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Old 08-18-09, 11:20 AM   #1
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How many Treks... (Early Trek frame quality rant)

...have insufficient rear brake bridge brass (EDIT: silver) penetration?

This just popped up in the Framebuilder's forum:

Quote:
I was changing the rear wheel on my older Trek when "pop" the cross tube that holds the rear brake pulled free from one of the seat stays. Looking at the joint is it rusted except for one tiny 1/8" spot so this has been just waiting to let go for a while.

Several years ago the rear end was damaged and the seat stay had to be bent back into shape. I assume this put pressure on this joint or cracked the weld then and it has just now given up.
Some of you might remember that my Trek 728/720 also popped a few years ago from relatively little stress. I had a $hitty tig-weld put in the gap:


From what I can see, hardly any brass was present in either of these joints. With all due respect to JohnDThompson - what the hell was Trek's framebuilders doing?

-Kurt
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Old 08-18-09, 11:22 AM   #2
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I thought the early ones were just about all silver brazed?
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Old 08-18-09, 11:24 AM   #3
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I thought the early ones were just about all silver brazed?
Ok, silver then. I don't know that much about Trek's early framebuilding characteristics.

-Kurt
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Old 08-18-09, 11:37 AM   #4
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Several years ago the rear end was damaged and the seat stay had to be bent back into shape.
Hardly think you can blame this one on the framebuilder.
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Old 08-18-09, 11:55 AM   #5
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I think I read on vintage-trek that silver was used up to about 85 or so, and discontinued even earlier on non Reynolds frames.

How do you check for something like that? Or do you just wait for failure and get it fixed?
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Old 08-18-09, 12:06 PM   #6
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How do you check for something like that?
Shrink or paint flaking at the junction with the seat stays, or rear brake arms misaligned, perhaps.
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Old 08-18-09, 12:10 PM   #7
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Originally Posted by zac View Post
I think I read on vintage-trek that silver was used up to about 85 or so, and discontinued even earlier on non Reynolds frames.
Good point. I tend to use "early" for Treks that are pre automated brazing and the discontinuation of Columbus tubing - up to about '83 say.
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Old 08-18-09, 01:53 PM   #8
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Originally Posted by Bob Barker View Post
Hardly think you can blame this one on the framebuilder.
Yet, there are numerous frames that have had their stays severely bent and straightened, structurally no worse for wear.

Regardless of that impact, look at that joint. I don't even see any silver in the gap.

Quote:
Originally Posted by zac View Post
How do you check for something like that? Or do you just wait for failure and get it fixed?
Pretty much. I will say, however, that an undamaged joint looks, externally, as if it is virtually devoid of any joining material in the first place.

-Kurt
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Old 08-18-09, 02:16 PM   #9
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I'll report back if anything happens to my '78 TX 500 or my riding buddy's '82 510. He rides it HARD: daily commuting, brevets, all on mixed terrain and rough roads, hopping curbs, and so on. He likes going off the beaten path, much to my dismay (thank goodness for fenders). He's been riding it like that trouble-free for about 8 months. Mine is set up for similar mixed terrain, though I'm a bit less aggressive and ride far fewer miles.
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Old 08-18-09, 02:40 PM   #10
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Thanks for the replies all!

I asked as I have an 83 760 (original owner) and still ride it hard. (Actually had 3 of them and I raced/trained on them the better part of a decade even after having crashed and having them straightened a few times.) Never had a frame issue with any of them.

The one I still have, I recently refinished last year and the frame looked to be in excellent shape when it was stripped. I treated it with WFS, and I think I got everything (even inside the seat stays).

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Old 08-18-09, 03:00 PM   #11
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Is the 760 finished in the same fashion, or is it reinforced (or filleted?)

-Kurt
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Old 08-18-09, 03:33 PM   #12
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Quote:
Originally Posted by cudak888 View Post
Regardless of that impact, look at that joint. I don't even see any silver in the gap.
There's a little, but it almost appears the bridge was tacked but not fully brazed.

After some enhancement:



If this had come back to me as a warranty claim, I probably would have honored it.
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Old 08-18-09, 03:54 PM   #13
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If this had come back to me as a warranty claim, I probably would have honored it.
I wish I had a better photo of the Trek's joint when it broke:



The joint looked virtually no different on the inside then the blue frame.

