Facing & Reaming

Hardened steel on aluminum means that the aluminum has to give.

Small flakes at  a time.

Facing a bottom bracket on a bicycle after chasing/cleaning the threads.

Facing and Reaming
Facing and Reaming

When working on the head tube (where your steering tube runs through the frame), the process is different, but still ends up with lots of aluminum bits.  That process is called facing and reaming, where the facing is done similar to this, but at the same time a different steel bit is reaming the inside of the tube to prepare the surface for a bearing cup.

The purpose of the facing is to make sure that the ends of the tube are parallel with each other.  If not, the bearings and system will not work properly.

This is typically only done once in the life of a bicycle.  If the manufacturer is good, they’ll do it.  If not, your bicycle shop should have done it before selling it to you.  Unless it’s a really cheap bike, when it’s just not worth the time to do it.

It’s all good fun and just reinforces for me what an amazing piece of machinery the bicycle is.  Especially as cheap as you can get them these days.

Wheel Build

Today was a long day at school.  But it was a good day.

We built a set of bicycle wheels from scratch.

I know it doesn’t sound exciting, but it really is, especially when you consider the forces that a wheel that weighs somewhere between 1-2lbs (.5-1kg) has to deal with.  Especially when it’s carrying my wide load, bombing down a twisting mountain road.

We jumped right into it, so I didn’t get a chance to get a picture of all of the pieces that go into making a wheel, but it isn’t much.  A hub, a rim, spokes and spoke nipples that thread on to the spokes and hold the rim to wheel.  That’s where the magic happens.

Our first step was to thread the spokes into the flanges of the hubs.  At times it was like wrestling with an octopus (yes, I know what that really feels like), but there was a method to the madness.

Here are the threaded hubs, with spoke nipples and the all-important cotton swabs for precisely applying grease in the right spots.

Wheel build beginning
Wheel build beginning

Once this step was done, it was time to start connecting the hub to the rim via the spokes, which is quite a process.  It’s called lacing for a reason.  It’s like weaving the spokes in a very specific pattern, in a very specific way so that the forces applied by the rider to the chain are translated into forward motion through contact with the ground.

We do ask a lot of those little 2mm wide pieces of wire.

Once the right (drive) side was laced, here’s what it looks like when the other side of the front wheel needed to be laced.  Still wrestling with an octopus.

Wheel build #2
Wheel build #2

But once the octopus is tamed, we have a very loose wheel.  Luckily it didn’t leave me.

How loose?  I could move the rim side to side several inches.  Although it looked like a wheel, it didn’t act like one.

So it was time to tighten.  And tighten.  And tighten.  All to get perfect balance, not only of weight but of tension.  Because the weight really doesn’t matter.  It’s all about tension.

Get the tension wrong and you’re walking (if you’re lucky).

Wheel Build 3
Wheel Build 3

It took me the better part of the day to get the pair right.  Not bad considering it’s my first set I’ve ever built from scratch.  And while we had looser tolerances today (±1mm) than we will for our certification test in two weeks (±0.1mm), I was able to dial these sloppy old components to the point that I would have passed the test.

That feels pretty good.

So here is the final set, rear wheel leaning against the backstop, front wheel on the truing stand, with various tools that we used today scattered on the bench.  And to give you an idea of how small the relaxed tolerances we had to work with today, the vernier calipers in the lower right are set at 1mm.  If that doesn’t help, stack about 5 sheets of notebook paper together.  There you go.

Wheel Build Final
Wheel Build Final

While that’s all pretty cool, I like the fact that we had until Thursday evening to get them done.  Mine are already disassembled, which gives me plenty of time to focus on the next few days of wrenching.

In case you hadn’t noticed, I’m having fun!

Hopefully you are too.


This image flashed across my monitor today as part of my screensaver. I had not seen it in a while, since it was taken on November 11, 2004.  The image made me smile at a moment that I needed it, a harried 45 minutes where I could not find my favorite lens.

A lens that has taken just under 30% of my 50,000 digital photos that I have taken that are in my database.

A lens, that if I had to replace it, would cost me a bicycle.

And I don’t buy cheap bicycles.

Long story made longer, the lens was right where I left it, although it had slipped behind a flap in my camera bag that never gets moved.

Except once recently.


I’m still trying to work on detaching from objects, but for something that has brought me so much enjoyment…

So back to November 11, 2004.

The progression of expressions makes me smile.


And no, this was not an image taken with my favorite lens.

Some train station on the Tokaido line, Tokyo, Japan.


It’s been a long week of getting through jet lag while trying to find a house in which to live, even if it’s only temporary while we look for something longer term.

But we are finding ways to decompress.

Today was no different.  A few uninspiring open houses to start.  So uninspiring that we did not walk into a single one, since the neighborhoods spoke the story.

Following our plan, we then started driving towards a trail head for an afternoon traipse through the forest and hills.  Along the way, Goddess fell asleep.  I kept driving.

I had a few options, including heading south into northern California.  But we’ve driven that stretch a few times already this past week, striking that path from the list of possibilities.  Instead, I decided to head up to the local ski area, which is just 30 minutes south of town.  The winding road finally woke Goddess, but Skinny was out cold in the back seat.

