G P Wilson history

AB

Active member
Hi Scott do you know what the history is of the Wilson dropouts? That is when they were used for which bikes and for how long? Any insight would be very interesting.

Thanks !
 

mainlyfats

Member
AFAIK Stainless, silver soldered G.P. Wilson drop outs were only used on the Team Comp.

(Sorry - it was Henry James that just announced it was closing...)
 
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zonq

Member
AFAIK Stainless, silver soldered G.P. Wilson drop outs were only used on the Team Comp.

G.P. Wilson apparently just announced that it was closing.

I scored a set I’ve been hanging on to for ages, thinking of asking a Fat alum like Chris Iglehart to braze into my 84. But since the 84 is one of the Helfrich/Chance half-fillet-brazed units, I haven’t been able to convince myself to have anyone chop it up. On the one hand, these are old steel bikes, not museum pieces, but on the other... this one just feels kinda special.

Years later, I came across a scan of a G.P. Wilson business card... it listed a residential address on Chalcedony street in San Diego. I was in San Diego/hang on, chalcedony... A girl I was seeing for a while lived on that street. She was trying to get me to have her brother weld those dropouts on that frame so she could ride it as a bar bike. Probably should have ended that relationship on the spot. Anyway, I looked up the address, same block... right next door. Weird.

To put em on will take some extensive remodeling, since they’re quite a bit longer than the stock shimano jobs. So, grind the Shimano drops off, chop the ends of the stays off to preserve the original domed ends, with enough room for a sleeve, snip another .75” off to shorten, make 4 sleeves matching the ID’s of the stays, braze those together and get the GPs on, all aligned in a decent jig and... realistically I’ll never spend the $ to do it. I should put that whole project up for sale.
 

I-ROBOT

Member
Sorry just seeing this now

The only frames I remember having GPW dropouts were the Team Comps. There were probably a handful of employee bikes that had them but I couldn't give you guys any exact figure or who may have gotten them. I never put them on any of my frames. I did build a Yo for myself that had Paragon Machine Works stainless dropouts. Those were machined from bar stock. The GPW drops were cast from 17-4 PH stainless and were likely a few grams lighter than the Paragons.

All of the GPWs that I worked on were TIG welded to the 4130 tubes using ER309L stainless steel filler rod which is the most common filler rod for joining stainless to carbon and low-alloy steels. They welded really nicely and never undercut as opposed to drops from other manufacturers that were designed for brazing and were not really meant to be melted in a weld.

At one point, I believe I was purging the inside of the chainstays when the GPWs were welded to them (first step in frame production) since those welds were the heaviest of any on the dropouts. I'm not 100% sure on that and we did not purge the seatstays or chain stays when the remainder of the welds were completed. I did always try to make the welds as small as possible since stainless doesn't like a lot of heat input.

Hope everyone is staying healthy and safe - so far so good here

Scott
 

Stingercut

Active member
I enjoy reading about the nuances of the finest tig welding :beer::beer: I have ridden other bikes made to the same geo and using the same tubes as a TC but they do not ride like it. The dropouts, bullet machined stays, tiny tig welds and all the unique features of a FAT make them FEEL so different in a very enjoyable way.
 

mainlyfats

Member
All of the GPWs that I worked on were TIG welded to the 4130 tubes using ER309L stainless steel filler rod which is the most common filler rod for joining stainless to carbon and low-alloy steels. They welded really nicely and never undercut as opposed to drops from other manufacturers that were designed for brazing and were not really meant to be melted in a weld.

Scott

Great to have this history, Scott. I picked up somewhere along the line that the GPWs required “silver brazing” to mate with the stays and have been guilty of passing this tidbit on. Happy have the real story!
 

I-ROBOT

Member
Hey Gang

There's no problem with utilizing silver brazing to join the GPWs to steel tubing. The tubing usually presents more of a challenge then the dropout. A good amount of flux is needed to properly shield the joining area and flux removal after brazing is critical to avoid corrosion later on. If you get too much flux up inside the tube, it can start to corrode the steel from the inside out. Improper heating technique with the torch could cause microscopic melting of the tube edges into the brazing filler.

I prefer the pinpoint application of heat using the TIG torch. One of the risks of TIG welding 17-4 to 4130 is the possibility of melting too much of the 17-4 into the 4130. 17-4 contains 3-5% copper and if you get too much copper mixing into the 4130, it can cause cracking. You have to be careful to melt as little of each of the base metals as possible, just enough to create a strong bond. When TIG welding using 309L filler metal, you create 5 different types of metal within the weld zone. You will have the 17-4 which gets heated into its hardening range, a portion of the weld bead that is a mixture of 17-4 and 309L, the 309L weld metal, another area that is a mixture of 309L and 4130, and then the 4130 which is also heated into its air-hardening range. All this in the space of about 4 millimeters!

