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  1. #1
    Member mr9iron's Avatar
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    Can anyone teach me how to build and braze a lugged steel frame?

    Is there anyone in the Seattle area who would be willing to teach me how to build and braze a lugged steel frame? I am a fairly decent DIY-ER, and have high levels of skill in building certain things not so much in other areas, but do know some brazing basics.

    I wish to build a traditional Light Steel Road bike out of True Temper S3.

    any reply appreciated,

    Jeff

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    Choose a different tubeset for a lugged first bike, would be my only suggestion.

    As far as I can tell S3 tubing is at least 4 for 4 in major reasons not to use it for a lugged first bike frame.

  3. #3
    Member mr9iron's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by erik c View Post
    Choose a different tubeset for a lugged first bike, would be my only suggestion.

    As far as I can tell S3 tubing is at least 4 for 4 in major reasons not to use it for a lugged first bike frame.
    I am slowly finding this out, I have since found some reports that it is too hard to machine, most of the manufactured frames seem to fillet braze this tubing.

    If weight is one of the primary goals in building a frame set, what would you suggest is the best tube set to use, is there a material out there that can get in the same weight ball park as the S3?

    thanks for any reply,

    Jeff

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    If you want to build it yourself, I would focus less on weight and more on choosing forgiving materials to work with for your first frames.

    It is highly unlikely that your first frame will not require post braze alignment and the properties associated with the light weight tubesets you are most interested in do not necessarily lend themselves to this process.

    Praying at the altar of the goddess of grams is not a good place to begin the journey.

    As to specific tube set recomendations, knowing nothing about you there is no good place to start, and I won't pretend to know enough to offer internet wisdom even if I did.

    I believe the major players all list tubeset weights on their respective websites, so choosing tubes by weight alone should be easy enough though not necessarily recomended.

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    I'd begin with True Temper Verus (plain Verus, not Verus HT). This is relatively affordable, very easy to work with, and still fairly light. Racing bikes were built out of essentially identical tubing right up through the early 90s.
    Quote Originally Posted by Bob Dopolina View Post
    how can a homophobe be gay, too? Does that mean you or choc ful of self loathing because, if I'm right, that would explain a lot.

  6. #6
    Senior Member Cassave's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Six jours View Post
    I'd begin with True Temper Verus (plain Verus, not Verus HT). This is relatively affordable, very easy to work with, and still fairly light. Racing bikes were built out of essentially identical tubing right up through the early 90s.
    +1

  7. #7
    Member mr9iron's Avatar
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    Cassave, Six Jours,

    thank you for your advice on the Verus, none heat treated. So are you saying this type of tube set is about the same or similar to the steel used up until about the 90's? - I can understand then it must be a well tested standard.

    Some other folks also suggested Reynolds 853, but I cannot find a supplier. I know that Lemond used it in their steel frame models. His bikes seemed very light (most around 18 lbs when built) and had good ride characteristics.

    Right now I am focusing on supplies and materials for the jig, trying to do a variation of Cassave's jig. I am still trying to figure out how to set up the chain stay part. In Cassave's post I noted his pictures with the frame in his jig and set with the chain stay set up (thank you BTW for your response on tolerances and where the most critical areas are)

    This part of the project seems most crucial, I cannot tell how you are aligning that arm in the dead center of the seat tube so that you can get a perfect parallel alignment on the drop outs. I am guessing since your jig is well made and set up here, this must be why you have not had to cold set or tweak.

    again thanks for the information,

    Jeff

  8. #8
    Senior Member Cassave's Avatar
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    You might consider Columbus tubes as well.
    Nova has the classic SL reissue tubesets for $115.00

    Dedaccia Com tubes are excellent as well.

    Both sets are .8/.5/.8

    Most of the alloys developed in the last 15 years for use in bike tubes are optimized for tig welding, i.e. air-hardening steels.

    If you're brazing you don't get the maximum benefit from air-hardening steels anyway.

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    Which begs the question as to what is the advantage to harder steel in the first place, in the butts in particular. If one could somehow come up with a method to create continuous bike frames without any joints, but with "butts" in the usual places, would one next turn R&D to developing a process for selectively hardening the tubing intersections?

