Frame Course FAQ

19 03 2009

1.  I have a fairly extensive shop but you should know that this is my home that I work out of.  My wife also works from home and although she is an Angel and very used to my cantankerous banging some people may not feel comfortable working in the home of another.   Sometimes, Angela is on the phone and we have to momentarily restrict our noise making or work in the additional shop outside.

2. .  Safety is a number one priority around here.  No matter the level of experience you may have I require eye and ear protection where appropriate and will go over basic safety procedures and hand tool usage with everyone.  No exceptions

3  We have a dog (Chelsea) and a cat ( Meows)  Chelsea and Meows are super friendly.  If you are allergic to dogs or cats or just find them intolerable this course may not be for you.  Otherwise, they would love your attention.  They know how to stay out of the way too.

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4.  Every person has a different viewpoint on how they would like to finish their frame-set.   Some people would like to do every little bit themselves.  Others do not.  Some want perfect lug edging, others are happy with a blob or two.   I am here to help.  If you want to complete every little bit,  just tell me.   Taking the frame home with you to complete any work is just fine.   Also, if you rather I can complete any finish work or additional work for you as part of the services I offer.  I always endeavor to keep everyone on track with a syllabus and daily updates.

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List of FAQ’s that occur below:

How much is Tuition and what does it include?

Do I need to know anything before I come for your course?

What is your course schedule?

How do I get there?

Where do I stay?

Is room and board included?

What are working hours in your shop?

Do you offer a 3-day TIG only seminar?

Do  you offer a 3-day Lug Brazing or Fillet brazing course.

Will you teach me what I need to know to be a  Pro?

Do you also offer courses for experienced framebuilders?

Do you teach fork and stem fabrication?

What kind of tubing and lugs do we use?

Can I learn how to TIG weld?

Is it possible to learn all three welding methods Lug, Fillet Braze, and TIG?

Should I build a lugged frame?

Will time allow to fabricate or carve moderately custom lugs?

Can I work with Stainless Steel lugs?

Can I paint the frame under your supervision?

Can I build a touring frame in your course.

Can I build a frame utilizing S & S couplings?

Can I build a recumbent in your course?

Can I build a downhill  bike with Gagomonsterzilla tires, a jackshaft and 14 inches of travel?

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How much is Tuition and what  does it include?

For current tuition prices please refer to the website http://www.framebuildingschool.com

Tuition includes all necessary frame materials, practice materials, educational materials and included frame design software.  I also offer frame painting services if you wish to take advantage of it.   Unless something very exotic is used or a major mistake occurs that requires me to replace large amounts of tubing there are no additional fees.  Yes, my course costs more than any other option but here are the benefits.

1.  One on one instruction 100% attention.

2.  Attendance dates are fluid to work best into YOUR schedule.

3.  Tucson easier and cheaper to get to than the other purveyors of framebuilding courses (that is if you have to get on a plane anyways)

4.  Full use of shop, no waiting for other students.

5.  Can build anything within reason and my shop is extremely well equipped.

6.  No extras to deal with, no finding a painter, or paying for odd bits while you are here.

7.  Amazing deals on frame kits and parts for students only.

8.  Lots of great take home stuff, including proprietary frame design software.

9.  The weather in Tucson fall, spring and winter is almost always amazing.  Treat yourself and get out of the cold.

10.  Killer road and MTB riding!

Do I need to know anything before I come for your course?

You do not need any prior experience to participate in our course.   I will teach you all you need to know to use basic hand tools and the safe and efficient use of the various welding and brazing techniques.   If you are experienced in various techniques before the course we can move ahead in these subjects and spend more time on other things.   I have found that beginners can learn just as quickly because they have no pre-conceived notions of how the techniques work and are open to learning.

What is your course schedule?

I give three classes a year.  A Spring,Fall and Winter course.  The exact dates can be modified but generally fall as follows.  Jan/Feb-April May-Oct/Nov.

How do I get there?

Tucson is a medium sized city of about half a million.   We have an international airport here and flights are frequent.  Often it can be cheaper to fly into Phoenix Arizona which is a major flight hub and take the shuttle down to Tucson.  The shuttles last stop is .5 mile from my house and it costs about 22 bucks.  I will pick you up either at the airport when you arrive or at the shuttle stop location.  I do have to say that although many people seem to choose an educational experience based on what is closest to them.  Tucson is much easier to get to than any other option if you have to fly anyways.

Is room and board included?

No,  I am sorry but room and board are not included.  I do provide coffee and pastry every morning.   There are many local supermarkets (including Trader Joes) within walking distance and you are welcome to brown bag it for lunch everyday.  Most people have been staying at the weekly hotel which has a small kitchen to prepare your own meals.

What are working hours in your shop?

The class typically runs from 7:30-8:00am to 5:00-6:00 in the evening. With a .5 to 1 hour lunch break. Nine hours a day on the average. More than this and it becomes evident that students generally become much less productive and may even become unsafe if overly tired.

Do you offer a 3-day TIG only seminar?

Why yes I do!  you can add this to the end of your lugged/fillet brazing course or take this independently from the other two if you wish.  The cost is $600.00 dollars.

Do  you offer a 3-day Lug Brazing or Fillet brazing course.

Why yes I do!  If you are in the area and would just like a extensive primer into lug brazing or fillet brazing I can help.   Nothing can speed the learning process faster than a trained eye to look at what and how you are doing and make recommendations.   If you have no experience, I am willing to help also. Cost is $600.00 dollars.

Will you teach me what I need to know to be a  Pro?

