Advertise on Bikeforums.net



User Tag List

Results 1 to 12 of 12
  1. #1
    Senior Member Joshua A.C. New's Avatar
    Join Date
    Aug 2007
    Location
    Northampton, MA
    My Bikes
    Iron Monkey: a junkyard steel 26" slick-tired city bike. Grey Fox: A Trek 7x00 frame, painted, with everything built, from spokes up. Jet Jaguar: A 92 Cannondale R900 frame, powder coated matte black with red and aluminum highlights.
    Posts
    957
    Mentioned
    0 Post(s)
    Tagged
    0 Thread(s)

    Total n00b questions

    So, my plans to take a framebuilding class have come to naught. I'm really keen on the idea, though, and I want to pursue it.

    I know how to braze, or at least did 15 years ago, I've built bikes from parts, though I've yet to build a wheel (coming soon).

    My question is, how should I start? What equipment do you recommend? I don't have an indoor shop (though I might if a friend comes through) with an oxyacetylene setup, so I'll need to be able to break stuff down when I'm done with it.

    My understanding of the equipment and the materials is this:

    Frame jig (Who makes a good one to learn with? Can I make one myself?)
    Lugs and dropouts (Who makes good ones? I've found some cool stuff, but I'd like to know some knowledgable opions)
    Steel tubes (What alloy? Where should I get them?)
    Oxyacetylene torch, mask, etc.
    Filler (Is this as straightforward as it looks? What are the pros and cons of different alloys for a new builder?)
    Bottom Bracket tap (I imagine that alignment between the sides is important, so I reckon there's a tool for this. Am I wrong? Is it just a giant, tightly threaded tap?)

    What don't I know? What should I learn about? What's obvious to you, but not to me? Are there respectable books that I could learn from?

    I live in the Northampton, Mass area, so if there are any frame builders who might like to teach, I'm interested in that, too.

    Thanks!

    -Joshua
    Joshua A.C. Newman,
    Passionate lover of construction

  2. #2
    Decrepit Member Scooper's Avatar
    Join Date
    Aug 2005
    Location
    San Francisco California
    My Bikes
    2007 Waterford 953 RS-22
    Posts
    8,606
    Mentioned
    0 Post(s)
    Tagged
    0 Thread(s)
    Quote Originally Posted by Joshua A.C. New View Post
    So, my plans to take a framebuilding class have come to naught. I'm really keen on the idea, though, and I want to pursue it.

    I know how to braze, or at least did 15 years ago, I've built bikes from parts, though I've yet to build a wheel (coming soon).

    My question is, how should I start? What equipment do you recommend? I don't have an indoor shop (though I might if a friend comes through) with an oxyacetylene setup, so I'll need to be able to break stuff down when I'm done with it.

    My understanding of the equipment and the materials is this:

    Frame jig (Who makes a good one to learn with? Can I make one myself?)
    Lugs and dropouts (Who makes good ones? I've found some cool stuff, but I'd like to know some knowledgable opions)
    Steel tubes (What alloy? Where should I get them?)
    Oxyacetylene torch, mask, etc.
    Filler (Is this as straightforward as it looks? What are the pros and cons of different alloys for a new builder?)
    Bottom Bracket tap (I imagine that alignment between the sides is important, so I reckon there's a tool for this. Am I wrong? Is it just a giant, tightly threaded tap?)

    What don't I know? What should I learn about? What's obvious to you, but not to me? Are there respectable books that I could learn from?

    I live in the Northampton, Mass area, so if there are any frame builders who might like to teach, I'm interested in that, too.

    Thanks!

    -Joshua
    Start by buying a copy of the Paterek Manual. Paterek DVDs on framebuilding are also available.
    - Stan

  3. #3
    Senior Member Joshua A.C. New's Avatar
    Join Date
    Aug 2007
    Location
    Northampton, MA
    My Bikes
    Iron Monkey: a junkyard steel 26" slick-tired city bike. Grey Fox: A Trek 7x00 frame, painted, with everything built, from spokes up. Jet Jaguar: A 92 Cannondale R900 frame, powder coated matte black with red and aluminum highlights.
    Posts
    957
    Mentioned
    0 Post(s)
    Tagged
    0 Thread(s)
    Sweet! Thanks!

