There are certain things that I do on my bikes that aren’t obvious once the bike is built and painted and are for the most part my little secret but I’m proud of them nonetheless. One of these things is my side tack seat stays.
Here’s a short lowdown on how I do my side tack stays. It can be a bit hard to picture what is going on and I’m hoping that the photos will help fill in the blanks.
The first two photos give the basic idea. The upper end of the stay is cut off at an angle and then that newly exposed end is filed to leave a curve so that a piece of tubing can be brazed in. You can see the one stay is prepped to have it’s cap brazed (cap tube set to the side) on and the other stay cap has already been brazed on. In the end the concave surface of the cap will be the inside of the tube I’m brazing on.
The 3rd photo shows the two stays with their caps brazed in place. One of them has had a rough trim using tin snips.
Photo 4 shows a finished stay cap. The finish and shaping work is roughed in with a dynafile and then the detail work is done by hand. The shape is done by eye and the hard part is getting the two stays to look exactly the same.
The 5th photo shows the pair of stays all prepped and read to be brazed to the seat lug. I make the caps long and then curve them so they wrap around to the top side of the seat lug. I do this for two reasons – the first being that it gives a very large area of contact between the stays and the the lug and that makes it a very strong joint. The second reason is that I think it looks really cool and is a way for me to show off a bit. It’s not easy to get it all to be symmetrical and balanced and I love the resulting look.
Photos 6 & 7 show what the joints look like after brazing but before any finish work has been done. It’s very important for me to get the brazing very clean or the finish work will take a lifetime. The pictured joints came out very clean and will make for quick and easy finish work.
The final two photos so the seat cluster all finished and ready for Joe Bell to work his magic. The finish work is done with emery cloth that has been ripped into narrow strips so I can get into the nooks and crannies. You can also now see the top of the seat lug has been cut off and shaped and the clamping slot has been cut.
I use this traditional method of fabricating stays caps because it allows me a good bit of latitude in shaping them for my own personal look and because they end up being hollow right to the top. Many builders use seat stay plugs which in the end look much like this once they are covered in paint but what they really are is solid cast plugs that are just brazed into the square cut ends of the stays. While they work just fine I don’t like adding the extra weight and I certainly don’t like having to settle for the look that they give. Is there a functional difference on the road? Will you be faster with traditional stay caps like I prefer? No. But I like them anyway.
That’s it for today. Enjoy spring.