The morning started off well. I tacked the chainstays on and they only required minor tweaks to meet the three alignment criteria for rear dropouts: equal distance, equal height, and equal and proper spacing. The rear triangle is much trickier to get aligned perfectly. I was relieved when everything was where it should be.
Once brazed into the bottom bracket and cleaned off, the frame went back into the alignment fixture to check how much the tubes had moved after going through a heat cycle. To my amazement the tubes hadn’t moved much. I had to spread the dropouts slightly, as is common after brazing the chainstays, but otherwise a wheel would be perfectly happy to slip right into the dropouts and run true.
The next task was to prep the seatstays. Both Cooper and I planned to attach the seatstays to the sides of the seat tube, the easiest method for beginners. The first step was to cut the seatstays to rough length. The worst thing you can do at this point is to cut off too much seatstay. Guess what I did? I cut that fucker too short. My heart sank. Of course Dave had spare seatstays, but not the same thin tapered stays I planned to use. I really wanted to use the thin stays. My backup plan and really the only other solution was to use a premade seatstay plug to extend the stays and save the day. Most plugs are unattractive. I picked what I thought were the most fitting out of Dave’s stash of braze on bits and tried to make do.
The caps I chose were designed to offer a nearly full wrap around the seat tube. The points of each tip almost kiss as they’re brazed in place. This is a very traditional style. It can look good on the right bike. I hoped that my bike fell in that category.
While I was brazing on the seatstays, Dave had to bang the tips off the caps with a ball peen hammer to better wrap the tips around the curve of where the top tube meets the seat tube. They were a pain to work with. Dave and I both swore off using caps ever again.
Back in the alignment fixture, the frame turned out just right. Even the dropouts didn’t need slight spreading. I definitely had the framebuilding gods on my side today. I can live with weird seatstay caps as long as my frame is straight.