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Reader's Rides Gallery Show us your Fat. Keep your clothes on, though.

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Old March 1st, 2017, 5:50 PM   #1
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Default 94 Fat Chance Ti Garage Find

About 6 months ago, I moved into a house where I piled up a bunch of my belongings into the garage. Hidden under a pile of junk in the dark corner was an abandoned gray bike that I didn't pay much attention to. Maybe it was the bar ends?

A few months after moving, I decided I better start organizing my belongings and bikes so that I could have a place to tinker. As I started organizing, I thought maybe I should check out that gray bike... Low and behold! That grey bike was a 1994 Fat Chance Titanium M/L!!!

Being a mountain biker since the early 90's, this bike immediately triggered all kinds of flashbacks. I decided a project was born!

Before I got started though, I wanted to make sure this bike was truly abandoned. Through a friend of a friend of a friend, I was able to track down the original owner, who had completely forgotten about it. He obviously had no interest in continuing ownership and said I could bring new life into this classic!

On with the pics! This is how the bike looked when I found it:

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Old March 1st, 2017, 5:53 PM   #2
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Decals seem to be in decent shape:





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Old March 1st, 2017, 5:57 PM   #3
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Kooka brakes, need some work. They also seem to be seized to the bars. I'll see what I can do to salvage them:



Ringle front hub. The rear wheel is mismatched. I'm guessing the original rear Ringle hub failed:



Cool Ringle stem, but it's ridiculously long. Not sure what I'm going to replace it with, but I would like a 50mm or 70mm stem:

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Old March 1st, 2017, 6:01 PM   #4
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Does anybody know what brand brakes these are?:



Are these Grafton cranks?:



I'm stoked on the XTR shifters and derailleurs:



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Old March 1st, 2017, 6:08 PM   #5
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I most certainly do not trust the 30 year old aluminum Kinesis fork. I would love to obtain a Fat Chance fork, but I understand they are extremely rare. Does anybody have a spare fork?

Otherwise, I have a line on a 1998 Marzocchi Atom Bomb Z2 in a light blue color. Pretty sure I will be buying the Marzocchi and installing it on this bike. It's close enough in age to be period correct and the light blue would match the decals.

Other than that, the plan is to disassemble and clean this machine. Bar ends and handlebars gotta go! I'd like to source a shorty stem, replace the saddle and pedals. I might lace up some new wheels; thinking SunRingle Rhino Light rims would be fitting, black with machined sidewalls.

Oh and one more thing, Salsa QR seatpost clamp and skewers in ano-Teal color to tie it all together.

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Old March 2nd, 2017, 5:00 AM   #6
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Wow...you have literally found he holy grail FAT, a 94 mint and no frame dents or chainsuck...hopefully.....and in the most desirable size M/L. Sure you have had offers coming in by the bucket load. I have the same 94 in L - see pic and i will never sell it, incredible ride, firm yet so comfortable all day.

Enjoy
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Old March 2nd, 2017, 11:24 AM   #7
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You lucky dog.

Top frame and parts (aside from the fork, bars).

The brakes look suspiciously like Grafton Maglite's. Very nice.
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Old March 2nd, 2017, 4:49 PM   #8
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Well, you hit the lotto.

I'll put it a plug that this frame deserves a Iglehart segmented fork. I put one on my frame (which, by the way is also 94 ti) and the Iglehart segmented fork transformed the ride. Not cheap, but worth it.

If you aren't as set on a traditional restoration, I would put in a vote to go for a slightly newer, lighter set of wheels than what was available in '94. After all, at this point all 26 rim brake wheels are by definition vintage.
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Old March 2nd, 2017, 6:34 PM   #9
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holy moly
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Old March 2nd, 2017, 9:58 PM   #10
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Thanks for the compliments! Yeah, I was pretty excited when I realized what bike it was, hiding in the garage! At first I thought about building it as the ultimate street machine, but now that I discovered the niche world of retro mountain bike building, I'm set on making this a vintage mountain bike.

The Kooka brake levers seem to be very seized to the handlebars. I can't get them to budge. Their overly complicated internal clamping has backfired after 30 years. I tried using some persuasion (channel locks and a rag), but could barely get the brake lever to rotate on the bar. I fear any more persuasion will damage these delicate brakes.

Also, the XTR shifters might be done. The rear shifter won't hold the gear and the derailleur falls back down to the smaller cogs, after shifting up. It's almost like the internal gears are stripped. The front shifter seems really sticky, internally. One of the levers doesn't return to it's position after shifting.

I'm currently browsing options, but they are also related to the fork choice. I'm tempted to go mechanical disc up front and V-Brake in back.

Thanks for the info about Igleheart Forks!!! That would most certainly be a cool option!
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Old March 2nd, 2017, 10:14 PM   #11
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I run my stock XTR derailleurs (I am the original owner) with shimano bar cons and the Pauls converters - so they operate like thumb shifters (except nicer).
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Old March 2nd, 2017, 10:31 PM   #12
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Quote:
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I run my stock XTR derailleurs (I am the original owner) with shimano bar cons and the Pauls converters - so they operate like thumb shifters (except nicer).
I actually still have a set of XT thumb shifters that I might use. These XT thumb shifters came stock on my '93.5 Kona Kilauea. I've been hanging on to them all these years!

