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  1. #26
    tuz
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    Quote Originally Posted by carfart View Post
    The impression I'm getting so far is that I mostly need some help learning how to braze well and then clean up the lugs, and I'm not seeing how that's worth around $3,000.
    You should get your impression from someone that has taken a course. I believe there is more than that. The skills are transferable to your home shop but it likely will take some time to figure it out.

    Regarding the money, you should realize that it's an expensive hobby. If you are not sure about making frames, taking a course is a good way to see if it's for you. If you have more certainty, then you should start accumulating some basic tools, give it a try and see where that takes you?
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  2. #27
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    Let me share some observations of student skills. The majority of students would never do well making a DIY frame. About 15% (give or take) have all the background and ability to make a decent frame on their own. These are guys/gals that have learned to work with their hands and know how things should go together. Instruction just gets them faster and better results. Another 15% are hopeless and an additional 10 - 15% are marginal. The only reason they can leave class with a decent frame is because either Herbie (my assistant) or I help them considerably. No amount of practice will bring them up to speed just like not everybody can sing on tune (even with training). I’m being repetitive but a class allows one to see if they have sustainable interest or ability to make more. If not they still leave with a custom frame fit just to them. Everybody comes with a lot of enthusiasm but that isn't always enough. By the way I get quite a few students that have already taken another framebuilding class.

    The majority however (the middle of a Bell Curve) can make a frame fine with supervision but would not do good on their own. I have a 4 step process to get results. I have clear written instructions in the class manual I want them to look over first (some actually do). I explain what it is they are about to do so the steps are in their head (and I ask them questions to see if they got it). Then I demonstrate how it is done and watch over them while they do it. If I didn't keep a close eye on most and constantly nudge them back on course, they often start to go off of the rails. This makes me wonder what would happen if they were entirely on their own. These observations are why I get so vocal for most to need good instruction. I think my concern is that the talented 15% are encouraging the less able to do something I’m sure they can’t by themselves. Just like in any human ability the range between the best and average is pretty large. The problem is that it is human nature to overestimate one’s abilities. For example I read about a study where 90% said they were above average drivers. Sure.

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    Quote Originally Posted by Doug Fattic View Post
    I think my concern is that the talented 15% are encouraging the less able to do something I’m sure they can’t by themselves. Just like in any human ability the range between the best and average is pretty large. The problem is that it is human nature to overestimate one’s abilities. For example I read about a study where 90% said they were above average drivers. Sure.
    Very good point. We shouldn't forget it's a vehicle being made, not a chair. If your chair breaks you fall down, spill your coffee, and everyone laughs. It's different with a bicycle. I'm at the point where I don't think anyone should be trying to make a bicycle without a class or expert going between them and stupid ideas. We have entered a time where you can't rely on internet chatter and photos for reliable information. Their are experienced classes available all over the 48 states. I have never heard a bad word from a student at one of Doug's classes.

  4. #29
    Senior Member carfart's Avatar
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    "This method makes absolutely no sense for any beginner to use. There are no subject threads on where to buy fire bricks or how to stack them around a joint (3” or 5”?) for a good reason."

    I'm not counting on always having the resources vailable for oxy acetylene. And my impression so far of open hearth brazing is that you attach the tubing to lugs in a jig and then braze them in a kiln. I gather that shops like Mercian's would have a vastly different setup for brazing multiple frames at once, but for the individual smith, that sounds about right. Basic smithing skill is getting a bit hard to find, but I know a few places to get it without spending a great deal of money. There's one aspect of these matters that I can always count on--the real basics work, and they're generally cheap to implement.

  5. #30
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    Quote Originally Posted by carfart View Post
    "This method makes absolutely no sense for any beginner to use. There are no subject threads on where to buy fire bricks or how to stack them around a joint (3” or 5”?) for a good reason."

    I'm not counting on always having the resources vailable for oxy acetylene. And my impression so far of open hearth brazing is that you attach the tubing to lugs in a jig and then braze them in a kiln. I gather that shops like Mercian's would have a vastly different setup for brazing multiple frames at once, but for the individual smith, that sounds about right. Basic smithing skill is getting a bit hard to find, but I know a few places to get it without spending a great deal of money. There's one aspect of these matters that I can always count on--the real basics work, and they're generally cheap to implement.
    I'm sorry, but I don't follow what you're saying. It just doesn't make any sense to me no matter how I read it.

