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:

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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:

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Thicker than bike tubing but I found this going cheap.

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Dial in the RPM.

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Minimum overhang from the collet block.

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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.

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

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

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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!

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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!

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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!

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First welding job.

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

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

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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!

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It looked nice in the kitchen.

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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..

 

 

 

 

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Wilkinson Cycles Global HQ

Hello again, I’m sorry I haven’t posted anything for a while but I’ve been busy doing stuff like this at my new workshop:

I had a baby.

I had a baby.

He should come in handy for those menial tasks..

Putting a horizontal mill together on top of a cast flypress stand.

Putting a horizontal mill together on top of a cast flypress stand. I’ll put a variable speed motor on it for tube mitring.

My gasfluxer.  Very worthwhile bit of kit.

My gasfluxer. Very worthwhile bit of kit.

I made this brazing stand/workstand.

I made this brazing stand/workstand.

I made 2 bike frame peg rails.  The headtubes slide over the pegs which are covered with pvc hose.

I made 2 bike frame peg rails. The headtubes slide over the pegs which are covered with pvc hose.

I cut all these tool slots on the Bridgeport mill out the back.  We have a full machine shop on site.

I cut all these tool slots on the Bridgeport mill out the back. We have a full machine shop on site.

I use this old jalopy bike when the canal path's muddy.

I use this old jalopy bike when the canal path’s muddy.

I made this stainless bike for myself.    Perhaps I'll make more..

I made this stainless bike for myself. Perhaps I’ll make more..

I bought a number 4 flypress on a stand.  I want to use this to form chainstay dimples, among other things.

I bought a number 4 flypress on a stand. I want to use this to form chainstay dimples, among other things.

I've now got the first increased-offset Sputnik Tool frame jig. I had to get the Park workstand base to attach it to my home-made stand.

I’ve now got the first increased-offset Sputnik Tool frame jig. I had to get the Park workstand base to attach it to my home-made stand.

Amazing what you can do with a torch and some pound shop black spray paint.

Amazing what you can do with a torch and some pound shop black spray paint.

Rick's frame is in for me to make a matching fork.  Sorry, I know I need to tidy up!

Rick’s frame is in for me to make a matching fork. Sorry, I know I need to tidy up!

I improved my gas economiser.  Now my torch can't rotate.  I wish it was cordless as it appears to be here, but I just swapped it out for my bigger one to braze the fork crown.

I improved my gas economiser. Now my torch can’t rotate. I wish it was cordless as it appears to be here, but I just swapped it out for my bigger one to braze the fork crown.

My good friend John made this fork blade bender.  The form goes from a 5

My good friend John made this fork blade bender. The form goes from a 5″ radius to a 15″ radius. This was all made on a manual Bridgeport mill. The most I did was a bit of deburring and helping to lift the huge rotary table.

Fork bender clamp.  I've now adapted this to give clearance for mudguard eyes.

Fork bender clamp. I’ve now adapted this to give clearance for mudguard eyes.

Fork bender roller.  This part plays a pivotal role.  Arf arf.

Fork bender roller. This part plays a pivotal role. Arf arf!

John put a long handle on the tool so that it'll manage any fork blades with ease.

John put a long handle on the tool so that it’ll manage any fork blades with ease.

I have a few frame repairs in.  Best to keep them high up out of harm's way.

I have a few frame repairs in. Best to keep them high up out of harm’s way.

I had this

I had this “christmas tree” alignment gauge waterjet cut from stainless steel. It makes aligning a frame very easy. You zero the V onto the seat tube to check that the dropouts are centred and spaced correctly. I used London Waterjet’s finest cut.

£25 each to you...?

£25 each to you…?

I silver brazed this little stainless spiggot on top of the threaded portion of my BB post.

I silver brazed this little stainless spiggot on top of the threaded portion of my BB post.

It stops the top cap from falling on the table or the frame.

It stops the top cap from falling on the table or the frame.

I found this old suspension bump stop on the road.  I drilled a hole in it so it now makes the post a bit safer in case I slip and put it through my arm.

I found this old suspension bump stop on the road. I drilled a hole in it so it now makes the post a bit safer in case I slip and put it through my arm.

Rick’s fork will be my first use of my new bender..

Cleaning the inside of the fork blades.

Cleaning the inside of the fork blades.

Making the slotted sandpaper holder was time well spent.

Making the slotted sandpaper holder was time well spent.

preparing the fork blades for brazing.  I used an end mill to slot the blades in the Bridgeport.  A radius is less prone to forming cracks so I file the fork ends to fit.

Preparing the fork blades for brazing. I used an end mill to slot the blades in the Bridgeport. A radius is less prone to forming cracks so I file the fork ends to fit.

Fork end after brazing.  I'll soak off the flux and sand it up nicely.

Fork end after brazing. I’ll soak off the flux and sand it up nicely.

More brazing to clean up.

More brazing to clean up.

This is the Paris Brest fork crown after brazing onto the steerer and a soak in the water tank. I gave it a little sanding and filing.

This is the Paris Brest fork crown after brazing onto the steerer and a soak in the water tank. I gave it a little sanding and filing.  It’ll get more love after the fork is made.

