Frame crack - 1939 Viking (Columbia / Westfield) - Least bad solution?

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cbustapeck

Look Ma, No Hands!
May 1, 2020
70
39
Cleveland, OH
55F86386-E377-40D9-9C67-6EC6093F5096.jpeg
085B0170-2299-4D4E-94C1-D58DAF991AA5.jpeg


Yesterday, I noticed that there was a crack about halfway around the top tube, where it meets the seat tube, on my 1939 Viking (or Columbia, or a couple other brands, I think, built by Westfield). (Note: I'm not putting anything on the seller on this. He has been extremely helpful with all of the challenges I have dealt with this bike. I only just noticed the crack after spending plenty of time cleaning and polishing the bike, so I am sure that he didn't see it. )

I'm looking for thoughts as to what to do. I ride all my bikes, so it needs to be rideable. Further, I'd like to keep it as original as possible.

I see several options:

1. Do nothing. If it gets worse, address it then.
2. Be proactive and use some sort of strong epoxy.
3. Be proactive and have it welded.

I appreciate any thoughts or other options that I might consider.
 
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Archie Sturmer

I live for the CABE
Jun 13, 2018
1,438
Los Angeles, CA, USA
Looks like an auxiliary truss tube; early manufacturer claimed that they were unnecessary, just there for the "stylishness".
Perhaps the use of an extra-long Wald 13/16" seat post, that would extend well past the crack would provide more peace of mind.

<edit> Never mind the above, if it is an already weaker step-through frame.
1) What to do with a girl's frame; 2) that is also damaged; and 3) one does have a garden.
 
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1motime

I live for the CABE
Aug 7, 2019
1,508
WHERE I CHOOSE TO BE
It is a crack and it is spreading into the tube itself. Any more stress and it will split and only be a much larger and more complicate repair. Weld it!
 
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all riders

Look Ma, No Hands!
Jun 11, 2020
45
56
Austin, Tx
I think the only braze that wouldn't instantly crack would be a fillet braze with real mass-like on a Schwinn. It would stick out like a sore thumb. Your best bet will be to have it TIG welded. A good welder could both ensure a fully fixed crack and also could manipulate the bead to match the small raised welds currently present. Caveat: The steel is aged and could be porous and difficult to clean well enough for tig welding. I think MIG fix is out of the question unless completely desperate. (It could work. You run the risk of burning through the metal and would have a fair amount of file work to do) I have 26 years as a metal worker/welder. I'm sure there are others on here, more expert than me. I hope they chime in. Good Luck
 

bikecrazy

I live for the CABE
Dec 8, 2011
1,142
Mentor, United States
I’m not trying to step on anyone’s toes, but imho the best way would be to grind out all the metal adjacent to the crack (v grove ) and mig weld the tube. Any excess weld can be dressed off with a file. My guess is if you take it to a shop, they will recommend just what I said.
 

Balloonoob

I live for the CABE
Jan 24, 2019
1,379
36
Longmont Colorado
Bummer man. Finding a crack on your new old bike sure sucks. Many of us know just how bad from experience.
 
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all riders

Look Ma, No Hands!
Jun 11, 2020
45
56
Austin, Tx
The problem is heat control and thin metal--the exact problem that TIG is meant to overcome. There is no need to v groove since penetration isn't an issue. The issue is that controlling the heat of a continuous weld is hard as the heat builds up until blowout. you can start and stop but each start is a "cold weld". I agree that it can be done, but I think I'de have someone try to Tig it first---they would know immediately if it would work, and if not, MIG it and get out the file
 
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1motime

I live for the CABE
Aug 7, 2019
1,508
WHERE I CHOOSE TO BE
Unless it was brazed originally. Than the metal is "contaminated" by brass and you are committed to the same material. If it going to be repaired wire wheel the area and take a look.
 

MrColumbia

Cruisin' on my Bluebird
Dec 23, 2009
2,496
Western Mass
Westfield Mfg brazed all their frames. Only during WWII did they weld frames because of the brass/bronze being restricted. All contamants and paint would have to be removed from the area to re-braze but structurally the bike would be like new. My guess would be you would loose about 1 to 2 inches of paint around the crack. If you can live with that to have a solid frame then do it, otherwise leave it alone and the crack may get larger if t he bike is ridden extensively.

