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  1. #1
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    1st frame - tips for the future?

    Hi everyone,

    I'm booked in for a 7 day frame building course in March @ http://www.thebicycleacademy.org/ and cant wait to get started. Just looking to build a few frames on the side to begin with, see how I go. I'll be speaking to them soon about what I want to build for my first frame, but was wandering if anyone has any tips from their own personal experience?

    I have a background in mechanical engineering, so not a complete newbie in a workshop and have done a bit of mig welding (although both were some years ago now). Besides when I was a kid, Ive been cycling for about 6 years now, doing 100+ miles per week on the commute, plus a few long rides per year for charity stuff and the Dunwich Dynamo. Never raced competitively.

    I own 2 bikes, 1 fillet brazed steel Condor Potenza single speed for the commute and a carbon lugged Verenti Rhigos for longer runs. Love both bikes and road cycling in general.

    Ive been reading lots about different frame builders, tubing and construction methods and as my course gets closer, I really need to nail down what I want to build. Im interested in fillet brazing to start with and I think I either want to build a light tourer, with braze on's for mud guards etc, or a classic lightweight ready for a modern groupset. I've only come to this after considering the bikes I already own, but I'd also like to build something that will be a useful experience when it comes to building frames for others in the future. Any tips on this?

    Also, materials. The course cost is plus materials so I'm free to build what I want, but need to buy it. Is reynolds 531 a good place to start? relatively easy to work with? I don't want to break the bank on tubing for my first frame, can anyone recommend something suited to the beginner frame builder?

    Thanks in advance,

    Lester

  2. #2
    Old fart JohnDThompson's Avatar
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    531 is a reasonable choice for a lugged, brazed frame. Silver is easier to work with than brass, if you have a choice, but tolerances need to be tight. Looks like the Academy has equipment that would allow this, though.

  3. #3
    Andrew R Stewart Andrew R Stewart's Avatar
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    I would have suggested that experience with the joining method that's offered be had before the class. Some disagree with this but it's my opinion. Any of the basic tube sets out their are fine, albeit with 'thicker" walls for the first few frames to minimize the boo boos and results of aggressive filing. My flavor is the Verus tubes from True Temper (might as well support our guys).

    I suggest that you build a bike that you'll be able to use routinely.

    As you go forward remember that when you build for another you are "selling" your skills and acquiring liability. To be ethically fair you should have insurance before this step. Andy.

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    Thanks for the reply's chaps!

    So John - you wouldn't recommend 531 for fillet brazing?

    @ Andrew - the course is over 7 days and fillet brazing is the main skill to be taught along with fitting and geometry's. They offer different courses and this one seemed to be the most in depth. I was a pretty good mig welder in my day and I was hoping those skills would come in handy. Re: insurance, so there is insurance out there to cover for tricky customers? I'm just looking to build a few frames for friends at the moment, maybe just charge them for materials to begin with while I hone my skills.

    The main purpose of my post was to enquire about what sort of frame/materials would be a good starting point so that I can understand more about what people may ask for in the future and what materials would provide the best foundation and be most forgiving. I will look into True Temper, Thanks!

    I'm not really looking for a bike to use myself, I have the bikes I need and am not really in the market for another. I want to fit a bike for myself to learn more about the fitting process and build something that will help me learn the skills needed to build good bikes for other people.

    Thanks again,

    Lester

  5. #5
    Andrew R Stewart Andrew R Stewart's Avatar
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    lester- Sorry to rain on your dreams but... making a frame for a friend even if just for material cost is still doing a manufacturing job. That you don't get paid enough to afford insurance is no defense in the eyes of the courts. We hope if you go forward with this plan that your friends are good people who never have a problem with the frames you made that would cause them or their heirs any loss.

    I had thought that the first few frames would be for yourself.

    But unless you build under the wing of an established and fully "legal" builder you are not baring the real cost and responsibility of what it takes to be a builder for others. Sure many newbies don't either. But you are only responsible for your own decisions and actions. When you build for others you are responsible for their actions if the courts say so. So if something happened and it was determined that you were responsible can you make good? The reason to have insurance is not to isolate your assists but to reimburse for the loss that your client suffered.

    So my suggestion for your class is to make a frame for yourself. Then find a way to continue building in an ethical manor. Andy.

  6. #6
    Old fart JohnDThompson's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by lesterparker View Post
    So John - you wouldn't recommend 531 for fillet brazing?
    Not for a first frame, unless you have some prior brazing experience.

