Sunday, January 31, 2021

Turning The Tables

The previous owners left behind a patio table and umbrella for some reason.

"Some reason."

Yeah, it was about time I dumped it in the trash. Of course, it doesn't fit in the trash in one piece, so step one was to make it not be one piece.

That'll fit nicely. With the amount of water that the particle board soaked up, the saw made a lot less saw 'dust' and a lot more saw 'mush'. It was weird seeing the soggy sludge being pooped out of the dust chute rather than the usual blast of light and airy dust.

Anyway, into the bin it went, ready to be picked up by the garbage truck tomorrow. I also set out the two cheap plastic chairs on the curb with a "FREE" sign and they found a new home within a few hours. Nice.

I did also disassemble the umbrella and dump the appropriate bits into the recycling and trash, but did not take pictures of the process. The umbrella will not be missed, nor will the table and chairs. I'm glad to be rid of them all.

Monday, January 25, 2021

Getting Screwed

So I had a little difficulty with Blackbirb recently. The BB area felt a little loose while pedaling on a recent ride, and after I got home I dug into things a little bit and found two things.

First, I found that one of the pedals needed a service, so I serviced them both. This was not difficult.

Second, I found that one of the bottom bracket bearings was feeling a bit crunchy. This would pose more of a challenge.

The bottom bracket of a bike is basically a collection of parts that goes between the crank spindle (the shaft that goes through the bike frame, upon which the cranks are mounted, the latter easily identified as the part that the pedals are attached to) and the bicycle frame itself. Its consists of a pair of bearings, and whatever bits of hardware are involved in holding those bearings in place.

In the simplest case you have a BB30 bottom bracket, where the frame is reamed to a precise interference fit and a ball bearing is pressed in from either side, into which the crank spindle is inserted. More complicated systems use a threaded interface on the frame into which you thread a bearing carrier that carries the bearings (odd name for it, I know) and so on.

The PF30 style bottom bracket sits somewhere in the middle. It presses in like a BB30, but instead of pressing the bearing directly into the frame, the bearings are seated into a plastic bushing, and that bushing is pressed in. This makes it so that you can be slightly less precise when reaming out the frame, as the plastic will compress somewhat and make up for any minor irregularities.

But it is, nonetheless, a press-in style bottom bracket, which means I need three things.

Firstly, I need a whacking tool that's used to dislodge the old pressed-in bottom bracket from the frame. You can also get by with more makeshift options, but it's really best to use a tool so you don't bugger things up. I ordered this off Amazon and it arrived quickly.

Secondly, I need a new bottom bracket. It wouldn't do to remove the old one and then just put it right back in again, or just leave it out forever and never have a bottom bracket again. I ordered this off Amazon and it arrived quickly.

So I set to work knocking the old BB out and cleaning up the frame in the bottom bracket area. It was at this point I discovered why the BB had gotten all crunchy so quickly.

You see, the bottom bracket area of a bike tends to be a bit complicated these days. You not only have the bottom bracket itself to deal with, but also things like internally routed shifter cables, brake cables, dropper post cables, and so on. I don't have an internally routed dropper post on this bike (yet), and the brake cable wasn't causing any issues. What was causing an issue was the shifter cables, or, to be more precise, the little bracket that held a guide for the shifter cables.

On this particular bike, this bracket screws into a threaded insert moulded into the carbon of the frame. So far, so good. This insert, and the carbon of the frame, and the short bolt screwed into it, were for some reason designed a bit too long, and they interfered with the outer plastic shell of the bottom bracket. Oops. Someone wasn't paying attention in their CAD software.

So instead of completely redesigning this part of the bike, they apparently decided to just implement a manufacturing fix: they brought out the die grinder with an abrasive bit and sanded down the inside of the bolt, insert and carbon. This solved the problem of the interference, but caused a new problem: the bottom bracket area was now completely full of abrasive grit, shards of carbon fiber, and metal chips.

Apparently the manufacturer saw nothing wrong with this situation, and didn't even attempt to clean up that mess before pressing the bottom bracket into the bike, and some of this grit and detritus eventually made it into the BB bearings and fucked them right the hell up. Oh well.

I meant to post a picture of the inside of the frame here, but apparently I forgot to do that. I also forgot one other very important thing.

So, thirdly, I need a bottom bracket bearing press to install the new bottom bracket. I forgot to wait for this to arrive. But no worries, Amazon confidently stated that it would be arriving the next day.

