Sunday, April 10, 2005

A long wait.

After almost thirty years, I've finally begun to move forward on my dream of learning the arts, craft and science of building bicycle frames. Until recently, my knowledge has been theoretical and largely from secondary sources.

Over the last six months I've developed a number of primary sources, due in large part to the generosity and support that the professional community of framebuilders shows to would-be and less-experienced builders. Many of the leading lights in the frame building community support both a list-server and a blogging website as online exchanges of information and training. And from these contacts comes the opportunity for more personal relationships to develop to further help people such as me become qualified at frame building. I am grateful to all who support this transfer of knowledge.

I am using this site to document my experience and help learning, both for my own reflection, and hopefully to help inspire and develop skills for others to become frame builders themselves. It will contain photo's that may entertain some, and will be used to solicit feedback and learning from the masters of this craft. I have no lathes or mills, limited jigging, and only the most basic bicycle specific tools. This isn't a move toward monastic self-deprivation. Rather, its an economic measure that will be overcome with time and experience.

I have invested in the best torch apparatus that I can afford, as I feel that this will be one of my key tools of the trade. Freddy Parr has been instrumental in helping me to acquire same and in developing my skills as a brazer of metals. A quick call to Fred and an insurmountable problem become history - although my skills still aren't ready to build an actual frame, much less a threaten any established builders (even of the hobby persuasion).

So far, I've begun by filing miters, just to learn how to handle a file and achieve a specified angle in a specified location on the tube. I'm getting half way decent at this, although not particularly quick. I've began brazing with simple lap joins in 22 ga. sheet metal. I've also done 2 fillet joints that seem successful (after 4 clear failures, but I'm not cutting these apart - they're being used to make a work stand - when that's done, my fillet joints should be pretty enough to cut up). I've also done my first lugged joint.

Pictures of the latter will be up shortly, showing post-brazing, post-flux removal, and post filing. There are problems with this joint. 1) I flowed to much material (silver) through the joint and down the tubes (I seem to have trouble seeing what's going on confusing flux for material and vice versa); 2) Some gaps in the edge of the joints; 3) Some burning of flux (which may be related to the gaps) due to bringing the torch in too close and not moving it enough. Experts are welcome to share feedback that will help me make better joints.

That's probably all for now. Come back and visit again sometime

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