Problems with Steel Frame

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Problems with Steel Frame

Postby silkishuge » Sun Apr 22, 2012 4:22 pm

Hi,
I recently had a warranty replacement on a steel frame I purchased from a LBS. The warranty replacement was from a brake in the rear chain stay. THank God it occured while I was on a trainer adjusting the seat post height or it could have been nasty. I reported the incident to the LBS who was very willing to proceed with the warranty claim assuring me that it was rare and should not have happened. The frame was about 4 years at the time with almost 90,000km. I thought it was not unreasonable. It took 8 months for the warranty frome to arrive and it was as comfortable as the last one. No complaints.
Picture of crack as shown below
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It has now been about 3 months since I got the frame back and it all went sour about a week ago. I was riding the bike for about 30km before the incident. There was a little rise up the road and I got off the saddle pedalling in a lazy fashion going about 25km/h. The next thing I knew I was on the floor, helmet broken so I must have hit my head pretty hard.
This is what happened......
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The welding where the top tube and down tube connect to the head tube seem to be the one that broke off first. It looks to me like a welding issue but I am no expert. The part where the top tube connects to the seat tube is twisted and it looks like it was a result of the failure in the welds which seemed to occur at the same time.
I am glad to be alive and that the car following behind me managed to avoid me or I would have been road kill.

I am not sure what action I should take now but I don't think I want another frame as a warranty replacement although I probably would be entitled to one. This incident was too close for comfort.

Jon
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by BNA » Sun Apr 22, 2012 4:39 pm

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Re: Problems with Steel Frame

Postby drubie » Sun Apr 22, 2012 4:39 pm

The welding around the bottom bracket of that bike looks horrible - plus the welding that broke looked like it had about zero penetration.

What brand of bike is it so I know to avoid them like the plague?
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Re: Problems with Steel Frame

Postby Baalzamon » Sun Apr 22, 2012 4:59 pm

drubie wrote:The welding around the bottom bracket of that bike looks horrible - plus the welding that broke looked like it had about zero penetration.

What brand of bike is it so I know to avoid them like the plague?


Yep looks like zero penetration for me as well
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Re: Problems with Steel Frame

Postby Nikolai » Sun Apr 22, 2012 5:00 pm

Ask for your money back. If they refuse, publicise this on the interwebs as much as you can, use every forum you can think of. You could have been in big trouble if the frame went on a downhill.
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Problems with Steel Frame

Postby scotto » Sun Apr 22, 2012 5:12 pm

I like the champion decal on the downtube. Wishfull thinking
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Problems with Steel Frame

Postby RonK » Sun Apr 22, 2012 5:21 pm

Add theses pictures to the busted steel website.
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Re: Problems with Steel Frame

Postby GraemeK » Sun Apr 22, 2012 5:30 pm

As an engineer I would say the problem is that the material the frame is made from was not suitable for TIG welding.
All the failures are from the root of the weld and looks like hydrogen embrittlement.
There are a number of alloy steels tube sets that are only suitable for lugged frames where you keep the temp low by silver soldering.
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Re: Problems with Steel Frame

Postby Nobody » Sun Apr 22, 2012 5:36 pm

RonK wrote:Add theses pictures to the busted steel website.
Good idea if there is one. He can submit them to the busted carbon site as they do other materials as well. Eg:
http://www.bustedcarbon.com/2009/09/no- ... steel.html
(Although even bustedcarbon.com hasn't been updated for over a year.)

@silkishuge. Thanks for posting. Glad you survived it. It is the fear of this happening that stops some of us buying superlight carbon frames.

It worried me when I saw your last chainstay crack and thought to myself that SS was a bad idea (at least for this manufacturer). The material (Reynolds 953?) looks almost paper thin in the photos. This frame has also cracked mid tube rather than bending.
Last edited by Nobody on Mon Apr 23, 2012 4:04 pm, edited 2 times in total.
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Re: Problems with Steel Frame

Postby silkishuge » Sun Apr 22, 2012 5:56 pm

Thank for all the information and feedback. At least now I know that getting a replacement warranty frame would be a bad idea. I will get intoch with the LBS and tell them that I would like to make a complaint and ask for options of compensation. I am sure I will not get my money back, but at least to get something in replacement for the frame that had failed twice.

