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  1. #1
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    your choice on a custom frame.

    what would you look for in a custom touring frame .
    my son in law is dead keen to learn the art of making frames,
    i have gotten great info on the framebuilders section from scooter on frame building.
    but what makes a really good custom touring frame .
    thanks

  2. #2
    coprolite fietsbob's Avatar
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    Loaded or light touring?
    It would fit and have all the bits brazed on before the paint..

    hub dynamo wiring guides

    the tubeset wall thickness and diameters would be goldilocks..



    i'd try a horizontal oval top tube, to stiffen it laterally for handling the rack
    mass of load in back
    beefy kickstand mounting
    slack like 68 degree seat tube, setback.. to unweight my hands.

    26" wheels.. Rohloff hub .. Eccentric bb , disc brakes .

    I got help with a build 10 years ago cargo bike maker's materials.
    so frame weight crept up a bit.

    2 3/4 .049"wall tubes bent at rear axle and seat tube,
    so formed the rear triangle and the parallel side by side top-tubes..

    no tail wagging the dog feeling, [bruce gordon's racks , solidly mounted]
    It's a700c wheel bike 622-40 tires 48/40 spoke wheels, derailleurs..

    18 'speed' drivetrain..
    Last edited by fietsbob; 06-16-11 at 06:31 PM.

  3. #3
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    Having learned to TIG weld and built a custom frame (under the guidance of a master framebuilder), I've learned:

    1) Most of the cost of a bicycle is in the components (read: you're not going to save money by building your own frame)

    2) Making money as a frame builder, at least in my area, is difficult or impossible

    3) Stock frames fit me fine (read: there's no reason for me to spend big bucks on a custom frame)

    Building a frame is a fun project, but I'm not sure that I'd do it again. And I'd certainly never pay for a custom frame made by someone else. Much easier, and ultimately cheaper, to buy a stock bike or at least a ready-made frame.

  4. #4
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    autokelly, You could do worse than to suggest to your son in law to look up some of Keith Bontranger's thoughts on the subject.

    Brad

  5. #5
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    I would look for unique features, a bottle opener somewhere at easy height. What really makes a good custom frame is a frame that meets the customers expectations, same thing a good production frame does.
    I owned a "really good custom frame" that was built in the early 80's for 27" wheels. It was gorgeous, nice lugs, special front rack w. frame for holding removable front bag. Made out of 531 with appropriate geometry. Only problem is that it had a heinous shimmy above 25mph that required clamping the top tube with my knees. Next custom frame was built for 26" wheels and more road like geometry. Basically a sport-touring bike with super sturdy rear triangle. Except it really couldn't take a lot of rear weight without shimmying. Fast forward another decade and I've got a 26" wheeled Surly LHT, best so far.
    I"ve known a couple first time frame builders who built a few defective frames that failed in races so I'd suggest whatever you get made you ride the hell out of it loaded up before you set out on a trip.

  6. #6
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    well he has to creep before he walks, but he seems dead keen on giving it a go fair play to him for that.
    i think if he manages to get a frame together all the fancy stuff can come later.
    anyway thanks for the comments all duly noted.

  7. #7
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    You should get him Touring Bikes by Tony Oliver.
    Touring bikes from a frame-builders perspective, how to design, select metal and build them.
    It is a bit dated but the fundamentals hold true.

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    coprolite fietsbob's Avatar
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    Can he put together a small machine shop? that is a fair expense, on it's own.

    lots of what a bike frame shop needs is machine tools: lathe , drill press, grinder and lots of files .
    and the real estate for the shop space..

  9. #9
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    Quote Originally Posted by MichaelW View Post
    You should get him Touring Bikes by Tony Oliver.
    Touring bikes from a frame-builders perspective, how to design, select metal and build them.
    It is a bit dated but the fundamentals hold true.
    thanks will pass that info on.

  10. #10
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    Quote Originally Posted by fietsbob View Post
    Can he put together a small machine shop? that is a fair expense, on it's own.

    lots of what a bike frame shop needs is machine tools: lathe , drill press, grinder and lots of files .
    and the real estate for the shop space..
    hopefully yes he can he has moved into a new house with quiet a big back yard and as far as i know his dad (another fitter ) is going to build him a big shed .the guy he served his time with is a pure genius so he would i'm sure be there to lend a hand.
    at the moment here in Ireland the work situation is really bad with the recession going on.and the goverment might look kind on a new business starting up in the way of grants ,but thats only wishful thinking.

  11. #11
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    Quote Originally Posted by fietsbob View Post
    lots of what a bike frame shop needs is machine tools: lathe , drill press, grinder and lots of files .
    and the real estate for the shop space..
    If you're not planning to be a professional frame builder, owning a lathe and mill is optional. You'll get better results with less effort if you own the "big iron" tools, but a hobbyist can get by with a hacksaw and some files.

