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Old 01-25-13, 08:57 AM   #1
Biker395 
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Confessions of a Backyard Bike Mechanic

I offer the following as (1) proof that no one should be foolish enough to follow my advice regarding bike maintenance and (2) a thread for others to post proof of their own mechanical ineptitude, should they be so inclined:

So I had a few small bike maintenance goals this morning. Nothing big. Piddling little stuff like:
  1. Replacing the idler pulleys on my rear derailleur with some blingy red anodized ones.
  2. Replacing the shifting cable (funny shifting and seems like it is about to break).
  3. Replacing those cable housing adjusters with some downtube barrel adjusters. Also red anodized, of course.
  4. Cleaning my chain.

Stuff I learned:
  1. Check stuff before you buy. The cable housing adjusters? Well, the downtube cable stops on my Scott aren't threaded.
  2. The idler pulleys? Purported to be for all Shimano road bikes. But the hole through the middle of them was too small to fit the screw that holds them to the cage. Who would have thunk that?
  3. And it really doesn't matter, as I wouldn't have installed them anyway. After taking the cage apart, I was amazed to learn that the two idler pulleys are not the same! There is a guide pulley (the one on the top) and a tension pulley (the one on the bottom), and they are are different! The guide pulley has more play to allow it to self-center on the chain. And the tension pulley? The rotation direction is apparently relevant, as it is labeled to rotate only one way. Oy ... I guess I should stop backpedaling.
  4. I bought some high-strength degreaser some time ago, so I decided to give it a try. I take the chain off and put it in a pan of the degreaser, and ho-ly crap .... the grease almost instantly dissolves! Great stuff! But what's this ... my fingers feel all slimy ... almost like the degreaser is insanely alkaline. I though it was a citrus based degreaser! A check of the label reveals that it shouldn't be used on aluminum, and shouldn't come in contact with ...

... skin!

I immediately went to flood my hands with water and soap. It took a while to get the sliminess off.

I think maybe if I want to steal a car, now might be a good time ... I think I lost my finger prints.
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Last edited by Biker395; 01-25-13 at 09:03 AM.
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Old 01-25-13, 09:03 AM   #2
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Of course anyone can run into problems with repair parts turning out to be not as advertised. But learning and doing your own bike maintence is its own reward, and you will have a more reliable bike. Also with a few tools in a trunk pack you will seldom be left stranded so that you have to walk or hitch a way home.

Actually bikes and their repair is pretty simple. When I worked, I worked on a typesetting Selectric typewriter that had 5000 parts, so for me anyway bike mechanics is not a big deal.
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Old 01-25-13, 09:11 AM   #3
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Yea, that's the way I look at it ... good practice for the field repairs.

I learned most of what I know at a summer job in a bike factory. That probably explains why the place went out of business.
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Old 01-25-13, 09:40 AM   #4
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Look on the positive side. They say you learn more from your mistakes.

That must be why I know so much about bike repairs.
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Old 01-25-13, 10:41 AM   #5
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395:
Your name Murphy by chance? I love the idea of the blingy red stuff.... You must make it work! Now get out there and buy the required sleeves and adapters and gizmos... And maybe tap some threads in that frame? What could possibly go wrong?

And please post some pictures! There is great entertainment potential here.
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Old 01-25-13, 11:15 AM   #6
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Annoying when time is made to rplace parts- parts are bought and ready to fit ----and they don't. Still- you will know better next time and make certain the parts will replace what they should.

