Thursday, 12 March 2009

Make Do & Mend

When I picked this bike up from Cornwall last December I hadn't really given much thought to what I was letting myself in for. It immediately became apparent that the machine was in a dire state. It didn't occur to me to question what I was up to, I simply let the the sub-conscious analyser process it all and by the time we had the bike at Diplo HQ there were no questions to ask, no deliberation - we simply set about taking the thing to bits. There was no feeling of low spirits, concern over the huge hill we had to climb or the slightest glimmer of defeat.
The beauty, to me, of these mechanical challenges is that they contain all the answers for you - "what state'll the brakes be in ?" - simply take the bugger to bits and have a look. The less demanding approach is to start from scratch with a stack of replacement parts - this may not be appropriate on economic grounds, but it does mean you are dealing with no more than a complicated Airfix kit. This is all very well but requires cash, lots of parts ordering and seems a bit of a cheat. I've always had an irrational desire to fix things that don't work - I really don't like to be defeated by a motor that won't run or a door that doesn't shut properly. I had thought the wheels on the CB Special were shot and even bid on some replacements on e-bay. Tinkering in the 'shop between coats of paint, I took a wheel to one side and set about cleaning it up - 1/2 an hour later I had a pretty presentable rim and a pile of rust, the spokes received the same treatment and it transpired that only two or three were bent and a little pitted. I couldn't shift the adjusters in the rim so applied a bit of heat and left them soaking in the patent cure-all juice. A week later a bit more gas heat and some pressure from the spoke spanner and they all came free - whipped out the offending items, straightened them up, a bit of a polish and reassembled. I've repeated this exercise on the second wheel and the pair of scrap rims and spokes are now back in service. I'm particularly pleased with rim tapes I made up out of some strips of old butyl pond liner and a bit of vulcanising. The wheels don't look new but are fit for purpose, leaving me feeling quite smug and confirmed in my "fix it" approach. There's really very little that can't be fixed - the limiting factor, more often than not, being our own failure to see the problem for what it is. MORE RECYCLING !


Peter Ashley said...

Ooh er. Zen and the Art of Motorcycle Fettling. Love it, almost poetic.

Affer said...

There are probably 1,000 of these machines in (so-called) civilised lands, thrown away each year because of a bit of rust and an absence of nous. There are about 100,000 in (so-called) 3rd World countries that thunder on and on, doing what they were supposed to do simply because their owners work out how to fix them. Verily, Sir Diplo, you have become the Barefoot Bike Mechanic of Middle England - and more power to your Mole Grips!