Thar Engineering was fun, and an interesting foray into the finer points of running a small business, but from mid to late 2012 sales had dropped off to the point of flirting with zero and I was forced to look reality in the face and head off in another direction. Around this time Kim got a job offer from a lab in Chatsworth that she just couldn't refuse, and we moved from Santa Maria back to L.A. Or rather I moved as she was hired on pretty much on the spot, leaving me with the task of finding a moving company and packing up the house by myself. It was a very intense 9 days of work during which I got maybe 3 to 4 hours of sleep a day, and the last three days none at all, but I got it done! One side effect was I lost a grand total of 18 pounds (from 190 to 172) and packed on a noticable amount of muscle in the process. I haven't been in such good shape in a long time, and have managed to maintain it since. There is a downside to this from a riding point of view, but I'm dealing with it. More on that later.
One aspect of all this is I had to find a job, and spent the next three months looking.
I found a job. That's right, after submitting somewhere in the range of 50 applications / resumes, an exceedingly high percentage of which I'm sure never got past the HR manager's respective wastebaskets, I was taking a walk and saw a little company called Arao Engineering in an industrial unit less than a 5 minute walk from home. Upon talking to the owner I realized he could certainly use my expertise. It was interesting to see his face when I mentioned my skill at welding stainless steel -- something he said was "impossible" -- and that I was very experienced with computer aided drafting (CAD), specifically Solidworks formatted type. He was immediately interested and called me a couple of days later to ask if I was familiar with programming CNC milling machines which, remembering the number one rule of job hunting: if a prospective employer asks if you can do something, you had better say YES!!!, and hope you can live up to your claim, I answered "Yes, but it's been a while". In reality I'd never touched one before, much less programmed one. Needless to say he hired me and immediately handed me the task of programming his CNC mill to machine precisely shaped combustion chambers for high performance four valve cylinder heads for small and large block Chevy V8s. Talk about a steep learning curve! Fortunately I was able to get a handle on the task and had workable programs up and running within a week. The only downside is he also works on ..... Harleys. I had little respect for them from the beginning, and since working on them have even less now. At least it pays. BTW, I call them "Hogley Fergusons" or "Hardly Ablesons", but not when owners are within earshot, especially when sporting HA colors. Oh brother.
Long story short ... I have been working there for a couple of months and made myself pretty much indespensible. The pay is not what I would describe as "great", or even "adequate", but with a 10% commission agreement for every cylinder head set sold (At ~$7,000 to $12,000) it is a tremendous inducement to produce as much as possible. Add to that the new experience with CAD, Mastercam, and G codes (brother is G10 useful!) and the usual prototype machining and assembling every part of cylinder heads, suffice it to say that it's right up my rapidly widening alley. Next I have the unenviable task of CNC porting on a three axis machine. Almost universally acknowledged as the most difficult task for CNC programmers even with a five axis machine, and from conversations with other programmers who "Wouldn't even consider doing it on a three axis!!!" I pressed on and actually got it to work with some creative fixturing and even more creative thinking.
Oh, the riding downside of all this I mentioned earlier -- losing 18 pounds seems to have hit a tipping point as regards the rear shock on my '02. That's right: what was tolerable before has become much worse. On the twisties it still works quite well (up to about 70% effort that is) but on the poorly maintained streets of the San Fernando valley it's like I have a strut back there. Awful! All is not lost as I have a rear shock from a GSXR 600 that is about the right length, and with a new rod end, best guess revalving, relocating the reservoir from integrated to remote, and a somewhat lighter spring can be made to work. All for $25 including shipping. What's life without a challenge?
Congrats on the new jobs for you and Kim. I know you loved it out there in Santa Maria, but I guess now at least you're closer to the canyons of Malibu for entertainment. Hope Kim also has some time to keep her business running on the side.
2012 Yamaha Super Tenere
2001 Honda Blackbird
2007 Honda 919
Sounds like things are going your way. I'm not a fan of MasterCAM myself, there are many other programs out there, that to me anyway, are much more user friendly. RhinoCAM is one of them, if you have an AutoCAD background Rhino is an easy transition. We also use the Pro/MFG in Pro Engineer here, and although it is a much more robust program, in my opinion it’s a bit more cumbersome to use. Hope everything goes well for you. Keep us posted on the rear shock, I too am looking into some alternatives, at 165lbs the rough mountain roads in GA can be a pain with a factory set up.
Hey Rob, thanks for dropping in and getting us up to date. I'm kinda bummed that I wasn't able to steer business to you sooner. At least the important thing is that you guys are surviving somewhat comfortably.
Hang in there dude! I'll always be in support of your products!