Friday, September 30, 2016
All in the Family Wrenching - Learning Patience
My son hauls out his work-in-progress single speed, clamps the bike frame in the work stand, planning to put on newly acquired grips. To save money, primarily because this particular bicycle is a second, knock-around project, which seems to soak up money like a sponge, we had purchased simple rubber grips - the kind that requires lubricant instead of lock down screws - because the bike mechanic who sold them to us assured us that the process was relatively simple. His advice: use just enough hairspray or alcohol inside the rubber and twist the grips into place.
My past experience with this procedure dates to the 1990's when a soapy mixture of dish detergent and water was enough to lubricate and apply porous foam grips - the common style at the time. And the beauty of foam was that even with liberal applications of liquid, the grips would eventually dry if given a chance. At any rate, lock down grips weren't yet available.
Once I explained where to get supplies and rubbing alcohol, I left my son to figure out his task while I went back to my own project.
Swapping the chain went smoothly while replacing cantilever brake pads was the easy part - it's the fine-tuning that takes time. I was midway through adjusting each pad when my 14-year-old became cranky. He wanted the grips to slide on perfectly. As it turns out the alcohol dries quickly or not quick enough to satisfy my son. After 20 minutes of struggling and grumbling he threw the grips on the ground.
I'd acquired patience from sipping wine so I calmly told him to walk away and finish at another time. I also promised I'd take a look at his bike once I'd finished with mine. After a previous wrenching episode that involved a tirade, winging something metal (I'm now missing a wrench), throwing down his bike and storming off, well, I didn't want a repeat performance. Fortunately, this time around my son went indoors without a fight.
I often wonder what the neighbors think - they are witness to extreme behaviors, every now and then, especially from this particular guy. If he's not jumping off curbs in the street (thus the impetus to fix up a single speed) he creates wooden and dirt-filled mounds in our back yard. He is a physically talented young dude and creative thinker so once he surmounts his teen years, he'll find his way.
Later I played with his new grips, and sure enough, there was a fine line between too much alcohol and not enough, but after an arm workout I eventually got it to work, leaving only a little play. The following day the alcohol must have fully evaporated because the grips passed the teenage test.
Next time I'll seriously consider springing for the lock down style of grips.