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Inept mechanic.

Old 01-25-20, 08:23 PM
  #1  
delbiker1 
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Inept mechanic.

This would be about me. Almost always, when I engage in doing anything that involves mechanics, it becomes a struggle. It has always been like that and it is not getting any better with entering old age. Bicycle mechanics, as the saying goes, is not rocket science or brain surgery. For me, it sure as hell ain't easy. I spend an inordinate amount of time to accomplish what a skilled mechanic can do fairly quickly. Some things I do get better at with repetition, most things I just can't seem to get done correctly without screwing something up, often more than one thing. Usually, at some point, frustration sets in, and if I do not take a break, anger soon follows. Today was no exception. I switched out and wrapped a handlebar on a quill stem, replaced the front derailleur, replaced a gear and brake cable and housing, and adjusted the brakes and derailleurs. I also lubed and wiped down the bike when those things were done. It took me close to five hours to finish these things. I will not even go into the errors that I made and corrected. In the end, was it worth the cost, time, effort and mental anguish and frustration? When I got on the bike and put in some miles and everything was operating as it should, I told myself, " this is why I put myself through that". The riding of a smooth operating, quiet bike spinning down the road leaves all that stuff behind. That I make it more difficult and time consuming than it should be, does not change that the end result is something that I accomplished. For me, it is a whole different feeling than picking the bike up from the LBS when it is done there. So, yes, it was worth it.
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Old 01-25-20, 08:43 PM
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Mr. 66
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Sounds like you did just fine, I enjoy the wrench as much as the the ride.
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Old 01-25-20, 08:44 PM
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Sometimes we have to follow a lot of curves in the road and hit a few bumps in order to reach our happy place.

Good on you for continuing the journey to its end.
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Old 01-25-20, 08:55 PM
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Delbiker,
Sometimes the journey is as important as the destination. I spend plenty of time teaching in our local co-op, and it gives me pleasure, and there are folks who get knowledge. Your frustrations are indications that learning is going on so I applaud you.. Smiles, MH
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Old 01-26-20, 06:19 AM
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I've volunteered with several non-profit bike organizations. A few of my fellow volunteer mechanics are full time paid mechanics from other trades. When they see the intricacies of bike wrenching, you can see some respect dawning. One diesel guy said, "Man, you'd think this would be easier." Just the other day, a shifting problem on my own bike got me frustrated beyond words, until I found a new cable housing messed up with road debris.

