Tuesday, September 30, 2008

The Following Exciting Note from Noah Today:

Okay, I just got out of the spray booth after applying the final clear coat. It's done and it looks great.
I guess I would wait until Friday at the earliest to pick it up after sufficient curing.

Friday, September 26, 2008

Renovating Briggs; In Which I Strip Anodizing, Fabricate Downtube Stops, and Harmoniously Combine Old and New

No, Niles still isn't painted. These things take time, after all. But two items of good news: first, Niles is being painted this very day, and may in fact be sitting happily "curing" at Velocolour as I write; and second, being fundamentally incapable of relaxing, I have been busily at work finishing off another project: renovating Briggs.

Briggs is a bike I bought about this time last year, on eBay. He was listed by a Toronto seller as a "Brigantia," a marque of which I'd never heard, but caught my eye because of his full 1975 Campagnolo Nuovo Record group, his large 63cm size, his lovely yellow colour, and the description which described him as hand-built from Reynolds 531 tubing, Prugnat long-point lugs, and and 45% silver braze. In short, it sounds like either a very knowledgable person was selling this bike, or else the person who had built it was selling it. As it turned out, it was the latter.

After some correspondence, I took the subway northwards to pick him up, and met his creator, a man named Eric Gray. He is in his seventies, and built Briggs in the 70s, when he was teaching a course in framebuilding. Before that he had been a racer in England; and after, he continued to teach in a college, and apparently became more interested in steam engines than bicycles. (I told him I was interested in learning to build frames, and he send me a copy of his framebuilding mannual. I'll shortly read this over, knowing what I now know.)

Briggs is apparently one of about ten frames that Eric Gray built himself. There some evidence of relative inexperience: there are some gaps in the brazing in the lugs, for example — though this might be evidence more of a painter not very clever at fixing errors. But, as soon as I began to ride Briggs, I discovered how incredibly nicely he rides. He is phenomenally light, for one thing — I don't know what gauge of tubing Gray used, but it certainly feels light. He also fits me absolutely perfectly — before him, my largest bike was a 60, and I could immediately see what I was missing. His handling is likewise superb, and I noticed right away how balanced I felt on him. No-hands riding was remarkably steady.

With a bike that rode this nicely, certain bits of the Nuovo Record group began to feel like novelties. The shifting was not good, whether the shifters themselves or the derailleur was to blame. The five-speed Dura Ace freewheel, a 13-19, was horribly limited. (When I rode Briggs on a populaire with the Ontario Randonneurs, and ended up climbing up the escarpment twice in my 42-19, I badly injured my IT band and had to take half a month off riding.) The brakes worked very well, however, the bottom bracket was mighty smooth, and the crankset frighteningly beautiful. I told myself: maybe this bike needs some "upgrading."

My first road bike had an 8-speed Shimano 600 STI group on it when I bought it, but since then I have "downgraded" that bike (a Marinoni) to Shimano Sante 7-speed, and now have not a single "modern" bike. On my recent ride with the Barrys and company, seeing many classic-looking bikes with Ergopower, I though it might be time to try it out, and to put it on Briggs — a bike I wanted to ride more. A new freewheel and some Simplex shifters might have done the trick, of course — but I have enough bikes like that, and it was time for some variety. So I decided to do it.

I found someone on Toronto Craigslist who was selling Centaur shifters, a Dura Ace/Open Pro wheelset, and a Jtek shiftmate for extremely good prices. This sounded just about perfect: I like Shimano hubs better than Campagnolo, and like the variety of reasonably-priced cassettes on offer. (Also: Briggs came to me with a Dura Ace freehweel, a Nitto stem, and a Sugino seatpost — some mixing and matching is in his blood.) I also love the group name "Centaur" as an apt description of what one becomes on a bike — and had a Centaur rear derailleur (though it is grey). Well, I bought all of these things — but when I got them, the shifters didn't work. I feared this was an ill omen of poor Ergopower reliability. Indeed, it may have been. But I decided to take it as an opportunity to get nicer-looking levers. These had carbon blades, and I didn't like them. I got my money back from the seller (Don, a very fine man indeed), and bought some alloy-bladed Chorus shifters on eBay, and they came with a matching silver derailleur.

