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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 10-05-09, 05:38 PM   #1
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I want to start framebuilding!

Does anyone have any suggestions as to where to start?

1. What do I need in terms of hardware? Something to braze, and something to braze with, I assume.

2. Lugs. Seatstays. Bottom brackets. Dropouts.

3. Tubing.

Any cheap sources for 2 or 3? I really don't need nice stuff. At all. Just stuff to practice with.

I want to start building simple lugged steel frames for fun, among other reasons.
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Old 10-05-09, 06:14 PM   #2
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I would start by just plain welding regular materials to start. Local Adult Ed. in your community might have them for forty dollars a course. You ought to simply learn the wielding a torch first.

Tubes aren't sold as such. Frame builders don't buy them like so much plumbers tubing at a constuction site.
Tubes for bike frames are sold as TUBE Sets, they're PRICEY. Lugs, BBs, Dr-outs are bought in bulk, not cheap.
A few domestic suppliers sell such, very few.
Once your get your brazing and/or tig skills, you could set about your endeavour...

Bike repair and Frame build. schools are out there too. www.bbinstitute.com & others
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Old 10-05-09, 06:29 PM   #3
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Well, not gonna lie, that sucks. Straight up sucks.

Things shouldn't have to be so expensive. Anyone else have any decent sources?

Or should I win the lottery to start building frames?

Man, I hate bikes. They're expensive. Maybe I'll just give up on advocacy and buy a car after all.

Not really.

But still.

Bummer.
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Old 10-05-09, 08:51 PM   #4
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Well, not gonna lie, that sucks. Straight up sucks.

Things shouldn't have to be so expensive. Anyone else have any decent sources?

Or should I win the lottery to start building frames?

Man, I hate bikes. They're expensive. Maybe I'll just give up on advocacy and buy a car after all.

Not really.

But still.

Bummer.
Haha! You may be right- I think I`d probably save money by getting rid of my bikes and reinstating my old pickup as my sole mode of transportaion! Of course, it doesn`t HAVE to be expensve, I just like to dink around a lot.

B Mole, I don`t build frames either, so I`m not by any means an expert, but I think that other guy is exagerating about how high the prices of materials. Search up Henry James, Ceeway, Nova, Online Metals and Aircraft Spruce for suplies. You can get straight wall cromo tubing or even whole tubesets to build a bike for less than the price of a good set of wheels to go under your new frame. H.James has a lot of info on his site, along with suplies and the famous "Paternek Manual for Framebuilding". In fact, the internet is loaded with info on framebuilding and frame suplies. Google around and see what you run into. Good luck with your project- if you realy have the gumption, I have no doubt you can find a way to do it.
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Old 10-05-09, 09:22 PM   #5
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Exagerating ? No, I don't think so.. a cheap tube set $80 ; cheap lugset $25 ; bottom bracket shell $35. A torch kit $80, at least, the tanks ?? don't know.

OK 220, still no tanks, gas, braze & whatever else I missed. ALL these materials to build ONE bike $140 + gas, solder, etc. not a pricey one either.
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Old 10-05-09, 09:38 PM   #6
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Old and New, those materials prices just don`t seem so bad to me. I guess we just differ in our definitions of "pricey". It`s when you start talking prices for regulators and tanks or TIG machines that I start to feel pain in my checking account. Or silver- yikes!
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Old 10-05-09, 10:05 PM   #7
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NOVA Cycle Supply usually carries straight gauge 4130 priced by the foot, as well as inexpensive stamped "practice lugs". It's also not unusual to find old lugs available on Ebay. And you can even find old crap frames for a few dollars, which can be disassembled and reassembled to your heart's content.
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Old 10-05-09, 10:12 PM   #8
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Old and New, those materials prices just don`t seem so bad to me. I guess we just differ in our definitions of "pricey". It`s when you start talking prices for regulators and tanks or TIG machines that I start to feel pain in my checking account. Or silver- yikes!
True but I also didn't mention : Fork = $100 or more new
drop-outs = 50
cable guides, other braze ons = ?
deposit on the tanks= 100
head set = 20
machining the BB sheel, head tubes (facing) = $50 . i don't kwow.. am I missing something, proably am

one fellow had an idea, a good one; start by messin' around with an old frame.
i suppose i could've said " yeah.. go fer it dude" just not me, it's not sincere.
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Old 10-06-09, 02:10 AM   #9
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nova has monthly specials. I got one of the specials a couple months ago for $190 for the tubeset, lugs, bb and dropouts. Their chromo specials usually go for about $130. That leaves the forks. I'm interested in building a stack of forks as an experiment, and it's hard to do for less than $100 or so each. A unicrown fork is most of $50. Silver cost me $100, braze-ons about $25. It adds up. My tanks and torch were around $700.

