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  1. #1
    Upstanding member. Mike T.'s Avatar
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    Minimalist framebuilding.

    I stumbled across this forum on the day it opened and I couldn't be more happy at is existence. I'll be here daily reading the golden nuggets from some incredible framebuilders.

    I'm sure there are lots of closet wanabee framebuilders out there who, if everything (or sufficient things) were in place would love to build a frame. Are there any minimalist framebuilders out there who could give us at least a ray of hope by listing what's really necessary to build a frame?

    Yes I know that probably the best single resource (other than kidnapping Sachs) would be the Paterek manual. I do have his early one which I bought in 1991! I've been thinking about this too long eh? I wonder if he takes trade-ins?

  2. #2
    Industry Maven Thylacine's Avatar
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    Suzy Jackson from Canberra is probably the most crazed homebuilder that I know of. Her first jig was a piece of Aluminium, some spacers and a couple of clamps.

    Her website - http://www.littlefishbicycles.com

    Another good resource is the framebuilders list. Check out the archives first for any questions you might have, as most of them have been asked and answered before -

    http://www.phred.org/mailman/listinfo/framebuilders

    Have fun!
    Have you earned your stripes? <<click here / Questions about custom frames? Chat me! - warwickg71 (AIM/iChat) ThylacineCycles (Skype)

  3. #3
    Upstanding member. Mike T.'s Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Thylacine
    Suzy Jackson from Canberra is probably the most crazed homebuilder that I know of. Her first jig was a piece of Aluminium, some spacers and a couple of clamps.
    Her website - http://www.littlefishbicycles.com
    Yes I've seen her site before and I had it bookmarked. Those frames look nice. I'd be happy doing something like that. When she says she makes the decals, how would she do that?


    Another good resource is the framebuilders list. Check out the archives first for any questions you might have, as most of them have been asked and answered before
    I'll check 'em out and thanks for the tip!

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    I can take a stab at that:
    1. Oxyi acteleyne torch. assumming a lugged frame. cost with the smallest set of bottles
    and decent hand piece, and good quality two stge regulators, new if you really shop around about $350.00. There is alot of discussion on what torch, tip, and gas are best. Gases about $30.00 a refill for small bottles.
    2. Hack saw to cut tubes to length. $25.00
    3. 1/2 round file to make copes in tubes. Flat file for dropout slots. $ 30 to $40.
    4. Free program miter.exe search the web.
    5. Something to draw the frame with, t-square and adjustable triangle. Large piece of drafting paper, D, or E size. $50.00
    6. Paterek's free software for frame geometry.
    7. Piece of flat 3/4" or 1" flake board about 3' x 4' whole sheet about $25.00
    8. some v blocks 8 is a good number, they can even be wood, shims to make the tubes which are different diameters sit in the v blocks with thier centers the same height off the flake board jig. Wire to tie them down. need a table saw to make
    9. Sand paper to prep tubes and lugs. $10 at home depot
    10. Safety glasses. Clear ones, and tinted welder's glasses. both sets about $75.00
    11. The tube set you intend to build up. Lug set as well. Dropouts. $200.00 + depending on taste
    12. Flux for silver solder $7.00
    13.couple of ounces of 56 silver solder, and or the same in 50 silver, depends on how much gets wasted, and how dropouts are made, and if you are building a fork. Market price last checked around $13.00 ounce
    buy 5 oz $65
    14. Fork jig. Hard to make, do able not needed if you buy a fork.lots of time and about $20 in material
    15. Bath tub to soak finished frame in to clean up flux. FREE
    16. Paint to paint it, rattle cans are cheap. $20.00
    17. Money to pay the local lbs to face the head tube, and bottom bracket, and clean the threads on the bottom bracket. I would guess $50- $100 for the work might be low might be high. The tools to do it would cost close to a grand if you go with Park, or Var.
    18. Time and lots of it. I would guess that to set up the jigs, do the design, cut the parts, acually braze the frame, at least 100 hrs. First one is tough. I spent alot more time than that on my first one, did not log it but probably close to 300 hrs, I made a bunch of fixtures, (jigs).
    19. Here is a link to an east coast shop that teaches. http://www.hottubes.com/framebuildingclass.htm. West coast UBI would be the ones. Not required but is probably the cheapest and easiest way to do it. Would be a nice vacation as well. $1750+


    The big ticket item is a torch, I bought a Smith and went with the smallest bottles, mainly so I could transport them by bike. Bigger bottles are better, I can do a frame and fork with the little set I have but thats all, no aceteleyne left.

