Tuesday, July 26, 2011

Equipment - Midsummer SRM Maintenance

With the hopes of racing today at the Rent, I wanted to straighten out some of the issues I've been having with my bike. Due to some pretty intense storms (tornado watch was in effect) the races were called. This left me with some time to do a good hard ride on the trainer. I hoped that fresh legs, a fueled body, and a fixed up bike would make me fly.

So what did I do to the bike?

First off, on Friday, I finally reinstalled my front derailleur cable. The new stop had plenty of time to set, and it seemed pretty solid, so I figured, what the heck, I could use the small ring, might as well install the cable.

Cable stop oozing epoxy. I'll sand it down.
In the winter.
No cable in it in this picture.

It took me about 2 minutes to realize that the 0.4 mm cable used in Nokon housing is a bit thinner than the 0.5 mm cable I had as spares. SOC ran into this problem recently and I just pshawed him, and then I ran into it. Ugh. SOC was right, the slightly larger cables barely or don't fit.

I ended up reusing the front derailleur cable, already quite short, with an unsoldered end (thinking about this with a clear mind I should have soldered it to begin with), and a bit crushed where the clamp bolt clamps it.

If you have to know, it took for freakin' ever to install that stupid front cable, like 3 hours. It should have been a few minute job so the Missus looked rightly surprised many hours later when I admitted to her that, no, I hadn't ridden, and, in fact, I just got the cable hooked up.

I have to admit that I did fiddle with the bars too. My levers have been a bit too low on the bars (I know, me complaining about low levers, go figure) but, seriously, I figured I needed to raise the levers a bit. The tape looked really ragged too (even the Missus suggested that it be time to rewrap the bars), so I figured I could take care of everything at once.

I relearned this trick for fitting Ergo levers on crit bend bars - I just slide them as high as they go before the crit bend prevents them from moving further. When I "discovered" this I realized that, oh, that's how I did it almost 20 years ago, when I first installed Ergo levers in 1992. I just forgot when I built the Giant TCR and I forgot it for the bikes I built after that.

Levers slammed up all of, oh, about 5mm on the bar, I e-taped the Nokon housing down, planning on doing a few rides on the trainer to make sure the levers felt even. There's this cardinal rule about wrapping tape - if you wrap your bars right after moving your levers, one lever will be higher than the other. If you don't wrap the bars right away, you'll find that the levers were even and you could have done it right away.

I left them unwrapped.

I managed to do a trainer ride on Saturday, like I did on Wednesday and Thursday, and it made a huge difference to be able to shift into the small ring. I could spin more, felt my legs load up quicker, and basically felt like I was riding a bike again. Since it was (and I checked) the first time I rode in the small ring since MAY 31 (!?!) it's been way too long.

The levers felt even so that was a good sign too. Of course they were, they weren't wrapped. So I left them alone.

Because if you wrap them after one ride, you'll figure out the levers sit crooked. You have to ride them at least twice before wrapping with tape.

With steady riding throughout the week, I felt pleasantly fatigued by the time Sunday rolled around. So pleasantly fatigued that the Missus and I barely got anything done.

Then, Monday, I redid the SRM battery in my spare spider, one I got off someone on eBay a while back with a "new" battery. Well, that battery lasted maybe a month, but at about $19 a pop, they aren't too expensive, and they last at least a year under normal use. They're supposed to last like 10,000 to 15,000 km, or 6200 to 9000 miles, but that's like a few years for me. A year is fine.

Soldering iron. Butane powered, no plugs needed.

Voltage checking stuff.

Tip on SRM battery replacement - check voltage of battery before installing in spider. Then check voltage at the end of the wires (i.e. beyond the solder point) after soldering. It would suck if you put it all together and it didn't work. This set up garnered 3.2 volts, what it should have garnered.

Done right, with the soldering iron at good temps, it should take about 15 seconds of heat to melt the solder and "stick" the wire to the whatever (terminal, post, etc). The first time I did this I probably heated the battery for 15 minutes, not 15 seconds. I even had to redo it after a solder failed, so I added even more heat. It's got to be why the battery didn't last very long, about 8? months.

To be fair the PCV head I got from the same seller has been going strong and I've been using that while I figure out a radical plan to revive the original PCV head - non-PCV owners probably don't know this but there is no stock battery produced now as replacements for the PCV, at least not the same spec as the original battery. You can get a lower capacity battery or try and go for a radical solution. I'm leaning towards the latter.

