Wednesday, March 9, 2011

Killer Hobby

Sometimes bicycling is a love hate relationship. Today was a great example of this.

I decided I would try and get a few things done on the bike right after work while shops were still open. Mountain Equipment Co-op was open till 7, Bikes by Dave till 6 and Cyclesmith till 9. I knew it wasn't going to be like back at Harold's where I could just walk in and work on my bike. I knew I needed to get some bike tools. My bottom bracket needed to be properly adjusted, hubs repacked and I figured I should have the proper wrench for my headset. This meant a spanner tool for the adjustable bottom bracket cup, another BB tool for the lock ring, another BB 36mm wrench for the fixed BB cup, a 32mm wrench for the headset, and a 15mm cone wrench for the hubs. It's about $100 in tools. This made me feel like crap. I have no proper bike tools, and with this new project do I really have extra money to be buying hundreds of dollars worth of tools? No. I do need them and will need them in the long run for over hauling my bikes, but it's just not in the budget right now. Anyway cheapest place to find tools was MEC, where I would head to see if I would buy a few wrenches or a $200 bike tool kit.

I headed to Dave's first as it was closest and closed earliest. Managed to get the mechanic to take a look at my BB and adjust it for me (we neglected to check the fixed cup... more later). They then attempted to get the 6spd freewheel off to no avail. It's an old Suntour which uses a 2-prong tool, and the locknut was stripped. I started to outstay my non-spending money welcome so I headed out.

On to MEC. The tool kit in question had lots of tools, but most of which i had already. Allen keys, adjustable wrenches, and it was missing a few that I did need! Namely the older style BB tools. I decided, my BB already being adjusted for now (so I thought) I would pass until a later time and simply picked up a 15mm/13mm cone wrench to disassemble my axles to repack my wheel hubs, a big bottle of Tri-Flow (I was out almost), and some Phil Wood Bicycle grease. I used white grease I had in the house for the headset and BB, but only because I had it on hand. This stuff is supposed to be the bee's knees for bikes, so I decided to use it for the rest of the bearing jobs. When I need to do the BB and Headset in the future I'll use this stuff.

Oh, the mechanic there couldn't get the freewheel off either.

Onto Cyclesmith. I depressingly handed the gentleman my rear wheel and said "I just need to get this damn freewheel off." He assured me they'd get the job done. 10 minutes later and I was handed my wheel, and them the freewheel! Success! They managed to dig out and old Campagnolo freewheel tool, which had the two notches but also a circular part to go around the nut to prevent slipping! I was very happy to see the wheel all but ready to accept it's new 7-speed transmission. I was happy to pay the $5 labour charge.

Onto Canadian Tire! The crank bolts on the Gipiemme crank are a 15mm hex bolt, not an Allen bolt like modern square taper rigs, or 14mm like most older square taper rigs. Not only that, my 15mm socket wouldn't fit in the hole! So crank arm and bolt in hand I walked into Canadian tire and was able to find a 15mm socket that fit in. "Excellent" I thought. BB adjusted, freewheel off, and crank about to go back on!

I got home and installed the crank only to see it wobble like a drunk on Sunday morning...

I felt like crap. I paced and grumbled and worried that I had done something wrong while installing the crank. Pushing my evening school work aside I hurried back to Cyclesmith bike in hand. "I need to speak to the mechanic." The gentleman behind the counter whom I had dealt with earlier pointed to the gentlemen to his left with a large beard. I explained my issue and worry to him. Because I don't do this often I'm not experienced with what is common and what isn't. He assured me that it wasn't a major wobble but it appeared one of the crank "spider arms" (where the chainrings attach) was bent slightly. He also noticed that the bottom bracket had some play due to the fixed cup...well, not being fixed. We went down to the shop where he gave the crank a few whacks with a mallet and readjusted my BB, and we chatted about bikes and working on them for a bit. I paid another $5 and went on my way.

I got home and my mind felt like it was racing a mile a minute. I was completely stressed out. The tool cost, the early successes, the crank drama, and then the last fix. Not to mention, I've been thinking about this project pretty well non-stop since Thursday. I put the bike in the back porch out of site for while. I talked to the girl friend a bit to try to get my head straight and relax a bit. Had a beer and ordered in some Chinese and watched TV for a bit.

I have a way of obsessing over new projects, hobbies, or interests. I did it with yo-yo's, comic books, photography, and of course bikes. It is the same reason why I have talked about so many projects and plans on this blog and never followed through. I spend so much time talking and thinking about it without actually thinking about realistic possibilities. The combination of having the project on my mind all the time, the roller coaster of worry and happiness tonight, and the lack of food really gave me a going over.

After TV I started on some school work. Good and relaxed now. I wandered into the living room, and began to disassemble my pedals to regrease and adjust the bearings.

Sometimes you just need to step away from it for a bit and catch your breath. I have so much stuff to worry and be stressed out about: work, thesis, debt. This bike project should be an escape from that. And as I sit in my living room, wiping 30 year old grease off of the inside of a bearing out of an Italian made pedal exposing the shine underneath and seeing it mechanically sound, knowing when reassembled and adjusted it will be as smooth as the day it came from the factory, that's what this project should feel like.

I've named him Ernesto, or Ernie for short. Tribute to an Italian man who wanted to build bikes back in 1954. Ernesto Colnago.

I intend on finishing this project if it kills me. I've managed to sell my Gipiemme shifters for $25 and tentatively sell my Gipiemme front Derailleur for $3o. My Shimano 600 FD and RD are on the way as well as some indexed 7 speed downtube shifters and my brakes.

Cost so far (consumables/tools not included):

-Bike $150
-Shimano 105 dual pivot brakes: $43
-Shimano 600 RD-6401 Derailleur: $23
-Shimano 600 FD-6401 Derailleur: $16
-Shimano SL-A400 DT Shifters (Indexed): $30

-Gipiemme Shifters: $-25
-Gipiemme FD: $-30


Still need

not to bad! I have about $70 in supplies bought and $10 in labour at Cyclesmith which brings it up a bit but still not bad. I'm hoping to sell the other parts that came off the bike as well as a set of brakes I had kicking around to help chip away at that. Let me know if your interested.

Modolo brake Set (needs work) $15 + shipping

Suntour AR II rear derailleur, works good $10 + shipping

Tektro Oryx Canti's perfect mechanical condition. Minor wear and tear. Front and rear $20 + shipping

I will post pics and a how-to when I repack my hubs this weekend.


  1. Good interesting posting Hughie.....Never worth getting stressed over these things, but so easy for it to happen as it all starts to build up...


  2. Thanks man.

    You're 100% right, it's supposed to be fun! But sometimes it's a thin line.

    I feel better now and I think I have a better perspective on it.