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  1. #1
    Fish'r wish'r Russ's Avatar
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    Is there a way to determine what type of steel a frame is made from?

    I've got an old mountain bike frame, probably from the mid-80's (based on the fact that it has a chain stay mounted U brake). The thing is, the frame was previously stripped and repainted, so there are no labels, stickers, or any sort of identifying marks. The geometry resembles a road bike frame (horizontal top tube), but with 26" tires. Mechanic told me the dropout was forged, vice stamped (which I assume is a good thing).

    Is there any way to tell whether this is a quality chromoly frame, rather than a cheap pipe frame? It does have a lugged seat tube/top tube connection, not sure if that's any indication. The other tube connections are welded.

    Trying to figure out if it's worth fixing up, or if I should start with a new frame. I've ridden it, and it fits me well.
    I don't own a cell phone or a pager. I just hang around the people I know. If someone wants to get a hold of me, they just say 'Russ,' and I say 'what?' and turn my head slightly.

  2. #2
    Decrepit Member Scooper's Avatar
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    Unfortunately, there's really no way to tell other than tubing wall thickness which translates to weight. The forged dropouts are a good sign.

    If the tubing is hi-ten non-butted 18 gauge carbon steel it's going to be heavy. If it's butted or double butted 4130 chromoly or a manganese-molebdenum alloy, it'll be lighter. Typically, if the seat post is 27.2 mm or larger, the tubing is better than straight gauge carbon steel.

    There are instruments like the Olympus Series 35 ultrasonic thickness gauges that can accurately measure tubing wall thickness, thereby providing an indication of the tubing quality.
    - Stan

  3. #3
    Junior Member
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    I was at a bike shop in the 80's and the old guy tapped the top tube with a key and said "hi tensile" based on the ping. It was really a check of wall thickness I would guess, but impressive.

  4. #4
    Title-Les
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    Geeze I just gotta ask, if ya like the bike what the heck do you care other than bragging rights?
    alf

  5. #5
    I make stuff up
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    Beg to differ on seat post diameter, but during the mid '80s 26.8 was common for mountain bikes, almost to the point of standard. 27.2 was standard for road bikes.
    It's around here somewhere . . .

  6. #6
    Senior Member
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    you can dig through old catalogs and try to find the frame

  7. #7
    Fish'r wish'r Russ's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by old_alfie View Post
    Geeze I just gotta ask, if ya like the bike what the heck do you care other than bragging rights?
    alf
    Good point - it's the sort of question one asks on a lazy Sunday evening, with no other pressing issues.
    I don't own a cell phone or a pager. I just hang around the people I know. If someone wants to get a hold of me, they just say 'Russ,' and I say 'what?' and turn my head slightly.

  8. #8
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    Sounds similar to an 89 Bianchi Grizzly I used to have. That was made out of "Tange 900 for MTB", which is double-butted 4130, I believe.

    I've also seen an older Stumpjumper and a Trek 930 made out of Tange MTB, which leads me to believe it was a fairly common material for mountain bikes of that era. I found it to be nice and flexy on trails, if a little on the heavy side.

    You can find out a lot by going to the Classic+Vintage section of MTBR.com

  9. #9
    S.African in Switzerland The_Guru's Avatar
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    No uniquely-identifying features like serial number under BB ?

  10. #10
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    Sonic testings good for finding if it is butted or not.You can tell the difference between normal steel and high carbon steel with a spark test.You need to touch the frame somewhere(hidden) with a grinder and watch the shape of the sparks.A knowing eye can tell you in a second what it is.If you have a good eye,you can find spark patterns online.

    If you have a big scrapyard near your house,alot of them have a *** they point at the metal and it will tell you EXACTLY what it is.
    Everything should be as simple as possible...But not more so.---Albert Einstein

  11. #11
    Al noisebeam's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Russ View Post
    Good point - it's the sort of question one asks on a lazy Sunday evening, with no other pressing issues.
    I thought your originally stated reason was good:

    Quote Originally Posted by Russ View Post
    Trying to figure out if it's worth fixing up, or if I should start with a new frame. I've ridden it, and it fits me well.

  12. #12
    Senior Member
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    Have you weighed it?

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