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  1. #1
    Poster Boy collision666's Avatar
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    Can a frame be built in an automotive shop?

    I was just wondering the possibilities of building my own frame over the summer. My buddy is a professional auto mechanic, hotrods and the such, and has a fully equiped shop. In theorey this seems like a possibility but in reality is it? Thanks for any input.
    Dave

  2. #2
    \||||||/ ZachS's Avatar
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    Yes. It would be possible, but you'd likely still have to spend some money in order to set yourself up to make a nice frame.

  3. #3
    Poster Boy collision666's Avatar
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    I would like to make it out of steel. Of course I would have to make a jig. My friend has an adjustable jig that he uses to make motocycle frames. Also he has a tubing bender. I can't think of much more that I would need

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    Poster Boy collision666's Avatar
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    oh yeah, of course he has a welder

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    Sounds like this would work, but good steel frames are made of very high-grade chrome-moly tubing, and the best is double-butted. This stuff may be more difficult to weld than cheap "hi-ten" steels.

  6. #6
    Senior Member spunkyruss's Avatar
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    If your friend has an oxy-acetylene torch then you might consider building a lugged frame.

    The folks over in the framebuilder's forum seem pretty helpful if you need advice.

  7. #7
    LF for the accentdeprived
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    If you build it from tubes used for motorcycle frames or other general use steel tubing, it will be heavy as a pig. Like 8 pounds, I guess.
    Quote Originally Posted by dutret
    Do you deny that you are clueless or do you just think that "moron" didn't need to be tacked on there?
    Bike on flickr and on FGG

  8. #8
    Poster Boy collision666's Avatar
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    Yeah, he's got a tourch. Also I would be looking into different tubesing than his motorcycle tubes. Is there a company that makes prefabbed rear stays and bottom bracket housings? That seems like the toughest parts to get right.

  9. #9
    52-week commuter DCCommuter's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by collision666
    Yeah, he's got a tourch. Also I would be looking into different tubesing than his motorcycle tubes. Is there a company that makes prefabbed rear stays and bottom bracket housings? That seems like the toughest parts to get right.
    The traditional way is to use lugs. See: http://www.henryjames.com/productlug.html

    Be warned that in quantity one the parts to build a bike will cost more than most manufactured frames.

  10. #10
    Poster Boy collision666's Avatar
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    Thanks for that link. There is a lot of info there. The cost can be spread out over the whole summer so that wont be a huge factor. I just love the thought of riding around on something that I built.

  11. #11
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    Have you taken a look at Suzy Jackson's site?
    http://www.littlefishbicycles.com/frame/

    Extremely informative, with lots of nice photos detailing each step in framebuilding.

  12. #12
    Poster Boy collision666's Avatar
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    No, I hadn't seen that site. Thanks for another great link. This is begining to look like may be possible.

  13. #13
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    Start out at www.frameforum.net. TimT also has an excellent web page. Suzy Jackson's page is great, and very informative.

    You can buy a complete tubing set from Henry James or Nova Cycles for +/-$200. If your friend has torch, you'll just need to get the right flux and filler rod, and you can build a brass brazed frame or a silver-brazed lugged frame. It isn't rocket science. You just need to pay attention to the details.

    You don't need a tubing bender. You can buy pre-bent chain and seat stays. If you want to bend your fork legs, you can build a jig to do it on. Files will be an important thing to have, as you'll have to miter all of your tubes for a good fit. If your buddy has a lathe or an end mill, it may make your life a little easier in the mitering department, but you'll still want to finish off the miters by hand.

    Plan on buying some extra tubing (cheap straight-gauge 4130) to practice your welds on. It takes a bit, but you'll get the feel for it.

    Consider buying the Paterik manual. It's extremely informative.

    If you want to do it up fancy, a jig like TimT's (extruded aluminum) will cost you +/-$300-400. You can also build a jig out of wood if you just want to build one bike. I made one out of wood when I built my chopper out of two bikes. It caught fire at one point, but it got the job done, and the bike is still holding together.

    Have fun with it.

  14. #14
    Senior Member DannoXYZ's Avatar
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    Heck, I built a frame in my dorm-room, so an auto-shop should be a piece of cake. However, you do not want to weld a frame together with oxy-acetylene torch or MIG welder. There's too much contamination of the weld and too much heat. You'll want to fillet-braze it or use lugs and silver-solder.

    You'll also need:

    - miter cutters
    - drill-press with adjustable clamp to hold tubes at right angles for cutting
    - couple yards of sandpaper-tape, lets you wrap the tube 360-degrees and just pull back & forth like waxing a shoe with rag
    - Dremel or die-grinder and lots of stones and flap-wheels for cleaning up the joints
    - paint and decals

    It's not that tough, just takes a lot of time and requires attention to detail. Count on about 200-hours for your 1st frame.

  15. #15
    Poster Boy collision666's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by DannoXYZ
    However, you do not want to weld a frame together with oxy-acetylene torch or MIG welder. There's too much contamination of the weld and too much heat. You'll want to fillet-braze it or use lugs and silver-solder.
    Many people have recomended using the oxy torch for lugs using silver solder. If you didn't use oxy, what did you use?

  16. #16
    Senior Member DannoXYZ's Avatar
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    That's brazing, not welding... typically occurs in the 1100-1600F degree range. Welding would best be done with a TIG welder, temps usually in the 3000F+ arena... The method used would depend upon the type of metal in the tube. Modern high-strength low-carbon steels can handle both just fine, but more skill is needed with the TIG welder due to the intense heat and small area that it's applied. Computer-controlled robots have created the nicest welds I've ever seen... not to mention at a 1-m/min+ welding speed...
    Last edited by DannoXYZ; 04-30-06 at 04:29 AM.

  17. #17
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    Just braze it with an oxy-acetylene torch. Henry James can sell you the right filler rod and flux. You may want to consult him on the tip size for the torch. You don't need a big tip for brazing bike tubes (too much heat).

  18. #18
    Poster Boy collision666's Avatar
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    I'll contact Henry James when I am ready to buy the parts. Hopefuly that will be in the middle of the month. I will keep everyone posted when I get started... but don't hold your breath.

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