Wednesday, July 30, 2008

Day 11: Brazing the seatstays

I woke up this morning even more tired than when I went to bed. This is a very demanding experience, physically and emotionally. The phrase "bicycle boot camp" is not far off the mark. Nearly every day we've been in the shop from 9am to 11pm. By this morning it had caught up with me and I was in a foul mood.

Mitering seatstay caps by hand was probably not the ideal way to get over this foulness. It's very finnicky business. I probably worked for at least three hours before I got them just right (i.e., before that little tube up there fit perfectly in the shape I'd filed out...), and by then it was lunch time. My foul mood persisted.

But after a sandwich and with some caffeine in my system, I returned to the shop a bit early from lunch and fillet brazed the seatstay cap in place. Oh man do I like brazing. It went smoothly and immediately reversed my mood. Indeed, it kept me happy through the approximately four hours of filing and shaping that followed. And it was worth it: I think they look incredible, and they fit the style of the bike, too.

After dinner I got ready to braze them to the seat lug. It's a somewhat complicated braze: a fillet braze using silver. The reason brass isn't used is that the seatstay cap is brazed in with brass, so you don't want it to come loose. Anyway, it went smoothly, and after that, I was ready to call it a night. Tomorrow I'll do the other side, attach the seatstays to the rear dropouts, and add some brake bridges. I'll save my braze-ons for Friday and my filing for tomorrow night (I intend on pulling an all-nighter. I have no files and no work bench at home!)

Robert is ahead of me, but it seems like he'll have no time to file his lugs and will have to do that at home, which is disappointing for him. Dan is a bit ahead and will finish, I'm certain. His energy levels are absolutely incredible.

As for my frame, I've adopted an attitude — borrowed from the title of the new Richard Sachs film — that will ensure it gets done: imperfection is perfection. This is only my first frame. It's not my "calling card," and it's not even really entirely mine since Doug brazed three lugs. It's just the frame I built while I was learning to build frames. When I have my own equipment, I'll make a really nice one with lots of personal touches. I'll just make this one as nice as I can in the time I have... Every file mark and every skewed radius is just a reminder of the honest truth: that I'm a beginner.

Oh framebuilding, teacher of humility.

[More photos here.]

No comments: