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titanium welding(11 posts)

titanium weldingPaulCL
Jul 22, 2003 8:05 AM
My Colnago frame developed a crack around the junction of the toptube and seat tube at the weld. Toast. I now ride a CF bike. But I have this beautiful frame sitting in the basement unused and unusable.

I've looked in my yellow pages for titanium welders, workers, anything, but no go. I think the frame would make a great second or rainy day frame if I could get it re-welded. Any ideas of where to go?? What to do?? I'm not too crazy about putting too many $$ into it, but I am open to suggestions.

Thanks. Paul
Ti's trickier to weld than most metals.jw25
Jul 22, 2003 9:44 AM
From what I've read, titanium needs to be welded in a neutral atmosphere, or a vacuum, or else you get contaminated welds that will fail. I hate to say it, but maybe that's why your frame cracked in the first place.
For something like this, I'd try to contact one of the larger ti framebuilders - Seven, Spectrum, Merlin/Litespeed - or some smaller builders who actually build their own frames. Independent Fabrications springs to mind.
Any of them could at least evaluate the crack, and whether or not rewelding it is practical.
Also, maybe contact Colnago through their importer. I don't know what kind of warranty they have, but it's worth a shot.
Ti's trickier to weld than most metals.PaulCL
Jul 22, 2003 11:19 AM
Thanks for the suggestions.

Colnago is out. Their importer was less than helpful. He specifically admitted in an email that Colnago realized the welds on this frame were suspect and possibly faulty. He did offer a 2003 C-40 + fork to me for $2200 - but I had already bought another frame.

I think I will do a search for ti frame builders. Roark is just 90 miles away from me in Indianapolis. For a second ride, it may be cheaper for me to go to Ebay and buy a whole bike.

Since my Colnago frame is a beautiful 'art decor' with very few to no scratches, I've been considering using it as art. Maybe I'll clean it up real well, wax it to a high gloss and hang it in my office. A bike frame on the wall would be a true representation of me.

Thanks. Paul
Ti's trickier to weld than most metals.russw19
Jul 23, 2003 8:47 AM
WHOA!!! Hold up! You contacted Trialtir-USA and they said that they know this frame's welds are suspect? Call them back and tell them to send you a new frame... upgrade if you have to and tell them to overnight it and you aren't paying. Otherwise, print that email out, and take the frame and the email to a lawyer you trust (I know... no jokes about that one...) and have your lawyer explain to them what negligance is and how the importer just admitted to it. What frame did you have? Was it the Bi-Titan, the Titanio, or the Ovalmaster? Either way, they admitted to you that the frame was bad.. you need to call them and tell them they have two choices... give you a new frame, or deal with the law suit of knowingly not replacing a known defective frame. If you build that up and ride it to a crash, you could be in for a big payday... except that you also know the bike is broken. But you should demand a new frame and if they say no, tell them you will have your lawyer send them a letter.

Colnago is such a good bike company... the shame of this whole thing is that Trialtir, the US Distributor, is less than professional on some occassions. This is not the first time I have heard of these things from them. Force the issue with them or go over their heads and contact Colnago directly.

Whatever you do, don't take no for an answer on getting the Ti bike you paid for. If the one you paid for had bad welds.. they owe it to you to get you one with good welds. I would expect nothing less from a company of Colnago's stature, and I am sure Ernesto himself would agree with me. Maybe you just need to remind them of their heritage and reputation.

Ti's trickier to weld than most metals.TJeanloz
Jul 23, 2003 10:55 AM
For a long time, Colnago's had no warranty whatsoever, and the current warranty is offered by Trialtir, not Colnago. I believe the bike in question pre-dates Trialtir's involvement with Colnago. I'm not saying that Trialtir is a good company, because they're probably the worst in the industry, but there is a known risk when buying a Colnago in the U.S.
Ti's trickier to weld than most metals.russw19
Jul 23, 2003 6:27 PM
This is true! And I totaly forgot about that point. Thanks TJ!

If it's the Bi-Titan, it does predate Trialtir's relationship with Colnago.

I guess I was just caught out when the distributor would tell you "we know there are problems with this frame, and we will not do anything about it..." but then if the above is the case, I guess it makes sense.

It is a Bi-Titan and I did pursue the situationPaulCL
Jul 25, 2003 7:42 AM
Its' a six year old Bititan that's had a good life. Trialtir was not the wholesaler at the time - I know since I bought the frame directly from the wholesaler. There was no warranty.

As for the admitted defects...the wholesalers comments were essentially something to the effect..."Colnago was aware that some of the bititan frames may have had less than perfect welds..." Absolute, direct admission: NO. Did they (Colnago) know of a problem in all the frames: probably yes. I did show the emails to my sister, an attorney, who said my case was a long shot at best. Remember, Trialitir did offer me a 2003 C-40 with fork at a deep discount of $2200 shipped. I had already purchased another frame by that point in the negotiations. I think Trialtir did the best they could.

As for my frame today....I found a company locally who works on Ti. They subcontract to GE to build their turboprop fans or something like that. The owner responded to my email with a phone call to bring in the frame. He said he'd fix it for free. He said it would be kinda fun to work on a bike. I'll let you know how it turns out.

Thanks guys. Paul
re: titanium weldingIronbutt
Jul 22, 2003 3:39 PM
If you live in a metropolitan area, try checking the yellow pages for welders and/or metal fabricators. Call around and find a shop which has a welder certified to weld titanium. It's not all that difficult to do, it's just that the metal must be isolated from all oxygen during the welding process or the metal will oxidize, and the weld will be contaminated resulting in failure. The most common method is to flood the interior of the tubes with argon, using a tig welding system. Most cities with a good metal fabrication shop have these capabilities.
Hey, there's always duct tape. Might be a bit noodly though. NMJervis
Jul 22, 2003 7:21 PM
re: titanium weldingAtombomber
Jul 22, 2003 8:45 PM
Titanium isn't any more difficult to weld than other TIGged materials. As stated, an oxygen free environment is required though. A gusset plate can be formed and then used to bridge the crack, if just a weld bridge can't do it alone. The advantage of the titanium is that if the crack can be repaired, there is no other procedure to do to make the frame ridable. No heat treating or painting. Just a polishing wheel or brush, depending on the finish you want.
Painted finishPaulCL
Jul 25, 2003 7:44 AM
But that's why you see guys like me in Walgreens, at the cosmetic counter, holding a bike frame, trying to match fingernail polish.