I had the intent of learning how to build a jig, and then building a frame. But time and money are an issue (mostly time). I have the tubeset and the lugs. I'm not keenly picky on geometry, but I can ballpark what I want based on my frame that fits me perfectly. I can prime and paint it all myself.
How much would it cost to have someone braze together all the parts for me?
Since you already have the parts you might find a deal. Do some research on a local builder. Inform them that you have the parts. If they are willing to inspect your components and build a frame it should cost less.
In many situations the materials are not what the big cost is. It's the paint. For example, for a standard lugged road frame I charge $1400. Of that amount about $600 goes to the painter. About $150 is in materials. The rest goes to labor hours, consumables, electricity, insurance, etc.
My hunch is that most builders, if they took the job, would likely say the price would be net of paint and materials.
-Edit- Sorry, material cost of $150 is for the tubes only, which is all I thought the original poster had. I didn't read that he had lugs as well. Lugs, BB shell, tubes, braze-ons, drop-outs, etc. are probably $250 and up.
Last edited by HMBAtrail; 01-18-09 at 08:34 AM.
Reason: Mid-read original post
I suggest you go to the Framebuilders list and post an add looking for a builder willing to take your job. Sometimes the hobbiest level guys will take on a task like this for only a small amount of money. I think that's the cheapest way you will get the frame built.
This might be easier on a TIG frame where there are a number of outfits that don't do the welding, but have a person come in once a week to do the welding. In the case of lugs most builders seem to do their own, and they may not want to do brazing on your prep work, because controlling the process form start to finish is always better. Lets say you don't prep clearances, do the degreasing, file the lugs, do the miters, etc... the way they like them to be done, then the brazing job comes into question. I've been in other people' shops using their tools etc... and all of a sudden my claimed skill can go for a nosedive. Turns out the thing I thought I could do was not all that resiliant to changes in conditions etc... For instance my shop is really cold right now. I am used to it, but it might put off someone not prepared for how stuff works. Then they pick up my oxy propane, not oxy acet torch, use my particular flux and rods...
So can you keep enough of this process "yours" for you to be saving any serious money at all. But the bottom line is this isn't comon to contract out a single frame. If you want to push through with it, just ask with specifics as to where you are. You may get some offers from locals, who knows.
Another issue is liability. Amateurs, even if they have the chops to some decent extent, probably shouldn't take on someone else's job for money. There are enough problems with keeping your house these days without getting sued out of it. And pros probably won't want to compromise.
I would set the parts aside for when your pasion returns or blow them out on a list.
I know they can, and I'm sure you have some pretty sweet paint jobs. But on average do spend that much for paint job when only charging 1,500 or so?
For most my frames I have them powdercoated for 50 bucks, or I have a painter do more intricate work, which is usually still under 200. But I'm sure as you are much more established than I am you are able to charge more, and your customers like the top notch paint.
This has drifted completely away from the original post and I apologize for that.
But, to answer the question, yes I spend that much on a paint job. Shipping a frame and fork off to Keith Anderson, having it painted, and shipped back can quickly move beyond $600 (AKA 30 to 40 percent of final frame price). No, I have not yet become a multi-millionaire building bike frames. Customers don't LIKE top notch paint, they DEMAND top notch paint. The other builders here I am sure will agree in the spirit of that statement. The upper crust of bike painters around the country (Joe Bell, Keith Anderson, Spectrum Powderworks, Airglow, et al.) all charge for their efforts and it ain't cheap.
Few people look at a bike and exclaim, "Man, the brazing under that paint is beautiful!". The brazing needs to be top notch and the bike needs to be structurally sound, last a long long long time and go down the road straight. That is the job of the builder. But at first glance and before throwing a leg over it, it is often the paint that stirs the spirit. So, in some ways, paint is MORE important to the product.
I have tried local powdercoaters (even the meth heads charge me more than $50) and a couple of "up and comer" painters here locally to try and source a quality, dependable, and affordable local painter/powder. Through trial and error with most of them I decided I wouldn't trust them to paint my barn.
Absolutely. I guess because I am new people are wary to drop loot on my frames. So I have to charge less in my start-up phase, which means I need to keep my costs low. I will be happy the day I can pay for a $600 paint job and still sell at a decent margin, but that is yet to come.
The learning curve for painting is WAY steeper than brazing. There is so much to know, and no matter how good you are, it's a slow process to do it right.
I'm lucky in that I'm able to do all my painting with an established pro looking over my shoulder...I hate to think how long it would take me to get really good doing it on my own!
I have a local guy who does a good job powder coating for 50 bucks-ish, but it isn't a good job in custom bike terms, it is a good job in I- ade-it-myself-and-now-it-needs-to-be-protected terms. I a thread on the touring forum one guy said about 66% of the hours on one of his frames went into painting.
Calikid, I tend to think that you have to start out as you want to carry on. It is tough to set one standard and then grow into another. It is bound to happen to some extent, but it may help if the objective is the same, like making the nicest stuff you can, as opposed to making a downmarket item and then moving up market.