Large wet flakes covered my head as I stepped the short distance from my car to Chris' shop door. My head white with snowflakes and my boots brown and sinking in deep mud. I round the back corner and duck as I open the shop door. This winter can't end soon enough. The shop is small, warm, and lit, a sharp contrast to what is outside. Stuffed with milling machines, a lathe, welders, tables, vices, jigs, tool boxes, and Igleheart's precious bridgeport machine. An eclectic folksy tune on the radio and the smell - part pine tar, part burned metal, part machine oil.
The first time I'd entered one of Christopher's shops I thought he was in the midst of reorganizing. But, the longer I know Chris the more I come to realize he is a systematic person caught in a whirlwind of current projects and others on the horizon. I just accept the piles of supplies and mountains of machinery as a shop in constant transition. My trained eye can now identify progression amidst jumbled confusion.
Igleheart has put many hours and weeks into this years' pilgrimage to NAHBS and last night it became evident.
Chris' friend Jim came up from Chinatown to assemble show bikes as Chris welded forks on the other side of the small shop. Jim's attention to detail and his knowledge of bikes surpasses mine by far, I was there to watch and drink beer.
As I enter the shop and shake off the snow Igle is lathing down shims for an odd-sized brakelever. "Everyone should have a lathe!" - I tend to agree with Chris. Jim's laugh is contagious as he proclaims "good job on the custom hinged shims!"
I crack a beer and inspect a showbike carefully clenched in the stand. John the painter rolls in and parks on the snow covered driveway. Jim and I go out to grab the freshly painted bikes, I hustle to the rear of Jon's truck and see how gently he is handling the candy-coated frames and forks. I pause and carefully pluck two forks from John's grasp, he gives a sobering look while hesitantly giving them over, one fire red and one lotus green. I hold them far apart, not to clang them together and carefully trudge through the mud back to warmth of the shop.
After a few trips three freshly painted frames and forks hung securely from the shop ceiling. We admired Johns handy work and complimented on precise masking and just the right amount of metallic dust. The bikes look da bomb.
Jim and Igle worked well into the night. I'll stop back by to see what they put together.