Lugless, was Re: [CR]Pinnicle of the vintage lightweight era?

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Date: Sat, 24 Mar 2001 15:03:42 -0500
From: "Harvey M Sachs" <>
Subject: Lugless, was Re: [CR]Pinnicle of the vintage lightweight era?
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At 10:11 3/24/2001 -0800, Brian Baylis wrote:

<snip, dealing with investment cast lugs>
>Lugless frames are not lighter that lugged frames in any significant
>way. The primary purpose for fillet brazing come when a builder needs to
>join tubes that do not conform to standard angles, sizes, or shapes; or
>when situations arise making lugged assembly difficult, as in the case
>of a tandem or triplet. There are lugged tandems, but they are inferior
>to a properly designed fillet brazed counterpart. One can choose to
>build a lugless frame just because one likes or prefers the look (which
>I enjoy myself sometimes), but I normally reserve that approach for
>special circumstances, since there is more "character" in a lugged frame
>in my experience. <snip>

Again, I'm not a builder, but I'm sure that Brian won't mind if I "nuance" his remarks above. It is certainly true that lugless has most commonly been used for Odd Jobs, like tandems. There, the problem is not just unusual angles, but oversized tubes for which lugs were not big sellers in the commercial market. Particularly for builders who used jigs (which I would guess included Jack Taylor and Schwinn Paramounts for the tandem lines), lugless meant doing good fishmouthing (easy with a mill or lathe), but no hassle in holding things together, and the freedom to use proper (large) tubes. Remember, this was an era in which lots and lots of stuff was built freehand with pins holding the lugs to the tubes while brazing.

On the other hand, I think of at least two classes of tandem builders who painstakingly did build lugged frames. The first is not unexpected, Rene Herse, including a wonderful lugged set of bottom brackets. What I can't remember is whether they compromised and went to fillet brazing for the oval bracket connector tube, or if that was lugged, too. Then, Bill Boston, a quirky and wonderful builder in South (New) Jersey, used more-or-less standard tubing and modified lugs as needed. Wonderful craftsmanship, and very happy owners. In their own way, these were not inferior bikes. On the other hand, I've seen some pretty curde lugged Italian tandems from the low end...

harvey sachs