Wednesday, 11 April 2012

Wheel Building

It's surprising how little fettling you can do with the tops of four fingers missing (see below), however, I've tried to be a brave little soldier and this week I've built the wheels up. If you recall, I'd been itching to do this but I had to wait for the paint on the rims to cure properly. Lacing the rims to the hubs is easy and just requires poking spokes through the rim and screwing into the appropriate hole in the hub.

I started with the rear wheel as it is smaller and I can fit it into my wheel truing jig. 

Radially spoked wheels go from loose to very tight in about a turn and a half, so it is important to take it easy when starting off otherwise the rim may well be straight but not very round. The strength of the hollow steel rims means that there isn't a great deal that can be done about larger bumps and kinks in the rim, these have to be worked around as best you can. Also the wheel has to be trued so that the outer, hollow well where the tyring sits is true, not necessarily the sides or inner edge. 

Spoke grip in use.

The spoke key used is a special little clamp that is tightened onto each spoke in order to turn it. This takes a little time as you can imagine and means that the process cannot be hurried. These spoke grips are not uncommon and can be found relatively easily. They were made in quite a few variations and it is fun to collect as many types as you can. Not many people outside of this antique cycle world would know what one is used for but since they are small they are thrown in a drawer and forgotten about. They seem to have been made in large numbers as I have seen them advertised for sale in catalogues as late as the 1910s, though not for their original purpose. I made a small run of replicas some years ago and I've been using them since in preference to my originals.

Abingdon King Dick Spoke Grip advertised in 1912. This is the same Abingdon Works Co. that made the Abingdon ball head on the geared facile. I suspect that spoke grips were made in vast numbers and these advertised here are New Old Stock rather than current production.

Before I can lace the front wheel I need to machine the bore of the sun gear, this is the main gear that mounts to the end of the live axle. When the wheel is built it would not be possible to offer the axle up to the lathe to check for a nice fit.

This really does have to be accurate as all the torque to drive the machine
 relies on this fit, sloppiness would soon cause excessive wear and failure. 

Checking the fit.

Actually, I got a bit carried away and made the entire blank rather than just the bore. I like turning and the time just seemed to disappear. The gear is made from 4140 as it will need to be hardened. I may carry on and finish it off before I do anything else, I don't like leaving things half finished.

The front wheel was laced first and then trued by installing into the forks and truing in situ. 

Now that both wheels are complete, it is possible to get an idea of the scale of the bike by comparing it to other contemporary designs. It really is tiny.

As compared to a contemporary bicycle...

...and as compared to a contemporary safety.

In other news, Le Race didn't go exactly as planned. I'd stayed the night in Christchurch so I could just ride around the corner to the start in the morning. I got a good position on the grid and I didn't need a pee as the race started so pretty good so far. The usual high speed sprint down Colombo street (on wet roads) was followed by the first climb up Dyers Pass. I felt great and was pretty close to the pointy end of things, I was climbing well and riding comfortably when I got a rear wheel puncture. Glass, it's always bloody glass in Christchurch and this was on a new Vittoria open Corsa, my all time favourite tyre. I changed the tube and blew it up with one of those new fangled carbon dioxide cylinders but by this time I'd lost minutes and hundreds of cyclists had gone past me. Starting off again in my haste, I left my glasses at the side of the road. About now I realised that a decent time was not going to happen so I decided to just enjoy the ride. As I was now towards the back of the race amongst the slower riders, I found I was having to overtake everybody to climb at my comfortable pace, this is not too easy with large bunches without crossing the centre line and I was held up in the early stages. My bunch going across the flats was only about 8 riders and with most people having a go at the front we were still pretty slow. Le Race only really starts when you begin the climb up to Hill Top,

I love this section of the race and made up a lot of time on this hilly bit. 

As we approached Akaroa, I was catching riders I'd been with at the start, then came the final descent into Akaroa. Long Bay Road has a bad reputation as a dangerous descent on a bike. True, it starts above 600m and less than 6km later is at sea level. True, it has a crappy surface. True, it has many sharp bends, some of which are off camber, some tighten up on you and some are covered in gravel. True, the exposed saddle often has a nasty cross wind to catch you out.

Now, where Long Bay Road rejoins the main Christchurch Akaroa Road, the race route turns hard left and goes down the Old Coach Road. This road is very steep and requires care, unfortunately I was descending like a complete twat and lost the front wheel on the first right hand bend. Remember those wet roads? The slide took ages and I had time to consider my impending doom before I comprehensibly grated myself down the coarse chip seal. The marshalls were alerted by following riders and I was in the back of an ambulance in just a few minutes. When doing these kinds of rides, I make a point of thanking the marshalls as I ride past, it's volunteers like these that make these events possible, just something to consider. Anyway, the marshalls and the St. John Ambulance guys were fantastic. Roughly an hour later, I gingerly rolled down the remainder of the hill and crossed the finish line under my own steam to sympathetic applause.


Later as Sue & Colleen from the Akaroa Health Centre stitched me up, I reflected on how lucky I had been not to break anything. Now 10 days later, I'm well on the mend although my right knee will be a long time healing as I sanded it right down to the bone. I haven't looked at the bike yet, I daren't. It's my favourite 'modern' bike, a 1996 Argos built for me from the first batch of Reynolds 853 with lovely clunky 8 speed Campagnolo Record components. I think it's mostly OK. My beautiful new disco slippers are ruined as is my helmet. The clock read 4:11 as I crossed the line, my bike computer said 3:13. I think without the incidents, I'd have done the ride somewhere between 3:00 and 3:10, not too bad for a old, fat retrogrouch on a 'vintage' bike. I'll have to do it again next year. If my lovely wife will allow it.

1 comment:

  1. Oouuch!! That look like it hurt! One of the things i am loving about 3 wheels is not worrying about that road surface!
    P.S. Enjoy the blog!