  6. #31
    Senior Member carfart's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Craig Ryan View Post
    I'm sorry, but I don't follow what you're saying. It just doesn't make any sense to me no matter how I read it.
    Well, it's just a matter of melting some metal--bronze or silver, into the space between tubing and lugs, isn't it? That's something people have been doing for a long time before the latest modern methods which are often expensive. In general, you can set up a forge, a kiln, or a hearth without spending much, if any, money if you know how to do such a thing. Knowing how is the tricky bit. I'm not after such a pure approach, but most of the things that I've taken my hand to have had an expensive approach and cheap approach. The cheap approach has always worked, and it's always involved a more rewarding level of skill.

  7. #32
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    Quote Originally Posted by Craig Ryan View Post
    Very good point. We shouldn't forget it's a vehicle being made, not a chair. If your chair breaks you fall down, spill your coffee, and everyone laughs. It's different with a bicycle. I'm at the point where I don't think anyone should be trying to make a bicycle without a class or expert going between them and stupid ideas. We have entered a time where you can't rely on internet chatter and photos for reliable information. Their are experienced classes available all over the 48 states. I have never heard a bad word from a student at one of Doug's classes.
    The standard recommendation to buy the Paterek book and braze (and then cut apart) a bunch of practice joints has been around for quite some time.

    To the OP: it was either Brian Bayliss or Dave Moulton who called framebuilding "glorified plumbing". Obviously neither of those men should be considered a "plumber" when it comes to high-level custom frames, but the point is that some folks try to turn framebuilding into some kind of mysterious art that can only be practiced by gurus or magicians, when in fact the basics are not terribly complicated. I have no argument that the highest levels of framebuilding can only be achieved with great talent and greater experience - but I do strongly disagree with anyone who claims that reliable and functional bicycle frames cannot be built by the home hobbyist. There are simply too many of us riding countless safe and functional bicycles for that to be remotely true.

    FWIW, here is a little piece from Richard Sachs suggesting that the beginner not invest a ton of money into fancy equipment while he is learning - and also to use what sounds suspiciously like a simple hearth to assist with brazing. Downsize The Fantasy | RICHARD SACHS CYCLES

  8. #33
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    I am sure Doug has a good handle on the percentages, but the issue is whether the people who set out to a course, or try to learn on their own are from the same data set.

    It is an expensive activity, which is why throwing 3K away on a course is something one should seriously consider, from both ends. My own feeling is that the courses are an excellent idea for people who want to go to a course, they are paying for an experience that is more meaningful to them than a week at club med. It could also be a good investment for the person with a real hope of making a career of it, and for the person who really wants to learn but is certain he needs to be taught.

  9. #34
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    Quote Originally Posted by carfart View Post
    "This method makes absolutely no sense for any beginner to use. There are no subject threads on where to buy fire bricks or how to stack them around a joint (3” or 5”?) for a good reason."

    I'm not counting on always having the resources vailable for oxy acetylene. And my impression so far of open hearth brazing is that you attach the tubing to lugs in a jig and then braze them in a kiln. I gather that shops like Mercian's would have a vastly different setup for brazing multiple frames at once, but for the individual smith, that sounds about right. Basic smithing skill is getting a bit hard to find, but I know a few places to get it without spending a great deal of money. There's one aspect of these matters that I can always count on--the real basics work, and they're generally cheap to implement.
    You are correct about that stuff. OA is quite possibly stuff you would never want on a domestic property, and obviously propane alone can be used to raise the temp of the parent metals to a point where brazing is possible. But it is virtually impossible to get any kind of creative discussion going on alternative methods in this craft. Look at how long it has taken the clearly superior method of TIG welding to be accepted among the cranks in this biz.

    The fact is that this is not really a hobby. It is an activity done by "pros" and people who play pros in their basement or garage. It is probably possible to come up with some method of making this stuff happen as a hobby but that just isn't where it is at. The pro techniques are good, but not really home shop stuff either, as far as safety or cost is concerned. A torch is still the easy way. And you can find ways to avoid compressed AO.