Yes, at times a bike can reduce a mature human to tears.
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Old 01-26-20, 07:07 AM
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5 hours doesn't seem bad for all you accomplished. Good job.
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Old 01-26-20, 09:17 AM
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Again bikes are VERY simple machines. Anyone with a little OJT should be able to work on them.
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Old 01-26-20, 09:45 AM
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Originally Posted by rydabent View Post
Again bikes are VERY simple machines. Anyone with a little OJT should be able to work on them.
It's a simple machine but the devil is in the details. What's most interesting are the things that you learn after you already know it all.
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Old 01-26-20, 10:06 AM
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I think that you are being too hard on yourself. The list of things you were able to accomplish is quite impressive
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Old 01-26-20, 10:40 AM
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The fact that you have some awareness of your own inadequacy is a sign that there is hope. Many home mechanics believe it is simple then proceed to ride a bike with the bar tape unwrapping and bearings disintegrating, thinking that’s just the way bikes are supposed to be.
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Old 01-26-20, 01:27 PM
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You done good. The fact that you set out on tasks that you do not find immediately satisfying but set out anyway will insure your place in heaven.
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Old 01-26-20, 06:02 PM
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That sounds like me. I've gotten better though where it doesn't take all day to do something simple. This applies to home repairs too, it took an entire day to fit a piece of drywall into an existing wall. First I couldn't cut the hole out so it was relatively rectangular, then I cut the new piece easily, but it wouldn't fit because the hole was rough, then I trimmed the hole a bit, then the drywall, then the electric outlet hole had to be cut, too small again, and widened that. Then it wouldn't lay flush so I had to find where the studs were sticking out, then, then, then... In an old house you have to expect issues, and the damn piece still won't sit flush on the bottom. A drywall person would do this in half an hour. This is the reason I won't work on an older bike, you just never know what's under the sheets.
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Old 01-26-20, 06:58 PM
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Delbiker,
I looked at what you did, and decided to go to the bicycle flat rate manual to check on the times for all of the repairs you did. Nine different operations and the total billable shop time is a little over 2 hours. Some of the operations are combined in the billable rates, but for a shop mechanic to get all of this done in two hours means he is not wasting any time, and not taking any coffee breaks, and is doing all of it in a stand without being bothered by customers. Your five hours for a home mechanic without all of the shop tools and equipment is about the right amount of time for the work. Good on ya for getting it all done! Smiles, MH
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Old 01-26-20, 07:04 PM
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Originally Posted by Mad Honk View Post
Delbiker,
I looked at what you did, and decided to go to the bicycle flat rate manual to check on the times for all of the repairs you did. Nine different operations and the total billable shop time is a little over 2 hours. Some of the operations are combined in the billable rates, but for a shop mechanic to get all of this done in two hours means he is not wasting any time, and not taking any coffee breaks, and is doing all of it in a stand without being bothered by customers. Your five hours for a home mechanic without all of the shop tools and equipment is about the right amount of time for the work. Good on ya for getting it all done! Smiles, MH
Right on. You are selling yourself short
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Old 01-26-20, 09:03 PM
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Don’t worry about the doin’, the undoin’, and the re-doin’...just part of mechanics...I’ve watched mechanics with decades of experience undo and re-do some simple task...no biggie, it just goes in the other way...I wouldn’t want to play back some of days in the shop...
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Old 01-26-20, 09:08 PM
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If you wrap handlebars and it comes out looking good, your blood pressure hasn't doubled, and you have only deployed two dozen or fewer swear words, you are a pro.
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Old 01-26-20, 09:28 PM
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Originally Posted by delbiker1 View Post
. So, yes, it was worth it.
That's it in a nutshell.
A few months ago I spent a bunch of hours taking apart the main crank of our tandem to check out a new and persistent squeak. Looked ok to my eyes. Wiped everything down, greased threads, etc and reinstalled. Still squeaky. Took it apart and installed new external bearings. (Bought in anticipation of need a couple of years earlier). Put it back together and then, what the heck, took the front crank apart and replaced those bearings, too. Smooth and quiet front and rear but FD shifting not good. Lots of adjusting - no improvement. FSA instruction sheet showed I had put adjusting spacers for main crank on wrong side. Not sure how it had been originally from the dealer in Wisconsin that built up the bike. Took main crank apart and rearranged things and put back together. Shifting much improved. Not sure that it mattered, but then took apart front crank and rearranged spacers to match the rear. And reinstalled. This all took what seemed a very long time - also involved removing, cleaning and lubing of both chains and adjusting synchronization. Took a long time and involved several instances of frustration/confusion but then got everything worked out and working correctly. All done by someone who is quite the amateur and in the privacy of my garage.
Yes, it was worth it, for me, too.
My stoker/spouse regularly reinforces that my maintenance efforts are worth it when she says, about the tandem and her single bike, "All I have to do is get on and ride."
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Old 01-27-20, 04:03 AM
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As always, advice and comments are appreciated. A lack of patience is probably the biggest factor in my mechanical struggles. I need to remember that it is ok to make mistakes, they are part of the learning process. The end result is what really matters. Recognizing that a problem exists, and being willing to find and implement a solution, is definitely an improvement in ability.
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Old 01-27-20, 10:09 AM
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Just means you're human like the rest of us. As stated above, sometimes I enjoy building and adjusting as much as riding.
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Old 01-27-20, 10:32 AM
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I take umbrage with the term inept...if you need a wrench and you continually use a pair of pliers, vice grips, etc. and round the bolts, nuts, or screws over...use whatever tool is closest rather than going to get the right, proper tool then you can wear the inept badge...we had a gentleman at the dealership where I worked who sent to all of the classes but still ended up trying to scream and beat parts into their place...he was inept...
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Old 01-27-20, 10:52 AM
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Inept mechanic ... This would be about me.
Done that many, many times. Generally speaking, I find it worthwhile. Easier, if "apprenticing" with a more-experienced mechanic, sure. But I've learned a lot when simply rolling up the sleeves, acquiring the various tools needed, and going for it. Might not always end up the way I'd initially imagined. And it often requires a few stops and starts, often backing out a prior "fix" to re-do it properly. Learning a lot along the way. Bruised knuckles and all.
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Old 01-27-20, 11:22 AM
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You're not inept. Inept is when a bicycle shop mechanic hammers the drive side chainstay in order to give the inner chainring more clearance.



Unfortunately that happened during a long ride I was on and I did not know how incompetent and inept that shop was.

Cheers
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Old 01-27-20, 11:29 AM
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Thinking back to a time when my dad did electronic repairs in the basement. He grew up building his own crystal sets. By the 70s', the TV repair service had come to a point where they just replaced circuit boards. He was teaching the tech's by then, but would still sit down there repairing the circuit boards.When he was in the zone, he had no concept of time. You said repairs you have repeatedly done, you're more competent with. That's how it works. Giving you a thumbs up for being self sufficient.
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Old 01-27-20, 12:01 PM
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It sounds like you made a giant leap forward in bike mechanics. To review, you replaced a derailleur, adjusted derailleur's, wrapped a handlebar, cables and housings and adjusted brakes. This is 90% of the reasons that one goes to a LBS to have a mechanic work on a bike. Next time this won't take 5 hours one can almost guarantee that. I have done work on my bike but have yet to go after derailleurs either to replace or adjust so good for you. Enjoy the feeling of self satisfaction, saving money, saving a commute via car to the LBS and most likely time off the bike. While it took 5 hours, at the end of the 5 hours you have your bike back. When I go to the LBS its' drop it off and wait up to a week for the bike to be done. If you have more than one bike you enjoy riding then not a problem but if not its a week without a bike. I guess I spend more time at the university of YouTube to achieve better results in the future.

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Old 01-27-20, 04:47 PM
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.
...if I thought about the time it will take, I'd never fix anything.
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