I’ve become a bit of a wrench…

I find myself as a sort of semi pro bike mechanic these days. I’ve currently got a Specialized Tarmac, Specialized Venge, Cannondale Synapse, and a LiteSpeed something other in the house and garage for various types of service, as well as a friends wheels for tubeless setup. I don’t know how this happened really, I’ve never advertised my services, and I have no interest in doing it for real money. It just seems to spread by word of mouth. Later today a lady I don’t even know is bringing a Surly by, which is a cool enough bike. She thinks it’s a broken shift cable, but isn’t sure.

I think right now this is happening because COVID has overwhelmed the bike shops around here as everyone is taking up riding again. I’ve heard time and again that the shops can’t get bikes in fast enough to meet the demand, and their service departments are crushed. When you add in the sticker shock that lots of part time riders get when you quote them legit service rates (mechanics gotta eat!) you get this casting around looking for alternatives. “It’ll be 100.00 to change a cable and adjust derailleurs, and we can look at it in September…”

I usually charge parts plus a bag of coffee, or if Jackson is helping a 6 or 12 pack of root-beer. Jack helped rebuild the Canny V500 we did earlier this year, and he has helped in some capacity on most of the bikes. He digs the mechanical simplicity of a good bike drivetrain. I don’t have any overhead, I have the tools from my own fleet maintenance projects, and I work when I want, so I guess this makes me more approachable.

One thing I wouldn’t mind doing is getting more involved with a racer. Keeping a race bike, or a couple race bikes up and ready to roll would be satisfying, I may pursue that if the season every gets under way again. Maybe a Cross racer, or a Cross Country MTB rider. I haven’t done any racing myself in a very long time, and I kinda miss the scene. I’ve got the little bike club setup, but I haven’t gone anywhere with it since COVID has come on. The original idea was to have kind of loose co-op of riders and racers just build some comradery and get more people turning legs. I’d still like to keep that the focus, but its a cool theme to use for racers.

Jackson seems to be enjoying the service aspect as well, he likes being the different solutions to problems the companies come up with. I’m rebuilding my older Campy stuff right now with an eye on a classic Colnago to carry it around, maybe something Ti just for kicks, and that has hi lighted the differences and similarity between Shimano and Campy to both him and me. They are more alike than different mechanically, but more different than alike ergonomically on the older stuff, though the new stuff is almost the same.

This reminds me I need to rebuild my fork…

landcruiser transport

Fixes and Things –

Or “The Exciting World of Old Landcruiser Ownership”

So friday as I left for work, I suddenly got every warning light in my truck lit and beeping, telling me “she cant take na more!”. I thought it was just an error from having washed pollen off and heavily spraying the area around the cowl, but pretty quick, almost as fast as I turned onto McNeil the temp gauge went up and it became apparent that something was wrong. Since the temperature was involved, and you cant play with overheating on these vehicles, I pulled over and shut her off. As soon as I stepped out I heard the bubbling and knew it really was hot, not just an erroneous error light, so I popped the hood and one of my two alternator/water pump belts was hanging in pieces, and the other was wrapped around the crank pulley. Since the truck has two, I could have reset the remaining good one and limped along, but I was only a couple of blocks from home so I let her cool and then drove home in two stages and parked her.

that’s not right…
The lights weren’t wrong…

I ordered the belts from Toyota of Cedar Park, and of course they wouldn’t be in til Saturday (life with a 25 year old truck). Saturday we had Jack’s Drill Meet, Hal Aaron, and it ran late, and I didnt get out there to pick them up (they close at 5) but even so, luck had more in store for me, when we came out of the drill meet, all happy and pleased with ourselves, we found the right rear tire completely flat and the Buick sitting hard on the pavement. Upon pulling it off I found two things, one it has a large screw broken off inside it, and two, the inner sidewall is trashed, and the tire isn’t fit for use. Clearly it had been driven on low pressure for a while, heating up the sidewall, and causing it to fail. Meh.

yeah, thats flat…
There’s a big ugly screw in there…

So my truck was down, and now Sam’s too, combine these two and you get a stressful week. I’ve been driving her car pn the donut spare all week waiting on additional Toyota parts, and she’s grumpy about not having wheels, I’m grumpy about not having MY wheels, and all in all it’s upsetting the normal flow around here. Everyone in this family is very resistant to change of any kind, except maybe for Jack, he doesn’t care, blissfully cruising through life.

