Thursday, May 31, 2012

Sundek on the FLEA!

Deep down in my itchy sensitive bits, I secretly have the need to search fleabay for wonky 80's clothing similar to the tacky crap I wore back in the day.  Imagine my happiness when my search for 'Sundek' returned a hit!  Woot!

When I was a kid, I had a pair of white Sundek swim trunks with an orange rainbow.  They were made from a parachute like sail type material that had the unfortunate characteristic of becoming essentially transparent when they got wet. I had to stop wearing them when I reached a certain age because it was, er... very obvious they became transparent when they got wet.  I'm not really sure why Sundek only made trunks for children or for shaved surfers.  There's probably a very uncomfortable and disturbing statement on 1980's culture in there somewhere...

These were even my size.  I did not buy them.  I am not going to engage in the necessary grooming required to wear these beasts, and I'm not going to risk incarceration when I don't.  Besides, nobody wants to have front row tickets to THAT show.

Even as functionally useless as they are these sexy champs closed at nearly 60 bucks!  Lesson learned.  I will never again donate my old clothes.

Pure Awesomeness!

Tuesday, May 29, 2012

RIP - Crescent Tools

I'm not sure why this doesn't bother people more.

I stopped in to the local Lowe's a few days back and did a little sweep through the hand tool department and saw this end-cap display. The end-cap was advertising a three pack of adjustable wrenches for $25. The Crescent brand logo looked weird, so I stopped to investigate. Usually a change in corporate logo signals some other change of a more drastic nature. That proved to be the case here as well...

...because when I flipped the package over this is what I saw.

Another American made too brand bites the dust. This is a direct development of the co-op between Danaher Tools and Cooper, the company which has owned Crescent for years.  The new entity calls itself Apex, and many of their brands are headed overseas. Grr...

Don't get me wrong, I am not opposed to offshore manufacture, rather what I'm opposed to is the gutting of an established American Icon (when people ask for adjustable wrenches, they do not say "adjustable wrench', they say 'Crescent wrench'....  like asking for a Kleenex and not a tissue.) with NO corresponding reduction in cost passed on to the consumer!  Why does this three pack of Chinese adjustables cost $25 when the next end-cap over advertised Chinese made Kobalt  (Lowe's house brand) adjustables in a three pack for only $9?

I'm supposed to pay $25 to support the spirit of what was once a great American tool manufacturer?

This is the end of Crescent.  There is no longer a reason to buy these tools, especially at such an over-inflated profit driven price point.  If you act quickly you can still find USA made Crescent products on the shelves, but the restocked items all come from China now.  Flip over the packaging and check the country of manufacture.  If it says China, then just buy the Chinese Kobalt's and save yourself a boat load of dough.  Actually the folks who used to make the Crescent brand here in the states are probably all out of work already, so just pass on all of them and buy the Kobalt's (or Husky's or Great Neck's or Pittsburgh's etc.)


Buyer beware.

Monday, May 21, 2012

Shift Coupler - The last stand.

I have all the parts, and I have a Sunday.  How hard can it be??

Here are the goodies going in under the bus.  Two accordion seals, one for either end of the chassis shift rod housing.  Two birdie bushings for the shift rod itself.  A new front coupler and grub screw, and the rebuilt original rear coupler that I assembled.

Here's the coupler as I finished it.  I reused the grubs as they were in fine shape.  This is so much better looking that the cruddy repops I picked up.  And with the through bolts, it should last a very long time.

The Bus Dweebs out there will point out that unless I'm removing the entire shift rod, which I think necessitates the removal of the engine and transmission, I can't replace the rear birdie bushing, so I only did the front.  I'm applying a little universal grease here and sliding it in.  Badda-boom!

The rear coupling in place, tightened up, and safety wired in.  The safety wires prevent the grubs from backing out were they to loosen from engine and transmission vibration.  On the left is the transmission nose and seal, and on the right you can see the shift rod tube accordion seal peaking into view.

And at the front.  The front coupler, a repop from Wolfsburg West complete with fresh grub.  All bolted down and wired in.  I put the wire in as it was on the one I had to cut off, but it aint as pretty as the rear wiring.  Can safety wires be pretty?

And guess what?  It shifts!  And I have neutral without going through the living room wall!

My back hurts.

Friday, May 18, 2012

VW Bus - Shift Coupler continued... Part 2

The saga of the shift coupler continues.  The rear coupler is off and rebuilt.  I compared it to the new ones available over the market and determined that not only did the other couplers not look to be able to promise fault free driving for years to come, some of them were just crap.

Take a look...

Far left is the original, here mocked up by me and nearly ready to be installed.  The metal on this one is so much nicer than the repops that I've decided to rebuild it using stainless hardware, nylock nuts, nylon washers, and stainless spacers, all wrapped around a sandwich of black industrial silicone adhesive.  In this picture, the nuts are not tight yet, and the adhesive has not been added.  I'm confirming the spacing between the two grub screws to the other couplers in the shot.  Which are left to right, a poly-bush coupler for hi-stress installations like drag racing for $9 plus shipping, a Brazilian repop with new grub screws, $17 shipped, and a repop from CIP1 online, dirt cheap and looking the part.

