Frame Prep! Any task requires prep. Great prep should be the foundation of everything you do, it will give you the best chance of achieving the results you are after. So if you are restoring, renovating, or just servicing some parts, don’t skip the fundamentals! SB5422 has been built previously, and everything seemed ok with the bike, but as I now have it stripped, I can take the opportunity and start my build process with some good frame prep.
I thought it was about time I got back to doing another build and SB5422 is the one to do. It has been kicking around for a while now so it needs to get started. So here is my build of SB5422, an SBDU Reynolds 753 frame with Campagnolo Super Record 50th Anniversary group. From prep through to build and then final set up, with every step documented.
I’m documenting it because I see more and more builds and I wonder if the knowledge and skills of bike building are slowly being lost. To me, a build includes excellent prep, followed by the build, and finally the correct bike set up. There seems to be a growing lack of both the evidence of any frame prep and good final bike set up. It isn’t just the tasks of prep and set up that I feel are disappearing, the knowledge and reasons associated with them both seem to be disappearing too.
Frame Prep – Fitting the Fork Crown Race
A Video Explanation
At the end of 2019 I cut the fork crown race seat and fitted the Campagnolo Super Record crown race. I captured this on a YouTube video. Give it a watch, not only do I demonstrate cutting and fitting the crown race, I also mention a little about Cinelli fork crowns, British and Italian threading and Reynolds 753 steerer tubes.
Crown Race Tools
A sharp tool is the best tool. So no matter how nice my vintage Campagnolo tools may be, I invested some time ago in some good quality Cyclus and Unior workshop tools to give me a clean sharp cutting edge.
Using cutting fluid and using the tool correctly is a must (see the video above).
Fork Thread Cleaning
The steerer on SB5422 had a slight coating of rust covering the column and thread. I know from experience that Super Record headset threads are very soft and it is really important to make the fork thread as clean as possible. You definately don’t want a dull, damaged or dirty fork thread damaging the top nut.
My video also gives an explanation of British and Italian threading and Class A & B fit.
Crown Race Setting
The last task for the crown race is to seat it on the freshly cut crown race. It would be pointless to prep and cut the crown and then fit the race badly.
My Campagnolo tool does this perfectly. The solid sound the crown race makes as it becomes fully seated is distinctive, listen to the sound in the video.
Frame Prep – Head Tube Facing
Running in Parallel
A well cut fork crown race is only going to perform if the bearing surfaces it will mate to are also well prepared. Therefore, before pressing headset cups into a frame, it is worthwhile running a facing tool across each end of the head tube. There isn’t much obviously wrong with SB5422 but it could be a bit cleaner.
Don’t be afraid to use a bench vice. Just be careful and use protective soft jaws and position the BB shell where the chainstays won’t come into contact with the vice.
I use a vice so that the frame is held securely. Cutting and facing involves tools that twist, so to overcome a frame tube slipping in a standard workstand, a vice holds the frame perfectly still.
Head Tube Facing Tool
This tool and cutting process will ensure that the two surfaces of the head tube are cut smooth and level and also parallel to each other. The tool consists of the cutter which will not only cut the face of the tube, but also ream the inner surface. One surface is cut at a time with a cone inserted into the opposite end to keep the tool central and positioned correctly.
This is a cutting tool so it is used in the same way to the fork crown race cutting tool shown in the video. Use ample cutting fluid, add tension and pressure to the cutter by tightening the knurled nut, compressing the spring. Then only turn in the direction of the cutting teeth. It is often only paint that is removed so not much cutting is required.
Remove the tool and repeat on the opposite end of the tube. This cut only produced a minimal amount of swarf. Carefully clean the tool and throw away the cloth/paper towel that you used.
The head tube is ready for head set assembly.
Frame Prep – Bottom Bracket Shell Facing
Threads Before Facing
This bike came to me with the wrong BB fitted. It had a much later Athena BB. That told me that whoever built SB5422 wasn’t too concerned about fitting the correct parts. Maybe they also weren’t too concerned about fitting them correctly. Maybe they just wanted to bolt some pretty parts to a lovely frame and have an appealing looking bike?
The BB shell isn’t too bad, a little lumpy with paint, so the facing tool should clean this up nicely.
Most BB facing tools insert a threaded guide in the BB. Therefore, the thread should be checked and cleaned.
Bottom Bracket Facing Tool
Just like the other cutting tools, the BB facing tool is inserted into the frame and a spring and nut keep the tension and pressure on the cutting face. This specific tool has a threaded insert that screws into the opposite end to the cutter and acts to centralise and correctly locate the cutting face.
Not much cutting was required on SB5422. Just keep the cutter lubricated and keep the cutting action smooth.
And the final result is a beautifully clean and smooth face, and a surface that is parallel to the other.
After only a short time, SB5422 is ready to have the Super Record head set, titanium Super Record bottom bracket and the rest of the 50th anniversary parts fitted.
Next up will be seat tube reaming and thread cleaning followed by the fitting of the headset and BB.