    There are other activities like knifemaking that are at the same general skill level, where there is a thriving hobby level, and techniques and beliefs have been adapted to stuff that works in a home shop. There is a can-do attitude about any innovations, which are pretty much constant.

    I think if you took a course from Doug, you would find that a lot of what he does is fully adaptable to the small shop. He has a simple "jig" system worked out. And he works to encourage frame building in his home country. He has stuff like Anvil jigs, but he will teach you methods you can use without relying on the fancy stuff. That actually is an advantage of his course in that you get to see a lot of gear, and assess what appeals to you.

  10. #35
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    Quote Originally Posted by Six jours View Post
    The standard recommendation to buy the Paterek book and braze (and then cut apart) a bunch of practice joints has been around for quite some time.
    I basically agree with all your points but would add...

    It probably pays to read Paterek, and largely ignore him. He just tends to complicate stuff. His videos are good.

    To the OP: it was either Brian Bayliss or Dave Moulton who called framebuilding "glorified plumbing". Obviously neither of those men should be considered a "plumber" when it comes to high-level custom frames, but the point is that some folks try to turn framebuilding into some kind of mysterious art that can only be practiced by gurus or magicians, when in fact the basics are not terribly complicated. I have no argument that the highest levels of framebuilding can only be achieved with great talent and greater experience
    I'm not a plumber, but you actually need a license to practice that trade

    - but I do strongly disagree with anyone who claims that reliable and functional bicycle frames cannot be built by the home hobbyist. There are simply too many of us riding countless safe and functional bicycles for that to be remotely true.
    The vast majority of bikes are pretty rough, work fine. The frame business basically takes everything to the next level, whether it needs to be there or not.

    FWIW, here is a little piece from Richard Sachs suggesting that the beginner not invest a ton of money into fancy equipment while he is learning - and also to use what sounds suspiciously like a simple hearth to assist with brazing. Downsize The Fantasy | RICHARD SACHS CYCLES
    1) There is a cultural divide between what Tigers and traditionalist think is worth having in the shop. You just run a tube into the BB with lugs, and then rough off the excess, for example. With TIG, it really does require a tight fit of parts, and the ability to work around the joint while you tack it. This does not require fancy gear, but the accumulated impression in the TIG field is that it pays.

    2) If you want to spend the money, there is little reason not to have some of the gear. It doesn't make it harder to do the work, it won't be needed, but it can always be put to use.

    3) There is a lot of expensive necessary equipment required to do the work, so while there is stuff you don't need like surface tables and mills, the stuff you do need is still really expensive, just so nobody thinks you can do this for nothing.

  11. #36
    Andrew R Stewart Andrew R Stewart's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by carfart View Post
    Well, it's just a matter of melting some metal--bronze or silver, into the space between tubing and lugs, isn't it? That's something people have been doing for a long time before the latest modern methods which are often expensive. In general, you can set up a forge, a kiln, or a hearth without spending much, if any, money if you know how to do such a thing. Knowing how is the tricky bit. I'm not after such a pure approach, but most of the things that I've taken my hand to have had an expensive approach and cheap approach. The cheap approach has always worked, and it's always involved a more rewarding level of skill.
    While the above is correct at it's base if the writer would actually try brazing in a kiln, hearth, oven, forge then try with an OA set up he'll likely realize why OA (or these days OP) is the way that most every one does it. The real reason to go with methods other then what most find easiest is that the availability of one material or another is the driver. This is why Doug F uses propane/oxy in the Ukraine, acetylene was not available at a good cost or locally. Propane is.

    So if the writer finds himself in a local which doesn't have a supply of the more commonly used gasses then more power to him in seeking some other heating methods. But, again, I suggest that he try to use the various methods before coming to any conclusions.

    That last sentence is also why taking a course is very good advice. If one is going to continue to make frames (hobby or otherwise) then in a few frames the $3K will be a drop in the investment bucket. I've been doing this building thing for over 30 years and i have spent well over $10K (possibly double that) in tooling alone, much of it used. But I have only spent a little $ on tools I haven't used a bunch. This is because i have learned what i need and like to do.

