Sunday, October 3, 2010


This Old Chain

This old chain has thousands of miles on it. I kept it lubed and fairly clean, measured it regularly, and watched it slowly stretch as the miles rolled on. When the tool finally indicated 1%, I replaced the chain with a new one. It's a pretty easy swap, with instructions aplenty on the net and in bike repair books. I would just note that it is easier with a shop chain tool rather than a mini-tool version because the larger handle and driver T-bar making quick work of pushing pins, and give a finer level of adjustment to make sure the pin goes in just the right amount. 

Also, for reasons I can't quite explain, my old chain was exactly one link longer than the Park Tool BBB-2 recommends, so I cut the new one to the same length as the old one, being superstitious and unwilling to anger the drive train gremlins. Perhaps the indestructible Biopace chainrings require a little longer chain in their eccentric orbits. No I don't like them for any particular reason other than that they never seem to wear out as long as I keep them wiped clean and the chain lubed.

Finally, this may be the first chain I've replaced using a real bike repair stand, instead of ropes hanging from the ceiling, or no stand at all, and I gotta say, once again, there's thought and purpose that go into bicycle-specific tools which renders them particularly useful and effective. I could sit on a stool (although I don't have a bicycle-specific stool like the Park Tool STL-2 rolling stool that the barista in the the mobile espresso van was rocking at the GABA bike swap in Tucson, it seems like other than the coolness factor any rolling repair stool would do), rather than sit on the floor or bend over, and easily adjust the height of the stand so the chain was just at the right height to work on. And the clamp on the stand rotates to grab any tube that you need it to.

With a fresh chain, Yasuko the cruisemuter seems ready to carry me and Gumby for thousands of more miles down that happy commuter path. Which is good, because I am killing my car slowly, bit by bit, through disuse, as parts slowly fall off of it and turn to dust. I did put the car battery on the charger today because part of me is resistant to let it go without a fight, but the evidence is growing pretty strong that we don't need two cars in this house, and that I can get by pretty well thank you with little or no car driving except for the occasional family road trip.   

Can't be good for the battery life

Nowhere on the web can I find a site which suggests that it's a good idea to charge a 12V lead-acid car battery at 14.9 V when the ambient temperature is 102F like it was this afternoon, which is what the "smart" charger did. Yet, it actually seemed to get the job done without overheating the battery or boiling the electrolyte. 

Honestly, between the two tasks, I enjoyed getting a little greasy while putting on a new bicycle chain a lot more. It didn't help that someone else had put away the extension cord in a mess, and I had to resolve that before carrying on with the charging. Since no one else in the household uses the bike tools but me, at least not yet, I don't have that problem currently, although once older daughter starts wearing out chains, I imagine she'll be misplacing the shop chain tool and I'll have to sort that out. Which isn't the worst problem to have, is it. Get up. Go ride.



  1. I have a lot of old chains. I've been saving them for a art project. Unfortunately I haven't thought of one yet. I am hoping it will come to me someday.
    Let me tell you from experience it's not good to let your car crumble away. I am bring mine back and it's a lot of work.
    I am rebuilding the old Schwinn that is my mainstay and it is a lot more gratifying and fun than working on a car.

  2. A real repair stand? For a chain? Wow!

  3. Steve, next up: a three part series on advances in technology of real cable end caps (hint: GID tritium inlay w/GPS technology!)

    Oldfool I am looking forward to your What I Did With My Old Chains (and what they did to me) post.

  4. Oldfool, I was just thinking the other day about what I could do with those chains if I had a MIG or a TIG.
    JRA, watch that battery. I've seen a couple blow because of overheating/improper venting.


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