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Framebuilders Thinking about a custom frame? Lugged vs Fillet Brazed. Different Frame materials? Newvex or Pacenti Lugs? why get a custom Road, Mountain, or Track Frame? Got a question about framebuilding? Lets discuss framebuilding at it's finest.

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Old 02-15-09, 09:23 AM   #1
VintageRaleigh
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Interested in getting into framebuilding...

Hi there

I have a passion for old steel bikes and have dreamt for a long time of building my own...

Where could I go to learn and what kind of materials would you suggest for a home workshop? How much would a basic shop cost to get up and running? My experience includes a bit of stick welding for automotive applications.

Thanks for any of your input.
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Old 02-15-09, 09:37 AM   #2
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Start by googling "framebuilding"... Tons of information out there.
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Old 02-15-09, 10:10 AM   #3
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You can get a good feel for the trade by buying a copy of The Paterek Manual for Bicycle Framebuilders.

Tim also has DVDs that take you step-by-step through the process of building lugged steel or fillet brazed steel frames.
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Old 02-18-09, 01:35 AM   #4
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If you want to set up a shop to do it all yourself, no friend in the business, or really supportive local shop... you will need 500-1000 for frame prep tools. If you are going to weld you need a TIG, realistically first hand you are looking about 1500-4000. For the other methods you need an aircraft type torch, OXY and Acet, plus regulators and a torch costing 75-200, not terribly expensive but there are lots of ancilary things from eyewear to fire extinguisher. Material to cut and joint the tubes are a few files, hacksaw, vise, free online tube mitering program, right up to machine tools. Fixture and jigs can run zerosih to 20K.
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Old 02-20-09, 03:44 PM   #5
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Whoa

I've been exploring it for a while now and realize it would be a better project for retirement

... first I've got to finish grade 12

I've also heard of courses that supply tools etc? This sounds like a good idea for a one-off

I think there is a notable framebuilder who offers courses

Anybody remember his/her name?
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Old 02-20-09, 03:52 PM   #6
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Doug Fattic offers a course and I have heard many great things about it.

I took the course at United Bicycle Institute in Oregon and it was a great experience. They supply everything, you just show up, pay, build your frame and have fun.
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Old 02-21-09, 06:13 PM   #7
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+1 ubi
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Old 02-22-09, 06:18 PM   #8
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"Whoa"

The upper end of my numbers is a Whoa. But the lower end isn't so bad. You asked for some average shop prices. If you want the bargain basement it's a little better... Either way break it into 4 pieces:

- Metal shaping, can be a few files etc... and a vise

- Holding, you don't need fixtures it can be done with very little of anything for a one off.

- frame prep, the tools are expensive so you either have to buy them or figure out someone who will do it for you if you are only doing one. Do this before you have the finished frame, because it can be a quite a lot of money, or it might not be too bad. There are lots of folks who say the nice guy at the local shop did it for free. Not my reality, but your mileage may vary, particularly if you are a good customer. Some of this stuff is cumulative. If you are doing it right, there is more chance the local guy might take an interest. If you show up with some stick welds, he might be scared to be involved, but those welds might be fine. I solved the problem by buying my own tools, because I tend to be a bit of a loaner where my work is concerned.

- joinery. You have to have one or another method of joining, there aren't any almost free methods of doing this, there are some folks who have used marginal methods and done fine with it.

It may make more sense to try a simple project first. Racks can be made with propane torches, and other similar sized things like light mounts, or toe clips. Probably no lives on the line for the most part.

I'm not sure a course is cheaper. It could certainly be the way to go, but you are talking tuition and some travel and living expenses. So it can come to several thou. You can certainly get geared up to some extent for that. And the stuff you buy you can keep or resell.

I spent a lot of time trying to figure out the way to do it right for the least money possible. One problem is that there is almost zero interest in this. There are wannabe pros, and are there people trying to tig weld with bic lighters and sealing wax. Very little creative middle ground. And the people who are interested and have written about it soon get tired of the blowback. I know for a fact if some creative metal working guys got into it like the average blacksmith or bladesmith. Guys who can make their own backyard forge, rolling mill, or steel, they would crack it. I have come close ATMO, but I got so into it I bought all the necesarry gear so I sorta lost the track. I do think it is doable though.

