Wednesday, May 29, 2013

Sometimes you can't see these things coming...

One of the biggest fears about buying product overseas, putting your name on it, and selling it to folks all over the country is that, despite all the precautions you've taken and steps to ensure each frame is dialed by inspecting each one before it goes out, something may go wrong.  Recently, that something was a couple of water bottle bosses.  It is evident that these two bosses were not brazed in properly. 

This actually happened once before and because it happened on a local rider's first ride, I attributed it to an anomaly.  A one-time thing.  This rider came by the shop after his ride and showed me the boss that came out and the hole in the frame.  I was horrified.  He was calm and cool.  This was one of those moments you think to yourself, "why am I doing this?  I should just be selling $400 hybrids instead of trying to do something different."  

However, once we both assessed the situation, I realized that the hole in the down tube was the same hole that was drilled for the boss in the first place and that it's not uncommon to have to replace bottle bosses on aluminum frames with new rivet nuts.  The solution of installing a rivet nut in the frame was reached and he's been going strong since that day in January.  It was a good fix.  And I forgot about it.  Until recently.

The e-mail showed up "Broken water bottle braze-ons" and I knew what happened and that it happened a second time.  One-time incidents are just that, one-time.  When it happens twice, the potential for it to happen a third time increases, but it's not likely epidemic.  I checked the frame that happened to be in the stand getting prepped for shipment by threading in a bolt and grabbing hold with some pliers twisted and tweaked the bolt.  The boss was solid.  That made me feel good. 

So, here's what's happening, two frames lost water bottle bosses (both on the down tube).  There are two solutions, as I see it, if this happens to you.
1.  Frame replacement.  I'll replace the frame to you and pay to have the frame with the lost bottle boss sent back to me.
2.  Install rivet nuts and offer some sort of compensation.  My goal is that each owner of one of my frames is happy with their bike.  This is the option chosen by the two owners.  He was comfortable using a rivet nut tool since he had used a rivet gun on airplanes.  I mailed him my rivet nut tool with a return label and some rivet nuts.  He reported back that the rivet nut install was a success.

And if, for some reason, you really, really, really want a new frame but I don't have your size or color in stock, we'll get rivet nuts installed in your frame and then replace it as soon as I get more frames so you can keep riding your bike.

That's it.  I thought about not putting this out there because that's what companies do - hide things and then act surprised when something happens.  But, I owe this to all the folks who have put their trust in my frames and I thank each of you for that.  

One final bit, this is limited to the second run of cross frames only.

And to make this long post even longer, here is the process to install rivet nuts.

Rivet nut install
The hole for a brazed in bottle boss is smaller than the rivet nut outer diameter of about 7mm.

Rivet nut install
So the hole will have to be made larger.  You can use a tapered reamer like pictured here.  Or if you have enough space within the frames front triangle, you can drill the hole larger.  Just be careful not to go too far into the tube that you punch into the other side of the tube.

Rivet nut install
A file can also be used to open the hole for the rivet nut insertion.

Rivet nut install
Verify the rivet nut fits snugly in the hole.

Rivet nut install
The rivet nut installation tool with a rivet nut.

Rivet nut install
Thread the rivet nut onto the tool's mandrell so all threads are engaged.

Rivet nut install
Back the mandrel up  so the flange of the rivet nut is flush against the tool's stop.

Rivet nut install
Fit the rivet nut firmly against tube and...

Rivet nut install
...squeeze the tool's plier handles.

Rivet nut install
When installed, the rivet nut is compressed up to the inside of the tube creating a sandwich with the frame tube. 

(What's playing:  Bob Dylay & The Band Too Much of Nothing)

9 comments:

Rob at Ocean Air Cycles said...

Well done. Customer satisfaction is guaranteed. Cherry on top it the rivnut pro tip.

Those "other" companies that would hide these things are watching and hopefully learning, or they will be fading into the background

maleonardphi said...

For what it's worth, you can build your own rivet nut tool with about 25 cents worth of fasteners from any hardware store. I used a ~1" M5 bolt, an M5 nut, and a washer. If you only have to do the job once or twice, it saves you ~$50. And you can buy a pack of 25 rivet nuts from McMaster Carr for ~$10. P/N 94020A375

Great job on the customer service though. It's rare (and greatly appreciated) these days.

Anonymous said...

Totally the right thing to be open about this. I'm not in the market for another bike, but if I was, this post would have made me even more confident about buying one of yours.

Neil said...

I commend you for being open about this and offering some excellent (and generous) solutions.

There's nothing wrong with riv-nutted bottle bosses. Some custom frames that cost thousands use riv-nut bosses and they stay strong for years. The upside is they can be replaced easily in the event of cross threading.

Andy H. said...

Hey, Mike, have you initiated dialog with the frame manufacturer with specific reference to the issue?
If so, it'd be interesting to hear about any resolution that is reached.

Tim said...

Oh man, you fools, water bottles are for dinosaurs. Hydrations packs and sippy straws are what is up.
And disc brakes.

Chris said...

There's nothing wrong with rivnuts period. Four of them held a strut tower brace in a friend's VW GTI with no issues. If any frames are returned I would have no qualms riding one.

Mike Pailliotet said...

Discs...

I'm going to assume you be joshin

kai said...

This is really great service. The same thing happened to me on my 2008 Cannondale SuperSix (made in USA eh?) and C'dale couldn't have cared less. I finally resorted to JB weld and it's stayed put ever since. This is a much nicer solution and refreshing that you stand behind your product. Well done sir.

I'm currently in the middle of a Salsa Fargo build and I'm taking a lot of inspiration from your blog. I wish I had known about BMC when I lived in the Presidio and was doing weekend rides to coastal Marin.