Octoberfest on BROL

Octoberfest 2009 - This page copies a message thread I started on the Bent Rider Online message board in October, 2009. The point was to run through my process pictorally for making several frames at one time. There is nothing here you haven't seen elsewhere on the site - just a fresh look, and maybe a picture or two to help illustrate the whole project.

Note - You should check out Bent Rider Online - http://www.bentrideronline.com - Bryan runs a great site, largely about the world of mercantile recumbents, but check out the BROL message board too - the community there can't be beat, and you can find all sorts of advice, some of it contradictory, all of it cordial. This thread is from that message board, under the grouping for "Home Builders":

10-03-2009 , 08:37 PM ADC!

Just sharing. Most of the local governments don't DO the police property auction anymore. For me, luckily, the 5 north boro's near Milwaukee hold an annual auction. Some years are more scrap metal, some years the pickings are better. Scored today - this will keep the garage warm until Christmas!

ADC - The right bike is the one you will RIDE!

10-03-2009 , 08:41 PM KenThompson

Awesome Score!!! Were having our semi-annual city cleanup around here. Where whatever you put by the curb the city will pick it up at no cost. I see lots of bicycles to choose from during cruises around the designated weekly areas. Although the wife debates the "treasures" I sometimes collect. I'm a beginner but I must have 25 bicycles lying around...


10-06-2009 , 08:06 PM ADC1

a journey

I've had a fascination with repetition, ever since some factory days long ago manning the assembly substation.

I do pedal a lot, and that can be repetitious.

The enduring fascination of the Recycled Recumbent for me, beyond satisfaction with the design, is often the practice of building a bike. The nuances of technique, fabrication, holding the torch just so.

As the musicians will say, "How do you get to Carnegie Hall?"


The golfer hits a bazillion drives off the practice Tee. The racer climbs the same hill 100 times, training and technique.

That hoard from Saturday's auction will become 5 new frames this month, maybe into next month. I'm going to do them together. Repetition of each step sometimes leads to revelation, always to getting BETTER at each step. Today I cut down the five front frames. Tonight I think my 'style' for grinding in the fishmouth mitre improved, at least by the fifth frame in a row.

I think I'll post it, every so often, in this thread, see what I come up with worth your critiques. Keeps the forum from going too quiet (though we have been a lively bunch this week), and makes good use of that $20 that Brian is going to tap out of my Paypal account next week.

Here are shots one and two of this group, Oct. 6.

ADC - The right bike is the one you will RIDE!

10-06-2009 , 08:28 PM darwin-t

That is quite a haul. I'm curious - how many bents have you made? Do you still have the first one?

10-06-2009 , 10:02 PM ovrpwrd

Nice haul ADC. Great shots too. Your photography is improving as well.

I better get to work on more decals...

Ken, With bikes it takes at least 25 to call them a collection. Tip; Hang them up and she'll never see 'em. ...Or build a barn like I did.

10-07-2009 , 07:41 PM adc1

darwin-t, you have me thinking back. I sure am enjoying your discovery of home building. I don't really know how many of these bikes I've made. I keep hoping to get better at it.

This first picture is dated in June 0f 2000, and it is the first TE Clone style bike I made - it far preceeds the website, etc.

ADC - The right bike is the one you will RIDE!

10-07-2009 , 07:48 PM adc1


hit the wrong button, premature post.

The second picture is the same bike, refurbished in 2004 and looking for a new home, which we found for it, somewhere down in Illinois .

I keep the pictures, I don't keep the old bikes, I guess. Yellowbike2, which broke it's dropouts this Summer and was replaced, is now repaired and headed to the powdercoater for a new, bright blue paint job. I believe I have a new home for it down in Pennsacola this Fall.

ADC - The right bike is the one you will RIDE!

10-07-2009 , 08:48 PM darwin-t

I've wanted a welder as long as I can remember - and I wanted one so I could build a recumbent.

