Vises Are An Integral Part Of Custom Bicycle Production

This company's automatic self-centering production vise features jaws that are connected by a concealed gear and rack so that they move together equally on both sides of center.

Waterford Precision Cycles, Inc. (Waterford, Wisconsin) turns to Heinrich Company to keep its bicycle lines running at peak efficiency. Waterford depends on Heinrich’s production vises to help it meet the precise engineering and technology demanded in today’s rigorous bicycle production.

A manufacturer of custom bicycles, Waterford Precision Cycles is said to offer world-class craftsmanship, a practically infinite number of option combinations, unparalleled customer service, the ability to handle small batch sizes and color flexibility. In-house design takes roughly 2 hours to convert custom information to tubing geometry, frame dimensions and correct tubing type. Bicycle tubing is mitered using Heinrich’s double-acting, self-centering vises.

Jeff James, plant manager, credits Heinrich’s DA-2200-SC pneumatic double-acting self-centering vise with enabling his machinists to quickly change tube size and cutting tool with little effort and virtually no downtime. The vise automatically centers the tubing and holds it in place for precise mitering. A cylinder on each end of the vise activates both jaws. The jaws are tied together by a rack and pinion gear system that allows the vise to be self-centering with an accuracy of 0.001 inch. It is mounted on a movable table with a spindle situated above that descends to provide a clean curved cut. A four-way treadle valve activates the vise.

Mr. James recalls that when the Heinrich vise the company inherited from Schwinn Bicycle Company broke down several years ago, production ground to a halt, and he frantically phoned Heinrich to see what could be done. After learning firsthand the ease with which these vises could be rebuilt and recognizing their value to the company, he bought another one. Now, the two self-centering Heinrich vises are heavily used and are an integral part of the custom-bike production process, according to machinist Brian Blank.

Mr. Blank points out that another vise, Heinrich’s double-acting DA-3301, is used exclusively to crimp the end of one particular frameset. Piston-type air cylinders provide up to 1,500 pounds of clamping force to collapse and flatten tube ends. “It’s fondly referred to in the shop as ‘The Cashius Cruncher’ after the Cashius BMX model it’s used for,” he adds.

The company manufactures the frame, fork and handlebar stem of high-end, custom-built Waterford- and Gunnar-brand bicycles. It builds just about any bike configuration, including downhill racers, touring and mountain bikes, bikes that fold up and fit in the trunk of a car, and even an Iditabike (named after the Iditarod) with 3 ½-inch tires used for cycling in the snow. Waterford also builds bikes and other cycling-related components as an original equipment manufacturer (OEM) for Standard Byke Company, Heron Cycles and other companies.

Waterford depends on Heinrich’s vises to help the company measure up to the precise engineering demanded in today’s cycling circles. Heinrich has been instrumental in helping the company stay ahead of the competition and set the standard for custom-built, American-made bicycles.

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