    An expense I did not have to worry about is a place to acutally do the work. Torch work is not something you will want to do in a closed garage or basement, you need lots of ventalation, the fumes are not good for you.

    I have not touched on PROPER safety equipment that SHOULD be used, most of the times I bring this up, I get real negative feedback. Most folks simply do not realize and do not want to know the very real dangers and health risks that are involved in building a frame. Safety is hardly mentioned in The Paterek Manual, and the information in the chapter on painting is not good.

    If I only wanted to BUILD one frame, I would have taken a vacation and gone to one of the schools, if I was thinking about going PRO I would have done the same. The practical experince that a master can teach is worth alot more than what they charge. The cost is quite reasonable compared to what you really should have to build your first frame. Another point I can make in thier favor is, why spend a lot of time and money on tools, jigs, tubes, etc if you screw up on your own all you have is a bunch of scrape steel, made at considerable cost in time and money. No I am not a stringer for either of them.

    For me the frame design, building the jigs and tools, researching, posting on framebuilders @ phred asking questions that I could not get answered searching the archives, and learning, was as much fun as making the frame. I spent around $2,000 for torch, spray *** ( a real good one), misc cutting tools, abrasives, safety gear, head tube facer reamer, bb facer, die grinder, and add on to that a set of lugs, bottom bracket shell, tube set, and dropouts (rolhoff rear, custom made front ones) the bill was over $2,500.
    I was a challange, and at times frustrating.

    Picture is my front fork with integral drop out and disc bake mount. By the way a disc brake on a raked fork with an investment cast crown is in in my opinion probably not a good idea. The force applied to the crown via the fork blades is considerably greater than that applied at the crown by a rim brake. With a rim brake the force is applied to the steering tube not the crown. It might be close to its limits, need to talk to an engineer about it.
    Attached Images Attached Images

  5. #5
    Upstanding member. Mike T.'s Avatar
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    Many thanks for taking the time to do what I expect (hope!) to be a classis post oknups. That's very inspiring.

  6. #6
    dangerous with tools halfbiked's Avatar
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    Yup, great post.

    Care to elaborate on safety gear?

  7. #7
    Older I get, Better I was velonomad's Avatar
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    I have built 12 frames over the past 15 years and all but two I have built with a $40 Mapp gas torch $20 worth of files, a decent $20 straight edge and a $15 cast iron table saw top from a yard sale. The benzomatic torches are fine for lugged contruction on tubes under 1.2mm wall, but it requires more practice to control filler flow. On fork crowns you have to back the work with reflectors to get enough heat on the joints to flow the filler.

    Trick to homemade frames is getting them straight. I usually spend 3 or 4 nights filing miters, fitting and refitting till everything is perfect as I can get it. The brazing part is easy.

    I built this one last winter, R531 with a Columbus SP forks, Richard Sachs stainless steel lugs and fork crown. nova stainless dropouts. I love it but I'll never do that much stainless steel again I probaly spent 50 hours with a dremel sanding and polishing the stainless steel. I also did the paint work






    I only build for my personal and immediate family's use.

  8. #8
    Upstanding member. Mike T.'s Avatar
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    You're truly an inspiration Nomad. Thanks for that post! Nice work man.

  9. #9
    Senior Member Lamplight's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by velonomad
    I have built 12 frames over the past 15 years and all but two I have built with a $40 Mapp gas torch $20 worth of files, a decent $20 straight edge and a $15 cast iron table saw top from a yard sale. The benzomatic torches are fine for lugged contruction on tubes under 1.2mm wall, but it requires more practice to control filler flow. On fork crowns you have to back the work with reflectors to get enough heat on the joints to flow the filler.
    I've been wondering if one could use a Mapp gas torch for brazing, but I wasn't sure what kind of heat they could produce. Thanks for posting this. And BTW, that's a beautiful frame! Nice job.

