Sunday, May 29, 2011

Working With My Hands

"People sleep peaceably in their beds at night only because rough men (and women) stand ready to do violence on their behalf."

Some attribute this quote to George Orwell. Others to Winston Churchill.  (I'm pretty sure both Orwell and Churchill were triathletes, I might tell you about it later). Others say that the quote was fabricated. Well, somebody said it and they were a genius. So, a big thank you to all of those rough men and women who stand ready on my behalf. I will sleep peacefully tonight and I know I owe you a great debt that I will never be able to repay except in the gratitude and pride I have for you and my country.

Happy Memorial Day to all of you!

Now, on to less serious matters, your regularly scheduled blog post...

As I go through the blogging experience, I am learning what I am good at and what I suck at. I have learned, so far, that I can run down hills. I have also learned that I suck at planning. My most recent revelation is that I can put things together, with my own 2 hands.

Roughly a year ago, the Banter In Law left his coveted Oklahoma in route for Upstate NY. He is a triathlete and we took advantage of our shared interest to hang out, train, and eventually race. None of that is remotely important to this post. The important part is how he noticed my rudimentary tools for bicycle maintenance.

I guess that triathlon has allowed our relationship to grow. He decided that the medical tray, which the Wife purchased at the YMCA fundraising garage sale, was not the greatest venue for working on your machine. I simply balanced the saddle on the end of the tray. It has a crank allowing me to adjust height. All I had to do was brace the front wheel to keep it from slipping. The BIL, noticing the limitations of this set-up, was over generous and bought me a bike repair stand for Christmas.

I spent my entire winter training in the basement leaving the bike repair stand virtually useless. In the midst of Helheim, I had no need of a stand when I had the trainer. Now that the weather has eased up a bit, I've gotten outside more often. Still, more times than not, Mother Nature has taken it upon herself to remind me who's in charge by raining on my rides repeatedly. Now, the BIL's clairvoyance has made itself incredibly obvious. Rain begets grub and grime, which begets a broken bike. I don't want a broken bike. It's time to bust out the repair shop, only 6 months after the gift was received. 'Nothing like doing things in a timely manner,' I tell myself.

Of course, receiving this gift from Oklahoma, means that it arrives un-assembled. Which means that some assembly is required. The BIL absolutely refused to come back to NY with the intention of assembling it for me (I didn't actually ask him, but I'm pretty sure I know his answer). Which means that I had to do the work myself. I do hate work.

Here are the instructions on the left. These directions are perfect for visual learners.  Just pictures and schematics. I had to make sense of these shots, with these parts on the right.

As you can see, the makers of Park Tools bike stuff expect me to build an entire bike repair rack in 4 steps. I was not sure that it could be achieved, but I was giving the PT people the benefit of the doubt. I settled in and got to work.

The great people at Park Tool also predict that a majority of their customers, myself included, are morons. Based on that data, PT takes no chances. They not only make sure to include directions that require zero literacy skills, but they also expect that you do not have the simplest tools. They want you to build your bike rack and have no excuses against it. Let's see how I did.

Part 1
Yup, no words. Simply take the claw thingy, pull it apart, plug it in to the T thingy, smash it together, and continue pushing on the claw thingy.

My creation even looks like the picture. I am 25% of the way finished, but I bet the more challenging steps are yet to come.

Part 2
Now, take the straight pole and remove its top. Slide the feet thingy all the way down to the bottom and put the top back on. This didn't seem too hard. And, once again, I nailed it. Either the people at Park Tool underestimated my talent or I am a freak of mechanical nature. Before I get the ego in full swing, I'd better see what's up next.

Part 3
I must admit that when I looked at the instructions for parts 2 and 3, I was a bit confused. See, both parts featured straight poles. I was concerned that I might mix them up and biff the entire project. That would mean I'd have to write the BIL and beg for an entire new kit. I closed my eyes and took a stab at it. Maybe I'll add 'lucky' to my skill set (although I don't think luck actually counts as a skill).

Here, I took the 2 remaining straight poles and attached them with the nuts and washers. Casey the Newfoundland seems most unimpressed. What does he know?

Part 4

Take the result from Part 1 and slam it down into the result from Part 3. Tighten the hex nuts. And then, [turning the page over and back], nothing. The instructions stop like a dead end street. That's all she wrote.

As I step back and look at the product, I think to myself, 'This looks exactly like the drawing on the front of the box!' I am an engineering master.

So, with my own 2 hands and 6 hours of labor, I turned this:

into this:

Now I am set for all of my garage repair needs. The BIL, knowing that I am a mental midget when it comes to mechanics, went so far as to include Park Tool's big blue book of bike maintenance. With the bike rack and bike book, I may cut down on my trips to the LBS to only once a month. I'm gonna miss those guys and gal.

I admit that I am a bit freaked out at the end of this process. Not because I am having post-mechanical depression (you know, the kind that shows up at the culmination of a large project and you don't know what do do with yourself now that it's done). I am a bit worried because I don't know what to do with the un-used parts. 

Are they extras or did I misread the instructions? Will this thing come apart on its own? Granted, it's just the free tools and a couple of washers, but this thing didn't have many parts to start with. Should my creation come crashing down, I doubt I would tell you. Pride and the ego will force me to act in a manner like nothing had happened. Deep down inside, I'll know the truth, and isn't that enough?

1 comment:

  1. Always loved that quote.
    Congrats on the upgrade.