Friday, April 27, 2012

Old bike, New life (it's a work in progress)

Yep, a new bike project: a 1979 steel Shogun (made in Japan) with Shimano components. This is a basic road frame (58cm) with 90% of original components. Nothing super valuable or collectible - just a great project bike for experimental* purposes. I'm thinking art frame here. I'll post pictures as the progress continues: Here's what the bike looked liked when I bought it from the previous owner. All matte black, in keeping with the Shogun "Ninja" concept. Not a great paint job, so I knew something needed to be done. Several parts came in boxes. Again, a project bike.

Brutal! I sawed off the braze-ons! Not going to need gear cables on this project. I apologize in advance to the purists out there.

Took off the parts and sanded the sucker down. Need to remove that crank spindle from the bottom bracket.

I started thinking about getting this thing powder-coated, and happened to meet someone who assured me that "yeah, I've done tons of bikes, and I can powder coat it for you for $60. As long as it's black. If you want color, it's an extra $30. 

I should've listened to my instincts here. But I was willing to take a risk on this guy. To make a long story short, I ended up paying $40 for a sub-par paint job. And that really bothered me. This photo doesn't show how bad the paint job was. And the color did not turn out as agreed upon. 

So I started stripping it down, thinking that I can do better myself.

Step 1: Use Mar-Hyde Aircraft stripper (spray can works fine) and wear plenty of protection. This stuff is strong! Be prepared to do some scrubbing. I tried the Rustoleum brand, and it didn't work as effectively.

Step 2: Let dry thoroughly and make sure all paint is removed. To prime, I used this Zinsser Oil-based Primer. A couple of coats with #220 sandpaper sanding in between. You just want to make sure you have a good, even coating of primer everywhere on the frame and fork. Note that it may take more than one coat. Be careful not to go too heavy with the primer.

Here's the frame with the final primer applied. I found that it's best to hang the frame from the head tube so you can have easy access to all sides of the frame. Mask out the head tube and/bottom bracket and seat post so paint won't get on there. And please don't forget to wear protection (mask/respirator).

Step 3: Paint with your favorite color. I found a Valspar spray paint color that I really liked from Lowe's — #85039 Smoke Infusion -- a light gray with a hint of green. 

I applied several coats (took about 4 cans total). The trick was to get it smooth, but without any drips. Start with light coatings to cover the primer. If you spray too far away, the paint will adhere with a rough surface. You have to be VERY patient with this part of the process, as it does take several coats. Ideally, low humidity, moderate temperature and little to no wind helps. 

Painted frame after about four coats — still has some "rough" spots, but overall pretty clean. Hoping that after a final sanding and a lacquer coat, the rough spots will not be visible.

Wet sanding the fork with glass cleaner.

Step 4: The photo above shows the "wet-sanding" process. Sand with #1000 grit sandpaper with glass cleaner. This removes the gloss from the paint and allows one last time for smoothing the surface and allows something for the lacquer to adhere to.

Step 5: This is where it gets crazy. Being a designer/artist who loves type, I wanted to customize this frame and fork — I thought it would be cool to add some of my favorite typestyles to the bike prior to the final lacquer. I happened to find some old rub-on press type that was perfect for the job (Futura Demi Bold). This is a tedious process, and I hope that the outcome is a good one. So far, so good. After I finish applying the letters on the fork, I will try the lacquer to make sure it all works out. I have also a nice slab serif (Rockwell) and some Helvetica. If I could only find Hobo type in presstype! Oooh!

Wet sanding the frame with 1000# wet/dry sandpaper.

Applying the Rustoleum Lacquer over the fork after I applied my artwork.

Tuesday, April 10, 2012

The Golden Ratio: where design and mathematics coincide

The golden ratio (also known as the golden mean, golden section or divine proportion) is a height to width ratio that measures 0.618 and manifests itself in nature, art and architecture. The Parthenon in Greece incorporates the ratio, but it’s unknown whether or not the designers actually used the principle. The human form has this same basic geometric relationship — DaVinci studied this and created drawings that illustrated the proportion in his Vitruvian Man (below). Piet Mondrian used the golden ratio in much of his work in  the 1920′s. Even Twitter uses the golden ratio principle for it’s screen design.

The Golden Ratio looks like this:

It's defined as the ratio between two segments such that the smaller (bc) segment is to the larger segment (ab) is to the sum of the two segments (ac), or bc/ab = ab/ac = 0.618.

And can be calculated like this (adding 1 to the ratio is phi, yielding the same basic geometric relationship):

More examples of the Golden Ratio:

Fascinating! Is it an inherent aesthetic preference or is it a design technique turned tradition? How do you explain the proportion found in nature? However you decide to answer those questions, it’s hard to argue that it has had an enormous impact on art and design over the years and continues to influence design today. Next time you see something that just “feels” right, or that you just can’t take your eyes off of, take a look at the proportions and remember – Ahh, it must be the 0.618!

- Ryon

Wednesday, April 4, 2012

Library of Congress and Bill of Rights detail

I found this beautiful version of the Bill of Rights on the Library of Congress site, which has an amazing collection of images: A Bill of Rights as provided in the Ten Original Amendments to The Constitution of the United States in force December 15, 1791.