    This discussion reminds me of those who are thinking about investing in the stock market. There are very few who do so with the research, skill, philosophy of pros. Most armatures who do invest don't see the returns that a pro can get for you. Many armatures think they can time the market. Many find that the mistakes they make cost more then what they would have paid a pro to manage their money. Frame building is much the same. It's easy to get the materials, it's easy to design a frame dimensionally, it's easy to hack saw and file, it is less easy to join the tubes/components but not yet rocket science, it's harder to do all well without problems or mistakes that will either require starting over or show on the finished frame. And it will cost more than a new frame built by a pro, likely not look as nice, not be as straight, not be as well finished/painted, not fit your parts perfectly. The only real reason to build your own is to be able to say that you did. This might be worth a lot, or not, depending on what you hope to have your fellow riders think of your skills... Andy.

  12. #37
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    back in the days of hearth brazing, the steels were not sensitive to heat. If you use non-heat treated 4130, then hearth brazing will work fine. I don't see any reason to do that though. To me, the way to go is propane and an oxygen concentrator.

  13. #38
    tuz
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    I think 4130 is heat-treated to some extend; it's generally normalized and brazing will affect its temper. Even 1020 steel should be affected.

    OP, it seems like money is a big issue. I'd just like to repeat that if you want to go at it for a while it's not going to be cheap. Hearth brazing sounds way cool but I don't see how it's a money saver? How do you accurately pin the joints? Probably with some quality jig. You would still need all of the other equipement for checking the alignment, mitring, etc. To put it another way an oxy-fuel set up roughly amounts to the materials of one frame + paint. Which is not to say hearth brazing isn't viable since Mercian does it. Brazing in general is sorta looked at in disbelief in the welding world.
    Last edited by tuz; 03-17-14 at 06:06 PM.
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    FWIW, I started with homemade jigs put together with Home Depot angle iron, and a MAPP torch, also from Home Depot. I'd put the initial start-up costs at maybe $300. I used my wife's granite counter tops as an alignment table. That's either really expensive or completely free, depending on your point of view. Regardless, that level of tooling allowed me to build frames that passed the alignment inspection at Cycleart and have lasted tens of thousands of miles, many of them off-road.

    So I still disagree with the idea that framebuilding cannot be a hobby-level activity (albeit at a somewhat higher level than, say, collecting troll dolls or something), let alone the idea that one must invest twenty grand and hundreds of frames before coming up with something useful.

    I'll also posit this: companies like Henry James have taken their craft to the level that it is possible to build a safe, reasonably attractive lugged frame without touching a file to the lugs at all. If I really wanted to, I'd wager that I could take a box of True Temper tubing and Henry James lugs and, after mitering the tubing and cleaning everything thoroughly, simply plug it all together and braze it up as it is. The resulting frame wouldn't win any awards at NAHBS, but it would (assuming the builder ensured full penetration and adequate alignment) build into a perfectly safe and competent bicycle.

  15. #40
    Andrew R Stewart Andrew R Stewart's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Six jours View Post
    FWIW, I started with homemade jigs put together with Home Depot angle iron, and a MAPP torch, also from Home Depot. I'd put the initial start-up costs at maybe $300. I used my wife's granite counter tops as an alignment table. That's either really expensive or completely free, depending on your point of view. Regardless, that level of tooling allowed me to build frames that passed the alignment inspection at Cycleart and have lasted tens of thousands of miles, many of them off-road.

    So I still disagree with the idea that framebuilding cannot be a hobby-level activity (albeit at a somewhat higher level than, say, collecting troll dolls or something), let alone the idea that one must invest twenty grand and hundreds of frames before coming up with something useful.

