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  1. #1
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    has anyone actually had their frame break and then welded while on tour?

    Just to reopen the aluminium vs steel frame yet again...

    One of the pro-steel arguaments is that if your frame breaks while on tour, you can get it welded pretty easily....................but I'm not entirely sure if thats true (welding a broken bike back together is a bit more complicated than they make out) and I've yet to come across someone mentioning that they've done it themselves.

    So, oh experienced and bike abusing masses, has anyone ever actually had it done and survived to tell the tale?

  2. #2
    Tinkerer since 1980 TheBrick's Avatar
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    Never on tour but I've replaced dropouts on bikes before and I have snapped a frame before and had it re-welded. It is pretty easy.

    Also remember aluminums fatigue rate compared to steel when doing he old alu vs steel thing.
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    Yes, my steel-frame broke while on tour and was quickly fixed, details here: http://www.crazyguyonabike.com/doc/p..._id=44266&v=3o

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    Senior Member Nigeyy's Avatar
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    No, but I have had the unfortunate pleasure of a steel triangle separating from an alu downtube (chemically bonded originally) when I used an old Raleigh Technium for touring. I can't recommend Techniums for this reason.

    I know there was one other person on these boards did mention they had a rack mount re-welded -but I'm also of the mind that given the cost and time involved in re-welding (e.g. finding a good welder, paying for a good paint job) I'd not have any problem using an alu frame as probably the costs are going to be very similar unless you have a really boutique frame. I know this isn't necessarily true either, but I'd also have a problem riding a bike knowing it had to be rewelded as well.

    I'd also be interested about people's experiences with having to have frames rewelded as well.

  5. #5
    VWVagabonds.com Losligato's Avatar
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    In Laos and again in Vietnam.



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  6. #6
    mev
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    My aluminum frame cracked but was not welded:
    http://www.mvermeulen.com/oneyear/Ph...llery4/457.htm

    The crack went ~3/4 way around the chain stay. I flew home from Australia, picked up a replacement bike, flew back and continued my circumnavigation.

    Tim Cope and Chris Hatherly's book "Off the Rails" described their bicycle trip across Russia in 2001/2002. In that book, they describe having one of the bike frames fail and get welded again.

  7. #7
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    Ideally you want a frame that won't break, which is an advantage for steel. And repair is also an advantage.

    I think a person could possibly splint an alloy frame with stuff from wood to carbon fiber and a small epoxy kit. It is the drops on Al bikes that worry me, the smaller parts are the less chance there is of repair.

  8. #8
    Every day a winding road spinnaker's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by mev View Post

    The crack went ~3/4 way around the chain stay. I flew home from Australia, picked up a replacement bike, flew back and continued my circumnavigation.
    Wouldn't it have been cheaper easier and quicker to buy a bike in Australia? Australia isn't exactly the third world. I'm sure there are plenty of places that would sell you whatever you wanted unless you are very particular and insist on a specific custom builder.
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  9. #9
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    Quote Originally Posted by spinnaker View Post
    Wouldn't it have been cheaper easier and quicker to buy a bike in Australia? Australia isn't exactly the third world. I'm sure there are plenty of places that would sell you whatever you wanted unless you are very particular and insist on a specific custom builder.
    In Melbourne
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    Still cheaper than flying back.

  10. #10
    Senior Member robow's Avatar
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    I just carry a tube of Mighty Putty with me on tour and then I can fix steel, aluminum or even plastic bikes.

  11. #11
    Every day a winding road spinnaker's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by robow View Post
    I just carry a tube of Mighty Putty with me on tour and then I can fix steel, aluminum or even plastic bikes.
    This is a fantastic idea! So simple but I probably would have never thought of it. It could also be used to fix broken racks, fenders, handlebar bg brackets, water bottle cages or whatever.
    "The world is a dangerous place to live, not because of the people who are evil, but because of the people who don't do anything about it."

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  12. #12
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    [QUOTE=Losligato;7333082]In Laos and again in Vietnam.





    I wouldn't trust any welds made by that guy in this picture. He's 'stick' welding and wearing no helmet. He'll be lucky to get any weld metal where it belongs. He sees only a bright light . . . or he's already blind.

    DON
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    If I was going to try to fix a steel frame, I'd want to be in SE Asia. There are lots of cheap welders there. Here in the USA.....frankly I bet you'd be screwed. Welders/frame builders aren't cheap and it would likely be weeks before thay got around to doing it.

    A Surly frame costs $420 new-- it would hard to repair a frame for that.

