Can a first-timer do a brazed frame and make it look good?
I'm considering taking Yamaguchi's bike building class.
I don't want lugs, I want a brazed frame - the smoothness of the joints is what attracts me. That said, if I take his class, then I'm the one doing them, and they might not come out so smooth, haha. I'm hoping some frame builders here can tell me how your first brazed frame went, and were you happy with how it looked?
Follow up - I'm good with my hands, I can draw, I've done clay and wood work before with good results. Should I get some brazing training before going, or will the two-week intensive be enough?
you can do a fine job, but you need to practice. The real trick is where there are two thicknesses of metal. You can always put too much brass down and file it off. OTOH, I see a lot of beginners that put too much brass down, but not evenly, so some parts of the joint are not well brazed.
I went to Yamaguchi's class and he is a master fillet-brazer as well as master frame builder in general, who knows what else he does. He is one of the most interesting people I have ever met and working with him for 2 weeks was the experience of a lifetime. With that said, he will teach you to braze, you practice it his way just about every morning but I would start practicing before you go just so you can get comfortable with the torch and get a feel for brazing in general and working the puddle. If you have a knack for art with your hands and have him as a teacher you should be fine but its much easier when you have a master next to you who can tell you what to do, continueing to braze afterward is when you will start to get your fillets dialed in. I would like to work with him again to learn some more, every morning I couldn't wait to get there to see what he was gonna do, great all around guy, class act.
I wonder abot first frames too. For those who already build frames, how did your Number One turn out? Were you satisfied with it? Was it rideable? I finally decided to try my hand at it and I`m dinking around with design and making up some tooling while I wait for money to magically appear for my materials, so hopefully will start cutting and filing around March.
I've been carrying around my first frame for the last 30 years. There were a couple of problems with it that I didn't have the equipment to fix. I recently decided that was silly, so I'm making it ridable. I'm a little worried about it, but I'm just riding it around town and I'm making a new fork so hopefully if it breaks it isn't going to hurt me. The thing is, when you build your first you don't really know what you don't know. If you build with lugs, there is almost no way to know what it's like inside. So a first frame with fillet braze has advantages in that sense.
I am riding the first frame I built at Yamaguchi's right now. Its a cross bike and I build it up in the fall and ride it till the spring, I am not a cross racer but I just love the versatility of a cross bike. I am mainly a roadie but I take it on gravel, dirt, everywhere. If you go to Yamaguchi's class you will bring back a nice frame, a frame that you will have for a long time, and the cool thing is you build the whole thing, clearly he is overseeing everything you do so you get it right and he will help you when you get to the most important stuff but you will build it all. A lot of making fillets look good is the clean-up work after you have brazed it, the filing, sanding, etc., like Unterhausen said, you just lay down a little extra and smooth it out later. I would send photos of my first frame but I always have trouble getting uploading them here, they may be too large, not sure. If you like you can check out some of my first frames on my blog, MEECH Custom Bikes.http://meechcustombikes.blogspot.com/ Thanks for looking. Good luck with the build.
Last edited by Allen; 11-21-09 at 03:28 PM.
Reason: fixed the link
Meech, your link doesn`t work for me for some reason, so I googled you up. Nice stuff- that`s awesome about your buddy Larry taking your bike to the podium. Congrats! I don`t think I managed to fiind your crossbike though.
I'm just a hack garage builder and I'm somewhat intimidated by the thoughts of building a fillet brazed frame due to concern over warpage. I've built a number of lugged frames and even those are easy to build crooked until you develop some skills and tool yourself up with a surface plate and some method to straighten the frame (cold setting). Fillet brazing takes a lot of heat and there will be warpage from everything I've read. To counteract this issue my understanding is that a specific routine is needed such as braze the joints in quarters and work in segments - don't just go around the joint all in one go. Honestly, I'm not schooled on the subject so maybe my concern is unfounded, but there is a reason so many garage builders stick with lugs.
Becareful buying/selling bike parts on-line. I learned the hard way. :(
... I'm somewhat intimidated by the thoughts of building a fillet brazed frame ... maybe my concern is unfounded, but there is a reason so many garage builders stick with lugs.
Yeah, I hear you. It's a valid concern. That's why I'm taking the class from Yamaguchi - he's not only an awesome frame builder, but a fantastic teacher. I hope to learn the real-world techniques for avoiding the things you're saying.
1984 Trek 620, Fisher Y-bike, Bike Friday NWT, Rans Rocket, Cinderella Cycles Model 1, Dahon Mariner & Boardwalk, Bike Friday tikit, 1977(?) Raliegh DL-1, Disc Trucker
When I built my first frame I got a book and taught myself. I told myself I'd make a hundred joints before I did the frame so I'd be used to it. After 70, they still looked awful, and I couldn't figure why. I was following the book as close as I could. I took my kit over to the garage of a friend who had retired from a career in welding for some tips. It was all he could do not to take the torch out of my hands as he watched me the first time. Turns out there's a big difference between the brazing described in my book (as in lugged brazing, not so different from sweating a water pipe) and the brazing I was trying to do (fillet brazing, known in other fields as braze welding). But my frame eventually came out just fine, and the thing that made all the difference was a little time with somebody who knew what they were doing. You ought to be fine getting a class from an expert.
... It was all he could do not to take the torch out of my hands as he watched me the first time ...
Yeah, I learn enough things in life the hard way, I'll learn from your example.
Originally Posted by Disposable
You ought to be fine getting a class from an expert.
Thank you for the encouragement.
I mailed my deposit to Yamaguchi this morning.
I also have a good lead or two on local welding classes / frame builders. I figure the real teaching will come from Mr. Yamaguchi, but I'd like to be familiar with the tools and process when I get there.
Thanks for looking and the compliments, its always good to hear feedback, it keeps you pushing forward. My computer with all my older photos has fried and I have lost a lot of stuff but I will take a photo of my first frame shortly and post it. Building my first bicycle frame was a great experience for me and i have been inspired every since, I hope the same happens to you. Good luck and I hope to meet some of you guys one day. Talk to you soon.