Panorama: Pritchard Island Beach

Went sailing at Pritchard's Island beach on Lake Washington the other day, and it's a really nice launch. There's a grass rigging area mercifully free of duck and dog shit and a trivial carry to a small, sandy beach.

So I made a panorama, and forgot to lock the white balance. Nice going.

I'm using panotools with Panowizard. I didn't spend much time stitching this one together because, quite frankly, the images aren't that good.


Technium CityLite dumpster rescue (II)

I would like to point out that these posts aren't happening in direct chronology with the images. I started that project, then started this project, but I wanted to break the narrative up into logical chunks and make it accessible in case someone else has one of these bikes. There's very little information about this particular model on the web, although I found pictures of someone else's (road) Technium fixed-gear conversion on Flickr.

I'm not sure I would have turned such a complete and (from the pictures) barely ridden geared road bike into a fixed gear, but that's just me. Regardless, there's no arguing that he did a fantastic job with the frame, and almost certainly spent a lot more time with it than I did. I also can't deny that it was helpful to have someone else's project as a reference.

Which is why I'm posting this. Uh.

Oh, if you have a 54-52 cm Technium road bike, and you want to sell/give it to me, that'd be great. Preferably a nice clean one like the aforementioned Flickr dude's. Thanks.

Anyway. At this point I had a stripped and fairly rust free frame and fork. I masked the aluminum sections, including the aluminum rings that butt the tubes together. Prep was limited to washing the steel sections with degreaser, and using a self-etching primer.

I did spray some of the previously rusted areas with a one-step rust conversion and then sanded off the residue before priming. This is a good idea if you're lazy and don't want to grind out every single pit of rust, or simply don't want to remove half the dropout in the process, for example. Hopefully your frame hasn't been neglected like this one.

The head tube logo is cast aluminum and has two pegs that simply press into the holes in the head tube. You can (carefully) pry it off with a flat-head screwdriver.

Primed and ready to paint.

For some reason I didn't take any pictures of the bare frame after the final paint coat, possibly because of inhaling too many paint fumes. Or something. Here's how it turned out, though:

I just put a random road seat on it to be able to get a feel for how it rides. Still need to go to a single chainring up front, and install a rear brake since I tend to ride on loose surfaces quite a bit.

Oh yeah, and that fork and headset is from a Trek 850 I had lying around. I'll explain that later. Now if you'll excuse me, it's staggeringly gorgeous outside, and I'm going riding.


Another day, another tool purchase

Of course, as anyone knows, you can't tinker without tools. Without the correct tool, any project other than the most simple task is doomed to failure, but only after a large amount of frustration and the eventual, inevitable destruction of a critical part or fastener.

A well-made tool is a beautiful thing, not just because of the innate beauty of a piece of carefully crafted precision machinery, but because it's a key to a physical lock, a man-made solution to a particular problem that has been honed by thousands of years of directed evolution.

There's something I've wanted for a very long time, and that's a set of Vernier calipers. Unfortunately, my lust for this particular instrument has been blunted by the fact that I really didn't need calipers, or a micrometer, or really any precision measuring instruments of that nature. I don't own a metal lathe, or a milling machine, although I'd dearly love to. As a renter, however, it's simply impractical to own pieces of machinery made of cast steel weighing hundreds of pounds.

Which sucks.

Still, I wanted to measure the inside of a seat tube, and do so accurately, and determine if there was any deformation of the tube. I'd also been finding myself wondering exactly how wide some wrench flats had been. I've bought the wrong size tool for a particular task twice now, and while given the number of tools I seem to be finding myself buying, that's not a bad ratio. Still, it's annoying as hell when it happens.

So, I had my justification.

Now, I'd like to direct your attention to a picture of two very different tools.

One is designed to transmit large amounts of force, the other no force at all. They are still both adjustable calipers, of a sort. They do have two things in common, though: they were both made in China, and they were both really inexpensive. They are also both well-made, high quality tools. The wrench was just under $15, the calipers $40, both at my local hardware chain: McLendons. Yeah, McLendons actually sells precision measuring instruments. Suck it, Home Depot. They have five or so different grades of Vernier calipers, ranging from a plastic $3 model, all the way up to this one (I do realize that's not very far up, but bear with me).

I'd love to buy tools made in the US, but those two tools pictured sourced locally would run over a hundred dollars. So, sorry, not on my budget. I bought that wrench with the sole purpose of removing fixed bottom bracket cups, and it works perfectly. There is no slop in the wrench movement, it's far more solid and precise than my other adjustable wrenches, some of which cost a great deal more. So, yes, you can remove a fixed cup with an adjustable wrench. Just be prepared to use a great deal more force than you think can possibly be transmitted through those tiny wrench flats, and keep the damn tool straight.

