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I used to be a good bike mechanic ...

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I used to be a good bike mechanic ...

Old 11-22-20, 12:23 PM
  #1  
Oakman
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I used to be a good bike mechanic ...

Until I stripped a cable bolt on an Ultegra derailleur. At least it was the front.

I am embarrassed. For more than 50 years I've worked on bicycles and other forms of transport, and even screwed a couple things up, but never stripped a screw on a bike. Steel, aluminum, carbon, you name it, I could torque it. Hell, I even had a plastic Simplex derailleur for many years.

So I'm looking for an excuse. Do old people (67) lose their touch? Must I now use a torque wrench on every single screw? Or should I find a LBS to change my shift cables from now on?
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Old 11-22-20, 12:35 PM
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Don’t beat yourself up over it. I do that all the time and there’s like twenty one years between us.
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Old 11-22-20, 12:36 PM
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I've recently seen some Shimano Allen head bolts that aren't a good fit for the wrench. That's not to say we don't lose all sorts of functionality as we age.
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Old 11-22-20, 12:38 PM
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I'm just a little older, and when something like that happens, it's because things just aren't made as well as they used to be. That's my story and I'm sticking to it! (and it might even be true!)
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Old 11-22-20, 12:39 PM
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Speaking for 55 year old mechanics...I think you just start to let your mind wander too much as you age....if I’m thinking about something stressful while wrenching I tend to over-tighten! Maybe we need to re-read that “Zen of bicycle maintenance” book? More importantly, how did you fix it? Longer bolt and add a nut, or re-tap with a thicker bolt?
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Old 11-22-20, 01:45 PM
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We all have our moments.

At least you weren't performing brain surgery, eh?
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Old 11-22-20, 01:51 PM
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thinks happen, but IMHO parts are more sensitive to torque.....I have started using a torque wrench even tho I am still a steel frame and aluminum cockpit kinda guy. what I have notices id some things I torque MORE than is used to to get to standard and other less...
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Old 11-22-20, 02:21 PM
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Match the tool's lever to the job, and you don't have to worry about it. For cable anchors, I use a socket driver so only my wrist is applying the torque.
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Old 11-22-20, 03:01 PM
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I am 74 and I still work on my bikes. At my age, I don't need to worry that the repairs wont last long.
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Old 11-22-20, 03:03 PM
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FWIW, at 69 I was proud of never stripping a good thread. I didn't yet, but the other day broke an 1/8" tap on 3/16" steel stock. Had to tap 2 holes, the first one went OK, the second - aaargh!
Later, I tried to calm myself by thinking this was a 2nd tap (the only one I had), should have started with the 1st...
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Old 11-23-20, 06:25 AM
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Pop N Wood
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How old is the bike?

Maybe the part was just ready to fail.
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Old 11-23-20, 07:15 AM
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Originally Posted by Pop N Wood View Post
How old is the bike?

Maybe the part was just ready to fail.
Can't really blame it on that since my current rides are 28 and 42 years old with mostly original parts. I stripped a derailleur that is only two years old. I like the excuse of "not like they used to be".

There MIGHT be enough of the steel insert left to rethread it.
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Old 11-23-20, 10:06 AM
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I'm about your age and I feel that I make fewer mistakes than in my younger days, primarily because I now know (if I remember) what not to do. I've always, with a bit of effort, been able to recover nicely from my errors as I expect you will as well.

You could fix your current problem by just tying the cable into the hole while tensioning it sufficiently. I found this particular "fix" on a donor bike I was rehabbing at my local coop. The hole was not stripped so I'm guessing that the previous owner lost the anchor bolt and plate - how in the heck does that happen?
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Old 11-23-20, 10:48 AM
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Originally Posted by Oakman View Post
Until I stripped a cable bolt on an Ultegra derailleur. At least it was the front.

I am embarrassed. For more than 50 years I've worked on bicycles and other forms of transport, and even screwed a couple things up, but never stripped a screw on a bike. Steel, aluminum, carbon, you name it, I could torque it. Hell, I even had a plastic Simplex derailleur for many years.

