Skip to main content

New chassis for the Jones Counter to be available in December – From Tom Riegel

The stock of chassis needed to be replenished, and I was hoping to incorporate a few minor changes and improvements to the Jonescounter this year. The main goal was to improve the reliability by making the large gear out of more robust material. Over the 7 years we’ve been selling the Jonescounter, approximately 3 % of the units sold have failed either within the first few miles, or during the first measurement. It’s impossible for me to determine whether the failures were a result of improper installation, or due to the manufacturing / design of the chassis itself. During the assembly process I give each unit several “test spins” to ensure free rotation of the gear, but it’s impractical to give each unit a test ride.

When we tried to reorder chassis parts for the JR, the supplier told us that they had lost the tooling used to produce the last order. New tooling from this supplier would have been around $20k to $25k for the punching dies, and another $15k for the forming dies. This is approximately the cost of the tooling to create the original pieces we’ve been selling.

Over a dozen manufacturers were contacted to see if they were interested in producing the chassis with slightly new specifications. Samples of the existing pieces were sent out to four likely candidates, and numerous e-mails and phone calls were exchanged until one supplier was chosen in July. After a number of very informative conversations with their tooling engineer, they produced a couple of samples.

The new chassis have the following characteristics:

The overall dimensions of the JR Counter remain unchanged. If a JR fit a bicycle before, the new chassis will still fit. The hole has been specified to allow the installation on bicycles with a 10mm axle. The first production back in ’08 only fit 9mm axles which are common in the US, but the 10mm hole accommodates many international bicycles.

The large gear is now 1.95 mm (14 ga) stainless steel, over twice the thickness of the former large gear. This increased thickness will substantially increase the strength of the drive tang, which has had a very small but disappointing failure rate, usually due to bending. Stainless Steel was chosen over carbon steel because of the wearing characteristics of various steels in a dry-bearing.

The Chassis will be available in right-hand and left-hand configurations. This will eliminate the need for an additional “adapter plate” that substantially increased assembly time and cost. The only increase in cost for right-hand units will be due to the increased cost of the counters, which are purchased in smaller numbers.

The chassis will come to us already assembled. The three pieces will be swaged together by the manufacturer. This is the method used in the production of most of the Jonescounters sold prior to the development of the JR.

The pieces will be laser cut, instead of using the former stamping operation. This increases the cost per unit slightly, but saves the initial tooling cost to create stamping dies.
No price increase for complete counters is anticipated, but the price of replacement chassis assemblies will increase by $10.

Old counter (left) and new counter (right)

Pete Riegel (shipping clerk,
Last edited {1}
Original Post

Replies sorted oldest to newest

I had a couple additional thoughts about the redesign I'd like to share.

First, as before, the right-hand model will only be available with 5-digit counters. In the quantities I'm currently buying, I pay full retail. The last time I checked the cost for a 6-digit right-hand counter is about $135 with tax & shipping.

Since the gear is made of thicker material, the electrical connector will no longer fit on the tang and I won't be including them with the package. There is a hole in the tang, and a piece of 14ga wire (included) can be threaded through if the tang doesn't reach the spokes. Using laser-cut material alows the tang to be a little longer. Not much, but with the close tolerances involved every millimeter counts.

With the thicker gear, the counter makes less noise. I'm not sure of the exact harmonic properties, but I think thinner means tinnier, higher frequency sounds. The sample I installed is nearly silent.

I'll be ordering the chassis in smaller quantities. This will increase my price slightly, but it will allow me to keep my relationship with the supplier more active.

Also, if using stainless steel for the gear turns out to be an issue for any reason (galvanic corrosion, increased wear, etc.) I can change materials after a year or so.

Determining the best materials to use was a matter of some debate with the tooling engineer. I deferred to his experience / recommendation. Case-hardening and post-formed surface treatment was considered, along with using grade 50 sheet stock. Hardened bronze, tempered aluminum, and other combinations are possible at an insignificant cost compared to the tooling, but probably don't add any real value.

The tooling engineer and I discussed the orientation of the "burrs" created in the cutting operation for the pieces. These have been an issue I've had to deal with in the past by sanding, and filing when the burs are in the wrong spot, and increase friction.

To all the folks who have had a JR fail during a measurement, I've been listening. It is my hope that making the gear thicker will prevent most of the failures in the future. Having the manufacturer assemble the units may help as well. I hope using a 2-ton press to swage the pieces together will be more "repeatable" than a 20oz hammer and vise. Also they may be able to notice minor differences in the individual pieces during production, and adjust their tooling to keep the pieces in tolerance. Even a slightly smaller gap can pinch the gear.

I know how much effort it takes to measure, and the logistics of measuring a major event's course. It grieves me each time I hear one of these gizmos goes belly-up because I know the cost of the chassis pales in comparison to the effort lost in getting set up to do a measurement. I've been selling the replacement chassis below my cost, and will continue to do so. I hope I don't need to sell ANY, but I realize I'll never be able to make a chassis that fits every bike. Nor can I ensure every first-installation goes without a hitch.

Thanks to all who expressed an interest in an order of these new units. I sincerely hope they perform at least as well as the units I've been producing.


Add Reply

Link copied to your clipboard.