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Old 01-03-13, 07:19 PM   #1
thirdgenbird
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Frame prep/facing in central Iowa

I'm looking to get an Italian bottom bracket shell faced near the Des Moines Iowa area and I keep striking out. It seems that none of the shops in the area have, or are willing to use, facing tools. My only hope now is to find a local builder who may be able to facilitate.

I dont think the frame (colnago) is too far out, but there is a decent coat of paint on both faces. I intend to install Campagnolo ultra torque cranks and would prefer doing it to spec.
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Old 01-03-13, 07:38 PM   #2
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Jeff Bock lives and teaches high school in Des Moines. He is one of the best framebuilders in the US. His frame shop is in some small outlying town. i don't know if he has Italian facers but it would be worth a shot to ask.
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Old 01-03-13, 08:18 PM   #3
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Jeff Bock lives and teaches high school in Des Moines. He is one of the best framebuilders in the US. His frame shop is in some small outlying town. i don't know if he has Italian facers but it would be worth a shot to ask.
Perfect. I've heard the name but no real details. Hopefully I can look him up
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Old 01-03-13, 10:00 PM   #4
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Looks like Jeff Bock spends time teaching at the Des Moines Bike Collective.
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Old 01-03-13, 10:24 PM   #5
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Looks like Jeff Bock spends time teaching at the Des Moines Bike Collective.
I stopped here Saturday and I was told Italian bottom bracket threads were a dead standard and I shouldn't bother using the frame. It didn't make for a good first impression.

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Old 01-03-13, 11:46 PM   #6
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I stopped here Saturday and I was told Italian bottom bracket threads were a dead standard and I shouldn't bother using the frame. It didn't make for a good first impression.
i would tend to think that such a comment comes from one who is not really a bike person. if you know what i mean...
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Old 01-04-13, 06:52 AM   #7
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not every bike person has an appreciation for older bikes, in fact it's quite common. As for the OP, when Italian BB was more common, it was less common for shops to have Italian threaded taps. A framebuilder is unlikely to have Italian threaded taps, they are expensive and it wouldn't pay. I'm guessing you may have to go to Yellow Jersey in Madison or one of the shops/builders in Minneapolis to have this done.
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Old 01-04-13, 07:18 AM   #8
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not every bike person has an appreciation for older bikes, in fact it's quite common. As for the OP, when Italian BB was more common, it was less common for shops to have Italian threaded taps. A framebuilder is unlikely to have Italian threaded taps, they are expensive and it wouldn't pay. I'm guessing you may have to go to Yellow Jersey in Madison or one of the shops/builders in Minneapolis to have this done.

I could expect a reaction like that from a new shop but expected a different reaction from a bike coop that has seas of parts for department store 3spds and 10spds. Nearly everything there was 20+ years old.

let me clarify on the facing tool. I'm not surprised that shops are not equipped to face an Italian frame. What surprises me is that every shop I contacted in Des Moines can't face an ENGLISH frame. I found one shop in central Iowa that was willing and able to face an English bb. He actually has a Campagnolo toolset but didn't bother buying the Italian insert, which I find fully understandable.
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Old 01-04-13, 08:04 AM   #9
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the bike shop I used to work in didn't have the capability to face bb shells. It's very common. Not sure how often it really comes up in day-to-day operations. My lbs faces every bike they sell, but they are one of very, very few shops that do that. The truth is that money is tight and that's at least a thousand dollars worth of tools that will never pay for themselves. Actually, if you cover the main standards that's almost $1000 for crown races alone

The irony of saying a high quality frame wasn't worth using when surrounded by piles of bikes that weren't worth making was no doubt lost on the coop person.
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Old 01-04-13, 09:29 AM   #10
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I guess there should be no surprise that people complain about short lifespans on modern bearings. between the rise of external bottom brackets and high volume frames, facing is probably just as important as ever.