    Given that I'm going to have to save up a bit to get those, are there any resources I can get for less to tide me over?
    Joshua A.C. Newman,
    Passionate lover of construction

  4. #4
    Senior Member Joshua A.C. New's Avatar
    Join Date
    Aug 2007
    Location
    Northampton, MA
    My Bikes
    Iron Monkey: a junkyard steel 26" slick-tired city bike. Grey Fox: A Trek 7x00 frame, painted, with everything built, from spokes up. Jet Jaguar: A 92 Cannondale R900 frame, powder coated matte black with red and aluminum highlights.
    Posts
    957
    Mentioned
    0 Post(s)
    Tagged
    0 Thread(s)
    Ah, an answer to my own question for future reference: http://www.littlefishbicycles.com/frame/beginning.html
    Joshua A.C. Newman,
    Passionate lover of construction

  5. #5
    Senior Member
    Join Date
    Mar 2007
    Posts
    5,844
    Mentioned
    0 Post(s)
    Tagged
    0 Thread(s)
    I'm a "garage builder" myself, so know where you're coming from.

    You don't need a jig. You do need some kind of flat surface. I bought a piece of angle iron and drilled a hole on one end to pass a large bolt through. This is for bolting the bottom bracket shell down against the surface. At the other end I drilled and tapped a smaller hole to accept a fine thread bolt. This is to support the tube coming out of the bottom bracket shell. It can be run up or down to ensure that the tube is level with the surface. Then the shell and tube are drilled through with a 50 gauge bit and small nails tapped into the holes, which holds the assembly in place while it is brazed "freehand". (This is the "pinning" process of frame building which has been used forever, including by big names like Richard Sachs.)

    I buy lugs from Henry James in Redondo Beach. This is high quality stuff, requiring little to no filing, clean-up, etc. -- so it's easy for us newbies. He also makes dropouts which plug into the tube -- a lot easier than the traditional method. Easiest of all are the socket style dropouts which are essentially little lugs. These can be had from Ceeway in England (framebuilding.com).

    Tubes can be had from Henry James (TrueTemper) and from Nova Cycles (house brand and several others.) I'd go with cheap stuff for the first frame, as it's easy to work with. Fancier alloys, heat-treatment, etc. can be much tougher to miter, plus they're a bit pricy for what is likely to be an amateurish first frame. 'Cause we're amateurs. "Cheap stuff", btw, is comparable to top of the line stuff of 30 years ago, and Eddy Merckx seemed to do okay...

    My homeowner's doesn't allow oxy-acetylene, (and I'm a cheapskate) so I use a Bernz-O-Matic MAPP/air setup, available for $40 at any Home Depot. This probably won't work with brass filler rods, but silver is easier for us newbies and the lower heat keeps us from ruining as many tubes. The only downside is the expense -- $20 an ounce, maybe three ounces for a frame.

    To properly prep the finished frame, you should have a bottom bracket tap and facing tool, as well as a dropout alignment tool, a fork crown race cutter, and a head tube reaming and facing tool. New, these tools will cost you a minimum of $500. So I have the LBS take care of these chores. (One of the nice things about the Henry James bottom bracket shells is that they are quite accurate to start with, so don't absolutely need to be faced to ensure a straight build.)

    I have the Paterek manual, and I'm glad of it. It's really set up for the experienced frame builder trying to make a living out of it, though, so some paragraphs start with sentences like "Set up your Bridgeport mill..." IOW, not helpful to the backyard builder. But much of it is very useful, even if not always applicable.

    Overall, I think the home builder needs to spend hours scanning the net for every bit of info he can find, and incorporate the things that make sense to him into his project. He also needs to understand that there is a high chance of turning out a mediocre frame the first time around, so doing it as cheaply as possible and calling it a "learning experience" may go a ways toward preventing later anguish.
    Last edited by Six jours; 09-12-07 at 06:21 PM.

