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Old 11-20-21, 02:01 PM
Bike Butcher of Portland
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Location: Portland, OR
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Bikes: It's complicated.

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Custom racks for a Rene Herse

I received an email from the proprietor of BikeRecyclery out of Portland, Oregon, buying & selling high end vintage/used bike parts. Justyne found a well preserved, classic 650b Rene Herse. I was commissioned to make racks for this bike, with some links to the drawings of Daniel Rebour to go by - it's important to get the details right on classics! Like a guy wanting to impress on a first date, I took some time for a well-needed clean up of the Atelier prior to the drop off.

The bike already had some kludgey, TIG welded racks that were obviously not original, and didn't look right on the bike. One of the complications of making new custom racks is that the racks the bike was delivered with were attached to the fenders. We didn't want to make more holes in them, so I had to make the racks fit the fenders and frame.

First, the glamour shot, taken with the new racks.

The real McCoy

First up, the front rack. I'm using 1/4" thinwall stainless tubing on this job. It's harder to bend these square than one would think. I splice the ends together with a "one size down". I've beefed up the bit near the fork crown attachment point, and since I'm using silver to braze, I like to pin all the connections, as fillet brazed silver joints aren't as strong as brass.

I brazed on the stainless rack tabs to a length of tubing. I got the tabs from Mitch Pryor a couple of years ago, tragically not long before the Paradise fire wiped out his shop in Northern California. I think of the incredible rando bikes he used to build every time I use these bits, and I'm inspired. After brazing and clean up, these get matching bends to attach to the cantilever posts, and are cut and mitered at a complex angle to meet the deck, then are brazed to the deck while on the bike to ensure everything meets up perfectly. I fold up several layers of aluminum foil to mask off the areas I'm working on - don't want to torch the fender or paint! A tombstone is added off the frame to match the head tube angle.

Deflux and cleanup next

A vintage Radio headlamp was provided so a rack mount was brazed on.

Time for the rear rack build. The deck is built off of the bike along with one of the cross pieces installed. This is bolted up to one of the current fender hole. The second cross piece is made up separately and dry fitted to make sure the miters and length are perfect. This gets bolted to the frame, aluminum foil is packed around the fender to protect it from my Oxy-Acetylene flame, and brazed into position.

That extra bolt? Someone put it there to patch an old hole, I believe.

Brazing the stays onto the rear rack was a bit nerve-racking, since I'd be working very close to the rear dropouts and seat stays that had 70 year old paint.. I decided to keep the wheels on the bike to make sure the fender stayed center, as the rack is bolted on top of the fender. Aiming the flame away from the painted frame was important, even with the heavy duty, aluminum foil I used for masking. A quick hit on the thin aluminum blows out a hole quickly. I folded it up several times, even then I used up several "lives" when the flame got too close. Luckily there were several layers left to protect the frame. 1/4" tubing doesn't need a big flame, I use about the smallest one I can adjust my #0 tip down to for stainless rack building.

In situ rack building - the bike is the jig.

Completed rack
If someone tells you that you have enough bicycles and you don't need any more, stop talking to them. You don't need that kind of negativity in your life.
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