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Old 04-27-06, 04:07 PM   #1
collision666
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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
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Old 04-27-06, 04:17 PM   #2
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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.
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Old 04-27-06, 04:21 PM   #3
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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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Old 04-27-06, 04:21 PM   #4
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oh yeah, of course he has a welder
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Old 04-27-06, 06:27 PM   #5
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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.
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Old 04-28-06, 12:14 AM   #6
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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.
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Old 04-28-06, 05:04 AM   #7
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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.
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Old 04-28-06, 10:38 AM   #8
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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.
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Old 04-28-06, 10:43 AM   #9
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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.
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Old 04-28-06, 10:50 AM   #10
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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.
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Old 04-28-06, 11:45 AM   #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.
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Old 04-28-06, 12:10 PM   #12
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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.
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Old 04-28-06, 12:13 PM   #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.
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Old 04-28-06, 08:11 PM   #14
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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.
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Old 04-29-06, 10:42 AM   #15
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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?
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Old 04-30-06, 04:13 AM   #16
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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.
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Old 05-01-06, 09:40 AM   #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).
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Old 05-02-06, 11:20 AM   #18
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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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