While I had the crank spider out, I really wanted to replace the rings on the crank. I have two sets of the Cannondale SI chainrings and both show considerable wear after a combined total of three years of use. These certainly aren't the beautiful cold forged Campy rings; they're just machined soft aluminum ones. I don't have any other 130mm BCD (bolt circle diameter) rings, just a whole slew of almost-useless-to-me cold forged 135mm BCD rings...

Except for one pair of rings. I couldn't resist fondling some chainrings I bought for the tandem, a matched 55T/44T, in 130mm BCD (in soft aluminum, alas).

Yep, a 55T. Oh yeah!

Holy big chainring Batman!
It don't even fit in the picture!

So, yes, I stole some chainring bolts off of the donated Athena crankset I used from about 1995 to 2001 (the others are Record or Chorus cranks which have an odd bolt in there) and stuck the big, thick, heavy rings on the newly-battery-ed spider.

(The donor was the designer of the 1997 kit, the first kit I wore that had argyle on it. I'm sure Vaughters took note of this for his future Slipstream kits.)

I took my original SRM crank off the bike and discovered two things. First, the arm wasn't really tight on there. It was snug, okay, but not tight. Second, the lockring holding the spider to the arm was only finger tight. It wasn't rocking but it was close to it.

Note to self: check these things a bit more often.

I mounted the 175mm arm to the fresh battery SRM spider (replete with the beautiful huge chainrings), snugged the lockring firmly, and installed it on the bike, firmly.

Just before it went on the bike.
The lockring (out of view) is tight.

Then, because the enormous 55T ring is a tad taller than the 53T it replaced, I had to adjust the front derailleur.

A two minute job, right?


You guessed it.

Problem was the derailleur mount, welded on the frame, was set up for regular and compact cranks, i.e. 53 tooth max and about a 48 tooth minimum. The 55T macho ring had no place on this bike.

A little digging around got me my nice round file, and, after covering the chain, chainrings, and front derailleur with a cotton rag, I modded my front derailleur mount so my derailleur would clear the 55. I carefully removed the rag and I think got zero metal shavings into the drivetrain.


Not in the big ring.
You can see the silver chainring bolts. Dirty bike. Cable still has to be capped.
Pay no attention to file marks.
But it works.

By now my fingers were black with various oily grease, mainly from the bottom bracket and crank fiddling. Since I planned on putting on lighter than black tape, I knew I'd have to wait a bit, else I'd ruin the tape just installing it.

Because, as you know, the best way to finish washing your hands is to install new bar tape. The new tape will suck up whatever tiny bits of oil or grease you missed, ruining the tape in the process. Even if your hands look clean they're not (as any doctor will tell you).

Therefore I had to get my hands really clean. I took a dinner break, washed dishes by hand in the sink, washed my hands a dozen times, and, finally, with hands scrubbed about as clean as a surgeon going in for open heart surgery, I wrapped my bars.

In white Cinelli cork.

Oh what a joy. I forgot what it's like to use Cinelli cork. It wraps so nicely, so smooth, looks so pro.

Poor picture but you get the idea.
This is after 90 minutes of riding.
With clean hands.
Note big floor fan. Critical for trainer training.

And white tape, yes, because, well, because that's all I had left. But it's so pro looking. I won't be rewrapping my bars every week or two like I did for a season in the mid 90s, but I figure I'll be replacing the tape a bit more frequently than, oh, once or twice a year, like I have with the black tape.

With the spider swap and bar tape, another bit of maintenance that should have taken only a few minutes stretched out into hours, and I skipped yet another ride.

But my bike, she is beautiful.

Well in a functional way.

Now I just have to ride it.


SOC said...

Beautiful bike for sure - can't wait to see it all tricked out tomorrow night. And, yes, I *do* feel vindicated about the Nokon cable now :^) And here's a tip for your hands/wrapping bar tap: Use a new pair of surgical gloves. You have a box of those arund, right?

Aki said...

Aha, gloves. Great idea. I'll have to put that in my handlebar tape post.

My bike isn't that tricked out though. It now has a working front derailleur, a working (sort of - the pick up is off a bit) SRM, and unworn rings.

The motor for the bike isn't working nearly as well as it should be, I have to admit.