The best columbus temperature control

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Tom asked Frame building? *cough* mirageguitarworks?

Hi, I want to get into a career of designing (to sell and on behalf of companies) and building bike frames. There is only 1 pro bike shop in my city and I think there's a good market opportunity for such a business. What qualifications do I need to proficiently weld? (steel frame building will hopefully be my main forte) Thanks for any info guys. Also, another quick question - Re steel tubing - Is there much difference between, say Reynolds 531 and the equivalent Columbus tubing?

And got the following answer:

Hi Tom... This is a long answer... sorry. First, many custom framebuilders- unless they are MTB builders- don't weld their frames. They are either brass-brazed or silver-brazed. This means that you have to become proficient with a torch, not a welder, BUT good technique as a TiG welder will serve you well especially as you develop your fixtures and jigs. Regarding proficency with the torch, it is all about temperature control and learning how to get everything hot at the correct time without turning it to ash. Some steels like Reynolds 753 are heat treated from the factory and require exquisite control to avoid annealing. On the other hand, tubes like 853 REQUIRE high heat to gain the best strength characteristics. You'll also need some pretty advanced knowledge of preparing thin walled tubes including mitering, slotting, fluting, and bending ESPECIALLY if you plan on making your own forks. Forks are extremely difficult to make well, and if they aren't made well can be deadly. If you plan on using lugs, you'll also need to know how to do precision metal finishing. As far as carbon fiber frames, the above answerer must be crazy. It takes BIG money to make a monocoque mold and even bigger money to have a place to fabricate and store the stuff not to mention the engineering and thought involved in orienting the fiber correctly and getting it the correct thickness, plus having the ovens to cure it correctly. Trust me on this... carbon fiber frame making is a REALLY big mess and is horribly difficult for the average person or small shop. Regarding the different steels, you really need to play with them. As you are probably aware there are 4 or 5 different types of Reynolds 531... C, SL, ST, T, and I think MTB now. They all require a bit different finesse when joining them as do most other brands. Although Reynolds is my benchmark tubing, I work in just about any steel tube with the possible exception of stovepipe. My personal favorites- although they aren't made anymore- was a tubeset made by Carpenter Steel Corporation in Pennsylvania, and an elliptical tubeset that used to be available from Phil Wood. True Temper is pretty good stuff too. Columbus, in my opinion, is a bit inconsistent, but I'm sure other builders might say that about Reynolds as well. Almost forgot... the typical production steel frame now- whether it is TiG welded (like Lemond or Jamis) or brazed with lugs (like Soma) costs more than the common aluminum frame but WAAAAY less than you might think. At the risk of making people angry, a good Reynolds 853 frame (main tubes) from Taiwanese suppliers might cost as little as $60. An average quality CrMo frame can go down to $30-40 each, and a HiTen frame as found on department store bikes might ring in at under $10. Note that this would be an OEM price, or what the factory would expect to pay for a raw frame in significant quantities and NOT a dealer cost. Compare that with a quality handmade custom frame that might come in a dealers door at $1500 or more with the dealer only making a couple of dollars for the priviledge of selling it and you can see the difficulty in making and marketing your product, and making a profit. I hope this helps!

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