The idea was to keep as many of the original components as possible: the cranks, the brakes, the front derailleur, the headset, the seatpost — these would stay. The only new parts would be the wheels, cassette (Shimano 105 12-27), chain (Ultegra), rear derailleur, and integrated shifters.

Step one was re-spacing the frame from about 122 to 130. I did this following Sheldon Brown's instructions, and it went very smoothly.

Next was getting the anodizing off of the crankset. Yes, as you have read before, I don't like the look of anodizing, particularly once it's begun to wear off. That was Briggs's sorry lot, and so away I stripped. I used the Easy Off method this time, since there are so many uneven surfaces on the NR cranks. I did it outside, and used gloves to avoid lye burns. I sprayed on the Easy Off (make sure to get the "Heavy Duty" variety) and waited a minute or two as I watched the cranks turn black, then dunked them in water to check progress, then sprayed again. I think they took about 20 minutes each of spraying before they'd turned black. Then I polished with Simichrome in several steps: one go-over to get off the black/green scum, then another to get them half-shiny, then a final-mega-polish. It took some time, but they came out looking beautiful. As seen here:

Next I fabricated what I consider the nicest part of the whole bike: the downtube cable stops. I had read on the Classic Rendezvous list of Greg Reiche's (of Cyclart) construction of these stops from NR levers. There were no instructions, but I knew I must make similar stops! They symbolized, if you'll allow me a poetic departure, the spirit of the project: the old not only coexisting with the new, but working together with it! The very same pieces of metal that had previously shifted the gears (so very poorly!) now abetting a superior shifting system!

They were quite easy to make: just chop off the lever, file the barrel round, and flip the "stop" portions from left to right. Cyclart used a regular bolt; I used the original "D bolt," because it says Campagnolo on it. The main obstacle was guilt: I wasn't thrilled about destroying perfectly functioning levers. I did ask people on the CR list if they wanted to trade bent/broken levers for my functioning ones, but no one bit. Well, I told myself, they never shifted very well anyway: they were always either too tight and almost immovable, or else too loose and slipping. I chopped them off. I'll make keychains from them.

Finally came the business of putting it all together. The main problem was the interference of the chain- and seatstays with the small gear on the cassette. Some filing solved this. I was worried that the Shiftmate would look ugly, but this wasn't a problem: I think it looks nice, and it also greatly aids the otherwise very awkward cable loop to the above-chainstay stop. Getting the NR front derailleur to shift harmoniously with the narrow chain is a bit of a problem. I got some "throwing" in both directions intially. But with some fiddling, it seems to be working just fine now.

My only real complaint is the jungle of cables that partially obscure Briggs's true highlight: his "England Stag" headbadge. I realize I could have cut the cables short or left them longer, but I think this seems like the most efficient length, and — well, the Stag is shy, and enjoys the newfound privacy; he insisted I keep them as they are.

The best news of all: in addition to looking really nice, Briggs's wonderful frame is now matched by equally wonderful componentry. Don't get me wrong: I'm still a devotee of the simplicity and elegance of downtube friction shifting. But integrated shifting and 20 speeds definitely have their place on rides like the one I did to Goodwood. On my "test ride" last night I found the shifting immediate and silent, and really liked being able to shift three gears at a time, which I couldn't do with my old 600 stuff and considered a big advantage of downtube shifting. I don't know how well this Chorus equipment will ultimately hold up, but it seems way sturdier than the Centaur.

Briggs now seems "perfect" — a satisfying as well as frightening prospect. I guess there's no tinkering left; I'll just have to ride him.

Friday, September 19, 2008

The Japanese really get it...