    I'll also posit this: companies like Henry James have taken their craft to the level that it is possible to build a safe, reasonably attractive lugged frame without touching a file to the lugs at all. If I really wanted to, I'd wager that I could take a box of True Temper tubing and Henry James lugs and, after mitering the tubing and cleaning everything thoroughly, simply plug it all together and braze it up as it is. The resulting frame wouldn't win any awards at NAHBS, but it would (assuming the builder ensured full penetration and adequate alignment) build into a perfectly safe and competent bicycle.
    I agree that hobby building can be done by many and that it doesn't have to be costly. Just that it often is more costly, initially and thereafter dependent on the builder's tooling preference, then a pro built frame. And that the common initial results won't be too clean or nice. Not taking anything away from the structural integrity of these first frames or their builder's opinion of the frame. I also agree that some suppliers (like HJ) have made it far easier for newbies to get materials and start their learning.

    Having attended a couple of building classes and worked closely with a few other builders I just realize the value of learning good techniques early on and being exposed to methods/processes/tooling before one starts to invest on their own set up. Andy.

  16. #41
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    Carfart, in the Classic Rendezvous website (devoted to the history of framebuilders), click on the USA builders section. At the top titled “The Early Years” is a piece about Alvin Drysdale. There are pictures taken around 1960 of him hearth brazing. The frame is laying free on a platform of rocks while he is brazing with that really giant flame. It might give you some ideas. I am curious how he put on little braze-ons. I also wonder where you could find and then setup that kind of equipment. For those not intrigued resurrecting 19th century building techniques, it is easy to find information on what torches, regulators and hoses work best for building frames on these framebuilding forums. For example a very common question is asking if an all-in-one boxed kit (torch, regs, etc.) will work. The answer is it will work but not nearly as well as specific items bought separately (like an airline style torch handle instead of something bigger most people want for cutting). For some the fun is in the journey while others just want to know how to get good results without reinventing the wheel.
    Last edited by Doug Fattic; 03-18-14 at 11:13 AM.

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    Quote Originally Posted by Andrew R Stewart View Post
    I agree that hobby building can be done by many and that it doesn't have to be costly. Just that it often is more costly, initially and thereafter dependent on the builder's tooling preference, then a pro built frame. And that the common initial results won't be too clean or nice. Not taking anything away from the structural integrity of these first frames or their builder's opinion of the frame. I also agree that some suppliers (like HJ) have made it far easier for newbies to get materials and start their learning.

    Having attended a couple of building classes and worked closely with a few other builders I just realize the value of learning good techniques early on and being exposed to methods/processes/tooling before one starts to invest on their own set up. Andy.
    I sure won't argue against attending a course. I have absolutely no doubt that someone like Doug Fattic has a tremendous amount to offer and can significantly speed the learning curve of any aspiring builder. So I hope no one thinks I am arguing against taking a class.

    I am merely arguing against the idea that it is necessary; that it's essentially impossible to build a safe and at least decently attractive frame as a hobbyist working with hand tools in the garage. Hell, that describes me perfectly, and while I claim no particular talent and admit to building nothing more than merely pedestrian frames, I'll note that the last time I rode one of my home-built jobs at the local collector's ride (with Brian Bayliss and Joe Bell in attendance, along with the usual unobtanium from Confente, Faliero Masi, etc.) one of the riders asked me to build a frame for him. That should not be taken as bragging - I know my place when I'm around real-life frame builders - but is meant to demonstrate that even the product of a careful garage builder will not be completely out of place among truly well-made frames.

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    Senior Member carfart's Avatar
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    Thanks for all the replies. I looked at those pictures of Alvin Drysdale's shop, and I wonder if that's coke he's using. The documents that I've looked at so far reference coke, so I wonder if wood charcoal wouldn't generate enough heat. And I've been assuming that I'd need to get some welding equipment for attaching brazeons or that I could just leave that up to a local painting shop. I know of one in the area that can handle adding such things when you send in a frame for painting.

