Fillet brazed steel bikes, handcrafted in Oklahoma.

Archive for October, 2009

The strength of brass

I’ve heard many debates about joining methods and what is stronger than what and blah, blah, blah. People will nerd out over whether tig is stronger than lugs, or brass is too soft to be as strong as whatever. There comes a point where it doesn’t matter how much stronger one method is than the other, when they are both more than strong enough for the application. Where am I going with this, you ask? You may recall the picture of my ghetto milling setup that included a couple of hold down bolts. Those were regular grade 5 hex bolts, brazed to short pieces of steel flatbar the same width as the t slot in my lathe compound. I was tightening them today and one of them broke. Immediately I cursed my braze job, because I had only run just a tad bit of brass around the bolt head, barely enough for any buildup around the edge. Upon closer inspection, I was kind of amazed.

IMG_9238Here you may or may not see the slight bit of brass I laid in is still intact, holding on to the broken chunks of the bolt head. Not bad for maybe 1/16″ of brass.


SSWC09, aftermath and decompression

3 bikes, built by 2 of the guys on the ride.

I think this might be either a long one, or a couple of posts. SSWC was great fun, as was Fruita and the rest of the trip.  Perry came and got his frame right before I left, and Adam got his too.  Unfortunately, Adam got his frame built up and had to tear it back down and reassemble his old bike.  We weren’t on the same page as far as forks go, and he’s got a carbon fork that’s much shorter than the Reba 100 I designed the frame around. That threw the bb down in the dirt, and made the head angle way too steep. So no flyin the Edoz flag for him at SSWC:(  So now I have a frame laying around and I’m not totally sure what to do with it. I can find another home for it, I can keep it for a display bike or something, or I could cut the dropouts off and trash the rest. I don’t really want to trash it, I’m pretty happy with the way it turned out.  It’s not a bike I want for myself, so maybe finding it a good home is the best way to go. I’ll get it shined up all nice and take some good pics to post.

Anyway, there were of course, a couple of mishaps. The handmade show was great, I got to meet Todd from Black Cat (supplier of the fabulous swinger dropouts), Tom from Norse cycles in Durango (who also organized the show) and Daryl from Form cycles (a few guys formerly of Titus). There were others of course, but those were the three guys with whom the most bike nerd talk took place.

It turns out that meeting Tom was a good thing, because we prerode the course on Thursday and the rear end of my bike was feeling kinda wiggly. Hmmm. After much thinking and a bit of whining, I spotted a crack in the powdercoat where I have bent the chainstays. They were s-bends, but I wanted a little more bend so I made more. The thing is, I got the first one perfect but the second one kinked just a little bit. I said fuckit and went ahead and used them. (for the record, I have the bending thing worked out now) The stay had started to crack on the top and bottom right where the kink is. Right about the time I started wondering if the riding portion of my trip was over, I realized I had one of Tom’s cards in my pocket from the night before. A quick call and a plea for help was met with “Sure, c’mon down to my shop” and off I went to find Norse Cycles. It’s a tiny little room behind Durango Cyclery, a complete frame shop stuffed in something like an 8×10 space. Seriously, friggin tiny.  Tom makes amazing use of the space though, and after a quick tour I started the task of removing the powdercoat from the area to be welded. A few minutes with the tig machine and all was well. Many thanks and no problems were exchanged and I headed off to ride with Brian, who’s got #4 and was nice enough to let me put in in the handmade show.


Saturday was race day, and the race course was brutal. I think I must have hiked a couple of miles, no shit. Some of it was literally unrideable by anyone, gears or not. Maybe I should race cyclocross now that I’ve done some training for it;) I met Joe Murrays wife Kim at the start line, we chatted briefly about Voodoos and Senderos (Joe’s frames that he’s handbuilding himself, there are only ten or so I think) Brian, Cleo and I argued about whether the chick dressed as the cop as a chick or not, (turned out to be Kelli Emmet) and lined up at the start line with 1500+ (not sure but that’s what I’ve heard) other people. There were beer handups, a whiskey handup, and a bacon handup.  Sad, the only one that I even had interest in was the bacon and by mile 15 or so when I got to it, I didn’t want anything to do with it:(  On the good side, Amy and Theresa cooked bacon for breakfast a couple of times. Thanks, ladies:)

I got back to Tulsa and of course it’s getting towards the end of the month and the corporate overlords want their sales goal met. So yeah, back to working too much. That leads to the end of the month followed by the first of this month. Since we’ve worked ourselves out of shit to do, I spent my day at work building a fixture for mitering chainstays on my lathe. I made some progress, and today I stayed home and did a bunch more. I ordered a dummy axle from Anvil, so there will be no more sharpie marks and combination square business to make sure the dropouts are in phase with each other.  Anvil tooling is the shizznit, I just wish I had the cash to buy everything they make. Anyway, since I don’t have a mill and this project requires a couple of slots I improvised. Yeah folks, that means stay tuned for some ghetto-ass shit. I procured a 5/16″ end mill for the slot. Chucked it up in my lathe, removed the toolpost and fabbed up some hold downs.


Don’t laugh, it actually worked. The old Atlas has some play in it though, so the compound didn’t stay flat and the slot ended up kinda rough. Still, not bad for a 70 year old machine. I just joined an Atlas email list, so hopefully I can get some knowledge and shape the old girl up. The dummy axle should show up sometime next week, and I’ll get the hole drilled for it and I should be in business. That will mean no more filing one chainstay, and then trying to match the other one to it. I’ll be able to set them in this fixture, and cut them both at the same time. Huge time and headache saver. Next will be a seatstay fixture:)

So now I finish Brent’s frame, and figure out what to do about Adam’s frame.

IMG_9227IMG_9228IMG_9230IMG_9232IMG_9233It’s not a bad frame, it’s just not what he wanted.