Sunday, March 25, 2007

Found objects...

As I travel back and forth to work, I find an amazing variety of items along the road. Like any other cyclist, my brain is sharply tuned to the glitter of glass shards and that makes it easier to spot other shiny objects along the way. What can I say? I'm attracted to shiny objects. I've found some nice Snap-On and Mac wrenches, as well as Channel-locks and myriad screwdrivers. I came across some drugs and money, too. There's a weird assortment of clothing and a lot of shoes along our roads. I'm sure there's a story to go along with them, but in some cases I really don't want to know. That's especially true of the succession of women's garments I saw one day, proceeding from outer wear to far more intimate stuff.

I found a Craftsman Professional 10mm combination wrench recently. I have a set of these and I like them because they're almost as slim as Snap-On wrenches, yet they cost far less and they're perfect for bike work. Combination wrenches with thin wall sections are made from high-strength steel. Cheap wrenches have thicker walls. This usually isn't a problem when working on bicycles because access is easy. Working on cars is another matter, and since I still do automotive maintenance occasionally, I like having the better tools.

A cheap open-end wrench failed while I was trying to turn a frozen shaft one night. I punched my hand into a half-ton steel casting, and was very lucky that no bones were broken. If a wrench is going to fail, it will do so at the worst possible moment. This has to be a variation on Murphy's Law. Regardless, since I earn a living with my hands, I don't trust cheap wrenches.

There's an assortment of Craftsman, Proto, Williams, and Snap-On hand tools in various boxes. Park bicycle tools are well represented. All of these are perfectly functional, reliable tools, but I find some of the funky old ones attractive too. I like the VAR third hand, for instance, though to be honest, the Park Fourth Hand is probably more versatile.

Some weeks ago, our local Goodwill store had a tray of old tools on a shelf in the back. I found a Blue Point tappet wrench for 50 cents. Blue Point is a Snap-On trademark and the older tools have a stamp that indicates the year of manufacture. This one was made in 1949. I have another that came from 1951. I have just these two for now, but rest assured I'll be looking for more.



Blogger Paul Tay said...

Somewhere in here is an Academy-award winning u-tube just waiting to be produced.

If you have the plot and storyline, I'll hold the camera.

11:21 AM  
Blogger Fritz said...

Act 1, Scene 1: Young man is a mechanic at a local repair shop.

Scene 2: Quick recap of the young man as he goes through his life stages: marriage, graduates from college on GI bill but still uses his tools to work on the car.

Scene 3: Death and tools scattered.

Act 2, Scene 1: To be continued...

12:25 AM  
Blogger Paul Tay said...

Nice first try. But, I'd probably greenlight a storyline involving the long string of women's clothing, from the outerwear to the panties, strewn smartly on the road.

Gimme something that's NOTHING like our boring middle-aged, middle-class, lives. I want something HIGH-concept low-brow.

Something like Girls Gone Wild meets Kramer v. Kramer meets Erin Brockovitch meets Coal Miner's Daughter meets Grease meets Terms of Endearment. You get the idea?

6:27 AM  
Blogger Apertome said...

This is a cool post, I actually read it yesterday, and have kept an eye out for objects on the road worth picking up. I haven't found any yet, but I know I will. And you have to be aware of things in front of you in order to dodge them, so it doesn't take much more effort to identify them.

Thanks for checking out my blog. How'd you find it? It's great how blogging commuters all over the country can support each others' cycling adventures.

9:56 AM  
Blogger Coelecanth said...

Just another reason not to build seperate bike facilities*. My commute to work the last few years is 75% by multi-use paved trail and I never find anything interesting on my ride. Especially nothing as useful as good tools.

I knew you were a man of good taste Monsieur Chien. That VAR 3rd hand is the best designed one I've ever used. I've got the new Park one and it's stamped out of thin enough metal that I've pinched nerves getting it closed. The Park 4th hand is great though.

*Not that I'm really opposed to such things, I say a balance of facilities and effective training is the best approach for cyclists needs. An opinion that I don't express ofen as it doesn't endear me to either side of that particular arguement. :)

2:35 PM  
Blogger Ed W said...

First, for Apertome, I most likely found your blog using the blogsearch page in Google. But I have a regular search set up in Bloglines also.

In my dreams, I stumble across an old Leica M3 at a barn sale. Just across the room and partly hidden by some hay bales, there's a 1930s track bike with wooden rims and a 1" pitch chain. Behind the bicycle, a Norton Manx sits forlornly on long-flat tires.

The guy wants $200 for the lot! That's usually when I wake up.

In my waking life, all I ever find are wrenches and screwdrivers.

5:36 PM  
Blogger Ed W said...

(A continuation of Fritz' post)

Bob crawled along in the gutter. His friends were on another street, perhaps one nearby, perhaps not. He didn't know and he was too frightened to call out. Bob's one thought was to avoid the street thugs intent on another merciless beating. It was their turf, and he was an intruder.

His hand fell on something hard and metallic. In the faint glimmer of a far-off street lamp, he saw a shiny piece of steel. It was an enormous wrench, possibly a weapon to use in defending himself!

He picked it up and wiped away the grime. The wrench was so shiny. It almost glowed. He crawled nearer the street lamp. There were words deeply engraved on both sides. He read, "Snap-On 7/8" on one side. On the other, an odd expression was in similar script. "One wrench to rule them all and in the darkness bind them."

Bob grinned in the darkness. When he re-joined his friends, he'd impress them with his really big tool!

(to be continued)

9:07 PM  
Blogger Fritz said...

I'm reading Ed's continuation and suddenly the song "Juke Box Hero" by Foreigner comes unbidden into my mind.

4:11 PM  
Blogger Ed W said...

Any of you - feel free to jump in here and add something to Bob's saga. More prose is good, so are music and lyrics.

5:37 PM  

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