Thursday, June 19, 2008


The mechanic's bike always needs work.

Last night I finally got time to rebuild the rear wheels on the Cross Check and my road bike. Tonight, in a burst of overconfidence, I thought I might make some progress on Blue, the Traveler's Check fixed gear. I had all the parts, right? I'd built the rear wheel weeks ago, before I discovered the rim failures on my other bikes.

Here's how it stood when I got home.

The blue theme developed gradually. The frame is blue. The Sachs crank Frothingham gave me ten years ago is blue. The rear tire is blue. So is one bar plug.

The biggest job on a bike this simple is facing the head tube. The BB threads look pretty clean and cartridge bottom brackets don't demand perfect facing, but the head tube needs to be right. Before I dug into that, though, I wanted to hang that blue crank to confirm the BB axle length.

110 was wrong. It was also the shortest thing I had. And all I had for crank bolts were some 15 mm Campys that didn't fit comfortably in the crank arms. I figured I would just shove the right one on there to check the chain line.

That Sachs crank is going to take a very short BB. The 110 had it hanging way off the chain stay. So I dug out an old Dura Ace I'd scavenged. It looked great, but it's a 175. #^%$^$! I pulled out a 600 and it was a 175 too. @#%^$%&#! Then I remembered one on a frame in the crawl space. It had a 110 bolt circle, which meant I could use the 49-tooth ring I was going to put on the Sachs, but the arms were 165! &^$%*&^%#&#!

I hope I can dig up a BB short enough to make the Sachs work, because I was really liking the blue, and I have that 49 ring. The only thing I know for sure is that I will have to carry a bunch of parts back and forth until I get it figured out. But building bikes has ALWAYS been like this. 20-30 years ago it would have been some nationalistic thread pitch or oddball seat post size.

At least the Cross Check and the road bike are back up to par.

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