  6. #6
    Senior Member Joshua A.C. New's Avatar
    Join Date
    Aug 2007
    Location
    Northampton, MA
    My Bikes
    Iron Monkey: a junkyard steel 26" slick-tired city bike. Grey Fox: A Trek 7x00 frame, painted, with everything built, from spokes up. Jet Jaguar: A 92 Cannondale R900 frame, powder coated matte black with red and aluminum highlights.
    Posts
    957
    Mentioned
    0 Post(s)
    Tagged
    0 Thread(s)
    Merçi, Six Jours.

    What's LBS?

    I actually passed up an opportunity to get an old Bridgeport a year or so, for a few hundred dollars from a place going out of business. I don't know where I'd have put it, though...

    I'm completely comfortable ****ing up a frame or two learning how to do it. I've been making things all my life, and the first one's always a lump, just like with pancakes.

    The Henry James lugs and drops seem really nice and are used all over the place. I'm glad to hear that a one-off builder uses them, too.

    You don't need a jig. You do need some kind of flat surface. I bought a piece of angle iron and drilled a hole on one end to pass a large bolt through. This is for bolting the bottom bracket shell down against the surface. At the other end I drilled and tapped a smaller hole to accept a fine thread bolt. This is to support the tube coming out of the bottom bracket shell. It can be run up or down to ensure that the tube is level with the surface. Then the shell and tube are drilled through with a 50 gauge bit and small nails tapped into the holes, which holds the assembly in place while it is brazed "freehand". (This is the "pinning" process of frame building which has been used forever, including by big names like Richard Sachs.)
    Bghuuuhhhh.... I think I need to see a drawing or something.

    Thanks for your advice!

    (The Paterek Manual is on my wish list. I'm gonna keep bolting bikes together until I get some cash to get this stuff. It seems like good wintertime projects anyway.)
    Joshua A.C. Newman,
    Passionate lover of construction

  7. #7
    Senior Member
    Join Date
    Mar 2007
    Posts
    5,844
    Mentioned
    0 Post(s)
    Tagged
    0 Thread(s)
    Local Bike Shop.

    I'll see if I can take a picture of my "alignment table/jig" and put it up for you. It really is just a piece of angle iron with some holes in it. You just need a flat surface to clamp the bottom bracket shell on to, so that when you insert the down or seat tube, you can make it parallel to the bottom bracket faces. The angle iron was the cheapest way I could find to this, plus it's easy to clamp into the vice.

  8. #8
    Senior Member Joshua A.C. New's Avatar
    Join Date
    Aug 2007
    Location
    Northampton, MA
    My Bikes
    Iron Monkey: a junkyard steel 26" slick-tired city bike. Grey Fox: A Trek 7x00 frame, painted, with everything built, from spokes up. Jet Jaguar: A 92 Cannondale R900 frame, powder coated matte black with red and aluminum highlights.
    Posts
    957
    Mentioned
    0 Post(s)
    Tagged
    0 Thread(s)
    I'm certainly interested in a pic. My first thought was that I should be able to bolt something together, but then there was so much talk about the precision required, I started to get nervous.
    Joshua A.C. Newman,
    Passionate lover of construction

  9. #9
    Senior Member
    Join Date
    Mar 2007
    Posts
    5,844
    Mentioned
    0 Post(s)
    Tagged
    0 Thread(s)
    Yeah. Seems to me there are two somewhat distinctive schools of thought on framebuilding: the "artisan" side and the "engineer" side. There's plenty of overlap, but you find guys from the "engineer" side who sneer at tolerances worse than .005, vs. "artisans" who say the bike will ride just fine as long as you hold most things to within a millimeter or two.

    I guess I tend to line up more with the "artisans". I have a hard time believing that a frame will stay within .005, .010, or whatever, after it's been run through a few potholes. And I've ridden race bikes with misalignments visible to the naked eye, most of which worked fine. The bottom line is that folks have been building bikes using traditional (read: primitive) methods for many decades, and the only people complaining are the high-zoot collectors who are more concerned with perfection for perfection's sake, rather than any actual performance issues.

