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My favorite wheelbuilding tool

February 21st, 2015 [print] No comments

I just thought I’d pass this on for anyone who may be frustrated while trying to get spoke nipples into double-walled rims.

Instead of spending an hour trying to shake lost nipples out of the void, just use a Klein Tools Vaco K34 screw-holding driver to set them in place.  You just slide the sleeve toward the handle, hold the nipple on the tip of the driver, then slide it forward again to lock it in place.  Then insert into the rim, get a spoke on it, and release.

You can find one pretty much anywhere for less than $10.

Klein Tools Vaco K34

Klein Tools Vaco K34

How to Rivet an STI Cable Stop

November 13th, 2011 [print] No comments

In the process of modifying my Scrambler frame with cable stops, I ran into a problem:  how to rivet the stops in place.  Seems easy enough on the surface, but what I soon found was it’s impossible to get a rivet gun flat against the rivet heads.  In case anyone else has run into the same problem, I thought I’d share my method.

First, let’s do the brake cable stops.  Whether you’re going with standard ones, or the type that hold hydraulic brake lines, it’s pretty simple.  Drill a couple 1/8" holes where you want the stops.  Be very accurate with your measurements before you drill.  If the holes aren’t lined up with the holes on the stop, you’ve more or less just ruined your frame.  In fact, if you’re even off by a fraction of a millimeter, the rivets may go in, but end up a little crooked, and look like crap.  Use a center punch so the drill bit doesn’t walk, and drill a smaller pilot hole first.  I’d also suggest using aluminum rivets, since they’re lighter, don’t rust, and require less force to rivet than steel.

You’ll need rivets 3mm x 3mm in size, and they’re easy to find at any hardware store for about $5 for 100 of them.

Okay, here’s the problem you’re going to have:  once the holes are drilled, and the stops are zip tied in place, you’re going to realize there’s no way to place the head of the rivet gun flat against the head of the rivet because it’s in a recessed area.

Click for larger image

Here’s the solution:  go to a hardware store, like Ace Hardware, etc, and buy a couple aluminum spacers 1/2" long and 1/4" diameter.  One of them will need to be cut down to about 9mm long for a standard cable stop.  Use a fine tooth hacksaw blade and a vise to cut it, but save both pieces.  Also, be sure to compensate for blade thickness, because you really need it to be 9mm long so that it clears the stop, but allows enough of the rivet pin to stick through so the gun can grab it.

Now, put the rivet in place through the stop and frame, and slide the 9mm spacer down the rivet pin.  It will rest against the rivet head, and give the rivet gun’s head something to push against.  A couple squeezes of the gun handle, and the pin should break as the rivet permanently clamps the to objects together.

(Tip:  wrap electrical tape around the entire area, because once the pin breaks, the gun may fly forward and ding the frame or scratch your paint.)

The brake cable stops were the easy part, but the STI stop will take a little more effort.  For the record, I didn’t come up with this idea.  I racked my brain for days trying to figure out how I’d get the STI stop riveted on, since putting enough spacers in place for the gun to clear the stop, meant there wasn’t enough pin exposed for the gun to grab onto.  I mentioned it to a guy I know, and he came up with an idea that saved my day:  pull the pin out of a longer rivet, and use it in the shorter one.  I had no idea the pin could be removed, but it can…

I headed back to Lowes, and bough a box of 3mm x 1/2" rivets, since that was the longest they had in 3mm diameter.  If you can find something longer, go for it, but 1/2" gets the job done.

Next, it’s time to do some pin swapping.  Unlike steel rivets, where the pin easily slips out by hand, it’s in there a lot tighter in an aluminum rivet.  I ended up using an adjustable wrench–wrapped around the rivet, just under the head–to press the rivet off the pin, against a hard tile.

This first photo shows how the pins are the same length above the heads, but it’s much longer under the head on the 1/2" rivet.

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With the rivets pulled off the pins, you get an idea how much longer one is than the other.

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Next, do the swap, again using an adjustable wrench to force the pin onto the rivet.

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Now, it’s time to add some spacers.  Remember that piece I told you to hold onto from the cut spacer?  Well, slip it, and the uncut 1/2" spacer onto the rivet pin, and you have enough to clear the taller STI stop, with enough exposed pin for the rivet gun to grab onto.

