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Month: December 2009

Google Maps Fails Again!

Here’s yet another failure of Google Maps in my area. Not only is my address not found (it worked just fine in the past but now has the street name listed incorrectly), my ZIP+4 alone doesn’t work, and now 22 Mile Rd. shows up improperly in Street View as 20 2 Mile Rd..

I just submitted the following bug report to Google about this:

Google Maps lists 22 Mile here properly, as the name '22 Mile Road'. When in Street View this is listed as '20 2 Mile', which is wrong.

We’ll see how far it goes. My last few bug reports, while acknowledged as correct and noted as being fixed in future releases, have resulted in only one fix that I can validate myself; more appropriate naming of roads on the GM Tech Center campus. It’s now been months since I reported my address as not working and it’s still not right. There are also problems where a local highway and surface road with similar names are sufficiently confused to make businesses appear along the wrong road. As can be seen here a bunch of locations are incorrectly placed roughly one mile east of their actual location. This too has been reported, and not fixed.

I currently use (and rather like) a T-Mobile G1 Android-based phone and I like it enough that I’m seriously considering buying a Nexus One when it launches. However, terribly inaccurate local data including not having my home address available limits some of the major selling points of the phone.

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Acquired in Trade: WTB Laser V

Through a very timely trade with someone on the MMBA Forum I was able to swap my ill-fitting WTB Rocket V for this new and (very? overly?) shiny WTB Laser V. I’d already ordered a Laser V to try out, but unless this one’s appearance ends up being beyond reproach, I think I’ll be returning it. As can be seen here the chrome and yellow bits aren’t too terrible when taken in context with the yellow bits on the computer and the various silver things on the bar.

Being cloth the cover of this one is also a bit rougher than I’m accustomed to, but that should be okay for now. If it’s not there’s always plenty of other options. At least this one will only cost the $7 or so to ship back the unwanted saddle when it arrives.


Bonding Cut Bicycle Cables

After installing a bicycle cable and crimping on an end cap, removing it usually results in a frayed cable which is difficult to remove and reinstall. For maintenance reasons I want to be able to do this, so I’ve begun looking at methods to seal the end of a cut bicycle cable as is done with factory cuts.

My first experiments with cyanoacrylate glue (aka Super Glue) seem to work well, and when Erik suggested that I solder them, I decided to give that a go. Some research online indicated that a silver-bearing solder works well, so after acquiring some plumbing solder (with silver in it) I gave that a try, and it wouldn’t wet the surface nor wick into my test cable. Normal lead/tin solder for electrical work didn’t work either. I next tried a blowtorch, and while fun it only resulted in ablating the wire resulting in what is seen on the right.

So, right now I think that wetting the ends of the cable with cyanoacrylate glue is the best solution. This is what is shown on the left, and it results in a rigid, solid piece of cable. Disappointingly the cable could be crushed (and promptly frayed) when squeezed with locking the pliers that I use to pretension cables, but this should be acceptable.

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UHMW Tape Applied

Today I did a bit more work on my new bike, applying UHMW polyethylene tape to various places where cables are observed rubbing the frame. Thus far it seems to have worked pretty well, although I have to place one or two more pieces to deal with cable rub on the fork. I also spent some time today wrapping the chainstay in an old scrubbed-clean tube tube to protect it from (and silence it during) chainslap. Photos of all of this can be seen under the following links:

· UHMW tape on the left front of the down tube to protect against cable rub.
· UHMW tape on the seat tube to (hopefully) keep the front derailleur housing from damaging the finish.
· A thin strip of UHMW tape on the Fox Float RP23 shock just in case the cable hits here.
· UHMW tape behind the computer wire-wrapped brake line on the fork crown.
· The drive side chainstay has been wrapped with part of an old tube to both protect it from damage and cut down on chainslap noise.

Now that the bike is almost complete (only waiting on a new saddle and stem) I’m becoming anxious to ride it. It’s too bad proper outdoor riding on it won’t happen until spring, when I can be reasonably sure that a bike won’t be stuffed with saltwater after riding around the block. Until then I’ll just keep riding my current bike.