Jon
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Re: Problems with Steel Frame

Postby toolonglegs » Sun Apr 22, 2012 6:01 pm

Wow nasty looking welds on that first frame... but they didn't let go.
2nd frame :shock: ... few design problems there for sure!.
Glad you are still walking!!!.
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Re: Problems with Steel Frame

Postby drubie » Sun Apr 22, 2012 6:04 pm

If the bike shop can't sort out a refund, take it to consumer affairs. That frame is arguably not fit for the purpose it was sold for. I have often wondered about the wisdom of belting around on tig welded shoguns and the like, but since they are heavier/milder tube sets there doesn't seem to be much of an issue with them. Plus, the old shogun frames have superb welding, unlike that frame which looks like a duck pooped on it.

+1 to the sentiments that you survived it. If it was mine I think the bloke who sold it to me would be wearing it.
So we get the leaders we deserve and we elect, we get the companies and the products that we ask for, right? And we have to ask for different things. – Paul Gilding
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Re: Problems with Steel Frame

Postby grantw » Sun Apr 22, 2012 6:32 pm

GraemeK wrote:As an engineer I would say the problem is that the material the frame is made from was not suitable for TIG welding.
All the failures are from the root of the weld and looks like hydrogen embrittlement.
There are a number of alloy steels tube sets that are only suitable for lugged frames where you keep the temp low by silver soldering.


Agree with that.

You don't build thin walled steel frames like that at all. Even without lugs you're using a low temperate fillet with a decent amount of brass and silver in it and you create a nice smooth joint with an even temperature. That kind of high temp welding (tig, mig) just isn't going to work with this material.
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Re: Problems with Steel Frame

Postby il padrone » Sun Apr 22, 2012 6:56 pm

drubie wrote:What brand of bike is it so I know to avoid them like the plague?

+1

Name and shame for this one. We do not want people inadvertently buying one thinking it is a 'bicycle' :roll:
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Re: Problems with Steel Frame

Postby il padrone » Sun Apr 22, 2012 7:02 pm

silkishuge wrote:I am sure I will not get my money back, but at least to get something in replacement for the frame that had failed twice.

No, no, no

Image

First frame breakage - nasty, but OK, warranty replacement is fine.

Second frame - total failure FFS, it has fallen apart! Get your money back, nothing less. If they refuse..... off to Consumer Affairs for a little reminder letter about consumer rights.
Riding bikes in traffic - what seems dangerous is usually safe; what seems safe is often more dangerous.
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Re: Problems with Steel Frame

Postby silkishuge » Sun Apr 22, 2012 7:56 pm

il padrone wrote:
silkishuge wrote:I am sure I will not get my money back, but at least to get something in replacement for the frame that had failed twice.

No, no, no

Image

First frame breakage - nasty, but OK, warranty replacement is fine.

Second frame - total failure FFS, it has fallen apart! Get your money back, nothing less. If they refuse..... off to Consumer Affairs for a little reminder letter about consumer rights.


You probably know of the shop. I don't want to name any names but the frame was designed by the LBS owner and he seems to be an honest guy. Perhaps he would refund me the money, but I do't imagine him to be knowingly ripping off people.
I will give him a call on Tuesday. I think he is closed on Mondays and send him the photos to see what he says. My guess is that he will request that I send him the frame and he will replace it under warranty again, which off course I will refuse.
Thanks guys. I am glad to be in one piece. Mrs S got a shock when she heard what had happen. Not the best thing for my 7 month pregnant wife.
Things are going to get complicated because I am about 900km from the LBS now. I might have to ask someone to help me with dealing with the LBS. I am not willing to send the frame back to the LBS because that is the only evidence I have.

I am cluless about welding but why is it hard to weld this material. I am looking to replace this dead frame with a Cinelli Gazetta Strada which is also a steel frame. Will I also have similar issues with this frame? I see some really old steel frames which seem to be in great condition despite the age.

Jon
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Reynolds 953 (warranty replacement, 7 months and waiting)
Kona Jake the Snake
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Cervelo R5
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Re: Problems with Steel Frame

Postby Nikolai » Sun Apr 22, 2012 8:10 pm

silkishuge wrote:I am looking to replace this dead frame with a Cinelli Gazetta Strada which is also a steel frame. Will I also have similar issues with this frame? I see some really old steel frames which seem to be in great condition despite the age.


