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Crack on seat lug (top) of 1987 ALAN; slow failure or catastrophic failure?

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Crack on seat lug (top) of 1987 ALAN; slow failure or catastrophic failure?

Old 07-12-19, 02:28 AM
  #26  
Johno59
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I work for the world's biggest aerospace composite structures manufacturer. We do a lot of resins and adhesives for bonding of glass fibre, carbon fibre to various metals as such as Aluminium and more and more carbon to carbon bonding. In this case the resin bond under the lug has failed and the lug is not strong enough to support the load by itself. Repairing the crack will do nothing, a clamp would be extremely reckless. To repair the join you would have to burn off the bond for the seatpost, seatstays as well as the crossbar. Clean everything, pickle the surfaces with cancerogenic solvents, replace/repair the lug, reapply specific cancerogenic resins, brace it in a jig, cure the entire frame in an ATEX-rated oven at a specific temp for a specific time (any paint or decals would be destroyed) and off you go. Keep the $300K equipment needed to do this legally as the other lugs are probably on the way out as well.
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Old 07-12-19, 06:15 AM
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Originally Posted by skiron_2500 View Post
Thanks a lot for this. So, it sounds like there would be some warning signs from the frame.

How much riding did you do / how much time elapsed between the crack appearing and the shimmy beginning?

(I've already bought a replacement frame--a Vitus 979--and was wondering if I could use the bike gently until the Vitus arrives in the post.)
I probably rode it about 300 miles, because I thought the shimmy was a loose headset. I tightened the headset, and most of it went away, and it only seemed to be at lower speeds, like approaching a stoplight, etc.

Tightening the headset only covered up the issue, but the crack allowed the glue joint to become loose over a short period of time.

I didn't catch it until I decided to change the headset. I popped the old one out, and the new top/bottom cups slipped right in. Hmm, I got a better look at it, and the cracked head tube lugs had allowed the head tube to separate top and bottom from the lugs, instantly longer!...
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Old 07-12-19, 11:56 AM
  #28  
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in these situations, ask yourself: How good is my health insurance and how is my pain resistance? you may ride fine, or you may have a surprise failure, odds may be in favor of the former, but in the event of the later are you prepared for the end result is it worth it big picture

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Old 07-12-19, 12:26 PM
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Originally Posted by Johno59 View Post
I work for the world's biggest aerospace composite structures manufacturer. We do a lot of resins and adhesives for bonding of glass fibre, carbon fibre to various metals as such as Aluminium and more and more carbon to carbon bonding. In this case the resin bond under the lug has failed and the lug is not strong enough to support the load by itself. Repairing the crack will do nothing, a clamp would be extremely reckless. To repair the join you would have to burn off the bond for the seatpost, seatstays as well as the crossbar. Clean everything, pickle the surfaces with cancerogenic solvents, replace/repair the lug, reapply specific cancerogenic resins, brace it in a jig, cure the entire frame in an ATEX-rated oven at a specific temp for a specific time (any paint or decals would be destroyed) and off you go. Keep the $300K equipment needed to do this legally as the other lugs are probably on the way out as well.
Or do it as I suggested for around $25. My repair of that Peugeot cost me near nothing, Someone handed me a piece of CF uni years ago. I keep Gougeon Brothers epoxy on hand. I wasted a cheap home depot brush, used masking tape and cut up produce bags. The Op gets to keep all the paint and graphics. True, he doesn't get to keep the $300k of tools but this same approach wold work on the other lugs/BB just as well. (I did say and will repeat that research and skill are needed.)

Ben
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Old 07-12-19, 12:39 PM
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Originally Posted by skiron_2500 View Post
Three weeks sounds good! That's about how long my replacement Vitus frame will take to arrive in the post :'-)
I've a Vitus 979 that I kept for experiments.
The frame got the horizontal tube starting to get loose, was repaired under waranty by Vitus before failing again.

No 3 weeks warning but immediate sanction with 2 main tubes bent and the owner send to hospital.

I encounter about the same percentage of 979 with issues as Alan's

Currently I own a 787, bought new and an Alan.
Crossed fingers, none of them have an issue
However, I would feel more safe on a failing Alan that on a failing Vitus
On the first one, you'll get safely home. On the second one, potentially ...
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Old 07-12-19, 04:39 PM
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Originally Posted by Munny View Post
I've a Vitus 979 that I kept for experiments.
The frame got the horizontal tube starting to get loose, was repaired under waranty by Vitus before failing again.

