You all have surely seen Terry Stonehocker's bikes. Or engine parts. Or both. Or even downloaded them all because this time our engineer under spotlight is the creator of some of the most popular and commented models in GrabCAD. We had a chance to interview him, hence a small warning before reading on - his insights and experience in the motorcycling world can easily make the decision for you about what to drive this spring ;)
GC: As with many GrabCAD engineers, you have a strong mechanical engineering background and expertise in machine design and building. Why this and not civil, electrical engineering or anything else?
Terry: Well growing up I was always drawing something with pin and ink or pencil so I always had an artistic talent and early on as a young boy I always thought I would do something with my artistic abilities. As I got older high-school age I started building RC airplanes and started designing my own winged creations. I developed a hands-on mechanical feel for the intricate parts that went into the planes. In high-school back in the late 60’s (oh yes I am an old-fart) I took a mechanical drawing class and learned how to draw on the board (something a lot of the younger engineers don’t get to experience anymore) in this class we advanced into architectural drawing of houses. When I went to college I thought I wanted to become an architect and started in that curriculum but soon realized that I missed the tinkering with gizmos (things) and decided to change my major to mechanical engineering.
GC: What is your favorite CAD software to use? All your models are of very high quality and the renderings are top-notch, how much work do you put in all the finishing touches? Any graphic design involved?
Terry: I use Solidworks 2010 and I like it a lot. At first I didn’t like it very much because I was used to using Mechanical Desktop, an AutoDesk product and had used it since the early 90’s. As I drew more in Solidworks I became more familiar with it and what I could do with it so it became my go-to CAD software.
Depending on what I am drawing and what I am drawing it for determines how much attention to detail I put into the model.
For example, when I am designing a machine and I am doing the initial layouts for the machine I do not put a lot of detail into the model, only enough to get the idea across to the cad person who then takes my model and details it into individual parts for manufacturing of the machine. The cad person and I then put together an assembly with the new full blown details and sometimes render the assembly for the client so the client can see what the final product will look like.
If I am doing a model like the bike I am doing now, I put a great deal more detail into the model. These models take a lot of time not just in drawing them, the research time alone takes hours and hours of time to find some of the old parts to make an accurate rendition of the bike.
In some of the renderings I do, graphic design plays a part in the final rendering. I use Photoshop along with PhotoView 360 to do the renderings. I have used some of the renderings and graphic design to advertise my trikes.
GC: Which part of engineering work is the most time-consuming for you? Which part do you enjoy the most?
Terry: I would have to say that from my experience owning and operating an engineering firm, research and making sure that I have met all of the client’s requirements on a project is the most time-consuming for me. Once all of the parts to the puzzle have been addressed and the client and I have an understanding (very important) then the rest is easy.
I am not sure which part I enjoy the most I like doing the design and the drawing but I also like the hands on of the build.
GC: Bikes are obviously something you are very passionate about. Tell us how, where and when this hobby started?
Terry: I guess my love for motorcycles started back in the late 60’s when I was in high school over in Germany. I fell in love with the BSA and always wanted one but never owned one. When I came back to the states and started college I got my first motorcycle, a Honda 305 Dream. The movie Easy Rider came out and the chopper craze was on. The rest is history.
GC: You've won awards for your bikes, Rat's Hole in Daytona for example. How much work do you put in building your bikes? Or even better, how does your garage look like? Any other awards?
Terry: I have won awards for trikes that I have built, the Rats Hole being the most well known, but the biggest award I have ever received is the reward I get from the look on the faces of the people I built trikes for. When they see the completed trike for the first time their faces light up and that look is the best reward I could ever receive.
Some trikes take more work than others, like the Beam which took almost a year to develop. The Beam doesn’t have a down tube supporting the neck so a lot of calculations and redesign were done to the backbone of the trike to support the extra load. Another Beam the HSR trike also took a while to build. It took four months to design and twelve days to build. Most of our trikes take from six to eight weeks to build.
I don’t build the trikes in my garage, we have a shop that we build them in and you can see it in a video on my website www.geargasmcycles.com.
I have my 1997 Harley Davidson Ultra Classic in the garage.
GC: Now our staple questions about role models in engineering and design: can you name any team or person or company whose work in engineering/product design inspires you or with whom you'd enjoy working with? Someone from motorcycle industry?
Terry: This is a tuff one, over the years I have had many people who have influenced and inspired me. One that comes to mind was my engineering manager when I worked at Michelin Tire. The one thing that I remember about him that stands out, was what he said to me that changed my whole attitude towards other engineers work.
One day he called me into his office and gave me a new project to do, which was to redesign a mixer in the Borax soap room. This mixer blended chemicals to make a soap solution that was used to lubricate wire in a wire-drawing machine. The existing mixer did not work very well. So he takes me over to the mixer room to have a look at the mixer and where the problems were with the mixer.
I looked at the mixer and right of the bat started giving my opinion about the designer who designed the mixer, he abruptly stopped me and gave me the biggest slam in the face of my young carrier. He told me, you do not know the engineer who designed this mixer nor do you know the criteria that it was designed under so you have no business down grading the way the designer designed the mixer. He went on to say, anyone can be a Monday morning quarter-back and design something better than the original but it takes a real engineer to learn from his and others mistakes and put that into improving their own designs. This has stayed with me ever since.
Some one from the motorcycle industry that has inspired me would have to be Billy Lane of Choppers Inc. who has a P.E. in mechanical engineering which most people do not know.
GC: In your opinion, the best product ever engineered/designed?
Terry: The best product that has stood the test of time would have to be the wheel.
In today’s time I would have to say NASA’s Space Shuttle which “they” (not NASA) have shut down. Shutting this program down to me is the world’s biggest blunder. So many things have come about because of that program and so many more things would still come from that program if “they” would just leave it alone.
GC: Any product or everyday utensil that millions use today, but which you would completely redesign from scratch given an opportunity? Anything.
Terry: Call me “Old Fashion”… but I would redesign the cell-phone and make it a PHONE again. Something you talk into and listen to the party speak on the other end. No texting, picture taking or internet, maybe we all would be safe again on the highway.
GC: Typical list of software or programmes open on your desktop? Any hi-tech mouses/joysticks/trackpads?
Terry: A typical list of software open at any given time on my computer would be magicJack, Outlook, Solidworks and Photoshop. Sometimes I also have Mastercam up.
Big thanks to Terry. Though, that's no enough: take a look at his portfolio. And click play on the following video clip as a cherry on the cake.