Broken off seat clamps

Sam is my friend although he is Scottish. The Scots are faultless (Hamish told me) but Sam does have one fault which is that every time he goes near a recumbent it breaks. No - hold - he has another fault which is that he oils his chains. - And actually he has another fault, which is that the bearded Celtic kilt-wearing bagpipe-playing Gaelic-speaking midge-slapping baaaaarstard doesn't bloody well clean the black ucky sticky horrible oil off his machines before handing them to me to fix. So I get oily fingers and oily bench-edges and oily inside-of-vans and oily bench-press-handles and no doubt other oily bits that I won't find till later when my wife draws my attention to oily shirts. Amazing what you brush a machine against when you bring it into the workshop.

I am therefore very kindly going to offer two Useful Tips as a timely present to all Scottish Persons before the New Year reduces them to the usual insensate alcoholic stupor.

1. Prior to getting someone to weld something back onto your machine, clean it. Clean oil off the frame. Clean oil off the front chainrings. Clean oil off the rear cluster. Clean oil off the underside of the handlebar and clean oil off the rear mech and the front mech and the idler wheel and the rear rack and the oily, black, disgusting back wheel-spokes. And finally clean oil off the cable housings. And if you are Scottish keep the resultant black rag and you can sell it to Canada when the Athabasca sands run out.
2. Whatever possesses you to oil your chain anyway? It only makes you feel better, not the chain. The chain is a tension member and needs lubricating only when it snakes its way round the chainrings or idler wheels. Road dust+oil is a penetrative lapping compound and helps to wear it out. Chain maintenance is done by waxing. This is not a new idea: 'tis as old as the bicycle. Remove chain; place in saucepan of wax; deep fry; remove; cool; replace. About once a month works for me and I don't even clean the chain before waxing because there never seems to be any dust to clean off because road dust doesn't stick to dry wax. (Though I graciously permit the use of oil inside a fully enclosed chaincase to which road dust doesn't have access.)
3. If you are Young and Disputatious and feel that I am a pedantic old git, which view has some merit because it does in fact happen to be the case, and you persist in besmearing your exquisite machines with inappropriate lubricants then removal of oil from hands is best effected with soap and sawdust. This isn't a new trick either; everyone did it until Swarfega advertising executives persuaded us daily to daub unknown chemicals on our hands at five o'clock and leave a ghastly black residue in the tea-room basin. Wet the fingers, rub a little soap on, and dip generously in sawdust. Make hand motions like Lady Macbeth. Rinse off and lo! the oil is stuck to the sawdust and you can go inside and play your violin with impunity.
4. If you weld a flat plate to the middle of a flimsy bit of box-section it had better be for a low-stress joint. Seat bases are not low-stress. Pedalling a recumbent produces a slight swaying motion of the pelvic girdle. Not many metals particularly enjoy constant twisting strains.
5. I can't count to two.
How the seat base is clamped

As a matter of fact when I ground all the paint off the broken bits of Sam's bike I found that it had broken before at the same place and someone had brazed the plates back on. They are now beefed up with small triangles and my big ugly blobby welds and we shall see how long it takes Sam to bust them again, and then we shall further see if he reads this blog because if he does, the sporran-swinging claymore-waving peat-burning oat-eating baaaaarstard'll then kindly return the machine to me in absolutely pristine condition and the sawdust quotient of his bathroom waste-pipe will be high but there won't be any oil on the holes of his chanter.
Monday, December 21, 2009 9:03:00 AM Categories: Chain case engineering problems maintenance