The calipers are fantastic. I expected them to be cheap, and crappy, but they aren't. The carrying case is vaguely plasticky (well, it is plastic, after all) but the calipers themselves are solid and heavy, and don't feel or look cheap in the least. The casing for the electronic module is cast alloy, instead of plastic. It even comes with a replacement battery. I'm impressed.


Oh yeah, Park makes a tool for removing bottom bracket cups, and it also costs $15. It's a piece of thin stamped steel. I'm not sure it would actually work as intended. There's probably some megabuck tool that shops use that I'm not aware of.

Technium CityLite dumpster rescue

Ok, so this wasn't technically a dumpster rescue, as it wasn't in a dumpster. Whatever. I was doing my regular out-and-back along the gas pipelines in Renton, when I spotted this frame on the side of the road. It looked a mess, and from it's placement someone had thrown it over a privacy fence from a house that was being renovated. Trash pickup was that day on that particular street.

Since I have a fondness for picking things out of the trash, I rode over and checked it out. Two things caught my eye: the Raleigh heron/loon/whatever it is badge/you know/thingy on the headtube, and this label.

I used to have a steel lugged Raleigh 10 years ago that I put a set of mountain bike chainrings and cranks on, and loved dearly. I ended up selling it to some dude for 20 bucks, and didn't touch another bike for almost a decade, which is a tragedy, but whatever.

I guess I've been living in a box, because I didn't know that Raleigh used bonded aluminum and steel frames in it's Technium series of bikes (with some exceptions in very recent cases, where they might be welded aluminum). Of course this begged further investigation, so I went and got the van and tossed it in the back.

It looked like shit.

Never even mind the fact that the chain was rusted solid, and all the various chromed bits were corroded. The riser handlebars filled me with a powerful loathing. Ugly and inefficient. A win-win for the upright seating position. No matter - all that stuff was coming off in any case.

Another interesting point was the awe-inspiring front cantilevers.

I can't attest to their stopping power, as I haven't reinstalled them, and don't intend to. Someone else with an original CitySport/Lite/whatever it is can do that. The CityLite appears to be popular around here, possibly because they were manufactured right down the road in Kent. About the only data I've been able to find on them was that they were offered with 26 inch wheels. Indeed, a set of old mountain bike wheels dropped right in. The original wheelset included a rear drum brake, although the frame is (apparently) drilled for a rear brake.


I bet it shares the rear triangle with other steel Raleigh frames of the period. I guess the drum brake tied into the whole 'practicality above all' aesthetic of the bike. I've seen original ones on craigslist, recently, and it's just stunningly ugly. Taste is of course subjective, and thus not up for discussion. It's ugly.

Not that I care - all that I care about is that frame.

Without further ado, I stripped the frame of parts, and then of paint. I know you're not supposed to use paint stripper on a bonded frame, so if anyone can explain how the paint stripper can penetrate into the bonded joint, I'll be happy to listen. I'm certainly not using heat to remove paint on a bonded joint.

Whatever. Stripping was a quick and extremely nasty process, as anyone who's done it can attest. The results were seriously cool, though.

A wire brush makes quick work of getting off the loose paint and stripper, and also tends to fling it around. I'd recommend safety glasses. Oh, and please do this outside. The aluminum cleaned up beautifully with some steel wool. The corrosion on the dropouts and rear triangle didn't take long to scrub out with a flexible abrasive disc.

I know I should have driven out the headset races before stripping, but it was due for replacement anyway, so I left it in, as I actually wanted to mostly assemble the bike and ride it around at least a little so I'd know whether I liked it well enough to finish the project. I know that doesn't make any sense.


Yeah, so, I'm finally succumbing to the awful yet oh-so-compelling trend of everyone, everywhere, to publish online without knowing any markup language or ever having to undergo the indignity of FTP. Everybody knows what this is called, but I simply hate the term. I also want to punch people that use the name 'Google' as a verb.

Feels pretty strange, even though I installed pyblosxom on my own server, ages ago, and then let it languish, neglected, with like three posts a year or something. I guess I just didn't have any reason to put up any content.

Now, however, I do, and since the various social networking sites I've been persuaded to join have completely garbage blog capabilities (there, I said it. Does this make me a blogger? Euch.) I'm going to try this.

Thanks, duke. I blame you.