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Old 11-17-07, 12:12 PM   #1
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Brazing stainless

Pictured below are old school bottle cages. They are somewhat rare and pricey on ebay ($100 for a single, $150 for a double). I'm cheap and I want to fabricate my own, I may make some for sale depending ...

I have access to oxy/acetylene and a tig. I used to restore cars and I make furniture so I am pretty good at the tig. I brazed once about 20 years ago and I am certain the job was average at best. I am more than willing to practice though. Obviously, I would make a jig to hold the wire in place for brazing/welding.

So what do you think, brazing or tig? Any tips or tutorials on brazing stainless? I think I would use silver over copper to have the color "match" or should I use something else? Any input will be greatly appreciated.

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Old 11-17-07, 12:31 PM   #2
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Since you are skilled at TIG, why change?
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Old 11-17-07, 01:31 PM   #3
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The original cages were probably brazed. By welding, I will melt the base material and the cages will look different. Yes I know that is a bit anal-retentive, but that is the way I am. Also, I would be using 14 gauge wire, it is thin and difficult to weld without melting through.

I'm not ruling out welding, but would brazing be that much more difficult than the tig if I get enough practice brazing? This is only a guess, but I think it could be easier.
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Old 11-17-07, 08:49 PM   #4
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If you are already good at TIG and need more than 30 minutes to figure out how to braze a joint you better pack up and go home...

Harris 50n or 56n with Staysilv white flux works very well for stainless steel brazing, most welding supply shops have the 56n. The 56n is very easy to use. The 50n is easier to make filets with but you usually have to order it or buy it online.

BTW after you make a cage you will see why they cost so much, They are a PITA to make
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Old 11-17-07, 09:33 PM   #5
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56% is very thin and runny, 45% is much easier to build a fillet with - not sure which type of 45 is compatible with stainless though.
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Old 11-17-07, 09:49 PM   #6
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I have done some projects similar to this with a stick welder. After a couple of joints, you get a feel for just how to do it. Most of the joints turn out well. Those that do not can either be done again or ground to look better. I have also brazed some wire baskets used to suport tomato plants when the welds broke. Results were a little inconsistent and messy. I have not learned TIG, but would recommend it over brazing. I suspect the original bottle cages may have been spot welded.
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Old 11-17-07, 09:59 PM   #7
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Re: the previous poster: as a life-long weldor with all methods . . . there is no way you are going to "stick weld" 14 gauge stainless wire. Sorry.

Silver solder or silver braze [whatever you wish to call it] is the way to go. As a previous poster mentioned . . . you will quickly discover why this type of constructions is so expensive. <g>
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Old 11-17-07, 11:12 PM   #8
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Nessism View Post
56% is very thin and runny, 45% is much easier to build a fillet with - not sure which type of 45 is compatible with stainless though.
You are probably thinking of regular 56%. The Harris 56n has 2-3% nickel in it ( same as Handy & Harman 559), IIRC,the nickel helps extend the melting range, so you can make small filets with it and it finishes to match stainless steel pretty well.

On the last frame (green road bike) I used 56n to attach the chainstays to the SS seat lug,make a filet around a pump peg and also a small filet around the chainstay bridge. I first used it several years ago to make a 1 liter bottle holder for a Vespa.

Canfield makes a 45% silver that I've been told works great on SS. But AFAIK it is only sold by the pound.
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Old 11-18-07, 08:46 PM   #9
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Thanks everyone for the replies. This is a winter project and I will keep all informed of my progress. Right now I am working on the jigs for bending the wire. Progress isn't fast but there is progress.

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Originally Posted by dwood View Post
As a previous poster mentioned . . . you will quickly discover why this type of constructions is so expensive. <g>
Quote:
Originally Posted by velonomad
BTW after you make a cage you will see why they cost so much, They are a PITA to make
May I ask, what exactly will be the difficult part? I'm not being facetious, I'd really like to know.
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Old 11-19-07, 12:40 AM   #10
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I think Tigging wire is tough. You have a material with considerable thickness, but little ability to absorb the heat. I found it dificult, my best method, as a hack with no previous experience with the stuff was to make a series of mini tacks. I should say I was using one eight in. SS wire, actually a lot of my problem was that the only rod I had was a little too thick, had I had a source for the thinner stuff I probably would have been fine. Still, I would do it with Harris 45% Safety silv.

The bends for that look easy enough, but I would advise you to get something cheap to pre-run them with. Normally bends are super easy to do, the second time around, and that can be the third time around when you get to linked bends that you have to do a L and R side from the center out. But its just a few seconds work with coat hangers.

Do you have a picture of the thing on a bike with a bottle in it.
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Old 11-19-07, 12:52 AM   #11
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-May I ask, what exactly will be the difficult part? I'm not being facetious, I'd really like to know.-

It might be relative. The first modern cage I made took about a half hour. I bent it under radius at first, and had to make a second piece. After the bow, I made the hard bends in a vise, then I end welded the wire. Come to think of it that might require a weld, unless one sleeved it. So that kind of thing is easy. I took it on a 1000 mile trip and it performed fine.

On your construction, I would use a ring roller to make the top hoops. Look up fret bender, there are some plans online for ones that used a few bolts bearings and wooden bits. The ring roller gives you the perfectly circular ring, vs. a series of parabolic distortions. Same deal for the metal plaque on front

Then I would work an the technique for making the eyes. This technique is the same one used to make fish hook eyes, you might see if Partridge hooks has an online picture of hand making fish hooks, or Mustad. Of course the hook eye has an extra kink to it to center it on the shank.

After you learn to put the eyes in both ends of a piece of wire, you need to make the hard bends and loops that complete the segments that fit through the little thimble. You probably need to pre-thread that, then make your second eyes, loops, and hard bends.

Thread on the top rings. then fit the brazed on bits. None of this is particularly difficult, but it will require a lot of different parts that need to fit together very well. If you have a model to work from it will help a little, but you still need to get everything to work out for your spacing after the bends.
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Old 11-19-07, 08:44 AM   #12
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Peterpan1 View Post

Do you have a picture of the thing on a bike with a bottle in it.
This is the best I can do.

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Old 11-19-07, 09:00 AM   #13
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I am practicing bending with cheap wire from the Ace. But I will have to buy and refine the technique with stainless because I am sure the yield point will be different. I'm not worried about the rings, I can use a coil of regular 304. The other components I want to use cut lengths (so the wire is straight). The only stuff McMaster has is spring wire and that won't be as malleable when bending the eylets. The top eyelet will be done with a jeweler's pliers and the bottom one is created on jig that wraps the wire round a nail. I use a similar technique when bending tubing for furniture.
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Old 11-19-07, 08:00 PM   #14
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lab,

You can easily TIG weld or braze. Use the process you feel most comfortable with.

If you use TIG, i'd recommend doing it autogenously. Be advised, however, as it requires good vision and steady hand/eye coordination. You'll also need to put-up with a welding hood (of the auto darkening variety). I find torch brazing (seen below) much more relaxing. Harris 56 is a better cosmetic match, melts at a slightly lower temp than 45, and is easier to avoid unecessarily large fillets. The piece shown, is made entirely of bike parts - including 1.8-2.0 mm stainless spokes.


Last edited by PaPa; 11-20-07 at 01:06 AM.
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