Take a look at the finished bicycle here..

Sunday, 24 July 2011

Sanding and shaping.... Again.

This weekend I have spent time working on the wooden frame again while the metal parts are being braised. It seems like a while since I have actually worked on the frame.
I spent some time refining the shape of the taper into the rear wheel, first making the curve closer to that of the wheel and then tidying up the actual taper. I am not aiming for perfect lines as I have always wanted this to be clearly hand made, however I am also wanting to create something I will be proud of. If I had unlimited time I am sure I would refine and remake parts until I was truly happy. Isn't that always the way?
Anyway I have been using a cutting disk on an angle grinder intended for the light shaping of mild steel. However my father in law tried it on wood one day when we were restoring my wife's Morris Minor, not only did it work, it worked really well, and best of all did not over heat or clog up. It also only leaves light ridging that sand out really easily. I will use this for the final shaping of the frame once it is bonded into one.

Another job I have started is the chocking up of the bottom rear stay, having cut out too much from the main frame. Luckily I took out 12mm, so the fix was as simple as bonding in another layer of ply.

Rough shape bonded on.                                        Sanded into shape.

I roughly cut the piece and bonded it into the stay, making sure to align the bottom bracket fin slot. Then when it had cured, I set about working it back. I spent a relaxing hour in the back garden just slowly sanding it. I am sure I could have set about it with a power tool or a quicker hand tool, but I just got into the sanding. It was quite relaxing, therapeutic I'm sure. Anyway, I got it to a place where it will fits well enough to be ready for the final fitting. It will then require more sanding to make all the shapes fit more neatly where it buts up to the main frame.

Thursday, 14 July 2011

Drop outs....

I set about getting the drop outs to fit the stays. First I had to cut the stay down to allow the metal section to centre up. Slightly nerve racking as it is a one way event. So measure check, measure check then cut, carefully. I got the top ones bang on, but the bottom ones were still a smidgen too long and had to have a screw drivers shaft with taken off, it was a precise measurement, and worked a treat.
So having got the metal work mostly in shape the thing to do was offer it up. The main adjustment needed to make it all fit was to thin the wood back on the stays. In cutting the stays back, the length of the stay that fitted the tube had shortened, so a quick bit of rasping and they all fitted well.

 Drop outs mocked in, with wheel.

When it all came together, it fitted better than I had expected, so well that I could pop the wheel gently in and see it all there for the first time. All good news, but the point of all this apart from seeing if all the planning would actually work, was to spot bond the metal components with acrylic adhesive so that I can give it all to my colleague Lew to braise up. But I ran out of time, that will have to wait, but its all there ready.

Drop out mock up detail.

Once I get the metal work done I can start the final phase of the project, final bonding, shaping and fine sanding followed by varnish. It all seems possible now.
Today I also spray painted the head tube, so it will be ready for bonding into the main frame. All I need to complete that is the transfer with the PLYCYCLE logo and some spray lacquer.


I think this bike will be called the 'Plycycle', and in order to represent this on the head tube I have knocked up a logo to go with it.

In other news the drop outs are coming on, getting to grips with the metal work.

Drop outs work in progress.

The next stage is to line up the frame accurately and tack glue the drop out components in position ready for braising. Inside they are scuffed ready for fixing to the frame. I just have to decide what adhesive I will use. I was planning to use the same epoxy as everything else, but I have been given some acrylic structural adhesive, that may just be a bit better. I will do some tests.

Tuesday, 12 July 2011


I collected the reamed and faced head set from Argos cycles at lunch today. On the outside it looks just as it did before, but look inside and the evidence is clear.

Head tube and fin with primer coat.

Head tube faced and reamed inside.

This week I also need to pop back with the forks to get the crown reamed to fit the headset nicely, its a while you wait job at Argos cycles.

But now I have the head tube working I can get on and do the final lamination of the frame.

Friday, 8 July 2011

Head tube.

While trying to move things on I thought I would have a go at assembling the front end of the bike. Stating with the head tube I proudly got out the head set, lined up the pieces and offered the top bearing cup up to the head tube. It didn't fit. Not just in a small way, there was just no way it was ever going in. For those of you who are reading this having made your own frame from scratch, you will now be realising how green I am to this.
I was worried that I had bought the wrong size tube or head set or both. On double checking, I had the correct ones.
I decided to swallow my pride and put in a call to the guys at Ceeway where I had bought the tubing from. They were very patient with me and explained all about reaming.
Reaming. The tubing is sold with an internal diameter that is slightly too small for the headsets. This is because as the frame is braised, distortions occur and the tubing is often not as truly round as it should be. So when the braising is complete, the frame is 'reamed and faced' to true it up and cut it out to the correct size for the head set.
So my head tube needed reaming. The tools I needed were easy to find but very expensive, so a quick web search brought up Argos racing cycles, bespoke frame builders and restorers, who are fairly local to me. I nipped over one lunch and they were more than happy to do the job for me for a fraction of the cost of the tools. Perfect. I pick it up next week.

Frame tacked together for dropout measuring.

In addition to the front end shenanigans, Lew and I have been mithering about with the drop outs. The actual drop outs have been bent to match the angles of the stays. Lew bent the stainless drop out sections with an oxyacetylene torch. The next step is to make the tube fittings to fit the wood. As mentioned below, we have revised the plans for this a couple of times, and we think we have now got a simple and effective way forward. The only recent change in plan is in how to physically join the drop out plate to the tubing. Normally a simple butt would be used and braised together. However because of the over sized tubing I need to accommodate the wooden stays, a butt was not going to work as well as we thought. It would need an insert made, and that is just too much machining for this project. so we have decided to try and squeeze the ends of the tubing into an ellipse using a jig, to take the shape of the drop out and make the braising more straight forward. Lew is testing this weekend, I will reveal the out come soon.

As you can see above I have put the frame together slightly more formally in order to get the drop out angle was right. I found that by the bottom bracket I needed a wedge, as my initial measurements had been wrong. Nothing a bit of resin and a bolt cant mend.
It was also an opportunity to start putting some of the bolts into the frame. The first being the bottom bracket ones. These now go thought the metal fin inside the frame and it is rock solid. When the frame has its final lamination (when the head tube is done) It will re-enforce it again.

I also need to start thinking for a name and a badge to put on the front.

Tuesday, 5 July 2011

Not much to show, but still going.

Its all in the title. Again, not much to show, but I have been doing little bits and pieces. Truing up the frame cut outs for the stays and the stays themselves. However the biggest focus of the build recently has been the fabrication of the metal rear drop outs. We have angled the drop out brackets to match that of the stays so the actual drop out plate runs parallel to the frame and therefore true.
I hope to have something to fit to the wooden frame soon, as that will push the build into the final phase.