A two hour repair takes two hours. No it bloody doesn’t especially when you are a/ in a hurry b/ working with cheap stuff and c/ called Alex. I’ve talked before about my signature workshop skill leaving a stamp of FBA on everything I a/ touch b/swear at and c/ break with powertools. I like to think of it as Fixed By Alex “ others choose a different verb.
Saturday was full of family things leaving me a only couple of stolen hours between Is it light yet? and What do you mean you need a shower, we’re late already!. Sufficient time you would think to swap cassettes, tyres and tubes between the wobbly wheels of certain death and a pair of dubious and previously enjoyed hoops, secured through the power of beer barter.
First task was to remove the cassette from the world’s cheapest wheelâ„¢ that had clearly been spec’d on my London bike after the product managers realised they had only 11 pence left to complete the build. This sphere has a similar weight and specific gravity to a celestial orb but with a wobbly orbit around a set of ovalised bearings. It had made the bike truly dangerous to ride with the half an inch of lateral movement harnessed only by banging into the brake blocks.
Selecting the chain whip and my largest wrench (well that’s put me in line for some interesting meta searches), five minutes of pre-dawn grunting were rewarded by a motionless cassette and a irritatingly animated tool wielder. Changing tack, I attempted to beat it into submission using the business end of the wrench articulating my displeasure with breathy I AM wang NOT IN THE smash FUCKING MOOD FOR THIS. The spikey sprockets of impediment glared back unmoved by my testosterone fuelled discourse.
Plan B “ engage brain before opening toolbox. The donor wheel already had a cassette of about the right shape and size so giving me the perfect excuse to finish off the militant one with the big hammer. Sweating profusely now, the removal of two tyres soon morphed into the removal of the skin from my fingers. I was just reaching for the big screwdriver and small tactical nuclear weapon when, in the briefest moment of sanity, I realised this would put my only commuting tyres on the wrong side of usable.
Muttering to myself put the screwdriver DOWN, walk away from the tyre, I grabbed two additional tyre irons and ambushed the Kevlar bead while it wasn’t looking. A bit more grunting, which probably convinced Carol I was involved in some kind of practical animal husbandry demonstration involving a goat and some double cream, the tyres were transferred to the new rims and some vigorous pumping action was applied.
With 30 minutes remaining, this seemed the perfect time to change the brakes. Lately I’ve been reduced to a child-like SPD sparky foot on the floor when attempting to arrest my progress. Ignoring the traditional advice which witters on about changing the entire braking system, I cleverly bastardised the worse parts of two suspect brakes to create a high performance stopping arrangement.
So successful was it, that now neither of the wheels would actually rotate. Backhauling some distant memory on how to set up non disk brakes outed a pointless small screwdriver with a big hammer for backup. At the exact point when my precision approach has passed the point of fuck it, close enough, the front wheel exploded.
I’m not being lazy with metaphors here; honestly the reaction between a high pressure tyre and an emaciated rim was both noisy and spectacular. The ensuing shrapnel and swarf convinced me that this wheel was probably no longer fit for purpose. I then spent an additional twenty minutes I didn’t have putting the tyre BACK ON THE WHEEL I’D TAKEN IT OFF IN THE FIRST PLACE.
Now – some two days later – I’ve calmed down, the result of my rudimentary spannerwork no longer perambulates in a random crab like schism towards certain death. Four finger braking and a brief prayer are no longer required when attempting to remove a taxi door from an immediate future, and the gleaming drive train now completes a gear shift within the time of a single commute.
This is clearly bad karma. Anything that has been FBA’d always “ and I mean always “ detonates in some kind of uncontrolled explosion. It’s just a question of timing.
So that’s something to look forward to then.