Saturday, December 14, 2019

Still alive and kickin'

Apologies, it has been a heck of a long time. It looks like 4 years or so since I last graced you nerds with some dumb words about things I have been working on. Posted below are some miniatures I have finished recently. Enjoy. Maybe there will be more sometime soon!

Thursday, March 5, 2015

Surly Mk. 3 in Progress

I've wanted to get into trials mountain biking for a while, but I just never really dedicated to buying or setting up a bike specifically for the purpose. In my own unimitable way, rather than buying a bike that is made to do what I want to do, I decided to convert my trusty Surly 1x1 to a trails and trials ready shredder. We shall see how this truly works out. I'm never going to be able to tear it up like dudes who have been riding trials for years, and that is not my goal. I'm stoked to work on my performance and handling skills. You know... flow better, ride faster, impress babes. Also, I can go to the indoor skatepark and still ride when the weather sucks.

I snagged the Complete Guide to Trial Riding by Julien Happich, the webmaster of TrashZen, which is a site with massive amounts of riding tutorials. His book and website are both most highly recommended. If you wanna check out some wicked trials riders, check out Hans Rey, Kenny Belaey, Martyn Ashton, and Ryan Leech. Really, you should just put Sabotage on repeat and watch the first 10 minutes of this.

Here we are in the current state of this build. Looks a little hipstery right now. Says grown ass man blogging, wearing skinny jeans, and listening to punk rock records.

Ahh... the venerable Surly 1x1. What can she not do? Use a derailleur! Ha! I was lucky enough to come across a pristine 2008 model, in my size (rare), on the 'Bay a couple years ago. I have a hunch it must have been used by a roadie to build a cyclocross bike. Silly roadies. It had Eddy Merckx stickers on it, and the lawyer tabs on the fork were ground off. Major fail, dude. I am not super keen on my axle coming loose and losing my front wheel while shredding down a rocky hill at 20 mph. Also, Surly, you got rid of the canti mounts on the 1x1? I'd proably have bought a new Pepto Pink frame by now.

So if you fancy doing things my way, you're gonna want to start with your main trail bike. Hope you run v-brakes and a 26er! If not, well, your technology is dumb. My vast amounts of scientific research show that a rear disc on a 26" trials wheel makes stuff break. Being a big dude who breaks stuff, I feel that is a way important detail to know. I hope you didn't invest in this 29" wheel, disc brakes, carbon fiber, and lighter is bester fad. It's all a conspiracy! Rim brake steel 26'ers will rise again!


Buy yourself a granny gear and new tensioners for both sides of your wheel. Thats a extended length bolt for a Paul rear hub. Stronger and safer when running a chain tensioner. Crucial. I have one for both sides. These are Trialtech tensioners.

Hey, look, I used my brain. That is a wrench from an old Paasche airbrush. The larger end will adjust that there tensioner when you are 5 miles from the trailhead and you just had to patch that rear tube cause you forgot to toss a spare in the saddlebag. Hopefully you remembered the saddlebag with the wrenches in it. And some way to inflate a tube.

Words on Dinglespeeding

You're gonna want to work on your drivetrain a bit. Slap that granny gear on your crankset. I had to buy a new one cause I throw that shit out every time I pull one off a bike. It's an issue I have. I know of at least a couple sets of useful and nice deraillereurs that got thrown in the trash cause, well, gears suck. I picked up a 22 tooth ring, and when my new wheel is built, I'll be using an 18 tooth cog.
The plan is essentially to build a dingle-speed (that's a single speed with 2 cogs and rings that I can manually switch the chain between) that can be run at either 32-20 or 22-18. Unfortunately, in my application, this will require a second chain. It's going to be a bit of a pain in the ass to switch back and forth, but I'll deal.
Usually a dingle speed will use two gear combos that have the same number of teeth. This allows you to swap your chain back and forth between gear ratios without affecting the alignment or placement of the wheel. Take my Trek, for example, it is set up as 36-16, so if I wanted to run a 32-20, both combinations have 52 teeth, and the wheel will seat at exactly the same spot, with the same chain. I could ride the 10 miles to the trails, then swap my chain to a ratio that was possible to ride said trails.

Fork Stuff

I did upgrade to a trials-specific disc-brake front-fork. It is a bit lighter, and much stiffer than my stock Surly fork. Goodbye front V-brakes. Man, what was I just ranting about not too long ago? Poser, huh? There is, unfortunately, much less tire clearance on the new fork, but I'll deal. The stock fork did have a ton of flex, and it was difficult to pop endos reliably. The new fork also has slightly less rake, so it brings the wheel in closer to the frame. It will be more nimble, at the expense of getting a little more twitchy when bombing down hills. All around, it should fix a lot of handling issues I had with the stock fork. It's also blacker than my soul and looks snazzy. Bonus!

