Today Matthew I’m going to be: Tricycle Repair Man

Posted: February 20, 2015 in Cycling, Tricycle
Tags: , , , , ,

On Wednesday the cold that had been threatening for the past two days finally made its presence known. On Thursday I had two wisdom teeth removed. On Friday I was in pain and really didn’t want to do anything other than lie on the sofa gently moaning and wallowing in the pit of self-pity. On Saturday I was meant to be cycling, I’d entered the event and everything, but my general state of wellbeing was beyond the point of being vaguely enthusiastic about cycling in the cold and was closer to the point of staying tucked up in bed. Eventually the combined forces of a full bladder and a pet cat trying to make its-self comfortable conspired to get me out of bed. There was only one thing on my to-do list today. Fix the trike.

The e-mail to Mark had been rewarded with a large parcel arriving that contained two pristine axles. All I had to do was replace the broken one with the new one. Although this was a seemingly simple operation I had learnt that anything to do with a tricycle will involve pain and frustration. This simple replacement was to prove no different.

First there was the removal of the outside cup, that was easy, I’d done only put it in a few weeks ago so it was all nicely greased. So far so good, well apart from chasing the ball bearings over the kitchen floor. Then remove the inside cup. Not so easy. First of all the block was in the way. The only way to get that out of the way seemed to be to loosen the other axle, which given my recent success with all things drive chain I really didn’t want to do. I made a strong cup of tea and contemplated the alternatives, there were none. I filled myself with a fortifying biscuit and very carefully loosened the other axle until I could remove the block and other gubbins. It didn’t take long but I was getting rather alarmed by the small pile of bits that I was accumulating. Somewhere along the line I would have to put them all back in the right place. I really should be taking notes.

So all I had to do now was remove the inside cup. Now I have a selection of spanners but this cup had a slot rather than a flange or holes. I’ve not seen one like that before. There had to be a tool that would fit it. I tour of the local bike shops confirmed my fears, if there was a tool it wasn’t for sale. No problem I thought, it was time to enlist help. Peter, my neighbour, restores old bikes, he’s bound to have a tool. He didn’t but a small thing like that wouldn’t stop him. We attempted to make a tool, after two hours of essentially no progress but a lot of swearing we came to the conclusion that this required a less subtle approach.

All you have to do is blow the bloody doors off

You see that shiny bit in the middle, the bit that looks like it has a sadists grim, That’s the bit that had to come off

“have you got a big hammer” asked Peter.

A lot of hammering later and the cup succumbed to our brute force and ignorance approach: the cup wasn’t full of ball bearings as it should be, instead it was inhabited by shards of metal that had once been the inside cone. Over yet another cup of tea we guessed that the inside cone had been killed during the last incident with the outside cone. Replacing the outside cone (and thinking that he inside cone was fine) had introduced leverage on the axle and over time the constant bending had led to metal fatigue, in a similar way that an old metal spoon can be bent repeatedly before it snaps.

I am the ghost of cones past

Fragments of metal really should not have been there

The cup was off, Peter wend home happy, leaving me to reassemble everything with the new axle. But before all that I needed something stronger than tea and a lay down.

The next day was reassembly day. This should have been easy, but of course this is tricycle repair, so it wasn’t. After a lot of fiddling about I reached the conclusion that he spare axle was too long. Actually no, the overall length was correct but the shoulders that hone the cones were too far apart. I could almost hear the beast sniggering when I discovered that. That goes a long way to explaining why the beast no longer graces the hallway and has been banished to the shed until I can summon up the energy and enthusiasm to source the correct axle.

Why is nothing on a tricycle ever easy?


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