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  1. #1
    Senior Member jethin's Avatar
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    Brazing: The Good, The Bad and the Ugly

    I've heard the term "nice brazing" used here before, but I've never been sure exactly what it meant. My curiosity as to what good/bad brazing is was piqued again last night while reading the recent "Modern, Skinny Tubed Steel Frames Vs. Vintage, Skinny Steel Frames" thread. Raleigh and Peugeot were both called out as being notorious for poor brazing on some of their models in that thread.

    So who wants to talk about brazing? What exactly does good/bad brazing look like (pics encouraged)? How does one judge the quality of a braze? Does poor brazing imply a weaker frame or is it mostly just aesthetic? How does filing/milling factor into the quality of a braze? Inquiring minds want to know!

  2. #2
    Senior Member DIMcyclist's Avatar
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    Well...

    If you want to get down to the technical brass tacks on this, you might have done better to have posted your query the frame-building forum; it can get pretty involved.

    Doubtless though, a good many folks here in C & V will give you a very detailed introduction, because it's THE heart of what makes a great steel frame.

    Be prepared for answers both technical and just a tad romantic.
    Trek 820 (650b), Trek 930, Fuji League, Bridgestone RB-2, Bridgestone XO-3, Soma Smoothie ES, LeMond Buenos Aires, Torelli Corsa Strada

  3. #3
    Senior Member fender1's Avatar
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    I'll start: 1970 Raleigh Competition seat tube connection to bottom bracket.

    [IMG][/IMG]

    [IMG][/IMG]

  4. #4
    Senior Member jethin's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by fender1 View Post
    I'll start: 1970 Raleigh Competition seat tube connection to bottom bracket.

    [IMG][/IMG]

    [IMG][/IMG]
    Whoa, lol. Maybe the early 70s weren't the high point of brazing technology, but was that bike sold like that?

  5. #5
    Senior Member zazenzach's Avatar
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    ^^^

    Holy s@%& dude! how did they even let that out of the factory?

  6. #6
    Ride, Wrench, Swap, Race dddd's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by jethin View Post
    I've heard the term "nice brazing" used here before, but I've never been sure exactly what it meant. My curiosity as to what good/bad brazing is was piqued again last night while reading the recent "Modern, Skinny Tubed Steel Frames Vs. Vintage, Skinny Steel Frames" thread. Raleigh and Peugeot were both called out as being notorious for poor brazing on some of their models in that thread...
    I haven't seen any poor examples of Peugeot brazing, at least nothing to compare to the many examples from Raleigh/Carlton.

    Raleigh's brazing looks like perhaps the temperature wasn't brought up quick enough, or poor cleaning/fluxing and clearances, such that in many places the brass just didn't take to the steel, so an extra layer was globbed on wherever it could be made to stick to.

    Peugeot's brazing generally seems very accurate and clean by comparison.

  7. #7
    Senior Member Drillium Dude's Avatar
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    Actually, that Raleigh BB junction pic screams "repair". It surely doesn't look to be an original factory flub (although there are plenty of examples of those out there).

    DD
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  8. #8
    Decrepit Member Scooper's Avatar
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    On a lugged frame, the lug shorelines should be even and the torch heat used to draw the brazing material into the joint so that there is good filler penetration without voids. The lug points should be thinned with a file to prevent stress risers from hard spots. Cleanup involves filing excess filler material off of the tubing and the lug, and not leaving any file marks.

    On chrome plated frames and polished stainless steel frames, any imperfections stand out like a sore thumb. Here is an example of lug brazing very close to perfection. Dave Wages (Ellis Cycles) was the brazer of this Waterford 953 frame before hanging out his own shingle.





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  9. #9
    Senior Member fender1's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Drillium Dude View Post
    Actually, that Raleigh BB junction pic screams "repair". It surely doesn't look to be an original factory flub (although there are plenty of examples of those out there).

    DD
    I think you must be right. I did get the bike second hand, so I have no way of knowing what the history was.

  10. #10
    Cisalpinist Italuminium's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by dddd View Post
    I haven't seen any poor examples of Peugeot brazing, at least nothing to compare to the many examples from Raleigh/Carlton.