This is the rosebud heating tip that I use for fork crown/steerer brazing.  It is fast!

This is the rosebud heating tip that I use for fork crown/steerer brazing. It is fast!

This is the number 2 nozzle that I use for fork ends.

This is the number 2 nozzle that I use for fork ends.

I milled a 3mm anti-rotation groove along the steerer threads.

I milled a 3mm anti-rotation groove along the steerer threads.

I cleaned up any burrs with a thread repair file.  Now the headset nut glides freely.

I cleaned up any burrs with a thread repair file. Now the headset nut glides freely.

This steel rule that John has freaks me out...

This steel rule that John has freaks me out…

Stay tuned for my next post for bender performance, laser-sintered titanium dropouts and more!


How to Move a Surface Plate..(up some steps)..

So after I’d finally bagged myself a large workshop in a factory nearer to my home, a few weeks back I needed to move my cast iron surface plate off the island on the River Thames, which involved negotiating 17 steps up onto the footbridge that leads to the road.

This time I knew how to do it.

I’d need:

A “Euro 3” sized pallet

Some OSB to strengthen the pallet for winching

Some timber offcuts to screw into the pallet around the plate to prevent it from sliding

Some pieces of wood to stand the pallet on (I’ll explain)

4 Ratchet straps

2 Lifting slings

An engine hoist (Ebay bargain)

A pallet jack (found in a skip by a friend)

A Tirfor winch with anchoring straps (borrowed from my dad’s tree surgery business)

2 sheets of plywood

Use of the mahoosive crane in the building site over the bridge

To put the surface plate on the pallet, I had to lift it off the stand with the engine hoist and slings. The hoist is only rated up to 500kg, and I calculated that the 4ftx3ft plate is more like 650kg, with a 2 inch thick solid plate and all the strengthening cast webs and edging below that to complete the plate structure.

I hoped that the hoist makers had allowed some safety margin..

Now the hoist legs would sort of fit underneath the stand’s cross members at a certain angle, so getting it off the stand wasn’t too difficult. I was very careful not to sway the load much.

Because the hoist legs and wheels wouldn’t fit into the pallet slots, I had to put the pallet width-ways on top of the hoist legs, and then lower the plate onto it.

Next, I put the pallet jack underneath the pallet and jacked it up off the legs, after strengthening the pallet a bit by jamming some wooden blocks into the fork slots.

I now had to lower the pallet onto 4 small stacks of plywood, one under each corner. This gave me just enough room to pull out the pallet jack, and then re-insert the forks into the slots of the pallet. I could then jack it up, remove the plywood from underneath the pallet, and finally lower the pallet to the ground.

I placed the wooden cover on the plate and ratchet strapped it to the pallet. I used some wood offcuts (handy being in a woodworking shop sometimes) to screw around the plate to further secure it.

Now the fun began!

Firstly I had to protect the steps and provide a smooth ramp to drag the plate over. I moved the last sheet to the front and repeated, Stonehenge style.

Firstly I had to protect the steps and provide a smooth ramp to drag the plate over. I moved the last sheet to the front and repeated, Stonehenge style.

The view from the quayside.

The view from the quayside.

Setting up the winch cable, and anchoring it to the top bridge member.

Setting up the winch cable, and anchoring it to the top bridge member.

Here I've lined up the pallet with the plywood ramp.

Here I’ve lined up the pallet with the plywood ramp.

Now it was time to unleash the power cannons.  Ahem.

Now it was time to unleash the power cannons. Ahem.

With a bit of a groan, she started to move.

With a bit of a groan, she started to move.

It really went pretty easily.  Lots of lessons were learnt when I brought it down to the island, so I knew how to do it with as little fuss as possible.

It really went pretty easily. Lots of lessons were learnt when I brought it down to the island, so I knew how to do it with as little fuss as possible.

The anchoring straps were spaced evenly, which helped the pallet move in a straight line.

The anchoring straps were spaced evenly, which helped the pallet move in a straight line.

Almost there..

Almost there..

There we go, job done.  The pallet jack will roll this across the bridge now with very little effort.

There we go, job done. The pallet jack will roll this across the bridge now with very little effort.

I stand heroically before my triumphant victory.!

I stand heroically before my triumphant victory.!

At the other side of the bridge, the building site crane driver did me a favour and lifted it over the fence so that the pallet courier could collect it easily and take it to the new workshop:

"ere mate, gizza lift wiv yer crane!"

“ere mate, gizza lift wiv yer crane!”

Work smart, not hard!

Work smart, not hard!

Cheers fella!

Cheers fella!

The new place is nearly ready for frame building work to begin.  A frame jig is on order from Sputnik Tool, the gas cylinders are set up, and I’ve been making benches with lots of help from the wifey.  There’s a fully equipped machine shop on site at my disposal, and John, the factory owner is giving me lots of great training in machining and toolmaking.

Bye for now,

Matt


My First Fillet Pro silver brazed stainless frame

After soaking in water it didn't look too bad.  Maybe the fillet should be bigger though.

After soaking in water it didn’t look too bad. Maybe the fillet should be bigger though.

My First Fillet Pro silver brazed stainless frame

Very different to brass brazing! I used a tiny flame.


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:

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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.

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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..