Rain Bike 

It is raining. It rained yesterday, and the day before that, and before that; indeed it has rained for forty days and forty nights. Certainly feels like it. Had Noah gone into his garden to pick up fallen grapefruits - I'm extrapolating - he'd have worn wellies because the water would have oozed out of the soil over the top of his toes.
Accordingly I have not been riding my recumbents because they are all wusses. (I believe that is the term. One endeavours to keep up-to-date with these neologisms, though one can hardly claim that 'wuss' is a particularly refulgent term. - Refulgent - now there's a word that shouldn't be allowed to fall into desuetude.) - My recumbents don't like rain because they each possess 150 inches of chain and I am one of those glorious obsessives who boil up chains in candlewax because oil + road dust = lapping compound. Because I am obsessive at least one of my waxed chains has 4,000 miles on it and no measureable wear. But candlewax isn't very good at rain repulsion, is the truth, and waxing chains is  - well - you insert an appropriate neologism.
To effect the purchase of two litres of milk I have been riding my Rain Bike. Milk deliveries here ceased when Corporate Executives learnt it was cheaper to have millions of plastic two-litre milk containers bobbing up and down  in the middle of the Pacific Gyre than to wash and re-use glass milk bottles. This is called Progress, which Corporate Executives assure us you can't stop. Among car drivers glass bottles remain de rigeur for beer, and after contentedly swigging most of the beer they cast the bottles out of their passenger windows where they turn into punctures. Once I saw a drunken possum, sitting happily at the side of the road licking his paws next to an unbroken beer bottle. He was most comical. We're supposed to kill possums but I can't ever persuade myself to. It'd be like killing a teddy bear. I daresay your average New Zealander would classify me as a wuss.
To buy milk I have to cycle into Motueka and this involves 8 glorious miles up the west bank of the Motueka River and 7 glorious miles back along the other side to Motueka town, and then 2 rather inglorious urban miles, dodging shattered brown glass, back over the Motueka Bridge. The Bridge is actually only a quarter of a mile from our house and one could nip in and out in half an hour if the Motueka Valley wasn't so lovely to ride. - One could probably obtain the milk for nothing if one could cycle with a pail because there are cows all over the place, each producing (according to a new report by Fonterra, a NZ company that trades in milk) 0.94 kg of carbon dioxide equivalents per kg of liquid milk. - Exam question: Discuss the morality of not being a vegan. -
My rain bike came off the Dump and cost me $40 which is sixteen pounds in civilised coinage. I bought it for the bits because it has drum Sachs brakes front and rear and I also bought a Raleigh Sports - also a lady's model and also for $40 - because that had Sturmey Archer drum brakes front and rear, but then I noticed that both were intact except for air in their tyres and moreover both of them had chain cases. And on the back of their mudguards there were little stickers that said 'Kersten Tweewielers' and 'Van Megen Tweewielers Willemsweg 98 Tel. 565224 Nijmegen' and I had to keep them exactly as they were to remind me of going Abroad to the Continong where people made exotic sounds with their mouths that sounded very like speech but couldn't have been because it wasn't English, and where there were fabulous little cafes where you could sit and drink cold lager that tasted Foreign and you could buy schnitzel that tasted superb until someone told you how veal is reared. - Exam question: Discuss the morality etc. and we're back to milk production again.
The Dump had these two ladies' bikes, one large and one small, and each had 3 hub gears which are fine for the Motueka valley road which is flat but must have been taxing to a pair of Dutch lesbians who emigrated from the flat lands of Holland, I deduce, to the hilly country of New Zealand. Because otherwise they wouldn't have taken them to the Dump.

My Rain Bike

Anyway now I have two bicycles that don't get their chains waxed. They get liberally soused in oil. And the oil picks up no abrasive road dust because the chains are inside these cases and my trouser-legs pick up no oil, actually because they're safely tucked up inside my wellies when I ride my Rain Bike, and my wife rides her Rain Bike to Motueka secure in the knowledge that nobody'll nick it from outside the surgery because what fifteen-year-old would want a Raleigh Sport with three gears and drum brakes and a chaincase?
However, you are right. That is, actually, the uncomfortablest saddle in the entire world.
I just wish I was as clever as Clemens Bucher.

Clemens Bucher's Rain Bike, nicked from

Friday, June 12, 2009 11:57:38 PM Categories: Chain case
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