Thursday, November 25, 2010

An early Christmas present

My early Christmas present arrived today. Well I had to buy it and give it to myself, but there was no alternative. Uncle Riotous had forgotten to make enquires about a headset press among his contacts, and then after a prompt still came up blank. It looked like it was going to be brute force (wood and mallet) or creating a DIY lashup. Now I have nothing against making do when you have to, but it seems to me that when you have a tool that is reasonably priced and can do the job to a higher a degree of precision you should use it. So saving some spare pennies over this month I took the plunge and bought a Cyclus headset press from Wiggle. I did find it on sale at Webbline and seriously there are some decent tools that cost a lot less than those on sale at the big web boys like Wiggle and Chainreaction, but the postage cost swung me back to the former.

First impressions suggest that the headset press is well made, it is certainly weighty enough. There are no faring marks or imperfections on the mouldings or any of the metal parts. This is a pretty good indication of a degree of care in the production, something you would expect from a German company. I can't wait to give it a go, and as I have two headsets that need fitting, one now and one later, I will have almost covered the workshop costs in the first year.

Friday, November 5, 2010

Making the most of time

Project management is all about getting  a task accomplished within the confines of limits such as time and cost. The trouble with personal projects, such as project bike builds, is that they always cost more and take more time. The former is a result of finding that parts that were thought to be sound are not and need replacing or the need for extra tools. The latter, is the result of the work being performed in your "spare" time. If like me you are a family man with an interest in many things in life "spare" time is a precious commodity. So far this week, I have helped out at mini-rugby, watched a match, taught my 4 year old daughter to ride her bike, said goodbye to the wife, polished all the shoes and boots in the house, cleaned the house, clothed, ferried and fed the kids, knocked down a wall and cleared the rubble. Finally, come Friday, I have an hour to work on the bike. Only, I can't really do what I want to do, which is to assemble the fork to the frame.

You see this is time for another cost over-run. What I hadn't seen coming was the need for a specialist tool for seating the headset cups (Storm in an H-cup). So although, I have set Uncle Riotous to seeing if any of his contacts have one in their tool locker, I am at an impasse. I have managed to source a tool at a sensible price (£30 vs £60), but I am unwilling to spend money if I can borrow the tool. Having said that, at £30 you are only looking at three workshop visits and it is paid for, so there is a potential to earn beer money here.  There is also the ability to make you own, using various bits of DIY ironmongery. However, the precision can suffer, and I would rather not leave the alignment to chance.

So I am waiting, and I have free time, so I do what any good project manager would do and try to find something that can be done while waiting for the next logical step in a project to be completed. Thankfully, the rear derailleur fitting does does not need the forks, but it does need careful storage. A bent rear mech will be no good later on, and a waste of a straight out of the box bit of kit. So I will have to add the rear wheel to keep the rear mech off the ground. With the rear brake bosses also fitted to the bike I can at least fit these, if not wire them up. If I have time I think, I could also add the chain, although this would be easier on a workstand, when adjustments can be made.

First up then, fit the rear wheel. Seated in the dropouts, I am slightly worried. The tyres are rubbing against the frame work, even when seating position is adjusted. I hope this is just due to the tyre being deflated, or else my tyre choice is just plain wrong. In comparison, bolting the rear mech to the hanger is a doddle. I am impressed with how it sits there like some big black spider above the silver web of the chainset. Then comes adding  the rear brakes to the bike, also, I had forgotten, in black. These are returns, and there are signs on the bolts that they have been used. Coupled with some paint and rust, it actually takes longer to fit all the parts and it is time to do the school run again. The chain can wait, but already I can see the overall effect of the bike; black, red and silver.