My apprentice Erik has now officially been with us for one year of his two year stint. He came to us with a ton of mechanical and frame design experience so he had a great start and now it’s my job to turn him into a Framebuilder. So far so good, he’s a natural and taking to it quite well. He has an eye for detail and he’s a very careful with hand work. Currently he does all of what we call finishing. What that means is he takes a frame I’ve built and rechecks all specs, going over the order form and test fits parts. He checks rear wheel alignment, aligns the hanger and H-tools the DO’s. He also machines the seattube, headtube and bottom bracket, stamps the serial number and does finish work on all the joining. After he’s done he gives the frame back to me along with the toe tag and I do a final inspection and sign off on it. He also media blasts titanium, boxes and ships frames as well as cleans the shop and helps with style choices like show bike colors and parts specs, his most important contribution :).
Erik doesn’t do actual frame building for me and never will, in addition to his official duties for Strong Frames a major part of his training is building frames on his own time. I help where help is needed but for the most part he’s learned all the process’s and it’s a matter of practice now. If he runs into difficulties I help and I keep an eye on him to make sure he’s on the right track. Currently he’s built about five or six frames on his own in addition to many hours of practicing welding and brazing on scrap. We like to kid about all the builders that are going to UBI building a single frame and then going into business. So when he built his second frame we figured he now had twice as much experience as the UBI grads which puts him out front of 9/10ths of the new builders we’re seeing these days.
Loretta decided that because it was Erik’s one year anniversary he needed a little party. Yesterday she surprised him with a home made ice cream cake, roast beef sandwiches, potato salad and invited some of our frame geek friends over. Notable attendees include the Great Dave Kirk, Jared our Carbon Consultant and all around good guy. Bill our Super Mechanic, Bert the coolest guy you’ll ever meet and Dan and Suzanne with their 13 month old daughter Anika. We had a great time and the food was awesome. Here are some pictures.