I'm getting close on my first one - and I ordered plans for the Atomiczombie Voyageur. I'll need to find a suitable donor bike. Well, once I get this one going. I have to do the rear portion of the USS cables and upholster the seat. It looks like it will end up about 45 lbs.

I have a couple of 20" frames I can cut up and weld back together to practice welding.

The hard part will be convincing my wife that I need to build another one.

10-08-2009 , 01:59 PM ovrpwrd

That's easy... Don't tell her.

10-08-2009 , 06:41 PM KenThompson

Well as these things go the list keeps growing. Two others have found home with me since then, a nice aluminum 26 inch schwinn shock absorbing frame (who knows) and the earlier mentioned 24 inch schwinn with the seat stays in-line with the top tube. The good grabbing starts Friday night when my portion of the city piles out their junk for the semi-annual free city pickup. I can hardly wait.


10-11-2009 , 04:03 PM adc1

Next step (too cold to ride today)

Here are those 5 frames, essentially 'bike blanks', brazed and cleaned up. Ready to add the tail ends. Also below are 4 tails, cut from separate frames today. The old top tubes aren't completely stripped - that part gets cut off later (after I am happy with alignment). Yep. Down to four new bikes. One of these 'blanks' doesn't pass muster with the others. Next message let's you see why.

ADC - The right bike is the one you will RIDE!

10-11-2009 , 04:06 PM adc1

The reject.

Can you sing the Sesame Street song? 'One of these bikes is not like the others, four of these bikes are kind of the same.'

Can you guess which of these 5 gets held out? And why?

ADC - The right bike is the one you will RIDE!

10-11-2009 , 04:56 PM KenThompson


I guess Frame #2, because it's a larger tube, and most likely thinner metal. And if so can I have it? ~Ken~

10-12-2009 , 07:45 AM canalligator


Originally Posted by ovrpwrd

That's easy... Don't tell her.

We have an agreement. The garage and basement are mine, as long as I provide room for her car, hang clothes to dry and a safe route to those places from the house. Yes, the periodic mess bothers her, so I try to minimize it.

So as long as I have a place for the toy I'm considering, no issue.

10-13-2009 , 08:36 PM adc1


Ken, you are acute. Ask me privately about that oversized 'blank' if you like.

We bought a 2x4 shed for Helen's garden tools about 3 years back - she was tired of hunting for her stuff amidst the bike debris. And every Winter, part of my pennance is religiously scraping off Helen's car all season - because we don't park CARS in our garage anymore. No room. I am blessed.

Next steps. Here is a forrest of rear triangles, and then here is what became of them Sunday morning. There were rejects (and I saved the cable stops from them).

ADC - The right bike is the one you will RIDE!

10-13-2009 , 08:48 PM adc1

this was Tuesday

At a crossroads with these four frames. It's time to decide how big they are - what size riders will fit on them. I've no commissions (well, one on the rack waiting for the mechanic) at the moment, so variety seems best. First the parts - which front will go with which tail? A - B -C - D, which would you sort with which? For me the telling measurement is the length of the top tube - this has the most to do (generally - there are exceptional donor bikes) with the finished frame length as appropriate for different sized riders.

I'll go for variety. The longest frame I can make (without splicing tubes) is about 40 1/2". That works for the 6'-3" folks among us. Next is a 38 1/2", then a 37" frame. I decided to make one a little smaller than average, at 35" - this will work for someone 5'-6" and under.

None of these are brazed yet. Next I finish four splice joints, and add those rear triangles.

ADC - The right bike is the one you will RIDE!

10-16-2009 , 08:37 PM I.M.Bent


Hi AD,

The top of my workbench looks similar to yours. Does this qualify me as a frame builder?

10-16-2009 , 09:16 PM adc1


I.M., I don't think *I'm* qualified as a frame builder. Strictly a hobbist!

I've seen some well crafted hand made bikes, and I'll be years (and dollars) getting to that level of skill.

Ambition is great. Realism is advised!

ADC - The right bike is the one you will RIDE!

