Natural raw weld beads on Ti and Al frames
Weld beads ground perfectly smooth on Ti and Al frames
2014 Trek DS.1: "Viaggiatore" A do-it-all bike that is waiting in Italy
2012 Pedal Force CG2: "Secolo Bicicletta" the modern carbon fiber road bike
2012 Pedal Force CX2: "Carbone CX" the carbon fiber CX bike
2010 Origin 8 CX 700: "Servizio Grave" Monstercross/29er bike
1997 Simoncini Special Cyclocross: "Little Simon" lugged Columbus steel CX bike
1987 Serotta Nova Special X: "Azzurri" The retro Columbus SPX steel road bike
There is some indication on the interwebs that the Cannondale aluminum joints that everyone says are ground are not actually ground, but are multipass welded. First large weld is structural, subsequent smaller welds are cosmetic. I have not found this definitively though. Nor do I care enough to continue trying to.
Personally I am a bike geek. I'm not a car geek or a house geek, although I know people that do geek out over that kind of stuff. People who view their car or their home as a functional work of art DO inspect them and care about those things. If I buy a custom or high end bike that was hand constructed I want to appreciate the work that was done by a skilled craftsman. I feel the same way about machined parts. Chris King components are revered for this same reason. The tolerances and the precision with which they are made make them something special. They aren't the lightest, and they aren't exotic, but they are jewel like in their machining, and their reliability comes from that quality. On a steel, aluminium, or titanium frame I want to see the evidence of that craftsmanship as well. It's not that I wouldn't trust it if I couldn't see it, but rather that I appreciate it and would like it to be visible.
I'd prefer them ground and smoothed out just like I prefer to have baseboards and switch covers on the walls of my home. Quality work is important, but this isn't elementary school; you don't have to show your work.
Rarely has there even been a visual inspection by the engineer of record. Typically, a set of drawings is submitted for approval along with girder calculations if applicable and that is the only scrutiny the projects come under. Past that, it is up to AISC or SJI certified shops to build the components and field ironworkers to put them up and get it right. Mind you, the threat of testing is always there, but I have only had a dozen (maybe 5% of my projects) or so post erecting field inspections and not one had any reference of ultrasonic testing or results. Btw, "UT tested" is redundant.
There is one municipality I occasionally have projects in who's building inspector requires a 'map' of areas worked in along with valid welding certifications for the crew involved. Mind you, signing of structural welds is a general requirement on all jobs but in practice is almost never done. This is the one 'stickler' on it.
And as I said originally it is only certain design teams that specify the ground welds and it seems to be mainly as a paint prep. Like the signing, it is overlooked more often than not. Most of the erecting companies I deal with exclude it so I in turn exclude it from my bids. If it gets done at all it is by the GC's job supervisor and then it is usually a wire brushing in lieu of a grinder.
Frankly, I am as surprised as anyone is at this. I did not come from a construction background and majored in cellular biology. Testing and inspections would seem normal to me, but I am constantly amazed at how much is entrusted to fellas who often lack a GED. But then again, structural failures are fairly rare and generally due to exceeded design capacity so I guess the system works. The only call backs I am aware of on my projects have been due to damage from truck or forklift hits or similar abuse.
Interesting, canam. I know several welding businesses that require UT level 1 & 2 to become a certified welder, and I know that all bridges have recurring weld inspection done. I assumed that that carried into structural work. Bad assumption on my part. And I know the T is testing, and you will laugh, but every spec I have reviewed that calls for UT calls for "UT testing", and often "PT Testing", with another redundant T. The UT that I work with is is not for welding though, so it is a different world.
I absolutely believe you on the specs. The ones I deal with have been copy-pasted together repeatedly and if one has an error, they'll all have it.
I'm a furniture maker. I try to pay attention to details. I want the details I produce to reflect positively on the attitude I bring to the process of building. The piece ultimately becomes a reflection of my work process which pours out of me. It is just an ego thing? I don't think so, although the ego of the builder is certainly involved. Bikes are to some extent, like the furniture I build and sell. They are purchased by people who want more than mere functionality. They want it to reflect something personal. Whether it's Moots, Lynskey, Baum, or any one of the other fabulous builders, the buyer finds something to value in the frame. The welds are simply the easiest visual reference point for the meticulous crafting of the bike (as art)
Sure there are differences in aesthetic sense. You like the rough weld, just not too rough. I don't like it at all. But let's not kid ourselves that it is a mark of craftsmanship or that it is artistic. Yes it is harder to make a neat weld than a sloppy one, but that doesn't make the neat weld attractive. Can you think of another object besides a welded bike frame that the idea of craftsmanship is this strange notion: "Oh well, it could have been worse!"
When I see a Ti frame assembled from tubes (not 3D printed, but that is another story, eh?) that I cannot tell isn't originally cut from one piece, that is the one that I will say was built by both a craftsman and an artist.
I weld for my job. It's nothing like Ti but rather heavy steel pipe that make up the brake system of a locomotive. They can't leak air at 140psi. And they have to look good. I appreciate seeing good, raw welds. Especially Tig welds. They can be downright beautiful.
Some people are just like Slinky's. Not really good for anything but they bring a smile to your face when you push them down the stairs.
2012 Fuji Altamira 1.0
I love smooth AL welds and raw TI beads.