Category Archives: SoCal Life

Business (welding) and the Art of Mountain Bike Racing

63705_10151532687349377_282511402_nAs most of you know if you follow me here or on social media, I’m passionate about metal fabrication, Arc-Zone.com, and about my family.  And I’m also passionate about mountain biking. I started out with a Schwinn Stingray bicycle that I tricked out, like a chopper then by the time I’d turned 11 I’d stepped up to racing dirt bikes– building and tweaking my bike with my Dad’s help. From there I went on to racing motorcycles as an amateur, then moved on to build and wrench Sprint Cars…  but my first love was always bicycles.

Through the years I’ve continued cycling, including the occasional weekend mountain bike run with my buddies, but last year I decided to get back into serious shape and took on a coach to improve my technical skills.  Next thing I knew I was racing again!

Since I’m still at the helm of Arc-Zone, a lot of my training now happens at five in the morning. It’s not easy, but if you want to compete you gotta train!  And the funny thing is that as I train, I am reminded how the lessons I’ve learned in racing apply to business and how mountain biking has helped me grow the business. Continue reading

Welding Junk (into Funk!)

Joanie and Maureen welding something good

Joanie, cuttin’ it up (or maybe welding something up) with our operations manager Maureen

This past September Arc-Zone, with our PRO Partners initiated a “Junk to Funk” welding contest on Instagram. Each PRO Partner was given a collection of scrap metal parts (each package was identical) and they were each tasked with welding the pieces into something. Over three weeks, the PRO Partners shared pictures of their welded works in progress with the hashtag #junktofunk on Instagram… then, when their creations were completed we gave them away.

The Arc-Zone team had so much fun with the #junktofunk welding project we decided to do our own in-house holiday edition. Thanks to Joanie Butler (our in-house PRO Partner) she’s got the whole team cuttin’ metal and burnin’ rod! And everyone, from our warehouse staff to the customer care team, and even our accountant are participating. In fact we even got my daughter welding!

If you want to get involved, join us on Instagram (@arc_zone), weld something out of scrap, take a photo, and upload it to Instagram with the #junktofunk hashtag and maybe we’ll showcase your welding masterpiece to our 10,000 plus followers!

And if you need to upgrade your welding tool box, or add some top quality welding accessories, check out our webstore.

Skater Fabricator Josh Kalis in The Zone

We get quite a few fabricators stoppin by the Zone, but imagine our surprise when Skateboarder Josh Kalis walked into the Arc-Zone.com headquarters to pick up a welding helmet….  DC Shoes is just down the street from Arc-Zone…

He rolled up in a cool blacked out Porsche 911 GT2RS and he was getting ready to star a new skating video.  The production company wanted him to skate over a roll-off dumpster, and he told them they needed to put a lid on that thing;  to do that right, they’d need some welding gear.  Josh offered to get it himself and weld it so they could add that to the video.

Josh googled and found Arc-Zone.  “Sure glad I found you guys,” he told me.

We hooked him up with some stylin’ new Revco flamed out black Stallion gloves and a nice Miller Digital Elite welding helmet.

I  spread out the goods in our styled out conference room– helmets all the colors and graphic options, and told him the the flat black is my fave– you can decal it as you like.   Josh agreed and that was that.

Next the ladies in our Customer Care Department put together the rest of his order and  charged his Amex card.  He even gave up his email address:  “Put me on the list!” he said.  (Arc-Zone’s monthly email is pretty informative and a fun read)

Josh said, “Man you guys got all the good stuff! When I walked in the lobby I was thinking you only sold online, but I’m blown away!”  He said he’d be buying more from us for his Automotive restoration shop in Michigan — http://www.allspeedperformance.com/

Unfortunately he wasn’t driving this tricked out custom DC Camaro but you can check it out here:

And let us know if you want to stop by! Its great to meet our customers and hear about the projects they’re working on…. We’ll even have you’re order ready to go!

And sign up for our email list to get news of new products, as well as tips and tricks so you can Weld Like A PRO!

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Racing to the Finish

At Cal State Fullerton, engineering students are getting ready to race, but first, they’ll need get their welding engines fired up!