10-17-2009 , 01:06 PM adc1

October 17

OK, I have two steps to show today. First, all those planned frame lengths are now reality. Here are the splice joints. These four frames will never be this close together again!

Why? because they 'grow' rear triangles next - 135mm spacing!

ADC - The right bike is the one you will RIDE!

10-17-2009 , 01:14 PM adc1

rear ends set up

After the above, it's time to add those cleaned rear triangles. These two pictures are the set up. A messy diagonal shot first, so you see the layout. Clamp at the front of the frame, a long flat table, rear triangle WITH a hub in it, laid up on spacers on the table. The second shot is the tell. The eyeball shot where you stand off 6 feet in front of the head tube and eye the triangle along the length of the frame. You begin to see (maybe) why I leave the rear downtube so long until late in the process. I've tried measuring, I've tried string alignment (I still do that, sometimes), I've not tried some of the nice jigs you kind friends have suggested. This eyeball check works well for me. I find myself back at the table 3 or 4 times to adjust - very minute adjustments, even. But making a judgement for when the triangle is aligned seems very clear. And, when I check it later (with a whole wheel, before (and after) putting the bottom rails on, it works out pretty well.

ADC - The right bike is the one you will RIDE!

10-17-2009 , 03:58 PM adc1

I had another post with this

I thought I did a third post with these two pictures. Maybe I've been censored for blogging. Anyway, here is a toasty finished braze-weld of a rear triangle, and here are the four, somewhat more polished.

ADC - The right bike is the one you will RIDE!

10-17-2009 , 05:47 PM adc1

y'all stop me if this is too much.

There may be a short hiatus here. Next step for these four frames is on the workstand, and there is a slight traffic jam ahead. Red blue and green here just came back from the painter this week. The red and blue bikes just had their first 'walkaround' test - feels pretty good. Blue is promised to someone so I better finish it. Red and green - perhaps a Christmas Ebay theme.......

ADC - The right bike is the one you will RIDE!

10-18-2009 , 03:41 AM Mustasudenkorento


Mind me asking how many bikes you have build Adc1?

The speed and quality you are building is amazing.

10-21-2009 , 07:35 PM adc1

down a peg

You've seen the finished, brushed braze-weld. This is what it looks like just after the torch.....

I do cook 'em!

ADC - The right bike is the one you will RIDE!

10-23-2009 , 10:12 PM brucew


Great photos, and my covetness is overwhelming. I just don't have the time or the place to work on what I think about. I work in recycling and destroy bike frames as well as anything else that is aluminum, copper or titanium each week as it comes in .The boss gets cranky each time I try to take some tidbit home.

Looking forward to photos of the seat and it's attachment.

10-24-2009 , 06:33 PM KenThompson

Correct me if I'm wrong ADC, but doesn't it look like the green bike has a lot more rake on it than the other two? Not that that is bad, and probably would require less bend on the forks? Just an observation.


10-24-2009 , 07:05 PM adc1


They look different when you add wheels, Ken. The green bike will set up almost exactly like the red one. About 2" longer is all. I should do another picture tomorrow - the blue and red bikes are done. I think the green one might wait just a bit. I did score some more bits and pieces at the Greendale Police sale this morning! Thanks for the tip, Jerry!

And tomorrow promises 52 degree sunshine - time for a ride!

ADC - The right bike is the one you will RIDE!

10-24-2009 , 09:40 PM brucew

Bents for kids

What do you do when your niece wants a bent to ride?

Is it possible to find some frames out there small enough to build a wee EZ Clone?

10-24-2009 , 10:23 PM KenThompson

Wow. That's incredibly deceiving then. Sure looks like a lot more rake setting basically the same angle. Wee EZ! That's cute....


10-24-2009 , 11:01 PM adc1



Are we talking the same thing?

Rake = the amount of curve on the fork. Also means the purpendicular distance of the wheel's axle forward from the steering tube axis.

My forks generally average 4 1/2" of rake - which is a lot.

