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of the second day I was laying a continuous bead of filler across a simulated head tube and top tube junction without burning a hole anywhere. I filled a bucket with them before I was even starting to feel a hint of confidence with all of the variables involved in the TIG welding process. I gave myself stiff shoulders, I burnt my hands, I asked a million questions. It’s definitely a crash course—I went back to my hotel each evening spent, excited and intimidated at what the next day might bring.

Day 3

Having finalized the geometry earlier in the week and made absolutely sure everything was on hand, it was time to cut the tubes to the proper lengths and angles, and continue brushing up on my welding before actually putting the torch to a frame meant to take me far from home. Learning to weld was certainly the most challenging part of things, but of equal interest and intrigue to me was the process of cutting the tubes at just the right angle to fit the jig. Transferring the geometry numbers spit out by modern BikeCAD and Sputnik computer programs to custom made tooling on World War II era milling machines was easy to immerse myself in. I’ve been known to walk around a hardware store for fun and spent my undergrad career with my head buried in engineering texts—plunging a 2” hole saw through a tube of steel at just the right angle to make a bicycle built for me was cool. Using the home made jigs at this stage and later during actual construction reveals how unique each builder’s bikes truly are, with each having a certain technique co-dependent on tooling each maker devises and creates for their own needs.

Day 4

By the end of the previous day we had placed the chainstays, dropouts and bottom bracket shell into the jig and Mike had tack welded it together. First thing in the morning on the fourth day we fit the rest of the frame into the jig and tacked it in place. After a few more practice passes, the time had come to put torch to tube and pass the point of no return. Working joint to joint with Mike over my shoulder the day was spent slowly welding all of the main tube junctions, each without disastrous holes or overheating. We checked and adjusted the alignment throughout the process, as the next day’s fitting of the chain- and seatstay bridges would effectively lock it all into place. Having driven to the Boston area on Sunday without ever having touched a welder, to end Thursday with the frame 90% welded by my hand was fulfilling to say the least. It was also clear that we were running behind, and that Friday would see us burning the midnight oil to finish even almost on schedule.