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Old 07-15-08, 03:22 PM   #1
SaiKaiTai
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Funny what carries over from your youth

My father was a mechanic.
Before he met my mom, he started out as a bus mechanic for Greyhound.
As such, he was exempt from the draft.
He hated that job and wanted to be drafted rather than work there but he needed the money.
As it is, the job nearly killed him. Literally. But he fought and survived and I am here to tell of it.

When I was a wee lad in 7th and 8th grade we had a small engines shop where we learned of internal combustion, tore apart and rebuilt B&S lawn mower engines. If they started, we passed the class.

This got me curious, how these little engines compared to the "big boys" so, beginning with xmas vacation of my 12th year, I started spending my time off from school helping out in my dad's shop. I did that, actually working full time there for a few years, until he retired when I was 26.

Well, you can take the boy out of the shop but not the shop out of the boy.

It's an oft-told story, here, how tearing my bike apart, cleaning and reassembling it helped me kick my nicotine addiction and, still, now, nothing makes me giggle like getting a new tool in the mail from Park Tool. Mrs S just gets the greatest kick out of my childlike glee. It baffles her but it tickles her, too
(she grew up in a hardware store and you should see her eyes get all glassy when she walks into the local ACE. But that's another story. This one is mine).

So it was with great joy, that I tore the cranks off my LeMond this weekend and ripped out the BB cartridge in search of the mysterious "click" and to see why I kept getting a wiggle in my cranks.
Besides, I had to try out my new crank puller and BB wrench, didn't I?
I never did find out why but I cleaned everything up so lovingly, greased the threads up with anti-seize compound and put it all back together again.. BB, cranks, pedals.
The cranks spin like silk now and -lo!- the click and the looseness are gone.

Couldn't stop there.

I had a new set of Allen wrenches to try and I had read so much about being careful when you removed your stem cap and step, lest the fork and guts fall out. Ohhh, really? The headset is the ONE part of the bike that was inviolable to me 25 years ago but these new integrated headsets change everything.
Yep, tore that apart too.
Cleaned up a little corrosion, put it all back together, adjusted up the bearings just so. Et voila!

I was 12 all over again... and taking that bike out for a little spin yesterday was so, so satisfying.

Apologies for the nostalgia. I don't know what came over me.
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Old 07-15-08, 03:31 PM   #2
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Way cool, SKT! Great story.
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Old 07-15-08, 03:35 PM   #3
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If you're ever around Springfield....

Great story, just great.
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Old 07-15-08, 03:38 PM   #4
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Good thread, SKT. I know the exact feeling. I love doing my own bike building and servicing.

It would be cool to work part time in a bike shop but I wouldn't last through the first day. I'm too meticulous and slow. I like to sit back with a cold beer and admire a perfect job.
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Old 07-15-08, 05:27 PM   #5
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My father never much of a mechanical type, and I never got into taking things apart as a kid. I've been reluctant to take things apart on my bike, but I'm starting to take small steps into it. It really is nice to do a thorough job cleaning the drivetrain, and having it spin easily and silently.
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Old 07-15-08, 07:21 PM   #6
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I like to sit back with a cold beer and admire a perfect job.
Me too. Which is why I try to farm out as much wrenching as possible.
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Old 07-15-08, 07:34 PM   #7
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Me too. Which is why I try to farm out as much wrenching as possible.

ha ha...

I'm female and I like to work on my bikes...where does that leave me??

My Dad was a diesel mechanic. I always score in the 95th percentile on mechanical aptitude tests...
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Old 07-15-08, 07:41 PM   #8
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ha ha...

I'm female and I like to work on my bikes...where does that leave me??

My Dad was a diesel mechanic. I always score in the 95th percentile on mechanical aptitude tests...
I got the other five percent. Tell you what: If you fix my bike, I'll conjugate five verbs of your choice. Denver can run the spell check. And Louis can bring the beer.
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Old 07-15-08, 08:10 PM   #9
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ha ha...

I'm female and I like to work on my bikes...where does that leave me??

My Dad was a diesel mechanic. I always score in the 95th percentile on mechanical aptitude tests...
I have a strong mechanical aptitude too, and as I read the story I could easily imagine the thrill of taking apart, cleaning to a shine, and reassembling one's own bike. We talk of getting a stand and doing that, but it's one more hobby/interest and my plate is already full. Or I could let one of the others go.....