Head tube angle is what is says, the angle of the head tube (that same steerer tube axis, about which the fork rotates) to the ground. My bikes will vary a little - they take character from the donor bikes, after all. In General, the head tube angle for a well-selected Mach 2 is around 60 degrees.

Bruce, there's another thread near here somewhere where JTH#50 is putting together a reduced TE Clone. Check it out. This is a 3/4 sized frame I've done a time or two.

But when and if I get a grandkid who wants a swell bike, I might be on the lookout for an EZ-1 Aluminum frame. Light, low seat height, fairly bomb proof. Only after he/she rides it 500 miles and REALLY wants a great touring bike would I make a small Mach 2. Or I might finish the muffler tube bike in the second picture.

ADC - The right bike is the one you will RIDE!

10-25-2009 , 12:03 PM KenThompson


I guess I was mixing terms. I thought rake was head tube angle. In that case I revise my question to be, The green frame looks like it has much more head tube angle. ~Ken~

10-25-2009 , 07:03 PM adc1



I held the green frame up against this finished red bike this afternoon. I didn't have a third hand to take the picture, but near as I can see visually, the HT angles red and green are identical. The earlier picture is deceptive, I guess. Here are the red and blue bikes tonight. Tomorrow, back to the four frames!

ADC - The right bike is the one you will RIDE!

10-25-2009 , 08:05 PM KenThompson


Yes I guess it's just in the picture. Now in this picture they look different between red and blue. I guess it is in the camera angle and how the bike sits. They look good though. I hope they are going somewhere where they will get lots and lots of use. Nice work as always...


10-26-2009 , 08:50 PM adc1

back on track

Done as a mechanic for the moment. This is one of the four, on the rack now for the second (of three) alignment checks. The first picture turns the frame a little, so you can see how I set it up on the stand. Upside down, that lonnnnnggg rear 'downtube' straight up, and now with a 26" wheel mounted in the drops. Second shot, it's difficult for the camera to see what the stereoscopic eye sees, is the alignment view. Foreshortened, along the length of the frame from the rear over that wheel, is the wheel in three dimensional plane with the frame? Tweak it, bend it, do it now before it's too late. Each frame will stay on the rack as I add the bottom rails - there is one more alignment check before we braze and lock it all in.

ADC - The right bike is the one you will RIDE!

10-27-2009 , 12:48 PM Keith Moss

ADC - What's your technique for getting off the old paint and stickers?

What do you do to get the frames ready for the powdercoater?

10-27-2009 , 09:25 PM adc1

rule one

1. Cut everything first. Pick the parts you are going to use. Strip those, toss the scraps.

2. I love knotted wire rotary brushes. You CAN clean the entire tube that way - it's work, but a good brush (go to the welding supply store, not Lowes) will take everything off the metal AND leave a good, abraided surface for paint adhesion.

3. The real answer is I burn it off. I run the torch evenly over the future bike parts and crisp the paint, then brush the ash off easily. I never do this in a closed environment, and I never lean into the toxic smoke created. But I can't advise anyone to be as foolish as I am.

My painter is an industrial powdercoat guy. They love the clean, lightly abraided steel I give them, but they's spray anything on their assembly line and put it through the ovens. This paint is a thick powdercoat too, no wimpy, fine, thin coat, gram shaving racer's paint. I know, I had to strip the old yellowbike 2 frame prior to it's becoming the blue bike you see pictured below (above?). I will say his paint has self-leveling characteristics which are very forgiving for light irregularities on the surface of my bikes.

What Conrad and I have learned over the years about my frames is where to put air holes. If there is moisture in a frame when the powdercoat is cooked, it boils and spoils the finish.

ADC - The right bike is the one you will RIDE!

10-27-2009 , 09:41 PM adc1

Tonight the bell

Actually, the 'factory' for making four frames kind of breaks down at this point. Each frame stays on the rack from that alignment through completing the bottom rails. Tonight the first of these four frames was 'born'. Here below is the evolution of a 'bell joint.' It's just EMT (electrical conduit), but by the time it's spread, then shaped over the chainstay butts, and thoroughly brazed, this joint is as strong as any lug on the frame. Not everybody writes back, but so far I haven't EVER heard of one of these joints failing. Think of the four pictures as 'spread', shaped, brazed, and polished.

