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Missing Henry James

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Missing Henry James

Old 12-07-20, 10:04 PM
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lbgary
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Missing Henry James

In my last post I mentioned kinking a down tube and ending a frame build, but have reconsidered and need to buy some tubes and parts. For my first frames I relied completely on Hank of Henry James to select the tubes I needed for whatever I was building, even sometimes went to his home to pick them up, or his son-in-law Chris would drop them off, since he lived nearby. Now Iím spending hours on various websites trying to learn enough about not-True Temper tubes to order intelligently, no small task. If I buy Reynolds, is it 953, 853, 631, 525 or some other undefined tube I know nothing about? If Columbus, is it Cromor, SL, Spirit, Life, Zona or Max? How to decide? There are probably tech data sheets out there somewhere describing the characteristics of all these products, but so far the ones Iíve read all sound like marketing hype. I did pull the trigger on a down tube, head tube and steerer from Torch and File (Reynolds), but need oval fork blades and front dropouts still. Every supplier seems low on stock, so some things may have to wait a while. I guess my complaint is that there is so much information to absorb, when all I want is to build a frame like my last one, in the event I end up re-using my ten year old Ultegra components. The prices Iím seeing for new ones is shocking. Is my age showing?
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Old 12-07-20, 10:29 PM
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At the risk of going against the trend of high end tubing I will say it matters little for most of our hobby build frames which tube brand/material we use as long as we can work the material/spec well. I also used Hank as my go to for a few decades. Wish him and Chris well. I would look at the tube strength, material as my initial criteria (gage and diameter not yet considered). Stainless and air hardening stuff I shy away from because I don't have that customer (me). This leaves a lot of tubes to still choose from. I also don't pursue the thin gages any longer, no .7/.4/.7 walls here.

Look at the tensile strengths as an indicator as to how highly "tuned" the tubing is. Here I want the lower levels of specific buke tubing. It's more forgiving to heat while joining, easier to cold set and less hard to file. I don't give much importance to brand after this. Availability in the length/gage/butting profile is far more the issue IMO. Andy
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Old 12-08-20, 01:57 AM
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Originally Posted by lbgary View Post
If I buy Reynolds, is it 953, 853, 631, 525 or some other undefined tube I know nothing about?
If you get your Reynolds at Torch and File, Andy can help you decide, he's been a framebuilder since the '70s.

I'd recommend using something cheap and thick-wall, because (1) it doesn't matter much, as Andrew Stewart pointed out and (2) it's safer for a hobbyist, less likely to dent or kink it or burn a hole through it. Save the paper-thin wundertoobs for after you've got your processes so nailed down that you're getting bored and need more challenge.

We can help choose a particular tube (well I'm not volunteering anyone but myself, but probably others would chime in too) if you tell us what tube (DT or TT for example) and what diameter you need. A few other details could help too, like your weight and the intended use: hammering with racers, touring (with/without camping gear), off-road etc. Honestly though I'd probably just end up recommending the same sorta-thick tube for whatever usage you mention, for the ease/safety of construction

Mark B in Seattle
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Old 12-08-20, 07:06 AM
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I also have positive memories of Hank, and particularly his wife Monica, having had them invite me inside their home to chat when stopping by to pick up tubes and various sundries. Joe Bringhelli is another stalwart member of the supply community that has done similar and more back when I was just starting out. Good folks.
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Old 12-08-20, 09:03 AM
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Cromor, Zona and 525 are all 4130 CrMo. Zona is cold drawn seamless, Cromor is DOM ("drawn over mandrel"-- a rolled/welded tube but with a much fatter wall that is then drawn out). 525 I think might be CDS or DOM depending on whether you get lucky.

Cromor and Zona are actually 25CrMo4 which is just a European version of 4130. It's the same stuff although the exact tolerances on the ingredients might be slightly different.

631 is a proprietary alloy similar to CrMo but with a bit more Manganese. It's supposed to actually get stronger when you weld or braze it. They're also seamless tubes. But in terms of working with it it's just like CrMo and you can weld it to CrMo.

725 is heat-treated 525 and 853 is heat-treated 631. This makes them stronger but less ductile. Harder to bend, dimple etc so avoid for the rear triangle.

921, 953 and XCr are stainless, very strong and very expensive.

The higher-end Columbus tubes like Spirit and stuff used to be a Niobium alloy but may now be "omnicrom" which sounds like it might be a lot like 631. Whatever the case they're all pretty similar and can be welded to CrMo.

They're all fine tubes and barring the stainless ones there's not really much difference between them. The double butting is the main reason to use them over regular 4130 tubes you could buy.

I usually use 631 as it's only slightly more than 525 and both are a good price here in the UK, a bit less than Columbus perhaps because of the weak pound.
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Old 12-10-20, 07:22 PM
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Originally Posted by Andrew R Stewart View Post
At the risk of going against the trend of high end tubing I will say it matters little for most of our hobby build frames which tube brand/material we use as long as we can work the material/spec well. I also used Hank as my go to for a few decades. Wish him and Chris well. I would look at the tube strength, material as my initial criteria (gage and diameter not yet considered). Stainless and air hardening stuff I shy away from because I don't have that customer (me). This leaves a lot of tubes to still choose from. I also don't pursue the thin gages any longer, no .7/.4/.7 walls here.

Look at the tensile strengths as an indicator as to how highly "tuned" the tubing is. Here I want the lower levels of specific buke tubing. It's more forgiving to heat while joining, easier to cold set and less hard to file. I don't give much importance to brand after this. Availability in the length/gage/butting profile is far more the issue IMO. Andy
I found the invoices from the last frame I finished and the tubeset from which came the kinked tube, and theyíre both mostly 7-4-7 True Temper. What I ordered as a replacement downtube is Reynolds 853 in 8-5-8, but then realized 853 is air-hardening so I thought better of that and ordered tube in 631, 9-6-9. Now I have to decide which to use. In spite of myself, Iím learning new stuff.
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Old 12-11-20, 04:00 AM
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Originally Posted by lbgary View Post
I found the invoices from the last frame I finished and the tubeset from which came the kinked tube, and theyíre both mostly 7-4-7 True Temper. What I ordered as a replacement downtube is Reynolds 853 in 8-5-8, but then realized 853 is air-hardening so I thought better of that and ordered tube in 631, 9-6-9. Now I have to decide which to use. In spite of myself, Iím learning new stuff.
631 is also air-hardening. 853 is the same exact alloy just also heat-treated. Either is absolutely fine though and not really any different in practice to CrMo. The 631 will be easier to cold-set and since the mishap you had before was related to that that might be the one to use. But the 853 might be closer in wall thickness to the other tubes you have for that frame.
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