Thursday, December 24, 2020

Last frame and fork of the year- maybe.

Running out of 2020......won't really miss this year with all the horrific happenings in the world. To finish off what might have been the busiest year in the bike business in a decade or so I decided to fulfill one customer's wish for an authentic Reynolds 531 road frame. While many of the tubes and fittings to build this are quite old, the bike will be fitted with some relatively modern Campagnolo parts.
The lugset is the stamped Cinelli long point style that was the choice of many of my favorite builders of the 1970's- Bruce Gordon, to name one. The bottom bracket is much newer, hailing from the '90's - a better choice in terms of threading and tube fit, although I must admit to having spent extra time reaming out the undersized sockets. I'm still working on the chainstay fit as of today.
The rider is pretty tall but has a short torso- this will make the frame even more retro as many of the frames from the '70's had shorter top-tubes than frames that came later.
I brazed on a more substantial binder, just like I was told to do back when I built my first frame in 1978. After seeing the flimsy crushed stamped-steel binders on many frames , I fully understood why this part of the frame needed to be re-enforced.
I think that these seatstays and plugs were made when I was in grade school. These might be the oldest tubes on the frame.
I chose these lugs as they really are user-friendly.....they heat up easily and evenly when compared to other lugs I have used over the years. Most people don't know that all I built for the first 6 years in my frame building life were lugged road and track frames with a few cyclocross frames in the mix. I didn't know how to fillet braze or weld back then. I think I must have made maybe 200-odd lugged frames over the last few decades, not a big number compared to over 2,000 welded frames and maybe 300 fillet brazed frames .
This crown is probably the oldest piece in the frame. I have been told it is a Bocama, although the person who sold it to me said that he thought it was a Nervex. That person was Art Stump and I bought this and other crowns and lugs from him in 1992. The crown was very old when I got it and I think that it was pretty old when Art got it back in the mid '70's. He was a bit of a scrounger for frame building parts and he had quite a collection of old stuff that he wound up never using. My goal is to use up all the old bits I have before I get too old and feeble or too dead to build. I am running pretty low on this stuff so maybe by the time I'm 70 I'll be finished with all the old inventory. Of course , what will probably happen is I'll find another stash to buy........once a scrounger, always a scrounger.
When Bruce Gordon shut his shop it was amazing to see all the lugs and tubes that he had in stock- stuff that he had been hoarding for half a lifetime, only to be passed on to another builder, who most likely will pass it on to another builder. There's so much of this old material in stashes hiding in garages and attics all over the world. With the continual evolution of frame building , it is unlikely that much of this stuff will ever find its way into finished frames. I'm doing my part to a degree but there's only so much one person can do. The other big factor is the fan club of this era of bike building is aging out of existence. Who knows if the next generation's imagination will be captured by the lugged classic frame style.......

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