CSUF students build a race car chassis
By DAMON LOWNEY
Daily Titan Online Editor
Published: February 08, 2010

One inch steel tubes were welded together over winter break to form a race car chassis as Cal State Fullerton engineering students toil to build a race car to compete in the annual Formula Society of Automotive Engineers (FSAE) competition.

By May, the Yamaha R6 powered senior project, built to FSAE’s race car specifications, will be ready to race.

The steel tubular space-frame chassis was finished on Jan. 26, according to CSUF FSAE team director Fred Hogarth.

“During break I saw footage of other teams chassis completed … They finished by mid-January. We finished by late January.” He said he believes CSUF’s car is about even in the build phase with cars from other university FSAE teams.

CONTINUE READING ONLINE ->

My First Motorcycle

My first motorcycle was a 1963 Yamaha 80cc 80YG 2 Cycle 7.7 hp that I got from a grade school friend of mine for free after her dad backed over it with his car.

My dad and I straightened the frame, hand cut and bobbed the rear fender, took the emblems off, painted it orange, and went racing.

I will never forget that Tuesday night.  We went to Trojan Speedway in South Gate, CA — a sticky little clay oval next to the LA river, behind the rock quarry, east of downtown LA.

My Dad stopped off at Kmart to get a cool looking orange metal flake Grant helmet that cost a mere $14.35.

I remember thinking, “Is that all my head’s worth?”, but my dad checked the specs, and it turned out that it was Snell approved and everything.

Then it was off to the races!  I was so excited to be there that lining up for the first heat race, I actually dropped the clutch early and jumped the start! I ended up going from my row two starting spot clear past row one and the starter! That was hard to explain to my sixth grade school teacher Mrs. Jackie Jacobson and a bunch of my class mates from Vista Del Lavalle grade school in Claremont CA. . .

That first race was an eye opener — the other bikes were faster and highly modified, so my dad and I went out and bought Floyd Clymer’s book “How to Tune a Two Stroke Engine”.

I learned early on that researching what others have done is your quickest way to the top.

We went to work on the engine — a rotary valve design that was easy to hop up. We installed a new rotary valve, over-bored cylinder, which we seven ported, installed a single-ring piston with a super short cut-skirt, machined radial high-compression head, and a topped it off with a total loss ignition system.

We finished the engine modifications off with a tuned exhaust made by Dick Haycock from Chino CA. Dick custom fabricated it by beautifully rolling and forming the expansion chamber and artfully oxy acetylene welding it together. He then finished off with a 7” long x 1/2” diameter stinger tip – that thing screamed!

My First Mini Bike

My first motorcycle was a Mini Bike – a Taco 44 kit that my neighbor and his dad decided was too much of a hassle to build. I traded my electric guitar for it.

My dad and I worked together to collect all the parts needed to build it.

Centrifigal chain drive clutches were popular then but a bit unreliable and noisy, so we engineered a belt drive system with a double pulley jackshaft, and chain drive to the rear sproket.

It was connected to a variable speed clutch, which was installed on a polished and chromed out, performance tuned Briggs & Stratton 5HP engine complete with a Tecumseh down draft carburator and straight pipe exhaust!

We turned the flywheel all the way down to the magnets, milled the head and made our own copper head gasket, as the OEM one was a thick layered sandwich design.

My dad organized a trip to Tijuana Mexico to have our 1969 Dodge Dart reupolstered. I invited two of my grade school buddies, Steve Maxwell and Eddie Fagg from Vista de Valle Elementry School in Claremont CA. Each of us brought our mini bike seats to have them reskined with custom material, button-tucked and finished off with some nice edge piping. The last thing we did before painting the frame gloss black was to redesigned the friction rear brake and custom foot pegs, which we had heliarc welded at Foothill Welding in Claremont, California.

When we picked up the parts from the shop, I was intrigued by the heliarc welds the guy had laid down, so I asked him a couple of questions, and he showed me how to make a few myself!

My friends thought it was all so cool – the bike – the welding. Before long, they had started calling me “Joe Welder”, and I guess it stuck !

I had a lot of fun on that old bike – it was the first time I really learned about engine modifications.

One night my Dad came home and saw me doing a trophy run down the alley behind the workshop. He said there was a long white flame streaming from the exhaust and it smelled like it was burning up.

When I explained how I had added some nitro to the high-octane AvGas, he knew I was ready to move up to a real motorcyle.