The good thing about 17-4 is that it has excellent toughness and decent ductility for a high-strength metal. This is important to be able to withstand impact loading which is much higher on mountain bikes than road bikes which GPW originally designed his dropouts for. It also has good fatigue resistance which is important for mountain bike use.

I could go on and on but you guys are probably asleep by now, so...

Happy Trails
Scott
 

colker

Active member
I enjoy reading about the nuances of the finest tig welding :beer::beer: I have ridden other bikes made to the same geo and using the same tubes as a TC but they do not ride like it. The dropouts, bullet machined stays, tiny tig welds and all the unique features of a FAT make them FEEL so different in a very enjoyable way.


Interesting. I always thought tube diameter and geometry defined a bike´s riding qualities. Good to know there are more subtle varieties going on.
 

Stingercut

Active member
Interesting. I always thought tube diameter and geometry defined a bike´s riding qualities. Good to know there are more subtle varieties going on.

They do too and as we all know FCC was ahead of the game back then experimenting with tubing gauges on computers etc and asking for custom spec TT tubes. Having had some input into bike design myself back then, I was always amazed by the mysterious synergy with FCC made frames, that made them ride so much better than anything else at the time or indeed since for a 26” HT bike.


@IROBOT You can never go into enough detail for us. I too am fascinated by the level of detail, understanding and sheer perfection you brought to FCC bike building, as well as the others there. I can still remember the first time i tried to find the welds joining the tubes on my 89 TC. Nobody could believe how tiny and smooth they were - no filing down either. It literally freaked people out !!
 

colker

Active member
They do too and as we all know FCC was ahead of the game back then experimenting with tubing gauges on computers etc and asking for custom spec TT tubes. Having had some input into bike design myself back then, I was always amazed by the mysterious synergy with FCC made frames, that made them ride so much better than anything else at the time or indeed since for a 26” HT bike.


@IROBOT You can never go into enough detail for us. I too am fascinated by the level of detail, understanding and sheer perfection you brought to FCC bike building, as well as the others there. I can still remember the first time i tried to find the welds joining the tubes on my 89 TC. Nobody could believe how tiny and smooth they were - no filing down either. It literally freaked people out !!




I searched the net about team comps and all i got was the same geo as the wicked but made of prestige tubing instead of true temper. I know Prestige was lighter and the box crown fork sure was different than unicrowns. what else would make the ride different? I am curious.
 

zonq

Member
I could go on and on but you guys are probably asleep by now, so...

Scott, you know what it's like when you find a band or composer that just fits your tastes really well, and whether they broke up or died or live on the other side of the world, you eventually buy all their albums, and as time goes on you realize they're your favorite, and though time has bookended their work, you're just really, really glad they recorded what they did... and then as the years tick by, you've kind of gotten used to knowing the music by heart & all the main stories that get republished over and over. And those are all great, & you love em, but you know em. And then one day, some kids grab some tapes out of the BBC's dumpster in a back alley, and play em on their dads reel to reel, and hear... 22.5 min your favorite artists, no flash, no hype, just piled into a cramped studio working, in crystal clear stereo sound, improvising & working out an arrangement of some strange thing you've never even heard of before, and then there it is at the end, all together, in one final mix:

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=TAlzuT_uSz4

That's what getting to read your posts on this site is like. & the Team Comp is a secret jewel.

Thanks for sharing your memories.
 

I-ROBOT

Member
Hey Gang
Sorry I've been away but I've been spending every free moment trying to finish my porch renovation which is about 99% complete (finally after more than two years)

One other thing I do remember about the TC's is that the seatstays are straight gauge .028 4130 Dillsburg aircraft tubing and not the butted True Temper seatstays. Just a little lighter and probably more compliant, too.

If I think of anything else, you all will be the first to know!

Enjoy the holiday weekend, stay safe, and ride hard

Scott
 

Stingercut

Active member
I had read about FCC’s use of ‘expensive’ Dillsburg Aircraft Certified tubing before and think Yeti also used it in the rear triangle on some FROs.
 

AB

Active member
Scott,

Thanks for your replies - appreciated and interesting as always. I have a Slim Chance with GPW dropouts.

AB
 
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