In a previous post, I mentioned that I had started on a project to build my own frameset, and that after admitting to myself that I really, really suck at brazing, I put the tubes, lugs and everything else up on the shelf and left it for 20 years. I also mentioned that I obviously needed a teacher and mentor if a frame was ever to have my name on it.
Late last year I took a mangled fork to Colin Laing for a repair, and during that visit I told him the story of my failed project. His response..."Bring the stuff over and we'll see what we can do." Music to my ears. Since I had measured, cut and mitered the tubes all those years ago, I thought we would just start brazing the tubes, but a couple were cut short (arghh!) so they had to be replaced. But we got right to work. We talked about fit, about riding style, and he showed me how to draw it up on a board.
Colin kept up a running commentary on each step of the process, and in a few hours spread out over about 3 weeks, the frame is finished. After each session I took the frame home and spent many hours with production cloth and a wide assortment of files. I found out that I'm not so hot with a file, either. Colin did most of the work, and I did the apprentice work, and I am thrilled to have the finished frameset out in my shop. Colin encouraged me to put my name on the frame after it's painted, but I just can't do it. I'l come up with something..
I've painted several frame sets and have a fair touch with the compressor and spray gun, but I'm still trying to decide between doing it myself or having it powder coated.
I sold my torch to a friend years ago, and he has offered to loan it back to me, so after this bike is finished and on the road, I'm about ready to think that maybe I can actually build my own frameset. I understand that I'm lacking experience, but I know so much more than I did all those years ago. The next one will have my name on it.
Almost as valuable as my new skills are the great stories Colin told while he was working...stories of his early racing days (both running and cycling), of his years building frames at the Jack Taylor bike shop and his lifelong friendship with the brothers. He also talked about his early years in the States when he built frames in Tucson before he moved up here. Colin's story of his lifelong connection to building and racing is a history of cycling that covers about the last 50 years. It's an important story.
Thanks, Colin. You are a fine teacher. I hope I was a good student...
Tempe Arizona USA