  10. #10
    Tell it as it is Silverbraze's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by mr9iron View Post
    Cassave, Six Jours,

    thank you for your advice on the Verus, none heat treated. So are you saying this type of tube set is about the same or similar to the steel used up until about the 90's? - I can understand then it must be a well tested standard.

    Some other folks also suggested Reynolds 853, but I cannot find a supplier. I know that Lemond used it in their steel frame models. His bikes seemed very light (most around 18 lbs when built) and had good ride characteristics.

    Right now I am focusing on supplies and materials for the jig, trying to do a variation of Cassave's jig. I am still trying to figure out how to set up the chain stay part. In Cassave's post I noted his pictures with the frame in his jig and set with the chain stay set up (thank you BTW for your response on tolerances and where the most critical areas are)

    This part of the project seems most crucial, I cannot tell how you are aligning that arm in the dead center of the seat tube so that you can get a perfect parallel alignment on the drop outs. I am guessing since your jig is well made and set up here, this must be why you have not had to cold set or tweak.

    again thanks for the information,

    Jeff
    The common mistake for a newbie is the desire for ultimate materials in their first or even their first 10 frames
    Use thicker and ductile tubes till you know what you don't know and didn't know what you did not know
    DO NOT USE AIR HARDENING tubes
    if you want a straightish frame

    and the other mistake is to believe the jig/fixture takes care of all alignment issues
    No matter if your jig is made of granite and tolerances to .001mm in an airconditioned room
    your frames are going to go all over place with alignments post braze
    and never never braze in the fixture, the expansion is considerable and the only way to go is sideways
    it sets up a huge tug of war
    Tack, pin in fixture
    remove
    cool
    align {on table if possible**
    and braze free in a stand
    and you will be cold setting the frame
    until maybe the first 50 are done
    it's steel
    it's lugs
    let the others get on with the madness
    www.llewellynbikes.com
    www.framebuilders.org

  11. #11
    tuz
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    Yeah I'm working on my first FSO (frame-shaped object), and while it's a step above a few tubes stuck together it's far from perfect. So I'm glad I used straight gauge cromo! I did practice brazing before, probably not enough, and then jumped in... Good luck...
    homebuilt commuter, mixte, road and track (+ Ryffranck road)
    bla bla blog

  12. #12
    Member mr9iron's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by tuz View Post
    Yeah I'm working on my first FSO (frame-shaped object), and while it's a step above a few tubes stuck together it's far from perfect. So I'm glad I used straight gauge cromo! I did practice brazing before, probably not enough, and then jumped in... Good luck...

    The common mistake for a newbie is the desire for ultimate materials in their first or even their first 10 frames
    Use thicker and ductile tubes till you know what you don't know and didn't know what you did not know
    DO NOT USE AIR HARDENING tubes
    if you want a straightish frame

    and the other mistake is to believe the jig/fixture takes care of all alignment issues
    No matter if your jig is made of granite and tolerances to .001mm in an airconditioned room
    your frames are going to go all over place with alignments post braze
    and never never braze in the fixture, the expansion is considerable and the only way to go is sideways
    it sets up a huge tug of war
    Tack, pin in fixture
    remove
    cool
    align {on table if possible**
    and braze free in a stand
    and you will be cold setting the frame
    until maybe the first 50 are done
    In response to the last few comments, I really appreciate the in-sites. It seems as though I'd need to practice on a bunch of "free" or junk frames before even starting to see if this endeavor would be possible for me to accomplish. As inferred it may be "the 50th" frame before you get a good one. I can understand and endure such trial, however it would be realistically out of budget by way much. In honesty I was thinking of getting 3 tube sets and figured I'd get one good one on the first round out of those. By the description here even this sounds too optimistic first time out.

    I have never brazed any "tube-like" material in this size before (save maybe a few plumbing lines -not sure if that is applicable to this). It may be hard for me to describe my skill set or experience, but I have some experience brazing small parts, however, this was years ago (mostly nickle silver). I have some tool making background. I'd say for example I could most likely create Cassave's jig with the "destako" clamps or even go a step further with it if I had the equipment I used to run. However, now I am limited to what's in my garage and local industrial and hardware suppliers.

