Coming from a jewelry back round, I had previous experience that came in handy once.....
Several things about working at Advantage Cyclery were a lot of fun. I had quite a diverse group of fellow workers and lots of things would be going on most of the time, so that it usually was never boring there. (With the special exception of November) We had a frame builder that worked there for awhile, we had a few great athletes that came through there while I worked there, and we had more than our fair share of characters.
One of the things I got to do once actually called upon some special experience that I had learned as a jeweler. Brazing and torch work were second nature to me then. Of course, I was using tiny torches and working on some pretty expensive materials. Bicycle torch work called for bigger torches and the materials were not so precious, but the basic techniques were similar.
This all came into play when we had a customer with an older Fisher steel mountain bike that was fitted with an under-the-chain-stay "U" brake. The customer disliked the placement of the brake since they used the bike as a touring rig, and getting underneath there to release the brake in times when a flat tire occurred was a pain. Especially with bags on a rack that were filled with......well, whatever these folks carted around!
Anyway, Tom asked if I could braze some cantilever studs on the seat stays of this bike, and I agreed I could try that. The parts were ordered while I went about removing the old brake, studs, and any trace of them from the chain stays. We re-routed the brake cable along the underside of the top tube. (I can't remember if I brazed on cable stops here, but I think I did!) Then we got a cable stop to work off the back of the seat binder, and finally, I prepared the seat stays and the bosses for brazing. The job went off without a hitch, really, and the frame was off for a repaint of the Team Fade, which has always been a favorite paint scheme of mine for a Fisher mountain bike.
I guess I could have veered off into a frame building career right there, but it didn't take root. I kind of regret that. I think it would have been a rewarding experience. Well, until I read some of the flak surrounding custom frame building! I guess every job has its pitfalls.
Bike Shop Tales should return next week! Stay tuned!