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A deliberate action

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

Campag downtube shifters

Campag downtube shifters

Vintage manual wind watches

Vintage manual wind watches

Rega Turntable

Rega Turntable

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Posted by on January 24, 2019 in Uncategorized

 

A lug for a tapered head tube

It has become apparent that disc brakes are here to stay and that if one wants to use a carbon fork then the only real option is to have a tapered steerer and through axle. While frames that are tig welded or fillet brazed can accommodate these upgrades without much difficulty, (particularly if you don’t mind the look of a large diameter head tube) I rather prefer the slimmer look of a tapered head tube and lugs. Unfortunately lugs for a tapered head tube are non existent and to that end I decided I had to make my own. Given the lugs that are available, this does only mean the manufacture of the lower head lug. I decided that the best starting point was a flat sheet cut into the undeveloped shape I wanted to arrive at

Starting point for a tapered lug

Starting point for a tapered lug

Tapered headtube lug

Tapered headtube lug

. I turned up a dummy head tube out of solid steel and with a bit of heat to help me along I bent the sheet around the dummy. I brazed up the join and then set about making a fixture to hold things together.

Tapered headtube lug 1

Tapered headtube lug 1

Fixture for a tapered headtube

Fixture for a tapered headtube lug

Having a tapered head tube meant that I couldn’t take the angle off the outside of the tube. I decided to hold the head tube with the start of the lug on it between cones. I held the 35mm down tube port in a block at the same center height as the cones and set that block at the required angle. This let me file things up. Once that was done it was a matter of fillet brazing the said down tube port to the head tube ring and then dressing the lug to the way I wanted it.

Tapered headtube lug 2

Tapered headtube lug 2

Finished tapered headtube lug

Finished tapered headtube lug

I am pretty happy with the way this has turned out but if you want to see the intended end result you had better plan to be at the Handmade Bicycle Show in Melbourne next April. In the mean time have a great Christmas

 
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Posted by on December 21, 2018 in Uncategorized

 

Fork repairs and modifications

Sometimes it pays to put off a job until another day. I had a customer drop off a fork that had a steerer that was too short. he wasn’t in a hurry so I put it aside. Then I had another customer front up with a fork that had a damaged steerer.

Damaged steerer

Damaged steerer

Years of use. Years of having a quill stem tightened up inside it. It needed replacing. Right I thought. I will jig them up in the Deckel mill and bore out the crown. Why spend hours with a die grinder when you can get it right quicker. Sometimes there ARE more efficient ways to do things. So, cut them off, clamp them in the jig and clock them up vertically. Bore them out to the right size and then off to the fork jig.

Deckel boring of fork crown

Deckel boring of fork crown

More Deckel boring

More Deckel boring

Ready for a new steerer

Ready for a new steerer

Two forks. Two new steerers

Two forks. Two new steerers

The first one was fine. It was a relatively modern fork. The other one came from the 40s. It had ends that were manufactured by squashing the tubing and drilling the right sized hole . When I first built my fork jig I had a very simple dummy axle. Later I made one that would allow me to index the dropouts. I went to the cupboard and found that original axle because there was no way that the indexing one was going to work for that older fork. Never throw anything away

1940's fork ends

1940’s fork ends

Dummy axle options

Dummy axle options

However: you don’t ever seem to time things totally right. Just as I got both those forks done and put the milling machine back in to its normal state another set turned up with a similar problem. At least I know I can do it this time

 
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Posted by on November 21, 2018 in Uncategorized

 

The Chronicles of Bundit continue

I really thought we were there. I thought that Bundit #bunditpaungthong would be happy with the last creation. I was wrong. I am not complaining because all my creative energy is brought to bear whenever he comes up with a new idea, and that is great. This time he found a frame meant to take a small front wheel, so it was originally built with a long head tube.This means that the geometry is not upset with a modification
In order to further explore his time trial obsession I moved the top head lug down the head tube,cut it off and replaced the top tube with a longer one. The old one would now be to short. None of this is as straight forward as it looks. Lugs dont really want to be manipulated that far and that is why the tube doesn’t really drop as far as I would have liked. If the frame had been shorter in the seat tube to start with then it might have got there. It is also why the joints are a mixture of lug and fillet braze. The top tang on the lug was willing to bend that far but not the complete port. Therefore I decided to remove the bottom half of both the top tube ports and blend a fillet into the upper tang. We also changed the rear dropouts to fit a set of track style, rear facing ones and moved the brake bridge  up a little in order to accommodate a wheel further into the frame  Well, we actually cut the old one out and replaced it with a curved one without a brake mount. I am happy with how it came out and look forward to see how Bundit paints it given he is the visual artist in this partnershipIMG_3693IMG_3690IMG_3695IMG_3706

 
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Posted by on October 24, 2018 in Uncategorized

 

