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(Attempt at artistic photo utterly fails to show essential details.)


Most available brain capacity for the last few week has been taken up working out how to get the now cleaned frame, someone capable of welding and the Romanian braze-ons in the same place at the same time. There is such a person where I work, but getting the frame to him required some rather complex logistics arrangement involving Eldest Son, the commuter bike, several buses and a couple of trams.

After that it was a matter of saying what I wanted and not jumping through the door every five minutes to see if he’d finished.

By the time the bike was ready to come back I’d concluded that this sort of thing is what Xtracycles are for, so on my next Saturday shift -doing lighting and some stage management for an English speaking Panto group- I cycled down into the city and loaded up for the return.

I cheated for some of the way and took the tram on the worst of the hill.

Judging by the looks from other passengers people transporting freshly welded bicycle frames on a longtail are not a regular sight in suburban Stuttgart.

Life has been getting busy. Again. Mostly this is because I work in a theatre and we’re having the annual Christmas silly session but also because I’m supposed to be writing a report/dissertation for my final year. However, we are making some progress, and interesting things have been arriving at the Ingermany household.

The first is this package from Romania, which is apparently the only place in Europe where you can get old school braze-ons for traditional gear levers. This is the result of far too much thinking and a lot of online questioning after discovering the normal solution for fixing gear levers to the bottom bar -a collar clamp- wouldn’t be possible because the bar is about 1mm too thick.

You don’t have to braze bits on the bike. You can drill a hole through the frame and bolt the gear levers onto that, but I’m a bit jumpy about messing about with the integrity of the frame.

Having finally found how to fix levers onto the bike, we ordered a set of levers from Elder Son’s employer, who themselves ordered them from the Shimano EU distributor, who it turns out are five minutes down the road.

To my rather great surprise these fit the braze ons perfectly.

Now I have to work out how to get the frame and Braze-ons down to work for our resident metalworker to fit them together.

As mentioned a couple of weeks ago, Elder Son is now an apprentice bike mechanic. In Germany this is a two year course, mostly working in a bike shop with college one or two days a week. The college makes sure he has extra practical and theory lessons, and also theory, social studies, how and why the German government is built as it is, law and business studies: he’s not just being trained to be a bike wrench: he’s being trained to run a business.

And yes I am envious, even more so because it turns out he’s pretty good at it.

Take this week for example. As mentioned previously, we’d pulled most of the extra components off the bike frame ready for painting, but the cranks and bottom bracket (where the pedals go through the frame) needed some needed some tools I hadn’t got, so we arranged that Elder Son would ask his boss to lend us a couple. He was a bit unsure about this for fear of making a mistake (thanks schools system) but agreed to give it a go.

Yesterday evening he rang the bell and reported that he did have the tools, so I went downstairs to lend moral support. He’d already started, and waved the Mother Of All Spanners at me, saying “Hi dad, I thought you might like to see how this works”. He took hold of the bike, instructed me to hold it “Like that, no, a bit over here. That’s it…”
He waved the crank remover, fitted it, turned the lever and removed the crank.
I was instructed to rotate the bike. Next time I looked the other crank was neatly placed on the floor.
Then came the Mother Of All spanners. “This engages inside the ring here, look, my boss showed me this trick…”
The first screw loosened without protest
“Dad?”
“Yes?”
“Can you tun the bike around?”
“Oh, sorry.”
Spanner was applied again, Bottom bracket removed.
“Okay, so we can pack those up and sand the frame down.” He’d only taken the tools out of the bag three minutes earlier.
“Okay,” I said, “just one thing.”
“What?”
“Next time,let me have a go, okay?”
“I’ll think about it.”

You can’t buy that…

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