On the degreaser for the chain--Having been a mechanic for years- My hands will take any thing. Or they could. I have had to get into the habit of wearing latex gloves whenever any chemical is involved. I hate wearing them but Dermatitis is even worse.
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Old 01-25-13, 11:33 AM   #7
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Some learning curves seem to go on for long periods of time, don't they? Just when I start getting cocky and think I've got everything under control with my stable of bikes, I run into something that's new, and I usually don't get it right the first time. However, it's one of the things I enjoy about doing most of my own work. There's always more to learn. I get really excited when I figure something out and can share it with the wrenches at my favorite LBS. Most recently I found a substitute tool for holding the brake pads against the rims while tightening up the cables. It’s cheap and found in most hardware stores. And most importantly it works really well.
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Old 01-25-13, 03:07 PM   #8
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Oh no! That sounds like the worst kind of amateur wrench. You not only had problems but had no reason to buy more tools.
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Old 01-25-13, 04:08 PM   #9
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Biker395 View Post
Stuff I learned:
  1. The idler pulleys? Purported to be for all Shimano road bikes. But the hole through the middle of them was too small to fit the screw that holds them to the cage. Who would have thunk that?
  2. And it really doesn't matter, as I wouldn't have installed them anyway. After taking the cage apart, I was amazed to learn that the two idler pulleys are not the same! There is a guide pulley (the one on the top) and a tension pulley (the one on the bottom), and they are are different! The guide pulley has more play to allow it to self-center on the chain. And the tension pulley? The rotation direction is apparently relevant, as it is labeled to rotate only one way. Oy ... I guess I should stop backpedaling.
On the idler pulleys (someone will probably post that I don't know what I'm talking about, but never mind...):

I needed to replace mine. They were getting so sharp that anytime I got near the rear derailleur they would sting me! I went to an online sight (Nashbar?) and they had guide pulleys and tension pulleys for several dollars apiece. I studied them and studied them and couldn't find any difference! Then I discovered (for just a few dollars for the whole bag) a bag of 10 pairs of pulleys. That's what I ordered. There was no differentiation of the pulleys in each bag. They were the same. I put a pair in and they work fine. I'd be willing to bet LBS's just order them in bulk and don't worry about guide vs tension. I probably have more than a lifetime supply, so when someone I know needs a pulley, I just hand them one. After all. it cost way less than a buck.

- Ed
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Old 01-25-13, 04:18 PM   #10
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I have yet to wear out a pulley in 23 years riding-I have used Dérailleurs so much that the play in them means that they have to be replaced but even the pulleys on those are hardly worn. All of my bikes get a yearly strip down-Or Bi-annual at present as I don't do the mileage I used to. That strip down is a complete stripdown and each part cleaned- checked- lubed and either fitted or replaced. Perhaps it is the cleaning that keeps them in good condition- but if you saw the MTB's- you would not think so.
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Old 01-25-13, 04:22 PM   #11
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Most recently I found a substitute tool for holding the brake pads against the rims while tightening up the cables. It’s cheap and found in most hardware stores. And most importantly it works really well.
Is that the metric one or the English version? I have the old Whitworth version for working on my MGs.
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Old 01-25-13, 04:48 PM   #12
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Some learning curves seem to go on for long periods of time, don't they? Just when I start getting cocky and think I've got everything under control with my stable of bikes, I run into something that's new, and I usually don't get it right the first time. However, it's one of the things I enjoy about doing most of my own work. There's always more to learn. I get really excited when I figure something out and can share it with the wrenches at my favorite LBS. Most recently I found a substitute tool for holding the brake pads against the rims while tightening up the cables. It’s cheap and found in most hardware stores. And most importantly it works really well.
I thought I was the only one used that trick, got one at a surplus place for like $2 Been meaning to go back and get one a little larger.....
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Old 01-25-13, 05:30 PM   #13
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1. I respect your honesty Biker395.

2. You can work on my bikes any day.

3. I'd tell you about all the mechanic mistakes I've made if not for the fact that it would take at least a year to write them all down.
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Old 01-25-13, 06:08 PM   #14
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It's all tuition in the School of Hard Knocks.

Me? I'm working on my PhD!
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Old 01-25-13, 06:23 PM   #15
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1. I respect your honesty Biker395.