Here, gloriously combined, the height of bicycle style and the zenith of musical style: a randonneur and The Style Council:

(Irony is difficult to express in written form at the best of times. But it's even harder to express irony mixed with genuine admiration, which I feel both for this Fuji-fendered bicycle and for Paul and Mick.)

Thursday, September 18, 2008

Tektro R538s

They're nice!

I have been fretting about brake choice since I realized I'd need to use larger tires and wider fenders than what I'd originally planned on. The brakes I wanted to use, the Tektro 521AGs (the one on the right), are not well shaped to wrap around fenders — nor does their quick release release very far. They are very pretty, however.

After reading this on the Rivendell site and this on Tom Matchak's blog, I became aware of the existence of the newer R538, which is an improvement in nearly every respect: it has fender-shaped arms, it has more reach, and it has a mega-release QR. Unfortunately, it's not as nice-looking as the 521.

Well, or so I thought. I found these for sale for under $50 at a Canadian store and ordered them, thinking I'd just re-sell them if I didn't like them. I liked them right away. The cutout is not really to my my liking, especially since it shows the spring, but the brake is very nicely finished, and I don't mind the profile of the brake arm. I decided to use it: it will eliminate the headache of bending the fenders to clear the arms, and allow me to use larger tires if I ever choose to. (I still think the 521AG looks nicer...)

But I wanted that Tektro logo off. And it wasn't going to be easy: on the 521AG, and on the photo of the R538 on the site I bought them from, these logos were black. Those are easy to remove: a bit of Simichrome, and they come right off, leaving the finish beneath alone. Mine have the laser-etched logo (see the brake on the left in the first photo) — printed right into the brake arm, and requiring sanding to remove.

I didn't think this would a big deal, since these are shiny, polished non-anodized aluminum. I'd just use fine-grit sandpaper to get the logo off and then polish the spot up to an even shine. Well, I was wrong — the brakes are anodized! When I sanded the logo off and polished up the remaining spot, it left a very unsightly area slightly shinier than everywhere else, and with a black border cloud. I got myself out of this situation by just sanding all the anodizing off of that one section of the brake arm (it would be too huge a job to do the whole brake — very curvy!), and now it looks pretty much perfect. (The one on the right is "in progress.")

But my major discovery is this: Tektro's anodizing looks incredible! It looks almost exactly like really nicely polished non-anodized aluminum. It's very shiny, and there's no "rainbow" effect. Why doesn't everyone use this anodizing finish?

In other news, apparently there was a slight delay with my decals, so Niles won't be ready until next week. Well, I'll at least be able to get some work done this weekend!

Monday, September 15, 2008

"Pour tous le scyclotouristes"

My much-anticipated Grand Bois Cerf 28s arrived today, and I have the following to report. First, there is definitely a typo on the label, and maybe also a grammatical error: should it be "toutes"? "Pour tous" would mean "for everyone," but with "les cyclotouristes," I think it needs a feminie "toutes." It definitely loses any utopian assocation, and also doesn't make much sense: "For all the cyclotourists."Anyway, this makes me happy, as it totally defeats any possible snobbiness these tires might have attempted otherwise.

The other thing that makes me happy: on my Mavic CXP33 rims, these measure not the 29mm they do on MA2s, but 27.5. That is totally ideal for my clearances, and will also allow me to use the Tektro 521AG brakes I love, because their quick release will clear them. (For those of you familiar with Toronto, I paid precisely 99 cents for those lovely plastic calipers at none other than Honest Ed's. They seem to work just fine!)

The Cerfs also look nice, and feel nice, and will presumably ride nicely.

I will get to test this sooner than I had been anticipating. Apparently my decals will be done tomorrow, and Noah will be done painting the frame by the end of this week. This is exciting. (Also frightening: I hope the colours end up the way I want them to, and they look good together.)

