#365daysofbiking Spring has sprung:
September 13th – Spotted in a customer’s bike shed, and improvised, clever repair to a brake calliper with a broken return spring.
The return spring – present in some form in nearly every type of brake – forces the brake off once the lever is released.
Since the brake cable pulls the yoke awards the cable end stop to engage the disc brake fitted here, forcing the two apart will duplicate the effect of releasing the brake as performed normally by a return spring. The spring has clearly broken and instead of replacing the whole calliper, the owner has released the cable, threaded on a very stiff spring and re-assembled the cable. The cable retains the spring and the brake operates as normal.
Clever. I’m impressed.
July 10 – Up near Clayhanger on the canal, I noticed a Canal and River Trust workboat, moored and laden with building materials. Wonder what that’s here for? Hopefully repairing some of the brickwork falling away for the banks… we can always hope.
June 16th – Bottom brackets are a pain in the arse. I can’t believe that after more than a century of cycling technological innovation, they’re still so rubbish.
The bottom bracket is the spindle that the cranks mount on through the bottom of the frame, which spins freely allowing your pedals to rotate. As a mechanical component, the bottom bracket experiences the worst abuse – epicentric, unbalanced point loading, muck, water and corrosion. My bottom brackets take my full weight, plus that of the bike and load. They work hard.
Several solutions exist for bottom brackets – the component axle and loose bearings – the old way and fiddly to adjust and maintain; the ‘sealed cartridge’ (above) – a disposable insert designed for easy changing; the external – a frankly daft idea that’s gained traction in the last five years; the thoroughly insane press fit, preferred by the weekend Wigginses with plastic bikes.
All are rubbish, really.
On Sunday, I noticed the cranks on my bike had alarming play within the frame. The non-drive side bearing had collapsed in the cartridge. It’s done about 20,000 miles. Removing it is easy if you have the right tools and the person who fitted the last one did it properly.
Cranks are removed with a special extractor, and the cartridge is removed with a special socket tool from the DRIVE SIDE. It is a left hand thread, meaning the unit is turned clockwise to unscrew it. That fact escapes many, and has led to loads of skinned knuckles and damaged frames.
The cartridge is left hand threaded to prevent it loosening in use due to precession.
There is a support bush on the other side that unscrews normally using the same tool. The threads are cleaned with a small wire brush and degreaser, dried, greased with anti-seize paste and the new one fitted. Half an hour tops.
If the threads are not greased, the unit will be very, very hard to remove in future.
A replacement is about £15-£20. I’ve tried expensive alternatives – they make no difference.
See you again in another 15-20,000 miles.
April 18th – Not far today, I was busy and weary with a rough throat. I busied myself with spannering the bikes, which are still suffering from the winter. A little wheel truing; further brake tweaks and creak-hunting. Soon be top-notch again.
It was windy but warm as I headed into Brownhills for shopping, and as I passed the canal at Silver Street, I noticed that some embankment work was finally going on, and it’s be interesting to see if they do some of the really bad bits towards Catshill Junction and Clayhanger Bridge.
The gorse was flowering strongly, and the trees along the canal edge are just in blossom. The canoe centre was a hive of activity, which the swans nesting nearby kept a watchful eye on; although there was no need – the canoeists were giving the nest and patrolling dad plenty of space…
December 9th – Walsall Council’s road repair contractors, Tarmac, have a new toy: a velocity patcher. This hi-tech bit of road repair kit cleans out potholes, then blows in a grit and fill mixture, which has a finishing coat of grit applied afterwards. It does a good job.
They’ve been using such a machine in South Staffordshire for ages, and the repairs are long-lasting and good for what they are. They certainly take the nasty surprise out of potholes.
However, just a wee complaint. The crew in Walsall clearly aren’t quite as proficient as those in Staffs, and in the otherwise nicely repaired Scarborough Road in Pleck is awash with loose grit. It’s like Chesil Beach, and very unsafe for cyclists and anyone braking suddenly.
The repair is great, much better – but that loose stuff is going to cause, or exacerbate an accident. Please sort it out.
August 9th – Green Lane in Shelfield is being, at long last, resrfaced. I came down there tonight, and It’s officially closed, but was ridable with care. Despite the numerous ‘No Parking’ signs and leaflets, I noticed this vehicle, around which road workers clearly had to plane.
These folk may have gone on holiday I guess, and not known about the works, so one shouldn’t be too harsh.
But it would be ironic if they ever moaned about the council never fixing the potholes…
March 6th – The guard rails on the Black Cock Bridge in Walsall Wood have been missing awhile. The bridge itself is ageing badly, perilously steep and in poor condition. Following a temporary bodge – cable tying mesh over the missing rails which kept snapping off – locals complained and now, next Tuesday, 12th March 2013, the road will be closed while they are properly repaired. That in itself will be no mean feat, as the supports of heavy angle iron have rusted to dust.
It’s good to see repairs being made, but I can’t help thinking this particular canal crossing can’t be far from the end of it’s useful life. The problem is, it would be so difficult to engineer a solution complying with modern standards, that I can’t ever see it being sorted, to be honest.