    When I brazed the smaller parts (this was eye-wear) I was very much aware that parts moved and expanded all over the place. At times when the silver would flow it acted as a lubricant so to speak and your parts would move. The expansion was not as big a problem though it could be depending on the part.

    From what is described here on bike frames, expansion sounds like more of an issue to deal with. Of course we had jigs to hold parts but these were sometimes as simple as a heat block or ceramic weight. We would not make a fixture that would hold things with a "death grip" we allowed the parts to move and of course would deal with re-shaping and cold working them back. Small destacko clamps were used and usually far from the joint so as not to affect the heat flow.

    In short, I'd say my skill set for this adventure is at best "fair" but mostly out of practice, it's been years now since I have moved into a more computer bound job and I do not do hands on stuff as much and also lost many of my tools along the way. But I want to get back into it. I will continue to research this, I don't' have an unlimited budget and I want to be successful with a frame, but a heavy dose of realism may in-fact convey, this idea may not get off the ground.. I can maybe afford 3 sets of the Verus tubing and the materials and tools I will need for the rest of the job and the jig (most likely aluminum) but that will be all I could sink into this.

    again thanks again for everyone who has replied to this.

    Jeff

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    this might be of interest to you
    http://www.ceeway.com/Tubeandpartsbundle.htm

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    There is no reason the first frame can't be rideable, especially if you are willing to start with material that will allow you to work it post braze. It would by no means be a world beater, but it can be perfectly serviceable.

    The Ceeway kit Wilfonzo is pointing you at is a good value IMO, couple that with a handfull of Peter's cheap stamped practice lugs and some tube to use them with and the worlds your oyster.


    I'm of the opinion that a jig shouldn't be the second thing you spend money on. Most of your brazing will be done in space so the jigs main purpose is ensuring the puzzle pieces all fit together properly in the dry and while nice it certainly isn't necessary. Pins and Gravity can get you there as well.

  15. #15
    coprolite fietsbob's Avatar
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    See: www.bikeschool.com thats what they do, in Asland Oregon Area.

    I winged it on a diy Frameset in the 70s used a Columbus Aelle tube set ,
    not the highest spec stuff, but it did resist burning better than the fancy stuff

    some buddys did a bit of damage on 531 by starting out with too much heat.

    Still got the Bike , since then, Its gone thru several component/ character changes..
    Last edited by fietsbob; 07-16-10 at 05:10 PM.

  16. #16
    framebuilder
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    As someone that has taught framebuilding classes to a few hundred students for years (and years), I'll share my perspective on the framebuilding learning curve.

    There are roughly 3 stages in learning to braze. The first is just getting your hands coordinated enough so you can add filler with one hand while keeping the torch moving properly with the other. In the second, you learn the techniques in joint placement and torch control so you can get full filler penetration at the right temperature. The third is having refined your techniques enough to braze the joint in the minimum time with the least amount of distortion so the frame tubes being brazed stay in alignment. This is when you can use hardened lighter tubes.

    So your first goal when you starting out is to just learn how to coordinate your hands to work together. To get the hang of this you don't need fancy bike materials, you just need one short piece of tube slipped over the other and braze them together with silver. Almost everybody makes a mess at first but after awhile your left and right hand are not enemies with each other. You will be able to feed the rod in with one hand while moving the torch flame at the right distance, speed, angle and pattern (+ flicking it on and off) to properly control the heat on the joint so the brazing material flows in easily.

    Once you can do that, you can graduate to a simpler frame material braze. But since you are not yet at that point, there isn't much need to talk about it now. Others have already given you good advice.

    How fast you learn is going to depend on the excellence of your training and natural abilities. It doesn't take 10's of frames to get the hang of it if you have had proper instruction. It is in my interest to say this (and I do often on various forums) but taking a class really shortens the learning curve and reduces frustration. It also places the whole process in perspective so you can tell if you want to do this more and what tooling is required. In every class I teach I make hundreds of corrections (some big some small) and I often wonder what would have been the result if they were left on their own.