  14. #14
    mev
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    Quote Originally Posted by spinnaker View Post
    Wouldn't it have been cheaper easier and quicker to buy a bike in Australia?
    At the time I was told there was a model switch and it would be multiple weeks to get another Cannondale frame my size in Australia. The crack happened near Shark Bay ~600km north of Perth. I cycled 280km with duct tape to first bike shop in Geraldton. Certainly not anything my size in Geraldton. Perhaps I would find something if I went through enough shops in Perth but I'm not convinced quicker would have applied since the flight needed only a few overnights before return. Air fare also wasn't particularly expensive and I was picking up an existing touring bike I already had.

  15. #15
    VWVagabonds.com Losligato's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by dwood View Post
    I wouldn't trust any welds made by that guy in this picture. He's 'stick' welding and wearing no helmet. He'll be lucky to get any weld metal where it belongs. He sees only a bright light . . . or he's already blind.
    DON
    Yeah, you're right. That weld broke after a few hundred miles. It was welded again in Danang by a guy who was repairing a carnival toy. He refused to take any payment. The weld is still holding.
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  16. #16
    Senior Member pluc's Avatar
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    The problem with aluminum is not that it can't be welded, it's that the weld needs to heat treated to work back again. To me the argument in favor of steel is that it's comfy.

  17. #17
    Biking to the Pits IntoThickAir's Avatar
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    quick weld

    I've had a crack in the down tube of steel frame welded just the day before I left on a month long tour - it was the only alternative to buying a new bike, and it worked just fine, holding for the tour and getting me home, where I had the whole tube replaced by Andy Gilmour in Tucson.

    As for the relative ease of repair in the steel vs. aluminum debate, there's no doubt you can get steel welded easier. However, you can use Magic Putty or, my favorite, JB Weld, to stick together most anything...for a while. Given a choice, I'd go with steel, but I'd ride most anything if I had the time and the opportunity to tour. The point is to go, and for inspiration I offer this link:
    http://www.islamonline.net/servlet/S...News/NWELayout

    Here's the first line from the story: "Seeking the greatest spiritual experience in a Muslim's life, a 63-year-old Chechen criss-crossed 13 countries on his rusting bicycle to join nearly three million Muslims from across the world in performing hajj."

    Since his bike was rusting, I'd presume it was steel.

  18. #18
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    Quote Originally Posted by edwardmccaughan View Post
    Just to reopen the aluminium vs steel frame yet again...

    One of the pro-steel arguaments is that if your frame breaks while on tour, you can get it welded pretty easily....................but I'm not entirely sure if thats true (welding a broken bike back together is a bit more complicated than they make out) and I've yet to come across someone mentioning that they've done it themselves.

    So, oh experienced and bike abusing masses, has anyone ever actually had it done and survived to tell the tale?
    Actually, yes! This happened to us just a few weeks ago in Cambodia. We found a great welder who did a fantastic job on Andrew's frame. Here are the before and after pictures. Total repair cost just $25!

    http://travellingtwo.com/gallery2/d/...2/dsc08098.jpg
    http://travellingtwo.com/gallery2/d/...5/dsc08101.jpg
    We blog about bike touring, with reviews, tips and cycle touring podcasts at Travelling Two

  19. #19
    mev
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    Quote Originally Posted by edwardmccaughan View Post
    has anyone ever actually had it done and survived to tell the tale?
    Herman Veldhuizen's trip from Norway to Nepal had his frame break three times:

    First time it broke in Ukraine and was welded: http://www.hermanveldhuizen.com/wp/?p=141

    This weld lasted until a little past the Kazakhstan border where Herman's trip report says, "Also my frame breaks again at the same place as before. It is my own made enforcement of the rear triangle which keeps the frame together." : http://www.hermanveldhuizen.com/wp/?p=145

    He continues further through Kazakhstan when "My back wheel swings from left to right. I get off my bike and I see that my rear triangle is now broken on both! sides.": http://www.hermanveldhuizen.com/wp/?p=146

    At that point he gets a replacement bicycle shipped to him to complete the rest of the trip.

  20. #20
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    The late Sheldon Brown had a great story about a frame that failed on tour:
    Read the whole story, he was a great writer.

  21. #21
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    "I wouldn't trust any welds made by that guy in this picture. He's 'stick' welding and wearing no helmet. He'll be lucky to get any weld metal where it belongs. He sees only a bright light . . . or he's already blind."

