Reynolds 653 forks: repair?
I am the proud owner of a broken pair of forks on my 2004 Dawes Audax. I believe the tubing is 653: not 100% certain of this. The forks broke through fatigue clearly initiated by corrosion at the low-rider mounts halfway down.
I am stuck in La Paz in Mexico on my Alaska to Panama ride, unable to locate compatible forks locally and facing time, expense and uncertainty in ordering from abroad.
My guess is that the forks cannot be safely welded for riding. Let me know if I am wrong about this. However, if I could repair them so the bike is pushable it would make it much easier to transport it on the ferry to mainland Mexico where I might have more luck with finding replacements.
Are there special requirements for welding this material? Or can I safely take them to any welding shop and get a bodge job to keep the bike rolling?
Thanks for any info.
They are probably 631 forks. I guess you could get them welded, but I would worry a little about their integrity.
can't see how they could be safely welded unless someone there can tig weld. I could see grafting on some 4130 steel either brazing or tig welding, particularly if the goal was walking. If you are just going to walk the bike, you could get someone to braze on just about anything and it would be plenty strong enough.
Older I get, Better I was
Welding is not an option in my view. first there is nothing to weld or braze, the fork is about 1mm thick or less at that point. it will have ragged rusted ends that won't hold together. You could trying gusseting the joint and brazing it but still there isn't much surface area to work with.
This is your fix; When I was a kid the way we made "choppers" was to cut the fork blades off of another bike and hammer them over the fork blades of our bikes to lengthen the forks. considering where you are this is likely your best temporary fix with the materials available. I'm not going to tell you to ride it, that is your call. but you certainly can push the bike. If you can't braze the forks together try using two sheet metals screws. Forget about the front brake working.
BTW riding a Dawes Audax on a fully loaded PanAM tour IMO is not what the bike was designed for.
I found a picture of a chopper bicycle to give you an idea of the concept;
Last edited by velonomad; 11-03-08 at 07:41 AM.
Thanks for these replies. I asked the question because I wondered if taking them to a welding shop might be a waste of time and wreck what`s left of the forks. (Even though pushing is the only goal with this idea).
I thought about cutting two pieces of wood and jamming them inside the forks. Going out to look for the wood soon to try this out.
I take the point about the frame design not being for a heavy load. Presumably you are referring to the load, not the distance. In fact I was not using low-riders or any front panniers on this tour. I had used them on another previous tour however, a couple of years ago.
It could be that the forks had been compromised for a long time. Maybe years.
Depends on how much capability there is locally. You can add internal braces and then weld. You get pieces of reasonably stiff sheet metal and curve them over something or oval out a 1/16" wall tube. drill two holes above and below the joint and use sheet metal screws to pull the metal tight. Them rose weld the other holes. Remove the sheet metal screws and rose weld the second holes. Then weld the whole joint area solid to the internal bracing and itself. Velos point about the condition of the metal is a good one, if it is all rust you have a much bigger problem. This kind of weld can be done with any of the major instruments, TIG, Stick, Mig, or gas, the key bit is a welder able to weld thin material which is what autobody repair is about. The other problem is getting it well enough lined up to work.
Another is to find a fork that is reasonably similar, cut it off at the crown and weld it to the front of the other fork. Not saying this will be a beautiful thing, but it would be far simpler to do and would have some chance of coming out straight. You would end up with some more fork offset, your bike would not only be heavier but a lot less nimble, but it might track and not fall appart. The other advantage is that when stitched on well you can probably unstitch it and even repair the fork you have later, should that be the kind of thing a frame builder could do for you if that was your current option.
Go get the forks welded if you are just going to push the bike around. I wouldn't ride the bike with this type of repair though. No special precautions necessary for a repair like that.
Actually, if you are just patching the blade together, there isn't any reason to put the re-inforcements on the inside as I suggested. It would be a lot simpler to scab them on the outside. It isn't a cosmetic repair.
Get a cheap replacement fork and ride again. Have the fork blades aligned and it might ride better than before!
Thanks again. I got the bike by bus to Pichilingue, then by ferry to Mazatlan, without patching the forks. Bus drivers in Mexico are amenable to bikes - when your forks are broken, anyway. Got new (secondhand) forks at an excellent bike shop in Mazatlan, Kelly´s Bikes, so my interest in this topic is now purely academic.