Tube Bending and Panana Budget Tube Bender Review

Tube Bending and Panana Budget Tube Bender Review

Tube bending is something I avoid, however there are times when it is necessary. Some framebuilders do it as a feature of their work but I tend to only use bent tubes when it is necessary to solve a clearance problem as with the child’s first pedal bike. I purchased this bender for the princely sum of £90 from an Ebay retailer who I guess is based in China but had stocks in the UK. The brand may be a red herring as I suspect it is one of those tools turned out by a Chinese factory under different names. Indeed Stakesy’s have what looks to be an identical bender available on their site for £165, though they were out of stock when I ordered mine: https://www.stakesys.co.uk/tube-pipe-benders/manual-tube-benders/sta137-buzz-bench-top-manual-tube-bender.

Child’s First Pedal Bike

Child’s First Pedal Bike

Having previously made a balance bike I now need to follow this up with a pedal bike. This has proved to be quite a challenge. Having come up with a design from the child’s existing measurements using BikeCad I needed 14 inch wheels. These are almost impossible to find as is a suitably small chain set. Eventually after much searching I decided to buy a donor bike for some of the parts. I wasn’t able to find a suitable one in a hurry on Ebay so headed to my local Argos (other retailers are available) and purchased  very heavy 14 inch bike. Like all similar bikes it has very fat tyres and weird caliper brakes that make contact on the undersurface of the rim. The chainset is basic press fit with cheap bearings and lightweight 1/8 inch chain. Surprisingly the bottom bracket was a standard adult width and the dimensions of the bottom bracket very close to a standard PF86, though not quite. Having started down this road it looks like I will have to bite the bullet and use the wheels, chainset and brakes and maybe the chainguard.

Bespoke 2017

Bespoke 2017

An excellent display of custom building again this year with many highlights. I doubt if I spotted them all.
Lugs are back
Although they never went away it seemed to me that there were more lugged bikes than ever this year and in particular with stainless lugs, my own favourite. The standard of stainless steel polishing also seems to have gone up, though once again the bikes displayed by Darrell McCulloch (Llewellyn Custom Bicycles) were on another level.
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There was some brushed stainless in evidence, not something I have tried and I suspect difficult to do well.

953 /Carbon Semi-Lugged Road Bike

953 /Carbon Semi-Lugged Road Bike

I have previously built a Road bike using Reynolds 953 and Llewellyn lugs with a Dedacciai carbon fibre rear triangle. This was something of an experiment as, whilst it was a standard thing to do, I was unable to find any real information about how to go about it, especially in relation to the glueing process. I have now been riding the bike I built for two and a half years and have had no issues with it other than a minor problem I will mention later. Using the experience I now have I am going to build a similar frame. This will again use 953 oversize  main tubes (35.9,31.7,31.7) with stainless Llewellyn lugs. The rear triangle  is supplied with it’s own bottom bracket so this has to be fillet brazed in. Although the rear triangle is supposed to be a  Dedacciai Firebox as before, from Ceeway, it is a slightly different shape from the previous one and is marked “Black Box and Black Tail”.

Introduction to Milling – another Axminster skill centre course

Introduction to Milling – another Axminster skill centre course

At the end of November I attended a two day course as an introduction to using a milling machine. This will be another machine to complement the lathe in producing custom bicycle parts. Now I will be able to make things that are not only round, which is the limitation of a lathe. The milling machine enables the cutting of shapes that are square or curved or stepped, together with slots, so I should be able to make various types of dropouts and no doubt other things. It can also be used to mitre tubes. The course costs £275, including lunch and refreshments, a slight increase on last years fees. There were 4 students to one tutor and I was lucky enough to be taught by Bob Rolph who had previously taught the small lathe course.
Students use the Axminster SX3 machines for the course (other machines are available) and there is no hard sell to purchase Axminster’s own products.