if things don't work out with Jeff, I will likely just have to to wait till my next trip to the twin cities. The first three shops I called up there offered to do it at a very reasonable rate.
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Old 01-04-13, 11:42 AM   #11
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I guess there should be no surprise that people complain about short lifespans on modern bearings. between the rise of external bottom brackets and high volume frames, facing is probably just as important as ever.
Thread tangent warning- While I agree with the idea of current bearings having a tendency to wear rapidly I don't think it's because of the lack of facing. As more and more of the bearings are installed inside of the frame the face is less the issue. But what i do think leads to early bearing wear is a combo of a few trends. First as the bearings are more and more being a "sealed cartridge/factory asembled" type it's less apparent when good bearing adjustment is achieved during assembly. Second is the shrinking of the actual rolling elements. The smaller the "ball" the less load it can handle. Third is the lack of maintainance. The claim of "seals" makes many people think the bearing is also not meant to be serviced and won't be effected by the enviroment. Fourth is the search for what can be removed from the system bicycle. At the factory level, at the LBS level and with the rider, there is a chase to make all cost less. Quality of materials, dimensional tolarances, assembly care, instructional efforts and follow up maintainance all are being driven down to the least possible. Andy.
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Old 01-04-13, 12:03 PM   #12
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I agree with most of your post but I would guess that more bearings are installed outside the face than in years past. Sram GXP, shimano, and Campagnolo ultra torque/power torque all have bearings outside the bb shell. This covers a good majority of the mid-high level bikes. Campagnolo just changed their only remaining (comp triple) cartridge bottom bracket to an external setup.
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Old 01-04-13, 12:04 PM   #13
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I guess there should be no surprise that people complain about short lifespans on modern bearings. between the rise of external bottom brackets and high volume frames, facing is probably just as important as ever.
for external bearings, it's important to have the width right as well as having the faces flat. I suspect most bike shops are just hoping that the manufacturer did the job correctly. In fact, from a framebuilders perspective the idea of an LBS facing a frame is problematic because of the possibility that they would screw up a perfectly prepared frame.
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Old 01-04-13, 12:34 PM   #14
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for external bearings, it's important to have the width right as well as having the faces flat. I suspect most bike shops are just hoping that the manufacturer did the job correctly. In fact, from a framebuilders perspective the idea of an LBS facing a frame is problematic because of the possibility that they would screw up a perfectly prepared frame.
I am fully aware of the width concerns. I have the campy specs avalible. It would be nice if shops didn't have to face surfaces, but I've measured a few frames lately and I would question how many frame manufactures produce a prepared bottom bracket. Even if they are prepared, it seems that most are then painted which defeats the purpose.

As I do more measuring, I'm starting to wonder if this frame was properly faced prior to it's repaint and my measurement discrepancies are caused by the the paint that is on the surface.

Do you know of a safe way to remove this paint without disturbing the metal? The last thing I want to do is make things worse removing the paint. This would only end up in a narrower shell.
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Old 01-04-13, 01:37 PM   #15
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Do you know of a safe way to remove this paint without disturbing the metal? The last thing I want to do is make things worse removing the paint. This would only end up in a narrower shell.
If you take a flat fine cut file (small, easy to control size) and first "cut" the paint on the outer edge of the shell's face then carefully draw the file across the face you will remove the face paint without a chip pulling off the shell's outside surface. The cutting of the corner will stop any removal from turning that corner and being a visual blem. Using a small fine tooth file means that you'd have to work REALLY hard to remove more then paint. I've been using this technique on Bbs, HS's crown race seats and seat tubes for years. Don't remember where i learned it but it works. Andy.
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Old 01-04-13, 03:24 PM   #16
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Thanks! That sounds reasonable. I'm guessing this would take much more care on aluminum? (Future reference)
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Old 01-04-13, 04:29 PM   #17
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No not really. What you are feeling for is the difference of how the file draws across paint VS metal. Both Alu and steel are a lot harder then paint. You, of course, also look for the base metal as you go. Like I said you really have to go much farther then makes sense to do any damage. Another method would be after cutting the edge of the paint to use a sanding block with some fine grit paper. This is a lot easier then you're making it. Andy.
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Old 01-04-13, 06:48 PM   #18
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This is a lot easier then you're making it. Andy.
I also have no need to rush things. I want to make sure there isn't a reason this rarely done despite being "required" and nesisary steps on expensive components.
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Old 01-04-13, 07:57 PM   #19
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This face cleaning isn't done much because it doesn't make much difference and takes time and focus. Andy.
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Old 01-05-13, 10:23 AM   #20
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If I were you I'd remove the paint using Andy's method, then re-measure. I would not turn the frame over to the LBS for facing without knowing what you're working with. Who knows what you might get back?