The next day, the shipping information was updated to inform me that the package had somehow been irreparably damaged and was being returned for a refund before it even made it to me.

Oh dear.

No problem though, I'll order another one. And it's gonna take over a week to get here. Lovely.

So a week goes by, the package shows up and...

There's something not quite right. It's almost as if something is missing.

Ah, yes, the piece of threaded rod that the handles screw onto, and which forms the backbone of the bearing press. Lovely of them to forget to include it, but luckily it's only a $2.50 part at the Home Despot.

Anyway, with that finally taken care of I pressed the new bottom bracket in, completely forgetting to take a picture of the inside of the frame, as I mentioned previously, and reinstalled the crankset.

All buttoned up and ready to ride!

Friday, January 22, 2021

What's Old Is New Again

So my furnace draft inducer fan started making more noise recently. It was never particularly quiet, and when I moved in was making an awful scraping noise but I bent the impeller away from the casing back when I was doing some other furnace work previously and that quieted it down a bit. But that fix was not permanent, and it started making some horrible bearing grinding noises along with making the scraping noise again, so the next logical step was to replace it.

Goodbye, old crusty fan. Hello, new hotness.

So much quieter. Still not as quiet as I'd like as there's still turbulence noise from the cold air return, but it's definitely a step in the right direction.

Sunday, January 10, 2021

A Tiny Eviction

Last night as I was playing some video games and enjoying the evening I was interrupted by a rather unwelcome gnawing sound coming from my crawl space just beside where I was sitting. Somehow rats had gotten in there again.

As a short term solution I took a nice big leap and slammed my feet down on the floor just above where I heard the sound coming from, which managed to scare the crap out of the rats and kept them quiet for the night at least. But I would need to look into a longer term solution come morning.

So morning came, as it always does, and I took a survey around the crawl space vents. Oddly, they all seemed to be in good shape. Then I remembered that a few months ago while I was doing some work out in front of the house one evening, I'd seen a rat scurry under the vinyl siding that was installed by a previous owner over the stucco and wood on that wall, for some reason.

At the time I had assumed that the rat was just squeezing into the gap between the siding and the stucco as a way to escape me, but the more I thought about it, the more I found it odd that there was no crawl space vents on that entire wall.

Ah, hmm, yes, that's two mysteries solved I guess.

So there actually are 5 vents across the front of my house, which were mostly covered up by the vinyl siding. Two of them still had the mesh in place, two of them had only the frame of the mesh left, and the last one didn't even have the frame.

This was, for obvious reasons, not particularly ideal. So off to Home Despot I went to buy some 14x6 vent covers. Then back to Home Despot to return them because 14x6 vent covers measure exactly 14x6, and do not, as one would assume, cover a 14x6 crawl space vent. So yes, I got a trio of 16x8 vent covers and screwed them into place

Much better.

So I zipped the bottom row of vinyl siding back in and now I shouldn't have any more rat problems in the crawl space. I hope. There may be a few rats still down there right now, but they can enjoy making the choice between starving to death or eating the rat poison I left down there.

Saturday, January 9, 2021

Chip Away At The Stone

So on Sunday I decided that I really should do something with the concrete bags that have been laying around my car hole for the past year and a half. They were left over from when Tyler poured his motorcycle pad (which he never once used to park his motorcycle after discovering that parking it in his car hole was far preferable), and I took them off his hands in order to fill the cracks in my slab.

Cracks like this one, for example.

First step is to draw out a nice straight rectangle encompassing the crack, and the second step is to start chipping out the concrete so as to make a space to pour the new stuff.

Ok, so, my rotary hammer is pretty beefy, but apparently a little underpowered. Also I was finding it difficult to get a nice clean, straight edge, so I took a little trip down to the Home Despot to get myself an angle grinder and a nice diamond death wheel.

That's much better. Although very, very dusty. Oddly I was actually expecting more dust than it ended up generating, so I suppose that's nice. The remaining dust was taken care of by using my leaf blower to blow it out the door and onto my neighbour's cars.

Still, progress was not especially rapid, and I was certainly glad to be doing this in the middle of winter given how much I was sweating.

But before too long the entire 7 foot by 4 inch slot had been dug out. Including a little bit of extra chip-out near the door. Oops. It's a good thing I'll be filling it in with concrete.