    It is possible that someone in your area might be willing to take the time required to help you learn. But it isn't probable because it is seldom in the interest of an experienced builder to take the time required to teach you. But there is always some chance someone will help just like someone will sometimes answer a cold sales call. Most likely you will do like the majority and take a class designed to teach you how to build frames if you eventually want to make more. If your only goal is to have some fun while making something for yourself (and you don't care if someone else is making them better than you), than have a go on your own with internet help.

    Doug Fattic
    Niles, Michigan

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    In every class I teach I make hundreds of corrections (some big some small) and I often wonder what would have been the result if they were left on their own.
    In my case my first frame was unrideable and my second not much better. IOW it took me three tries to even come up with a functional frame. If a person has any sort of reasonable access to a school or competent teacher he should take that route, IMO.
    Quote Originally Posted by Bob Dopolina View Post
    how can a homophobe be gay, too? Does that mean you or choc ful of self loathing because, if I'm right, that would explain a lot.

  18. #18
    Old fart JohnDThompson's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Peterpan1 View Post
    Which begs the question as to what is the advantage to harder steel in the first place, in the butts in particular.
    The heat treatment increases the tensile strength, which in turn allows the builder to use a thinner gauge tube without sacrificing strength. I would hesitate to recommend a heat treated tube set for a first time builder; your heat control must be very good to avoid overheating the tube and thus obviating the advantage of the heat treatment in the first place. Not to mention the fact that heat treated tubes are harder than standard tubes and will wear out your files and saw blades more quickly. Start with standard, untreated tubing and work your way up to the heat treated stuff.

    If one could somehow come up with a method to create continuous bike frames without any joints, but with "butts" in the usual places, would one next turn R&D to developing a process for selectively hardening the tubing intersections?
    Isn't that what they do with carbon fiber frames?

  19. #19
    Member mr9iron's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Doug Fattic View Post

    It is possible that someone in your area might be willing to take the time required to help you learn. But it isn't probable because it is seldom in the interest of an experienced builder to take the time required to teach you. But there is always some chance someone will help just like someone will sometimes answer a cold sales call. Most likely you will do like the majority and take a class designed to teach you how to build frames if you eventually want to make more. If your only goal is to have some fun while making something for yourself (and you don't care if someone else is making them better than you), than have a go on your own with internet help.

    Doug Fattic
    Niles, Michigan
    Doug, yes thank you, as was the original intention of the post "can someone out there teach me" - and yeah I figured it was a long shot. To answer your question yes this is for fun, and by "fun" what is usually fun to me is just seeing if I could do it, like the firs time I road 50 miles it was just to see if I could do it. The other side of it, is that a high quality light weight steel frame is really not affordable to me right now. I thought perhaps I'd take a chance and see if I could build one or find one I could repair. As far as knowing whether I'd build more is of course as you say, lets see if I can get past the brazing first and then see where it all goes.

    thank you for your reply

    Jeff

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    "The heat treatment increases the tensile strength, which in turn allows the builder to use a thinner gauge tube without sacrificing strength"

    Sure does, but air hardening steel for TIG is kinda hit and miss as far as that goes. The ultimate home shop heat treating process. These are presumably good alloy choices for the intended process, but I have a hard time believing critical heat treating processes are being left up to the vageries of the TIG arc. It's just a good story. The usual story, which is also nonsense is that welding undermines the frame strength in some significant way. The story here is that welding improves it. Also probably nonsense. It's all part of the long heat wars.

  21. #21
    Senior Member BengeBoy's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by mr9iron View Post
    Is there anyone in the Seattle area who would be willing to teach me how to build and braze a lugged steel frame?
    Hi, I was out for a ride the other day and ran into the guy who makes Banana Boy frames in the Seattle area. We got to chatting and he said something about being the mentor to a group of beginning Seattle frame builders who get together once in a while to share tips, practice skills, etc. You may have heard of him -- he used to be a welder for Bill Davidson, left many years ago to get a "day job" but still makes frames under the "Banana Boy" label.

    I didn't get a lot of detail (we were riding several miles together).

    He doesn't have a website but you can track down name, number, etc. on Google - he's mentioned on a couple of online directories of framebuilders. Use "Bellevue" as the location to help your search.