BTW- a really good source for fine cut files (used for chain sharpening) is your local chain saw shop. A flat file would be described as a depth guage file. Round files are available in sizes from 1/8' up to 1/4". These are good quality, and relatively cheap.
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Old 01-05-13, 10:33 AM   #21
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If I were you I'd remove the paint using Andy's method, then re-measure. I would not turn the frame over to the LBS for facing without knowing what you're working with. Who knows what you might get back?


BTW- a really good source for fine cut files (used for chain sharpening) is your local chain saw shop. A flat file would be described as a depth guage file. Round files are available in sizes from 1/8' up to 1/4". These are good quality, and relatively cheap.
Mechanic ability was a concern. I may swing by the chainsaw shop this morning. Thanks for the advice.

i also just got an email from Jeff. It sounds like he might be very close to my sister's house. As it happens, I also got a text just before that informing me my sister was in town today. I may send the frame with her and have Jeff give the frame alignment and such a once over.
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Old 01-07-13, 12:52 AM   #22
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Oh, so it wasn't Jeff himself that blew you off -- that's good! If nothing else, there's an LBS in my area that faces BB shells (I know because I've got one of those weirdo 80's Bianchis with a 70mm English-threaded BB.) You wouldn't need to go all the way to Mpls or Chicago.
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Old 01-07-13, 10:56 AM   #23
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I am fully aware of the width concerns. I have the campy specs avalible. It would be nice if shops didn't have to face surfaces, but I've measured a few frames lately and I would question how many frame manufactures produce a prepared bottom bracket. Even if they are prepared, it seems that most are then painted which defeats the purpose. As I do more measuring, I'm starting to wonder if this frame was properly faced prior to it's repaint and my measurement discrepancies are caused by the the paint that is on the surface. Do you know of a safe way to remove this paint without disturbing the metal? The last thing I want to do is make things worse removing the paint. This would only end up in a narrower shell.
3G; FWIW, I never install or reinstall a BB without removing the paint from both faces and then running a bit of grease over the wound to preclude rusting. To do the paint removal I tend to avoid filing, instead I have mostly used a scraper originally borrowed from my wood shop and stored in a mason jar of clean Valvoline. Over the years I have honed it a few times to put the edge right when needed (like dropping it on the floor) and always check it on a piece of very flat glass to ensure its flatness (look around for a broken optical bed scanner and salvage its glass scanning surface if you need one).

If I find a nicely finished surface under the paint, the I clean/oil the area and the threads throughly and very carefully thread in a (top brand, known excellent) fixed cup while feeling the threads progress and watching how the cup face approaches and closes in on the shell face. If the threading feels sketchy, I will stop and run the taps through it carefully, clean and recheck. If this shows an excellent fit to the shell, I will not normally bring out the facing tool. Basically doing my best to ensure a proper installation and preserve the frame...
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Old 01-07-13, 12:09 PM   #24
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Thanks! Great tip on the scanner bed. I've been wondering what I could use as a straight edge/lay out table on a different project.
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Old 01-07-13, 06:43 PM   #25
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I've been away from Central Iowa for over 25 years but back in the day Michael's Cyclery in Ames was the premier shop with all the tools for preping an Italian frame. I wonder if the guys that took that shop over kept all the tools?
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