Well, I promised the lows as well as the highs, and last night was definitely a low. On Tuesday evenings I head over to the Bristol Bike Project for their volunteers night, which usually gets really busy and involves me working with someone who is much more experienced than I am.
But with it being the lead up to Christmas, it was quiet, which meant I had my first taste of working alone.
Having been out of the game for 4 weeks, it’s needless to say that my first foray into solo bike mechanics did not go well.
I chose to work on this purple Raleigh Vixen, because it only needed a bit of work on the rear wheel and brakes. Perfect, I thought! I know wheels and brakes!
So I got to work. I chose a quiet corner, and decided to start with the hub and bearings: the first things I had ever learned.
I enjoyed my new found independence. I gave the washers a bit of a polish, and told myself I had plenty of time to get stuck in. The bearings were greased, the axle was in place , and I was ready to get the wheel back on.
3 hours, 3 tyre changes, 2 inner tubes and 2 wheels later, I had nothing to show for my work.
The wheel turned out to be a dud, and I had no chance of fitting it back into the dropouts. We decided to try a different one which, thankfully, didn’t need the hub dismantled.
I started again, fit the inner tube and tyre, and once again attempted to put the rear wheel back into the dropouts. Once again, no luck.
Basically the problem I had was that the drive side didn’t fit properly, and I didn’t have enough axle left to screw the wheel nut onto.
That was when I was introduced to the dishing tool and discovered that the second wheel was also a dud.
That’s just what comes with working at a community project where all the parts are donated. Generally they’re donated for a good reason.
So at the end of the night, all I could add to the paperwork was a note that the rear wheel had been replaced and the dish needed aligning. My vision of finishing a bike and starting a new one was grossly over optimistic.
So it wasn’t a great success. I didn’t have a lot of fun because the frustration was strong. I probably learned a few things that I’ll process once I’ve stopped punishing myself for my failure.
Note to self: use the axle soft jaws in the vice when fitting the axle back into place. It will save you time. And tears.