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