I'm also tempted to buy Pauls linear-pull brake levers. Even though they are brand new, Pauls was around in the 90's, so I think they would be fitting.

I like the look of the Pauls front hub, mechanical disc and V-Brake, as well.

Other than that, I was looking at XTR 8-speed/brake lever combos on Ebay, but for the price, I might as well go with made in USA Pauls components.

I suppose the first step should be to find my thumb shifters, mount them up and see if they still shift well. I've got a set of Ritchey True Logic cantilever brake levers, but they're currently installed on my vintage road bike, a 1978 Raleigh Rampar Tange Prestige!
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Old March 2nd, 2017, 10:48 PM   #13
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Since we're all bike nerds, I hope you don't mind me sharing pics of my vintage road bike, that uses the Ritchey True Logic canti levers. I built the wheels with a Shimano internal gear 3-speed hub. It's a smooth ride, 1978 Rampar, Tange Champion #1 tubing!:











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Old March 3rd, 2017, 4:59 AM   #14
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Sweet street ride


Front disk brakes on a 94 FAT Ti....sacrilege ! Thats the finest iteration of the Somerville FAT Tis ever made as, IRoBot has said on here. Very very few were made that year, as they shifted production to Glen Falls in Oct 94. The welds are flawless, stronger and there is no welded sleeved BB. Id go Manitou 3/4 fork while you await a Igle fork
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Old March 3rd, 2017, 12:37 PM   #15
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Those black brakes are cheap rubbish, send them over to me and i'll give you $20 for them.
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I love Fat.
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Old March 3rd, 2017, 2:57 PM   #16
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sigh...
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Old March 3rd, 2017, 4:04 PM   #17
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sigh...
why the sigh?

This bike now belongs to a life-long mountain biker who will admire each and every detail of your welds and ride the bike the way it was meant to be ridden.
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Old March 5th, 2017, 3:35 PM   #18
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Hey, I have the original XTR shifter pod / levers that came with my 1994 Ti Fat. I swapped out for the aforementioned paul/barcon set up. If you want shoot me a PM and I'll get em to you cheap.

Oh yes, and Chris Iglehart did try to talk me into a disc brake mount for my New England Segmented Fork. Although it would have been a nice upgrade, I politely declined.
R
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Old March 6th, 2017, 1:34 PM   #19
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Quote:
Originally Posted by sriracha View Post
why the sigh?

This bike now belongs to a life-long mountain biker who will admire each and every detail of your welds and ride the bike the way it was meant to be ridden.
Why you ask? Because I want one of course! Congrats on your find. Treat her well
Scott
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Old March 6th, 2017, 1:49 PM   #20
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This is the first ' flawless ? ' 94 M/L that has surfaced afaik. A few ex race bikes with Leni Fried anodising are also popping up on FB. Nice to see these FAT unicorns again.
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Old March 7th, 2017, 12:08 AM   #21
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I will absolutely treat her well!

Thank you for the XTR offer. I might be able to source something from a friend.

Glad to own a unicorn!

I removed the parts and gave the frame a nice cleaning. It is spotless. Your welds look amazing Scott!!! I will be sure to take some detail pictures of your craftsmanship. The toptube/downtube/seat tube/chainstay butting is impressive! The welds are tight! It's a beautiful frame.

Unfortunately, one of the Grafton cantilever brakes is failed. It looks like it was over-tightened at some point or experience a severe impact. The aluminum surrounding the bushing is bent and there is a crack inside. I would not feel safe using this brake under extreme conditions.

Everything is detailed and clean at this point.
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Old March 7th, 2017, 5:28 AM   #22
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It always amazes me that people can forget or loose interest in something like this. Its the bicycle equivalent of parking up a Ferrari in a shed and just letting nature take its course over 25 + years. Maybe the owner passed away or maybe im just a bike nerd
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Old March 9th, 2017, 7:52 PM   #23
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Good news about the XTR shifter pods! After talking to an older mechanic and an older shop manager, they both informed me that the old era of XTR shift pods notoriously "failed" because of old grease. What happens is the shift engagement ratchet pawls get sticky with old grease and don't return to their position, giving the impression that the gears are stripped. Half a can of degreaser and the original XTR shifter pods are snapping through gears like they were brand new!!!

Also, I'm talking with a local frame builder about getting a custom rigid fork welded up along with a custom shorty 1"-threadless stem. In the meantime, I found a place holder that will do.

In progress, complete factory tear-down and rebuild, a 1996 limited edition blue Marzocchi Z2 with the ultra rare disc brake mounts and 1"-threadless steertube, upgraded 1998 forged/machined brace and optional blue knobs. New factory dust/oil seals, new topcaps and yes, dust boots. The latest in 90's suspension technology, 68mm of buttery travel:

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Old March 22nd, 2017, 10:42 AM   #24
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Me catching up on this thread:

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Old March 24th, 2017, 3:05 AM   #25
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making some progress:



I just slapped some tires on that I had laying around until I make some decisions.
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Old March 24th, 2017, 3:08 AM   #26
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Beautiful welds, Scott!!!