Experiments with Tube Mitering on a Lathe

Experiments with Tube Mitering on a Lathe

Tube mitering is a fundamental part of custom frame building and I am sure there is always a need to be able to produce good results by hand and eye. Paper templates are a boon for speeding up the process and increasing accuracy but I decided to see how I would get on with some form of automation for the process. A milling machine, lathe or tube notcher can all be used but as I already have a lathe this seemed the way forward. I have described elsewhere making the tube blocks to enable this. My lathe is small with 500mm between centres.
I have obtained several Coba-Tech hole saws from Stakesy’s metalwork machinery suppliers (https://www.stakesys.co.uk/hole-punches-hole-saws/hole-saws-arbors/coba-tech-10-tpi-fine-tooth-holesaws). These are fine tooth saws as opposed to the more usual coarse tooth saws I have used in the past. For cutting good mitres in fine tubes I would say these are essential and Stakesy’s were the only supplier I could find. They also sell some tube notchers which are designed to be used with a conventional drill but I have no experience of using these.

Coarse and fine tooth saws (fine on the right)

Coarse and fine tooth saws (fine on the right)

Disc Brake Fixtures on Kickstarter – UPDATE 2

Disc Brake Fixtures on Kickstarter – UPDATE 2

Eric Meinert, from Canada, has just launched a Kickstarter project to fund his POST MOUNT disc brake fixture. Suitable for both frame and fork as with previous fixtures, and suitable for both 140mm and 160mm rotors. The fixture can be ordered by pledge on Kickstarter: https://www.kickstarter.com/projects/4608648/bicycle-post-mount-disc-brake-jig. It will subsequently available from his Incepi website.

This fixture now complements his other available fixtures which are available from his INCEPI website at:  http://incepi.myshopify.com
There is an ISO disc brake tab fixture, below, which I purchased through a previous Kickstarter launch.
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Additionally there is now a FLAT MOUNT fixture which I understand is likely to become the accepted standard for road bikes. I think the price for the fixtures is very reasonable despite having to import them from Canada: effects of Brexit not withstanding!
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I have no experience of flat mount fitting on steel frames but The only commercial supplier I could find of the flat mounts themselves was Paragon Machineworks in the USA. However when I was at Bespoke 2016, Bear Bikes in Leighton Buzzard did have some on display and although they are not advertised as such I am sure they can supply them.

Some Small Lathe Projects

Some Small Lathe Projects

Since Jon Thompson’s post on introduction to a lathe I thought it worthwhile to share a few of the small bits I have produced since obtaining my lathe, to give a further idea of some of the possibilities. The first thing you discover is that a lathe straight out of the box is only the start, and most of the jobs I think up usually require additional lathe tools from commercial suppliers; or require the making of bits yourself specifically for individual jobs.
The first thing I wanted to make was a heat sink for brazing the top end of seat tubes; something I now feel is essential for fillet brazing stainless steel in this situation. These are commercially available but on reflection those I have seen would be unlikely to fit in my frame jig should I wish to braze in situ, so I can make my own more fit for purpose. One further point is that despite the Chinese allegedly dumping cheap steel on the open market, none of it has come my way and metal is an expensive commodity to buy, especially in the small quantities usually required.

Polishing Stainless Steel – Updated

Polishing Stainless Steel – Updated

I love using stainless steel because I have always hated rust and especially when used for dropouts, fork crowns and brake bridges. It means your paintwork doesn’t get damaged. I found out how to polish it up from the instructions given by Darrell McCulloch of Llewellyn bikes fame and you can do no better than reading: http://www.framebuilderscollective.org/polishing-stainless-mcculloch/
I used to polish the parts after completing the frame but, as McCulloch, I now file and sand the parts to at least 240 grit emery paper before building the frames. It is much easier to get in all the recesses before the frame is assembled.

Pro-Max 350w 6inch Bench Grinder –  Review

Pro-Max 350w 6inch Bench Grinder – Review

I purchased this machine from Metal Polishing Supplies after an online search. It is a “Budget” model in the world of Bench Grinders and bears a remarkable resemblance to a lot of other own brand models suggesting they are likely to be made in the same Chinese factory. Credit to Metal Polishing Supplies, however, in as much as the company has produced it’s own product leaflet which is written in clear english. They also offer a 3 year warranty.