No 3 weeks warning but immediate sanction with 2 main tubes bent and the owner send to hospital.

I encounter about the same percentage of 979 with issues as Alan's

Currently I own a 787, bought new and an Alan.
Crossed fingers, none of them have an issue
However, I would feel more safe on a failing Alan that on a failing Vitus
On the first one, you'll get safely home. On the second one, potentially ...
I repaired an Alan frame with this same exact failure at the seat lug.
I took a cast-aluminum seat tube/post clamp that I stretched open, closed over the lug socket and bolted shut using the tension of an M6 bolt.
It seemed like a durable fix and I remember the rider used it for a couple of years of moderate riding before moving out of the area.

These frames are subject to multiple failure points including the head lugs, so an eye should be kept on these lugs.
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Old 07-13-19, 02:17 AM
  #32  
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Originally Posted by 79pmooney View Post
Or do it as I suggested for around $25. My repair of that Peugeot cost me near nothing, Someone handed me a piece of CF uni years ago. I keep Gougeon Brothers epoxy on hand. I wasted a cheap home depot brush, used masking tape and cut up produce bags. The Op gets to keep all the paint and graphics. True, he doesn't get to keep the $300k of tools but this same approach wold work on the other lugs/BB just as well. (I did say and will repeat that research and skill are needed.)

Ben
I think most of you are a bit far of the mark here...

1. Professional advice is the frames junk.
2. A replacacement frame is few hundred dollars for a good one.
3. The personal cost of trying to pick yourself up after the frame catastrofically smashes your bones into the tarmac when you least expect it will cost a lot more than the frame.
4. We all know if one joint is failing, the rest are about to follow
5. Shoving a bit of two part into the crack with some ebay fibre wrap around it is not a fix.
6. This is not a time for thrift - REPLACE THE FRAME!!!
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Old 07-13-19, 07:36 AM
  #33  
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A lot of good opinions here. Thank you for at least posting a picture. Whether you repair and ride this frame, or chose to scrap it, has a lot more to do with your acceptance of risk than the viability of any repair suggested above.

Were this a historically significant frame - or a very valuable one - it might be worth the time and effort to do a repair.

I think there's general agreement here that this frame is toast and finding a new / alternative one is your best and safest option.

Mark Petry
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Old 07-13-19, 07:43 AM
  #34  
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Originally Posted by Dan Chase View Post
I think most of you are a bit far of the mark here...

1. Professional advice is the frames junk.
2. A replacacement frame is few hundred dollars for a good one.
3. The personal cost of trying to pick yourself up after the frame catastrofically smashes your bones into the tarmac when you least expect it will cost a lot more than the frame.
4. We all know if one joint is failing, the rest are about to follow
5. Shoving a bit of two part into the crack with some ebay fibre wrap around it is not a fix.
6. This is not a time for thrift - REPLACE THE FRAME!!!
Hey, I am replacing the frame. This thread is about whether I can ride the bike until the replacement arrives / till I change the parts over to replacement frame / whether I can use the frame for gentle cycling to the newsagent in the future.
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Old 07-13-19, 07:54 AM
  #35  
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Originally Posted by dddd View Post
I repaired an Alan frame with this same exact failure at the seat lug.
I took a cast-aluminum seat tube/post clamp that I stretched open, closed over the lug socket and bolted shut using the tension of an M6 bolt.
It seemed like a durable fix and I remember the rider used it for a couple of years of moderate riding before moving out of the area.

These frames are subject to multiple failure points including the head lugs, so an eye should be kept on these lugs.
OK, interesting. I think that I will stick to my second-favourite outdoor activity, hiking, until my replacement frame arrives in the post (I can't use my backup ride, a steel-framed bicycle, because it's at my mum's house). But if I do need to use the ALAN for something urgent, I'll either try this approach or else the nylon-webbing wilderness-technique mentioned above.
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Old 07-13-19, 08:06 AM
  #36  
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Originally Posted by skiron_2500 View Post
Hey, I am replacing the frame. This thread is about whether I can ride the bike until the replacement arrives / till I change the parts over to replacement frame / whether I can use the frame for gentle cycling to the newsagent in the future.
The answer should be no, don`t ride it:



Frame colapse of alan rather than a vitus, but it wrecked the rider...
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Old 07-13-19, 10:37 AM
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Originally Posted by 79pmooney View Post
Or do it as I suggested for around $25. My repair of that Peugeot cost me near nothing, Someone handed me a piece of CF uni years ago. I keep Gougeon Brothers epoxy on hand. I wasted a cheap home depot brush, used masking tape and cut up produce bags. The Op gets to keep all the paint and graphics. True, he doesn't get to keep the $300k of tools but this same approach wold work on the other lugs/BB just as well. (I did say and will repeat that research and skill are needed.)