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    Quote Originally Posted by Six jours View Post

    So I still disagree with the idea that framebuilding cannot be a hobby-level activity (albeit at a somewhat higher level than, say, collecting troll dolls or something), let alone the idea that one must invest twenty grand and hundreds of frames before coming up with something useful.
    The fact that it isn't expensive isn't the part that makes me feel it isn't hobby level. Of course I don't want to force a particular definition of hobby on anyone. But I guess I would start by saying something like a hobby might be something other than just for the joy of doing it, you do for your own objectives. You meet your own needs. I seem most people involved in frame building are pursuing either sales directly, or the standards, and narrow range of frames that various seemingly professional builders are making. So as a hobby builder, I only make bikes for myself, and I periodically come up with something I want, that forms the basis of my next project. Same thing with boats, I see the world in terms of boats, and commonly come up with boat solutions that are very specific, unfortunately, I don't have the money to work on all that many of them. A hobby woodworker is normally a guy who builds a windsor chair, then he needs a speaker enclosure, and then a doll's house. Some people turn out pro work with every project, other people who are pros are hack with every project, it is not a quality issue.

    I'll also posit this: companies like Henry James have taken their craft to the level that it is possible to build a safe, reasonably attractive lugged frame without touching a file to the lugs at all. If I really wanted to, I'd wager that I could take a box of True Temper tubing and Henry James lugs and, after mitering the tubing and cleaning everything thoroughly, simply plug it all together and braze it up as it is. The resulting frame wouldn't win any awards at NAHBS, but it would (assuming the builder ensured full penetration and adequate alignment) build into a perfectly safe and competent bicycle.
    I agree with you, and I have seen various pros in books and stuff, who worked a whole life making fabulous bikes with very minimal tools. The fact we have to "posit" this kind of thing, shows what is really going on, it isn't a hobby. Every person who want to make a wooden cedar strip canoe, can undertake the project, and finish it, and it all works out. The only thing like that here seems to be the wooden, carbon, and bamboo bikes, for various obvious reasons. People show up, say they want to build something, ask a few questions, and then we sometimes see pictures later.

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    I'm a little drunk, but it seems to me that you claimed framebuilding can't be a hobby and then went on to explain why it is, at least for you. So I guess I'm a bit confused.

    For my part, I do consider myself a hobby builder. And like you, I make frames just for my own use, based on things I have seen and would like to try, but without spending five grand each time whimsy strikes. And again, those frames aren't going to be fawned over by the cognoscenti, but they do compare, aesthetically, with the boxcar loads of high-end Italian racing frames from the 70s and 80s, and they do fulfill their purpose, which is to be safe, competent bicycles built according to their owner's wishes.

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    Quote Originally Posted by Six jours View Post
    I am merely arguing against the idea that it is necessary; that it's essentially impossible to build a safe and at least decently attractive frame as a hobbyist working with hand tools in the garage. Hell, that describes me perfectly, and while I claim no particular talent and admit to building nothing more than merely pedestrian frames, I'll note that the last time I rode one of my home-built jobs at the local collector's ride (with Brian Bayliss and Joe Bell in attendance, along with the usual unobtanium from Confente, Faliero Masi, etc.) one of the riders asked me to build a frame for him. That should not be taken as bragging - I know my place when I'm around real-life frame builders - but is meant to demonstrate that even the product of a careful garage builder will not be completely out of place among truly well-made frames.
    Right on. A lot of respected pros started exactly that way.

    I stated my goal when I got started as making Surly level frames to a perfect level of quality. I want a variety of frames, custom fit to me, made of 4130 type stuff. I will never touch a stick of the unobtanium, or pretend I learned to make frames in Italy.

    I have respect for the big names who have succeeded in their field, but I don't really feel they are better at making frames than I am. Of course they are better, but I make frames for me. I had to work out how to get back into cycling when my knee was blown to pieces and they put my foot back on crooked. I don't care who you think you are, you don't make frames for me better than I do. And beyond that, while I am basically conservative about frames. I can do all kinds of custom details to just suit myself.

    Presumably any pro is much faster than me, and makes few mistakes. But I get there in the end, and can fix mistakes. I dropped off here a lot, because I just don't have a project I am working on. But something I want will come along, and then I will build it.

    And pros often pay someone really good to paint their frames. I am sure you could virtually get a K-mart frame, send it out to a great painter, and with the right staging, get it positively noticed at NAHBS. I'm not good at painting. But some folks turn out good paintjobs on their first bike. Like that lady from Little Fish.

    If you look at boat building, or furniture. The great pros, are often engineers, designers, and invent completely new types of stuff. I've been working with one guy who has invented a totally new kind of sailboat. And furniture makers who are at the top of their professions, design signature pieces that are instantly recognizable, and useful to many, even millions. This isn't that.

