Colorado On My Mind

It was early when I started out - I knew if I waited too long the afternoon wind would pick up and prevent me from working, so I had to use my time wisely.  I threw on some old clothes and went out to set up the shop, a bit of a time consuming process since it's not currently possible for me to keep everything in one place.  The Park stand, alignment table, a few files and the tubes I was working with went out first, then my sketches and design notes.  Finally I opened my tiny shed and unchained my oxygen and acetylene tanks from the wall so that I could roll them out - the shed is so small that there's only room in there for them or me.  

Someday I'll have a real shop!
I continued where I left off last time, which had been the tacking of the BB to the seatpost.  The wind had started early last weekend, and I wasn't able to continue brazing until today.  I rechecked the alignment from the tacking on the table, ensuring the bottom bracket was center and the seatpost was straight.  

While setting up the torches I had that same uneasy feeling again - what if I have no idea what I'm doing?  What if I fail?  What if I blow myself up?  Thankfully it was fleeting, and after everything was cleaned and fluxed I lit the torch and the uneasiness melted away.  I was in my element.  

The tube sang as I did my first round of internal brazing, pulling the metal inside to ensure a strong joint.  Changing the torch tip had made a world of difference, and there were only a few small areas that I needed to clean up before doing external brazing.  While the seat tube cooled, I prepped the top tube for mitering.  Squeezing into my tiny space between the drill press and the work bench, I set the vise to the proper angle - 77 degrees for this particular miter - and traced the template onto the tube.  

Printing templates - my top tube and post-in cheat sheet.  Disregard the math, it's incorrect and I'm only using this for the tube diameters and wall widths!
The seat tube had cooled and I carefully cleaned up a few of the bad areas.  I still need to get my temperature control down, but my brazing was smooth and consistent.  It's strange how quickly the little things came back to me, such as the method of getting the tubes to sing for internal brazing and the way to move the torch to get the optimal temperature.  Maneuvering the tube to where I needed it, I was able to create a nice, even fillet, and after the initial inspection only needed to spot fix two areas that had divots in them. 

Shiny happy flux!
The top tube was mitered while waiting for the seat tube to cool, but I knew I would need to soak off the flux and check the alignment in the jig before moving on.  The wind, of course, had started to pick up early, and any further brazing today was out of the question.  

Though it seemed like I had done so little, a few hours had already passed.  I made sure the oxygen and acetylene were shut off, I cleaned the torch tip and files and checked that everything was put back in its proper place, and I closed up for the day.

It's not much, and I've got a long way to go and a lot to learn.  But it feels so good to be building again.

Everyone's gotta start somewhere.


  1. I have carefully inspected your set up and workspace here, and whilst trying to hide my jealousy, I do know that if I were you I would have turned my ankle on that tennis ball at least once. Hope you fared better, judging by the fillet brazing (correct term?) on your more recent post it looks like you did. What kind of bike is this one going to be? (apols if you have said elsewhere).

    1. I actually took all of these photos after the work had been done, in which case my landlord's dog kept bringing me the tennis ball and I had brought the bag of trash out to throw a few things away. No tripping hazards while brazing, I assure you!

      This is going to be a touring frame, and also a test for a few things that I haven't tried before, like disc brakes and a segmented fork.

  2. Was joking, except about my ankles' ability to find things to get turned over on :P I just googled segmented fork, looks like the legs/struts/tines are held out on buttresses, (I'm just free-styling terminology now) very different, looks good though.

    I'm hooked, congratulations on having such an enthusiastic and original blog and so many interesting ideas to carry through.

    1. Segmented forks are quite interesting! The idea came about because the person for whom this frame is being made wants a straight blade fork that can support a wider tire, fenders, and a rack (and also disc brakes) while keeping the fork consistent with the fillet brazing on the rest of the bike. We'll see how it turns out!

      Thank you so much for your kind words! I appreciate your comments and I'm glad you enjoy my little blog!


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