Fillet brazed steel bikes, handcrafted in Oklahoma.

Archive for August, 2009

seatstay fail

This build gets s-bend seatstays. I remember a discussion on the framebuilders list recently about the new stays from True Temper and how they weren’t quite what some of the builders liked. From the guys I really look up to, the opinion was to just bend your own.  If it’s good enough for my heroes, by god it’s good enough for me. Yeah, most of those guys have been building 30+ frames a year for a while, and have their techniques down. Not so much in my case. Fortunately the dropouts are so tall that I’ll only be using about 2/3 of the tube. I was able to move down the tube a bit and get it bent, thereby salvaging a set. One of them is hosed though, so I guess I have one extra in reserve for something.  Note to self: In the future, if you’re gonna do s-bend stays either buy them prebent or buy multiple sets for the inevitable trial and error losses.


Gotta love that little kink.


That’s #2 down.


OK, so now I have a pair of almost perfectly matching seatstays. Seriously, until I get some badass bending equipment, I’ll be buying s-bends for anything that requires them.



Yeah, this thing is finally in 4th gear. Pulled it out of the sink, and put the files to it. It didn’t turn out too bad, and it didn’t take a whole lot of time either.


Straight out of the soak.


After some lovin’. There are a couple of low spots, no big deal really but I’ll fill them with silver later. At this point anything is purely cosmetic, I could leave them just like they are and no one would know any different. I’ll fill them with silver solder, because it melts at a much lower temp than the brass I used to make the fillets. (1220 deg vs 1650 deg) I can put just a dab on the low spots without reheating the joints significantly. The 56% silver solder I use is also thinner than brass, and at temp it’s much more liquid so it fills the tiny spots well. 56% is commonly used for lugged bikes, too.  Not for me yet though, so don’t get all excited;)


I gotta say I’m really happy with the way the bottom bracket joints turned out. These can be a real pain to smooth out, so the better you get them with the torch the less work it is. the sides of the seat tube/down tube junction are the hardest to get a file into so it was a good thing that these came out fairly smooth to begin with.

Anyway, my real job is trying to save money and overtime was the first thing they decided to cut back on. That means I have all weekend to work on this frame, but I’ll spend a little time on tooling, too.

Broke her in

cross bike at turkeyI finally took my cross bike out and got it dirty all proper like.  Rode it around out at the local trails, which are super rocky. I didn’t even take the 35mm road tires off, and it did fine. I got a bit of bike building done too, but I was too lazy to take good pics. Maybe in a day or two.

Not much

There’s not much to post today, but I figured I’d put something up. I brazed the seat tube to the bb on Perry’s frame, and spent most of this evening working on my fork fixture. I got the idea to use it to build the seatstay wishbones I like so much, so some lathe time and some shavings in the floor mean I must have done something. (Right?) I’ll post some pics when I get some taken, but the axle in my fork fixture isn’t long enough now, so I’ll be off to the bike shop tomorrow.

Bailed out

There’s a reason they named that place Best Hardware, I guess. There’s a little mom and pop hardware store here in Tulsa that goes by that name. The kinda place that’s had the same guys working there for years, and every high school kid in the neigborhood has had a summer job there. They rewire your lamps, they’ll spend 30 minutes helping you find just the right bolt for your whatever, and they’ll just generally have something that will work for almost anything you need.

So flashback to a couple of weeks ago, that brass tubing that was paper thin and 500mm long (which was barely long enough) cost me $8.80 from Nova cycles. After the frustration that came out of that deal, I went to Best and prayed for hardware salvation. I had one of those kids going up into the attic, looking all over hell and gone in that store, but I finally found what I wanted. A 3ft piece of 9/32″ brass tubing. I’ts 1/4″ I.D. which is just big enough for a 6mm brake cable housing to slide through. Better yet, the tubing and a bottle of Liquid Wrench cost me 6 bucks. Best of all, I had 3 ft of it, so I was able to do some test bends on the extra length so there were no surprises.  So last night I got the internal tube in Perry’s top tube:)



And while hanging out at my favorite local bike shop which just happens to be acroos the street from Best hardware, I saw this.



What’s it take for people to buy a bike that fits?

Shit shit shit shit shit shit shit!

That was pretty much the scene this afternoon when I had the top tube all mitered to perfection and then drilled the holes for the little brass tube that the cable slides through. The problem was that the tubing was supposed to be .5mm thick and it’s nowhere close. it’s more like .15mm which means the shit kinks when you breathe on it.

So you drill holes in the tubeIMG_8556like that. You start out with a hole, and you elongate it with a file. The idea being the brass tube exits at an angle, which means the brass tube has to bend a bit to exit on the same line as it enters. Remember what I said about that brass being really thin? You smell where this is going, don’t you?

IMG_8559I thought you might. Just in case you didn’t though, here’s a pic. No cable is going to slide through that. So now I have two choices

1. try to find some suitable tubing and salvage the project

2. say fuck it and get a new top tube and some cable stops

The problem with a new tt is that I don’t have one. I have to order it, and the shipping will be just as much as the tube. Plus, it’ll be sitting there until the middle of next week, and I’m on a schedule here.  I guess I’ll see what the hardware stores have this weekend.

IMG_8553I got the seat tube sleeve done and there it is on my vintage Craftsman vise. That thing is awesome, I love old tools:)  I should have the top tube going tomorrow, but I’m not in much of a hurry because I’m still waiting on the brass tubing for the internal cable routing to show up. Probably Thursday. Nothing to stop me this weekend, I hope. 

I guess maybe I should add not to get excited about the internal cable thing. I always hated working on bikes with it as a mechanic. I got talked into it and figured I’d do it once to see how I liked doing it. I can already smell it being a pain in the ass, so it might be a $5000 option in the future.