In the workshop we occasionally have medical show moments. You know the scene: doctors and nurses surging away desperately. One thing goes wrong. Then another.
"We might still save him," one might say, mopping sweat. Then some monitor starts beeping, they try the electric paddles a few times...people slump dejectedly. One guy pumps furiously at CPR until the senior doctor says, "I'm going to call it. Time of death such and such."
I had one today. A poor young road wheel, orphaned by its manufacturer, it can't have been more than two or three years old. Unfortunately it is owned by a complete hoser.
Yes, that's right. This guy hoses off his bike to clean it.
More fierce than the helmet debate, the bike lane debate or the bitter religious war over whether Lance is or was on drugs is the never ending harangue between the Hosers and the Dry Cleaners.
Hosers insist they know how to do it so they won't inject water into tender mechanisms. This is in spite of constant evidence to refute them. Today's hoser actually had the gall to ask whether a two-year-old wheel he admitted hosing was covered by warranty.
"I've always cleaned my bikes that way, for 20 years, and never had a problem like this!" he said.
I've rebuilt the rear wheel bearings in his hosed cyclocross bike at least twice in the past three years or so. He's just fortunate they are conventional bearings, cheap to rebuild. The wheel that died on the operating table today was a Cane Creek Volos.
Volos is an Esperanto word meaning "Run away! I have to vomit!"
Cane Creek disavows all knowledge of any road wheels on their website. I could find no technical information whatsoever for this wheel and no sign of repair parts. Admittedly the search was quick and desperate as the wheel gasped its last, dismembered on the workbench. I await an answer to the email I sent them this afternoon.
Hoser had created an environment similar to the bilges of a fishing boat inside the rear hub. Two of the three bearings we were trying to replace came out in crusty fragments. The bearing puller just yanked the middle out because the rust had attacked the structural integrity of the bearing cartridges.
Only the bearing furthest inside the hub shell came out intact and relatively easily. The bearing that had been the most crunchy, furthest outboard on the drive side, not only spewed its insides when I tried to remove it, it left its outer race welded into the freehub body.
I have to say, the freehub body is a nice unit. Under better circumstances it would have been a pleasure to work on. Too bad it is set into the typical modern weird-spoke wonder-wheel, but that's another matter. I kind of like how the ratchets were set up. Unfortunately, the part that holds the cogs is made of aluminum. Hoser hammers hard. He had dug the cogs into the splines pretty badly. The softness of the alloy warned me that tough love on that last piece of bearing was going to be risky. But his wheel was unusable anyway.
No penetrating oil, tapping, or prying made any impression on the rusty circlet so firmly embedded that I wondered if it was even supposed to come out. I examined the anatomy of one that had already come out to confirm where this beast began and ended.
In the past I have had to use a Dremel tool to grind through parts that have rusted to other parts. Ideally, you make a slot or two that give you purchase points to chisel the pieces away from the part you want to retain. It is a tricky piece of surgery. In this case, the bonds of illicit corrosion proved too strong and the soft alloy proved too weak. The remains of the rusted race held firm. The lock ring threads of the freehub body cracked.
I stepped back wearily. It had been a hard couple of hours.
"I'm gonna call it," I said. "Time of death 3:30 p.m."
I went to inform Hoser of the demise. That led to his hopeful chirping to the manager about warranty and his assertion, yet again, that hosing is a perfectly legitimate bike-cleansing procedure.
Oh, lord, how many more components must we lose? End this madness! STOP BEING A HOSER!
Or at least quit your bitching when we have to charge you a chunk to undo what you have done and take our copious ball-busting like a man. Because that ain't gonna stop.