2. You can work on my bikes any day.

3. I'd tell you about all the mechanic mistakes I've made if not for the fact that it would take at least a year to write them all down.
its only because shi////happens....
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Old 01-26-13, 02:03 AM   #16
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On newer rear derailuers there is a difference in the two pulleys. The top one has more play in it than the bottom one. On 5-6-7-8 speed systems this doesn't apply except for the newer Mega Range units or (obviously) on units where the pulleys are visually different.
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Old 01-26-13, 07:42 AM   #17
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Come on now, really....those were examples of poor wrenching? Not a chance; my experience is that blood and band aids must be involved in any poor wrenching exp.

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Old 01-26-13, 04:28 PM   #18
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Ok, you asked for it. This afternoon I decided to air up the tires on the new bikes to get ready for tomorrow's ride. That's due to the fact we are planning on traveling a hour or two to a different MUP in Central FL. Being I was already a little tired from today's activity I figured I'd leave the bikes on the platform rack instead of taking them off. Well the reach from the pump to the valve of one of the tires was a little long. But, drive on though the swamp me, I tried it anyway. The short of it is I broke the top of the presta valve off. Since the bikes are new I don't have a spare tube around to fit. Only the MTN bikes, presta, or the old hybrids schrader. Sooooo. it looks like I'm off to purchase a tube (or two) before tomorrow's ride. Saving a minute is going to cost more than just $$. Oh well.

btw. This is really an example of poor wrenching w/o any blood or band aids.
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Old 01-26-13, 06:40 PM   #19
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I always try to buy OEM parts. The chances of non-OEM parts being a drama is significant. If you have no choice but to buy Non-OEM, take it apart first then take the parts to the shop and measure.
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Old 01-26-13, 07:42 PM   #20
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Been there, done that, got the t-shirt, commemorative CD and poster with autographs, welcome to my world. I saw the blingy pulleys on eBay, read the descriptions and decided they were snake oil for the most part. I doubt if I could feel the difference in these"ceramic" bearings and the SRAM pulleys if my life depended on it. Let us know how they work out, I never noticed any difference in pulleys and I have swapped out some on bikes and ders I got used.

That degeaser worries me the most though, Simple Green got an AD from the FAA for aircraft use and BuAir sent out a notice not to touch it because it pits aluminum really bad. if what you had was slickery feeling it must be a strong alkali, as you said. Glad you noticed it and flushed it real good, I fully agree with using gloves all of the time when I am working on anything. Construction and concrete taught me this the hard way.

Otherwise how went the maintenance 395? Sounds like bad weather made for extra time for you, SoCal still cold? Hope you can get in some riding soon, I am doing the maintenance tomorrow, bad cold and fever I don't want to make it worse with a hard session like I had planned. Monday will be just fine I hope.

Bill, the clumsy one
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Old 01-26-13, 08:50 PM   #21
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After I turned 45,,,47,,ok OK 50 I finally started reading directions and warning labels on chemicals....
Also started reading Install and operational directions on things...

I'll get it right before I get to the old folks home even if it kills me XD
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Old 01-26-13, 08:53 PM   #22
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Wait, you don't mean we are supposed to read the directions...........................................

Bill, the typical "guy" about getting directions and reading directions.
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Old 01-27-13, 02:17 AM   #23
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The "Destructions" that come with parts or new items are never read until you have pondered over why it won't fit for two hours or so- or it is fitted and it doesn't work.
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Old 01-27-13, 04:00 AM   #24
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The "Destructions" that come with parts or new items are never read until you have pondered over why it won't fit for two hours or so- or it is fitted and it doesn't work.
Unless you're quirky like I am. I always read the instructions and manuals. Heck, I often download them and read them before I get an item. I just like being prepared and knowing what to expect--I'm rather detail oriented.
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Old 01-27-13, 08:09 AM   #25
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bikey +1

Alway read the instructions that come with a part. I also agree with those that say to use OEM parts, it will save a lot of frustration.
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