Great story!
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Old 07-15-08, 08:16 PM   #10
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Originally Posted by SaiKaiTai View Post
.
I was 12 all over again... and taking that bike out for a little spin yesterday was so, so satisfying.

Apologies for the nostalgia. I don't know what came over me.
Good story. When I was 12 I used pliers and a screw driver to fix just about everything. Now I can afford the right tools for the job and my bikes are ever so thankful. There is something satisfying in doing your own mechanical work on a machine you cherish. It's like to brings the whole gestalt together.
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Old 07-15-08, 08:19 PM   #11
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Great story! I miss my dad.
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Old 07-15-08, 08:37 PM   #12
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Good story. When I was 12 I used pliers and a screw driver to fix just about everything. Now I can afford the right tools for the job and my bikes are ever so thankful. There is something satisfying in doing your own mechanical work on a machine you cherish. It's like to brings the whole gestalt together.
Yup, pliers and a screwdriver. What an incredible revelation it was when I discovered that specific tools existed for these jobs. Then it was nice to grow up and be able to afford the tools.

The other revelation was that on a good bike, everything actually adjusted properly. On cheap bikes I could never get anything adjusted no matter how hard I tried. Try working on cheap hubs --arrrrgh!
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Old 07-15-08, 08:42 PM   #13
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Nice thread, SKT. I had an early introduction to mechanical things while hanging in the cellar with my dad. He had a radio operators' licence and would fix his colleagues' stereos, radios, tape recorders, whatever they had that needed fixing. When I was around 10, he gave me a two-banger twin cylinder outboard motor that didn't work and pointed showed me the wrench set... it was a great intro to infernal combustion engines, for sure! Futzed about with second hand horizontal shaft 4-cycle engines and go-carts...and also moved on to electronics. I only had a single speed until I was out of high school. I finally caught the multispeed bike wrenching bug when a friend who was visiting the country left to return to England and left me his very beat up twelfth-owner Raleigh Blue Streak (with a Campag Gran Sport rear der!). I took it completely apart lots of times(damn cotters!) and rode it up every hill as often as I could, finally cracking the down tube after a few years...but I haven't been without at least two bikes since. I do a lot of wrenching and device repair during work hours in addition to lots of other "more advanced" stuff... but the skills I learned early on are what sustains me, what puts me in "flow". And there's nothing better than having a finely-tuned bike that you have wrenched or built up beneath you.
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Old 07-15-08, 09:01 PM   #14
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Nice story, SKT

My dad was no mechanic but he built great custom homes. He taught my sister and I to drive nails and use saws when we were kids instead of working on bikes
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Old 07-15-08, 10:58 PM   #15
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Shows what curiosity will do eh? You were exposed to all of that and allowed to get your "hands dirty". That instilled a love for solving things -- finding answers. Tearing things apart and putting them back together again. That's a very cool story, SKT.
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Old 07-15-08, 11:47 PM   #16
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Great story! I miss my dad.
Yeah, me too... Mine, I mean.
But seriously, yeah, dad went to young.
And just 3 months before mine and Mrs S's wedding <sigh>
And everytime I "tinker", he's still alive for me.

And, you know, if you have confidence in what you're doing, it's really nice to go out on a bike you worked on. You know exactly, what shape & condition it's in. You have trust in your "steed".

Never had that with electronics...
Or electrical. I have healthy respect for volts, I don't touch 'em.

But I can drive nails.

Thanks all for your stories, too. Glad I could share mine.

Now, do I flip the Giant?
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Old 07-16-08, 12:28 AM   #17
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Father was a mechanic and he discouraged me from becoming one. Didn't help though as In the forces and all the aptitude tests said I had a mechanical leaning. Became a Mechanic and all my working life has been around some form of Mechanical things.

But grandfather was a Carpenter. Never liked wood as welding guns don't really work on it. Can't get the heat right and it keeps melting. But this year discovered 6" nails. They work. As you can see from the decking round the pool that is nearly complete.
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Old 07-16-08, 03:34 AM   #18
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Yup, pliers and a screwdriver. What an incredible revelation it was when I discovered that specific tools existed for these jobs. Then it was nice to grow up and be able to afford the tools.

