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Custom racks for a Rene Herse

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Custom racks for a Rene Herse

Old 11-20-21, 02:01 PM
  #1  
gugie 
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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
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Old 11-20-21, 02:08 PM
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H**Y CRAP, that's fantastic!
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Old 11-20-21, 02:14 PM
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Bike details

Most of you are probably less interested in seeing how a bike butcher from Portland builds a rack than seeing details of a 70 year old classic and rare Rene Herse, so here you go!


Custom hand filed lugs


Hand lettered logo


Drive train. Rene Herse cranks and front derailleur.


Maxi-car hubs


Rene Herse proprietary stem


Rene Herse brakes

It was an honor and a challenge to have someone trust a rare and classic bike to me for a pair of custom racks. I spent a lot more time than usual studying the design before starting. This one had to look right! Rather than creating a mirror finish on my buffing wheel, the owner and I decided to make the racks look like they were made 70 year ago, so I polished them up, then knocked down the finish with some scotchbrite and fine steel wool.
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Old 11-20-21, 02:22 PM
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@gugie

Speaking for myself and the group.

I/we are always up for whatever you are working on. To have a go to fabricator/builder in our ranks and right here in PDX is golden for me.

If it was up to me, your publicist would chronicle and document all your projects and keep us updated weekly if not daily.
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Old 11-20-21, 02:22 PM
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Alors, c'est fantastique!
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Old 11-20-21, 02:52 PM
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Now Herse if I recall often threaded wires through the rack?
Theses are Stainless, and Herse made his as I recall with steel tubing and had them chrome plated...
The plan to just polish the heck out of them?
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Old 11-20-21, 02:55 PM
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Originally Posted by repechage View Post
Now Herse if I recall often threaded wires through the rack?
Theses are Stainless, and Herse made his as I recall with steel tubing and had them chrome plated...
The plan to just polish the heck out of them?
Check the last sentence of post #3.
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Old 11-20-21, 04:51 PM
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Very cool, gugie ! :Thumb:
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Old 11-20-21, 05:20 PM
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Impressive work, Mark!
I was just thinking about you this morning while out on a ride - thinking about that Gillott Mixte you did for that customer in England.
The treatment you did to the stays to make the fat tires and fender work was audacious and so well executed.

Then to see this post when I got home. Very cool!
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Old 11-20-21, 05:32 PM
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Originally Posted by merziac View Post
Check the last sentence of post #3.
thanks. There will be a increasing visible difference at the junctions with time.

I really do not know which way to go if I was making the decisions. Tough call.
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Old 11-20-21, 06:21 PM
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Originally Posted by repechage View Post
thanks. There will be a increasing visible difference at the junctions with time.

I really do not know which way to go if I was making the decisions. Tough call.
There's a reason why 95% of the racks I make are stainless steel and brazed with silver. Chrome is problematic. For one, I don't have a good chrome plater nearby, I'd have to ship it somewhere. Second, unless you've got an established relationship with a chromer, it may be months for turnaround. Third, it's not exactly environmentally friendly. I don't TIG, so brazing is how I join tubes.

Standard 4130 CrMo is stronger than the 304 and 316 stainless tubing I typically use, but it's "strong enough".

Silver based filler does oxidize, just like Grandma's silverwear. Since I pin most junctions, I don't need a fillet, and there's very little visible filler at the joints, maybe a mm or so visible. My oldest rack that I personally use is about 4 years old, you have to look closely to find the small tarnished joints.

The call's easy for me. Less costly, much more environmentally friendly, and I don't have to wait a long time for the chromer to finish the job. In this particular case, it also wouldn't look right - too bright for a 70 year old bike!

