Friday, February 1, 2013

Dismantling Competence

This week I began disassembling all the bicycles that I obtained from my ad in order to find out what was usable and what wasn't.

Along the way I encountered some problems.
 Like never having the right size hex key

in a box of hex keys this size.

I also discovered some typical aspects about the way bicycles are built that would not have been a problem had I possessed the proper tools.
This, for instance, would have been extremely easy to handle with a $5 chain breaker, but of course I don't own one.

I managed to solve this, however, in one of my (extremely rare) moments of brilliance, by using a hammer, a punch and a nut.

I also had to contend with my own ignorance about how certain types of hardware work.
 I struggled with this little silver thing on this green bike for much longer than I care to admit, trying to unscrew it or wiggle it out. I even tried banging on it for a little while with a ball-peen hammer to no avail

 before giving up and cutting it off with an angle grinder. 

Not long after I did this, however, Kai of Burning Beard Fabrication strolled into the shop to see what I was working on. I showed him all the bikes and explained that I was harvesting parts from them. He saw what I had done with the green bike and asked why I had decided to cut it rather than just take it apart, to which I replied that this little silver thing was some kind of permanent factory fixture made from an indestructible material of indeterminate origin, and that neither I, nor anyone else on planet earth, could possibly remove it. Kai then picked up the frame, looked at the silver thing for a second, tugged on it once and it came out in his hand while the other side fell out onto the floor.

By this point I was down to the last bike in the pile, and I was feeling pretty accomplished until I encountered this:
This nut was so badly rusted that it and the crank arm were both essentially welded to the spindle of the crankset making it impossible for me to twist it. Eventually, with a lot of WD-40, swearing and a dead-blow hammer I was able to get the nut loose, but the crank arm was still impossibly stuck. 

so I put the arm in a vice and found a piece of wood, which I used to try and pound the spindle through.
 It didn't work.

So I improvised. This also failed. 

At almost that very moment Kai came in for a second time and picked up a monkey wrench. He used this and his not-inconsiderable strength to disassemble the crank-set while his girlfriend Lisa and I held the frame steady. Once it was out, all it took was sticking it in the Hardy-Hole of the anvil and one little tap on the end with a hammer and the spindle popped right out of the crank arm accompanied by a shower of ball-bearings. And thus, after 20 minutes crawling around on the shop-floor looking for, and miraculously finding all of said ball-bearings, disassembly was finally complete.

In the end, it took me just shy of ten hours
 and this many tools

To reduce this

To this. But I succeeded. (with help)

These bikes had some sand in them,

and some rust,

but despite all this and the fact that most of them had been sitting in someone's back yard for an indefinite number of years, I was able to salvage a surprising number of usable parts from them. These parts will find new purpose as the Pariahcycle and other dangerous machines of marginal practicality soon to come.

1 comment:

  1. I'm fascinated by that improvised rig to get the crank out, wish I could've seen it.
    Anyway, you did all the hard work, I just got lucky twice in a row.