Quite a while ago I posted about a restoration I was doing for myself of a Petrus bicycle. As I mentioned these were built in Melbourne Australia by Peter Brotherton during the 1970’s and early 80’s. If you have a look at my previous post https://gdukehandmadebicycles.com.au/2014/02/ you will see how mine came to me. now I can finally show you how it turned out along with the period correct first generation black Shimano Dura Ace components. It has taken this long to actually get back to it. In this challenging time of Covid 19 it is all ways good to see something different. I hope you enjoy
Author Archives: gdukebicycles
Frame repairs are a case in problem solving. In the last little while I have had two instances where most people would say “time for a new frame”or “too far gone” . The first involved a warrantied tig welded frame that the company replaced after viewing it online and asking the owner to cut through the bottom bracket shell beside the frame number. They got to verify that the frame couldn’t be ridden again and replaced it. The original problem with a broken dropout was fixed by a friend of the owner. Adrian brought it to me and wanted to know if I could do anything to keep the frame going. He wanted a second bike to use around town. I had a long think about this and decided to apply a patch along the BB shell. While I wouldn’t say it looks like bought one, it will be good for many more k’s.
The second was a case of two broken bottle bosses in the downtube of a plain gauge tig welded frame. Ordinarily in a lugged frame I would suggest we take the tube out and replace it. This frame made that both difficult and un-economical. I decided once again to apply a patch over the whole area with new bottle mounts. Again the frame will do many more kilometers before it needs to be replaced
I don’t do this sort of work lightly and I dont see this as the easy way out. A patch is rarely as good as a replacement but in both these cases I believe they will last and are well executed. They are also quite visible but I do attempt to be elegant at the same time so I am not hiding anything when I do them
Sometimes your time is very much taken up with repairs and adjustments to peoples bikes. Over the past month I have moved a pair of canti bosses so that they would accommodate a wider rim ( I had to move them further out and a little down so that the arc would meet the rim). Repaired a seat binder boss that was collapsing after about 30 years use and reamed out two seat post that were seized in their respective frames. Please people grease your seat posts regularly. I also added a set of cable guides for a hub dyno and adjusted the rear spacing on a frame from 126 to 130mm. While I could look at all this and not see much in it the biggest thing that actually comes out of a month like this is that people get to put their bikes back on the road and keep riding, and I think that is a great thing.
I have finally got that Rossin Low Profile inspired frame together. As I said elsewhere, the customer is going to take it and ride it in its current state and bring it back before the handmade bicycle show in Melbourne #HBSA next year. We will get it painted and display it at the show. To recap , this frame is constructed using original unused Rossin lugs and handmade top tube lugs to accommodate the top tube slope .NOS Reynolds tubing. Its built for the road and as a fixie so will have a front brake. It has a 700 rear wheel and a 650 front. Doing things by hand and without repetition always takes a long time but is very very satisfying. The owner of this bike is a visual artist / painter so he understands. That makes it all worth while.
Bicycle framebuilding tends to be glorified sometimes. It is often considered to be something out there and inspirational. Often this view is shared by those who don’t really understand the process. They tend to think of a framebuilder holding a torch and producing a frame. That part of the process only accounts for a small proportion of the build. If you have read the blurb at the front of this webpage then you might remember that I am a toolmaker by trade. That meant that when I came to framebuilding I had already acquired many of the base skills required to make a frame. I was pretty adept with a file. I could turn and mill things. I new how to braze and silver solder. I doubt I would have had the nerve to attempt my first frame without having those skills. Over the last month I have spent most of my time doing tasks that use those skills but don’t actually result in anything glamorous. I have done a couple of simple repairs like filling dents on a top tube and filing them back. Re-setting a rear end to accommodate a wider axle and reaming and facing a frame for assembly as well as getting the front triangle of the Rossin inspired low profile frame together. See my past post on this topic https://gdukehandmadebicycles.com.au/2019/05/31/lo-pro-or-funny-frame/ Most of these tasks are little bits of nothing, but when you apply them to a frame that needs to come out of the process straight and ride-able then you need a strategy. How do I go about this. What order should I do this in. I bought my first set of tubes from someone who had departed the game long before . He described framebuilding as tedious. He said it wasn’t hard, but tedious. I wouldn’t necessarily agree. I find it very satisfying, and I plan to at it for some time yet, but it isn’t glamorous.
Mark brought me another one of his collection to repair. The Monarch, built in 1898 in Yackandandah, Victoria, Australia. A great example of a shearers bike that would have been ridden from town to town in search of work. This example was built for a G Denny, as evidenced by the seat tube badge. These bikes were made at the beginning of the safety bike era. It has a high bottom bracket and a truss fork. Presumably this was an attempt to strengthen the fork for its journey over the many rough , unmade roads country Victoria offered at the time. Anyway for whatever reason the truss portion of the fork had rusted away. I needed to make up some new sections and fit the fork in the frame in order to work out the exact length since the upper clamping point is at the clip style headset. There is not alot of room for adjustment once you commit with the torch here There was lots of dry fitting with tiny 3/32 ball bearings. Great to get it back on the road for the next hundred years
After much too-ing and fro-ing over a number of years my regular customer and visual artist Bundit has finally decided he wants me to build him a Lo Pro frame in the style of a Rossin.
