Adventures with a TBA ‘Low Cost’ Frame Fixture

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  • There are quite a few people on this forum - including me - who have aspirations of building their own frames.

    Once you have overcome the basics of cutting, fileing and brazing metal, you will, at some point, inevitably have to face the confusing and expensive question of tooling.

    I have recently acquired a frame fixture, or jig, from the Bicycle Academy. This particular fixture is aimed squarely at the ‘early learner’ i.e. me, and quite a few others on here.

    Subsequently, I thought it might be helpful to document the fun one can have with a useless middle aged man, a box of bits and a very small front yard in South East London.

    Three observations to kick off with:

    First, The Bicycle Academy’s idea of ‘low cost’, and my idea of low cost are two different things.

    That’s not to say I am unhappy, or that it isn’t value for money, but it would be nice if I could find an entry level jig for less than the £850.00 that this one cost.

    Almost be definition, either it, or it’s user, is not going to be fit for purpose, and it will retire to the back of the shed or, (unlikely), I’ll pick it up like a duck to water, and will be looking for something better / more expensive by Christmas.

    Second - it took ages to arrive. I think they sort of crowd fund these things. They take deposits, but don’t produce them ‘till they’ve got enough orders to make it worthwhile. I am pretty sure I waited a year, possibly longer.

    Thirdly, unless you collect your fixture from Bristol - and pay an additional £150.00, the jig comes without four steel beams that are required to make it work.

    For me, a London resident with a job and family, finding the time to sort out four bits of metal turned out to be a major pain in the backside.

    Having said all that, I am happy with my purchase, and with the interactions I have had with TBA.

    I am now the proud owner of four dirty, rusty metal beams, and the sun is shining.

    I look forward to getting to grips with the contents of the very macho looking box (42kg’s) that’s been blocking up my shed for the past few months.


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  • ooh nice one, ive been wondering if i should pick up one of these, my current jig is just a bit shite. I'm curious to see how nice it is to build with, keep us updated! :)

  • How did you order it? Off the website? Did it not say about eta?

    Thirdly, unless you collect your fixture from Bristol - and pay an additional £150.00, the jig comes without four steel beams that are required to make it work.

    -/ please elaborate on this bit?

  • Second - it took ages to arrive.

    Did it not say about eta?

    Same for @Jaap ; took very long.

  • How did you order it? Off the website? Did it not say about eta?

    Yep, ordered off the website. As far as I remember, they gave an 'expected' delivery date of something like August 2018 - based on how quickly they thought the orders would fill up. In reality, it arrived in May 2019. There was little or no communication regarding the delay.

    Thirdly, unless you collect your fixture from Bristol - and pay an additional £150.00, the jig comes without four steel beams that are required to make it work.
    -/ please elaborate on this bit?

    The Jig is based on a long beam which forms a horizontal plane, and three smaller beams which reference the head tube, seat tube and rear dropouts.

    These four beams are not supplied, presumably to save weight and allow the jig to fit in its attractive box. If you live in Bristol, or maybe up North, it might be relatively easy to source bits of steel, but I couldn't find anyone in London who would do it. Ended up finding a really helpful firm in Southend.

  • Thanks,

    Thats really not fun.. if the eta was August and its going to be later really should have been constantly updated etc.. I would be frustrated to wait anywhere near that long!

    So you buy the kit .. but you dont get the whole kit ..
    That would really grind my gears.

  • More info plz

  • Mrs Jangle and the Janglettes have gone out, presumably to do ‘girl stuff’, which offers up the opportunity to have some jig-based fun.

    Last weekend, for no particular reason, I gave the beams a coat of paint:


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  • Here’s the box of bits unlidded.

    I already need a cup of tea and a sit down.


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  • Page 1 of 50.

    This is going to be painful.


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  • Main beam assembly assembled.

    So far, so good.


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  • How heavy is the entire thing going to be? Can you still move it after assembly?

  • I'll find out when I'm done - but I very much doubt it.

    I will have to disassemble it, just to get it back in the shed.

  • Quick update.

    After flying through the main beam assembly, I have stalled on the Front Axle Carriage.

    Started off easy enough, but reached a point where I had to drill some holes in one of the steels.

    My cordless drill wasn’t up to it. Popped out and bought an incredibly cheap corded drill. It’s not much better, and progress is painfully slow.

    I have however had a very nice lunch, so we’ll see how we go from here.


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  • I'm enjoying this as much as an actual frame build

  • I’m not.

    I never would have thought drilling s few holes in a bit of steel could be such a ball ache. I am seriously considering buying a drill press.

    In breaks between drilling, I have put together a couple of sub-assemblies.


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  • Buy a proper drill and proper drill bits.

  • ^ That.

    I had a couple cheap drills and a ramshackle collection of crap bits and thought drilling was a nightmare.

    Finally invested in a (used) Makita and some decent Bosch drill bits and they fly through stuff now. I also bought a Makita handy vac thing and got it with 2 new large capcity batteries and the rapid charger. That was the dear bit but still well worth it.

    Still proper shitting myself for drilling the holes in the tubes for the bottle cages on the frame I'm about to build.

  • I am seriously considering buying a drill press.

    Please do and let me use it

  • Buy a proper drill and proper drill bits.

    I get a sort of perverse pleasure from suffering (Catholic childhood). I am going to soldier on for a bit.

  • Four nice holes.

    Now all I have to do is flip it over, and do the same on the other side.

    Frame building is bullshit.


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  • The good news is, I’ve got four new holes.

    The bad news is, they don’t line up with the ones on the other side!

    A template for drilling the holes is supplied with the fixture. I assumed - probably because I am using a hand drill, that you do one side, flip it, do the other side.

    Having now paid a bit more attention to the instructions, it would appear you are supposed to drill through both sided of the steel in one go. A task I would have thought impossible without a drill press.

    Something, something, learning curve.


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  • This is great, but sad your having this faff when you just brought the kit..

  • I have now overcome my drilling issues, and completed the two sub-assemblies that go together to complete the front axel carriage.

    However, just looking at the illustration of how these two parts fit together is making my head hurt.

    It’s early evening, and I’m ready to get the drinking started, so I’m putting the toys away until tomorrow.


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  • Wonder how many of these you could get lasercut out of a 1m x 2m sheet?

    https://www.fhbrundle.co.uk/products/301­06320__Mild_Steel_Plate_2000_x_1000_x_20­mm_Grade_S275

    Edit: Given that the sheet weighs 314kg and the box from TBA weighs 42kg, I'm gonna guess quite a few.

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Adventures with a TBA ‘Low Cost’ Frame Fixture

Posted by Avatar for Jingle_Jangle @Jingle_Jangle

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