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Month: December 2012

Melting Snow on the Mukluk

Danielle was in the garage where I’d put the Mukluk to thaw after today’s ride and noticed that the melting snow on the front wheel looked pretty nifty, so I took a picture of it.

This comes after an afternoon ride at River Bends where Rodney and I set fatbike tracks through most of the trail and smoothed out the trail for other riders. Jeremy met up with us there as well, but with the 4-8″ of snow on the trail he split off from us a bit earlier and we went on to ride a bit more.

Most of our riding was through deep powder, with a couple of deep, partially-frozen puddles in the newest piece of trail. Trekking through the powder and adding the water from the puddles resulted in quite a bit of heavy buildup on the rims, resulting in buildup like this: 1 · 2.

This was really worth it, as Rodney and I making two passes through each bit of trail ridden was the equivalent of 8 bikes passing over, and this left a 12″-ish wide packed path ready for future riders. There’s still a bit of single track which we didn’t ride, but I’m hoping to get out there in the next day or so to finish the job.

Here’s the complete set of photos from today:


Golden Ale, Red Ale

Today I was able to keg, chill, filter, and carbonate my latest two beers, a golden ale (left) and a red ale (right). I’d brewed these from Cap’N’Cork recipe kits over the last couple weeks by first fermenting the golden ale then brewing the red and racking it on to the trub (leftover hops, yeast, etc) from the golden. This resulted in the red fermenting extremely quickly and both beers being ready to keg this morning. I transfered each to kegs (pulling these samples in the process), put the kegs to chill on the porch, and around 10:30pm they’d reached 37°F and were ready to filter.

They’ve since been filtered with a 1μm water filter, force carbonated, and while they need a bit more CO2 they are generally ready to drink.

I’m happy with how both of these came out. They were simple to make, fast to brew, filtered to something fairly nice, and taste good. That’s about all I can hope for. I’ve now got four drinks on tap (Hard Cider, RyePA, Golden Ale, Red Ale) and should probably think about making something a little more special to age and put on tap once one of these run out.

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Repacking Cartridge Bearings

Not long after a recent bike wash I noticed a pedaling-related squeak when riding my Mukluk. I figured it to just be some seal noise, so after today’s wash I removed the cranks and set about investigating the snap-on seals that came with the crankset, figuring it to be one of those. Instead it turns out that the noise was coming from the non-drive side cartridge bearing, which was also feeling a bit rough.

I had two spare bearings from the last time I needed to do bearing work, so I figured I’d try and salvage these. Pulling the seals off I found that they had a bit of creamy (likely water-spoiled) grease inside, but seemed to be in otherwise good shape. I removed the grease and found them to be spinning very smoothly when clean, so I lubed them up with some ProGold EPX Cycling Grease. This is a nice, sticky grease that seems like it’d be good for bearings in harsher environments. (Disclaimer: I received a free tube of this as part of the large set of stuff donated to MMBA Metro North / CRAMBA in 2011.)

Everything went back together nicely, and now the cranks spin smoothly without any irritating squeak. I hope that this new grease will be a bit more weather resistant than whatever came in the eBay special bearings I’d purchased and these bearings will last for a while. They were nice and clean and spinning smooth once cleaned out, so I’m hoping I caught them before any damage was done.

Here is the general process I used for cleaning the bearings:

  1. Use a sharp T pin to carefully remove the seals from the bearings.
  2. Wipe out as much grease as possible with a paper towel.
  3. Soak the bearings in citrus-based degreaser. (I use ZEP, it works just as well as the bike specific stuff.)
  4. Alternate between rinsing the bearings in hot water, brushing them with a degreaser-soaked toothbrush, and swirling them around in the degreaser bath until they are clean.
  5. Once the bearings are very clean, rinse in as hot of water as possible, then shake dry.
  6. Blow dry with a blower or air compressor, if available.
  7. Submerge the bearings in 99% isopropyl alcohol and agitate to get any residual water off of the bearings and dissolved in the alcohol.
  8. Remove the bearings from the alcohol, shake them out, and set them upright to dry. Occasionally spin the bearings to help the process along. (This will only take a few minutes.)
  9. Liberally apply grease into the ball bearings and cage, then spin the bearing a few times to ensure it’s moving freely and grease is evenly distributed.
  10. Lightly grease the seals then snap them back in place with finger pressure. Spin the bearings a few more times to ensure the seals are properly seated.
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Lemi Shine Disappointment

Over time and likely due to the dishwasher many of the glasses in the kitchen have developed a residue on them. I’m not completely sure of the cause, and despite the streaking and fingerprint-ish look I can’t seem to wash it off. Thus, I thought it to be a mineral deposit likely caused by a combination of dish detergent and water chemistry. A bit of online research pointed me to a product called Lemi Shine (very detailed chemical info on the product here), so this morning I purchased a container and gave it a try.