I mixed up two bags, shovelled it in, screeded it off, waited for the bleed water to dry, troweled the surface nice and smooth...

Nice. I ended up with about half a bucket worth of leftover concrete, so in future I'll probably do 9 feet of trench for 2 bags, since I still have some cracks to fill.

I also filled the inspection hole over near the wall, which gets drilled in the slab after it's poured so that the building inspector can verify that there's the bare minimum of 4 inches of concrete poured. No rebar, no mesh, just the cheapest slab they could squeak by with.

You'll find one of these holes in almost any car hole if you look hard enough and it hasn't already been filled by some homeowner down the line. I didn't go quite as crazy smoothing this one off, since it was a small patch and kind of out-of-the-way.

Anyway, I covered the patches in plastic to control the shrinkage while it cured.

And a week-ish later it's not looking half bad.

And it looks even better after some of the muck is cleaned off around the outside, around the outside, around the outside.

I think the concrete still has a bit of curing left to do so I sprayed it down again and wrapped it back up in plastic. I can't really do another crack this weekend because my trash can is filled well past capacity with broken concrete already, so next weekend is the earliest I might consider that.

Speaking of broken concrete, I learned that it is, indeed, quite abrasive.

I'm glad that wear and tear was on the gloves, and not on my hands. I picked up some cheap rubber-dipped gloves for future concrete work, and also for work around the yard, and then bought a nice new pair of mechanic's gloves to replace these.

Finally, I would be remiss if I didn't share a picture of the world's most inconvenient step stool that I have now become the proud owner of.

I expect this will make its way into the trash bin at some point too.

Saturday, January 2, 2021

A Cover-Up Job

I decided that since the ratio of riding to sitting has shifted a lot for my stable of motorcycles over the past year, for some unknown reason, I should probably get some motorcycle covers to keep the dust, sun etc off them and make it a bit less of a hassle to pull one out to ride. It was getting a bit frustrating having to wash them every time I wanted to use one, due to the amount of dirt that would collect on them.

I just got one to start with so I could figure out the sizing. It fits on Gregg just fine, so I'll probably get one more that size for Orthrus, and then get one size larger for Rabbit Season and Scooty Puff Sr.

I Have Become That Which I Most Despise

Ok maybe despise is a bit strong.

Nonetheless, I now count myself once again amongst the legions of printer owners. It's a black and white laser with scanner, and conveniently connects over wifi. Really the only reason I got it was to do taxes by hand, because I refuse to fund the corrupt tax software industry that actively lobbies for regulatory capture so it can forcibly exclude free or low cost alternatives.

A Beard Trim

 It was time, once again, for ridding the palm tree of its dead fronds, and more importantly, its flower stalks full of seeds that would soon be dropping and sprouting a billion new palms.

I initially tried reaching the fronds with my pole pruner from the top of my step ladder, but I ended up about a foot too short at the end of my reach, so instead I called in the professionals again.

$200 later and it looks like this.

It always looks a little bit goofy right after a trim, but it grows back in soon enough.

Out with the old, in with the new.

I did a bit of brake work on the stable of bikes over the holiday. I flushed the brakes on Orthrus and Rabbit Season, and did a speed bleeder install on Gregg. I ran out of brake fluid before I got to Scooty Puff Sr, but given I was about to take it and the two other BMWs in for an annual service (which should be wrapped up today) I wasn't too concerned.

I did, however, film the adventure.

Up and Around

It wouldn't be a proper send-off to the year without a nice long XC ride, and so it was that I saddled up on Blackbirb to climb Kennedy.

Thankfully I dressed warmer than I did on last year's ride, so I was quite comfortable for the whole time. I mean, other than huffing and wheezing and screaming in agony from the effort of the climb.

Not entirely sure how I kept a smile on my face like that.

The steepest parts of Kennedy and Priest Rock still elude me. I'm not alone in that, however, as I managed to catch up to another cyclist on Kennedy while they were in the process of pushing their bike up one of the steep bits. Later on Priest Rock I was passed by a pair of cyclists who were trying to do the "dogmeat challenge", which is to climb the upper part of Priest Rock without putting a foot down. About 5 minutes later, still well within sight, I saw one of them fall over and tumble back down the hill a little ways (he was fine). I think that counts as failing the challenge.

20 miles ridden, 4 hours door to door, 3.5 rolling, and 4642 feet of climbing.