Saturday, April 18, 2015

The Best of Luck

Within a week of completing the Wrench-A-Thon, all three of my bikes fell victim to some rather unfortunate events.

First, one of the nuts on the rear axle of the '58 Sports got stripped.  This is the 1979 wheel and hub it's using, so the right side nut is two pieces rather than one.  I guess I tightened the nut down too hard thinking it would prevent the wheel from slipping forward, as this had been a constant problem ever since I repainted the bike.  The nut actually gave out while I was at work so I had to walk the bike the whole way home.  I ended up replacing the 1979 right side axle nuts with the one-piece 1958 one for the time being.  I think I should order some new ones just to be safe.

This is just an aside, but the original front wheel is back on because the 1979 front tire is about to blow.  As a general rule of thumb, any tire older than 20 years should be discarded, especially if the bike is going to someone else who might not be expecting a sudden failure.  Also, especially if it is a front tire.  Do as I say and not as I do, I guess.

Next, the Superbe started slipping in and out of 4th gear pretty often a couple weeks ago.  Throughout the time I've been riding the bike, I meticulously checked shifter cable adjustment before each ride so I know that's not the problem.  I think grease lubrication just doesn't work as well as oil because the sprung pawls might have gotten stuck in the open position.  Some people like to drill the hub shells of these newer grease-lubricated hubs and convert them to oil lubrication for smoother operation.  I didn't want to take the hub apart and since I hoped to get some sort of assistance from the company, I held off on drilling the hub shell.

However, none of this mattered after the the following happened, apparently when it was parked in the office with nobody there. I rode to work last Sunday, the day after I finished making changes to it. I was the only one in the office. When it came time to go home, I found that the right side axle had snapped off inside the nut. Now, I have considered obvious causes of such a failure and I'm sure that they aren't the case. First, I've never hit or dropped the bike on its right side. I've never dropped the bike, period. Second, I only weigh 145 pounds and I stand away from the seat when I roll over uneven pavement, so excessive shock on the rear can't be the issue either. Third, I haven't over-torqued the axle nuts, obviously since the nut threads are still intact. I'm convinced that this is a fracture caused during manufacturing or transit and it only took time for the crack to go all the way. If it was due to improper care or use, I'd be mystified because my 1958 hub had always been attached to my Raleigh Sports that was abused by its previous owners and it's doing fine - last summer, I even fell off and the Sports and we went sliding down the road at 20 mph and it's still okay. You all know as well as I what my Sports has been through.  I thought if anything, the newer axles should be stronger because of advances in material technology and whatnot.  I am still in the process of jumping through hoops to get some sort of refund, replacement, or replacement parts for the hub.  This bike might be out of commission for a while.

As for the '79 Ross Gran Tour, you might recall that I added a second headlight.  I ordered it from the same seller that gave me the first one and it was still slightly different.  Most of all, it wasn't as bright.  I ordered yet another headlight of the same model as the first to solve that problem.  I tied the lights to the bike with a shoe string and key rings as a measure of protection.  However, not even two days after putting on the second light, I found one headlight gone, deliberately threaded off the shoe string, and the other one dangling, broken.  Someone had evidently tried to walk off with one, discovered it was tied to the bike after it caught the second light and tore it off, and then threaded the first headlight off. This happened right outside my apartment, where non-residents rarely if ever pass by.

After everything that had happened within one week, this was the last straw.  I taped a nice, little, eloquently written (actually the opposite of those things) note to the Ross with a few choice words to prove a point.

As of now, the Sports has been fixed and is still trucking along, the Ross is being ridden with a temporary light (the second one that is different) while I wait for the pair I ordered to arrive, and the Superbe is sitting in my room because I have no idea what to do. I guess the work really never ends because once you think you're done, somebody else just creates more for you to do.