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
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
. 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.
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.
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