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Making lugs for the next bike

In this day and age of tig welded bikes, lugs are mostly the domain of small custom builders like me.  There are a few exceptions of course, but by and large modern lugged frames are made one-at-a-time and lots of effort is lavished on each one.  Oddly enough, the variety of available ready-made lugs has never been greater, and the quality has never been higher- even though the big bike companies buy very few or none.

So why make a lugset from scratch?  Occasionally, the market doesn’t offer an off-the-shelf part with the correct dimensions, but that’s not the case with the bike I’m working on right now.  The only other reason is simply for looks.  Builders have always modified existing lugs to make them pleasing to the eye, and to set them apart from others.  Certain builders developed their own unique shapes and styles, many of which can help identify an older bike, even if it has been stripped of decals and paint.

Sometimes the customer wants the lugs on his or her frame to look a certain way and will offer me some loose guidelines- or sometimes they know exactly what they want.  Other times I make them a particular way just to satisfy myself.  Often I will create my own interpretation of a style or shape that someone else has done before.  Let’s face it, it’s nearly impossible to do something in the bicycle world that’s truly new.

Some think it’s silly to try and re-create the past, others think there is meaning in paying homage to those who might have provided inspiration, instruction, or encouragement.  I know that the first time I saw this shape, I fell in love with it.  Here are the beginnings of my take on a style used by many but that I first saw on an Alex Singer bicycle.

The piece on the left will become the top tube socket of the seat lug.  The piece on the right is for the other end of the top tube and will be fillet brazed directly to the back of the head tube.  A similar socket will be brazed on a few inches away for the down tube.  This makes a unique looking one-piece head tube/head lug.

Teaser

Just got word that Vinny’s 650B bike is on it’s way back from the powdercoat shop.  Some of his parts are here already, in fact I built the rear wheel a couple days ago using a Pacenti PL-23 rim on a Curtis Odom large flange hub.  I’ve been using the Pacenti rims on my own bike for a few months now and am delighted with them.  They have all the attributes one could want: classic good looks, welded seam, machined sidewall, and they’re tubeless ready.  The Curtis Odom hubs are even more amazing, I only wish there was a dynamo hub for the front that looked as good.  Here are a couple photos.  Thanks for looking!ImageImageImageImage

Welcome to the Internet!

Well, you’ve found it: Thompson Custom Bicycles’ own little corner of the internet.  This is where to come if you want to know what I’m working on.  Most of the time it’s a fine randonneur bike and I’ll put up photos with a few words of explanation.  Sometimes I do actually get out for a ride though, so there should be a ride report once in awhile.

This one is currently getting a beautiful finish at Spectrum Powderworks.  When it comes back, I’ll post photos of the assembly process and the finished machine.

650B for Vinny