On the topic of anodizing and polishing: I gave my hubs a light polishing while mounting the tires. They looked pretty shiny before I did this (I'd been riding them for a year or so...), but they looked really shiny after Simichroming them. On the BOB and CR lists, it's been pointed out in response to yesterday's post that polished aluminum doesn't stay lustrous for long. Some say it gets "foggy" in as few as a couple of weeks. That's not my experience — those hubs stayed shiny for a year. And I do think Simichrome does somehow leave a protecting something on the metal after polishing. The hubs even seemed to have a "darker" polish to them when I was through with them today... But anyway, I think I'll put some car wax on everything just in case.

So: Niles arrives by Friday. So many preparations to make!

Sunday, September 14, 2008

Against Anodizing

I understand why nearly all bicycle components come anodized these days. Well, first, there is apparently some sort of protection offered to the aluminum — though based on the condition of my 1973 Campagnolo Nuovo Record group, I find this a bit dubious. The real reason is that it's less expensive and easier than polishing components. Instead of paying someone to sand and buff all day, simply have someone operate a machine that can apply a finish in matte silver, in shiny silver, or in any colour. This is, indeed, clearly a good thing: buffing aluminum all day is a bad job.

Except: polished aluminum is so clearly superior, in every other respect.

Anodized aluminum may come in every single colour; unfortunately, none of them looks as good as polished aluminum. And none of them keep their colour, either. While anodized aluminum will stay looking beautiful for as long as you're willing to polish it, anodizing inevitably wears off and looks awful. Even the most lovely and most shinily-anodized of TA Zephyr cranks will eventually strike your shoe enough times to rub its finish off, revealing a spot of the bare lustrous aluminum that lies beneath — the contrast of which also reveals just how dull that "shiny" anodizing was all along.

Accepting that we don't want other people working all day to buff and polish aluminum components, then, there is only one thing for ethically-minded bicycle aesthetes to do: polish them ourselves.

I've been doing this quite a lot recently. When I bought some Mafac 2000 brakes and found them ugly, I sanded off the anodizing and polished them up. When I found the finish on my Stronglight Delta headset too dull, I did the same. It took quite a while, I got very dirty, but not only did they look infinitely better — but I also had that sense of having been involved in their production. Psychologize as you will: I value that intimacy with my bikes.

Component selection for Niles, the bike I made myself, has naturally favoured non-anodized aluminum. My stem is a beautiful "short quill" Nitto Technomic, which costs way less than the anodized Pearl and is, well, not anodized. My handlebars are old GB randonneur bars — a bit of a triumph; non-anodized bars are hard to find these days. I'm using the Stronglight Delta headset I described above.

As for my seatpost, I originally was planning on using Velo Orange's new seatpost, which they originally advertised as being non-anodized. Clever: it isn't; it has that same bright-but-not-polished Nitto Pearl look. When I received it, I immediately started looking for what I regard as the prettiest seatpost of all time: the Campagnolo Nuovo Record. I found one on eBay, covered in scratches and decidedly not shiny. Due to its less-than-immaculate appearance, this absolute classic came to me for less than the price of the VO. And, no matter: they're not anodized, so with some sandpaper and some Simichrome, it would be shining like the Velo Orange never could. Indeed, it arrived last week and looks very beautiful now. (You can see it, slightly out of focus, in the "group" shot below. It's a living before-and-after: I only polished the part that will be visible, and left the bottom gunky.)

And what about the cranks? Well, originally I had planned on using some Stronglight 93s that came on a Raleigh Grand Sports I subsequently fixed up for my sister (this is also the source of the GB bars.) They came to me foggy and gross, but with five minutes of Simichroming revealed their true beauty. Unfortunately, my bottom bracket drop issue meant I couldn't use them.