I threw that guy in the clamp of my bike stand and took a hack saw to it. It's definitely a nervous task taking a saw to brand new parts, but I pulled through pretty well. We'll see have to see how the fork does.

Hints for sawing up forks (or anything else) with a hacksaw:

1. Measure many many times before cutting. A set of calipers would be rad, but I use a nice metric ruler from a dissection set. Seriously, if you paint miniatures, build models, or dick with bikes, purchase a dissection set. So many useful tools. When cutting a fork, measure your stem stack height, head tube length, and bottom bracket height. Learn it. If you are building a model, measure many times. Make a mark. Measure again.

2. Clamp down your part and mark around the top edge of it with a thicker Sharpie. You should probably use black. As you can see, all I found was a red. Subtract a couple (thats like, 2) milimeters from the line. Yes, you could do this outright and skip my last instruction, but just don't. Knowing how your parts fit and work together goes a long way into proper construction, function, and reliability. It saves a lot of frustration when you know what is wrong with your bike, and know how to fix it.
3. Use a razor saw, or diamond needle file to make a guide mark. The hacksaw is going to slide everywhere if there is not a solid groove for it to sit. It's kinda like pinning a miniature.
4. Oil that saw! Put a drop of chain lube on the part being cut when the groove in 5 or so mm deep.

Brake Stuff

I snagged an old school style V-brake booster to help lock up my back wheel better. For the time being, she will just be running a back brake. Park style.
As far as tire choices currently go, I'll continue rocking the knobby Continental Mountain King 2.4 in the rear for the forseeable future, but I switched out the front for a smoother and skinnier old Ritchey InnoVader I had laying around. I'm running a much lower pressure than I would usually use on the trail.
That is a lot of words for now. I'm suprised you made it this far. I'll toss some painting crap up here sometime soon, and check back for the exciting conclusion of Jake rants about bikes while listening to punk rock. Also, Evil Army.

Sunday, February 8, 2015

Bikes. Lego Jake.

I frequently disappear from this blog for long periods of time. I also mention bikes from time to time, and that's probably a large reason of why I'm incommunicado. I started this post on the auspicious 1-year anniversiary of breaking myself while mountain biking. I figured I'd break it down (Heh!) and give you heaping crapload of stuff about bikes, most of which you probably don't care about. Now that it is a few weeks later, I finally finished it. Cool? Party! Hang in there. There are Legos later!

These are the current states of my rides. They are both rigid steel 26ers with rim brakes. Aluminum? Disc brakes? Big wheels? I don't need your technology.
The Trek 800 (left) is my townie/commuter/bar bike thrasher. I got her brand new in '97 or so. It isn't a rare or valuable frame, but it means a lot to me. It was like pulling teeth to get my parents to buy me a brand new Trek as a teenager. I've rebuilt almost everything. 36X16 gearing. Ritchey front wheel and tires. Gusset Open Prison dirt jump bars. Old-school BMX stem. Paul brake levers. Sugino mountain cranks, Primo pedals, and SDG saddle. She's built like a tank, and gets ridden at least 1500 miles a year. Some cool parts will be heading her way soon.

The Shredbeast Annihilator is a 2008 Surly 1x1 frame. I was stoked to find an older Surly frame on eBay, not only in my size, but in practically mint condition. For some reason there were Eddy Merckx stickers on it when it arrived. It is a mystery. I'll assume you have no idea what that means, but its pretty much like putting Ferrari stickers on a Jeep. My only complaint is it is arrrrnge, and not weed green or pepto pink. I built her from the ground up to be Jake-proof. If only I could bike proof the Jake. Geared 32x20 for Pennsyltuckey hills. Sun Rhyno Lite XL rims laced to Paul hubs. I laced the rear wheel myself. Matching Raceface cranks, chainring. 66Sick saddle. Carbon TRP brake levers. My trail ripper and Sunday driver. I'd like to post a full build log at some point, but we shall see.
I'm not really one to post pictures of myself on here, but here is a cool picture of me riding through the woods. It also gives a frame of reference in case you do not actually know me in the real world.
Now that crap is out of the way, I occassionally play with Legos. Imagine that. A grown ass man who writes a blog about playing with toy robots and little space men also plays with plastic interlocking bricks. Since shreds are a no-go on the East Coast at this time of year, I discovered I happen to have a perfect Lego me and a bicycle. Of course, being an obsessive tinkerer, I couldn't leave well enough alone, and out came my favorite sleeveless Napalm Death shirt, clippers, razor saw, files, and paints.

