I decided I wanted to try another all stainless frame, this time in Reynolds 953 and return to a lugged design. I also plan to try and mirror polish the whole frame then perhaps decide on some additional graphics to complement it. As in the past I wanted to build with oversize (XL) tubes, partly because I already had the tube set and partly so I could again use the Llewellyn XL lugs with a sloping top tube design. There are several problems inherent in this plan which will have to be overcome. The 953 seat tube tapers to 29mm at the top from 31.75 to accommodate a 27.2 seat post. This means it will be too loose in the Seat lug. On my last similar build when I realised this I simply turned the seat tube upside down and used a shim for the seat post, but this time I shall probably fillet braze the top tube to the seat post (In fact the whole frame will be silver soldered). Only one stainless oversize lugged bottom bracket with oval chain stay ports for greater tyre clearance is available from Ceeway and the 953 chain stays are a poor fit as they have a pointed profile at the bottom bracket end, so I will have to use XCR chain stays which should be a better fit. Also an XCR head tube as the 953 head tube is too wide to fit the head lugs and also too short for my selected head tube length.
Using BikeCad to design the frame to my own bike fit was itself quite a challenge as BikeCad is not really designed with lugs in mind as it does not allow you to fix the frame at the angles of the lugs so every change in dimension can have an effect on the lug angles which then have to be re-aligned. In the end I ended up with what I hope is an ALMOST perfect fit with hopefully virtually no need to adjust the angles of the lugs with a file.
Starting with the forks as per usual, I decided to make my own with 953 blades so I could guarantee they would have sufficient clearance for 28mm tyres and mudguards. Forks came out at 374mm fork/crown length and a rake of 45mm with an un-raked fork crown. It is also worth noting that I used the lightweight columbus steerer which is on the short side leaving me with a final steerer length of 295mm which is only just adequate for my design. Reynolds do produce a similar specification Cro-mo steerer at 400mm length it’s simply a question of remembering to order one with your tube set!
Mudguard eyes need to be soldered on separately as there are no 953 compatible front dropouts with eyes. After polishing
I prefer to file down and sand the lugs to a reasonable finish (150-240 grit emery) before soldering if I intend to polish them as I think it is easier to do most of the hard filing when all the recesses are more accessible before assembly.
The XCR chain stays were a reasonable fit in the end after a bit of gentle persuasion
As I had just obtained a lathe I decided to use the seat lug (the Llewellyn lugs only come as a set) by making a shim to adapt it to the tapered seat tube.
The usual sweating over cross tube internal top tube brake cable routing. I also had designed in my head a device for holding brazing rods so I could use them to the bottom when I suddenly realised it already existed. It is called a Pin Vice and I already had one in my tool box.
Nearly there! however it turned out I ended up cutting off most of the taper of the top of the seat tube and so still need a shim to make a 27.2 seat post fit! In retrospect I wasn’t surprised. The section of narrowing at the top is only a few centimetres and considering the seat tube was 630mm long and I ended up with a 58mm seat tube the only way I could ever have got it to fit would have been to cut several centimetres off the bottom end. Considering the butt at the bottom is only 7cm long I was doomed to fail. Reynolds do another tapered seat tube of 550mm length so if you want a seat tube of about 55cm or a bit less, or 63cm or a bit less my idea of a shim for the lug may work, but in future I think I will just shim a standard tube or use a 28.6 seat tube.
Several days of polishing later I was still not entirely happy with the finish of the main triangle. I obtained a bench grinder which can be adapted to accept polishing buffs. I didn’t really find this speeds up the process much on a complete frame and it will not go into some of the recessed areas, so a drill and small buffers are still necessary. The lugs come up fine as usual but the tubes really are quite scratched due to the belt sander used to clean them off in the factory, this really shows up during polishing. Pre polished tubes have quite a premium added to the price.
I have now had enough of polishing and will be using a bit more paint than originally intended but it should still look nice.
Another ace paint job by Atlantic Boulevard
Final frame weight 2Kg, quite a surprise as my first 853 frame only weighed 1.8Kg. Probably emphasise the fact that oversize tubing despite being thinner is heavier and stainless steel lugs probably weigh a little more than their non-stainless counterparts. The forks, however, weigh a pleasing 700g.
Final build I think looks better with the mudguards.