Someone wants a shiny rack from me, I'll go stainless. Someone wants a super strong rack for expedition touring, I'll use CrMo and have it powder coated. I've had a few old rando bikes with 40-50 year old chrome plated racks on them, and most had chrome pitting. Stainless won't ever do that.
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Old 11-20-21, 07:29 PM
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Nice work! I like your attention to detail and focus. Great pictures, and even though the pics look flawless, I’m pretty sure it looks much better in person, thank you for sharing. Joe
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Old 11-20-21, 07:45 PM
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I looked three times. The rear rack is supported only by the drop out rings and the fender!

(Am i the only one who wants to see the discarded racks?)
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Old 11-20-21, 08:05 PM
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Originally Posted by gugie View Post
There's a reason why 95% of the racks I make are stainless steel and brazed with silver. Chrome is problematic. For one, I don't have a good chrome plater nearby, I'd have to ship it somewhere. Second, unless you've got an established relationship with a chromer, it may be months for turnaround. Third, it's not exactly environmentally friendly. I don't TIG, so brazing is how I join tubes.

Standard 4130 CrMo is stronger than the 304 and 316 stainless tubing I typically use, but it's "strong enough".

Silver based filler does oxidize, just like Grandma's silverwear. Since I pin most junctions, I don't need a fillet, and there's very little visible filler at the joints, maybe a mm or so visible. My oldest rack that I personally use is about 4 years old, you have to look closely to find the small tarnished joints.

The call's easy for me. Less costly, much more environmentally friendly, and I don't have to wait a long time for the chromer to finish the job. In this particular case, it also wouldn't look right - too bright for a 70 year old bike!

Someone wants a shiny rack from me, I'll go stainless. Someone wants a super strong rack for expedition touring, I'll use CrMo and have it powder coated. I've had a few old rando bikes with 40-50 year old chrome plated racks on them, and most had chrome pitting. Stainless won't ever do that.
Great work!
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Old 11-20-21, 08:13 PM
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Originally Posted by Classtime View Post
I looked three times. The rear rack is supported only by the drop out rings and the fender!

(Am i the only one who wants to see the discarded racks?)
Yep! That was typical BITD.



Here's the "original" front rack:


Most likely a VO rack that was mutilated.
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Old 11-20-21, 08:40 PM
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Typical Gugie-level attention to detail. Chapeau, Sir!
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Old 11-20-21, 11:00 PM
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Cino ready!
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Old 11-21-21, 12:39 AM
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Excellent post and your detailed explanation is appreciated. Your efforts are an inspiration for the rest of us, thank you!
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Old 11-21-21, 09:24 AM
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Stainless can be a bit of a pain to form for sure. Everything looks fantastic here. I think you've absolutely done the bike justice with these racks. How nerve racking the torch work must have been.
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Old 11-21-21, 10:25 AM
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Very well done. I just built my first front rack after building a couple of frames and forks. I can see building many more. One question, what tooling did you use for the larger radius bends in the rear rack?
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Old 11-21-21, 11:45 AM
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Originally Posted by Cynikal View Post
Very well done. I just built my first front rack after building a couple of frames and forks. I can see building many more. One question, what tooling did you use for the larger radius bends in the rear rack?
I make wooden "pulleys" with hole saws of various diameters, a router with a 45 degree chamfer bit. Two of them sandwiched together with screws and glue and a big vise.



More details here.
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Old 11-21-21, 12:50 PM
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very nice work Mark ! On account of the rear rack mounting (dropouts and fenders only) "randonneur" racks like this are not really intended for heavy loads, like camping panniers.

Very clever work on tacking the rack together on the frame. I like your bending mandrel.

/markp
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Old 11-21-21, 01:39 PM
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Well done! Must have been fun/stressful to work on a such an archetypal Herse. Especially cool to have contributed to the history of that bike now, too.
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Old 11-21-21, 01:54 PM
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Originally Posted by gugie View Post
I make wooden "pulleys" with hole saws of various diameters, a router with a 45 degree chamfer bit. Two of them sandwiched together with screws and glue and a big vise.



More details here.
Thanks, that is really helpful.
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Old 11-21-21, 01:54 PM
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uhh... nice rack.



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