Ben
Wrapping carbon fibre around anodized aluminium and applying an adhesive would not hold. You would have to remove the oxidized surface layer on the aluminium and treat it with a powerful solvent to enable the resin impregnated carbon to bond to the lug's surface.
After that you'd have to press the carbon fibre/resin matrix in a mould or use a vacuum pack in an autoclaved oven so as to prevent any air bubbles degrading the final result. Carbon fiber structures need to be monocurquic ie the whole structure takes the load, not just the lug. To get that there, there can be zero voids in the layers making up the final composite layer - after all CF is just another plastic made of glue and burnt nylon.
Don't get me wrong, it is an incredible material with astounding performance so superior to all other materials but it has to be made correctly otherwise you'd be better off using fibre glass and glue.
Mind you treating the outside surface won't help the fact the tubing is no longer attached to the inside of the lug.

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Old 07-13-19, 11:47 AM
  #38  
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Heh heh heh. I was far too smart to buy an ALAN -- and yet, still plenty stupid enough to have purchased a VITUS. That frame pretzeled soon after I bought it in a very low speed fall that a steel frame would have simply shaken off.

Those bonded frames were sold with the understanding that they were delicate and not meant to last. Sean Kelly's team rode them under sponsorship, and it's anybody's guess as to how many of those frames broke in one season.

Aluminum continues to be the inferior frame material of choice for the great unwashed masses (mtb's excepted).

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Old 07-13-19, 01:18 PM
  #39  
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Originally Posted by onyerleft View Post
...Aluminum continues to be the inferior frame material of choice for the great unwashed masses.
Those were the early days of aluminum frames made in pretty big numbers, and as such were less well-developed in terms of achieving good lifespan. They were marketed as being reliable, but fell short in that endeavor (at least in relative terms).

From my recent shop efforts:
There are other failings of using oversized materials, as when chainline is compromised by a front derailer's inability to retract as far as might be needed when using a triple crankset.
It recently took me a fairly extensive amount of time and effort to correct the excess chainline offset of my Trek hybrid's triple crankset, due in part to the oversized 35mm seat tube diameter. I had to first establish that a traditional bottom-swing front derailer would be able to retract 2mm further inward than the bike's original top-swing front derailer, and then I had to exploit this benefit by selecting (and precisely re-centering using a fixed-cup spacer) an 8mm-shorter (113mm vs. 121mm) Octalink ES-30 bottom bracket.
With all of the test-fits and measurements, plus searching for the exact-best bottom bracket and front derailer, I spent hours achieving all of a 4mm reduction in crankarm position at each end of the bottom bracket.
It sure is nice now being able to smoothly use a little more of the cassette's range without shifting off of the big ring(!), but I can't recall ever having to try so hard at this with any steel-framed bike.
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Old 07-15-19, 11:09 AM
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I have to agree it is now wall art. I wouldn't put my ass on it.
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Old 07-15-19, 12:43 PM
  #41  
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I believe if it was a horse they would call that a widow maker. Is your life and accident insurance paid up? Oh and if it does fail will the rest of the components of the bike be worth transferring to the new frame? Or will they be toast too. Not to mention the months of pain... I've had broken bones and injuries, not worth it. Some things you do not heal from.
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Old 07-15-19, 12:55 PM
  #42  
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There is this company that apparently deals with Vitus repairs.

Untitled Document

It woudn't hurt to contact them about the Alan.

Even if they don't want to take on the project, they may have some ideas.
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Old 07-15-19, 01:39 PM
  #43  
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Originally Posted by skiron_2500 View Post
Hey, I am replacing the frame. This thread is about whether I can ride the bike until the replacement arrives / till I change the parts over to replacement frame / whether I can use the frame for gentle cycling to the newsagent in the future.
Yes you can ride that BROKEN lug frame with the now loose top tube that COULD fail at the head tube at any moment you are riding it. The RISKS FAR OUTWEIGH the the benefits of trying to keep that frame alive for a short time longer. It's now WALL AT only.

You can NOT PROPERLY REPAIR that frame without disassembling the seat lug from the frame.

DO NOT RIDE IT!