Following directions on the container I first ran the dishwasher empty with just a helping of Lemi Shine to remove hard water deposits from the washer, and I then ran a load with just glasses and the product. Per the promises on the container and reviews I’d read online I expected this to clean the residue from the glasses, but it didn’t. I then ran one more cycle with more Lemi Shine and dishwasher detergent, which is the prescribed use, and this too seemed to do nothing.

I’m going to have to try some other options and see what works. I may try some CLR, but being another acid-based cleaner I don’t have a ton of hope for it. There’s also BLC Beer Line Cleaner which is a base and might do something.

I guess I could just leave it be, but the glasses are starting to look unpleasantly grungy. The photo above shows the problem quite well, but it’s a little more exaggerated due to the glass sitting on a black background, being somewhat side lit, and a polarizing filter being used. It does a pretty good job of showing the unexpectedly streaked nature of the deposits, though. I hope I can figure out what will remove this.

It did do one thing: remove paint from some glasses and mugs. I’d thought that all of my glasses and mugs had their logos glazed on, but after the Lemi Shine treatment I found that many of them were missing some or all of their logos. Whoops. This makes me feel really bad because I don’t like it when I unintentionally ruin things.

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Fat vs. 29er Tires

When out for a ride this afternoon I grabbed this photo which fairly clearly shows fat bike tire prints vs. 29er tire prints. The top fat print is the Big Fat Larry that I mounted up a few days ago, and the lower one is the Larry pointed backward for increased traction while pedaling. Crossing this is some of my friend Jeremy’s tire tracks, a Specialized The Captain followed almost exactly by a WTB Nano Raptor.

This was taken in the parking lot of Shelby Township’s Whispering Woods Park while en route to meet Jeremy to ride at River Bends. Even though I was turning it still does a fair job of showing that a fatbike’s contact patch is twice as wide (or greater) than that of a typical 29er tire. From beach riding to snow, exploring soft floodplanes to checking out trail conditions in known-soft areas, it’s pretty nifty to see how many riding opportunities tires this wide open up. Sure, they is a big increase in rolling resistance, and most fatbikes are still very much rigid (read: pneumatic dampening with no suspension), but they sure are fun.

There’s a fair bit of snow in the forecast for the next couple of days. I’m really looking forward to some late afternoon (and hopefully evening, via the usual Wednesday Night Ride) excursions in the snow. Maybe this winter won’t be quite as sparse as the last, either. While I didn’t mind all the days of dirt road riding, Michigan is a great state for multiple outdoor activities. I’d rather enjoy having a nice winter for doing winter-y things.

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Grimm Brothers Brewhouse’s Magic Mirror

In the autumn of 2011 when returning from a trip out west Erik and Kristi brought me a bottle of beer from a brewery I’d previously never heard of, Grimm Brothers Brewhouse in Loveland, Colorado. This beer is a limited, imperial version of their Snow Drop ale (a Köttbusser, made with honey and molasses) that’s been aged in oak, and apparently only 1200 bottles were produced. Erik had told me that it’d be good aged, so I put it on a shelf in the basement and let it sit for a year.

Earlier this week I figured that Christmas would be a good time to open it, so after family doings were over and dishes were done I opened it up. You can see it here, poured into a Poto MBA glass that I acquired at the Triple Trail Challenge. Refrigerator temperature was a bit too cold for this beer at first, but as it warmes up I’m really enjoying it.

I think that this beer is quite good, but reading various reviews online there don’t seem to be many people who share my like of it. All of the reviews that I’m finding are 2011, though, so I suspect the recommended aging did the trick.

Earlier this year Erik and Kristi went on another trip out west and were kind enough to bring me another tasty looking bottle of beer from the same brewery; a smoked smoked wheat ale (Grätzer) called Sooty Brother. I love smoked beers and I’m really looking forward to this, but it’ll wait for another day…

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Big Fat Larry

This afternoon I picked up a new tire for my fatbike from Trails Edge: an ultralight version of the Surly Big Fat Larry (BFL). While this tire can have chain clearance issues on the rear of some bikes, it’s right at home up front in the Enabler Fork that comes stock on my 2012 Salsa Mukluk 2.

