Posted: March 2, 2016 Filed under: Uncategorized | Tags: Balance bike, Brazing, brazing training, fabrication, frame building, framebuilding, how to make a balance bike, tube mitering, tube mitring, Wilkinson Cycles
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!
First welding job.
I miss my wife’s old workshop in Bermondsey. Now posh apartments!
I don’t only do rear triangles y’know! Looks like I got away with it!
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..
Posted: April 30, 2015 Filed under: Uncategorized | Tags: bike frame storage, bike workshop, brass brazing, Brazing, butt gauge, butted tubing, cast iron surface table, dropout, fork bender, fork blade bender, fork end, frame building, frame jig, framebuilding, gas fluxer
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.
He should come in handy for those menial tasks..
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.
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 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 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’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.
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.
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 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.
I have a few frame repairs in. Best to keep them high up out of harm’s way.
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…?
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.
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.
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.
Fork end after brazing. I’ll soak off the flux and sand it up nicely.
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. 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 number 2 nozzle that I use for fork ends.
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.
This steel rule that John has freaks me out…
Stay tuned for my next post for bender performance, laser-sintered titanium dropouts and more!
Posted: September 19, 2014 Filed under: Uncategorized | Tags: Brazing, crane, frame building, how to move a surface plate, surface plate, surface table
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.
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.
The view from the quayside.
Setting up the winch cable, and anchoring it to the top bridge member.
Here I’ve lined up the pallet with the plywood ramp.
Now it was time to unleash the power cannons. Ahem.
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.
The anchoring straps were spaced evenly, which helped the pallet move in a straight line.
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.!
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!”
Work smart, not hard!
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,
Posted: May 4, 2014 Filed under: Uncategorized | Tags: butted tubing, frame building, reynolds technology, reynolds tubing, swaging
Andy Newlands and I went to visit the Reynolds factory in Birmingham. Andy will be distributing their tubing in the US.
Here are some (not great) pictures that I took with my phone. My favourite machine was the reeler. It plasticly deforms the tube between two offset metal reels so that the internal butting mandrel can be pulled out.
The weirdest thing was, the whole factory smelled like Reynolds tubing!
Fork blade benders
Keith Noronha shows us some tapered tubes.
Racks of assorted swaging mandrels.
Feeding the machine..
Lots of tubing dies. Tubes are drawn through these to set the outside diameter. They have to be routinely checked and replaced if worn.
Always good to see a fly press.
A stack of tube mandrels.
Posted: December 23, 2013 Filed under: Uncategorized | Tags: alignment table, bottom bracket post, cast iron surface table, frame building, surface plate, surface table, Wilkinson Cycles
So, as part of my quest to tool up in a proper manner, I decided to liberate a 4ft x 3ft cast iron surface plate from Glasgow University.
With the help of two Tirfor winches, a pallet truck and an engine hoist, my good wife and I brought the plate across the bridge to the island, down the steps and onto its base in the workshop.
50 years old but in fine fettle due in no small part to being kept with a protective wooden cover, I had one more task to do before it was ready for use.
I had to drill a hole through the plate to mount my bottom bracket post. Like some noisy hardened steel harpoon though the skin of a great silent whale, I broke through the 40mm hide of this grey leviathan and ran paper under thumb to smooth the burr. The fine hardened stainless steel post was made in the new world by Mr Alex Meade. The post is designed to be used with Park facing tool threaded inserts.
I measured and drew out the shape of the casting ribs on the underside of the plate so that I could choose the optimum position for the post.
I used a thick piece of hardwood clamped to the table as a drilling guide. I pre-drilled the wood on the pillar drill.
I used a spring washer, a flat washer and a nylon lock nut on the stud underneath the table.
Made in 1964, grade B (toolroom grade). More than adequate for bicycle frames.
Ready to go. Most bike frames will fit without overhanging the surface at all. The post can be removed in 30 seconds and the wooden top replaced to use as a general work surface.
I’m really looking forward to checking and aligning frames on this table.
Posted: July 12, 2013 Filed under: Uncategorized | Tags: Brazing, brazing training, frame building, framebuilding
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..