The fact is, the first one should probably be thrown away.
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Old 10-06-09, 07:51 AM   #10
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Call up Joe Bringheli and ask him what he has laying around. Often he has odd ball lugs sets for cheap as well as various dropouts and such. He typically sells dropouts for about $20/set and tube sets that run about $10 tube. You should be able to get a full kit for $150 or less. In today's day and age that's dirt cheap, but of course you then need to build the frame and your costs will add up. Maybe there is another hobby builder in your area you can share resources with? You might want to check out the framebuilders list and frameforum for help in this area.
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Old 10-06-09, 08:09 AM   #11
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The term "expensive" is a relative term. For some, a 1986 Honda Civic is a treasure. For others a 2 year old Porsche is pedestrian. If you find value in the process then it isn't expensive, if you don't then it is. If you just want a bike frame, then go buy one and problem solved. if you want to learn as you go, then you should be willing to pay for that experience.

Go to Aircraft Spruce and order online. Order some 1", 1 1/8" and 1 1/4" 4130 tubing in .035" thickness. You can buy it by the foot. By a lot of it.

Buy cheap practice lugs. I have a box of them that I will send you for free if you pay the shipping. Braze up 30+ lugs to short sections of the 4130. After you braze up each joint, cut it in half and see how much penetration you are getting. Don't take short cuts, don't depreciate the value of the process. Remember, that is where the value is. If you just find value in the end process (i.e. the frame) then you are wasting your time. Learn as you go. It is the only reason to do this. An even cheaper alternative is to order some .058" walled 4130 in the next size up from Aircraft Spruce. .058" in 1 1/4" O.D., for example, will slide over 1 1/8" tubing. You can use the .058" as a sleeve and then braze it up. It is a very cheap route to learn torch control and capillary action of the filler material.

You can buy silver or bronze filler material. Silver is a bit easier to use but bronze is much cheaper. Dealer's choice on which direction you want to go. Buy 1/16" diameter rod.

Use the black flux from Harris (you can get it at any welding supply store). Technically it is for bronze brazing but use it on silver when you are starting out. If you are just learning how to braze the longer effective zone of the flux will help you out and keep you charring the f*ck out of what you are doing.

If you are starting out without anything, the most expensive portion of the process will be a good torch, regulators and the tanks. Some welding supply shops will lease you tanks. Other places make you purchase the tanks outright with the assurance they will buy them back from you later on if you want to sell. The torches and regs can be bought from your welding supply store or online. But, if you don't know what you want then you can end up spending more online versus just going into the shop and asking for help.

Again, I stress that you use cheap 4130 straight wall tubing and old pressed lugs. You should NOT strike out and start building a bike from the get go. Learn to braze, learn torch control, learn the basics. Once you have that, then start putting it all together. Don't start thinking about how cool the bike will be because most likely it will ride like a bag of wrenches. Don't worry about that. Learn what you did wrong and improve. Don't start thinking about using stainless steel anytime soon. It is much harder to sweat and much easier to f*ck up. Don't start thinking about how you want to start lug carving and making it pretty and fancy. Do that after you learn the basics. You aren't building a Porsche. You are striving for that 1986 Honda Civic.

These are of course just my opinions and I reserve the right to be wrong.

Last edited by HMBAtrail; 10-06-09 at 08:29 AM. Reason: Another thought
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Old 10-06-09, 09:04 AM   #12
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learn how to weld/braze first, that ain't easy.
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Old 10-06-09, 03:25 PM   #13
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The term "expensive" is a relative term. For some, a 1986 Honda Civic is a treasure. For others a 2 year old Porsche is pedestrian. If you find value in the process then it isn't expensive, if you don't then it is. If you just want a bike frame, then go buy one and problem solved. if you want to learn as you go, then you should be willing to pay for that experience.

Go to Aircraft Spruce and order online. Order some 1", 1 1/8" and 1 1/4" 4130 tubing in .035" thickness. You can buy it by the foot. By a lot of it.

Buy cheap practice lugs. I have a box of them that I will send you for free if you pay the shipping. Braze up 30+ lugs to short sections of the 4130. After you braze up each joint, cut it in half and see how much penetration you are getting. Don't take short cuts, don't depreciate the value of the process. Remember, that is where the value is. If you just find value in the end process (i.e. the frame) then you are wasting your time. Learn as you go. It is the only reason to do this. An even cheaper alternative is to order some .058" walled 4130 in the next size up from Aircraft Spruce. .058" in 1 1/4" O.D., for example, will slide over 1 1/8" tubing. You can use the .058" as a sleeve and then braze it up. It is a very cheap route to learn torch control and capillary action of the filler material.