I’d never really cared for the Endomorph tire that came as the stock rear tire on the bike. While it was fine on sand and hard pack, on even marginally slick surfaces it’d unexpectedly jet sideways if even the slightest bit of power was applied, so I wanted to do away with it. As a possible solution to this I decided to try a BFL up front, and move the original Larry tire from the front of the bike to the rear, fitting it backwards for increased traction while pedaling. With this tire acquisition I was able to do so (photo).

One common trick on fatbikes is to put a very knobby rear tire on the bike to ensure that it doesn’t lose traction in the rear. This would be appealing for pure snow and trail riding but I frequently ride this bike on paved and hard pack surfaces, so I’m not sure this would be good for me. The super-grippy Nate would work well for this, but I can only imagine how quickly paved surfaces would wear on it, not to mention the tremendously increased rolling resistance. The Larry tread seems to be good for all around use, so I went with it.

When moving tires around to fit the BFL I was surprised to find that the original tires from the bike were both wire bead. At ~1370g the BFL isn’t a light tire, but the ultralight 120 TPI version with a folding bead ends up being a bit lighter than the narrower wire bead 120 TPI Larry’s ~1430g that had been on the front of the bike. The Endomorph which ended up getting removed from the bike is ~1420g, which makes the overall loss from the bike a whopping 50g, with 10g being transfered from the front to the rear. While it isn’t much (0.3% of the overall mass of the bike), I’m not going to complain about losing mass when going to a much larger tire.

Fitted to the Mukluk’s Rolling Darryl rims I measured the BFL at 4-3/16″ when inflated to 20 PSI just after installation. The BFLs are known to stretch quite a bit as they sit at higher pressures (in three hours it was up to 4-5/16″) so I’m not sure what the final size will be, but this is already quite a bit more than the original Larry’s 3-5/8″. It’ll be interesting to see how much it stretches overnight.

Here’s a few more photos of the bike and Big Fat Larry tire taken today:

· Surly Big Fat Larry tire, ultralight version (folding bead), as shipped from QBP.
· Surly Big Fat Larry on a Rolling Darryl rim at 20psi in a Salsa Enabler fork. There is plenty of room to spare.
· With the Big Fat Larry on the front of the Mukluk I moved the regular Larry to the rear, and reversed it hoping for greater traction in the snow.
· Current state of my Mukluk, with a Big Fat Larry front tire, reversed Larry in the rear, bash guard, trigger shifters, and lights. Weight is 35.38 pounds as shown.

Since I had the scale out I decided to weigh a few parts of the bike and see how it adds up. Here’s what I came up with:

Front Wheel w/ ultralight (folding bead) Big Fat Larry Tire: 7.62 pounds
Rear Wheel w/ wire bead 120 TPI Larry : 9.2 pounds
Tube: ~450g
Larry Tire (120 TPI, wire bead): ~1430g
Big Fat Larry Tire (120 TPI, folding bead): ~1370g
Endomorph Tire (120 TPI, wire bead): ~1420g
Complete bike as seen here with front and rear lights: 35.38 pounds

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Damaged Craftsman Hex Wrench

When working on Danielle’s old bike a couple days ago I ended up damaging my 6mm Craftsman ball-end hex wrench. I was attempting to remove her old pedals and the wrench simply spun, then was pushed out of the fastener. After this the ends of the wrench were damaged.

Hopefully Craftsman’s lifetime warranty will apply to this and I’ll be able to get a new one, since this is now pretty useless.

UPDATE: Turns out that Sears’ replaced the entire set. I was missing a 3mm too, so this is a nice benefit.

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Motobecane Fantom 29er For Sale

Up for sale is Danielle’s old bike, built around a 15″ Motobecane Fantom 29er frame. (Geometry can be found here.)

I’ve listed it over here on the MMBA forum, but for those interested the highlights are a Shimano 9-speed drivetrain, Rock Shox Tora air spring fork, and BB7 brakes. This is quite a nice bike, but it didn’t fit her so we want to be rid of it.

Asking price is US$400 and more photos can be found here.

Please email if you are interested.

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