ADC - The right bike is the one you will RIDE!

10-27-2009 , 09:46 PM adc1


Happy birthday, Ken! It's a bike frame tonight! If you ever get sentimental about the bike you make from this frame, think of Oct. 27 as it's birthday. With the rails added tonight, 80% of it's essential character is now built in to this frame. All it needs is a matching fork - and some other accessories.

ADC - The right bike is the one you will RIDE!

10-27-2009 , 10:03 PM Ken Thompson


I was wondering if it was mine, but was to, uhm, Anxious, to ask!!!! I'll note the calendar. Looking good. With what you've done the fork seems light work in comparison. Do you set the rake up at this point? Bend the forks to achieve the right trail?


10-30-2009 , 11:35 AM adc1


In the shots of the bell joint, I neglected to look with you at the on the rack set-up for adding the bottom rails. First picture here, the conduit bottom rails. Once I've decided on a bend for flaring out and up the bottom rails to the chain stay stubs, you gotta make two of them. I match angles on a flat table by pressing the short ends together and seeing whether the long ends line up together. With the bells formed, the bottom rails are squeezed between the BB stub and chainstay stub, and clamped tight to the over length down post with a 6" spring clamp. Now stand back and check the alignment. Here again is that on-end foreshortened view of the wheel, frame, and that downtube. Sighting the wheel along the bottom rails give me an opinion about the wheel being in horizontal plane with the bike frame. Sighting the wheel along the rear, overlong downtube gives me a view of purpendicular alignment. Both are still adjustable until the bells are closed and welded. It's also a good time to see, visually, that the 'spliced' line of the new rail and the existing stub is good (pleasing, pretty, wide enough for tires, etc.). And a return once more to the side view is a good thing for aesthetics - do you like the lines of the frame, etc. Oh yeah, and - you can't quite see it in my lousy picture, but that spring clamp, viewed behind the rear downtube - I check to make sure it is vertical - that the downtube visually splits the clamp - that way I know the rails are aligned ahead of the downtube.

Happy with all that, and it does take some dithering - time to weld. Step one, right where it is, braze a good fillet between the downtube and the two rails. This holds the rails in place (and makes the spring clamp obsolete) so you can pulle and tug and heat and press those bells - step two is to squeeze the flaired conduit ends around the stubs of the donor bike frames - four joints, top and bottom. Heat it, press it. Heat it, press some more - you can form a very tight 'cup' around the stubs of the chainstays at the bottom bracket and at the rear triangle stubs. USE the old crimps - most of the old steel road bikes have crimps in the stays - press your flared conduit into these crimps. When well done, the bikeframe is already tightening up. Before welding these bell joints, stand back and check one more time. Alignment? Profile? Last chance to fix it, really. Then braze away. Don't forget to do the 'other' side of the rail-to-downtube fillet. That trusty, rusty rear wheel stays in the frame for all the welding.

When it's welded, it's done. Pop the jig/wheel out, whack off the extra down tube, and it's a bike frame!

After finishing Ken's frame Monday (?), I had more fun yesterday taking the three remaining frames up to ''snuff' as a group. Welded the rails on all three frames first. Then I processed all three in sequence - rought grinder, sander, and final wire brush on all the joints. I'll take a picture of the group in a little bit. It's time to put the frames aside for a minute and make the forks! Cheers! ADC

ADC - The right bike is the one you will RIDE!

10-30-2009 , 04:53 PM adc1

here they are

Here are these four frames - all vanilla right now, no braze ons, no diagonals, nothing drilled out. Today I did forks, choosing these from the array of forks sitting in the boneyard based on quality and stem length appropriate to the four frames. Well, there is one extra for Andrew in California . And a couple of spares - sometimes, the stray donor fork just doesn't BEND right. More later on that.