More Repairs and Observations

A couple of repairs passed through the shop this month and one of them caused me to observe something thing I didn’t like. Andrew brought in his road frame with a broken rear dropout. No problem there. It was a fairly straightforward fix. While I was doing the job and trying not to take too much paint off the rest of the frame (Andrew’s plan was to spray some matching silver paint on the repair) I started to get really frustrated when the Bottom Bracket kept rotating in the vice. I couldn’t believe my vice jaws were that far out of parallel. Turns out they weren’t. I put a caliper over the BB shell and low and behold it looks like it was never faced. This wont effect anything if you are using a sealed BB, but if you installed either an old style cup and cone BB or an external cup setup then you would be in big trouble. I wont mention the name on the frame but I am rather disappointed that these things show up at all. Any way Andrew’s frame is back to where it should be. Liz brought me her Carter with a bent front dropout after the simple act of tipping over in the roof mount system. Not while driving, just while it was being mounted. I took the old one out and put in a new one. Lucky it was steel and not carbon. One bends,the other one breaks.

Broken dropout

Broken dropout

Replaced dropout

Replaced dropout

Dropout Alignment

Dropout Alignment

Bent front dropout

Bent front dropout

Replaced front dropout

Replaced front dropout

After that I headed off to Lorne to participate in Amy’s GranFondo. It was a different ride to other years weather wise and while it could have been worse it was certainly colder and more consistently damp. Still a good day though

A wet day at Amy's GranFondo

A wet day at Amy’s Gran Fondo

 
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Posted by on September 21, 2018 in Uncategorized

 

Michalo tourer in distress

Steven brought me his Michalo touring frame with the beginnings of a down tube failure.

Michalo

Michalo

Michalo tourer downtube crack

Michalo tourer downtube crack

Michalo frames were built by Ron Mitten during the 1980’s. He built some very nice racing frames and a few tourers here in Melbourne, Australia. He was active both as a framebuilder and as a veteran rider when I started racing. and did build some frames for both Christie cycles here and McBains in Tasmania. I know this because I recall him saying one day that he had just shipped three frames down to Tasmania that week. This frame is kind of interesting though. I somehow doubt that the three different options for canti stud positions are original and given it has been repainted at some point I feel it has probably seen some work in the past. Still 30 years of service isn’t bad. lets see if we can set it up for another 30.  Enough history

Michalo Tourer Canti options

Michalo Tourer Canti options

With the crack extending into the lug the decision was made to replace both the down tube and the lower head lug. I filed the lug down so that when I heated things up the lug would come away in two pieces rather than attempt to slide it off the head tube. The amount of rust inside the tube at that junction was rather interesting. I didn’t have an exact match for the lug but did have something close so a little bit of filing produced a pretty good replacement. I decided to drill a vent/drainage hole in the headtube. As far as these holes are concerned they provide for expansion when you braze but they also allow for the water to drain out after you soak the flux off the frame. You don’t need one here for expansion because the BB is open but it cant hurt in terms of drainage. I filed up the down tube and cleaned out the BB shell after removing the remnants of the down tube. Flux the tube and lugs, Braze and soak. Clean up the lugs. Run the taps through the BB shell and we are back on the road. On to the future

Preperation to remove lower headtube lug

Preparation to remove lower headtube lug

Headtube

Headtube

Inside the downtube

Inside the downtube

Replacement lug

Replacement lug

After modification

After modification

Vent hole

Vent hole

Soak

Soak

 
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Posted by on August 14, 2018 in Uncategorized

 

Moser Leader SC restoration

This Moser Leader SC came to me with two cracked chainstays.

Moser Leader SC

Moser Leader SC

Cracked Chain stays on a Moser Leader SC

Cracked Chain stays on a Moser Leader SC

The owner wanted to resurrect the frame and so I set about replacing them. First job was to get the paint and the chrome removed from the rear end.

Leader SC without chrome or paint

Leader SC without chrome or paint

I then went about cutting the chain stays and removing them, leaving the dropouts attached to the seat stays. Moser Leaders are partially fillet brazed and partially lugged. The fillet brazing being around the head tube and seat cluster and the lug work at the BB. I discovered a rather interesting fact when I removed the stays from their ports in the BB shell. The stay ports have shelves that the stays run up against.

Chainstay ports on a Moser Leader SC

Chainstay ports on a Moser Leader SC

This is usually an efficiency decision. The tubes can be cut square and at a fixed length but most frames I have seen where this is employed have a lot more of it than this one. I found it intriguing that Moser would go to all the effort of fillet brazing the head tube and seat tube and then worry about the gains of one set of chain stays. Not even the main tubes entering the BB shell had this so they had to be shaped accordingly. Anyway,it wasn’t a problem and was soon fixed. The right side chain stay had a very nicely shaped relief for the cluster so I decided rather than just crimping it in the vice I would make up a press tool to form the shape nicely.

Crimping tool for chainstays

Crimping tool for chainstays

Leader SC, new chainstays

Leader SC, new chainstays

Chainstay crimp

Chainstay crimp

I am now waiting on a fork crown in order to build an appropriate straight blade fork, before it goes back to the platter for chrome and then on to the painter. It will be a very nice bike

 
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Posted by on July 10, 2018 in Uncategorized