The other revelation was that on a good bike, everything actually adjusted properly. On cheap bikes I could never get anything adjusted no matter how hard I tried. Try working on cheap hubs --arrrrgh!
I used to think and advise that working on old beater bikes was a good experience exercise for budding home bicycle mechanics. But after three builds in the past year (a FG based on a Shogun frame from the dump, an MTB and a CF), I can truly say I will NEVER EVER give that advice again.

There is nothing more satisfying than working with brand new, finely adjusted, uncorroded, properly fitting parts.

Build a wheel and there's no battling three interrelatred but separate forces from a warp to get it to run true. Fit some brakes -- caliper, disc or cantis -- and 10 minutes later they are working. Cables... run them and the derailleurs work without dwelling. Even the ders themselves -- put 'em on, line 'em up, adjust, and away you go.

You can slap the grease or anti-seize on the threads (judiciously) and know that next time you do a service, the bolt *will* undo -- rather than waste your time, effort and knuckles by becoming rusted in place.

It makes getting the tools and stand together much more worthwhile. Mind you, I still have the beater/commuter bike, which I am ashamed to say, is the worst-treated bike of any I have had. But it still gets the benefits of six-monthly makeovers with the tools and stand bought for the other bikes.

SKT, I liked the story. I work on a farm, where bush mechanics are more the order of the day than using a spiffy new toolset. You learn alot about what a piece of fencing wire, a pair of pliers, a crescent wrench and a screwdriver can do!

My background includes being a petrl-head from pre-teens. I could tell you just about anything about Australian motor sport. Then I got into with car rallies by building two cars from scratch. Then a life-changing episode saw me "divorce" motor vehicles and take up cycling -- a lifestyle that saves me money and provided me an outlet for my mechanical interests.

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Old 07-16-08, 04:08 AM   #19
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When I was young....all of my friends fathers were engineers or farmers. They could fix or build anything. They made model planes for us to fly, they fixed our bikes, they were teachers and they instilled a high degree of moral value on us kids.

After I grew up and returned to the real world following my time in the service, I noticed that the engineers no longer ran companies, MBA's did (in fact, kids no longer wanted to grow up to be engineers because that wouldn't lead to a 6 figure income) and the farmers had by in large sold their land to ever increasing tracts of starter castles.

Now my observations indicate that our national economy is largely dependent on the "service industries" and the moving of money from one hand to another. Our manufacturing jobs are going overseas in the name of increased stockholder revenue. I wonder who my grandchildrens hero's will be.
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Old 07-16-08, 05:49 AM   #20
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Looks like you're heading down another new road. I'm guessing within a year there will be a new build in your stable. A frankenbike project on the Gary Fisher might be a good warm up exercise.
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Old 07-16-08, 08:12 AM   #21
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My father was a Fireman and worked a second job for Sears in the warehouse. When people would return defective items they would go to the warehouse to be repaired or thrown in the scrap. When I turned 12 he started bringing home lawnmowers, mopeds, and bicycles from that scrap pile. He gave me my first set of tools and started training me to become a mechanic. I got pretty good at repairing all that stuff so by the time I entered high school I started trade school evenings as well to become a machinist. By the time I graduated High school I also had 3 years of machine shop and welding experience. I never attended my High School graduation. The trade school handed me employment papers at a Ship Yard as an inside machinist paying $7.50 an hour at a time when the average wage was $3 an hour. I was to report to work on the same day as graduation. The high school mailed my diploma to me. Then jimmy carter killed the economy and my job. I subsequently joined the Navy and received training to become a Gas Turbine systems Tech electrical/electronics or GSE. I thought they had made a mistake putting me into the electrical and electronics area but the Master Chief explained I really did not need any training to become a Gas Turbine engine mechanic (GSM) as my ASVAB test had qualified me for that and they needed people that could work on everything mechanical, electrical, and electronic. The Master Chief told me that due to my aptitude shown on the test I would have no trouble with the training. He was correct and I went on to attend every school the Navy had dealing with Gas Turbine engines and control systems. I even managed to be certified to operate and maintain a 6 megawatt gas turbine electric generation power plant. I did 6 years in the Navy and then was talked into going to the Army and working on the new M1 Abrams tank with it's Gas Turbine engine. I retired from the Military 4 years ago so now all I do is ride and work on Bicycles.
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