Pete's Tallbike!

So, on our first ever build day, Pete came down from Madison with a couple of bikes.
At Freewheel Bikes, we had stripped them down and re-greased all the bearings. We also got a bit of extra chain and a sweet old crank for the top frame.

On Saturday, we put it all into motion. We ran a pipe through the head tubes to line them up, clamped the frames together with boards, and tack-welded the top bottom bracket to the lower seat post. After verifying everything was aligned nicely, I heavily welded the two frames together and released the clamps.

We then measured the exact distance between the two head tubes and cut a piece of 1 3/8" fence top rail to connect the two head tubes. 1 3/8" top rail (used for chain-link fencing) is the absolute PERFECT size for our head tubes. I'll be using quite a bit of this stuff in the future!!

After tacking and fully welding the frames together, we started on lengthening the fork. 1/2 inch plumbing pipe was used for this, as it fit somewhat snugly inside the fork top. I should say ONE SIDE fit - the other side didn't fit so well, so I tapered the extension pipe end by grinding down the threaded end to a nice cone-shape. It was fairly simple then to check straightness and fully weld the new fork top thread to the plumbing pipe.
By carefully measuring the difference between the original fork top length and the head tube, we calculated the amount of fork thread that should extend past the top of the head tube. Comparing the original head tube (about 5 inches) with our really long head tube (over 25 inches!), I cut the plumbing pipe to length, slipped the lower end of the fork over it, checked my measurements 5 times and welded.

After putting the long fork through the long head tube, the bearings were greased and steering and crank were reassembled.

The chain was easy enough - loop it around the crank, the lower idler crank, derailleur and rear cluster. Because not enough chain wraps around the rear cluster, the chain can skip a bit in higher gears, but as long as you use the lower gear and don't stand up to crank hard, all is well.

The brakes were the most troublesome. Two problems were really tough to solve - the cantilever brakes really had to be tightened down hard in order to grab the cables tight enough to keep them from slipping. We spent way too much time on this part. Then, after they were tightened down enough, we discovered that the top crank actually hits the rear brake cantilevers!! The rear brake will need to be moved or changed to a caliper to avoid this.

But with one brake and a shiftable rear end, Pete was ready to ride!!

Pete is 64 years young and today got his first tallbike!!