    The big things to figure out are:

    1) How do you plan to join the frame together? Lugs? Fillet brazing? TIG-welding?

    2) How are you going to miter tubes? Hacksaw and files? Jig and a drill press? Mill? Lathe?

    3) What sort of jig are you going to use to align the frame before you join the tubes together? If you're going to buy a pre-made jig (ex: Anvil) you'll need less tooling that if you're planning to build something from scratch.

  12. #12
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    just had a look at anvil tools, wow expensive but does he need to spend that kind of money on a professional jig.
    he is now thinking of doing a frame building course in England with renowned builder Dave Yates.

  13. #13
    coprolite fietsbob's Avatar
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    I visited with a guy in The midlands [whose name escapes me , it was '91] ,
    mitered joints by hand with half round files . fillet brazed the tubes together .
    low on machines may work ,
    it's the customers that like the precision of machine miters, + time = money..

  14. #14
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    The Dave Yates course looks really good. From what I've heard, it involves more handwork rather than machining so is better suited to small-scale builders.
    A lot of builders make their own jigs, esp to suit their own style of working and available space and how complicated and adjustable they need to be.

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    thanks lads we send an email off to dave yates last night to see if he would have a place.
    i think the course will suit as all he wants to find out about is angles/ miters/ the cutting of tubes and putting a lugged frame together and of course making jigs for everything.

  16. #16
    Professional Fuss-Budget Bacciagalupe's Avatar
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    I would assume that if he's really going to go for it:

    - it'd be a good idea to apprentice with someone who has a shop (even after the Yates thing)
    - he will eventually need real equipment
    - chances are some of that equipment can be had used

    Unfortunately I'm not sure that many people can really make a living off of building custom frames. He might be better off working as a bike mechanic somewhere and doing frames on the side, until or unless he builds a reputation and can make a little income off of it.

  17. #17
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    Quote Originally Posted by antokelly View Post
    just had a look at anvil tools, wow expensive but does he need to spend that kind of money on a professional jig.
    Does he want to be a professional frame builder? A full set of Anvil tooling and the right machines can be the difference between building 3-5 frames per week as a professional and 2-4 frames per month as a hobbyist...

    Of course, Anvil is top-of-the-line stuff; there are cheaper jigs you can buy. Or you can do what most frame builders do: spend a couple of months building a custom jig while you're waiting for a customer willing to risk their life riding a frame built by someone they've never heard about.

  18. #18
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    thanks again folks, i had an email from Dave Yates he is fully booked up for this year and next year .
    i emailed Paul Villiers in Britain to see if he will take him on but i very much doubt it as he's a very busy man but nothing beats a try as the man said.
    i'm not sure if he wants to be a pro builder guess he doesn't know himself until he tries it out but who knows he could be a genius or a total fred wont know until he tries.

  19. #19
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    Quote Originally Posted by antokelly View Post
    thanks again folks, i had an email from Dave Yates he is fully booked up for this year and next year .
    i emailed Paul Villiers in Britain to see if he will take him on but i very much doubt it as he's a very busy man but nothing beats a try as the man said.
    i'm not sure if he wants to be a pro builder guess he doesn't know himself until he tries it out but who knows he could be a genius or a total fred wont know until he tries.
    Frame building, at least in the U.S., is a tough business. Understandably, most frame builders don't want to spend time training their future competitors.

    If your son-in-law doesn't already have training as a welder and machinist he should get that training before he tries his hand at frame building. I spent a year or two as a hobbyist welder before attempting to build a frame, and even then it was pretty difficult. If your son-in-law shows up in some frame builders shop and doesn't know the basics, he's not going to learn anything about bike building... unless the class lasts for a month or two! Once he knows how to weld and use basic machine shop tools, he can buy a copy of the Paterek Manual and learn the rest of what he needs to know from the various frame-related Internet forums and mailing lists...

  20. #20
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    ah i think he knows his way around a welding torch he is a fitter by trade ,but this would be all new to him but as i said he seems dead keen to learn.just getting the right person to show him the basics is step one after that he can decide if its what he wants to do (.or not )
    thanks all for the input much appreciated.

  21. #21
    coprolite fietsbob's Avatar
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    basic diamond frames for a pipefitter, should be straightforward.
    the lugs, like plumbing elbows, are just not at 90 degree angles..

    I still have the frame I built in the mid 70's, stamped lugs,
    cast BB shell and fork crown.

    use common 72, 73 degree head/seat tube slope and things go together
    with out much drama.

    1st frame stick with heat tolerant steel alloys, I got a Columbus Aelle tube set.

  22. #22
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    well hopefully he will take it on , thanks everyone for all the help, that's one brilliant thing about this forum and American people in general always willing to help a stranger marvelous.

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