  10. #10
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    the other route is tig welding. the startup materials cost more,tig welders can cost as little as $300 and go into the thousands, equipment to miter, jigs and fixtures are also important with tig because you dont have lugs to hold the tubes together. but once you have these items, material cost goes down quite a bit, mostly because they lack of lugs and tig rods, electrodes and argon are less expensive. the frames also take less time to build.
    but you can never beat the look of a nicely lugged frame.

  11. #11
    Senior Member Nessism's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by jpogge
    the other route is tig welding. the startup materials cost more,tig welders can cost as little as $300 and go into the thousands, equipment to miter, jigs and fixtures are also important with tig because you dont have lugs to hold the tubes together. but once you have these items, material cost goes down quite a bit, mostly because they lack of lugs and tig rods, electrodes and argon are less expensive. the frames also take less time to build.
    but you can never beat the look of a nicely lugged frame.
    I'm not an expert on these matters but my understanding is that a TIG rig suitable to weld thin bicycle tubes costs quite a bit more than $300 - more like $2k. Brazed frames on the other hand can be built with a true $300 oxy-fuel rig which is one of the main reasons so many garage builders build with lugs (like ME )
    Becareful buying/selling bike parts on-line. I learned the hard way. :(

    Good/Bad Trader Listing

  12. #12
    lost in the ozone
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    Velo, I saw your bike at a car show in Lake George, Beautiful work dude! even the motorheads were drooling. Was the chopper also yours ?

  13. #13
    Matthew Grimm / Flunky Kogswell's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by velonomad
    I have built 12 frames over the past 15 years and all but two I have built with a $40 Mapp gas torch $20 worth of files, a decent $20 straight edge and a $15 cast iron table saw top from a yard sale. The benzomatic torches are fine for lugged contruction on tubes under 1.2mm wall, but it requires more practice to control filler flow. On fork crowns you have to back the work with reflectors to get enough heat on the joints to flow the filler.






    I only build for my personal and immediate family's use.
    WOW.

    Nice work.

    What kind of filler do you use? My MAPP torch only gets brass soft, not liquid.
    Last edited by Kogswell; 12-17-05 at 03:04 PM.

  14. #14
    Older I get, Better I was velonomad's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Hartmann
    Velo, I saw your bike at a car show in Lake George, Beautiful work dude! even the motorheads were drooling. Was the chopper also yours ?
    I was working out of town and didn't actually go to the car show. That was a charity event and they wanted a variety of vehicles there so I lent it to a LBS for the show. They swapped the wheels, crank and handlebar out for nicer componets for the show. The bicycle chopper was owned by a guy from Utica NY I don't recall his name but I think he has a webpage on one of the chopper fan websites.

  15. #15
    Older I get, Better I was velonomad's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Kogswell
    WOW.

    Nice work.

    What kind of filler do you use? My MAPP torch only gets brass soft, now liquid.
    The lugs were all filled with 56% silver rod except for some 45% I used on the bottom head lug that I had to bend, beat and file to get it to the angle I wanted. I

    Most of the time for higher temp fillers or thick wall tubes I put a reflector of 6x6" piece of stainless steel flashing directly behind the work to direct much of the wasted heat back to the joint. then it gets plenty hot enough.

  16. #16
    I'm Carbon Curious 531phile's Avatar
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    Absolutely Fantastico Nomad!

    Quote Originally Posted by avner View Post
    I loled. Twice. Then I cried. Then I rubbed one out and cried again, but thanks for sharing.

  17. #17
    Yet another vegan biker
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    Velonomad has ruined my life!

    The old Fuji just doesn't cut it anymore. I MUST braze my own ride.

    And my poor wife. Now she has to deal with another of my obsessions.

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    I too just stumbled on to this site. This thread gives me great insite into why when I brazed by recumbent together that sometimes it was very easy to heat the joint and other times it was difficult and time comsuming. I would have never thought of using a cast iron saw table (very flat, smooth, and unlikely to be damaged by a mapp torch). I brazed a couple of joints using my usual steel paint can lid propped up on 2 x scraps on my plywood table set up outside. I could braze them easily (in 15 F) if the joint was between the torch and the steel. It was very hard to get them hot enough if I went from the side (heat not reflected back).