No wonder I'm fixing the original.

To get it on though, I've got to get the mid shift rod to slide more forward toward the front of the bus, and to do that it needs to slide up next to the front shift rod, which means the front coupler needs to come off first. Of course it was a rusty hunk of 46 year old poo so I chopped the thing off with the Dremel.

Look at the rust on that grub screw inside the coupler.  That thing would have never unscrewed.

Now comes getting the two shift rods separated.  I may have to hit it with the butane torch because soaking in PB Blaster for a week isn't breaking it free.

Thursday, May 17, 2012

2012 Hammerhead 100 - Santos

I was insane enough to sign up for the 50 mile route in this years Hammerhead 100.  What was I thinking?!  Oh yeah, I was thinking I'd be doing the 2012 ORAMM and that I'd be a svelte beast by this time.

I am not svelte.

That is me not being svelte, hoisting the two finger salute for the camera.  I did 35 miles in the heat before I DNF'd.  I can't get motivated on a course that requires laps.  This event featured a 25 mile course, which means you finish the first 25 and then hang around and watch everyone eat free BBQ and drink free beer, and then you are supposed to be motivated to go back out into the heat of the day for another 25.

I made it only 5 out, total of 10 more, before the promise of free booze got the best of me.

Wednesday, May 16, 2012

The Mid Century Modern Garage!

Combining two things I love.  Mid century architecture and the garage!

Needs a bus.

And a Hazet Assistent.

Check it out at the Garage Journal.

Tuesday, May 15, 2012

Truck in Picturesque Spot - Summary!

I've been traveling to Tsali pretty regularly,about twice a year since 1999 or so, and the first trip was in 1995.  A few years in I took a picture that struck a chord with me and I kept returning to the same spot.  See, as someone who likes bikes and cars I usually have some pretty distinctive stuff, and I can tell about how old pictures are by how the stuff in the pictures changes.

Take a look...

October 2001.  

This was the first 'truck in picturesque spot' picture.  The 1999 Toyota Tacoma 4WD, with Yakima gutter racks on the Raven topper, and the 2001 Specialized Stumpjumper 'mass produced California piece of shit' as it became known as.  Not because it was a bad bike, but because it was just sort of ,well, 'there' and lent itself to passive ridicule. It was a very boring bike, and the first bike I had owned since the 1993 Cannondale M800 that was essentially straight off the rack.  In this picture, the Specialized is brand spanking new.

May 2005

Flash forward a few years.  The car is changed obviously.  I bought the Rover in early spring 2004, as it was a 2003 holdover.  Kristen and I spent a couple years going to Rover Club meets and trail runs and stuff, so there were less opportunities for pictures in the picturesque spot.  We did travel to Tsali a couple times through this period, but I wasn't thinking about cataloging the changes in these pictures until later.  The Specialized is still there, and the Rover is essentially stock, featuring only the Southdown skid plates, a couple JATE rings and the ladder on the door.  Stumpjumper sprouts an SDG Kevlar saddle, as my rekindled love affair with retro parts begins.

June 2007

Between 2005 and 2007, the white EWR comes home from Matt, and the TST titanium is my primary cross country bike.  This is it's second trip to Tsali, as Kristen and I had rented a cabin in October 2005.  The family grew by one in the summer of 2006 with the arrival of the child, and then shrunk by one the following May as we lost Utah.  The planet has known no better dog.  I spread his ashes up at Tsali,  and I've been delivering tennis balls to him at Lake Fontana ever since.  TST sports the blue SDG from the departed Stumpjumper, and also features green Altek levers, my first pair, bought totally on a whim from eBay.  Another love affair is launched. The white EWR struts blue Avid Tri-Aligns and Ultimate levers, and they are a disappointment.  The TST sports Sram X-0, my first SRAM bits and the first twist shifters I'd owned since about 1997.

October 2008

Honda Element makes the trip, signalling that there are three of us making the journey instead of two and a dog.  There is a blue EWR on the roof, a bike I ordered from the newly resurrected EWR in March 2008, so this is the maiden voyage of that bike.  Blue Alteks and the SDG have been there ever since.

June 2009

No changes to the Rover.  Both the 1994 white EWR, here set up as a single speed with a Marzocchi fork, and the blue EWR.    The bikes are hanging off the back of the truck on a Thule TS2 rack.  Everything fitted with Alteks and SDG. Well, not the Rover.

September 2009

The Rover is back, with a rooftop sarcophagus, and two EWR's on the back; the blue 2008 OWB and the orange 1997 E-Motion.  The E-Motion would prove to be too small and would hit the market the following year.  Rover is still on original springs and 16" wheels. Still with the blue Alteks and SDG on the OWB, and the orange EWR has a black SDG and a pair of silver Alteks, which are both now fitted to the Phoenix.  Orange EWR is full rigid and 1X9 drivetrain, and the blue EWR is running a Rock Skox Revelation coil fork; AKA the 'Rock Shox Valdez.'  Both bikes running Sram X-0,

September 2010

Rover again, with the blue EWR and the 'sarcophagus of fun.'  Thule TS2 still there.  Rover sports 2" OME lift with springs, shocks, steering stabilizer and braided steel brake lines.  Wheels are 18" Land Rover Hurricanes, my favorite Rover wheels.  Alteks and SDG still there, Fork is now a Fox Vanilla RLC, and the drivetrain is 1X9 Sram X-0.

