Wednesday, April 10, 2013

A couple of notes

I had to completely replace Gilbert's roller brake and the brake cable and housing after my accident.  It took longer than I hoped because I thought I just had to replace the snapped cable and frayed housing, so I started the project once I had those things.  However halfway through the project, I discovered that the reaction arm of the brake was so badly bent (and too stiff to bend back)  that I needed a whole new brake unit.  Fortunately they're only $20 or so, but they've been discontinued, so I had to find one NOS on ebay (although in retrospect I think the new ones would work fine with the old hub) I couldn't find any information either from Shimano or the interwebs about how to install a roller brake, so I was apprehensive, but it ended up being simple.  You remove the bolt on the left (non drive) side,  and the roller brake just lifts off.  You put the new one in, meshing the splines of the brake with the splines on the hub, and tighten the bolt again, voila!  Of course I managed to loosen the nut on the drive side, and ended up disassembling the cassette joint on the drive side (the part that links the shifter cable to the IGH) which gave me a chance to flush the grit out of it, and took a bit of puzzling to get back together.  I even got the dremel tool out with the thought of cutting back the chaincase a bit where it seems like it still hits the dust cover of the hub.  However I decided I had better things to do with my Sunday afternoon and left it for another day.  I did have a chance to really clean all the grit off of everything, and waxed the fenders, oiled the chain and lubed the kickstand though which is nice.  I should spend some time with some polishing compound to remove the black smudges that I tend to leave on the downtube when I hit it with my shoe rubber.  

The brakes work great now- maybe too great, as I managed to lock the rear wheel twice on my way home Monday, both times stopping for pedestrians launching themselves into crosswalks. I might dial them back a tiny bit if the cable stretch doesn't correct that in the next week.  Unfortunately the rear dynamo light isn't working now,  and the "plugging and unplugging" approach didn't fix it, so I'll have to put it back up on a rack this weekend to try to find the problem. sigh.

I went to a Longfellow Bridge meeting last night.  The good news is that there will be actual bicycle lanes during at least the first phase of construction in both directions.  They didn't have a diagram of where the lanes would be in the other phases, but they said that they would exist.  This will be an improvement on the unpleasant and dangerous "bicycle accommodations"  that were in place during the last round of work.  There will be another meeting in the next month or so to go over the "75%" plans, and work will begin in June/ July.

The bad news of course is that the bicycle lane will still be an auxiliary to the crash barrier (on the road)  on the inbound side instead of being a raised cycle track. The additional road width will also continue to encourage speeding on the bridge. I was also disappointed because the design build team doesn't have a bicycle/ pedestrian consultant, so the design for the important and complicated transitions at Charles Circle is being done by a generic traffic engineer, whose only experience may be designing freeway interchanges, not fine grained city intersections.

Tonight there's a meeting which should be more encouraging.  MassDOT is presenting the updated designs for the Environmental Assessment at  5:30 at the Honan-Allston library  300 North Harvard St, Boston.  I've heard that the plans are pretty good from someone who got a sneak peak, although there may still be a few issues.


  1. What a bummer about the Longfellow. I saw some of the powerpoint slides from an earlier meeting with many very encouraging looking plans. Maybe there is still hope? I agree, people speed too much on that bridge, which always strikes me as so odd, given the inevitable red light at the end of the bridge.

  2. As much as I like them ,diagnosing and repairing rear dynamo light wiring always seems to be a pain. Did the connectors simply loosen up (can I bend them to be tighter or do I need to replace those hard to find connectors), did a wire or connection break from lots of use, did I pinch the wire when mounting it causing an electrical short?
    Yep, I've had all those happen. But at some point, I remember coming home after work and finding that my taillight battery died sometime during my commute and remember that it never happens with a dynamo powered light.


    1. I always try to have three rear lights with me at all times on my regular commuting bikes- one on my helmet, one on my rack or seatpost and one on my fender. That way I'm never without some kind of rear light. I generally don't run the rack/ seatpost light unless I know another light is out or conditions are particularly bad- rainy or foggy.

  3. I too spend more time than I'd like futzing with generator lighting. When I replace the current fritzy one, I'll be on #3 in 3 years. Front has been rock solid, but out back I have the touch of death.