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Bump in steel - Issue?

Old 03-13-09, 06:50 PM
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b182tm
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Bump in steel - Issue?

Hey guys,

I have an old '80s Castelli steel frame, and a few months ago I took it in to my LBS. The head honcho was looking my frame over, and noticed a very small bump in the top tube, just behind the front lug. It is almost invisible, but if you run your finger over it you can feel a slight bump. Also, on the down tube, just after the front lug, you can see a slight "pull", or tiny air-bubble looking things. When he saw this, he animately said I should never ride my bike again, and that I should destroy the frame, as it was very dangerous and could split apart at any minute. He suggested the front wheel had hit something with enough force to "crush" the top-tube (the bump) and "pull" the down tube (the air bubbles). Is it really as dangerous as he made it out to be? I rode it for several months after, and it was fine. I have since gotten a new frame, but I was just curious....

Thanks for any input,
Derek
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Old 03-13-09, 07:08 PM
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i doubt it. steel doesn't usually just fail completely and spontaneously (the frame builders around here might have a better idea of this); but materially, it's aluminum (and carbon) that is prone to sudden total failure, whereas steel tends to stretch its death out a little longer. *and* if you want to, you can always have the steel frame re-welded. maybe avoid the 10' vertical drops, but my two cents: i think you'll be fine on the roads.
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Old 03-13-09, 07:19 PM
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Originally Posted by pwdeegan View Post
*and* if you want to, you can always have the steel frame re-welded.

No welds.

As for the OP, I've noticed very, very slight "bumps" right at the ends of lugs on steel frames before, I think it might be caused by the framebuilding jig in some situations. See if you find similar bump(s) near the seatlug, on the top tube and seat tube. If so, and if they're the same type of bump, I think it's something in the building process.

Without seeing it in person, or at least a good photo, there's no way anyone can give a definitive answer-
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Old 03-13-09, 07:56 PM
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It sounds an awful lot like your bike had been subjected to a heavy impact. Slightly bumpy or 'wrinkled' underside of top and downtube at the headtube junctures are common when a bike has been crashed very hard. Essentially, the damage was the first stage of the material 'stretching its death out' (as said above).

It may have been a minor problem or it might have snapped and injured you the next time you rode it.

Without seeing the severity of the damage it is hard to make a reccomendation.

I have had several conversations with people where I tried to show them their frame was badly damaged from an impact - sometimes it was easy to spot the damage from across the room (or the street) - and the people completely refused to believe there was damage at all. I thought of these incidents when you said you were doubting the seriousness conveyed by the LBS guy.
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Old 03-13-09, 07:59 PM
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Sounds crashed. I would want to look at the front fork, too, to see if it is bent back at all. Many times the clearance from the tire to the down tube will look odd, too, when viewed from the side.
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Old 03-13-09, 08:49 PM
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Usually a sign of running into something like a car or a curb. Usually the fork gets tweaked a little too. Usually the handling will suffer - difficult to ride no hands eg. Doubtful it will fail suddenly, likely it will fatigue eventually because the bending induced some small cracks you can't even see yet.
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Old 03-13-09, 09:28 PM
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In 1981 I hit a dog (he ran in front of my, unavoidable, if there are any PETA types out there) with my bike. It bent the frame in a similar fashion, very severely. An LBS bent the frame back into shape, and I rode it for two more years before replacing the bike. If that Schwinn Super Le Tour, probably made of the rare tincanium, can survive that abuse, surely a quality frame like yours is fine.
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Old 03-13-09, 10:05 PM
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They used to make forks weaker so they would be wrecked before the frame to prevent this sort of damage. It is much cheaper to replace a fork than a frame. Your damage wouldnt be dangerous but the steeper steerer angle and increased trail would result in less than optimal steering geometry
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Old 03-14-09, 01:20 AM
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I have had several conversations with people where I tried to show them their frame was badly damaged from an impact - sometimes it was easy to spot the damage from across the room (or the street) - and the people completely refused to believe there was damage at all. I thought of these incidents when you said you were doubting the seriousness conveyed by the LBS guy.
Ha, no it was very unnoticeable, I don't know how the guy at the shop even spotted it. When he showed me, I did acknowledge it was damaged, I was just curious if it's really going to just fall apart like he said it would.

I totally forgot to mention that the fork was bent as well. I have since bent it back, but it still pulls to the right, and riding no hands is not easily done. As for other bumps near the other lugs, there are none. I can't help but wonder if it was when my buddy veered right in front of me, and my front wheel was destroyed, and the fork was bent. But we were going so slow that I don't see how it could have done that to the frame...It seems like it would take quite a bit of force to do that. Thanks for all the replies, I'll see if I can get a decent picture up.
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Old 03-14-09, 06:13 AM
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Originally Posted by b182tm View Post
I can't help but wonder if it was when my buddy veered right in front of me, and my front wheel was destroyed, and the fork was bent. But we were going so slow that I don't see how it could have done that to the frame...It seems like it would take quite a bit of force to do that.
So you crashed and destroyed a wheel and quite a bit of force wasn't involved??

It's not going to fall apart on you as the shop dude said, but yeah, I have no wonder at all. It's bent from crashing and bad handling and dimples behind the head tube lugs are a dead giveaway. Since it's steel, you can bend it back, but without a frame alignment table, you'll never get it right.
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Old 03-14-09, 07:05 AM
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Originally Posted by b182tm View Post
I totally forgot to mention that the fork was bent as well. I have since bent it back, but it still pulls to the right, and riding no hands is not easily done. As for other bumps near the other lugs, there are none. I can't help but wonder if it was when my buddy veered right in front of me, and my front wheel was destroyed, and the fork was bent.
Neglecting to mention this was something of a major oversight in your first posting wasn't it? I thought you had no idea how the frame could have been damaged and thought the shop guy was just over reacting.

Any impact hard enough to bend a fork and destroy a front wheel is very likely to damage the frame also. The frame isn't likely to fail suddenly and catastrophically but is badly damaged and should either be discarded or professionally repaired.
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Old 03-14-09, 12:11 PM
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Yeah, I honestly just totally forgot that incident. My bad, I feel like an idiot. I was literally going under 5 mph though, I'm just surprised that could happen to the frame...Well, I guess I just won't ride it much. It's my back up bike, so I'll only use it if I have to.
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Old 03-14-09, 01:33 PM
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Has the frame been repainted? If so, it might have been to hide damage like this:









I ran this bike into a curb last year. The paint came off because the metal stretched further than the paint could. The fork was bent back far enough that the front wheel didn't clear the downtube; I bent the fork back to about its original position.

I rode the bike another six months after the wreck and I still have it, but I have other bikes to ride now and I just use it as a parts bike. It's steel, but it's been compromised.
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Old 03-14-09, 02:15 PM
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No, it has original paint. It's no where near as bad as those pictures. You honestly can't see the damage (except tiny bubbles on down tube), it's only when you run your finger over it. It's no more than 1cm big.
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Old 03-16-09, 07:28 AM
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A Comment About Damaged Frames

A lot of people in this thread have made comments along the lines of "steel does not suddenly fail - it fails slowly and predictably and there is perceptible damage before the actual failure occurs." This is true, however, a bike with wrinkled top- and down-tubes has already been perceptibly damaged, and the next step in the predictable failure might be a complete breakdown and injury to the rider.

I know the OP does not use the bike much anymore, and he claims the damage is not severe, but people should know that a damaged frame is a damaged frame, and there is increased risk of failure with any amount of damage. I cannot coment on the level of risk without seeing the bike (even if I did I can only make a slightly more educated guess), but I have no doubt the risk is increased.
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