I did have a set of 167.5mm Dura Ace track cranks, however. There was absolutely nothing wrong with them: they're surely machined more precisely than the Stronglights, they have a nice shape, they don't leave the unsightly axle-gap on the non-drive side that classic cranks do, and they also have a Q-factor of about 135mm (according to my measurements). But they have that most obnoxious and deceptive of finishes: the "bright" anodizing. Why do I so dislike it? Well, possibly because when you look at it from far away it looks like polished aluminum, but up close gives itself away: not only do any scratches or rub marks show up mercilessly, but its pearly finish reflects a strange spectrum of pastel colours, not a true "mirror." It masquerades as a superior finish. On my bike, where everything else is mirrorlike, these cranks would have stuck out (not like a sore thumb — worse.)

Since I needed either to use these cranks or to spend several hundred dollars on a pair of new TA track cranks (or try to track down some of the Campy-copy Mavic track cranks...), I had only one option: to take off the anodizing. This is quite a lengthy and obnoxious process on anything with a very irregular surface. First, you need to scratch off the anodizing itself with emory cloth. This is a tedious step, especially around places like the crank spider. Then you need to smooth out the roughness caused by this step, by sanding with 320, then 400, then 600, then 1200, then 1500 grit sandpaper. Then you need to polish.

To read this post, you might think I didn't like spending whole day sanding. In fact, I had a very nice time. I have no idea why I didn't do this much earlier, in fact. Part of it was that Dura Ace logo: even though I bought these used (they were cheap: they were pretty badly scratched on the non-drive side), it just didn't feel right to scratch it off. I didn't want them to look generic. Also, I didn't want to wreck them: to encounter some unforseen problem and have them never get shiny again. (This is why I didn't use the oven-cleaner-as-anodizing-remover method: it can ruin the finish. I could have used a proper anodizing removal product, but I've never tracked one down in Toronto, and I was impatient.) Well, it all worked perfectly.

And, as usual when I do this sort of thing, they look even better than I had dared to imagine. Polished aluminum just looks incredibly good. And I removed nearly all the scratches in the process. Ecologically-minded people take note: anodized aluminum wears and looks "wrecked" very quickly, prompting people to discard their "ruined goods": in fact some sanding and polishing will have them looking better than new.

I've also photographed my "component group" for Niles. Two things will likely change. As much as I love then, I don't think the Tektro 521ag brakes will be able to wrap around the 43mm fenders that my need for wider tires forced me to use; nor will their quick release likely be able to clear the 29mm-wide Grand Bois tires I'm going to use. So I'll probably have to use Tektro R538s, which aren't quite as pretty, but are still very nice. And I think I'll use some TA pedals I have instead of those MKSes. The TAs have more ground clearance, and their cage shape vaguely resembles my bell logo (as does the shape of the Delta headset, the profile of the non-drive-side DA crank, the shape of the bottle cage, etc. I'm obsessive.)

And yes, those Dura Ace brake levers are anodized grey — but they look so good!!

Finally: here are some shots of some new straps M. made yesterday (a present for her employer). And I was kidding about the waiting list, of course. Currently we have exactly one person in line, and he's my friend.

Friday, September 12, 2008

Two Serious Bikes pant straps!

My girlfriend and I are, unfortunately, very busy people — she's a law student and I'm a grad student, in addition to various other things. But if we weren't students, we would like to do the following: me make bike frames, and she make clothes. Indeed, we may do these things full-time some day. But for now: I work on bikes in my spare time, she sews in her spare time. Put these hobbies together, and you have Two Serious Bikes: our "cottage industry" bike clothes company.

For the last year we've been planning on finally finding a couple of weeks to really go in to production with our pants straps. Unfortunately, that time hasn't materialized. We have had time to make lots of "prototypes" for ourselves, which we use whenever we ride in pants, which have gotten increasingly nice, and which have also drawn quite a few compliments and inquiries. We've also hoarded far more vintage bicycle-themed fabric and buttons than we will ever possibly use.

This means that we are close to being in a position to make custom (as opposed to "production"!) pants straps. This will be largely for our own amusement and to bring joy to those who receive them. They take an impecuniously long time to make this way, but we want to tailor them each individual "customer," and have every one be unique.

