directly to the rear hub, and no brakes. What, no brakes? The uninitiated will ask. Isn’t that dangerous?

No, actually when used as intended, on a banked velodrome, brakes would be more dangerous than “No Brakes.” Everyone is riding counter-clockwise around the track, there is no need to stop, and the last thing one needs would be someone slamming on their brakes when riding only inches from the rider in front.

If someone falls, and it happens, the riders are so close and going so fast that there would be no time to stop even with brakes. The best defense is to steer around the fallen rider. For this reason, track bikes are designed with a steeper head angle to steer quickly.

On a road bike, to go around a corner, the rider leans in the direction he is turning and the bike steers itself around the bend. On a banked velodrome, when the bike and rider are traveling at speed, the bike is leaning, and in theory is at 90 degrees to the track surface at all times. It is as if they were traveling in a straight line.

The time to deviate from that straight line, is to go around an opponent, or a fallen rider. The track rider learns a whole different skill set. He steers the bike by turning the handlebars. Something a road rider rarely does.

Watching a track meet, one can always pick out the inexperienced road riders. In the event of a crash, the first thing they do is try to stop pedaling, and reach for brake levers that aren’t there.

Track bikes I built had a 74 degree head angle, and 1 1/8 inch (30 mm.) fork rake. Less trail than my road bikes which were 73 head angle, 1 3/8 in. (35 mm.) More trail for self-steering qualities, less trail for track bikes meant to be physically steered.

 

Footnote:

I am late with my blog posting this week partly because I am preparing to attend the Classic Rendezvous Weekend event in Greensboro, North Carolina, May 18-20. I will probably be late next week for the same reason. I hope to meet up with a few of you there.

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Monday
May072018

Museum Piece

1985 was a busy year for me. My San Marcos, California shop had been open for two years, I had attended the Interbike Trade show several years and as a result I was building a network of bicycle dealers throughout California, and across the USA.

My big seller was the Fuso. Introduced a year earlier in 1984, just one model that I now refer to as the 1st. Generation model. I built over 500 Fuso frames that year. I has a team of 5 employees who prepared materials for me, so I could just stand and braze frames all day.

With all this repartition I could braze cleanly enough that the frames needed only a minimum clean up to be ready for sand-blasting and paint. My employees did this clean up, and I also had a full time painter.

1985 was also the year the Recherché was introduced, and I built an unknown number of these too. I also built just a few custom ‘dave moulton’ frames that year, nine to be exact. Built one at a time and doing all the work myself, including the paint, these frames were somewhat disruptive to the work flow of everything else.   

However, these frames commanded a top dollar price tag, and it was satisfying to have the opportunity to build something special, like this one pictured here.

The order came from Daniel Boone Cycles, in Houston, Texas. It was built for an up and coming young attorney.

Most of these custom frames went to attorneys, doctors or others with the discretionary income to be able to afford the cost of all this extra work. Some five or six years later, this same attorney moved west to California, where he later became Los Angeles District Attorney.

Before he left Houston he sold the bike back to Daniel Boone Cycles. In 1993, which incidentally was the year I left the bike business, the bike was bought by Russell Rollins who wrote about the experience here.

Russell recently wrote on the “Dave Moulton Bikes Facebook Page:”

The bike is in The Houston Bicycle Museum where it belongs. I miss riding it but I felt it should be seen by others and Dave's story should be known. It is beautiful to see and even more beautiful to experience the ride. Dave told me he built the bikes to ride, not to be pieces of art. I understand his philosophy but life looks a little different from "our" point of view.

By “our point of view,” Russell means of course, the DM bike enthusiasts. My own POV has also changed slightly. Many of the bikes I built are being ridden, which brings me a great deal of joy and satisfaction. Others sit in garages and basements waiting to be discovered.

For something like this that I put so many hours labor into it, is rare enough that possibly it is where it should be. In the Houston Bicycle Museum.

The two things that determine the way the bike feels when riding it. The design, and the fact that the frame was built straight. All the beautiful paint and chrome is just aesthetics, a modest Fuso or Recherché will feel exactly the same to ride. And for a fraction of the price of this one.

 

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Monday
Apr302018

Whiskey Tango Foxtrot

I was recently driving on a busy street near my home. I was first in line at a red light, with a stream of traffic lined up behind me.  The light changed and I moved off. The area was residential with a 30 mph speed limit.

I had yet to reach that speed when up ahead a man with a dog on a leash, walked briskly across the street. Crossing from left to right, looking straight ahead, cell phone pressed to his right ear, deep in conversation, seemingly oblivious to me and the rest of the approaching traffic.

I could have laid on the car horn, but instead I slowed down, estimating that at our current respective speeds, he would be safely across the street by the time I drew level, and we could both be on our separate ways.