Click for larger image

You can discard the leftover 1/2" rivet and shorter pin.  When you’re all done, you should have something like this:

Click for larger image

One other thing I’ll add is, if you’re doing this to a steel frame, put a tiny bit of grease around the edges of the holes you drilled in the frame, and between the frame and the stop.  It’ll work as a water-tight barrier to help prevent rust.  That’s a little bit of grease being squeezed out near the upper rivet in my photo, so I know I have a good seal.

Links:

Standard aluminum brake cable stop (also in black)
STI derailer cable stop
Standard rivet gun

Screw you, Shimano

February 16th, 2011 [print] No comments

Shimano Dura Ace BL-TT78 brake levers come with set screws, which you can use to adjust your reach to the lever.  There are very few levers–road or MTB–on the market that don’t offer reach adjustability.  However, the BL-TT78s are the first I’ve encountered that have plastic screws.

To save maybe a gram of weight, Shimano chose to go with plastic screws, and they also cut them extremely short.  An extra 3mm would have worked wonders, so what’s the point in making them so short?  Not aware of either the material or the length, I began tightening them to shorten the reach of my levers to the point that I could get the first bend of my index finger around them, only to reach bottom, and then snap the head right off one of them.  Had the screw been metal, I could have felt that it bottomed out, but because the plastic is so soft, it’s almost impossible to distinguish a difference in torque between the screw turning freely, and the head twisting against the shaft of the screw as it’s breaking off.

Click for larger image

Fortunately, I only made the mistake once, so I only had one headless screw shaft to get back out of the lever–not an easy task.  The other one, which you can see in the photo above, is still intact, so it was to be my reference for going to the hardware store and finding a new one with the same diameter and thread count.  I don’t know how many hours of my life I’ve wasted in hardware stores, trying to find screws, bolts or nuts that don’t exist, and I guess my subconscious decided to save me all the trouble before I did it again.

As I was getting ready to walk out the door, I suddenly got the idea that I should go check some old MTB-style Shimano brake levers, on the off chance that the set screw might have the same thread size.  As luck would have it, it did.  It was also much longer than I needed, which gave me the ability to cut it down to the right size (middle screw).  Hacksaw > file > done.  It turned out so well, I went ahead and did a pair, so now as I bottom the screws out inside the levers, they’re at exactly the right reach for my hands.

It was an hour or more wasted because Shimano made a bad design choice, but at least I worked it out.  In the end, I gained 1 measly gram.

I’ll leave this posted as a how-to for anyone else who may come across the same problem.

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How to Adjust Epicon / Axon Fork Travel

August 12th, 2010 [print] 30 comments

SR Suntour ships its SF9 Epicon RLD and Axon RLD forks with 100mm of travel, however, both can be adjusted to 80mm, 120mm, or 140mm if you need more or less travel.  For this How-To, I’m using my 2009 Epicon RLD, but the Axon’s travel is adjusted the same way.  The only difference between the two is how much torque you use when tightening the lower bolts during re-assembly, so pay attention to that part.

First, you’re going to need a few things:

—  5mm and 8mm Allen wrenches (or 8mm & 10mm for the Axon)
—  large adjustable wrench
—  rubber mallet or dead-blow hammer
—  grease
—  fork air pump
—  in-lb torque wrench with 5mm and 8mm bits (or 8mm & 10mm for the Axon)
—  various shop towels
—  hammer
—  pin driver
—  bench vise or something similar

** Don’t even bother with this if you don’t have all the above tools already at hand, unless you want to end up with a (partially) disassembled fork, broken parts, and a bike that can’t be ridden until you have it put back together again.

As I mentioned, my Epicon came with 100mm of travel.  It raised the front end of my bike about 1.5" over my rigid fork, slowing cornering response.  I ended up lowering it to 80mm, and I’ve been riding it like that for the past few months.  After my little flight over the handlebars last week, though, I thought I’d raise it again, giving me less of a forward-leaning stance, and perhaps lessening my chances of that happening again.  Besides, I’m close to giving this fork a full review, and I figured it’d be better to try it at different travel lengths to see how it performs overall.

