Friday, September 17, 2010

Day of the Lost Commute

The cellist spent a restless night last night. She has to get up at 5 on the days she teaches in Maine. On this particular day she has to dash home, grab her luggage and jet off to Baltimore to take a praxis test so she can finish renewing her Maine teacher certification for the job she unexpectedly got back this summer after being laid off last year. Don't get me started on the capricious nature of individual states' teacher certification requirements. It's good to have a job. But she had to hit the ground running from a low-flying aircraft to jump into the slot being offered back to her less than a month before school was due to start.

The cellist is a bit of a restless night specialist. She asks me exasperatedly how I can make myself fall asleep seemingly at will. I can tell you how I do it, but I cannot teach you how.

Last night I did not let myself drop off. I'd poured much of the evening into the Generator Light Project on my commuting bike. It kept enticing me on, as bike projects do. Just one more widget will be the key to the perfect setup. I can finish in a few minutes!

It's almost never that simple.

I have no idea when we fell asleep. Midnight? Her alarm went off at 5. I let her get through the shower and into the kitchen before I crawled out around 5:30. She had to leave by 6, and then I could put in the few more minutes needed to complete the perfect light setup. Yeah!

I had (and still have, now at 2:40 p.m.) that sick, queasy feeling you get from too little sleep. It combined nicely with the buyer's remorse I nearly always get when I buy expensive equipment. Even if I know it's great I ask myself if I can justify it. And my clean-lined bike gets more stuff hung on it. But racks and lights and fenders make a bike stronger in the wild. This is not some spindly thoroughbred, fun to ride fast but not built for the tough haul. And certainly neither am I.

With my first cup of coffee I went downstairs to my laboratory to resume my Experiments with Electricity. I need a Van de Graaf generator in the corner, safely distant from the gas hot water heater.

Every aspect of the installation has been disturbingly improvised. I wished Surly included a dynamo bracket, because the Dymotec would bolt cleanly to it. Instead I had to use the brutal dynamohalter provided by Peter White. It comes with dire warnings about crushing your seat stays. The Cross Check is not made of tinfoil, but I still care for it. In spite of all the fumblings (to be reported in detail in a separate post), the system was finally coming together.

Examining the alignment and pressure of the dynamo as the wheel rotated, I finally noticed the big sidewall gash my rear tire has been sporting for who knows how long. I made a note to change that for the new one I had in stock before I left for work.

Sometime during all this I went upstairs for a moment and noticed it was about 7:10. Good. I would finish in minutes, you see. I could shove down some toast, guzzle the rest of the coffee, load up and head out into the foggy, damp morning.

Back down I went. I just had to do this and that, and maybe this and that and I'd be out of here! Yeah! Done!

I went up the stairs, looked at the clock.

Nine fifteen. NINE FIFTEEN!?!?! I hadn't even had breakfast and I was already late for work?

Alien abduction. Missing time. That was it. I don't know how they did it, but they did. Funny. I didn't feel probed.

Some latent sense of responsibility kicked in. I came to work by car.

With everything else cleared from the queue, it was time to work on the bike described in Freeze Frame earlier this summer.
Remember this one?
Closeup of that fattie with the crimps blown right out of it. The tire rubbed the frame.

I had consulted with my favorite expert in July when the bike came in. She had suggested I try pressing the crimp back into the stay using something like a socket (goes with socket wrench) and a C-clamp or a vise. Since the job wasn't urgent and the process sounded like it might require some elbow room I waited until now to take a whack at it.
Stage 1: C-clamp, old Rock Shox tool kit vise blocks and nondescript piece of metal.
Actually that is the sawed-off stub of a brace bit we cut to fit an electric drill in some other insane project. Never throw anything away!
After starting the shaping with the C-clamp I needed more power to press it deeper and fine-tune the shape. The outside of the stay needed to be able to flatten more than the vise block would let it. It needed to be able to assume its shape with minimal interference from its support, but not be pressed directly against the hard vise jaws.
These two views show the stay supported on the outside with a stub of hockey stick (nice hard wood) while a vise block holds one of several shaping cylinders.
Shaping forms included a crappy 9-millimeter socket and unidentified pieces from one of our useful Buckets of Bolts.
9mm socket held in vise block with double-stick carpet tape so it won't fall out before vise pressure takes over. Sacrificial rubber bands held the whole sandwich together until I could tighten the vise. To keep the bike frame from tipping, I tied the front end up with an old shoelace
Bucket of Bolts

After a couple of sessions in the vise, tire clearance was restored. Rear triangle alignment was undistorted.
Ta Daaaa!

And here is the Cafiend stay-recrimping kit:
Projects like this help keep the end of bike season from being tedious. Tomorrow I get to consult with Singapore Guy about whether he wants to dress up a frame with his surviving componentry or go completely modern with a new bike.

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