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    Quote Originally Posted by JohnDThompson View Post
    Not for a first frame, unless you have some prior brazing experience.
    Can you expand on why that is? the course itinerary is very brazing orientated and I imagine there will be lots of practice on cut offs to begin with: http://www.thebicycleacademy.org/201...lding-courses/

    @ Andrew: WOW! i hadnt thought of that (we tend not to sue each other here in the UK) will I will definitely do some research and get advice. Thanks

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    You don't at least have to worry that he won't get medical care if he is hurt on your frame.

    Also, the EC has standards for construction the adherence to which might bankrupt you, but would at least provide some framework for a legally responsible product.
    Last edited by MassiveD; 02-02-14 at 05:41 AM.

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    Quote Originally Posted by Andrew R Stewart View Post
    But unless you build under the wing of an established and fully "legal" builder you are not baring the real cost and responsibility of what it takes to be a builder for others. Sure many newbies don't either. But you are only responsible for your own decisions and actions. When you build for others you are responsible for their actions if the courts say so. So if something happened and it was determined that you were responsible can you make good? The reason to have insurance is not to isolate your assists but to reimburse for the loss that your client suffered. .
    As far as I know, there is no actual example of any of this ever having happened in the history of custom frame building. And one way you can tell it hasn't happened is that the standard policies do not cost enough to represent any losses of the scale we are talking about.

    If you ride a bike, forswear all hope that your frame builder and his 5 and dime insurance is going to make you whole in your time of need. If you see a dime, it will be 5 to 10 years down the road, and your physical recovery will be pretty much all it can be before you get any coverage.

    I think it verges on the unethical to promote the industry as somehow looking out for it's clients and their welfare, when this is largely untested waters. The maker's main ethical responsibility is to make bikes that don't kill clients as a first order of business. That seems to be fully achievable.

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    Ok, insurance and EC standards aside. Any tips on what might be fun and worthwhile to build for a first frame? My head says a light tourer, something that sounds a bit like this http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Randonn..._and_Equipment , as it would be a good experience with all the braze ons and be versatile for the future (if it holds together

    But a classic lightweight sounds more fun, less work for a first timer and something that could be done nicely over a 7 days course.

    Thoughts?

  11. #11
    Andrew R Stewart Andrew R Stewart's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by MassiveD View Post
    As far as I know, there is no actual example of any of this ever having happened in the history of custom frame building. And one way you can tell it hasn't happened is that the standard policies do not cost enough to represent any losses of the scale we are talking about.

    If you ride a bike, forswear all hope that your frame builder and his 5 and dime insurance is going to make you whole in your time of need. If you see a dime, it will be 5 to 10 years down the road, and your physical recovery will be pretty much all it can be before you get any coverage.

    I think it verges on the unethical to promote the industry as somehow looking out for it's clients and their welfare, when this is largely untested waters. The maker's main ethical responsibility is to make bikes that don't kill clients as a first order of business. That seems to be fully achievable.
    Wow! Pretty cynical sounding to my ears.

    I am proof that insurance does pay out. It replaced income that my late wife would have earned. Sure there was a limit to the amount, it was less then what would have likely been earned for the 14, or so, more years of her expected working life. But the system did work for me. BTW in my case the person who was found at fault had very little assets that i might have gone after.

    I don't think linking one's injury recovery to any pay out has much bearing in this discussion.

    I also don't see how the insurance industry is different when employed by the frame builder as opposed to some other manufacturer. But i do admit that i don't have any experience with this question. I also wonder if there has never been a claim made due to a frame failure. Given the number of broken forks I've seen over the years, as one type of incident, I'm surprised. Is the insurance offered to larger manufacturers different then smaller builders?

    I hope you aren't saying that it's unethical for me to say that having insurance is a good and "right" thing to do, as a builder. I'm not sure how happy i would be if i purchased a frame from some one, had a failure that caused me harm (like a fork/steerer failure) and then found out they had no insurance. And I'll bet the other club riders that went down with me, because of my loss of control, would feel much the same.

    I do hope I have misread your reply and comments. Like I say i have little experience with frame builder's insurance and am always willing to learn more. But reading what sounds like whining and larger then seems real claims does make me feel the need to reply back. So please feel free to educate me, I'll listen to reasoned discussions. Andy.