This is where it began. I posted the first picture on the book of faces, and aside from the fact it does very much resemble me, I recieved complaints he was not doing my pose, and his helmet is red. See that lame reflector and fender on the bike, most non-heinous. We're gonna have to do something about that.

Bring down the goddamn stars!
First you need a torso. Sand that shit down. I used Testor's sanding films. They are awesome, I've been using them for years. Then paint on it. This is not a very good tutorial, I know. I probably should have primed before I painted, but I was in a drunken fit of motivation. I also carved down the front rim of the helmet with needle files, as it obscured his (my?) eyebrows. I lightly sanded his right arm as well, as I painted on some tattoos. I will prime and paint the helmet at some point, it will be black with a Despise You sticker on the side.
You're gonna want to dig out your finest sleeveless for this.

Torso! This is the end! You can't fight back if you have no arms or legs!

Here is the bike completed. I used a razor saw and files to trim down the offending bits of the bike. It looks a lot cleaner and ready to rip. The downfall is that I removed the kickstand, so it falls over constantly now. I drilled a tiny hole in bottom of the frame so I can use .020" brass wire to hold the bike while totally shredding some gnarly tricks. I will probably paint the bike as well, probably lime green. Maybe purple.
There you have it!
Go ride!
Even Lego Jake is a dick. He can also rip a rad endo!

Sunday, January 11, 2015

New Logo

Check it out, right up there. Up at the top. I started that logo last year while I was broken, and I came across it the other day and finished it up. Stoke. Yeah, it's kinda half assed and rough around the edges, so it works with everything else on this site.

For posterity's sake.
Other than that, I've been working on this dude. He kinda reminds me of GG Allin. I feel that if any mythical races were going to strip naked, play with their little ding-dongs, and cover themselves with feces, it would probably be the orks. I took pictures of the stages I used to paint his helm, but they didn't really come out too well. Sorry, dudes. No tutorials for you today. 

Thursday, January 8, 2015

40k Beastman - Finished

Figured I would just get these completed pictures posted up. See, I've been doing shit!

This miniature was incredibly fun to paint. I was going to recommend tracking one down on ebay, but they are all retarded expensive. Dunno how much I paid for this guy, but it wasn't 40 bucks. I decided to try out a cracked magma effect on his chestpiece, and though it may look like his armor is encrusted with candy corn, I'm still pretty stoked on the finished product. It was cool to have a little space to throw in some freehand on the plasma gun's power cell. The eagle on his chest- and the caps on his horns- were painted with a mix of metallics I've been working with for a bit.

I imagined the beastman was from an Imperial Guard battalion lost in the Eye of Terror. Chaos has begun to take hold and warp them, yet through denial they still attempt to cling to humanity. The color scheme was inspired by the wildly colorful and chaotic artwork and painting styles of early Rogue Trader 40k. Kinda bummed, I feel the marine on the base would have made a better narrative painted in the pre-Heresy Thousand Sons colors. I'm sure as hell not motivated enough to go back and repaint it.

Wednesday, September 3, 2014

40k Beastman WIP - Base and Legs

Well, I guess with the passing of Labor Day here in the USA, it's unofficially considered the end of summer. I'm cool with that, I dig the fall. I'm definitely ready to settle down and get back to doing more work, and mountain biking and hiking in the fall can't be beat.
I did start shipping out the packages for my mini exchange, and it only took my slacker ass two months. So rejoice! If you joined up, your grimy little fists should be all over some sweet vintage lead soon.

I figured I'd post up a little WIP action to let you see what I've been working on lately. I've been making a little bit of progress on the beastman. I'm trying to avoid getting super involved in this miniature and continue moving along quickly without getting held up on one spot too long. I have the habit of starting miniatures for fun, and then I get super involved in the details. Pretty soon I'm 20 hours in, then boredom arrives, and then there is another half finished miniature in my case. I'm going to try to not let that happen. Insert line from everyone's favorite space muppet.

Do, or do not.
There is no try.
I'm cutting it short today, but fear not, I shall return soon. If you joined up for the exchange, you'll have some fun coming to you soon, so keep in touch! Later.

Monday, August 18, 2014

RT Challenge/Clipping and Pinning Tutorial

Sorry dudes. It's been summertime. Lots of biking and skating, and copious quantities of beer has been quaffed. My ankle feels better, and the weather has been nice, hence time around the workbench has been a little scarce.

What have I been up to? Awesome. That's what I've been up to. This was a good day.

Alright, in this post I have some stuff regarding the Rogue Trader Mini Exchange I proposed months ago, and I wrote you up a little tutorial. It's nothing too advanced, but it shows my method to take care of "slotta-style" tabs on your miniatures, so you can pin them to a custom base. Hopefully it will come in handy for some of you.