Cheers
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Old 07-15-19, 03:01 PM
  #44  
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Originally Posted by Dan Chase View Post
I think most of you are a bit far of the mark here...

1. Professional advice is the frames junk.
2. A replacacement frame is few hundred dollars for a good one.
3. The personal cost of trying to pick yourself up after the frame catastrofically smashes your bones into the tarmac when you least expect it will cost a lot more than the frame.
4. We all know if one joint is failing, the rest are about to follow
5. Shoving a bit of two part into the crack with some ebay fibre wrap around it is not a fix.
6. This is not a time for thrift - REPLACE THE FRAME!!!
Apparently you missed the part where I said "(I did say and will repeat that research and skill are needed.)" even though you quoted it.
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Old 07-15-19, 03:10 PM
  #45  
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Originally Posted by Johno59 View Post
Wrapping carbon fibre around anodized aluminium and applying an adhesive would not hold. You would have to remove the oxidized surface layer on the aluminium and treat it with a powerful solvent to enable the resin impregnated carbon to bond to the lug's surface.
After that you'd have to press the carbon fibre/resin matrix in a mould or use a vacuum pack in an autoclaved oven so as to prevent any air bubbles degrading the final result. Carbon fiber structures need to be monocurquic ie the whole structure takes the load, not just the lug. To get that there, there can be zero voids in the layers making up the final composite layer - after all CF is just another plastic made of glue and burnt nylon.
Don't get me wrong, it is an incredible material with astounding performance so superior to all other materials but it has to be made correctly otherwise you'd be better off using fibre glass and glue.
Mind you treating the outside surface won't help the fact the tubing is no longer attached to the inside of the lug.
If you wrap the lug (with skill) with enough CF to match the strength of the lug at the area cracked, that lug becomes simply a spacer. The CF is far stiffer so it takes all the load. With a good wrap (see any Calfee bamboo bike for great examples) that repair will be permanent and since the it is separated from all the other lugs by long lengths of tubing, the increased stiffness there is not going to send additional stresses to the other lugs. I am not talking about dressing up the outside of the lug, I am talking about effectively replacing the lug's function with a new CF lug wrapped around the original. Yes, that original lug is still the connect with the tubes. But the job of keeping that lug tightly screwed around those tobes will now be done entirely with the CF.
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Old 07-15-19, 08:14 PM
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Every single Alan and the multitude of rebadged Alan frames out there are cursed to a similar fate, and it only becomes more and more prevalent as the years go on.

These things belong up there with the AVA and ATAX death stems and the Viscount death fork. Ride at your own risk, and when it cracks, just put it away for good.

-Kurt
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Old 07-15-19, 08:46 PM
  #47  
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Originally Posted by Miele Man View Post
Yes you can ride that BROKEN lug frame with the now loose top tube that COULD fail at the head tube at any moment you are riding it. The RISKS FAR OUTWEIGH the the benefits of trying to keep that frame alive for a short time longer. It's now WALL AT only.

You can NOT PROPERLY REPAIR that frame without disassembling the seat lug from the frame.

DO NOT RIDE IT!

Cheers
The top tube is mainly under compression, except a few rare cases such as during a crash. And, the down tube is normally under tension.

The frame may well hold together under normal riding, although one could get odd behavior such as a shimmy descending, and could be stressed under hard front braking (use the back brake).

Anyway, it may well be rideable, but inadvisable.
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Old 07-15-19, 09:41 PM
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Originally Posted by CliffordK View Post
The top tube is mainly under compression, except a few rare cases such as during a crash. And, the down tube is normally under tension.
Some riders tend to push themselves up on the saddle by pressing against the bars in the drops. Wouldn't you say that hould surely offset some of the compression, if only for a moment, just like the brakes (as you noted)?

Both are enough to get a rider in trouble.

-Kurt
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Old 07-15-19, 10:08 PM
  #49  
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I just think it's cool you love the bike enough to consider any and all of this stuff in the name of just a few more rides.

But let it go, man. Gotta be another one out there.
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Old 07-15-19, 10:15 PM
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Originally Posted by Fahrenheit531 View Post
Gotta be another one out there.
One of the LBS has been sitting on no less than three of them since new - a few ALAN badged and a few Guerciotti badged. They've been hanging up for at least 13 years just by my watch, never mind how long they've been there prior to myknowledge of them.

Nobody in their right mind will pay NOS prices for one, so they'll sit for another 13 years, presumably.

-Kurt
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