(No, there are no complete photos of the new bike yet… I’m waiting until it’s wholly fitted out with the proper parts before this happens.)

Also, I scanned the piece of UHMW tape seen above along with its mate and the seat tube / rear derailleur cable piece before applying them so that I could reproduce them easily in the future if needed. These scans, at 1200dpi with false color to aid in cutting, can be found here:
Down Tube / Front Triangle Template · Seat Tube / Front Derailleur Housing Template.

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Packing with Foam Peanuts

When packing items with foam peanuts it’s important to ensure that they are compressed and will hold the items they surround firmly in place. One of the best ways to do this is to slightly overfill the box when adding the packing material, compressing it while taping the box shut. It’s easy to tell if this method is done right, as the sealed box will feel solid without internal movement when shaken but there also won’t be any bulging of the packaging.

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Early Winter Moblog Photos

Here, have a bunch of winter-time moblog photos including food from Slows Bar-B-Q in Detroit, ice skating at Campus Martius, and random bits of snow:

· Danielle taking a nap.
· Random poor quality photo taken at home.
· My order of pulled pork and cornbread at Slows Bar-B-Q.
· Danielle’s plate of catfish and beans at Slows Bar-B-Q.
· Kristi, Erik, and Nick at Slows Bar-B-Q.
· Outside of Slows Bar-B-Q in Detroit.
· Danielle skating in Campus Martius.
· Zamboni smoothing the ice at Campus Martius after ice skating with Kristi and Erik.
· Purchasing a stack of RAM and an external hard drive as christmas presents at Micro Center.
· Grilled cheese and cajun fries from Five Guys in Auburn Hills.
· Looking inside of a sharps container at Danielle’s work.
· Slow, slick drive to work along M-59 through construction.
· Looking out the window at work on a very empty holiday week Monday.

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Incorrect Hours

Today I saw the above post-Christmas sale advertisement on Macomb Bike and Fitness’ website. Even better, unlike many other local shops they are listed as being open on Sundays. Needing a different saddle and stem for my new bike I figured that I would head there and try to pick up some cheap parts, hopefully pulls from bikes or demos. This would both support a local shop and get me the parts quickly. Unfortunately, when I got there a printed sign on the door indicated that they are closed on Sundays.

While I understand that many bike shops are closed on Sundays, it’s really frustrating to waste a bunch of time because a shop can’t get its posted information straight. I think at this point I’ll just order the stem and a likely-fit saddle online from somewhere.

UPDATE: I should note that I contacted Macomb Bike and Fitness after this and they apologized profusely and promptly changed the listed hours. They’d also offered to make it up to me with something reasonable, but in the mean time I was able to trade someone for saddle (which seems to fit) in trade, and acquire appropriate stem from another local shop.

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Measuring My Sit Bone Spacing





Using a spare aluminum plate, some leftover cheap cardboard, a chair, and a ruler I was able to measure my sit bone spacing. This was done by sitting on the assembly with my legs bike pedal spacing apart, then grabbing the metal plate and pulling it against myself to ensure good dent formation in the cardboard. I then looked and felt for the dents in the cardboard, marked the centers with dots, and measured. I then rotated the cardboard and repeated the process to get a second measurement. Both measurements were ~122mm, so I’m happy with the result.

Some research into how sit bone measurement should translate to saddle size uncovered the Specailized Body Geometry recommendations for saddle widths, which are supposedly as follows:

· 130mm saddle for sitbone center to center width of 100mm or less.
· 143mm saddle for sitbone center to center width of 100mm to 130mm.
· 155mm saddle for sitbone center to center width of 130mm or more.

The WTB Rocket V saddle which came with my new bike (post forthcoming once it is complete) felt a bit narrow in the few test rides I’ve taken, and at ~130mm measured width these measurements confirm that it likely is the wrong size for me. The Specialized OEM saddle that came on my old bike is ~140mm and matches the aforementioned recommendations. As it has been comfortable for two years now, I think I’ll be looking at a new saddle somewhat along these lines.

