I have an old, 1982, 531 steel tubing bike that I have set up for loaded touring. When shipping it to a tour a number of years ago, UPS managed to bend in the right rear seat stay such that the brake bridge was also bent in, knocking the rear brake out of alignment and making the rear brake unusable. The rear wheel, however, still seemed to slide in and sit in the dropouts/frame in a perfectly aligned position. I then relegated the bike to a trainer for some years until yesterday morning, when at such time I was able to straighten the rear seat stays by eyeball, using a lug wrench to leverage the stays back in to position. After repeatedly going out to the garage and looking at my fix it job from different angles during the rest of the day, which really looked pretty darn straight most times I looked at it, by late last night I could not leave well enough alone, and decided to give the rear seat stays one last tweak with a bigger crowbar.
Of course that final tweak with the big bar was one too many and I started to separate the brake bridge from the right rear stay with a very small, hairline crack where the brake bridge attaches to the right, seat stay. (I would give you a picture but my camera isn't available right now). So here are my questions: Assuming that the structural integrity of the seat stays themselves is good, and assuming for a moment that the alignment of the frame is good enough for my loaded touring application (remember, the rear wheel looks like it sits in there in a perfectly aligned position), how important is that brake bridge to the structural integrity of the frame? And when choosing from potential, further fix it alternatives going from the easiest to the most complex, what do you think I need to do? JB weld? Braze on by professional non bike guy? Weld by professional non bike guy? Is there a specific type of welding I should choose? Or is this a serious enough problem that I need to remove all the components from the frame and ship it off to a frame builder/frame repair guy to professionally reattach the brake bridge and check frame alignment?
If I get it brazed or welded locally, can this be done in a manner where it only ruins the paint on the seat stays for a few inches, such that I could just rattle can the repaired area rather than getting the entire bike repainted? This is not a, beautiful, vintage Colnago that demands a perfect finish, but rather a tough, utilitarian, well traveled, bike for loaded touring, where a few imperfections and battle scars only add to its wizened character imo.
Thank you for any insights or suggestions.