limited production :: hand crafted :: high performance :: rechargeable :: premium flashlights

This is my blog about creating a startup LED flashlight business. I'm a designer, fabricator, and strategist and I'm passionate about making ideas real. I believe that products are about people, that they should be built to last, deliver real value, and that we need to do a better job than we have in the recent past.

Most of my career has been contract or freelance work and I've crafted products and strategies for both big international companies and startups. I also used to work in the "industry" fabricating special effects for film and TV, along with the occasional hot rod. Bottom line, I love making things.

I'm starting this blog so you can follow along, from day one, and see what it's like to start a business, or fail in the process. Only time will tell, but I hope you find this interesting enough to stay tuned, comment, link, like, tweet, and (most importantly) participate in turning this idea into something tangible and valuable.

For a good place to get started with general info about who, what, why, etc., check out the "Stickies" on the left side of the page. Thanks for stopping by and please don't hesitate to ask questions and get involved!

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Friday, June 3, 2011

Odd Job: Mission Motors

Hi folks, thought I would do a bit of a random post today. Before I started flashlights a few months ago I was doing custom fabrication work out of my shop. Mostly one-off things and mixed fabrication/project management. Say you need something designed, machined, welded, coated, and delivered's hard to find one shop that can do all of people come to me. I used to work for Mission Motors up in SF, and I still do the odd job for them from time to time.

parts and prints, always satisfying! 
A couple weeks ago they needed some bits for their race bike so I spent a couple days getting these together. This job was straight forward CNC and manual machining from their prints so it went pretty quick. The last big job I did for them was a set of display stands for SEMA. Read on after the jump to see the bike and the parts I made!

yes, it's as cool as it looks
So Mission Motors is the first company to produce a high performance all-electric motorcycle. Yes, it's also as fast as it looks and will pretty much take on any superbike out there. It's an amazing opportunity to contribute to something like this, and an honor that my work will grace their actual race bike.

Hardinge HLV-H + Seco carbide tooling = amazing surface finish
The parts are pretty humble but these little beauties keep the rear shock spring where it's supposed to stay. This is about as simple as machining gets but there is something I like about elegance. The drawing didn't call for it, but both of these are +/- .0005" on dimensions and face parallelism. For the non-machinists .0005" inches is the thickness you would have if you divided a sheet of printer paper along the edge...six times.

when the drawing calls for a pair, remember to make two parts. 
Another very basic part...though I did miss the fact that there were supposed to be two parts ;) Fortunately they don't take long to make. This is one (of two) steering stops that prevent the handle bars from over rotating.
CNC...manual...or both? 
This little precision drilling jig was a head scratcher. The part looks deceptively simple. I knew getting the large radius done on the CNC was the best way to go, but programming the rest of the cuts would take too long. So, I cut the profile of the part on the CNC and finished the rest of the operations on the manual mill. The large hole is a precision bore that was toleranced at -0.0 / + .0005. Fortunately I got it dead on and didn't have to start from scratch. The job is easy when you have the right tools!

Admittedly the guys at Mission are a little crazy, and I like crazy. The entire motor housing is machined. A normal person would just take a solid cylinder and drill a bunch of holes in the perimeter. Not Mission. In order to get it super light, they had to use a 4 axis mill to remove all the extra material. It looks awesome and saves a couple pounds. I'd pay for that.

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