You can buy silver or bronze filler material. Silver is a bit easier to use but bronze is much cheaper. Dealer's choice on which direction you want to go. Buy 1/16" diameter rod.

Use the black flux from Harris (you can get it at any welding supply store). Technically it is for bronze brazing but use it on silver when you are starting out. If you are just learning how to braze the longer effective zone of the flux will help you out and keep you charring the f*ck out of what you are doing.

If you are starting out without anything, the most expensive portion of the process will be a good torch, regulators and the tanks. Some welding supply shops will lease you tanks. Other places make you purchase the tanks outright with the assurance they will buy them back from you later on if you want to sell. The torches and regs can be bought from your welding supply store or online. But, if you don't know what you want then you can end up spending more online versus just going into the shop and asking for help.

Again, I stress that you use cheap 4130 straight wall tubing and old pressed lugs. You should NOT strike out and start building a bike from the get go. Learn to braze, learn torch control, learn the basics. Once you have that, then start putting it all together. Don't start thinking about how cool the bike will be because most likely it will ride like a bag of wrenches. Don't worry about that. Learn what you did wrong and improve. Don't start thinking about using stainless steel anytime soon. It is much harder to sweat and much easier to f*ck up. Don't start thinking about how you want to start lug carving and making it pretty and fancy. Do that after you learn the basics. You aren't building a Porsche. You are striving for that 1986 Honda Civic.

These are of course just my opinions and I reserve the right to be wrong.
This is good information. I think Ill go this route.
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Old 10-06-09, 05:45 PM   #14
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This is good information. I think Ill go this route.
I was hoping for food pictures
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Old 10-06-09, 06:55 PM   #15
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Don't forget the 100's of hours spending preping, cutting, mitering, cleaning, brazing, cleaning, filing, filing some more, some more cleaning and prepping before painting.
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Old 10-06-09, 10:22 PM   #16
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Builds strength -- both mental and physical!
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Old 10-07-09, 01:03 AM   #17
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The term "expensive" is a relative term. For some, a 1986 Honda Civic is a treasure. For others a 2 year old Porsche is pedestrian. If you find value in the process then it isn't expensive, if you don't then it is. If you just want a bike frame, then go buy one and problem solved. if you want to learn as you go, then you should be willing to pay for that experience.

Go to Aircraft Spruce and order online. Order some 1", 1 1/8" and 1 1/4" 4130 tubing in .035" thickness. You can buy it by the foot. By a lot of it.

Buy cheap practice lugs. I have a box of them that I will send you for free if you pay the shipping. Braze up 30+ lugs to short sections of the 4130. After you braze up each joint, cut it in half and see how much penetration you are getting. Don't take short cuts, don't depreciate the value of the process. Remember, that is where the value is. If you just find value in the end process (i.e. the frame) then you are wasting your time. Learn as you go. It is the only reason to do this. An even cheaper alternative is to order some .058" walled 4130 in the next size up from Aircraft Spruce. .058" in 1 1/4" O.D., for example, will slide over 1 1/8" tubing. You can use the .058" as a sleeve and then braze it up. It is a very cheap route to learn torch control and capillary action of the filler material.

You can buy silver or bronze filler material. Silver is a bit easier to use but bronze is much cheaper. Dealer's choice on which direction you want to go. Buy 1/16" diameter rod.

Use the black flux from Harris (you can get it at any welding supply store). Technically it is for bronze brazing but use it on silver when you are starting out. If you are just learning how to braze the longer effective zone of the flux will help you out and keep you charring the f*ck out of what you are doing.

If you are starting out without anything, the most expensive portion of the process will be a good torch, regulators and the tanks. Some welding supply shops will lease you tanks. Other places make you purchase the tanks outright with the assurance they will buy them back from you later on if you want to sell. The torches and regs can be bought from your welding supply store or online. But, if you don't know what you want then you can end up spending more online versus just going into the shop and asking for help.

Again, I stress that you use cheap 4130 straight wall tubing and old pressed lugs. You should NOT strike out and start building a bike from the get go. Learn to braze, learn torch control, learn the basics. Once you have that, then start putting it all together. Don't start thinking about how cool the bike will be because most likely it will ride like a bag of wrenches. Don't worry about that. Learn what you did wrong and improve. Don't start thinking about using stainless steel anytime soon. It is much harder to sweat and much easier to f*ck up. Don't start thinking about how you want to start lug carving and making it pretty and fancy. Do that after you learn the basics. You aren't building a Porsche. You are striving for that 1986 Honda Civic.

