Bicycle Frame Building Classes

I am following in the footsteps of my direct predecessor, Tim Paterek, who taught many students from across this country and around the globe how to build custom handcrafted frames. Just like Tim’s classes it is done in a one on one setting.

I will teach my modified Paterek method. I also suggest that you go to his web site (timpaterek.com) and purchase his new manual as an aid and reference. I will also include more information and techniques that I gained from Terry Osell and those that Cecil Behringer did as well. I will inform students on the how and why if there is a definitive why I do something. My frames are built to modern industrial standards, as well as those from my accumulated knowledge from Tim, Terry and Cecil and my own experience. Note: I teach a method that uses very few fixtures. Potential students should understand that being taught with fixtures is very limiting and promotes building frames with residual stress. Learning to build how I do does not hamper you from building future frames in a fixture. Blending how I teach is very compatible with using a fixture if done proper. Being taught on a fixture does not however allow you to fall back on any other way of building a frame. Therefore I opt to teach the more flexible style of building like I was taught, which is often critical for beginning builders.

My standing on constructing a frame is that if I think or even feel that doing something during the fabrication would compromise the frame even in the slightest manner, I will not do it. I hope all my students will carry on this tradition and value, even if the customer does not know and generally never cares. I teach with emphasis on torch skill. I come from a line of builders that never needed to media/sand blast frames to make them look like a carefully crafted and masterfully brazed frame. I teach this type of brazing to my students and emphasize this over the amateur/production process of blasting the joints clean. Students will be taught to silver-braze 100% of the frame for lugged construction including the drop outs. Many builders bronze their dropouts in. I will teach the proper technique and preparation that allows dropouts to be silver brazed in a frame set.

My base class fee covers me providing the materials for the student to build one frame and fork. The tubing is basic cro-moly and my stock dropouts, bottom bracket, fork crown and lug set. The braze-on package consists of a rear brake bridge, basic fork crown, two bottle bosses, rear chain stay cable stop, Campy-type down tube shifter bosses or two cable stops, and a stainless steel through-the-top-tube cable guide. Class price is subject to change based on different or additional parts and braze-ons. Paint is not covered or included in the course. If a student wants, I can get the frame painted and then ship the frame to them when it is finished at additional cost for paint and shipping. If you want to know why I do not provide in-house painting, go to the repairs and restorations page.

I teach with basic cro-moly tubing only. It is a very forgiving material that is easily cold set if needed, and is the best material for the beginning builder . High-end steels are not in anyway a good beginning material to use for the new to building student, as they are not as forgiving. Since all of my students have wanted to be hands on as much as they can, and none can can tack and finish a joint with no or even minimal distortion. Therefore there is an increased chance of cold setting with student brazed joints, thus basic cro-moly is ideal for beginner frames. I also recommend using these tube sets for the first dozen or so frames, until your brazing skill improves.

The student has the option to build an additional two frames during the course. I will provide limited supervision over these frame builds. I allow this so the student can act and build on his own to reinforce what I just taught. The student must purchase all the needed filler material, flux, tubes, lugs and braze-ons for the additional frames. Each additional frame and fork add 700.00 to the cost of the course. My main reason for allowing my students to build more than one frame is simple. A student will leave a course that they just build a single frame with very little retained knowledge of building the frame. So much info is thrown at you that it is hard to retain the vast majority of it.

The base cost of the course is currently 3000.00. The course covers only frame construction, not painting. Nor does the course cover the cost of painting the frame. If you want to learn bronze fillet-brazing, that course costs an additional 800.00. And, if fillet-brazing additional frames during the course, add 850.00 more per frame rather than 700.00 (for lugged). This is due to the additional time I have to spend with teaching torch skill, brazing techniques, and rotating the frame during student brazing. Fillet brazing is very skill-driven to be done right. It will take a new builder more than a dozen fillet frames before they become comfortable just brazing a joint, and many more for finishing skills. Some will say fillet brazing is easy, but it is like a time-temperature-structured-juggling act all thrown together.

My course covers the following:

1. Sizing and fitting the rider, determining the ideal frame specifications.

2. Drafting a full sized blueprint for the frame to be built.

3. Building a fork to the exact specifications of the frame.

4. Precisely fitting tubes, lugs with instruction on how to modify lugs to exactly fit blueprint.

5. Tacking and fully brazing joints to the proper angles and constructing a frame that is built without residual stress.

6. You will learn clean precision brazing, hand finishing techniques, and how to ensure the proper ventilation of frames.

7. How to properly fit dropouts so they can be silver brazed into the stays.

8. How to locate and install braze ons and bridges.

9. Put the finished frame in a ready to paint state.

10. We will also do some fillet brazing and TIG welding to familiarize yourself to those joining methods

I offer the most comprehensive frame building course there is with emphasis on torch skill, understanding the process and non-mechanical methods that most starting builders will not have access to. The one thing I have learned over the last 25+ years that skill and working knowledge trumps any fixture and short cut you can use. Especially when quality is your primary focus for your product.

For more detail and clarity: if you need it, you will have to call me directly. I offer this option, as from my experience and exposure since 1985 to building handcrafted frames has taught me one thing: there is simply too much information and too many skills that need to be picked up that simply building one frame cannot provide. That is, unless you have the ability to retain and repeat perfectly what you see me do without flaw. From my experience, if you learn to build on one frame over a week or two, or even three weeks, you will not walk away with much knowledge needed for the many things that can occur or even limit the life of a frame set. There is simply too much to take in.

I feel that this craft that I have had the privilege to learn from Tim Paterek and his predecessor, Terry Osell, is too important to do partially. I strongly believe that every one who practices this craft, owes it to the craft to hand it down to at least one person.

My past students are:

• Vincent Domínguez of Vincent Domínguez Cycles
• Dan Bailey of Pallas Athena Custom Bicycles