Instead of going back to 100mm, I decided to go to 120mm, which is the most amount of fork travel I’ve ever had (as a long-time XC rider, I spent about a decade at 80mm, or on a rigid fork).  My frame came stock with a 100mm fork, so going to 120mm adds some stress, but not so much that the frame can’t take it.  However, I think 140mm would be pushing it a bit much, and I don’t want to take a chance with snapping my head tube.

Here’s the fork before I took it apart, still set at 80mm of travel.

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Read more…

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How to Remove a Star Nut

August 7th, 2010 [print] 13 comments

Removing the star fangled nut from your fork’s steerer tube probably seems like a pain in the ass, but it’s actually quite simple.  Many people have given up trying to get one out, since they can only be hammered down, and not pulled back out from above.  The lazy way to go about it is to simply hammer the existing nut further down inside the steerer tube, then installing a new one above it.  But chances are you found this page because you’re wanting to go about it the proper way, by actually removing the old one.

First off, you’ll need a few tools, but there’s a good chance you already have everything you need:

— A drill
— 5/16" drill bit
— hammer
— flat-head screwdriver
— needle-nosed pliers and/or a hook

The star fangled nut basically consists of two similar ends riveted togetther about 3/8" apart.  The rivet is the part we need to attack, and once it’s out of the way, the rest is easy…

Click for larger image

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Bad Idea of the Day: Spin Scooter

July 22nd, 2010 [print] No comments

Whatever you do, don’t build this thing:

http://www.instructables.com/id/Build-the-SpinScooter/

I think the builder sums it up best with this:

"…and sometimes these creations fail, either in a huge flop, or a blaze of glory where the crash test pilot becomes acquainted with the pavement."

On second thought, build it and send me a link to your initial test drive.

Via:  Instructables

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How to Change Cateye Loop Battery

June 27th, 2010 [print] 1 comment

Changing batteries in the Cateye Loop is extremely easy, but only once you know how.  I tossed the packaging the day I got it, and I don’t see instructions online, so I had to figure it out for myself.  If you’re having trouble getting it apart–since it’s not at first obvious–then follow the instructions below.

First, grab a flathead screwdriver.  I took the headlight off my bike while I did this, but you an just as easily leave it mounted.

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How to Be Awesome

June 24th, 2010 [print] No comments

This is how.

How to be awesome

It’s all about the Special Purpose.

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Instructables: Bamboo Bike

June 12th, 2010 [print] No comments

Speaking of bamboo bike frames, if you’re more of the DIY type, BAMBOOBIKER over on Instructables.com just put up a new post on how to make your own.

Basically, you’ll need an old frame, some bamboo tubing, and a whole lot of free time, but it looks like a great project for someone who likes to get their hands dirty.

Image credit: BAMBOOBIKER - http://www.instructables.com/id/Bamboo-Bike-2/
Photo credit: BAMBOOBIKER

Instructables.com

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How to Make Your Own Cycling Shoes

May 5th, 2010 [print] 2 comments

I don’t normally do DIY posts, but since this project is both simple, cheap, and easy to explain, I figured I’d share.  Basically, all we’re doing here is turning a pair of normal shoes into incognito cycling shoes for use with clipless pedals.  As we all know, typical cycling shoes look pretty damn dorky, so it’d be nice to have a pair of shoes that you could put on to ride over to a buddy’s house in a pair of bluejeans should the occasion arise.  Or, maybe you’re headed to class, don’t plan on doing much walking, and it’d just be easier to take some cycling-specific shoes that don’t shout to everyone that you’re a lame-o cyclist.

Whatever your need for them, here’s how you’re gonna do it…

What you need:

— 1pr of old cycling shoes (yours or someone else’s, but make sure they fit your feet)
— 1pr of normal shoes
— A box cutter, plus scissors or whatever other cutting device you’d like to use
— Contact cement or other extremely strong clue
— Something to mark a cutting template with, such as tape or a paint marker
— Old newspaper

Step 1 – Find some old cycling shoes.  You probably have an old pair that you never threw out, but if not, then hit up your buddies, local bike shops, or beg for some on Craigslist.  Either way, get some and try not to spend any money on them since you’re about to tear them to pieces.  Just about anything willl work, so for my project, I used some 7-yr-old Cannondale mountain bike shoes that I replaced last year.

Click for larger image

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