Link

Smart Wheels – Dumb Wheels

I finally had figured out a real advantage to a super-light carbon-fiber bike. When it breaks and you have to carry it home, at least you’ll have less weight to carry on your shoulder.

Had a guy come in a bit ago wanting a wheel set that could get him down Mt Evans and home with a broken spoke. Got him 36° Mavics. They do learn.

With fewer spokes, spoke tension must vary less. Blade spokes tell stories: the last mechanic and the customer didn’t turn them all sorts of directions.

Spokes most often break from not enough tension, on any wheel.

My local library does not supply my reread every tens years list. (I must move.) So I have inadvertently wandered into my reread every thirty odd years list. I didn’t know I had one of those. (I doubt I will see it again, so should savor while I can.)

I blame Matthew Crawford for this — gratefully.

The radio was a clue. You can’t really think hard about what you’re doing and listen to the radio at the same time. Maybe they didn’t see their job as having anything to do with hard thought, just wrench twiddling. If you can twiddle wrenches while listening to the radio that’s more enjoyable.

Their speed was another clue. They were really slopping things around in a hurry and not looking where they slopped them. More money that way — if you don’t stop to think that it usually takes longer or comes out worse.

But the biggest clue seemed to be their expressions. They were hard to explain. Good-natured, friendly, easygoing — and uninvolved. They were like spectators. You had the feeling they had just wandered in there themselves and somebody had handed them a wrench. There was no identification wit the job. No saying, “I am a mechanic.” [....]

– Robert Pirsig, Zen and the Art of Motorcycle Maintenance

I remembering reading it, and liking it. Sometime around 1980, after I had learnt Fortran, before I learnt number theory and Gödel. Sadly I don’t remember my reaction.

I know I understand the road now. And the prairie. I don’t know if I underatnd the philosophy better yet.

Link

Economic Hunting and Gardening in Cincinnati

A group of neighbors realized that the neighborhood was beginning to deteriorate as cheap houses on their block were being bought by absentee slum lords who would then rent the properties to unsavory individuals. Drugs had become a particular problem. So they created a neighborhood organization and when the next home appeared on the market they passed a hat around and collected enough money to buy the house themselves.

Link

Wheel Tension Balance Web App by Calvin Jones

A spoke that is looser relative to its neighbors will tend to loosen even more during use, and this will result in the wheel coming out of true. However, spokes that are overly tight can stress the rim, and this can result in a crack at the nipple hole. Wheels with even spoke tension will stay true longer, and as a bonus, your spoke life will be maximized.

Shop Class as Soulcraft

Shop Class as Soulcraft by Matthew B. Crawford

A decline in tool use would seem to betoken a shift in our mode of inhabiting the world: more passive and more dependent.

The satisfactions of manifesting oneself concretely in the world through manual competence have been known to make a man quiet and easy. They seem to relieve him of the felt need to offer chattering interpretations of himself to vindicate his worth. He can simply point: the building stands, the car now runs, the lights are on. Boasting is what a boy does, who has no real effect in the world. But craftsmanship must reckon with the infallible judgment of reality, where one’s failures or shortcomings cannot be interpreted away.

Because craftsmanship refers to objective standards that do not issue from the self and its desires, it poses a challenge to the ethic of consumerism, […]. The craftsman is proud of what he has made, and cherishes it, while the consumer discards things that are perfectly serviceable in his restless pursuit of the new.

The craftsman’s habitual deference is not toward the New, but toward the distinction between the Right Way and the Wrong Way. However narrow in its application, this is a rare appearance in contemporary life — a disinterested, articulable, and publicly affirmable idea of the good. Such a strong ontology is somewhat at odds with the cutting-edge institutions of the new capitalism, and with the educational regime that aims to supply those institutions with suitable workers […].

There is always a risk of introducing new complications when working on decrepit machines, and this enters the diagnostic logic. Measured in likelihood of screw-ups, the cost is not identical for all avenues of inquiry when deciding which hypothesis to pursue.

also The Case for Working With Your Hands by Matthew B Crawford