To the cats who dedicated to the mini exchange, they are all ready to be shipped out, and as always, I apologize for my slacker ass. You're getting free miniatures. You really can't complain too much.

So I ended up picking out an ork, a 40k beastman, and a rare Leman Russ mini. Here are two of 'em all prepped, pinned, and on their completed bases. At this point in the space-time continuum they are primed as well. I converted the Russ mini a bit by pinning on an axe from a Reaper weapons pack, and the wolf tail is from the old Space Wolves sprue. Blasphemy! Sacrilege! You may declare that converting a rare and classic Leman Russ is complete and utter bullshit, but I don't care. I think he was supposed to be holding reins for his pet wolves in his right hand, but I always thought the pose was a bit awkward.

I've always dug this beastman miniature, and I haven't seen any well painted versions of him. I think it is interesting he is wearing loyalist armour and wielding a plasma pistol. Pretty cool. I believe in the olden days of Rogue Trader the beastmen were considered a sub-race of humanity, rather than the spawn of chaos. I'm probably still going to paint him up as a chaos follower, 'cause I feel it's only proper. I'm thinking Khorne.

In case you wonder why my workbench is covered in blue, purple, and magenta metalflake, it's from a board I airbrushed up years ago.

Here are my completed bases for duders. I'm going to try to write up a tutorial on the creation of the slab bases at some point. They involve casting thin sheets of plaster, then breaking them up and carving them. The graffiti base has been completed and kicking around in the stash for years, and I think the ork will finally make an appropriate addition to it. The round wooden base in the middle is from a liquor bottle stopper, and the square one on the right is from a children's wooden block set. The rocks were all made from wine cork, and there are a few miscellaneous odds and ends thrown in from the scrap boxes.

Here is the detail of the base for Russ. As you can see, it's made of a carved slab of plaster, stacks of cork, and a wolf skull from Logan Grimnar. There is some putty on the inside to solidify everything and to allow the pins on the miniature's feet to grab on to something. Note the two holes drilled for the pins.

Anyways, on to the useful bits.

I'm sure many of you have your own style or technique for removing the tabs from miniatures, but I figured I'd let you in on my method. It's all well and good to glue your minis directly into a slotta-base (personally, I prefer the Privateer Press style) and putty around the gaps, but nothing really sets off a mini like an impressive scenic base. Unfortunately, to get that mini on that base you're gonna have to cut that annoying tab off and put some pins through the feet.

Cue "Tools of the Trade" by Carcass. Also, check the ork.
So you can always just saw directly across the tab, however find that to be a massive pain in the ass, and kinda messy. It generates lots of gnarly lead dust in the air, I find it isn't very accurate, and it requires more cleanup and filing than this method.

First step is to saw vertically through the middle of the tab. Careful, don't emasculate the man. The reason I do this is so after the tab hab been sawed, you can carefully grab under the foot with pliers and bend the two sides of the tab in opposite directions with your clippers. I know this seems unneccesary, but the narrow space caused by the saw doesn't leave enough room to properly clip the tab off without distortion, and if you go all in and just try to clip the tab down the center it is going to bend, or possibly break, the lower extremities of your miniature. This beastman had particularly fragile legs, but marines are usually a little more durable.


Now you can simply trim the tab off until it looks something like the picture on the right.

Now we grab that razor saw once more and we saw off the remaining little chunks.

Then simply file his feet (or in this case, cleft hooves) flat.
My pin vice came with a needle sharp punch, which I find excellent for marking where your pin is going to go. You can also use a sewing pin or needle. I discourage the use of the tip of your hobby blade for this, it's easy to slip and injure yourself. It is also possible for the tip of the blade to snap off in the foot, and the tiniest little fragment of hardened steel is going to completely botch your attempt to drill that hole. That being said, it is important to make an indent where you want to drill, 'cause otherwise the bit wont have a proper seat, and it can walk all over the place. Frustrating.

Then drill. Carefully. I used the smallest drill bit and thinnest brass wire I have to pin this mini. Sorry I failed on taking pictures of the wire and finishing steps. Hopefully you should be able to manage from here.

If the mini I am pinning has large enough feet/legs, I'll use a thicker piece of wire for one foot, and a very thin piece for the other. Observe the ork in the first picture of this tutorial. His left foot has a thicker wire than the right foot. This allows you to drill two large holes, and the large wire will anchor the miniature while the thinner one allows easier placement.

Alright guys, take it easy, and I will return soon. I'll be slinging paint on these bad boys, and I have a music article in the works as well. 'Til next time, and let's hope it isn't another two months!