Friday, April 13, 2012

I’m a born fettler

Something has stirred within me. It has been slowly awakening over the weeks and months as I’ve watched the progress of the Geared Facile. Something that has always been in me. And then I joined a Tweed Riding group and the monster that has lain dormant since I owned a 1975 Facelift Capri has awakened. The urge to tinker, to fettle, to play with bits of machinery and get grease under my nails.
So I’ve got myself a little project, I’ve been donated a small old roadie frame from, and I quote, “an Adonis of Tweed” and I bought a Japanese copy of an old Raleigh off tardme for donor parts. Both have been sitting in the garage for weeks, whispering their siren song to me every time I go in there. And finally last night the magic began.

The slow, incredibly fun process of stripping the old Jap of its parts. I had so much fun with my spanners, screw drivers and socket wrenches. Coaxing each rusty nut from its equally rusty bolt. Removing the old horn, the brake levers, the calipers and then moving on bravely to the cranks. I used the official Bob approved method of removing the non-drive side cotter pin: a socket and an F clamp (although a G clamp would have been preferable I did not have one of those available). Unfortunately my current state of feeble strength was not enough to free the beastie, but with the mighty arms of my husband we had the bugger out in a jiffy.

The drive side crank turned out to be an entirely different matter and with the light fading we decided to leave the bugger clamped tight under pressure overnight and I would take it to the maestro himself on the morrow. I felt I had achieved a lot in my 2 hours of fettling and spent the remainder of my evening polishing my horn (oooo missus!).

Today, after a trip to Mitre 10 and Repco for various stripping and polishing things I called into the office where the still lightly scarred Bob employed his G-Clamp on my resistant cotter pin. But to no avail. The little bugger would not budge. Bob now informed me there was nothing for it but to bash it stoutly with a hammer, while employing a steel rule as a guide to the hammer. Back at home I was quick to try this out and with three resounding whacks the cotter pin was out and not too badly damaged in the process.

My next task was to remove one of the grips so I could free the bars from the stem. A bucket of boiling water was employed as I fiddled about with the headset and forks. They are beyond salvage, but fortunately young Bob says he can “hook a burva up”* with a headset. After a decent amount of soaking the grip was worked off and the bars were free! I was very happy not to damage the grip in the process they are rather nice and in good nick.

Now the only task left to me was to remove the axle. I had no idea how to do it, but the lovely lads on Vorb provided awesome advice and before you could say “My, what a big wrench you have!” my hands were covered in ancient, disgusting grease and the axle and bearing cups were free. I also discovered why the axle felt so grindy, it’s missing 3 bearing in the drive side cup.

Now I have all my parts off the donor and the fun of rust removal and polishing has begun. I’ve started with the worst affected part, the bars. To be honest I thought these were a right off, but am pretty impressed with how well they’ve come up so far. Unfortunately my hands are much worse for wear. While long fingernails may be great and convenient for removing hardened grease, hardened grease seems to be impossible to remove from under fingernails. And my fingers are now tinged a “lovely” rust colour, as if I’m a French hobo in my late 60’s with a 3 pack a day smoking habit. There’s only one thing for it. I’ll have to get some swarfega! Yay.

And this evening I give you Bastian doing the “I’ll get you strange black thing behind me!” dance. He’s soooo silly.

*I believe Bob has never said the words “Hook a bruva up”, that is just my interpretation.


Anonymous said...

Dishwashing liquid and brown sugar works nicely on greasy hands. I haven't tried premixing them.

An old toothbrush can do a finer and gentler job under fingernails than a rough nail brush.

Using these items also makes it less obvious that you clean up bike parts in the kitchen sink.

Jo said...

Shampoo is one of the better degreasers. For grease under your nails just wash your hair vigorously.