Yes and no.   If your intention is to someday be a professional I will structure the course a little differently so we cover ground on fixture design, necessary tools and more importantly the nature of this business, including marketing, production, tools, insurance etc.    You cannot expect to take a two week course and be anywhere near good enough to sell frames.  It takes time.   I am positive about the future of framebuilding in the U.S.  but in this respect I am opinionated.   For instance, if your idea is to make hyper expensive stainless urban fixed gear bicycles , I am going to tell you there is no market in that and to save your money.   The best way to approach this is to build it as a hobby.  Enjoy yourself.   Make it fun, make it great and if you still love it and people are clamoring to get your product, don’t quit your day job and test the waters.

Do you also offer courses for experienced framebuilders?

Surely,  If your goals are just to learn a little more about detailed lug work.  Pick up fillet brazing or TIG welding or just about anything else you can come up with, I can tailor a course for what  you want to learn in the amount of time you have.

Do you teach fork and stem fabrication?

A fork is the first thing that we build as it reviews almost all the skills and techniques that we will use on our frame and is a great introduction in a small, manageable package. Building a stem would be fairly straightforward for anyone who had completed the class and I have the equipment but so far nobody would have been able to complete a fork/frame and stem in the time allotted and ones welding/brazing must be extremely competent as this part is under high loads and of course failure of a stem equals serious injury whereas many other parts of the frame do not.

What kind of tubing and lugs do we use?

This is a half day discussion and is part of the curriculum.   I will say we use the best available tubing and parts for the job at hand.  I have used tubing and parts from just about every manufacturer there is today.  Part of the course is actually choosing your tube set and parts from my extensive inventory and discussing the merits of them while we choose.    Very light tubing most of the time is not a suitable choice for someone who may have no experience before.   If the design warrants it and you have the requisite experience we can use some of the light, heat treated stuff.

Can I learn how to TIG weld?

Yes you can, but we have to structure the course differently.   TIG welding is by far the most difficult of the three welding/brazing techniques (lug brazing, fillet brazing and Tungsten inert gas)  The course is much more welding related and much less is spent actually constructing a frame.   Personally I think more would be gleamed from taking a lug brazing or fillet brazing course and then a 3-day TIG seminar.

Is it possible to learn all three welding methods Lug, Fillet Braze, and TIG?

The biggest limitation is time. All in all about 100 hours are dedicated to the course work in my class. So far that has shown to be barely enough time to finish a frame and fork for the majority of students packing in three welding procedures and practicing them each enough to be proficient and then make a frame is most likely too lofty a goal to make sure we complete it. If you build a lugged frame we do practice some basic fillet brazing and bronze brazing as some of the features require this method. A fillet brazed class would be predominately fillet brazing of course with some light silver brazing for the sleeves and things that are necessary. TIG welding takes a lot longer to get proficient at

Should I build a lugged frame?

Whether to build a lugged frame or not is up to you. I do believe that building a lugged frame or partially lugged frame gives one the best primer for eventually building other types of frames. In that I mean a person who had only built a TIG welded frame would have a very difficult time building their first lugged bikes. A person who was proficient in lugged building, once they learned how to weld well would have no issue producing a TIG welded bike. The  skill set is wider for a lugged bicycle frame.

Will time allow to fabricate or carve moderately custom lugs?

Most students realize pretty quickly why lugged frames are so much more time intensive than TIG welded frames and most of this is the lug prep and cleanup. One of the advantages of my course is that I really want to show the student how to properly prepare, file and clean up lug work that other courses may not address but it is very easy for many hours to fly by modifying lugs and fall behind in the building procedures. So, the answer is yes, you can make simple modifications to lugs and prepare them well for brazing but heavy modification and or fabrication is not within the time constraints of this class. Add to that the extra difficulty of brazing and cleaning of such lugs and really it would be better to become skilled at basic lug work and then come back for a short primer and practice session on complicated work.

Can I work with Stainless Steel lugs?

Stainless steel can be a difficult material to work with.    It is much harder to cut and file than standard steels and brazing it requires more heat and a faster hand.   If a mistake is made with stainless it won’t be evident right away but will create a joint that will fail catastrophically.   Unless one shows a lot of prior experience, or you would like me to do this portion for you stainless steel lugs are not part of this course.

Can I paint the frame under your supervision?

I may offer paint courses someday. Currently I have only been painting myself for 7 years or so and do not feel confident enough to teach another person appropriately. On the note of what equipment is best. I can give a general overview of the equipment and materials, if we have time not to exceed half a day.

Can I build a touring frame in your course?

Absolutely you can.  I have found though that all the braze-ons that a touring bike needs adds a substantial amount of time to the build.  This takes nearly a day for most students.   This means we have to either hustle a little bit during the rest of it to give enough time for completion.  I may make suggestions to ease the building process as to facilitate this.

Can I build a frame utilizing S & S couplings?

The short answer to this is yes.   Of course, like the other fabrication techniques in this genre (stainless lugs, carving, unusual designs) its really just a matter of time.   If you show good skills in silver brazing and have the time then of course you can install S&S couplings with my supervision.   To be honest though, I have not had a student yet who would have met these two criteria.    Most likely I will have to install them for you after your time here.

Can I build a recumbent in your course?

No.  We cannot build any recumbents or trikes in this course.  The variability of these designs preclude them from being built here.  I just don’t have the fixturing or time to go into it.   With that being said, the same techniques used to build a great lugged or lugless frame carry over very well into recumbent designs.  We also study steering geometry which is applicable to recumbents.  I believe with the information you receive here you could build a recumbent in your own time and know how to do it.

Can I build a downhill  bike with Gagomonsterzilla tires, a jackshaft and 14 inches of travel?

See the above FAQ about recumbents.   We can build straightforward MTB’s but unusual designs with large clearances and unusual design ideas are outside the scope of this course.   It will be all you can do to just build a standard frame.  Trust me on this.   Once again, the techniques you gain will help you realize your goals at a later time.

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