July 2011

I spent 4 weeks in the hospital that spring with my left lung full of goo, and admittedly, while I don't like to talk about it or make excuses, it still bothers me when I exert myself, and according to the doctor, it probably always will due to residual scar tissue.  No changes to the Rover, although the sarcophagus stayed home this time, as it was a solo trip.  Hell has frozen over though, as the bike is full suspension.  The Turner 5 Spot makes its debut.  All is good though, as the Turner, like most of my bikes at this point (and the collection here is about 14 bikes I think), sports an SDG saddle and Alteks.  I built this bike, including buying the frame, for $1100 out of pocket.  The majority of parts coming from my private stash of goodies.  Although the  Turner started life with the 'Rock Shox Valdez' on the front, here it has been fitted with the Fox Vanilla RLC and a Cane Creek Double Barrel rear shock, so the initial 'el-cheapo' experiment with full suspension has been deemed successful and the investment in the Turner begins.  The RS Valdez fork goes into the parts bin, where it pees its 5wt oil all over my spares.  The Thule TS2 is still around, although it is wearing out its welcome as it prevents me from opening the side swinging door on the back of the Rover when in use.  There is also no USF tire cover here, as the first one sprouted a hole and was ceremoniously burned in my fire pit.

May 2012

This last roll up.  I am fat and out of shape, so the Turner gets most of the work these days, as it is the easiest to ride when you are fatigued and not wanting to stand up on technical sections or descents.  USF tire cover returns, and the Rover sports an IMBA sticker.  Sarcophagus returns as the three of us were packed into the gas-swilling Rover.  The Thule TS2 has been retired.

There it is.  10 years of Tsali bike trip evolution, courtesy of the 'Picturesque Spot'.

Monday, May 14, 2012


Tsali is a funny place.  It has a billion people go to it, but yet it seems to get no maintenance, to the point that only time and use seem to change it.  I'm not sure they even mow the campground on a regular basis anymore!  Still, it is a fun destination for a family biking trip, so once again, we loaded up the Reed horde and struck out on the road in the environmental catastrophe know as the Land Rover.

10 (!!!) hours later, 

Ubiquitous 'truck in picturesque spot' picture. I had the Turner this time.  It is my primary bike right now and I am considering giving it some appropriate love in the form of a new fork and wheels.

 The Reed Horde and the River.  Sounds like a bad Mel Gibson movie...

Sub-title for the bad Mel Gibson movie?  Does Hollywood inspiration come from the walls in men's rooms?  From the movies I've seen lately, YES!

A duck eyes a kayak paddler suspiciously.  I don't trust those people either, Mr Duck.

The Sluggo helps me deliver another tennis ball to the Utahdog.  She and I had a good talk about dying and remembering people important to you and the whole bit.  By the end of out walk, she had me crying!

This is one of the few pictures I'll allow of her on the web, because, with her face all scrunched up from the sunlight glare, you can barely tell who it is!

Friday, May 11, 2012

Velodrome Visit!

Back in March I talked about the weird concrete banked oval velodrome-like course out on the west side of town.  Some of the fixie kids, all hopped up on PBR and JB Weld fumes have been rumored to be running renegade races out there in the dark of night.  It is a nifty looking sight to see from the images on Google Earth, so I decided to sign out a truck and head out and see if the facility looks suitable to promote as a viable bike community option.

So, out off the main drag on the west of town, is this unassuming metal gate.

Past the gate is a strangely manicured 36' wide grass path, complete with drainage.

Turn your head and you'll miss it, turn the other way and there it is peeking through the trees...

A few hundred yards long, banked maybe 15 degrees or so, and resting nearly undisturbed in the shade of the slash pines and milkweed...

Concrete never looked so smooth.  There are little faint lines in the mildew of the concrete where the evidence of recent fixie action is obvious.

Makes even me think about owning a track bike again.  No skinny jeans though, thanks.

So that earlier question about whether or not I'd find something out there worth promoting to the brass as a viable option for investment for the bike community?...


Tuesday, May 8, 2012


Change of plans.  The shift coupling has me baffled, so...

Pool bar?

Pool table?

Pool... ball?

Just kidding!

Tuesday, May 1, 2012

Style Alert!

These nasty POS, el-cheapo sunglasses should be banned from existence.  Any business investing in these things for freebie giveaway advertising should have all employees lined up and their retinas systematically burned from their skulls.  Any skinny-jean wearing hipster wanna-be's strutting colored-temple freebie crap shades should be hog-tied and drenched in dog vomit.

There is nothing worse.  Nothing.

Except maybe skinny Pajama Jeans.  Or maybe colored temple Wayfarer knock-offs and pajama jeans together.  Or maybe colored-temple crap shades, pajama jeans, and a fixie.  That would warrant instant death.