Henry James Frequently Asked Questions

Frequently Asked Questions

For many, the bicycle framebuilding experience is a new adventure.  There are many things to consider when building a bicycle, including the proper parts and materials to use for your project.  We get many questions about the products we sell, as well as advice on building the frame.  Here is a list of some of our most frequently asked questions.  We invite you to contact us with any other questions that we do not cover here.


How much and which type of silver brazing wire do I need to build a lugged bicycle frame?

We sell Harris 56% Silver for lugs and braze-ons.  Henry James lugs have close fits, so 2 ounces is enough for a frame plus a little practice.
» return to top

What is the difference between 56% Silver brazing wire and the 50N?

50N has 50% silver plus 2% nickel.  The nickel allows 50N to fill gaps up to .008”(.2mm).  56% silver is limited to filling gaps up to .005”(.13mm).
» return to top

How many fillet brazed bicycle frames can I build with one pound of brass brazing rod?

Three to four frames.  It depends on how much filing you have to do to make the fillets look good.
» return to top

Do the brazing materials contain Cadmium?

Ours do not.  Inhaled cadmium fumes can be deadly.
» return to top

Why are there 3 different diameters of brass brazing rod?

1/16th diameter wire is most popular because it works will for building fillets.  We sell the 3/32” wire to skilled brazers who can move fast and still control the puddle.  The 1/8” wire is used by experienced brazers for filling larger gaps.
» return to top

Why should I buy my brazing rod from Henry James, couldn’t I just pick some up from my local store?

Henry James proudly offers brazing rod that is produced in the USA by The Gasflux Company. As leaders in brazing materials, they produce the highest quality brazing rod.  This means the brass flows more evenly and with less spark (a sign of fewer impurities in the rod) than what is typically found in most welding supply stores.  Builders swear by the quality of our brass brazing rod and the matching Type B paste flux.
» return to top

Which brazing wire and rod do you recommend when building with stainless steel?

56% silver brazing wire works best with close fits in stainless steel.  50N requires a looser fit, but wets stainless better.  For brazing rod, the Nickel Silver works best.
» return to top

Why would one use Nickel Silver brazing rod?

Nickel Silver(which contains no silver, it just starts out with a silver color), can be used for fillet brazing stainless steel frames, if you have enough experience.  Nickel-Silver is only slightly stronger than the Gasflux C0-4 brass rod.  Note:  the nickel content can cause an allergic reaction from contact with the filings.
» return to top


Henry James offers fork crowns with a ledge and without(plain bore).  Which one should I buy?

We recommend that beginning builders use the plain bore version, as it is easier to see what is happening and to feed brazing material from both top and bottom, if needed.  Professional builders like the ledge version because the narrow ledge protects the end of the carbon steel steerer from corrosion if our stainless crown is used.  Pros also like to save time, and the underside of the ledge is radiused, so there is no cleanup needed.
» return to top

How many degrees can I safely bend the Henry James lugs?

One degree is doable, 2 degree is harder, and 3 degree is for experienced pros.  If your bending technique leaves gaps greater than .005”(.13mm) that you cannot “blacksmith” closed, 56% silver may crack.  Switching to 50N will let you fill up to .008”(.2mm).  Beyond that, C0-4 brass rod is the safe choice.
» return to top

Do you sell the vertical dropouts without eyelets?

No, mainly for the philosophical reason of Henry James.  The custom racing frame of today will become the commuting/touring bike of tomorrow.  Then the eyelets will be valuable.  If you choose to go without eyelets, all of the eyelets are located so the builder can remove them without a trace.
» return to top

What makes a Henry James lug a higher quality than other lugs?

Henry James has spent 36 years refining our lugs technically and esthetically.  Our lugs all have tapered walls for a classic custom built look.  Most builders find that our lugs arrive out of the box with a much better fit than others.  This makes the life of the builder that much easier, as less time is spent trying to achieve the perfect fit.  Henry James is also the only lug maker that offers a wide range of angles and diameters, and we are adding more!  All Henry James lugs are cast in the United States.  We feel that this gives us an advantage by using a more precise casting method and much greater quality control.
» return to top

What are the advantages/disadvantages of lugged construction?

TIG welding is cheapest, thus most production frames are now lugless.  Many cyclists are unaware of lugs(the steel reinforcing sleeves where tubes come together on a frame).   The advantages that you find in lugged construction is the reinforcement of the frame joints, allowing the builder to fine tune a frame for lightness and liveliness, while not creating fatigue life problems.  Lugs offer a practical way to individualize the style and creativity of a builder.  It’s hard to match the beauty of a lugged bicycle frame.
» return to top

How do I figure out the correct size of Henry James plug-in style dropout to use?

Most tapered stays and fork blades are designed to have approximately the same wall all along the tube.  Subtract wall thicknesses from the tip diameter to get the MINIMUM plug diameter.  More details can be found on our Tech Info Page ***create link here.
» return to top


Are Columbus tubes seamless?

Yes and No.  The tubing starts out in bulk rolls of steel and is then precisely formed, welded, and heat treated into a seamless tube.  Columbus has decades of experience in working with high quality steel tubing and is carefully able to change the molecular structure of a steel tube, so that there is no sign of a seam in the finished product.   Columbus has built a reputation as the leader in steel tubing for bicycles, automotive/race cars, and aviation applications.  All Columbus tubing is made in Italy.
» return to top

I’m building my first frame.  Can you tell me which Columbus tubing would be best for me to use?

CROMOR is the way to go.  It is higher strength than straight gauge 4130 tubing, but still easy to saw, file and braze/weld.  CROMOR usually has thicker walls, so is less likely to buckle if you bend it.  CROMOR is also one of the most affordable options for the beginning frame builder.
» return to top

Can I substitute tubes in your recommended frame kits?

We encourage this.  With an inventory of hundreds tubes to choose from, builders can fine tune these kits.  The kits are really intended as a starting point for builders.  To find out more about our recommended kits, please see our Columbus Frame Kits.
» return to top

What does the paint on the end of some of the tubing indicate?

Many tubes do not have symmetrical buts.  The paint lets you know which end is which.
» return to top


Does Henry James Bicycles ship internationally?

Yes, we have many customers around the world.  We are happy to ship tubing, investment cast parts, and brazing materials to wherever you call home. 
» return to top

Does Henry James Bicycles display at any trade shows or have a showroom where I can see the product?

Each year, you can find Henry James Bicycles and True Temper Sports at the North American Handmade Bicycle Show (NAHBS).  We bring a variety of products and framebuilding equipment for you to see and ask questions. If you find yourself in Northern Oregon, please contact us to pay us a visit at our Portland, Oregon location.  We love it when framebuilders stop by.
» return to top