Sunday, October 18, 2015

Calling the Whole Enterprise Into Question


The broken Park Tool chain tool with the broken piece in the center

I turned the stout handle on the seemingly well-built chain tool to press out the rivet on a new chain I was installing. I had measured the new chain to match the length of the old, and was cutting it shorter. This was perhaps the fifth or sixth time I used this tool for this purpose. The chain didn't seem to fit over the horns to the right. Since it's an 8 speed chain, I was thinking maybe the fatter chains go over the outer horns to press out rivets. Maybe that's wrong. Because with just a couple of turns, the horn snapped off with a soft little click.

That surprised me. Overall this thing is built very stoutly. Those steel outer shells seem much stronger than they might need to be, for example. You could bang on them with a hammer and nothing would happen. But that little chain horn, it snapped right off. I'm sure there are one or two guarantees or warranties I could take advantage of in response, but honestly, it's not really worth the time it would take to pack it up and ship it somewhere. A) I have another chain tool and B) I definitely don't want another one with horns like this one. Even if you're not supposed to put the chain over the left one to press out rivets. You're also not supposed to bang on those outer shells pieces with a hammer, either, but you could. If/when I buy another one, I'm looking for a design without little fragile horns that break off, even if you line up the chain wrong or try to use it on one rather than the other.

Events like this call the whole enterprise into question, though. If the engineers behind this tool, who must have decades of practical tool engineering added up to make this design, still turn out something that does this, when faced with real world forces and usage, what chance does any of us have when facing the same types of dynamics in our own day-to-day activities? 

This was a systematic fault, where the system consisted of this tool, my hands, the chain mounted on the horn of the tool, and the torque I was exerting on the handle converted into linear pressure against the pin which transferred to the base of the horn and snapped it off. By extension, I suppose, to the makers of the chain, the makers of the tool, the designer(s) of the tool, the steel mill, the miners who dug the ore, the sailors who carried the ore in the ship, the coal miners who mined the coal that made the coke used to make the steel, on and on, all of us in a related system, my muscle power (very little of it, in fact) turning the handle and disappointingly snapping off the horn. The locus of the fault was the base of the horn, the right angle corner where it joined the body, but the factors which met in that moment to press the fault from latency to actuality were vast.

This is one reason why I resist simplistic, scapegoaty answers when stuff like this happens. All those things, all those connected, related, and distant factors, don't convert from latent fault to actual fault on 18 Oct 2015 except by my agency in making it so. Perhaps another time, another place, another person, another chain, also this horn would snap off, but who knows the odds of those potential, non-factual non-actuals?

This one, I just learn from. No more chain tools for me like this one, no more snapping off this type of horn in this type of operation for this or similar reasons. A better, a stronger, a stouter, a different design, will all be in my future chain tool plus chain plus torque systematic meetings. I blame no one for this but me. I want nothing else from this experience but experience. Data to learn from. Future chain horn snappings to avoid, by me, with my particular, peculiar, but my own, combination of movement, force, agency. I don't plan to break any more of these, not like this.

I always carry the old ones, which I noticed are now marked "8SPD" which helps. E2 vs. C2 I need to learn.
  

6 comments:

  1. Perhaps that's why they came out with the 6.3. Cant imagine needing anything more than the CT-5 for myself. However Superbe makes a neat Chain rivet extractor tool.

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    1. I remember hearing an old saying to the effect that an expensive tool that works is cheaper than a broken tool. My sense is really the last thing in my life I need for the rest of my life is another broken chain tool. I think I'd rather find one that lasts and stick with it, even one overbuilt in order to over-guarantee that.

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  2. My latest park tool purchase was an IB-3 multi tool, which fell apart on the first ride (and was never used). I'm guessing that the "engineers" never actually used it to tighten a bolt, because it's quite poor for that (when assembled). I also find it very odd that it seems to get reasonably good reviews from the online media - maybe they just thought it looked cool?

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    1. I have several Park Tool tools which are very bike-specific things and are very good at their specialized jobs. The derailleur alignment gauge DAG-2 is an odd and great thing. The PW-4 pedal wrench looks like overkill till you use it a few times then you never want to go back. The PCS-10 home repair stand is about 1000 times better than ropes hanging from the rafters. The shop cone wrenches are good, simple things. I even like the 12ft tape measure that also has metric, since it was easy to find and economical. But I've had my share of duds from them, too, and wonder if it isn't partially up to them creating some very nice shop tools which seem relatively costly, then branching out into cheaper non-pro tools that are not quite as good. I'd like to think that Calvin Jones tries out all their tools for a week in the shop before they sell them. In reality, I'm guessing he never touches an IB-3 or a CT-6.2,

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  3. My favorite: a stout, easy to turn Park CT-3. I'll never hurt my hands again!

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    1. That looks like a sturdy tool, anniebikes. I still have an older Nashbar chain tool which I think is the same as a Lifu pro shop chain tool. If that ever breaks the CT 3.2 (or 3.x by that time) would be my next choice, I think.

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