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    Guys, guys.. calm down. This isn't a thread about insurance.

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    It is now

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    Does anyone actually have anything to say on my original points? (the ones I've made 3 times now) This is my first thread on this forum and I've gotta say, I'm not impressed.

  15. #15
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    My first was an all-road type bike, long front-center and long trail, made to be ultra stable. Built on a 26" wheel size (MTB), disc brakes, road-like rear end. Love it. Fillet brazed, stout. Build the type of bike that speaks to you. It'll be your first, and you only get one first. If a rando is your thing, by all means do that. If a hard tail MTB is your thing, do that.
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    In between the bright lights and the far unlit unkown...

  16. #16
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    I see no issue with using fillets to hook together 531. If you have a choice of wall thicknesses I'd go thicker rather than thinner just to give a bit more margin of error. I wouldn't limit yourself to 531 as there are plenty of options in that genre. I would just stay away from hardened stuff like 853 as it would be more trouble than it's worth for a first build.

    As for the type of bike to be built........that is really not an issue for a first build but I would stay far away from stuff like disc brakes. I think a straight up road bike is best for the first time out.

    I will say that making a bike straight and true with fillets for a first time out might be tough. It is harder to control heat distortion with fillets than say lugs and the frame tends to twist out of plane. Once you know how to deal with it one can make perfectly straight bike but it is harder to do and takes much more experience. Lugs on the other hand tend to be easier to work with and end up with a straight bike as the heat is typically lower and the brazing of the lugs doesn't make the tubes 'crawl' or pull relative to one another like fillets can.

    If you want to end up with a usable and safe bike for the first time out I'd lean toward lugs if you want to braze. If you just love the idea and look of fillets then I would encourage you to try them but be prepared to use the frame as wall art if it doesn't go well or ends up way out of line.............but you have to start somewhere and you never get good at fillets if you don't do your first one...and your second.....and your 100th.

    Go slow, keep an open mind and allow yourself time to learn and it will go well.


    Dave

  17. #17
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    I've heard a few persons mention that the week-long courses pass very quickly. My advice would be to keep the frame simple, so a road bike would be a good choice. OR you could make a rando frame and concentrate on the main joints, leaving time later to add the braze-ons on your own if needed.

    But since you have booked the course, you should ask the instructors; they have seen many students and will have a good answer for you.

    Fillet brazing and 531 is fine for a first frame IMO. (I thought 531 was hard to find; it's not made anymore).
    homebuilt commuter, mixte, road and track (+ Ryffranck road)
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    Guys, thank you so much for the constructive comments

    I didn't realise that 531 was not made anymore, but I'm sure the tutors will have everything worked out regarding suitable materials for a beginner. Im speaking to them this week hopefully after paying the last instalment today.

    I love the look of both fillets and lugs and didn't really have a preference to learn one or the other. This course specialises in teaching fillet brazing and is located in my brothers home town (so I save on hotel bills!). I was a pretty good mig welder in my day, Im hoping one day I can have some decent fillet brazing skills too.

    Thanks again!

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    Quote Originally Posted by lesterparker View Post
    Guys, thank you so much for the constructive comments

    I didn't realise that 531 was not made anymore, but I'm sure the tutors will have everything worked out regarding suitable materials for a beginner. Im speaking to them this week hopefully after paying the last instalment today.

    I love the look of both fillets and lugs and didn't really have a preference to learn one or the other. This course specialises in teaching fillet brazing and is located in my brothers home town (so I save on hotel bills!). I was a pretty good mig welder in my day, Im hoping one day I can have some decent fillet brazing skills too.

    Thanks again!
    most likely true. i'm sure the instructors will appreciate it if you take their advice.

  20. #20
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    Fwiw I looked around the site and all i saw was fillet brazing, no lugs.
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  21. #21
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    Why don't you guys start a thread about insurance, and argue about it there?

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    Oh wait, you guys have ALREADY argued this out in another thread? WTF are arguing about here as well for?

  23. #23
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    To may people out there your original questions screams for the insurance thing, and the, usual stuff about how you have to build at least 30 frames before you give even one to your worst enemy. Believe me, you are getting off easy. So it is natural for it to come up here.

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    Hmm.. not sure my original post was screaming for an insurance debate, but I thanked you guys for bringing it to my attention anyway, but my question still stands - why don't you talk about it somewhere else?

  25. #25
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    You're the only one still talking about it.

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