I doubt any kind of glue or epoxy would provide anymore than a cosmetic fix.
 

cds2323

Cruisin' on my Bluebird
Nov 20, 2009
2,285
Lacota, Mi
@cbustapeck Did you get the master link I sent last week?

You may want to check this thread out posted by Jay81 with a similar problem on his Westfield frame. https://thecabe.com/forum/threads/viking-streamline.99755/post-645526

Here are the patents issued to Westfield showing the type of frame construction they used. The one shows the upper tube construction of the top tubes on a boys frame at the seat post (fig. 2). Not sure how the frame is attached lower on your girls frame but likely has a sleeve underneath the tube at the joint similar to the other frame connections. The crack appears to be thru the brazing at the joint. As Mr. Columbia posted the crack should be rebrazed not welded. Jay81 repaired his similar crack so you might contact him.
1218458

1218459
 

49autocycledeluxe

I live for the CABE
May 29, 2017
1,628
60
fremont california
a bicycle frame is hardly thin metal to weld using a mig. I used to do big time rust repair on old car bodies. I've welded lots of thin metal. evidently it takes practice, my neighbor was asked to weld together a sheet metal piece for a mutual friend, all he welds is big heavy X Ray equipment, he couldn't do it without burning through.

I have no idea what I am doing that works where others have a hard time of it.
 

all riders

Look Ma, No Hands!
Jun 11, 2020
45
56
Austin, Tx
Those car repair welds are different. 1: they are not structural; 2: car body work is done in stiches--can't do that in this case. 3: you used to occasionally blow through that 18-20 gauge metal and then blob a cold weld to fill in the resulting hole. NOBODY sells a bike that is MIG welded--they're all TIGed. This most recent roadbike craze gave birth to hundreds,, maybe thousands of youngish frame builders, many of them are very talented. I would eat my hat if there aren't several in the Cleveland area. Find one online or through LBS and go talk to them.
 
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1motime

I live for the CABE
Aug 7, 2019
1,508
WHERE I CHOOSE TO BE
a bicycle frame is hardly thin metal to weld using a mig. I used to do big time rust repair on old car bodies. I've welded lots of thin metal. evidently it takes practice, my neighbor was asked to weld together a sheet metal piece for a mutual friend, all he welds is big heavy X Ray equipment, he couldn't do it without burning through.

I have no idea what I am doing that works where others have a hard time of it.
That is what it is to be a Pro. Years of practice and then it just always happens
 

49autocycledeluxe

I live for the CABE
May 29, 2017
1,628
60
fremont california
Those car repair welds are different. 1: they are not structural; 2: car body work is done in stiches--can't do that in this case. 3: you used to occasionally blow through that 18-20 gauge metal and then blob a cold weld to fill in the resulting hole. NOBODY sells a bike that is MIG welded--they're all TIGed. This most recent roadbike craze gave birth to hundreds,, maybe thousands of youngish frame builders, many of them are very talented. I would eat my hat if there aren't several in the Cleveland area. Find one online or through LBS and go talk to them.
""they are not structural"" inner and outer rockers, inner wheelwells in the trunk, trunk floors, body mounts, under floor cross members, these are all structural. rust repair goes much further than outer sheet metal.

"stitches" you really only need to stitch what you can see. inner structures not so much. there would be no need to stitch a bike frame. however a stitched repair on that crack would be plenty to hold it together, not as strong but strong enough

"nobody migs a new frame" true but irrelevant.

yes blow through in sheetmetal happens sometimes, especially where the original steel is pitted or thin. my neighbor did nothing but blow through on that project. not sure what a blobbed cold weld is.
 
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cbustapeck

Look Ma, No Hands!
May 1, 2020
70
39
Cleveland, OH
@cbustapeck Did you get the master link I sent last week?

You may want to check this thread out posted by Jay81 with a similar problem on his Westfield frame. https://thecabe.com/forum/threads/viking-streamline.99755/post-645526

Here are the patents issued to Westfield showing the type of frame construction they used. The one shows the upper tube construction of the top tubes on a boys frame at the seat post (fig. 2). Not sure how the frame is attached lower on your girls frame but likely has a sleeve underneath the tube at the joint similar to the other frame connections. The crack appears to be thru the brazing at the joint. As Mr. Columbia posted the crack should be rebrazed not welded. Jay81 repaired his similar crack so you might contact him.
1218458

1218459
I did, thank you very much! I really appreciate all of this information. I’m going to be looking for someone to braze the frame.
 
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