A fine example is posted here: the "three-panel" design is a recent innovation, the backing fabric looks really nice, and we've got the proportions just right. (Well, a tad short for my leg — but on hers: perfection! Such is the nature of "custom"...)

In addition to looking nice, these things are extremely useful. (Especially on fixed gears: one does not one's pantleg stuck in one's drivetrain.) But in addition to be useful, they look very nice. The reflective garden variety straps encourage one very strongly to simply roll up one's pants; these keep you safe and looking non-ridiculous. (A possible marketing campaign: "Be safe! Look non-ridiculous! Ride TSB!")

Note also that they (like all our straps) are made entirely from "recycled" fabric and buttons. (The thread, alas, is not.)

Really, every style-conscious person on a lugged steel bike, esp. a fixed gear, should be wearing a pair of our straps.

Given our anticipated productivity, we fully and modestly anticipate a Richard Sachs style six year waiting list — in days!

Monday, September 8, 2008

From the mundane springs... a head badge and a coat of primer

Over the weekend I was working on bringing my Illustrator file for my decals up to spec. This was quite tedious, but with a tremendous amount of help from "No Click Club" member Robert Murray, the goal was achieved. So today I biked out to Noah's shop (formerly known as the Mariposa shop) to bring him the file and get the decal wheels in motion.

I was greeted with two exciting sights. First: the headtube decal, created by Suzanne Carlsen. It's in polished stainless steel and looks really good. It's a nice detail for a handmade bike – a headbadge handmade by a jeweler. And now a paintjob hand-applied, with hand-painted box-lining... well, it's nice.

Noah had also put a coat of primer on my frame. And wow — it looked so much nicer, and more like a bike, that it looked when I dropped it off. Gone was the surface layer of rust and the gleaming filed lugs, replaced with uniform flat green. You could see all the lug-filing work quite well through the primer, and for the most part it looked really good. Noah assured me things would look even nicer with the actual paint and some clear coat.

As for the awful pictures – I'm actually pretty impressed with what my cell phone is capable of!

Saturday, September 6, 2008

In other news... My new Alan cross bike

I am suffering from something like an embarrassment of riches at the moment. First, there is the bike I just made. Then, due in a month or so, is the Velo Orange randonneur I've been waiting for for a year. And a few months ago, I bought this NOS Alan cyclocross frame.

I've finally got it all built up. It's come together very coherently for a bike whose parts all were discarded from other projects. For example: the wheels. I bought the incredibly beautiful black Mavic Paris Dakar hubs thinking I would maybe use them on the VO, but then decided they were just too funky. The rims, Mavic Reflex tubulars, I bought about two years ago thinking I might some day want road tubulars — something I've since talked myself out of. Anyway, the hubs set up the rest of the components: I tracked down a matching headset, which is probably my favourite part of the bike, and then repurposed some other Mavic parts I had sitting around (I really like Mavic stuff!).

The Mavic drivetrain is also discarded from the VO. I tried the 801 derailleur out on my "placeholder" Fuji randonneur a few months back and couldn't get it to shift onto my 26 tooth big cog. So I decided to track down an 840 rear derailleur, which I knew would work, and thought I would use the 801 on this bike. (Two days ago, when setting up the 801, I realized how to set it up, and now see that I could easily have used it on the VO...). When I eventually found the 840, it was listed on eBay under "Mavic diraller plus extras" or something equally badly spelled. The 840 was (and is!) absolutely mint, and the "extras" were a NOS set of Mavic non-aero levers. Because of the bad listing, few were watching, and I got them both for a very very good price. Those are the levers on Alan (his full name is Alan Zachs, for those who are paying attention.)

The tires are rebranded Challenge Grifos. I "glued" them on with some Tufo tape — I know, I know. Well, it was easy and fun, and the tires seem to be sticking on so far.