  10. #10
    Banned
    Join Date
    Aug 2005
    Posts
    5,117
    Mentioned
    0 Post(s)
    Tagged
    0 Thread(s)
    I actually strongly disagree about the idea that artisans can't hold dimensions. They can far better than engineers. Almost all crafts require very high degrees of hand work or machine work accuraccy. Hand work traditionally was even more accurate, and accounted for the high expense of products like Best shotguns, or hand scraped surface grinders. Some apparently crude activity like hand sharpening a cutter requires work of the highest imaginable accuracy, far surpasing what a milling machine will do. For instance a hand sharpened blade with a hand scraped body will plane shavings in the .0003" thickness, if they look consistant as they may, then the actual held dimension in a subset of that.

    So much for the commercial. I do agree with the idea that fastidious alignment to the thou is probably of little practical importance to the cyclist, and probably bounces out the first time someone rides the bike. Maybe there is evidence to the contrary. What I do think though, is that once you start down the path of measuring and setting that kind of thing it often comes out faster to just go for the fine measurement.

    Imagine your surface plate was all over the place, and your measurement and setting skill eqally crap. It would be more complicated to do than if it was done to a perfect standard. You would need to calculate whether you were getting cumulative erors, in one place on the table different from another. You would still need to compare scales to be sure you where within your marks. So the moment a person starts down this path, they may as well get a dead flat table. Let's say they need to turn a bracket to hold the BB in place. The lathe will want to make that dead nuts, etc... It's just easier.

    Since the one off builder is building one piece at a time, rather than making hundreds of pieces for average bikes, again, it is easier for him to get them all perfectish. If one was running a production line, one could have a dedicated machine to cut rh chainstays. And imagine it cut within a certain widish range of dimensions, not perfectly accurate. as long as it can be assembled with other parts, who cares. But if one is setting up off a plan to make one part at a time, perfect measures are fast, and efficient.

    Home bike building is great fun, and a lot of the fun can come from figuring ways around those hidebound methods in use in the trade, if, however, you don't practice "real" framebuilding techniques, then you won't learn as much as you otherwise might if the objective is to go pro.

    Be aware that you need a particular type of OXY torch. You need a small one that is light in the hand with small orifices. The bottles and regs can be the same if they are good. You can certainly do the hot work out of doors, though in direct sulight it can be difficult to see the colours.

    You can build without a jig, or with one. There are online sources for making your own jig out of almost any imagineable material. Jigs shouldn't be the excuse for good or bad outcomes, they are a good way of increasing speed as your output increases.

    Lugs or any other encased joints like bottle mount, some droupouts, are normally done with silver. You can fillet braze a bike with silver but I haven't been able to find info on it. I fillet braze silver for racks, and would love to try it on a whole bike, but almost all noises are discouraging. Mostly fillets are brazed in bronze or nickle.

    Henry James, and Fred Parr of fillet pro, have specialty products for bike builders, one can also use a subset of the better welding store products. Like Stay Silv,
    Last edited by NoReg; 09-14-07 at 12:54 AM.

  11. #11
    Senior Member
    Join Date
    Mar 2007
    Posts
    5,844
    Mentioned
    0 Post(s)
    Tagged
    0 Thread(s)
    I actually strongly disagree about the idea that artisans can't hold dimensions.
    Me too, so I think you've misread, or I wasn't clear. I am only saying that there are folks who think it's critical to hold dimension to .015, etc., and others who think it isn't. It was probably a mistake to give the two groups labels.

  12. #12
    Senior Member Joshua A.C. New's Avatar
    Join Date
    Aug 2007
    Location
    Northampton, MA
    My Bikes
    Iron Monkey: a junkyard steel 26" slick-tired city bike. Grey Fox: A Trek 7x00 frame, painted, with everything built, from spokes up. Jet Jaguar: A 92 Cannondale R900 frame, powder coated matte black with red and aluminum highlights.
    Posts
    957
    Mentioned
    0 Post(s)
    Tagged
    0 Thread(s)
    Yeah, I dunno about disparaging the work of artisans on a technical level. I've known some amazing artisans and they've had no problem getting things to thousandths of an inch.

    I'm also comfortable with not knowing enough to make things come out that way myself until I know what I'm doing, but I also know that shooting for precision generally makes things easier.

    Peter, what kind of torch do you recommend?
    Joshua A.C. Newman,
    Passionate lover of construction

Posting Permissions

  • You may not post new threads
  • You may not post replies
  • You may not post attachments
  • You may not edit your posts
  •