Thursday, December 30, 2021

Last project of 2021

This is an old bike carcass I inherited about two years ago and have been meaning to make it into a rideable bike. I am using a day or two this week to make it happen. The frame has no markings so I don't know what brand it is-all I know is that it must be British as the BB is made in England and bikes of this period usually had components from the country of origin of the frame. I doubt that this is US made.
The frame and fork look to be from the era 1915-1930. I look at it and think it might be from the '20's so it is nearly a century old and has probably been in storage for most of that time.
I have a good deal of old parts so I was able to get a crankset and hubs that look to be roughly the right stuff. I'm using modern rims and tires so I can ride it without worry.

I will most likely replace the bars and stem with something more appropriate. For now I'm just using what I have to get it rolling and see what a bike from this time period rides like. Should be interesting 

Here's the BB spindle after I cleaned it up a bit.
This BB cup was incrusted in decades old dirt- I was surprised that I was able to get it out of the frame. The grease was like shellac- totally dried out and solid. The bearing surfaces have some rust damage but are still operative- not bad for 100 year old stuff.

Wednesday, December 29, 2021

Sharing the experience

The time between Christmas and new years in my shop is usually spent doing projects that have nothing to do with the business. This period of a few days is what I like to use to do projects that have been on my mind during the year but have not been started because of the work load. Right now the shop is for all purposes shut until after the 1st of the year. Above is the start of the project- an old steel BB shell in its raw state. Below is what it looked like after we put some hand and machine work into it to make it nicer looking. 
These few days I would be spending showing Brendan - the guy who pretty much runs the CX team and puts on our race weekend - how a lugged frame is built. He has already built nearly 20 fillet brazed frames but had not attempted a lugged frame. I figured that I should show somebody what I have learned after all these years. UBI, the school where I taught an annual frame building class has decided to stop doing frame building classes and concentrate on mechanics training . If I want to teach, I'll have to do it in my own shop. The problem with my shop is that it is not set up for teaching at all. This is pretty much a one-time special occasion and it serves several purposes: # 1, I can show Brendan what I know about lugged building . # 2, we will have a nice road frame to let one of the team juniors use for training. # 3, I'll get to use some of the old materials that have been in my charge for far too long. When I am not building any more I don't want to have a huge stock of old frame building materials that my wife has to dispose of. I want to turn it all into bikes eventually and use as much of the stuff up as possible. 
Here's Brendan putting some heat into that BB shell. He wound up doing most of the brazing-I only did a couple of demos and a few spots of gap-filling after the frame was constructed. I think it will he a really nice riding frame-Columbus tubes , Cinelli head lugs and a Champion BB shell. Much of the materials is from the '70's and had been through a few hands before it got to me. 
Most of the frame was brazed using 50% silver- a little harder to make flow but really good for filling bigger voids inside the stamped steel Cinelli lugs. We built this frame in about 2-1/2 days......not bad considering we had many interruptions of random people stopping by - it's the holidays after all and that stuff is bound to happen. At least there's still a couple of days left in the week and the frame is done. 
This is one project that I'm very happy to have done- I don't know if Brendan will want to build many frames with lugs but at least now he has one under his belt and has a grasp of the procedure. I'll be happier to know that I didn't go to my grave not having passed on this bit of craft knowhow. Lugged frames only represent about 10% of the frames I have built but that still probably 200-300 of them . One learns something after that number , I would like to think. 

Wednesday, December 22, 2021

Single speed/geared EBB 7005 frame with painted to match Whiskey fork for Iowa

Rim brakes and three bottle mounts on this one. The EBB is the ONer from Squid bikes ( Formerly known as the Beer BB ) and is the best on the market. I was lucky to be able to find one of these # 7 forks- stuff is in short supply everywhere now and looks to be that way for the next few months.
The painter did a great job of matching the purple powdercoat of the frame on the wet-painted fork. 


7005 gravel frame for Santa Barbara, Calif.

This one is made for wireless shifting and has three bottle mounts. Theres a good chance that this one will see use in the Unbound Gravel 350 race- yes, that's 350 as in miles. The frame can take fairly large tires, up to 700x42 but will likely have 700x40 tires on it most of the time. 


Saturday, December 18, 2021

Rim brake Di II steel road frame

This nearly all Columbus Spirit tubed frame is unique in that it is made for a direct mount caliper brake. I have never done one of theses but the customer provided the fork for me to use as a guide for putting on the brake bosses. I had to modify a pair of cantilever bosses on my lathe and then to a re-machining to my Anvil brake boss jig so that it would fit under the bridge on the seat stays. I guess I could have installed the bosses before the bridge but being the first time at this there was a bit of a learning curve. It took some extra time but now I know the spec and presumably can do it again. With the move toward disc brakes that seems unlikely but in this business you never know.
In order to keep the weight down and also keep the stack low I used a straight wall 44 mm ID head tube, also a Columbus tube. There's no down tube Di II port as the customer has his own cool way to route the wire from the handlebar. That's all I will say about that- it's his secret to tell if he wants.
Theses steel dropouts also have a replaceable der. hanger- not something one needs much on a steel bike but still a good way to make a frame for the ages.This frame is all of 3 lb. 6 oz.

Steel rod frame, fork and stem

I'm running out of year to post so here's one going out the door next week. This one has my very last True Temper S-3 down tube......yes, this really is the last one of its type. I do have lots of areo S-3 down tubes but they don't really work well for installing bottle mounts- or at least I have yet to find a good way to remedy that. The other tubes are a mix of Columbus Life and Spirit. The frame is around 3 lbs. 8 oz. The fork is pretty light as well, having the lighter steerer that Reynolds offers. 
On the front is the Jen Green head badge that graces many frames that I build . I think I have ordered more of these this year of 2021 than in any previous year. 
And yes- this is all cable shift and rim brake- not the most modern but the timeless road bike in all its simplicity. I ride a bike very similar to this and have no issues with how it rolls......the only think holding my bike back is the rider. 