He is so enamored with the brand that he has sourced original pantographed frame fittings. We have a fork crown, a Bottom Bracket shell and a set of rear chainstays with caps already joined. These haven’t been rescued from a crashed frame but from far flung Romania. They need a fair bit of work to get to a usable state but I am getting there. Based on sizing and preferences arrived at through other modifications I have done for Bundit in the past this will be a single speed frame for the road. It will run a 650 front wheel and a front brake. Given the BB shell had guide slots cast into it for the cables, and we werent going to need them I decided to fill these with brass before commencing work. Well, not quite. There is a lot of work involved in building a frame before I do any joining of tubes. I also had to do some serious work on the crown to make it fit. Rough wouldn’t be the word I would use here and I have come to the conclusion that these aren’t actually pantographed using the said machine as we might have always assumed but that the lettering is cast into them from the start. Anyway I will leave you with some pictures and get back to it. This has been a long time coming and the worst thing about it might be that it could be the last job I do for Bundit when it is finished. We shall see
This time last year I was putting my exhibit for the inaugural the Hand made Bicycle Show in Melbourne together. I had started out to build two replica stems from the 50’s and 60’s. One was the ATP Raygun stem, the other was a Major Taylor style adjustable stem. I only managed to finish the Raygun stem and put the bits for the other aside. A couple of months ago a customer picked up a repair and inquired about an adjustable stem. I dragged out the half finished bits and we decided that when I had time I should continue. The show came round again and while the stem is till not fully finished it is only short of plating so I figure what the heck. Last year I had a naked frame there. This year I will have a naked stem and once the show is over I will send it off for nickel. . If you want to see mine and the latest offerings from other Australian builders then drop by stand 20 at the handmadebicycleshow Australia . The Meat Market Craft center in North Melbourne April 26th to 28th http://www.handmadebicycleshow.cc/show Instgram #handmadebicycleshow
The Hand Made Bicycle Show 2019 here in Australia is fast approaching and this year I decided to showcase two frames that span the years of technology. The first one is a traditional skinny tubed frame having its inspiration in the racing frames of the 1960,s and 70,s. It has down tube shifter bosses and a threaded steerer in the fork. I decided to aim this frame at the interest in L,Eroica and the vintage bike scene. With that in mind I decided to fit a pair of S and S Couplers, because if you are going to head across to any one of these events with a bike you will probably want to stay a little longer and have a look around.
Dragging a bike around with you gets tiresome for both you and your traveling companions. I know this is not a very original feature for a vintage bike, but the idea of cutting up your prized Bianchi or Pinarello without having any idea where the buts in the tubing are is a bad one. To make it easier to disassemble I have also fitted cable guides on top of the BB so you can simply unhook them. Anyway that’s frame number one, and it went off for paint this week
Frame number two is substantially different and on the face of things from another era. I had become increasingly aware that a modern frame has disc brakes. To do discs properly you need to have through axles and flat mounts. Forks made for disc brakes and made from carbon have tapered steerers. This means you end up with a large diameter head tube. My personnel idea is that these are ugly and no one makes lugs to accommodate this yet. They may never because tig welding is more dominate than lugged building I decided to make a tapered head tube lug from scratch. While the diameter is still large at the bottom it is still more proportioned than a straight head tube of the same diameter. This would allow me to use a 35mm diameter down tube and a Columbus gravel fork with a steerer that tapers from 11/4 to 11/8. While this is not as big as some,it does allow a bit more comfort than a 11/2 inc bottom bearing does..I have utilized Bear Components http://bearframesupplies.co.uk/ through axle dropouts with an integrated flat mount Taking the opportunity here to promote them I have to say they are one of the most helpful companies I have dealt with. I am still working on this frame but it is getting there
So, two different frames with a number of firsts for me. I had never used S and S Couplers before. I had not built with through axles before and I had not built a lug to accommodate a tapered head tube before. Despite this I am happy with the way they have both progressed and the one constant in both of these frames is the fact they are both built with steel and most importantly Lugs. I look forward to showing them off on the weekend of the 27th and 28th of April
A few months ago I was out riding with a friend. We were both riding vintage bikes. Bikes with toe straps and in my case gear levers mounted on the down tube. My friend had an early set of Campagnolo Egopower. At one time as I moved my hand down to change gears he remarked that it was a deliberate action. I rode home after 100kms thinking about how this statement applied to other areas of my life. While I don’t like to think of myself as a retro grouch I must admit to a fascination for things that require physical interaction. I have a couple of manual wind watches from the 50’s and 60’s. I like wearing them with the knowledge that if I don’t wind them ,they wont go. I enjoy using my turntable but not because vinyl has made a comeback. I enjoy placing the record on the platter and lifting the tonearm over and onto the record. I like the idea I have to pay attention to when it comes to the end, and not decide to leave the room and do something else beforehand like I would with a CD. It keeps me engaged.
I build frames the same way. I treat each frame as something different. I draw up a full sized drawing of each one. I file the tubes individually before brazing them up. I like the idea that each step is one of those deliberate actions and have no desire to automate the process. I like to be engaged. Having said that I am not opposed to modern stuff. I haven’t succumbed to electronic shifting yet but do enjoy modern integrated gears and clip-less pedals.As I mentioned last month I am even in the process of building a frame with disc brakes and a tapered head tube and as long as its possible to build a frame that will accommodate these things and still be made the same way then I am here