    Raleigh's brazing looks like perhaps the temperature wasn't brought up quick enough, or poor cleaning/fluxing and clearances, such that in many places the brass just didn't take to the steel, so an extra layer was globbed on wherever it could be made to stick to.

    Peugeot's brazing generally seems very accurate and clean by comparison.
    At te very end of the steel era, Pug actually moved to internal brazing (thread here), creating really pretty and smooth frames, even at the very low end (ATMO).

    My seventies motorbacon isn't really well brazed together.

    I guess my Torpado build concorde has nice enough shorelines, but not too refined lugs.
    Pass the Dutchie on the non-drive side.
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  11. #11
    ^ JBC. jbchybridrider's Avatar
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    Peugeot may have done the best lugless brazing ever. As said above it was internal brazing called the (direct brazing system) done in a fully automated computer controlled process. I have seen an old company video of how it was done.



    2010 Custom Carbon JBC, 1990 Ricardo Pinnacle, 1988 Ricardo Elite, 1983 Ricardo Varsity, 1990 Peugeot Hurricane, 1977 Dawes Galaxy GT, 2007 Pinarello F3-13, Custom aussie made 1980 Columbus SL racer, 1975 Calton Rapide, 1995 Olympia Fusari, 1993 Basso Viper.

  12. #12
    car guy, recovering aixaix's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Drillium Dude View Post
    Actually, that Raleigh BB junction pic screams "repair". It surely doesn't look to be an original factory flub (although there are plenty of examples of those out there).

    DD
    DD is right. That ain't no factory job.
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  13. #13
    Decrepit Member Scooper's Avatar
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    Here's a cutaway illustration of Peugeot's internal brazing from one of the catalogs.

    - Stan

  14. #14
    car guy, recovering aixaix's Avatar
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    Here are some fillet-brazed Ephgrave frames. Although he was famous for his ornate lugs, Les Ephgrave did a lot of fillet-brazing on racing bikes, whose owners didn't care a fig about fancy lugwork. Both sets are of frames with their original paint, built around 1961. The first set (red road frame) shows first-rate brazing and third-rate paint prep: all the paint has fallen off the joints. It is kind of cool that it did, because you can see just how awesomely good old Ephgrave was. It is hard to tell from the photos, but there are no file marks on the fillets: he did it all with heat.
    Ephgrave 1961 road frame, fillet brazed - a set on Flickr
    The second set (gray track frame) is of a bike made at the same time. Its paint is in good shape, and it shows how nice a smooth fillet job looks under paint.
    Ephgrave track bike, fillet brazed, 1961 - a set on Flickr
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  15. #15
    Senior Member SJX426's Avatar
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    Well there is quality of the braze joint and quality of workmanship. One could and probably will debate they go hand in hand. I would like both but most of all, I want a good braze joint, even if there is excess material and it isn't cleaned up. I can tolerate inconsistancy too as long as the joints are good and the braze materal is properly applied.

    The work shown of the Paramount would be ideal. It also is justification for a higher value with the added labor.

    Here is an example of inconsistancy on a 1984 Trek 610 fork. Note the difference between the front of the crown and the rear where the leg are brazed, the shore line.

  16. #16
    Senior Member Grand Bois's Avatar
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    The only frame I have with obvious voids is a Fuji.

  17. #17
    Decrepit Member Scooper's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by SJX426 View Post
    Well there is quality of the braze joint and quality of workmanship. One could and probably will debate they go hand in hand. I would like both but most of all, I want a good braze joint, even if there is excess material and it isn't cleaned up. I can tolerate inconsistency too as long as the joints are good and the braze material is properly applied.
    I completely agree; production stock frames can be forgiven for showing some sloppiness as long as the joint is solid. Cleanup takes time, time is money, and production frames are built to a price point to be competitive.

    Nicely finished joints come at a price.
    - Stan

  18. #18
    Senior Member Chombi's Avatar
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    Mehhh!........ that brazing on that Raleigh was the last joint Chubby Dodds did before he angrily quit his job (His boss started dating his GF)......and then went across the channel to work for Peugeot......

