Sunday, August 31, 2008

mechanical issues

The last time I went riding on a local hard surface trail with an older Specialized Hard Rock I've been putting together, I had a rear derailleur bust off.

The derailleur snapped where it mounts to the frame. I was able to disassemble it to get it off the chain, however, as shown in the photo below, the chain was twisted (unrepairable) during the mechanical failure.

I figured I could slip the chain onto a middle chain ring and middle rear cog and limp it back to the trail head, however, with the kink in the chain, this was impossible. The chain kept shifting itself from one cog to the next until it got hung up in the spokes. If I had a chain tool with me, I could have broken the chain to remove the twisted portion... a chain tool was about the only tool I didn't have in my kit that day.

Yesterday, we went riding on the same trail, but I was on the hybrid Schwinn I was working on. The problems I experienced were generally minor: brake cable and pad adjustment. I did almost lose it when the handle bars twisted (the stem wasn't tightened enough!) but I was riding at a low speed and recovered but it could have been bad.

Lauren riding her bike.

The repair that took the longest was Rachel's 1-speed coaster brake bike - the chain was thrown off the rear cog. To make matters worse, I didn't have a wrench large enough to get her rear wheel loose so I could get just enough room to slip the chain back over the rear cog. I did have a chain tool with me, so I was able to get the chain put back on, but I had to split the chain and fix it that way. Of course, I did not have any gloves with me or hand cleaner and working on a chain was messy... so that experience kinda was not much fun. Luckily, my wife was there to assist in getting the chain back together.

Rachel back in-action.

Lessons learned:
1) bring a pair of rubber gloves in the tool kit
2) find an adequate adjustable wrench that's still small enough to fit the tool kit
3) check to make sure bolts are torqued down - espcially on "project bikes"

Status report: Magna and Schwinn

The Magna was fixed up and sold (for about $10 more than I put into it, not counting my labor... I think I was asking $30) and it is going to Burning Man this year. A snapped a photo of it propped up on the bench with newer tires, seat, brake and shift cables, etc.

The Schwinn Hybrid is mostly done and just needs some fine-tuning on the shifters. I've replaced the cables, brake levers, hand grips, front derailleur, tires, newer seat, chain ring, chain, and handle bars and stem. I am sure a few other items I've forgot. I probably have about $50 into it now (mostly used parts) plus 1-2 hours labor. I don't know if this is a sell-it or keep-it, especially so late in the riding season (some people ride in the rain around here, but many are fair-weather riders).

I got to test out the Schwinn today on a local trail. We had a few mechanical issues to resolve but I'll explain that later.

King County Green Bike Program

I've signed up for the King County Green Bike Program. A program which offers bicycles and other incentives for changing your commutes to work from drive alone commutes to bicycling. I may be on a waiting list for a bicycle, so I might just make do with one of my project bikes even though, as you'll read, I've had my share of mechanical issues lately.

Saturday, August 9, 2008

still fixing up bikes... just not as many

I have not posted in a while. I've been busy doing misc. stuff this summer. Going on trips and camping. Fun though, but hadn't been doing as much bike refurbishing this year as last summer. Also, I have not been as actively seeking out projects - last year I routinely combed sources for bikes being given away and had as many as 8 or 9 bikes in the garage at a time. Now I have just three, but they're keepers as far as I'm concerned.

From a friend I did get an old Schwinn hybrid that needs a total rebuild/clean-up and an old school Magna mountain bike that is rusty but should be easier to rebuild on the cheap, as I have a lot of the needed parts on-hand... new cables and better tires, mainly. Photos of the bikes in the condition received are below.

I think the Schwinn might be a good alternative to my commuter bike, as it has 700c wheels (generally better for a road bike) and the Magna might be rebuilt to sell for someone's Burning Man bicycle. I sold two bikes I "saved" last year to people going to the '07 Burn. Cheap bikes are desired as the dust of the desert playa is very destructive to bicycles' mechanical works.