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May 27, 2009
I found myself rooting through the archives and chanced on a picture from the very early days of Wheelsmith on Alma St. in Palo Alto. It was a shot of our tool board. On it hung our Campagnolo kit (old timers know about these) and our various Var, Eldi, Hozan, and home made tools.
Across the top are beer bottles, collected from exotic locations. Believe it or not, in 1975 you couldn't walk into any grocery and find foreign, artisan, or exotic beer. You had to go there.
You can see an aluminum version of the Jobst Brandt's tension gauge (that is currently available from FSA -- buy it here!). I still have the wood tool box in the foreground. Got it at a garage sale on Addison St. (not far from the famed garage of Bill and David of HP fame).
You'll be surprise which item I most miss: the framed picture at the left. It's a frowning gorilla with an parrot on his head. Somehow it was meaningful. The self absorbed, highly evolved gorilla is a contrast with the bird. We needed that levity because we were always trying much too hard. Perfectionism is a vice, and a selfish one at that. The little picture was actually hinged at its top. If you lifted it up, you could access a hole in the tool board and reach our light switch. So it was.
The framed picture is the tool board's center, so this shot is only the right half.
The shop had no heating or plumbing. Bathroom was next door in Sierra Designs (their second location after Berkeley). If they weren't open, it was the woods around the Southern Pacific (now Caltrain) tracks across the street. Lesson: once you are used to such inconveniences (long underwear in winter), it becomes easy. We stayed 10 years.
The next image is Bridgestone Bicycle's 1994 catalog cover.
By 1994, that tool board had moved three times within Palo Alto's downtown. You can see some items have changed places and I'm sorry you still can't see the left side. Those medieval Var tools were so good to look at -- the cotter press, for example. No wonder we kept them on display rather than in drawers.
In fairness, much of that tool board's completeness was owed to Hugh Enochs, the legendary Bay Area framebuilder. He began at Velosport in Berkeley, learned his craft in Italy from Cinelli and developed a frame business contemporary with Albert Eisentraut. Hugh, who lived a hippie-style life in La Honda, shared our rent (1/3 of our 1,000 sq ft) and many of the tools were his. We eventually bought them from him. Our businesses developed and parted, but the images remain.
So there you have my Tuesday epiphany. Serves me right for digging around in the "attic"...
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