Similar to my post a few days ago, here is a view of Mt Shasta, off in the distance.  But this is from the parking lot of the local ski area, some 5,500′ above our town, 8 miles distant as the crow flies, 20 miles by car.

And since we’re talking distance, Mt Shasta is 54 miles away in this view.

It was a beautiful day.

Mt Shasta viewed from Mt Ashland
Mt Shasta viewed from Mt Ashland

I do like Mt Shasta. For many reasons.

It was a fixture in my youth, it’s a mountain and it’s a mountain.

Did I say it’s a mountain?  I like mountains.  Which is a big part of why we moved here.

Yesterday I ran across a list of mountains that one must climb in the United States.  Shasta was on the list.  Not that I needed a list to think about climbing it.

The description of the mountain also included links to guided climbs, which can be important if you’re thinking about climbing during the cooler months when there’s still snow and ice on the summit.  Skill with crampons and ice axes are important and those are taught by the guides.  Those skills are not something I have, but would love to learn.

I did a bit of research, then filed the info in the back of my mind, since I need to keep focused on finding a place to live.

Priorities, you know.

So we were out today and I was looking at the mountain once again, thinking about a climb.  Nothing in-depth, but just an awareness that I will do it.

Jump forward a few hours and I see a post by a friend, inquiring about whether or not to use a guide to climb Mt Shasta.  A friend that we have not seen since we left Japan in 2006.  Apparently the plan would be a spring climb.

This may happen sooner rather than later.

I’m good with that.

Especially since Goddess gave her approval with “have fun with that”.

Cutty Sark Gaze

Roaming through the archives from this past year and have stumbled across many images that I’m now wondering why I passed over for processing soon after I shot them.

Here’s one.

Perhaps it’s because I’m in a much different frame of mind that I was six months ago when I shot this.

Or perhaps not.

Either way, the more I look at his face, the more I wonder what the thoughts were.

And I’m hoping that I will get to be that age.

So I can spend another 30-40 years with Goddess.

Although she says I’m not off the hook for another 60.

I’m good with that.

Cutty Sark Gaze

Aboard the Cutty Sark.  Greenwich, London, England.

Lago Mooring

Goddess and I were rushing down the promenade, watching the setting sun’s light play along the mountains in the background.

I had high hopes that the angle would be just right that it would not only highlight the mountain in this image, but the two off frame left (to the north).  Unfortunately, the clouds moved back in and thwarted that image.

Damn shame.

Or not.

Lago Mooring

Menaggio, Lago di Como, Italy.

Como Sunset

Watching the day come to an end is always magical.

Even if, by the clock, it is still mid-afternoon.

Although that does create a different set of emotions than an early summer sunset in late evening.

But enjoying it in the middle of a large body of water, especially surrounded by gorgeous landscapes and architecture?


Como Sunset

I’ll tell you, full sized is amazing!

See that church on the mountain peak just left of center?

I can see clearly through the belfry, with clearly defined edges on both sides.

As well as the individual branches on the tree barely right of center.

That’s the technical geekery for me.

And being thankful for Goddess agreeing to my buying quality the first time, instead of stumbling my way towards quality.

But overall, I just love the tones.

Bellagio Point

Just two minutes later, as the ferry approached the dock, here’s the view towards the north, opposite yesterday’s post.

This one has perhaps a bit more depth.

OK, actually a lot more, extending all the way to the snow-blanketed mountains in the distance.

That makes it Goddess’ favorite of the two.

Bellagio Point

Bellagio Point

Which one is yours?

Bellagio Waterfront

The afternoon before and across the lake from yesterday’s post.

Bellagio, Italy, located at the tip of a peninsula jutting into Lago Como, holding a point to separate two large legs of the lake.

It is a beautiful little place.

Even in decidedly unfriendlier weather.

Bellagio Waterfront
Bellagio Waterfront

We could stay there.

Although we were glad that it is the off-season.  The vast majority of the shops were closed, as the owners were on their own vacation after a long summer of what has to be a crazy, crazy season.

And the thoughts of that are enough to keep us away.

Even with the supposedly tantalizing thought that George Clooney is like George Washington here, but instead of sleeping at each establishment, apparently Clooney drinks coffee at each one, based on the pics on the walls.


Quite a nice place…

…to wake up in.

Goddess and I were on the road this week.  A wide loop through Bavaria, Austria, Italy and Switzerland.  A route filled with landscapes that we love.

Plus this new one, which Goddess had never visited.

And acknowledged that it is not a bad place in which to wake up.

Menaggio Morning
Menaggio Morning

We even discussed the feasibility of my staying there while she drove up to Germany to “rescue” Skinny, our greyhound, while I looked for a place to live.

Never mind the fact that we would have to live like paupers here.

But it was still an interesting exercise.

That is the view of Lago Como (Lake Como), Italy, looking southward on the western shores from Menaggio.

It was a glorious morning, clear and +5C.  The roads were full of cyclists and runners, the shoreline full of fishermen, the cafés filling with patrons as they got ready for church.

Our kind of place.

Especially considering that some four hours later, we were exiting the north end of the Gotthard Tunnel in Switzerland, where it was snowing at a rate of 4 inches per hour (10cm/hr) and visibility at best was 100 meters.

Although we could adjust there just fine.