These are of course just my opinions and I reserve the right to be wrong.
This is indeed fantastic information.

Torch. Regulators. Tanks. Lugs. 4130 tubing. Black Flux. Bronze solder.

And, of course, a book somewhere would be great.

-Nick
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Old 10-07-09, 02:00 AM   #18
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This is indeed fantastic information.

Torch. Regulators. Tanks. Lugs. 4130 tubing. Black Flux. Bronze solder.


And, of course, a book somewhere would be great.

-Nick
Nick, you can download a FREE copy of an older version of Tim Paterek's Manual for Bicycle Framebuilders HERE, or spring for the latest, greatly improved version HERE.

Tim also sells really good step-by-step framebuilding DVDs.
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Old 10-07-09, 05:38 AM   #19
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Nick, you can download a FREE copy of an older version of Tim Paterek's Manual for Bicycle Framebuilders HERE, or spring for the latest, greatly improved version HERE.

Tim also sells really good step-by-step framebuilding DVDs.
thanks
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Old 10-07-09, 09:44 AM   #20
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Nick, you can download a FREE copy of an older version of Tim Paterek's Manual for Bicycle Framebuilders HERE, or spring for the latest, greatly improved version HERE.

Tim also sells really good step-by-step framebuilding DVDs.
First I thought that, haha, you had a .pdf of the new manual, although it felt evil to take without consulting Tim Paterek. How much better is the new one, anyway? I'm considering using it as a starting board....

But for now, I'll read through the old one, thank you so much for putting it up!

-Nick
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Old 10-07-09, 11:15 AM   #21
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How much better is the new one, anyway?

-Nick
The current version is orders of magnitude better; it's much better organized and has a lot more content including many photos and drawings of details glossed over in the earlier versions.
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Old 10-07-09, 12:13 PM   #22
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This is indeed fantastic information.

Torch. Regulators. Tanks. Lugs. 4130 tubing. Black Flux. Bronze solder.

And, of course, a book somewhere would be great.

-Nick
One small addendum if you are going to use bronze solder. Order the blue paste flux from Henry James (henryjames.com). It is an excellent flux and gives you ample wiggle room. Use the black flux if you are using silver solder. Once you get torch control you can use the white paste flux or Freddy Parr's flux with silver. The white flux is nice because it is easier to see through and see what is going on underneath the flux. With the black flux you may have to push it around a bit to get a good look-see but it is a small price to pay for the extra insurance when you are just starting out.
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Old 10-07-09, 01:35 PM   #23
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I don't think the materials are all that expensive, not compared even to a cheap welded say Surly level frame. Let alone a custom. But you won't save a dime getting into frame building as a hobby. Most expensive tools of any hobby out there, for what you get. We need someone like the President of Grizzly tools to take up framebuilding and get us some BB taps, etc... for 30 bucks.

You can make a decent whole frame out of 4130. I get mine from aircraft spruce. The chromo generic tubes are pretty cheap in butted, Nova sells them and has lots of options that aren't in the catalog. The only part that hurts is that the tubing sets they use for "quality" Asian butted bikes, are about 10 bucks a set according to someone who was posting here, and had far east manufacturing experience. Might sound preposterous, but I have that kind of experience in the knife area, and knives that sell here for 80 bucks and up are bought for about 4 bucks. My local dollar store sells some kind of combo lockback for a buck. Stainless blade, anodized scales, looks nice at the least. So we are getting heavily reamed. Keep in mind these products are heat treated (dollar store not so sure...), which is two steps up from what our tubes are.

Last edited by NoReg; 10-07-09 at 01:44 PM.
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Old 10-07-09, 04:37 PM   #24
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We need someone like the President of Grizzly tools to take up framebuilding and get us some BB taps, etc... for 30 bucks.
I don't know if you mentioned him because it has happened before -- he started building guitars. That's why Grizzly sells guitar kits.
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Old 10-08-09, 04:40 PM   #25
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Yup, that's why I mentioned it. I build guitars too. Woodworking of all sorts was my main craft for a long time, though that draws one into metalwork since it is fun to make or modify tools, make fixtures, and some hardware. The Grizzly guy also did some gunsmithing, and as a result added several gunsmithing lathes to the line-up. This guy could snap in our direction at any moment. Time to send him the Paternek videos!
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