Now to figure out which one to try…

† Former Power Mac G5 and Mac Pro stand.
Twelve South BackPack box.

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UHMW Polyethylene Tape for Cable Rub and Chainstay Protection





I’ve had little luck finding products to protect bicycle frames against chain slap (on the chainstay) and cable rub on the frame itself. As illustrated here on the Bianchi D.I.S.S. cable rub can be quite ugly, and chain slap can lead to paint chips on the chainstay. After a bit of research I found McMaster-Carr part number 76445A764, a 5 yard long, 2″ wide roll of 0.0115″ thick Ultra High Molecular weight polyethylene (UHMW / Wikipedia article) tape with a self-adhesive backing. Selling for $17.85, this translucent material is commonly used to make slick abrasion-resistant surfaces, so I figured it would work well protecting bicycle surfaces from rub wear.

The roll of tape arrived today, so I devised some abrasion and impact tests which would replicate wear conditions found on bicycles along with testing removability of the tape and its acrylic adhesive.

These five tests, two impact and three abrasion, are as follows. All surfaces cleaned with 99% isopropyl alcohol prior to UHMW tape adhesion:

Impact Test #1

Scenario: Tape applied to curved edge of clear powder coated steel and hit with metal objects such as file handles, tweezer handles, and a chain whip.
Result: Tape dented, no damage to surface below. Tape shown to be deformed by impacts but did not pull away from surface.
Photos: Dented Tape · Undamaged Surface

Abrasion Test #1

Scenario: Tape applied to curved edge of clear powder coated steel and abraded with small and medium fine metal files.
Result: Tape abraded, no damage to surface below. Sharper cutting with the corner of a file may have pierced the tape and damaged the finish below.
Photos: Abraded Tape · Undamaged Surface

Impact Test #2

Scenario: Painted aluminum panel with tape applied to a portion of it. To each of the protected and control surfaces the handle end of large file is dropped 20 times in a space the size of a dime and a metal rod is set in place and hammered gently with a metal bar for 10 impacts.
Result: Small metal nub on metal rod pierced the tape and damaged the metal. No other visible damage.
Photos: Bare Metal Control Surface · Taped With Impact Marks · Surface Below Tape Showing No Damage

Abrasion Test #2

Scenario: Brush made from Jagwire cable housing is placed in an electric drill. Brush is run for 45 seconds against each of the protected and control surfaces on painted aluminum panel.
Result: Severe damage to control surface, much less damage to taped area, occurring only after brush wore through tape.
Photos: Jagwire Brush · Control and Taped Surfaces After Brushing · Control and Taped Surfaces with Tape Removed

Abrasion Test #3

Scenario: Painted aluminum panel is bent, tape is used to protect half of the bend. Wire wheel is run for 45 seconds over both the protected and unprotected areas, simultaneously.
Result: Severe damage to unprotected area resulting in removal of paint and erosion of aluminum. Taped area is undamaged.
Photos: Wire Wheel and Test Surface · Control and Taped Surfaces After Brushing · Control and Taped Surfaces with Tape Removed

This tape was also relatively easy to remove from both the powder coated steel and painted aluminum surfaces. It sticks solidly in place, but picking at one corner of the UHMW tape with a fingernail will lift it and allow it to be pulled off the surface. Some adhesive residue was occasionally left behind, but it was not difficult to clean up with an isopropyl alcohol-soaked paper towel.

With these tests complete I feel that this UHMW tape will work wonderfully as a product to protect against bicycle frame damage due to cable rub and chain slap. Lacking logos and being translucent white it should be fit nicely on most frames. The tape is easily cut with scissors or a sharp razor blade and conforms nicely to simple curved surfaces. More complex surfaces such as joints should be possible to cover with some smart trimming of the tape.

While protecting the frame it will not deaden the sound of chain slap much, so it may be desirable to use some manner of rubber chainstay protector if one wishes to cut down on both noise and wear. As done previously I’ll likely continue making chainstay protectors from old tubes, or perhaps with bits of old tire as Trail’s Edge Cyclery does.

If you would like to see all of the photos from this series, please look here in the UHMW Tape album.

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