So I'm looking for an excuse. Do old people (67) lose their touch? Must I now use a torque wrench on every single screw? Or should I find a LBS to change my shift cables from now on?
I am 82 and grew up on a farm working on machinery at an early age. My life's work was working on electro mechanical office machines with adjustment down to 5 ten thousands of an inch. When friends and family have mechanical problems they still come to me. BTW I use a torque wrench where needed.
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Old 11-23-20, 11:08 AM
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50 years before your first stripped bolt.... I think you are doing just fine.
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Old 11-23-20, 02:45 PM
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Your hands are not a torque wrench, it is always good practice to use one. There are sometimes to use your hands and guess but these days it is just better to torque it properly. A good torque wrench is quite a pleasure to use and if you are a mechanic playing with and buying more tools is always a good choice.

Don't be embarrassed though it happens my guess is at least every mechanic makes a mistake at least once. When we let our minds do the torquing instead of the proper tool we can easily make mistakes.
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Old 11-23-20, 03:34 PM
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I never had a torque wrench all my life and when I finally got one and played with it, I don't have much faith in it. Talking about the click kind with about a foot long handle, for low torque range. I was told, besides it being oiled, it needs some training use after it wasn't used for longer time (or when new like in this case).

Perhaps one can rely on those 'T' handle wrenches that fit into your palm and that handle only low torques, I think in preset ranges? One more likely strips screws on those bike parts that are the low torque ones anyway.
Anyway, if I work on my bike, I tend to tighten less than it should be and monitor it for a few rides and check on it after some time and tighten more if needed. But if you work on other people bikes, you want to make sure it will be tight because they may not watch for bolts coming lose and come back to you, also it might not reflect good on you.

When it comes to age, I think it is not the age, but more likely being too sure of oneself. That, coupled with more sensitive materials, or questionable metal of Chinese provenience, can lead to a problem. Happened to me several time in life that a seasoned pro couldn't watch me being careful anymore and took the tools in his hands and caused disaster.
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Old 11-23-20, 04:38 PM
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I'm 65 and my biggest issue when wrenching is being able to see the small parts. They keep getting fuzzier. Today OTOH I decided to replace the faucets on my bathroom sink, it all screws together easily right? Yea, right. Every step of the way there was a problem to deal with, most caused by my inability to bend my old body into the tiny space under the sink.
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Old 11-23-20, 05:07 PM
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Originally Posted by zacster View Post
I'm 65 and my biggest issue when wrenching is being able to see the small parts. They keep getting fuzzier. Today OTOH I decided to replace the faucets on my bathroom sink, it all screws together easily right? Yea, right. Every step of the way there was a problem to deal with, most caused by my inability to bend my old body into the tiny space under the sink.
Plumbing repairs almost always pose unexpected problems in my experience.
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Old 11-23-20, 05:08 PM
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They ain't making parts like they used to.

I have no idea if that's true, but it's my story and I'm sticking with it.
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Old 11-23-20, 05:13 PM
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Oakman. I think you are just looking for something to talk about. I am 80 and do not feel like you seem to.
After all these years you have not stripped or broken any part you have been living under a halo.
OK enough picking on you. I have broken hundreds of parts in cars ,cameras watches and bikes. I owned a camera and watch repair business for many years and did replaces a lot of parts that I wrenched to hard .
Flipped 700+ bikes and I did strip a few parts. I learned to fix almost anything broken on a bike.
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Old 11-23-20, 06:20 PM
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Originally Posted by zacster View Post
I'm 65 and my biggest issue when wrenching is being able to see the small parts. They keep getting fuzzier. Today OTOH I decided to replace the faucets on my bathroom sink, it all screws together easily right? Yea, right. Every step of the way there was a problem to deal with, most caused by my inability to bend my old body into the tiny space under the sink.
plumbers yoga just plan hurts after a certain age
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Old 11-23-20, 06:29 PM
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With all due respect to those manufacturers involved, I have found over the past several decades a trend that Chinese-made items are likely to have inaccurately drilled and poorly threaded holes, and nuts and bolts of soft materials, also inaccurately made and threaded. That combination of fastenings often results in poor fit, stripped bolt heads, or stripped threads. It is what it is. We make our choices, pay our money, and live with what we get.
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Old 11-23-20, 06:59 PM
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I haven't stripped a screw in the last 10 days.

I also have broken $600K lab equipment.

Keep it in perspective.
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Old 11-24-20, 01:12 AM
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I have wondered since I used to work on airplanes why working on bikes is more difficult. It's because even the good bike stuff has horribly cheap fasteners.
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