I was feeling good about myself. I was driving responsibly. Sure he was jay walking, this was not a pedestrian crossing. But, share the road with a fellow traveler, and all that good stuff. My slowing in the interest of his safety was the right thing to do.

But suddenly the man stopped and turned to face me, I had to brake hard and come to a complete stop. This was not a sudden realization “I am in danger,” stop. This was a deliberate.

Hands thrown outwards, palms out, eyes and mouth open with a fake dumb expression. The universal body language we all know to mean, “What the Fuck?” I wanted to say, "Hey, I'm the one paying attention. I'm the one not talking on my phone. Now suddenly, I'm the bad guy..... Really!"

He stood there for a moment, glaring at me through my windshield, long enough to make his point. (Whatever that was.) I couldn't see his dog's expression, he was out of view below dashboard level. Maybe he was doing a canine WTF too. I just threw my hands up and shook my head, as if to say, “I give up, I thought I was doing the right thing.”

On the rest of my drive home, I noticed almost every pedestrian I saw had a phone to their ear. What has become of our society that everyone has to be on the phone every waking moment, to the extent they can’t take it away from their ear for a brief moment to cross a busy street safely?

 

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Monday
Apr232018

My Paint Curing Oven

When I went to work for Masi at the end of 1980, I immediately found that the level of paint finish they achieved on their frames was at a far higher standard than I had previously seen.

I had painted my own frames in England for a number of years before coming to the US in 1979. I knew how to handle a paint gun.

What I had not been exposed to was applying multiple clear coats to the frame, then sanding the surface with wet and dry sandpaper, to an absolute overall smooth surface, before applying a final overall clear coat.

Masi had two essential pieces of equipment that were needed to achieve this level of paint finish. A totally enclosed dust free paint booth and a paint curing oven.

The paint booth was a scaled down automotive booth, with a large electric fan that exhausted through the roof of the building. Replaceable filters caught the paint over-spray, and on the air inlet side of the booth, were special “Sticky” filters that caught dust as the air came through. Both inlet and exhaust filters were replaced every month or so.

Masi’s paint curing oven was no doubt shipped over from Italy along with all the other specialist bicycle manufacturing equipment when the Masi facility opened sometime in the 1970s.

The Imron paint we used had a chemical hardener added to it, and so would air dry “dust-free” at room temperature in ten or fifteen minutes. However, in order for the paint to be hard enough to sand, it would take days, even weeks to cure. A paint curing oven was therefore essential to the process.

When I set up my own facility in 1982, I needed this same paint equipment if I was to produce paint work to this same high standard. The paint booth was no problem as these are made up of standard sheet steel panels that bolt together. One can order a paint booth in any size of configuration.

I ordered one from a company in nearby Los Angeles. It was 12 foot square, (3.63 m.)  and totally enclosed as previously described. It was divided into a 7 ft. (2.13 m.) room where the frames were sprayed, and a 5 ft. (1.52 m.) room where frames hung waiting to be painted, and where they also hung after painting, waiting to ‘flash off,’ and become dust free.

Air flowed from back to front through both these two sections, keeping overspray from the newly painted frames.

The Paint oven was a whole different matter. I doubt any such piece of equipment, specifically for bicycle frames, was even made in the US. However, I did find a used bakers oven that I figured I could adapt and make it work. It was about 7 ft. tall, 8 ft. wide, and about 4 ft. deep. (2.13 m. x 2.43 m. x 1.21 m.)

The front was enclosed except for a small door where the bread and cakes were put in, and taken out. It was made of sheet steel panels, insulated with glass-fiber in between. I cut the whole front off with a hammer and cold chisel.

Inside was a rotating conveyer that carried the baked goods around the over as they baked. I had to remove and discard all this, and make hooks to hang 10 frames and forks as I remember.

I constructed two doors that split in the center, using 3 inch angle iron for the frame, sheet steel outside and inside with fiber-glass insulation between. I made the heavy duty hinges, and a special cam operated bolt system, to hold the door closed tight against a heat proof sealing strip.

The oven had large electric heating elements in the bottom, and a control panel on one end.  The temperature this oven could attain far exceeded that needed to cure paint. I set the temperature at 250 degrees Fahrenheit (121 C.)  The oven would take about 15 minutes to reach 250 F. then would shut off automatically. It would then take another 30 minutes to cool down.

A 45 minute bake would cure the paint to a degree that would normally take weeks to air dry. Also I believe the reason the paint has held up so well, on some of my frames over 30 years old, the paint was hard and thoroughly cured when the left my shop.  Air dried paint usually chips in the first year when the paint is soft and vulnerable.

Above is the only picture I could find of the oven.

 

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