ADC - The right bike is the one you will RIDE!

10-31-2009 , 03:43 PM adc1


I think I need to wrap this up. This exercise of taking new pictures has been good for me. Today I looked at some of the rear triangle pictures and the fork bending pictures and realized that these were much better than what was on the website. There is a new bit here {NOW on revised website on Picture Page 4} about what to do if the seat stays are too wide to fit snug on the seat lug. Down below that I have used the pictures you saw here for how I align the frame and the rear triangle on the table. Here on Picture Page 4 the whole business of bending a fork to add rake is pictured accurately, which it wasn't previously.

Consider those links a part of this "Octlberfest' diorama, and read on if you will. The pictures that aren't on the website are of the six forks I've just finished today. It was a peaceful, contemplative Friday afternoon. Nobody bothered me, I worked serenely through all 6 forks (one is a replacement for Andrew, one is just a spare - in case one of this set mucked up). Here in a row are those 6 forks. It's good to bend them all and let the clunkers fall where they may - before you bother to strip any paint from them. The stripping was last night, so to speak.

Today the 'factory' added bridges to all 6 of them. That's the second shot in this post. 406c wheels, this bridge is just right for the yet to be drilled hole to support a caliper brake set. There are some detail shots to add to the web page from this exercise as well, but they aren't there yet.

ADC - The right bike is the one you will RIDE!

10-31-2009 , 03:43 PM adc1

last post

Here it is, the end of October. I started this thread with a 'haul' from a local police auction - this then is the other end of the line. Matching each of those four forks with the appropriate frame, and adding that lovely yet to be decorated green frame on the end, this is the 'stock' at the toy shoppe at the end of October. Shows variety, shows character - meaning that each bike has variances, based in part on the nature of the donor bikes selected (and in part on the whim of the journeyman frame builder). Shows consistency too - I think each of these is the start of a great bike.

I could go on - all of these bikes need parts. ("NO!" they cried! "STOP already.") Seats, braces, handlebars. Each frame will be detailed a little differently. Ken wants to do his own detailing, and I am sure he will do fine. Another fella wants one of these, and he is deciding this weekend on wheel size, brakes, etc. I like to talk to a 'kit' buyer long enough to be sure he/she has a whole project in mind.

But enough. Time for someone else to show and tell. Here then is the other end of October!

ADC - The right bike is the one you will RIDE!

10-31-2009 , 05:25 PM brucew

This is one epic that will continue

Looking forward to others to post some alternative building methods and bent anomolilies ( you know the word ,I don't know the spelling ).

The best thing about this is the ability to build the bent and enjoy the rewards of a cheaper alternative to store bought.

11-10-2009 , 01:08 PM adc1


Ken has one of the four frames in this thread. I hope he reports on what he does with it. Two of them are at the painter's now, the short one and the other middle sized frame are to be painted something called 'rapsberry', which my painter happens to be running sometime this week. The intermediate frame is now a commission project, the short frame will be built out - I am not sure for whom yet. Below is the long frame from the October group, alone and compared to it's friends.

I am becoming dissappointed in EBay as a resource for selling these bikes. I don't think the BROL crowd is interested in them at all. I may try a couple of other classified resources to find a home for this one. I know about Recumbent Classifieds and the Hostel Shoppe site. I may even try to flog it on Craig's List. Open to suggestions - where should I list it to find it a new home?

ADC - The right bike is the one you will RIDE!

11-10-2009 , 06:38 PM KenThompson


I will definitely keep you updated and post progress as I gain any. I seem to have damaged my wrist this past weekend, and it's keeping me from getting much done. I think I can have it mostly done this weekend excluding work and whatever other honey-do's creep up.

I'm not sure of a better place to list your bikes. I would have thought Ebay would do well, but then you never know. I will assume your price is that on your website and if anyone takes interest in mine (once done) I will definitely point them your way...


END OF Bent Rider Online message string, Nov. 11, 2009.