I’m back to where I was before I messed up frame #8 at the chainstays and it’s all going really well. I’m using the Ritchey plate style dropouts instead of the plug-style this time just because that’s what I have and I’m learning that I like to work with plate-style dropouts instead of plug or even hooded dropouts. They are just more forgiving to alignment issues of the rear triangle and making small adjustments in seat stay length along the way. Also, my fillet brazing has improved enough so that I feel really comfortable with slotting the stays and the chainstay/dropout connections. Heck, my first brazing attempt on my first MTB was a total mess and it solid as a rock!
The things I learn creating each frame are important markers in my framebuilding home-schooling. It’s hard to grasp for me (and I think people that are paying attention to my progress) the long learning process, especially for someone that didn’t take a great framebuilding class and had no metalworking experience prior to starting on this endeavor. I keep telling myself that most well-known and respected framebuilders don’t get good enough until after 25 frames, at least! With all the resources out there on the web nowadays, I hope to shorten that learning curve. But when you’re not doing it (practicing) for several hours each day…there must be patience.
The more I learn, the more I wish I started out with fewer tools. I scoffed at the thought when I began (i.e., Neil on Frameforum) because the builder I learned from had a sick shop with everything you could possibly need…but I wish I had started building with a flat plate/table, some tube blocks, a hacksaw, and some files. Oh, and an oxy/acetylene setup for fillet brazing. I would’ve spent a fraction of my (not huge but now absent) retirement fund and not expected as much from myself along the way. This has been by far the most expensive and time consuming ‘hobby’ i’ve ever taken up…but I wouldn’t change that in a second (ok, maybe the expensive part…). It’s also by far one of the most interesting, challenging, rewarding, and FUN things that I’ve ever tried. Riding one’s own creation, and seeing a friend ride your own frame design and digging it…is pretty damned cool! I’ll know that I’m still into it when I’m always thinking of what the next bike I’m gonna build is going to be…a 36er? a dualie 29er? a 650b MTB? a touring or randonneur frame? Hmm….