Here are some pictures from my 3rd day with Doug Fattic.
Today, after noting down all our tubing specifications, dimensions and angles, we marked and mitred our frame tubes so that they would fit snugly against the other tubes at the joins. We rolled the tubes on a flat surface plate, watching to see daylight underneath, so that we could tell which side of the tube was straightest. This plane of the tube will end up vertical on our bikes, so that there is as little lateral deviation as possible.
Next, we put the tube into the fixture on the Bridgeport milling machine, an American classic!
Bill and I got to know the milling machine intimately today as we would go back to take another cut to make sure it was the right angle and diameter.
Next, Doug showed us how he made the wooden blocks he uses to hold the tubes in a vice when they are filed and worked on:
We had to file the edges of the bottom bracket shell so that they were clean, at 90 degrees to the tubes, and the tips of the shell came to a clean point:
Doug let me use his prized chainstay socket reamer, once belonging to his favourite English builder of all time, Johnny Berry.
Well, that’s all for today folks. Stay tuned..
Well, after getting off the Amtrak (and a young chap sitting next to me buying me a beer on the train) in Niles, Michigan, I unfolded the Brompton and trundled down 5th St. towards Doug Fattic’s place on 3rd. I had quite a few bags attached to my back, so I got a few funny looks in town. I remember passing the gun shop. Some friends of Doug’s took me out to dinner, before I hunkered down for the night at the house next to Doug’s which was his parents’ place.
I spent my first day of the week-long transportation bike course today – my fellow student Bill from Tennessee and myself chose our tubing and parts, worked out the size of our frames and had a good old play with Doug’s jig.
Doug’s apprentice, Herbie Helm, helped me with my silver brazing technique. Herbie has been making some very nice bikes – google him..
Bill and I were shown the ropes with the Oxy-Acetylene set-up, and then we had a go at silver brazing a steel sleeve into some old tubing – this was to simulate a lug for practice purposes. I’ll get some pics up tomorrow.
Doug told us about his trips to England in 1973 and 1974 to learn frame building. He went to Ellis Briggs in Shipley, and his frame jig was inspired by that used by F W Evans in the 1970’s. Doug explained how he was one of about 10 young men from the US who went to England to learn frame building in the early 1970’s, as the skills simply didn’t exist in the USA at that time. Here are some pictures from my first day in Doug’s workshop (more will follow):
I’ll make sure I write in more detail tomorrow. Good night.
I chatted with Owen about the frame building co-operative he is part of, situated in the wonderfully-named Bubbly Dynamics Building at 1048 West 37 Street. The surrounding Bridgeport area has suffered a decline as industry moved out of the city to greenfield sites and then overseas, although the commercial designation of the area means that residential speculators have not been able to move in and drive up the land value. Read the history on the website..!
We cycled to the workshop, which is within an old paint warehouse, built in 1910. The owner, John Edel, has totally transformed the building into several units, one of which now houses 7 frame builders in a fully-equipped shared workshop.
- Michael’s reconditioned Smith torch
Owen moved into the workshop after completing a frame building course at United Bicycle Institute, Portland Oregon about 5 years ago. Most of the frame builders work part-time, although some, including Michael Catano, who I had the pleasure of meeting, work there all week. Michael was working on a small production run of frames for a retail shop.
I asked Owen what the benefits of the co-operative were, and he told me:
1. Cheap rent – The building owner only charged each tenant of the workshop their share of the rent, even before all the other places were filled, enabling each person to get on with their craft straight away without having to find others to pay the remainder of the rent.
2. Shared tooling – This has saved a great deal of money and space within the workshop. Only the larger tools/fixtures are shared, whereas hand tools and smaller items are used only by their respective owners.
3. Shared knowledge – Each person can help fill gaps in the knowledge of others.
4. Shared contacts – If a certain skill, tool, material or service is required, other tenants can often recommend a suitable person or company.
5. Increased “word of mouth” promotion of the frame building activity to the local and internet market.
When I asked Owen about the disadvantages, he mentioned:
1. Sometimes, although not often, personalities can clash.
2. Occasionally shared tooling can be damaged.
Owen explained how the building owner is very supportive to the craft, and sympathetic to the ideals and benefits that cycling and local manufacture bring to the community.