    Also, R&E Cycles offers classes in brazing, Ti-g-welding and framebuilding, according to their website. www.rodcycle.com.

  22. #22
    Tell it as it is Silverbraze's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Peterpan1 View Post
    "The heat treatment increases the tensile strength, which in turn allows the builder to use a thinner gauge tube without sacrificing strength"

    Sure does, but air hardening steel for TIG is kinda hit and miss as far as that goes. The ultimate home shop heat treating process. These are presumably good alloy choices for the intended process, but I have a hard time believing critical heat treating processes are being left up to the vageries of the TIG arc. It's just a good story. The usual story, which is also nonsense is that welding undermines the frame strength in some significant way. The story here is that welding improves it. Also probably nonsense. It's all part of the long heat wars.
    The air hardening steels do their stuff at a temp lower than their steel's melt temp
    it is such that it works at brass brazing temps right up to melt temp of the tube {which occurs during TIG**
    the temp band is broad
    Does it have any use?
    I don't really think so
    Welding does not undermine the "frame strength"
    but one can rightly or wrongly argue it undermines the fatigue life of the joint due to sharp stress rise due to the small weld bead and the uneven shore line of the weld bead
    and slight undercutting at the bead shore line in places. Think .50mm tube with .10mm undercut for a one or two millimetres and you have a local stress rise, especially if it is at a critical joint at a critical place
    however bigger diameter tubes give more weld length to spread the stress.
    No one is TIG welding 1" TT and 1 1/8" DT to 1 1/4" HT these days.
    and good TIG builders do stuff and have the skills to lessen the damage to accecptable levels
    which is proven to work

    For me, it is lugs, I love them


    heat wars = marketing wars.
    it's steel
    it's lugs
    let the others get on with the madness
    www.llewellynbikes.com
    www.framebuilders.org

  23. #23
    Member mr9iron's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by BengeBoy View Post
    Hi, I was out for a ride the other day and ran into the guy who makes Banana Boy frames in the Seattle area. We got to chatting and he said something about being the mentor to a group of beginning Seattle frame builders who get together once in a while to share tips, practice skills, etc. You may have heard of him -- he used to be a welder for Bill Davidson, left many years ago to get a "day job" but still makes frames under the "Banana Boy" label.

    I didn't get a lot of detail (we were riding several miles together).

    He doesn't have a website but you can track down name, number, etc. on Google - he's mentioned on a couple of online directories of framebuilders. Use "Bellevue" as the location to help your search.

    Also, R&E Cycles offers classes in brazing, Ti-g-welding and framebuilding, according to their website. www.rodcycle.com.
    Wow! thanks for the tip, I found the address and if it is right, he lives in the same neighbor hood as I do. I'll take a little bike ride by there and see if there is anything he'd be willing to show me.

    Thanks a lot!

    Jeff

  24. #24
    weirdo
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    Quote Originally Posted by tuz View Post
    Yeah I'm working on my first FSO (frame-shaped object), and while it's a step above a few tubes stuck together it's far from perfect. So I'm glad I used straight gauge cromo! I did practice brazing before, probably not enough, and then jumped in... Good luck...
    +1
    I just finished my Number One, built with mostly .035 cromo from Wicks and I`m very happy with my choice of materials. To go one step further, inexpensive tubeset from Nova et al doesn`t look out of line to me, as the cost is really about the same as I spent for straight wall. Going cheaper still, by cutting up old frames sounds crazy to me. FWIW, my frame is somewhat unorthodox and was well suited to a "bottom up" type of jig, so that`s what I used. It was just axle mounts clamped onto a length of 4" sqare tubing. The next frame I have in mind is a more traditional road sport bike that I plan to build with a "one joint at a time" jig, more or less like a heavy duty angle gauge. Fingers crossed.

  25. #25
    headtube. zzyzx_xyzzy's Avatar
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    You might want to sign up for the SABMA mailing list. There's a roughly-quarterly informal gathering. Not real instruction but a good way to meet other amateur and pro builders.

    http://phred.org/mailman/listinfo/sabma

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