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..





My New Surface Table.

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.