The problem breaks down this way"

Metal shaping - see above

Fixtures - see above

Frame prep, there are no realistic workarounds that will suit everyone. I think it is possible to make one's own single point tools but only if one has a lot of time and some machine tools. A more realistic method is to reduce the prep load. There are ways of building that eliminate the need for frame prep. Obviously composite building doesn't metal distort, but there are ways of using sleeves to avoid distortion. These kinds of methods don't open up every possibility, but there are some perfectly credible builds that could be done without 2 out of 3 of the prep tools.

Joinery. Basically a hearth method, with lots of propane, is the cheapest full quality method. There are other alternatives that are a little less desireable. They would include some stick or MIG welding options in skilled hands, and some brazing methods, though it gets dicey as to how much can be pulled off there. In most cases these would require prior skill and gear to really be worth trying since nothing is free from scratch.
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Old 02-22-09, 09:50 PM   #9
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are there any good websites about joining/welding/brazing i you can rcommend reading?
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Old 02-23-09, 05:45 PM   #10
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frame prep tools are definitely a big expense. Between facing the bottom bracket, reaming and facing the head tube, cutting the fork crown for the headset race, and reaming the seat tube, that's easily over $1000.
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Old 02-23-09, 06:53 PM   #11
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I went totaly bargain basement, just easing my way into it with the idea that if I ever decide that I just can't hack it, I can bail out without losing too much money. Buying the Paterek manual is a great first step, IMO. This gives you a pretty good idea of what's necessary. I have to admit I almost gave up on the whole idea the first few times I went through the book, as the amount of detail and information was overwhelming. After a few re-reads and a great deal of thought about the "Paterek method" vs. the absolute minimum, I decided to keep going. First I made a few full-size frame drawings, then I bought some materials to build some jigs -- details on jig building from simple to professional can be found all over the web -- and just kept going from there. If you're dying to give it a try, you can buy some cheap lugs and aircraft tubing from Nova cycle supply, a Bernz-O-Matic MAPP torch from Home Depot, a coil of silver and a tub of flux from Henry James in Redondo Beach, and a selection of files. This will alow you to practice mitering and brazing joints -- which is extremely valuable should you later decide to make frames -- for $100-$150 dollars.

I'm still at the point that I am using my homemade jigs, simple hand tools, Home Depot torches, and depending upon the local shop for frame prep and painting. I may someday spend the considerable money for professional jigging and alignment tools, but as I only build one or two frames per year, it wouldn't ever pay for itself.

As it is, it probably cost me $1500 to produce my first usable frame. If your plan is to build your "dream bicycle" and then quit, you should probably just have someone build it for you. If you intend to pursue it as a hobby, or even become a pro yourself, then you simply have to plan on spending many thousands of dollars.

HTH!

Last edited by Six jours; 02-23-09 at 06:57 PM.
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Old 02-23-09, 09:06 PM   #12
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I'm with Six jours. I've made two lugged single speed frames now and really just spent money on the following:

MAPP gas and torch from Home Depot - ~$35
assorted files - $15
digital angle finder from sears - $27
1 tube set, lugs, silver, flux, dropouts from Henry James - $300
tube miter from Grizzly - $50 (although I would recommend splurging on the Ol' Joint Jigger)
bench grinder from Grizzly - $70
Rigid hole saw kit for the tube notcher - $40

Otherwise, I had some other basic hand tools already.
Hack saw
Vice
Dremel
work bench
degreaser
cutting oil

Here are some pics of the bike I just finished:

http://www.flickr.com/photos/jasonwa...7612578202202/
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Old 03-03-09, 04:10 PM   #13
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That's gorgeous and fascinating, lemondzurich!

VintageRaleigh, there might be a framebuilding business near you. I bet you could apprentice there. In other words, work some hours for free and gain some knowledge. At that point, the builder might be willing to teach you and guide you through building your first frame. He might enjoy mentoring you and passing the craft down to someone young and ambitious like you. And after a while, he might pay you, and you'd have a skill you could take elsewhere and make money from.
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