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    You probably got me there SJ. I wish I could say I was drunk. My thing though isn't that it can't be a hobby, but that what is out there does not seem to be. At a very basic level it may be difficult saying what it is since it isn't that big. But I don't really see any of the signs, like books, DVDs, etc... or a lot of internet activity, describing how you can just get er done as a hobby. When a book or a video on youtube does suggest a slightly scaled back basis, it normally gets ridiculed. There is a lot of frame building out there that is hobby level: Motorcycles; recumbent; the twigs and leaves stuff. The upright stuff seems very much in the sway of the pro element. To whit, there are quite a few other places where if we were having this kind of discussion it would get booed down, or cut off.

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    Quote Originally Posted by carfart View Post
    Thanks for all the replies. I looked at those pictures of Alvin Drysdale's shop, and I wonder if that's coke he's using.


    I don't know who he is, but if it were me, I would be considering propane, only. It is used in factories, is clean, readily available, use an atmospheric burner, and a reducing flame will ensure nothing burns.


    The documents that I've looked at so far reference coke, so I wonder if wood charcoal wouldn't generate enough heat.
    No, you can melt the frame into a puddle with wood charcoal. There are proably practical reasons, and cost reasons for using and industrial carbon. For instance wood C can burn faster, and take up more space, but you just have to set up for that stuff.

    And I've been assuming that I'd need to get some welding equipment for attaching brazeons or that I could just leave that up to a local painting shop. I know of one in the area that can handle adding such things when you send in a frame for painting.
    At the level of offbeat you are contemplating, you can braze most stuff with regular propane torches. braze-ons with silver are easy. Particularly with silver tape. You don't need welding stuff for any of this.

    Another option that you can work with is stick welding. Works fine if you set up for it. it's cheap, which is the only reason I mention it. I mean for main frame joints, I would not attempt BOs with it for the most part. It is difficult to heat control. To make it work with tubes takes a very specific approach.

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    I think we are probably on the same page; maybe just a slight difference of opinion regarding definitions.

    To me, a hobbyist is someone who does a thing for personal reasons rather than for profit. I know people who build unbelievably high quality motorcycles in their garages, just for their own satisfaction. And I know people who do the same thing with bamboo fly rods, and wooden furniture, and steam engines. Some of those people, IMO, are making things as well as they have ever been made - but they do it just for themselves, while holding down day jobs*. To me, that makes them hobbyists. There might be a better definition, but I don't know it. And yes, while doing such things in your garage might draw ridicule from certain quarters, in my opinion doing those things on your own, to the best of your ability, for their own sake, is of greater value than is slapping something together to some particular standard with the hope of turning a profit. That's all pretty subjective, of course, but there you go.

    *A surprisingly high percentage of those folks are better at their hobbies than their jobs. The steam engine guy, in particular, does an unspectacular job in a singularly boring field, but his garage-built engines are flawless (and breathtaking) in every way that I can see. There is actually a market for these things, at shockingly high prices, but the usual case seems to be that even the world's very best craftsmen (in a variety of fields), charging exorbitantly high prices for their work, are making passable but not particularly notable livings at it. IOW, one can generally expect to make more money at being an average corporate paper-pusher than the world's best framebuilder, or bamboo rod maker, or model steam engine crafter. Weigle (arguably the best framebuilder who has ever lived) was asked how to make money as a framebuilder. He answered "marry well"...

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    So here's a thread from another forum which ilistrates well why I feel that some form of instruction will go a long ways to helping a first timer get their frame right and shows some of the issues a first timer faces. The Op has made many assumptions by this point in his building. He also states he has no clue as to even how to measure certain aspects of his build process. Yet he says (and ammends later) his frame is off by X amounts here and there. At least he's trying to build a frame and knows enough to ask for help.

    VELOCIPEDE SALON

    Had he attended a class he would have learned how to measure the frame during construction and avoid some of his results. In said class he could have learned how to do some of these steps without fancy tools.

    Again this is not to pick on the OP but to use his experiences to help others avoid common pitfalls. Andy.

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