The problem is not with the material, the problem is with the frame builder. I have never seen a steel frame to collapse like this and I've been around a bit...
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Re: Problems with Steel Frame

Postby Nikolai » Sun Apr 22, 2012 8:21 pm

As to your sentiments about not naming names etc, it's understandable. However, if there are more frames out there built by this guy being ridden right now, it could get ugly one day and then you'll be asking yourself if you could have done anything to prevent it. These things can be lethal, literally.
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Re: Problems with Steel Frame

Postby silkishuge » Sun Apr 22, 2012 8:37 pm

Nikolai wrote:As to your sentiments about not naming names etc, it's understandable. However, if there are more frames out there built by this guy being ridden right now, it could get ugly one day and then you'll be asking yourself if you could have done anything to prevent it. These things can be lethal, literally.


I will speak to the owner to inform him that there are issues with his frames. He will have to get in touch with his customers and look for a new factory to produce his frames. If you want to know the LBS, you can PM me, but I will not name and shame on a public forum, especially since it may give dramas for the site moderators.
Jon
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Re: Problems with Steel Frame

Postby AndrewBurns » Sun Apr 22, 2012 8:47 pm

You could have been bombing down a hill at 70+ with a truck passing on the other side of the road when that happened...

Of all the parts of a bicycle the frame is the part we have to trust most won't suddenly give way without provocation, really the only reason any of us can ride bikes with any confidence is that 99.9999% of frames are made properly with good quality control and wide margins. Even the chinese carbon frame manufacturers (roughly) load test every frame that they ship out, doesn't look like this frame would have survived even the most basic non-destructive testing.
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Re: Problems with Steel Frame

Postby Nikolai » Sun Apr 22, 2012 8:50 pm

silkishuge wrote:If you want to know the LBS, you can PM me, but I will not name and shame on a public forum, especially since it may give dramas for the site moderators.
Jon


Totally cool with me.
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Re: Problems with Steel Frame

Postby silkishuge » Sun Apr 22, 2012 8:58 pm

AndrewBurns wrote:You could have been bombing down a hill at 70+ with a truck passing on the other side of the road when that happened...


That is a scary thought. I think I should bring it to an LBS in Orange or even an experienced welder in the area to get some sort of engineering report.

Jon
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Re: Problems with Steel Frame

Postby Mulger bill » Sun Apr 22, 2012 9:18 pm

:shock: I need a clean pair o' undies after seeing those pics.

Glad you got outta that in one piece Jon.

I'm no engineer let alone a welder/boilermaker but that head tube work would have to be up there with the crappiest beads EVAH! I don't think the top tube at the seat cluster is an issue, I'm guessing that that happened consequent to the HT failure.

Don't be shy about seeking appropriate recompense for this, well unfit for purpose.

Shaun
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Re: Problems with Steel Frame

Postby drubie » Sun Apr 22, 2012 9:45 pm

http://www.bikepro.com.au/what-is-champione-

1. (please note, link is for reference purposes only for those researching Reynolds 953 frames and may or may not be involved with this particular frame or any other frame ever).
2. I did not PM silkishuge about who built his frame so I have absolutely no idea and the fuzzy photos are fuzzy.

3. $3000!

4. :shock:
So we get the leaders we deserve and we elect, we get the companies and the products that we ask for, right? And we have to ask for different things. – Paul Gilding
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Re: Problems with Steel Frame

Postby RobertFrith » Sun Apr 22, 2012 11:17 pm

Drubie and I can't be the only people who spent three and a half minutes on Google in an effort to identify the seller. It's pretty clear who they are and it's probably time their identity was confirmed, at the very least to protect other steel frame builders. There is no way it should prejudice your right to a refund.

These are serious failures for any frame. The manufacturer should be initiating a voluntary recall before a rider is seriously hurt. In case they're not willing to do it I've copied/pasted from the ACCC's site;

You may think your experience is an isolated case, so you don't need to tell anyone. But there may be other people who have experienced the same problems as a result of:
•design, performance or manufacturing issues with the product
•lack of (or poor) instructions for assembly or use
•the way the product is used
To report an unsafe product go to http://www.productsafety.gov.au/content ... afeProduct
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Problems with Steel Frame

Postby RonK » Mon Apr 23, 2012 6:36 am

Several years ago I was considering a stainless steel bike, and that one turned up in my research.
At the same time another respected local bike builder had recently started offering bikes in 935, and I recall reading on their blog about the difficulties they encountered in mastering the technique for TIG welding it properly.
It looks like the builder of Champione bikes still hasn't mastered it. Glad I didn't buy one.
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