The headtube-cum-headlugs in one piece was Roland Csuka's specialty. Indeed, they are welded. They call it "faux epanois." The true epanois involved drilling a hole in the head (or seat) tube, and pulling through mandrels of increasing size until you had shaped a socket for the other tube. I have a Ducheron frame that may have been done that way. The true epanois was popular in the late 1930s and 1940s, according to Ernest Csuka. Singers always used the faux epanois, though. (Ernest Csuka has been running the Singer shop since Alex Singer died in 1964 or so. Roland made the bare frames until he died in the early 1990s, Ernest made the stems, braze-ons, racks and other parts.)
The other lugs are "recharge." Basically, a fillet is added to the lugs to make the transition from one tube to the other a smooth radius. In his famous books on cycling equipment, Daniel Rebour recommended this to add stiffness and strength to the lugs. Singer does not claim anything like that, but they like the flowing look, rather than the abrupt crease on a standard lug. (One could imagine a stress riser at the crease...) All Singers have "recharged" lugs, but only few Herse.
In the old days, the stamp "A. Singer" saw generous use: you find it on stems, seatposts, and fork crowns. Often it disappears after chrome-plating or painting, but sometimes a faint remnant remains - similar to the tubing stamps that you sometimes can see with thin paint and/or chrome-plating.
Finally, regarding silver-brazing: In the last VBQ, Ernest Csuka told in the "Builders' round-table discussion" how Roland Csuka made the first few Reynolds 753 frames with silver, but did not like it. With the pressed lugs they use, he couldn't tell whether he had full penetration of the joint with brazing material. He then went back to brass, even for 753 frames. When they placed their next tubing order with Reynolds, they asked about this, and Reynolds said it was OK to use brass with 753. They only recommended silver because they were concerned that some builders, especially the big makers like Motobecane, would cook the tubes if they allowed them to use brass with 753. Incidentally, I know of a few brass-brazed 753 Singers that have been used very hard and have not failed. One even is fully chrome-plated - another no-no for 753! (The fully chrome-plated 753 Singer is owned by Jean Olbrechts, a rider on the Singer team. The current issue of VBQ, which was mailed yesterday, has an interview with him.)
Now to the two or three silver-brazed Alex Singer bikes. Would they be the ultimate collectible, or less so because the builder was not sure about the material and preferred their "normal" way?
Jan Heine, Seattle Editor/Publisher Vintage Bicycle Quarterly c/o Il Vecchio Bicycles 140 Lakeside Ave, Ste. C Seattle WA 98122 http://www.vintagebicyclepress.com
>With all this talk of Confente lugs and BB's I thought that I would
>mention that I am in the process of restoring a '76 Alex Singer and
>for me there was was some suprises with her lugs and BB when I got
>her clothes off! First, I had always thought that the generous
>radius of the head lugs were a result of brass apllication and
>careful filing. WRONG! Those head lugs are all steel and
>beautifully filed. I wonder who made them? However, the seat lug
>and BB have mucho brass application and filing to get those smooth
>flowed on contours. A few file marks here and there but they
>disappear under the first primer coat. Second, I thought perhaps
>silver may have been used, at least for the lugs. WRONG! 100%
>brass. Interesting tidbits include crown stamped "A SINGER", both
>fender and rack eyelets brazed on Campag dropouts, and brass used to
>fill a few imperfections in the lugs and crown. All in all, a nice
>piece of work!