I've been riding Alan in a nearby park for the past two days — I have a little course that goes up some steep hills, through some woods, and across some grass flats. It's fun, and great exercise. Alan is a very able performer. The shifting is obviously friction, but I've gotten good at that, so it's more or less intuitive. The gearing is 46-34 on the front and 14-24 (6 speed) on the back, and is great. The big gears might be too big, but the small ones are perfect. I haven't noticed the famed Alan "flexiness" yet. I have noticed how light Alan is.

Also: looking at these photos makes me see how I've split the rear derailleur cable loop. My next repair! (Well, that, and applying the bartape — black cloth Cateye.)

Wednesday, September 3, 2008

In for Paint

I dropped the frame off with Noah yesterday. I spent the morning sifting through paint samples from a hardware store to have some objective example of "grey-blue" and "dark grey-blue" in hand when I arrived at the shop. After much thought I decided on a "grey-blue" not too grey and not too blue, and set off. I took the subway and bus rather than strap my newly finished frame onto my back and ride there. It took a nerve-wracking hour, but the frame arrived safely.

Once in the shop, I looked through the Imron colour book and, though nothing was quite perfect, found one slightly blue-ish but not at all bad. This is a really tough colour to nail, so I hope it comes out looking nice. I also realized that my decals are probably not properly formatted for printing. This is already a boring post, so I'll not get into details — but yes, building a frame is a lot of work, and the decal-creation side of things is no exception. Luckily there are always bike-geek friends to help out... (That's my "final" decal file on the right.)

In less boring news, I went on a ride today with Noah, with Mike Barry, his son Michael, and others — and it was incredibly fun. I can't wait to ride it with the new bike!

And back to boring: my Stronglight A9 headset (I actually ordered four: call it planning ahead) arrived today, though I've begun to think that the shape of a Stronglight Delta would match my logo better. And I'm debating which size of tire to get for Niles. The Grand Bois 28s actually measure 29.5, apparently, which makes them pretty tight in terms of clearance, and might make a bad match for my 35mm-wide fenders. Options include the Grand Bois 26s, but their actual width is apparently 24mm — too narrow. So Challenge 27s? They measure 28mm wide, but cost $80 each. Pasela 28s? Actual width 26, so might be too narrow for the bottom bracket issue. Luckily I have some of them around the house, and also some Ruffy Tuffys. I guess I'll experiment with them before buying anything.

Monday, September 1, 2008

Ready for Paint

Exactly a month after I finished Doug's class, and very appropriately on Labour Day, Niles — the frame I built there — is ready for paint.

It took me about a week of filing work on the lugs to be happy with them. This was, I think, an absurdly long time. Were I to do it again, I'm sure it would take me about a quarter the time — both because I know what I'm doing, and I would insist on less perfection. (Really, the more you file, the more you need to correct — so it ends up looking more or less the same after a certain point, I think.)

The last day or two have been spent very pleasantly doing things like cutting the seatpost slot, filing off any rough spots on the braze-ons, and removing any excess silver. The frame is now very clean. There are a few spots empty of silver at lug points, and at the seat lug some silver was drawn away from the tube joint when I attached the stays. Noah and some Bondo will hopefully take care of this. Also: looking at these photos has made me realize that I still have some emory-ing to do in certain spots to remove some file marks. But I am very pleased with things now and very excited to see it painted and built up!

As for paint and decals — I will paint in a darkish grey-blue, use dark blue decals, and have (very thin) box lining. On the seat tube, I've decided to revert to my somewhat dorky original bell/top logo with my name written in it. On the headtube, a stainless steel headbadge. In the photos below, you can see these decals in the spots they'll be. (I've enjoyed the decal creation stuff just about as much as designing and building the frame. I wonder if frame #4,001 would be as fun as #1, however. If I could design new decals for every bike, a new name for the decals, a radically new geometry, perhaps...)

So now it's off to Noah at Velocolour. I'm not sure how long it will take, but, ah!, it will feel like a long time regardless!

Here are lots and lots of photos: