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Month: October 2010

Avid MatchMaker and SRAM X-9

After getting a good deal on a SRAM X-9 rear derailleur and shifter set I moved its X-7 parts to the Specialized while building the 69er. As part of fitting the X-9 stuff I also picked up a replacement set of brake/shift lever clamps known as Avid MatchMaker, which allow the brake and shift levers to share one mount. I think this makes for a cleaner looking bar, but due to its L shape it doesn’t save as much space as I thought and other items (such as a bell) can’t really be placed snugly against it.

When fitting the new rear derailleur I ran into a slight problem where the derailleur would sit slightly too far inboard, preventing the chain from sitting cleanly on the smallest cog. Even when the shift cable was removed and the appropriate set screw was backed all the way out the chain would rattle and jump up one cog. After using a DAG-2 confirming that the derailleur was straight the only solution was to move the derailleur slightly outboard with a washer. Conveniently my friend Jon gave me a 1.38mm thick 3/8″ zinc chromate-coated washer which did the job nicely and allows the bike to shift just as it should.

All of this work was coupled with some much-needed overall washing and drive train cleaning (and plastics replacement), so after getting everything back together I went out for a ride at Stony Creek. While this week was busy enough to keep me from being able to ride, I did manage to get out to Stony Creek this afternoon. A bit of tweaking of the shift cable was needed to get everything proper, but the bike otherwise seems to be working great. I had one possible moment of skipping during a hard climb, but in general the whole bike worked wonderfully. Coupling that with some wonderfully cool weather, absolutely wonderful trail conditions, and meeting a few nice folks while riding, it turned out to be a really great day.

Now I just need to give the bike another shakedown ride or three before Iceman Cometh Challenge next weekend.

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SRAM Flak Jacket is UV Sensitive

Back when setting up my Titus Racer X 29er I fitted SRAM Flak Jacket cable housings, which include hollow red plastic tubes and nipples to cover the portions of cable which are normally exposed along the frame. Unfortunately this plastic tubing is quite UV sensitive and within a few months I began to notice it fading. During the summer my bike is frequently on the back of my car while at work, so it probably got a fair amount of direct sun exposure. Today when finishing the installation of some drivetrain components I touched the piece on the seat stay and felt it crack.

Pictured above is an original red piece of tubing and the broken one that I removed. The broken piece shows the light-colored top which was up on the bike and more exposed to the sun and the slightly redder bottom that sat against the frame. The the break shown occured when I simply wrapped my hand around the cable and seat stay and flipped the bike upside down to remove a wheel.

With such a bright color to the plastic I suspected this would happen, but thankfully the kit came with a fair bit more tubing than needed so I was able to replace the broken piece. I wish SRAM would have chosen a UV-resistant plastic instead of the bright red that they went with, perhaps the black nylon used in UV-resistant cable ties. I may try to find somewhere to buy other plastic that could be used in place of the red stuff, perhaps some PTFE or nylon…

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Ceiling Fan Light Working Again

The ceiling fan in the bedroom has a remote control to turn it on and off. Over the past few weeks it’s become increasingly hard to turn it on and off, with the switch inside the remote feeling like its failing. Taking apart the remote tonight I found that instead of small tactile switches (like I thought it had from the feel) it instead has cheap, printed contact switches actuated by conductive rubber on the back-side of the buttons. As common with switches like this some of the rubber had worn off on to the PCB, fouling the copper and causing the buttons to not work well. A bit of quick work with a pencil eraser and alcohol-soaked paper towel cleaned the contacts up nicely and everything is working great again.

Click here to see a high-res version of the photo above, clearly showing the bits of rubber stuck on the PCB.


Found an Extra Paper

My mailman is great. Apparently he found a copy of October 6th’s local newspaper (the one I was on the cover of) and saved it for me, dropping it in my mailbox with a note on some junk mail saying that he found it.

This shows some interesting things, like that the mailman recognizes my name on newspapers and such and knows where I live, but I guess that’s expected since his job is to pay attention to names on mail and where things go and such. I know that I’ve waived to him while biking, so I wonder if he associated that, receiving cycling catalogs and magazines, and this.

Either way, I think it’s really nice and I appreciate it.


DNF at Mad Anthony CX

After feeling wishy washy about doing the Mad Anthony Cyclocross race until this morning I went ahead and did it anyway, and I’m really glad I did. Riding up and down and around Historic Fort Wayne (Wikipedia) was a blast, especially heading through the stone tunnel of the sally port.

Unfortunately, about 1/3 – 1/2 of the way through my last lap I pinch flatted my rear tire, just after hopping up a curb and while navigating a long switchback grass downhill section. I’d just passed an employee of the shop that I ride for (Trail’s Edge) and right as we were exchanging greetings a hiss started, and as I turned the next corner I felt the rear wheel wobble and slide out from under me, indicating a definite flat. While I was only mid-pack, I still felt like I was riding well and having a good day. This instead ended the race for me and began a long walk back to the start. It would have been nice to finish, but at least I got to ride most of the race. Oh well.

For this race I used the aforementioned 69er and found that it worked out really well. I need to move spacers around a bit and drop the bars, but it otherwise works really well and is quite fun to ride. I think I’ll keep it in this setup.

(The photo above was taken with my phone just before the start of the Class B race. More photos should be available later, and hopefully even a video. Matt Dughi, creator of some top-notch local cycling videos, was out at the race today filming and had his new wire cam setup running along with his normal hand-held footage.)

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Ever since fitting my Specialized with a rigid fork I’ve thought that a 29er wheel could fit nicely in the fork and was unlikely to affect the handling much. After test fitting another wheel last night I posted to the MMBA forums looking for a 29er front wheel and picked one up today. While finishing the swap of drivetrain components from the Titus to the Specialized I put the wheel on, and it all seems to work nicely. For the $45 and time spent shuffling components I think this bike is ending up as something rather interesting. It may even work out to be a good winter bike.

I also fitted the bike with plain lock-on grips for this weekend’s cyclocross race as the only other grips I have include bar ends, which aren’t permitted equipment. The bottle cage was removed to make carrying the bike easier and I’ll switch the pedals from platforms (which were for testing) to Eggbeaters before then. I’ll probably also take this for a test ride at River Bends tomorrow, if weather permits. A fatter front tire would have been nice as well, but as I’m just playing around with my old bike I didn’t want to spend any more money.

I purchased a WTB Dual Duty rim / Shimano Hub with straight silver spokes, fitted with a 160mm Avid rotor, and a practically-new Kenda Small Block 8 tire all assembled together for $45 total.

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Shiny Clean Cranksets

In preparing for Mad Anthony Cyclocross race at Fort Wayne I’ll be swapping shifting components between two of my bikes so that the Titus Racer X 29er gets new SRAM X9 components and the Specialized Rockhopper gets its SRAM X7 stuff. Since this involves a fair amount of disassembly I figured I’d completely wash both bikes, including their drivetrains, and thus tonight I pulled the cranksets apart and washed them. Since the last similar cleaning both had become well-packed with gritty dirt and the chainrings had built up the typical packed in oil and dirt mixture.

Hopefully tomorrow I’ll get the bikes washed and the reassembly / parts move started, and then Wednesday I can take the Specialized out for a test ride at Stony Creek.


Massive Fallout 2010

Thanks to great weather the 2010 edition of Massive Fallout has gone off successfully. Following some trail marking on Thursday and a wedding until late on Friday I managed to wake up on time for the ride. Despite skipping the first part of Stony Creek I still ended up with 52.91 miles and 4:08:17 of moving time and riding most of each of the four main trails; Stony Creek, Bald Mountain, Addison Oaks, and Bloomer.

On the way back (before visiting Bloomer) Jon, Rob, and I even managed to stop by Lipuma’s Coney Island for a rather unhealthy (but satisfying) pile of food to eat.

As hoped, this was a really nice day. Rob had even made up spoke cards to indicate those of us who could provide direction and help, but it seems that most people either didn’t notice the cards or had no problem finding the route themselves. Now to rest up a bit today and get on with the week.

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Massive Fallout Marking, Racing, etc.

This has been a busy week or so. How, you ask?

Saturday was the 6 and 12 Hour race at Addison Oaks, where our team (Nick, Marty, Erik, and I as the East Side Stepchildren) took second place out of third in the 4 Person Open Sport category, winning nice fleece vests. We rotated through taking turns doing one lap each, until the end when Erik set out to do Marty’s final lap. (Photos of the start: 1 · 2)

Sunday I did a bunch of work out at River Bends and managed to poke myself in the eye with a stick. The white of my eye is a bit bruised on one side, but otherwise fine and getting better.

Work has been busy (yet satisfying) this week, which makes the day go by quickly. Monday I fixed a GPS (yes, another Garmin Edge 305) and got some things done around the house. Last night (Wednesday) was time spent at Sherwood with friends to enjoy half-off hamburger night.

Tonight Bob and I went up to Bald Mountain to mark the trail for Massive Fallout, a huge group ride taking place this Saturday. We went through 2.5 cans of spray paint marking the route in and out of the park, and all potentially confusing corners along the trail. Unfortunately we got caught in the rain and cut out early, leaving one intersection still to be marked. In retrospect it only would have been another 15 minutes in the rain to mark this corner, saving Bob another trip tomorrow, so now I feel bad about making haste back to the parking lot in reaction to the storm clouds dripping on us.

At least the weather should be good for the ride itself on Saturday and the weekend’s plans.

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Relay Failure Means Fridge Failure

Three days after defrosting my freezer to get the whole refrigerator working Danielle noticed that the fridge was no longer cold. The evening after Danielle rushed most of the food stores over to my parents house I set out to try and diagnose the fridge. After I’d spent a few hours fruitlessly looking it over without any documentation I decided that the best thing to do would be to call a repair person. I normally don’t like doing this, but not having a fridge makes things somewhat difficult, and it likely would have taken a few more days for me to figure out what was wrong.

Doc’s Appliance Service (warning: auto-playing video) came out to do the repair and $210.21 later the relay on the compressor was replaced with a new, compatible (but non drop-in) replacement that required cutting the wiring harness to install. As this was the only part the repair person had readily available it was the only choice to get the repair done at that time. While talking to the repair guy (who was quite friendly) afterward and detailing everything I’d looked into, he showed me that Maytag actually ships block diagrams and technical troubleshooting guides with each fridge, sticking them to the bottom of the fridge in a small plastic bag, folded up to about the same size as a deck of playing cards.

I wish that I’d known about this diagram before calling, because that would have allowed me to do all the troubleshooting myself, including finding the failed relay. It also would have saved me the time spent looking at the fridge’s main control board for issues, as the automatic diagnostics would have eliminated the control board and other items that I fiddled with. I would also have then been able to order part 67005560 from Sears for $27.33 and do the replacement myself for 13% of the cost.

In the end I suspect that the relay was failing, keeping the compressor on long after it should have, resulting in the coil freezing up. It’s even possible that the fridge had been running near non-stop for the last few weeks. Turning the fridge off for a while and then putting it back in normal duty cycle then likely caused the relay to fail completely, after which it no would cool. If you’d like to see more photos of the failed relay, part 3ARR65P4E3A6, they can be found here: Failed Fridge Relay (3ARR65P4E3A6).

$69.95 diagnostics charge, $80 labor, $56.85 in parts, and $3.41 in sales tax.