Distractions Everywhere!

Hello again folks, excuses excuses. Last time it was a baby, this time it’s a new house keeping me out of the workshop.  And a real fixer-upper at that:


I hope that skip comes soon..

I have made it into the workshop a little though.  In response to customer enquiries the other week I made some trial cuts with titanium tubing with the Torch & File precision mitre cutters with outstanding results:


Thicker than bike tubing but I found this going cheap.


Dial in the RPM.


Minimum overhang from the collet block.


Lovely clean precision cut.

Also, Brompton Bicycle kindly let me use some of their folding bike tubes to make my son Tom a balance bike.  I called it the “Brom Tom”.  It made Tom’s first Christmas present a lot of fun.


Had to do this jigless with all the tricks I could think of.


My lucky boy got a pair of Reynolds 631 fork blades to fit the necessary wider crown.


I used the wheels, saddle and handlebar grips from a popular balance bike. It also gave me a rough idea of suitable geometry. Although, my upside-down curved main tube gives much more standover clearance and the sawn-off Brompton seat post is hella rigid!


I had fun making it although the extra ovalising and improvisational fixturing made it more difficult than I imagined.  If I make more I’m jigging-up bigtime!


Of, course, it had to match the colour scheme of my Brompton folding bike!


Blog post filler alert!!

A few years back my then girlfriend asked me if I could fabricate an illuminated sign for a music and arts festival in steel box section.  It had to be 4 metres high and break down into 3 pieces to fit into a Luton van.  “Sure, no problem”.   This was the first thing I had ever welded so I had to buy a cheap arc welder for the job.  The sign was used for 4 consecutive years now so I can’t have done that bad a job and the girl is now my wife. Phew!

2011 tent metal making

First welding job.

Screen shot 2016-03-02 at 21.50.51

I miss my wife’s old workshop in Bermondsey. Now posh apartments!

Screen shot 2016-03-02 at 20.13.49

I don’t only do rear triangles y’know! Looks like I got away with it!

Screen shot 2016-03-02 at 20.19.24

Look, it didn’t break!

My wife Saga also recently designed a light installation for a house refurbishment in East London that she project managed.  It was made from stainless steel tubing with thick copper and brass rings and tubes brazed on.  I turned and drilled these parts on the lathe from round bar.  The stainless tubing was fillet brazed with Fillet Pro silver and suspended from the ceiling half way along by bicycle chain to reflect the client’s passion for cycling. My mobile phone photography doesn’t do it justice, honest!


It looked nice in the kitchen.


Sorry I only had my phone to hand to take the pictures.

In between house renovations and moving to the new Brompton factory in Greenford, I’ve also started giving brazing lessons.  My first student Tom cycled from Bracknell to Tottenham Hale and home again in a raining gale.  Massive respect Tom!  Well done for learning fast and doing some nice neat braze-ons and fillets. I think I learned a lot too!

That’s all for now folks.  Bikes. Must make bikes. A little inspired by walking to the Bicycle Revolution exhibition at the Design Museum earlier today..





Now I can almost braze properly…

So after about a year in production brazing at the Brompton factory I’d say may brazing quality was starting to ramp up considerably.  I’m still nowhere near the quality of the top dogs in the factory but I’m confident that I’ll be doing clearcoat quality fairly consistently before too long.

I did some practice brazes the other week in the workshop with flux paste.  As I’ve previously built my own frames with lugged BB shells, this is my first ever fillet brazed bottom bracket shell:


Didn’t go too badly, but I’ll be doing more practice.

The brazing that I do in my day job at Brompton has been really useful.

Last month a bunch of us from the factory took part in the British Heart Foundation London to Brighton ride with 29,000 other cyclists.  And yes, I did get over Ditchling Beacon on my 2-speed Brompton without stopping.  Just.


Also, my friend John, a lifetime engineer and machinist has offered to work with me as I start up as a frame builder, giving me use of the facilities at his factory to make jigs, etc.  What a guy.  Watch this space..