I think there have been far more people than any one individual is aware of (that transitioned from being a brazer at a large bicycle company somewhere in the World, to becoming an independent framebuilder). Mike Appel comes immediately to mind - he is on the back of the original Trek brochure, then later went out on his own as a frame builder. Nearly thirty years after that, he is now back at Trek, interestingly enough, but not doing any brazing. Also, there were two definite sets of requirements to become 753 certified. Early on, you had to submit an entire frame that was then destructively tested. Since that was rather costly for the applicant, Reynolds realized that a more relaxed set of requirements would be needed. This is the "marketing hype" test that Brandon is referring to (below). Big, big difference.... Greg Parker Dexter, Michigan
Date: Mon, 30 Jan 2006 08:35:22 -0800 From: Brandon Ives <email@example.com> To: "Patrick Lay" <firstname.lastname@example.org> Cc: email@example.com Subject: Re: [CR] Unknown KOF's
Partrick 753 certification was nothing more than marketing hype. As you can read about in the archives may of the builders back then would still build frames with brass. I think the only thing the certification did for you was allow you to advertise that you were certified and also order 753 directly from Reynolds. As far as builders that went on to keep building I really doubt it. In Europe back then building bikes was just another job for 90% of the people working in factories. Most likely the good brazers went on to be professional welders because the pay is so much better. I doubt Raleigh, Peugeot, or any of the other BIG names had any real apprenticeship program, they mainly wanted workers who could work on an assembly line and braze 100 forks a day. I think most guys who came up wanting to be builders apprenticed at the smaller to middling sized shops.
You mention Trek where we know at least Joe Stark and Tim Isaac came out of the early years. Since those early days I've never heard of guys coming off the line to become independent builders. I've worked on a bicycle production line producing 7500+ bikes a year and there is rarely time to do any actual training. If you're in a position where you're in the brazing position you'll become a great brazer pretty quickly, but you won't learn all the other important skills to building a bike unless you're there for 10 years. Brazing is just 1/10th of what it takes to build a bike frame and 1/25th of what it takes to be an independent builder.
I'm not trying to rain on your parade, just inject some real world into the discussion. I'm sure there are some folks that were building on the Raleigh and Peugeot lines back in the 753 days out there, but odds are they moved up to corporate level at their respective company instead of branching out on their own. You've got to remember at a certain level bike building is just a job like any other. best, Brandon"monkeyman"Ives bike industry lifer in Vancouver, B.C.
On Sunday, Jan 29, 2006, at 19:56 US/Pacific, Patrick Lay wrote:
> Hello all..Being a 753 fan, I just watched an Ebay sale on a Merckx
> 753 that went for what I thought was less than it's potential value
> given the crazed enthusiasm for Merckx frames. It being a 753, I
> thought "not just any old brazer on the Merckx line would have been
> allowed to silver this together. There must be one or two unsung KOFs
> in a special room somewhere who have qualified for Reynolds
> Certification." Then I thought "No, this would not make these 753
> guys in the factories KOFs: they would simply remain really good
> factory brazers even though their work is sometimes pretty nice." I
> wonder if any of these guys ever broke out and made it on their own to
> be recognized. There must have been people in the same category at
> Peugeot, and, of course, Raleigh. (Not to mention Trek) It is weird
> what an idle Sunday night will do to an old guy's curiosity..Patrick
> Lay in Chicago