Thursday, April 24, 2008

Tulsa Tough Kids Challenge...the bike build

Ren asked for thoughts about yesterday's bike building event.

When I got home from work, I spent some frantic minutes putting my toolbox together. Right before an event like this something always goes missing. Last night, it was the Y tool. Someone who looks a lot like me manages to misplace tools with depressing frequency.

I asked Jordan to come along. He wanted to borrow the car and go to church. Since I was using it, he couldn't. But he readily agreed to help out with building bikes. As it turned out, I glad he did.

We arrived at the warehouse in a pouring rain, hustled inside, and set up the work stand. Within a few minutes, we began assembling a multi-speed Trek mountain bike. I cut away the zip ties, rubber bands, and paper wrapping while Jordan removed small parts from the box and got the front wheel ready. A spot of grease went onto the seat post and it went into the frame, then the whole assembly went up into the stand. Jordan installed the pedals with a long 15mm combination wrench. I installed the handlebar and adjusted the front brake. I checked the derailleurs and the rear brake, and then the bike went down onto the floor. We tightened the pedals firmly and inflated the tires. Jordan rode the bike over to the storage area, then returned with another unassembled one.

That was the sequence we followed during the four hours it took to assemble 300 bikes.

Jordan said we did eight bikes but I didn't keep count. These Treks arrived in good condition. That is, there's little to do other than put them together and adjust the front brake after the cable is installed. I adjusted just one rear derailleur and encountered one bike with a brake problem I couldn't fix with the tools available. It had a burr inside one of its cable ferrules that caused the brake to stick. A few passes with a needle file would have fixed it, but my needle files were safely tucked away in my tool box at work.

Richard Hall arrived and set up his work station next to mine. We shared some tools. I had to show him a couple of antiques out of my tool box – an ancient Campagnolo T wrench and an equally ancient Campy 'peanut butter' wrench. He got a kick from the sticker on the back that says, β€œOne wrench to rule them all and in the darkness bind them.” The funny thing is – whenever I slide that 15mm box end over my finger, I become invisible. What's up with that?

There was one minor annoyance when another mechanic began working just a few feet behind me, leaving little space for Jordan and I to work without bumping into him. Now, the warehouse is roughly 100,000 square feet. There's no reason to set up in close proximity to another person, particularly when that person is using a utility knife (as Jordan was) for opening boxes. Every now and then, I threw something over my shoulder. Yeah, it was wrong, but...



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