    It isn't as simple as that. I did ask myself what he was doing, and we now know the fate of the weld... Still, there isn't anything wrong with stick welds, better than MIG in a lot of cases and a lot of frames are migged. Neither process lets you adjust the heat and the filler feed on the fly, so they have their problems. But if you want a guy with the wrong welder to tack you back together, it is unlikely he is going to run an endless bead because the heat will get to be too much for the frame. The best he can do is what would amount to some tacks, and you don't see much when that is happening anywhat. You can't see what is happening with the hood down and the rod unstruct, and by the time you can see it you probably need to stop. I have a self darkening helmet so at least it is convenient, but I start it up with my eyes closed in case it isn't charged at first and because 1/25 000 of a second still seems like too much particularly if I am starting and stopping.

    Brad over at Atomic Zombie does all his wild bikes with a 3/32" rod on a DC stick welder. Mostly he isn't working with Chromo, but I wouldn't bet against him if he was.


    "I just carry a tube of Mighty Putty with me on tour and then I can fix steel, aluminum or even plastic bikes."

    I wouldn't bet against you either, but one can't reglue steel bikes, even with lugs. Epoxy could be mighty useful for splinting. Look at how those bamboo bikes are glued together with hemp twine. But the glue is fluid and good quality.

  22. #22
    Senior Member robow's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Peterpan1 View Post
    "
    "I just carry a tube of Mighty Putty with me on tour and then I can fix steel, aluminum or even plastic bikes."

    I wouldn't bet against you either, but one can't reglue steel bikes, even with lugs. Epoxy could be mighty useful for splinting. Look at how those bamboo bikes are glued together with hemp twine. But the glue is fluid and good quality.
    I do hope most realize that I was being facetious to some degree. I didn't mean the epoxy was meant to be a permanent fix but we have used it to temporarily mend a problem so as not to ruin a tour. Oh and you're right Spinnaker, we once used it to repair a broken rear rack which saved the day out in the middle of nowhere.
    Last edited by robow; 08-26-08 at 02:04 PM.

  23. #23
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    [QUOTE=dwood;7335629]
    Quote Originally Posted by Losligato View Post
    In Laos and again in Vietnam.





    I wouldn't trust any welds made by that guy in this picture. He's 'stick' welding and wearing no helmet. He'll be lucky to get any weld metal where it belongs. He sees only a bright light . . . or he's already blind.

    DON
    That's why I've always thought that the argument of 'oh, well a steel frame can be welded by anybody anywhere, pretty much' didn't hold water. some two-bit operation isn't going to do any long-term job on your frame, and when you find someone with proper equipment and knowledge, chances are they can repair your aluminum frames. A friend of mine, a military engineer, was on a tour in Australia, and repaired his and his wife's aluminum mountain bike frames several times. (when he had access to equipment, of course)

  24. #24
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    [QUOTE=dwood;7335629]
    Quote Originally Posted by Losligato View Post
    In Laos and again in Vietnam.





    I wouldn't trust any welds made by that guy in this picture. He's 'stick' welding and wearing no helmet. He'll be lucky to get any weld metal where it belongs. He sees only a bright light . . . or he's already blind.

    DON
    One of the best bike frame welders ever didn't wear a helmet on most occasions. He worked at a little place called Proteus.

    Also, what the **** are you supposed to do in Laos? You can't really be picky.

  25. #25
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    [QUOTE=awc380;7352033]
    Quote Originally Posted by dwood View Post

    That's why I've always thought that the argument of 'oh, well a steel frame can be welded by anybody anywhere, pretty much' didn't hold water. some two-bit operation isn't going to do any long-term job on your frame, and when you find someone with proper equipment and knowledge, chances are they can repair your aluminum frames. A friend of mine, a military engineer, was on a tour in Australia, and repaired his and his wife's aluminum mountain bike frames several times. (when he had access to equipment, of course)

    My original criticism of the 1st picture was not that he was "stick welding", but that he was wearing no helmet and therefore could not see what he was doing. Having said that, the best way to repair any [weldable] bike frame is by TIG welding.

    The odds of finding a TIG weldor in the outback are probably pretty slim. To get going again after a frame break . . . you'll probably have to settle for stick or MIG welding which if done right can be a very good repair.

    As for aluminum frames . . . yeah they can be welded, but as another poster pointed out, that is not the problem. The problem is that your aluminum frame that was originally in the equivalent of T6 heat treated condition, will now be "T-zero" in the heat-affected zone both sides of the weld. Dead soft.

    As for JB Weld and similar products: as someone who has had to remove that crap prior to welding, after some homeowner has smeared it all over in a futile attempt to repair something, I absolutely despise the stuff. It has its place . . . but not as a substitute for welding metals. 30+ years owner of a welding and machine shop.

    DON
    The older I get the less future there is to worry about!

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