Friday, April 30, 2021

Only flat on the bottom

So when I was out grocery shopping yesterday, I forgot that I wanted to pick up a few extra bits and bobs to try out a new dish, which I will cover in a future blog post. In order to remedy this oversight, I decided to take my electric scooter out for a little spin down to the local grocery store.

Now I hadn't ridden the scooter in a hot minute so the tires were a bit on the soft side, but I figured it wouldn't be the end of the world and might help soak up a bit of the pavement buzz. So off I went.

The trip started out quite well, save for one spot where the sidewalk inconveniently ended. I had to wait a good three minutes or so to get enough of a gap in the traffic to scamper across the street and continue on my way. Inconvenient but not disastrous.

Of course, starting quite well doesn't mean ending quite well, and as luck would have it I ran over a particularly large rock just as I was about to pull into the parking lot of the grocery store. It was just large and pointy enough to put a nice pinhole in the tube in the front tire.

Naturally the parking lot of the grocery store was basically the furthest point of my journey from my house, approximately 2 miles, so of course that's where I got the flat tire.

Undeterred, I did my shopping and then considered my options for the return trip. I started walking home just pushing the scooter along, but I noticed that the sidewalls of the front tire were stiff enough so that the tire wasn't completely collapsing under the weight of the scooter. This gave me an idea, and after a little experimentation I determined that if I stood on the very back of the scooter right next to the rear wheel I could still roll along without destroying the front tire. So roll I did, all the way home, albeit a bit awkwardly.

Once home I packed away my grocery haul and set about fixing the flat. I'm going to insert the 'after' picture here just to give some context.

The scooter is, for various reasons, front-wheel drive. And for various, mostly cosmetic, reasons it has little covers that go over the axles. And for other cosmetic reasons it has stickers that cover over the bolts that hold the covers that go over the axles. Repairing a flat definitely isn't a "quick fix on the side of the road" type of procedure.

Off came the stickers; off came the bolts; off came the covers, and then I had to deal with the axle nuts.

This is where things started to get even more fun: the axle nuts are 18mm. Almost every set of metric wrenches and sockets you'll ever find comes with 17mm and 19mm sizes, but never 18mm. I did just happen to have an 18mm socket, by some strange twist of luck, but that would only do for one side: the other side had the power cable going through the middle of it.

Now you may well say "just use an adjustable wrench, you silly goose", but that brings us to the next issue: the axle threads were absolutely plastered with red loctite.

That said, getting the one side off using the 18mm socket was a bit of a bear but basically manageable, and luckily the power-side had a bit less loctite on it and so the nut didn't get completely rounded over by me going all bubba on it with the adjustable wrench, so all's well that ends well. Still, not ideal.

Of course, this just lead to the next painful job: getting the tire off. As I mentioned earlier, the sidewalls on this tire are quite thick and stiff, and that generally makes getting tires on and off the rim a pain in the ass. The small wheel diameter also didn't help things one bit, nor did the fact that the wheel was tethered to the rest of the scooter by the non-removable power cable. Still, through all those trials I somehow managed it.

Patching the tube was honestly the easiest part of the whole process, and then I had to do all the steps in reverse again. About the only step that was easier to do backwards was dealing with the axle nuts, since I didn't have to fight with the loctite.

Anyway, I did manage to get everything buttoned up, get air in the tire, and go for a spin around the block to test it out.

The repair was a success. Job done.

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