-Kurt
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Old 08-18-09, 07:30 PM   #14
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Mine looks ok. I wonder about the 2 that I flipped earleir this year.
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Old 08-18-09, 08:51 PM   #15
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From what I can see, hardly any brass was present in either of these joints. With all due respect to JohnDThompson - what the hell was Trek's framebuilders doing?

-Kurt
Were they all out back getting high on their breaks? My 79 510 had some build/brazing problems that I didn't discover until after spending several hundred dollars on a beautiful Joe Bell restoration paint job; with the rear axle perfectly centered in the drops and and on the seat tube the rear brake bridge mounting hole was offset from the center around 4mm, a significant amount. A few minutes with a long piece of string and some close visual inspection showed that the right seatstay was just about that much thicker at the braze to the seat tube than the left side. I shipped the frame to Matt Assenmacher who stated it was not due to any accidental damage to the frame but was simply a 'build problem' which he did a very nice job of straightening with no damage to the paint.
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Old 08-19-09, 07:40 PM   #16
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Originally Posted by cudak888 View Post
Is the 760 finished in the same fashion, or is it reinforced (or filleted?)

-Kurt
No, it appears to be filleted:





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Old 08-19-09, 08:45 PM   #17
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I can hardly concentrate on the lugs - the red metallic the anodized Campagnolo and chrome steel bits make those photos absolutely stunning in their own way.

Still looks like a pretty slight job on the silver, though better then the others.

-Kurt
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Old 08-20-09, 10:36 AM   #18
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Quote:
Originally Posted by cudak888 View Post
I can hardly concentrate on the lugs - the red metallic the anodized Campagnolo and chrome steel bits make those photos absolutely stunning in their own way.

Still looks like a pretty slight job on the silver, though better then the others.

-Kurt
Thanks Kurt, here it is without its Honjo's:

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Old 08-20-09, 11:28 AM   #19
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I think this thread is an attempt to lower the current prices for vintage Treks everywhere you look.
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Old 08-20-09, 01:36 PM   #20
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I think this thread is an attempt to lower the current prices for vintage Treks everywhere you look.
Except that I have zero interest in buying another.

-Kurt
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Old 08-20-09, 02:07 PM   #21
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One of my summer projects is to strip and repaint my '84 770. I'll check the
brazing on it then. Hopefully it's better than the 2 examples shown up top.

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Old 08-20-09, 02:23 PM   #22
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One of my summer projects is to strip and repaint my '84 770. I'll check the
brazing on it then. Hopefully it's better than the 2 examples shown up top.

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Pink and White like the '85 770's?
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Old 08-20-09, 04:21 PM   #23
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I bought one of the very early Trek frames new. Within two months the down tube had pulled out of the BB.There was almost no silver solder evident. I returned it to the bike shop for a refund and bought a lovely Mondia Special with NR groupo and was glad I did. I have never even considered a Trek frame since then.
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Old 08-20-09, 04:26 PM   #24
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I just worked on an early 720 for a customer. I saw no evidence of problems anywhere. I'll take some pictures when I get a chance. It's not my thing, but a very nice bike, nonetheless.
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Old 08-20-09, 05:24 PM   #25
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I don't consider the bike in the OP to be an early Trek. Pretty sure that early Treks had nickel silver brazing on most of the rear triangle. Nickel silver is much like brass/bronze and contains no silver. Trek really started moving away from traditional techniques as the '80s started.

The bike in the OP had been bent, not exactly fair to say there was anything wrong with the construction. It seems pretty clear that there was full penetration, it just was weak. I wouldn't use silver on an un-reinforced joint like that unless it was the kind that will build a fillet. It appears they used 56% silver, which doesn't build up. Given my disagreement with the design, the technique looks to be as good as it gets.

It doesn't surprise me too much to hear that there is an occasional Trek out there with brazing problems. For one thing, you will find this on any production brazed frame. My favorite example was a Cinelli fork that sold on ebay where the steerer broke loose from the crown. I'm sure the Cinelli cost much, much more than a Trek. The first day I showed up at work at trek, I found a frame left there by my predecessor. The day before, he had brazed the bottom bracket halfway, and left the silver rod brazed to the joint. I'm pretty sure I got complete penetration when I completed that frame, but who knows, there was no inspection for that. I never saw any returns of broken frames in the year+ period I was there. That seems like a fairly good record.

Last edited by unterhausen; 08-20-09 at 05:35 PM.
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