Tuesday, November 30, 2021

7005 all-road 650 frame

The year is almost over and I just got a long awaited box of aluminum tubes so I am finishing out the year with a 7005 batch starting with this frame. The fork will be the Enve 'All-road' version that has a shorter axle-to-crown that is best suited to 650 wheels. The frame will still accommodate a 700x35 but it will handle and feel better with the wheels it was designed for- 650x42.
After building steel for the last few months it is nice to change it up and build a batch of aluminum. The process is a bit cleaner and the metal is easier to cut and manipulate-at least that's the way it seems to me. 
This one is set up for hydraulic flat mount brakes and 2x mechanical shifting.

Saturday, November 27, 2021

WCCX frame with matching Enve fork going to Texas

Team color and a headbadge- not a bad choice for this one going to Texas where it will no doubt find some  bumpy miles on southwest CX courses. 


WCCX frame with matching Whiskey # 9 fork going to NC

This tall frame is going to the east coast and should see some serious racing miles. The headbadge is a nice addition- from Jen Green.


Tuesday, November 23, 2021

Steel gravel frame for the Olympic peninsula

This frame has just about every braze-on under the sun. There's ports for generator light wires, rack mounts front and rear and no less than five bottle mounts-two of them are on the fork.
The bike is no throwback, though- it has flat mount disc brakes . It may be steel but it is set up to take modern equipment. 


Tuesday, November 9, 2021

Steel Boost 29er frame for So-Cal.

Sorry for the busy background in the photo- the part of the shop where I normally take photos was too dark........daylight savings. This frame is made to take 2.4" tires but a 650x2.5 will fit- not sure how it will ride with the wrong size wheel but people are doing that so I guess it kind of works. 
This one has a lot of US steel from Velospec. The tubes were made from surplus True Temper steel when they shut down. The tubing is drawn in Taiwan and then shipped back here- Steel with a larger carbon footprint. Still, it's the best stuff right now, especially since it seems that Vari-Wall in Ohio has shut down their bike tubing line, or at least it appears that way. 
In 2021 getting supplies to build frames for the small builder is becoming complicated. I use maybe 5-6 different suppliers now and getting things like 1-1/8" steerer tubes to make forks is an adventure. I feel like I should stock up in a big way but I'm not sure how busy I'll be in 6 months. Right now I have 72 frames on order, 81 completed so far this year. Not sure how many forks I have built but I'll bet it is probably the most in a decade or more. I have no idea how long this business bubble will go and I'm leery of putting thousands of dollars into materials. Now that I have not been able to buy buildup parts it seems silly to plan for building frames that will only sit as unbuilt bikes for at least 6 months for most people. Strange times for sure......

Saturday, November 6, 2021

Steel road frame with Columbus/True Temper mix

I still have to build a steel fork for this one. This frame has the very last S-3 downtube that I had in stock. This technically is not an Ultimundo but it is almost the same frame, weighing in at only 3 lb. 7 oz. The frame will be mated to a lugged crown steel fork that I will be building next week. I also have to build a stem so this will be a pretty complete package. 
The rear dropouts are a type I have not used- the Paragon 1-1/8" round type. I have used the larger 1-1/2" before but these are maybe half the weight of the larger ones. Usually I don't think of dropouts being a place on the frame where one can save weight but in this case it happened.

The dropouts also have a replaceable der. hanger. This is something I usually don't think of as needed on a steel frame but since the customer asked for it , I made sure that he had it. The hanger is aluminum so it contributes to the low weight of the dropouts. The customer also asked for 14 mm seat stays and these are Tange Prestige- not the old version but the newer Prestige that is currently available from a local Bay Area distributor. I keep forgetting that Tange tubes are back on the market again and after working with these seat stays I think I'll be buying more of it. 

Monday, November 1, 2021

Steel gravel frame with dropper post routing

This frame has both the rear brake and dropper post routed on the down tube. One is external and one is internal-the nice thing is that you can choose one or the other routing for either component. For example, some might prefer to have the rear brake internal for easier disassembly.
The tube set is a mix of Columbus Life and Zona , bringing the frame in at a weight of 4 lb. 7 oz. -not bad for a frame this tall. The bike will be made for 700x45 tires but might be able to take something slightly larger as well.
The reason there are no gear cable fittings is the customer intends to use a wireless Sram group. This is becoming more popular as of late and it saves me a little work.

Friday, October 1, 2021

Steel disc all-road frame

Trans-blue......can't get a nicer blue than this one in my opinion. The fork is an Enve-G series that, like the frame has fender eyelets. The headset is a Cane Creek-40 tapered external and I feel lucky that I had one in stock for this customer. Bike parts are still very hard to come by with all the supply chain in disarray. 


Monday, September 20, 2021

7005 mass-start track frame going to Pa.

This solid frame for the velodrome is made from some NOS Easton US made tubes mixed in with my usual set. The customer requested the rectangular chain stays with the Ahrens design yoke. This will be the third frame I have built with this configuration so far.
The mass start design is not as short and upright as a pure sprint frame but it is stiffer than a pursuit frame. The slightly longer wheelbase is helpful to keep the wheels on the ground during hard efforts. The 44 mm head tube will accept a tapered steerer fork when one is available but for now the frame will have a steel fork that I will be building soon.
Here's a detail of the chainstay yoke. If you want one of these I'm afraid you might have a very long wait....I think I got the last one that will be made until there is enough demand for them.