Sunday, November 27, 2011

Winter Wrenching Daze

These cold, gray, overcast skies are the perfect time to lose motivation to ride, but doing my annual maintenance on the bike always motivates me. I also like riding in the cold once I get out there and get warmed up, so all I really need is a reason to get out there.

With the cold night riding I've been doing, especially with SBH, I broke down and bought some "cheap" PI, Barrier Lite shoe covers to wear over my SpaceBlanket foot warmers. They look great, but the SpaceBlanket is doing all the work.
Very shiny, but with the bold, and hi-viz graphics, you don't have to guess about which is R and which L. Touted as being water repellant, rain shy, or perhaps, just scream in muted tones when attacked by raindrops.

The new 6703 front derailleur I ordered at Performance Bike Shop on the 8th, finally arrived yesterday, so I drove over and picked it up. Not sure if I save much on shipping, as gas is pretty expensive too, so may be doing most of my shopping on in the future.

They are building new warehouses like mad, and happy to say, many things that were sourced from 3rd parties, are now shipping from Amazon proper - which still has better quality, return, and shipping policies than most 3rd parties.

As for PBS, 20 days to ship a derailleur? Are you kidding me? Also sick of "sales" where the prices are all jacked up at 11:45 the night before. A sleazy way to do biz, and the prices never quite return to prior levels after the sale.

I'm spoiled by my SRAM chains having quick links, so I was a little miffed I had to get my chain tool out to break the DuraAce chain in order to get the old derailleur off last night (and now can't find the special case-hardened pins back, arrgghh).

I took the opportunity to clean the chain in a half dozen rounds of Simple Green and hot water in a heavy glass jar, very well shaken. I broke the first jar, probably because I didn't have distilled water to work with, and the hot water was a little too hot, but, in the end, I was able to clean it pretty thoroughly.

DuraAce chain. Extensive machining, but crap metalurgy
While the shifting performance of the DuraAce chain is excellent, all of the machining on it makes it  hard to clean, but more disturbing, was the corrosion on the chain. It looks like the zink-alloy plating is thin, and is peeling off. Because the Shimano drive train shifts so well, this chain hasn't spent any time "trawling" or grinding, so the level of wear is hard to understand.

The chain uses hollow pins, which I like, as they hold a small oil reserve, which keeps the chain from squeaking for much longer. Ditto for the SRAM hollow pin chains. I'm going to take a fresh look at the SRAM chain, and will probably go with that next time. It's more expensive, but I hope it will wear better, and since worn chains prematurely wear cassettes and chainrings, it's important to run the best possible chain.

I also noticed that the DuraAce chain has 4, count them, 4 different varieties of links, and I was only looking at the outside of the female plates (DuraAce chain has an inside surface and an outside surface for better shifting, in addition to the inside and outside, or male and female links all chains have).

Maybe after the earthquake Shimano is, or was, scraping the bottom of the barrel to find links, but this is not a great confidence builder. I'm also going to take another look at the Wipperman stainless chain. Stainless 300 should be 2-3X harder than 4130 CroMo, which I assume is what Shimano is using. BTW, I went with DuraAce instead of Ultegra because I heard nothing but bad about Ultegra durability.

Some American company should OWN the chain biz. We have the raw materials, technology, market size, and distribution system to beat any and all competitors. Hard to understand why the industry is so dominated by foreign parts. At least Wheelsmith is still making spokes here. Now if they would just make the butts taper instead of ramp. Eddy won't even use the WS 14/17 spokes on 3-cross spoking. Too many failures on the hub side where the spokes have to bend around each other sharply.

I will also be replacing my FSA Gossamer bottom bracket as soon as it, and the tool to install it, arrive in the mail. With the drive train so pulled apart I'm going to start with it completely clean, so will be pulling the cassette apart and cleaning that too. I'll either just use a clean rag or Simple Green and an electric brush. I'd normally replace the balls and repack the bearings on the wheels too, but I just did that two months ago, so will wait til spring for that, although my mtb hubs could benefit from new G10 balls.

In the meantime, I have been setting up my SS conversion to ride at night, which means putting together another saddle bag, adding lights, a Garmin mount, and finding a strap-on water bottle cage. A key element for a seat bag is a good alloy shank bit driver, and some high quality hex bits in 2.5,4,5,6, Phillips #1, and flat #4. The bits go in the hollowed out handle. I add a 1/4" ratcheting open-end wrench for torquing on things like chainring bolts, and have a complete toolkit that is lighter and much more flexible than those grotesque multi-tools.
Made in tool heaven. AKA Germany
 A key part of this one was the Wiha bits I bought. Made in Germany, and the official tools of BMW and Mercedes shop mechanics, the quality is phenomenal. They come in a nice plastic case, which is why I bought a 2nd set for wrenching at home. If I'm going to hump this stuff over 4,000 miles and 250,000ft every year, I want it to be absolutely reliable.

I've also been looking for a high quality 1/4" ratchet, and found Grainger is selling Proto tools, now owned by the Stanley cheap Chinese crap tool importers. The Proto ratchet is about $45, made in America, and will outlast me.
Proto J4749XL - 1/4" Drive Standard Length Full-Polish Ratchet
Why spend this kind of money on tools? Because life is too short to work with crap tools. They slow you down, waste your time, are frustrating to use, and when tools fail you, it's always at the worst possible moment, and often there are no good alternatives.

My father had about $65,000 in tools at one time, and started buying Snap-On, MAC, and Proto when his impact wrenches started shattering Sears Craftsman sockets left and right. Although guaranteed, he got tired of spending an hour a day driving to Sears and back to replace tools. Even though his tools were over 30 yrs old, they still brought about 60% of their replacement cost at auction. If you have kids, good tools make a wonderful, enduring legacy you can pass on. Besides, guys don't do jewelry, they do tools.

Also worth mentioning, my 2nd MagicShine showed up, and I put it up on my helmet the same day. I also found a nice lens that is supposed to spread the beam on the handlebar light out horizontally, but not waste light shining up into space. It was a $5 purchase, so we'll see how that goes, but I expect to have animals coming back out of hibernation riding with 2,000 lumens and 3 taillights. Now if it would just warm up a bit....



Gotta Run..Gotta Ride said...

After riding in the 28 degree weather the other morning I am amazed I did not turn my little butt around and head for my nice warm house! You know I am joking. Still think your space blanket is the best idea around.

Why again are you not being paid good money to write and market anything that has to do with training, riding, and all things bike related?

Grey Beard said...

28 is cold. The last time I rode that cold my feet were the only thing warm.

SpaceBlanket is crazy effective over the shoes. Nobody who hasn't tried it can believe it.

I took some marketing classes when working towards an MBA ~ 20 years ago, so I'm asking myself the same question. Thanks for the vote of confidence. I think I just need to up the search effort.