We finally got out to Toyota of Cedar Park (Great dealership btw) on Monday morning and picked up the belts so that evening we started buttoning things back up.

New parts are so lovely…

Jack and I were making good progress til we test fit the radiator shroud and we very carefully broke the bypass nipple off the radiator. We had to MacGiver a fix since I couldn’t really wait two more weeks for the replacement radiator to arrive, 25 year old Landcruiser parts like that aren’t usually in stock at your local shop…

Nice clean threads

We ended up drilling out the area where the nipple attached, and tapping it for a 1/2 inch NPT fitting with a barb for the hose. There are few smaller options, and I was worried about not having enough material to make suitable threads with a smaller diameter fitting. It was somewhat stressful punching a big hole were only a tiny port was supposed to go, but since the radiator was broken, I couldn’t really make it worse, and we dove right in. We used a heat gun to soften and stress relieve the plastic around the fitting, and very slowly drilled the hole with a step bit to prevent bind cracking.

right before I epoxied it in

That went without a hitch, and we re-warmed the plastic, and slowly turned the fitting in to make threads in the plastic tank. Once it setup I screwed it back out, coated the threads in epoxy and screwed it back in hopefully permanently.

So far so good.

Its been 210 miles now and no leaks, so I think this will get me through a bit til I order the replacement radiator. I would have ordered it straight away but I had the unexpected expense of new tires for the Buick as I said, so wait we will. It has just been a perfect storm of vehicle issues this last week, and the pain is that I knew the belts needed replacing. I put it off last month and just tightened them to reduce noise. We had a lot going on with birthdays and work and inclement weather so I just pushed them a little too far.

This guy…

I would not have completed this work with my mental faculties intact without my Son Jack’s help. The guy is a trooper, and Mr Positivity on projects like this.

J removing the oil filter

He can just get in there and almost immediately see what needs to be done, and a good way to do it. Among other things, when I couldn’t get the stainless elbow for the thermostat to line up with the housing, and sat above watching me struggle with it til he saw what was happening and just reached down and slipped them together. I would have fought it for another hour at least. He says sometimes that he wants to be a mechanic, and I honestly can’t fault him, it’s a solid profession with the right training.

Mama got new shoes…

We put new tires on the Buick yesterday, and despite being about 1500.00 poorer, between the tires and various Toyota parts, my peace of mind is increased immeasurably. Cest ‘La Vie.

landcruiser transport

Four Wheels good…Two Wheels Better

I spent the weekend working on my truck. I originally intended to just do the brake rotors and pads out of expediency, but I found at least two frozen pistons in the drivers caliper, so now I’m doing the full monty.

The pad in the picture shows the frozen piston problem. Since those pistons don’t retract, that pad is in constant contact with the rotor.

The new rotors are “so choice” with drilled and slotted surfaces, and that nice shiny silver, which will immediately wear off. They look strange in there with the 250,000 mile hubs and such around them. I also took a few minutes to repack the wheel bearings on both sides. It’s an every 50,000 mile service per the manual, and I last did them less than 20k ago, but it was one of those, “since you’re in there..” things.

I replaced my front sway bar bushings, as the drivers side has been banging under me for a few hundred miles now. You can see from the picture why. The new bushing is on the left. While the fronts were toasted, I have the rears and I may go ahead just to get them done as well, though I’m having no problems with those.

I will order the new calipers today, and another tub of redline grease as i finally used the last of the tube I have, after 20 years, no kidding. I would guess it will be next Monday before I’m able to finish the work due to the lead time on getting the parts, which is going to put us in a bind next weekend. Maybe I’ll get lucky.

1600- I spoke with NAPA, the calipers are in Dallas, and I’ll, have them Wednesday morning. A quick look at the weather says Wednesday will be acceptable for installing them, so maybe if things go my way, I’ll be up and running Thursday morning. That would be nice.