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Reynolds Tubing- Educate me!

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Reynolds Tubing- Educate me!

Old 02-12-22, 01:13 PM
  #26  
Doug Fattic 
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Originally Posted by guy153 View Post
I have the same chart only with prices on it (probably because I'm in the UK). The actual difference in the price of the three main tubes between 725 and 853PT is only about 30 (about $40) so idk why the builder wants to charge an extra $500.
I can't speak for a builder I don't know (or has been identified). But I am a builder that understands the requirements to make a frame with thin wall tubing. Heat treated tubing requires extra care during the build. It is easier than heavier tubing to go out alignment while brazing and much more difficult to keep in alignment. The heat of brazing distorts tubes (they bend when heat is applied). You can't correct alignment (well not much anyway) after the build like you can non-heat treated tubing. Going back to my comment about talking to Terry Bill at Reynolds in 1978 (I think) when he said that every American that had taken the 753 (Reynolds new heat treated thin wall tubing) test had failed. That should tell you all you need to know. Not everyone can do it well. It requires both greater knowledge to do it correctly, greater skill to braze it properly so it doesn't go out of alignment, and extra time to be careful so it turns out like he wants it.

In most fields, the specialists charge more than the general practitioners when doing higher level work. If I was't already an experienced frame builder, but had my knowledge anyway, I would definitely pay the extra $500. If I didn't, I would know that I still paid a lot but not quite enough to make it exceptional.
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Old 02-12-22, 04:59 PM
  #27  
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Originally Posted by Doug Fattic View Post
I can't speak for a builder I don't know (or has been identified). But I am a builder that understands the requirements to make a frame with thin wall tubing. Heat treated tubing requires extra care during the build. It is easier than heavier tubing to go out alignment while brazing and much more difficult to keep in alignment. The heat of brazing distorts tubes (they bend when heat is applied). You can't correct alignment (well not much anyway) after the build like you can non-heat treated tubing. Going back to my comment about talking to Terry Bill at Reynolds in 1978 (I think) when he said that every American that had taken the 753 (Reynolds new heat treated thin wall tubing) test had failed. That should tell you all you need to know. Not everyone can do it well. It requires both greater knowledge to do it correctly, greater skill to braze it properly so it doesn't go out of alignment, and extra time to be careful so it turns out like he wants it.

In most fields, the specialists charge more than the general practitioners when doing higher level work. If I was't already an experienced frame builder, but had my knowledge anyway, I would definitely pay the extra $500. If I didn't, I would know that I still paid a lot but not quite enough to make it exceptional.
All good points, but I think there were some special difficulties with 753-- you could destroy the heat treatment too easily possibly. 853PT ought to be relatively straightforward to TIG. It's thin, but the 525 SS I usually use are also 0.6mm wall, and they're fine to work with. And 725 is also heat-treated.
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Old 02-12-22, 06:40 PM
  #28  
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Our perspective as builders and the perspective of a semi-production company is quite different. Some of the price differential is probably just basic marketing. But I look at some of these prices on frames and consider the lower tier tubing frames as coming at a discount, not the higher tier tubing costing a big premium. Are we talking about Mercian? At least they raised their prices from when they were obscenely low.

Speaking of Torch and File, does anyone know if they are expecting tubing in any time soon?

753 was a departure for Reynolds, and they were conservative about it. You can go out and buy roughly equivalent heat treated tubing now and there doesn't really seem to be any problem with less experienced people working with it. Except maybe those that try to bend it into alignment.
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Old 02-12-22, 08:22 PM
  #29  
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Originally Posted by unterhausen View Post
Our perspective as builders and the perspective of a semi-production company is quite different. Some of the price differential is probably just basic marketing. But I look at some of these prices on frames and consider the lower tier tubing frames as coming at a discount, not the higher tier tubing costing a big premium. Are we talking about Mercian? At least they raised their prices from when they were obscenely low.

Speaking of Torch and File, does anyone know if they are expecting tubing in any time soon?

753 was a departure for Reynolds, and they were conservative about it. You can go out and buy roughly equivalent heat treated tubing now and there doesn't really seem to be any problem with less experienced people working with it. Except maybe those that try to bend it into alignment.
Mercian is definitely high on my list. Their prices are still low compared to most other custom builders as are many other builders in the UK.
For some reason custom bike frames are just cheaper coming from the UK, but of course then there is shipping and possible unknown import duty which evens it out some.
I have a Mercian now that is 531C and I like it but it is touring geometry with a really long wheelbase and would like something closer to standard road geometry.
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Old 02-13-22, 08:10 AM
  #30  
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Originally Posted by unterhausen View Post
753 was a departure for Reynolds, and they were conservative about it. You can go out and buy roughly equivalent heat treated tubing now and there doesn't really seem to be any problem with less experienced people working with it. Except maybe those that try to bend it into alignment.
Originally Posted by jnbrown View Post
Mercian is definitely high on my list. Their prices are still low compared to most other custom builders as are many other builders in the UK.
For some reason custom bike frames are just cheaper coming from the UK, but of course then there is shipping and possible unknown import duty which evens it out some.
In my quest to learn how to build bicycle frames in the 70's, I visited many frame builders in the UK before, during and after my time at Ellis Briggs in Yorkshire. At that time frames needed to be cheap in order for the working class to be able to buy them. I paid $75 for a straight stay Hetchins in 1969. When I was at Ellis Briggs in 1975 inflation raised to cost of frame to around $150. The Majority of British builders had to make frames fast in order to meet the price the market expected to pay. Harry Quinn told me he made 2 frames a day. I think the average for many builders was about 1 a day. At Ellis Briggs, their frames were not the money makers so Andrew and I could take the better part of a week to make one frame. The low cost of a custom frame meant that the builders not only had to make them fast but also didn't have money for fancy equipment. Their methods for making them were pretty crude.

This culture can explain why Reynolds needed to raise the standard in order for the sale of their new thin walled heat treated tubing to be successful. Everyone used brass (actually bronze) instead of much more expensive lower melting silver as filler and if they aligned their frames used brute force. Their traditional methods wouldn't work with 753 so some new requirements were necessary or they would break and their reputation ruined.

Some of the master builders in the UK when I was learning in the 70's were hearth brazing their frames together. As I understand it Mercian is still using this old method. We actually hearth brazed frames while I was at Ellis Briggs until Andrew the journeyman builder decided to do it all with an oxyacetylene torch. Hearth brazing is one giant natural gas flame augmented with a squirrel cage supplied air oxygen. A frame is hung over fire bricks surrounding the joint to be brazed. The good news is that this giant flame provided even heat (so the joint is less likely to go out of alignment) but it made a lot of the frame red hot. This is a system left over from the 19th century and just got passed on and not changed much.
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Old 02-13-22, 11:29 AM
  #31  
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When Bob Jackson closed the books a couple of years ago, they were charging something like $700 for a frame. Wow, I wonder why they couldn't make money or pay someone enough to want to work?
I thought about getting one, but I missed the deadline. Then Mercian bought them and decided they couldn't make it work either. They were selling a frame for the cost of a wet paint job in the U.S.

I suppose if you are hearth brazing, you can do a lot of prep work while waiting for the frame to heat up. You can see that kind of thing with the carousel at the Eddy Merckx factory. It basically had what amounts to a hearth do the preheating. That's the only factory where I remember seeing that setup, but I recently saw the catalog of the Italian company that sold that setup.
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Old 02-13-22, 12:34 PM
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I had no idea about this brazing stuff but very interesting.
Found this great article on Mercian:

The Retrogrouch: A Popular Rerun
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