  19. #19
    Senior Member atombikes's Avatar
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    I brazed this lowracer called the atomBLASTER with the same type mapp torch that velonomad uses.


    All fillet brazed construction, made of recycled mtn bikes.

    http://www.geocities.com/atombikes/blaster
    atombikes

  20. #20
    Older I get, Better I was velonomad's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by atombikes
    I brazed this lowracer called the atomBLASTER with the same type mapp torch that velonomad uses.

    All fillet brazed construction, made of recycled mtn bikes.
    That bike is looking good! I haven't seen it with the seat before, I love the shape

  21. #21
    Senior Member atombikes's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by velonomad
    That bike is looking good! I haven't seen it with the seat before, I love the shape
    Thanks,velo! The seat is my own design, I call it the "anatomic" seat. I currently sell these seats to recumbent homebuilders and those who would like to try a hardshell seat on their production recumbent without spending big $$$$. The seat is the hardest part about building a recumbent, and purchasing this seat makes it easy and cheap.

    http://www.geocities.com/atombikes/seat.html

    The change to this style of seat means that I can now stay clipped in and just put my hand down at stop lights, as my back is a bit lower which brings my shoulders down a bit. But this change has necessitated a move to different handlebars, as the reach is *almost* too far now. I just need to fabricate something that will pull the bars back several inches.
    atombikes

  22. #22
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    In theory, the same OA torch a lot of guys use to braze the lugs, like a tweaco, could be used to "TIG" weld the frame, meaning to weld it with a filler rod using the gas torch, rather than a TIG electro torch. I have to say I have never heard of it being done, though thin metal like aluminum gass tanks is welded that way every day. for 75 bucks plus your gas you can weld aluminum and steel where TIG costs a fortune, and requires one gas bottle anyway. TIG has a lot of advanatges though. it is probably the only method that could reasonably be done in a basement or garage. One part of that "reasonably" would be to weld timy bits at a time due to minimal ventilation.

  23. #23
    Member kapnk's Avatar
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    If you try to oxyacetylene weld aluminum, I think you will be in for a disappointment. I've tried to OA weld aluminum, and it didn't work. I found there to be two problems:

    1.) Aluminum conducts heat well, so you can melt part of your aluminum plate, but before you know it, you don't have a plate any more, you have a big pile of molten aluminum.

    2.) Aluminum forms an oxide coating. This aluminum oxide melts at a much higher temperature than the aluminum does. Therefore, you get kind of a "skin" over your molten aluminum, which prevents the two pieces from being bonded.

    If I confused you at all, please ask for clarification.

    I have wondered why people don't OA weld frames. It seems like most people braze, mig, and tig. What is wrong with OA? It seems like it would be very controlable. I haven't tried OA on anything but flat plates, so the complication may be in welding complex shapes like tubes. I'd like to hear more about OA welding bicycle frames.

  24. #24
    dangerous with tools halfbiked's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by atombikes
    Thanks,velo! The seat is my own design, I call it the "anatomic" seat. I currently sell these seats to recumbent homebuilders and those who would like to try a hardshell seat on their production recumbent without spending big $$$$. The seat is the hardest part about building a recumbent, and purchasing this seat makes it easy and cheap.

    What is it? Steamed plywood?

  25. #25
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    Similar tubes in aircraft get welded all the time OA. So I bet it could be done. Cool thing about gas is it can be done with a reducing flame in the presence of which oxydation doesn't happen or is absorbed, mitigated - not a problem.

    This guy has done some cool builds on a low key basis:

    http://www.sonic.net/~maryking/

    Suzy Jackson's site is amazing, but a good part of it is the aesthetics, she really came through on the finishing. I'm not sure she understands how dangerous spraying Imron is. People have died doing substantially what she did, though in most of the bad cases I have heard about, the objects recieving paint were larger. Still concentrations are key, and a garage is a small place. Finishing is aways what gets the good reviews, how it looks. It's not the separated bottom bracket she honestly reported on that has everyone agog, I could probably manage that on my own. So just be careful if you go down that same finishing path.

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