Tuesday, October 6, 2009

Bike Maintenance, Haiti style

I pack car grease into the bearing race and one by one push the bearings into the grease until they disappear beneath the black mess. A bearing slips out of my fingers, bounces off my toe and is gone forever. I crawl around for fifteen minutes before giving up the search. My front wheel had 20 ball bearings in it. Now I’m one bearing short of a good wheel but it still spins decently.

Disassemble the bottom bracket and find lots of loose metal debris, rust, and no grease. The piece that holds the ball bearings in place has been mostly ground away because it’s probably been without grease for the last 30 years. I clean it, pack it with grease, reassemble it and it spins great.

I add a link to the chain, which allows me to loosen the rear wheel and slide it forward to move the chain onto a larger cog giving me an easier gear for climbing mountains. Now I have a two-speed! I had broken the rear derailleur mountain biking, which encouraged the bike’s transition into a single speed. Tonight my knees are grateful that it has re-evolved into a two-speed.

A couple weeks ago, my brother Matt gave me a mountain bike handle bar so I put that on to give me a more upright posture for more comfort and control. I pulled a set of brake levers out of my parent’s garage while we were in North Carolina. When I put them on I figured out I was missing a plastic washer so a friend and I made a washer out of the cap of a specimen bottle. We also rigged the brake cables because they aren’t the proper cables for these levers.

There was a L-shaped bracket on the stem for holding a reflector that I bent horizontally and now it works as a camera mount. The bolt that formerly held a reflector is the perfect size to screw into the bottom of my camera - a minor sort of miracle.

Gerry rigging reminds of a proverb that we often hear, degaje pa peche (“to get by is not a sin”). I’ve mostly heard this expression used in reference to someone sleeping around or stealing to survive. As I type this, Alexis is sleeping on the couch and I hope she doesn’t wake up to see the rat that is eating a pile of rat poison on the other side of the room. A larger rat runs out and attacks it, then they both run in opposite directions. Now the smaller rat is back. I hope my brakes stay together.

-posted by Ben from Lexi's account


Karen said...

I like this! Except the part about the rat. Please work on that next, because I might swim back to America if there's a rat when we come to visit.

Anonymous said...

Ben, your resourcesfulness and creativity ROCK. You're awesome. MED


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