  19. #19
    Fat Guy on a Little Bike KonAaron Snake's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Scooper View Post
    I completely agree; production stock frames can be forgiven for showing some sloppiness as long as the joint is solid. Cleanup takes time, time is money, and production frames are built to a price point to be competitive.

    Nicely finished joints come at a price.
    What's the cut off for when expectations of neat work begin? I've had two raleigh internationals pass through my hands now and both were a mess. Gitane and Peugeot both seemed to produce a lot of slop in bikes that were top of their range as well.

  20. #20
    Senior Member Chombi's Avatar
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    I keep finding opportunities how I was able to get my 84 Peugeot PSV, with very good, clean brazing and lug prep on it....
    Had to go through two batches of deliveries at the dealership, before I found it. Pretty much all I inspected before I found a good one had brazing gaps, blobs and drips at the lug seams. The lugs also lacked any kind of filing/finishing work. some lugs were so crudely prepped, that some of the lug points were ground down to just two thirds of their original legnth, to blunt stubs instead of points and were sometimes badly misaligned that it looked like they did not even have a good brazing jig to work with....
    I suspect that my PSV was either a quality check baseline frame that one of their better braziers put together that unfortunately was not followed too well by the line workers??

  21. #21
    car guy, recovering aixaix's Avatar
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    Gitane and Peugeot both seemed to produce a lot of slop in bikes that were top of their range as well.
    Some Frejuses are less than gorgeous as well. Unlike Raleigh, whose QC was awful for a while (frames out of true, joint failures), Peugeot & Frejus made bikes that consistently ride very well and stay nailed together, despite their appearance. French racing frames (PX10s, B. Carre Lejeunes, e.g.) rarely featured filed lugs, but the brazing was workmanlike, and more than adequate to the task.

    One thing that impressed me about Fujis when they first came over in large numbers was their very clean lug work, even on the low-end ten speeds. They weren't filed like a Cinelli, but the lugs were far more consistent in thickness and symmetry than on European frames. (The paintwork was also excellent, IFRC.)

    A large part of technical progress is questioning the assumptions behind the design and construction of a given product. In bike frames, it was believed a brazed frame was better than a welded one. Turns out not to be true. Geometry & material are a lot more important to ride quality than how the frame members attach.
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  22. #22
    Senior Member gaucho777's Avatar
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    Paint can hide a lot. Here's a picture of a Nishiki Comp with lots of slopping brazing. There is a small gap in the brazing, but overall it's clear there is plenty of brazing material used.



    As SJX426 & Scooper has said, I'd much rather have sloppy workmanship with excess brazing than poor welds with gaps (a not uncommon problem with some Raleigh's).

    Some nice brazing examples. The first is a MAP (Mitch Pryor) and next is a Bishop, both left naked for judging at the 2012 NAHBS.





    Fender: I know you know better than to think that was original!

  23. #23
    aka Tom Reingold noglider's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Grand Bois View Post
    The only frame I have with obvious voids is a Fuji.
    Your luck is atypical. Peugeots are often less than perfect. Fujis weren't equivalent to high-end low-production frames, but they were very consistent and had very few defects.

    I agree with dddd. Peugeot's defects were not as common as Raleigh's, and the severity was typically lower, too. I had a 1975 Raleigh Gran Sport, and there was brass spilled all over the seat tube. It rode fine, of course.

    In 1980, Dawes frames seemed even worse than Raleigh frames, typically. I sold a few, and I'm surprised that they sold so well. I guess people liked the green and gold color scheme.
    You don't read my signature anyway, do you?

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  24. #24
    Senior Member rootboy's Avatar
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    Some fairly tidy French workmanship.
    (unless the snuck some Italian craftsmen into the place under cover of darkness)



  25. #25
    aka Tom Reingold noglider's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by aixaix View Post
    A large part of technical progress is questioning the assumptions behind the design and construction of a given product. In bike frames, it was believed a brazed frame was better than a welded one. Turns out not to be true. Geometry & material are a lot more important to ride quality than how the frame members attach.
    At what point does an aesthetically unappealing joint become a wiggly or failure prone joint? In other words, what is the relationship between quality of workmanship and quality of ride?
    You don't read my signature anyway, do you?

    Tom Reingold, noglider@pobox.com
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