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Old March 24th, 2017, 3:14 AM   #27
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Old March 24th, 2017, 3:20 AM   #28
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Old March 24th, 2017, 4:38 AM   #29
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Mmmmmmmmmmm the 94 Ti, the pinacle of the 'legends' welding.
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Old March 24th, 2017, 11:33 AM   #30
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As always, I appreciate the compliments. It was fun while it lasted. Of course just as soon as I finally had TI really figured out, Somerville went under. C'est la vie!

Scott
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Old March 25th, 2017, 6:29 AM   #31
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Quote:
Originally Posted by I-ROBOT View Post
As always, I appreciate the compliments. It was fun while it lasted. Of course just as soon as I finally had TI really figured out, Somerville went under. C'est la vie!

Scott


Can you still weld Ti like that Scott ?
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Old March 27th, 2017, 12:20 PM   #32
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I would like to think so, but there's a lot of things I can't do as well as I could when I was younger!

It's been many years since I welded every day, I'm sure I would need a lot of practice. There are some quirks to welding titanium that other metals don't seem to have.

I do pick up the torch here occasionally just to keep my hand in it, but having to wear glasses for close-up work presents a whole new set of challenges. We don't work with anything exotic here either, just carbon and low-alloy steels, stainless and a little bit of aluminum.

Part of me misses it terribly, part of me is glad I don't have to do that any longer. Depends on which side of the bed I get out of in the morning!

Scott
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Old March 27th, 2017, 12:56 PM   #33
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One other thing that was different on the TI frames was how the ends of the seat and chain stays were done.

The domes on the chrome-moly tubes were done in a machine we called the "domer" which had a small cutting head taken from a lathe and an oxy-acetylene torch mounted on a stand. The tubes were inserted and spun and the torch heated up the end. When it was red-hot, a forming tool was pushed against it to form the pointed dome. Typically, this was the least favorite job in the shop, everybody hated doing it. I built a better stand for it and that made the process much less dangerous than it was but the dome quality was directly influenced by the operator's ability and we wasted a lot of tubes. Also the rate of heating was not very well controlled and that would influence the microstructure of the 4130. I wasn't that worried about it since the domes were welded to the dropouts with a more controlled heat input and that tended to temper any hardened zones that may have been formed. We did some fatigue tests that helped to prove that out and I don't recall any tube or weld failures at the dropouts. There may have been but they would have been few and far between compared to what we would usually have to repair.

Since titanium is so reactive, you can't just heat it with a torch and hot-forge the end of the tube. Chris designed a tube dome that was machined from solid 3/4" bar stock and then those were welded to the tubes using a purgeable rotating fixture. I built a little box that fit over the tube end and it had just enough of an opening to hold the torch over and see the weld bead. The box was back-filled with argon to shield the entire dome end from atmospheric contamination. There is a photo of this in the June 1994 edition of Mountain Bike Action. I used the same set up to weld the head tube inserts and the seat tube insert. I bet you guys didn't even know that the seat tubes have welded inserts.

If you look closely at the photo that shows the dropout welded to the dome, you can see the circumferential weld that joins the dome to the tube. This had to be done first, and then the domes were slotted to fit to the tabs on the dropouts.

So there's your titanium welding lesson for today.

Hopefully spring will come back here some day
Scott
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Old March 27th, 2017, 1:39 PM   #34
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Here's an illustration - taken from sriracha's photo
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Old March 28th, 2017, 5:08 AM   #35
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Quote:
Originally Posted by I-ROBOT View Post
I would like to think so, but there's a lot of things I can't do as well as I could when I was younger!

It's been many years since I welded every day, I'm sure I would need a lot of practice. There are some quirks to welding titanium that other metals don't seem to have.

Part of me misses it terribly, part of me is glad I don't have to do that any longer. Depends on which side of the bed I get out of in the morning!

Scott
Aint that the truth !

I cant get enough of these particular details.....please keep it coming Scott.

So much went into these Ti frames. I have seen so many Ti frames of this era but nothing comes close to having the technical input these had. So much pioneering design as a result of real problem solving went into them. Too many Ti frames of this era are cracked apparently and most were too noodly to ride hard. These Tis are stiff, so comfortable and still incredible to ride. I doubt there is anything made today that rides better, taking disc brakes out of the equation of course.
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Old March 28th, 2017, 12:02 PM   #36
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Excellent information. Thanks for sharing!!!
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Old March 28th, 2017, 2:11 PM   #37
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Yeah, thank you for sharing, Scott! Super cool to hear technical inside information from one of the creators!

I'm sure you have plenty of stories. Would be interesting to hear more!
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Old March 28th, 2017, 6:07 PM   #38
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I think these photos show what Scott is describing, a little better than the other photos:



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Old March 28th, 2017, 6:08 PM   #39
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Headtube welds

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Old March 28th, 2017, 6:10 PM   #40
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Seat tube welds and butting:

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