Saturday, July 24, 2010

Wheel returns

Wheel arrived back yesterday. Wow. It took 2 weeks to get to Rohloff. One day for Rohloff to do their magic, and 4 days to return. (I can't figure out how Australia Post works.)  I didn't waste any time putting it on and going for a spin. With 75kg load - no problems. Didn't have a 120kg load handy to try with that, but I'm confident that its sorted.

Going to hang for a few more days. Promised to fix a laptop and am now waiting on a hard disk to arrive. It should arrive Monday (fingers crossed) so that I can leave here by the end of the week.

Wednesday, July 7, 2010

Advertising and Perceptions

Road side stall, in the middle of banana fields, selling: bananas.  You think the bananas are from the local fields? Nope. I, and I wasn't alone, was thinking they where, but I arrived early one morning and met the guy restocking. Not so local bananas after all. He has a route restocking several road side stalls each day. Ripened bananas from the store room. I recall that he said the bananas did come from somewhere in the Far North Queensland area, but not the near by fields.

Still, your getting better value than the large supermarket stalls. I wonder how it pays though; The bananas sell at $2/kg. He has to buy them from a farmer, pay transport to get them to the store room, the store room running costs, costs of driving around stocking the stalls. How does this work to be economical to sell for $2/kg?

Bicycle shorts: I don't use padded shorts, but the el cheapo KMart 'cycle shorts' also called gym wear. Recently was forced to actually buy a new pair, rather than finding a second hand pair. Lots of stickers on the product: "Moisture wicking fabric". Cynical me, checked the labels of the new versus the old; both the same  95% cotton, 5% elastane. Marketing!

Tuesday, July 6, 2010

Tensioner arrives, wheel departs

Rohloff Tensioner arrived today. Its a much stronger item then my last tensioner, and it gives a lot more chain wrap around the sprocket. My last tensioner feels like a tired rubber band compared to the Rohloff one. The Rohloff tensioner comes with spacers to adjust the alignment; so the wheel on the tensioner ends up directly in line with the sprocket. Two new SRAM 9 speed chains, bit of playing with the length to get the jockey wheel in the right location according to the docs, and I was done. Short ride about all is good. Throw 120kg on the rack and same problem.

I had talked with Rohloff Australia about this before, so packed up the whole wheel and posted it off. Lots of bubble wrap around the hub, with tape to keep it on. The wheel was left on also to help the rim. I was surprised Australia Post would would handle it. Glad they did. If the item is too large to sent via AusPost, your in for a job finding someone to send it. I found that none of the courier companies up here - TNT, IPEC would just take a parcel off you -> you need an account first. Obviously your not going to have one unless your sending parcels regularly. One guy suggested checking with the buss companies. Yep, buss companies handle freight. With an extra $9.90 for courier delivery at the other end. So if your stuck - check out the busses.

Since I'll be sans bike for a few days, got the spray can out and touched up the paint job from my brazing efforts.

Friday, July 2, 2010

Sorting it out

Got a helpful body to sit on the back rack again, trying to see if the chain tension is a problem. Got him to put his boot on the tensioner to really tension it. Did this or the oil change help? Nope.

Talked with guys at Cheeky Monkey to see if they had any further suggestions on the plan of attach, and to give them the heads up if didn't have any joy after trying on my own.  I also talked with Maria at Rohloff Australia  She was very helpful; suggesting what to look at that have caused people problems in the past; chains, sprockets, joiner links, overly tight or loose nut tensions,  etc.

The slipping I'm having only happens with heavy load on. It didn't happen when I had the hub in the MTB touring. One reason I'm still going to change the tensioner and look at chains and sprockets. On the MTB I didn't run a tensioner- having slotted dropouts, so could move the wheel back. Load on the MTB rack was probably in the 40kg range. I figured my two loaded Go-Getters were in the 60-80kg range. My helpful body load is over 100kg. He wouldn't say how heavy he is, but was socked when I asked if he is  less than the 200kg Mundo rack limit. He assures me he is :)

Result: I'm going to try all the easy stuff first; changing the chain tensioner to a Rohloff one. I'll  get two new chains,  no half or joiner link, and new chain ring and sprocket. (well swap them around). If that gives no joy, then will send the hub back to Rohloff to have a look at under warranty.

Tracked down a torque wrench and spent some time this afternoon checking bolts that I've touched on the external gear mech, OEM adaptor plate, and axle nuts. Found I had everything too loose. Wasn't that surprised on the smaller bolts - I was worried about doing damage making them too tight without the torque wrench. The axle nuts - I was surprised how tight they get done up. I've had problems with the nuts working loose before - so guess now they are tight. Will wait for the tensioner and new chains before trying a heavy load again.

Also had a go with the oxy - and plugged up one leak in the frame. What's this about? I put all stainless button head bolts with washers in all the braze-on's on the Mundo - to stop water entry.  There are lots of them, which is really handy. As I was doing this I squirted some light oil in the frame. I noticed that it leaked out of two on the rack. It looked like that when the weld went around the tube, they missed by pin prick meeting up to the start of the weld. A drop of braze to plug it up. I put some more oil in after this, but found I missed sealing one of them. Will do that one again tomorrow.

Back to waiting on parts to arrive, before testing it all. In the mean time - time to go riding.

Thursday, July 1, 2010

And back again...

Well, it was up, up, up, then down, down down. Yep, day one was all uphill. Second day was coasting back down again. The escape was probably doomed for a several reasons. Mainly for lack of fully loaded practice ride I think. Problems started from lack of planning;

The danger of the large Go-Getters is that you can fool yourself into leave packing until the end, thinking that you can throw it all in the bags. And you can. However, the packing doesn't get that much scrutiny with this method. On checking during the inevitable repack on the road I found that I had things that should never have made it onto the bags in the first place -> metal files, spray tins of paint, large squirt gun tubes of glue, saws, more than once set of some tools, rolls of leather, etc. There were bags wrapped in plastic, that I wasn't game to open, for fear of what I'd find inside them.

With such large bags, everyone feels that you have space to carry - well everything. I had planned to take some back roads, figuring on about 4 days between towns. I had some pasta, soup, dried peas, sultanas for this. I stopped and repacked when it started to shower - as I'd just left bags sitting on the back rack. I ended up with over half of one Go-Getters filled with food! This is an insane amount for one person. Not only that, but some of the stuff was straight out of the fridge - damp - wrapped in plastic, in panniers, in the sun (when it appeared - always when creeping upwards), was making for a soup. I consumed way more than I wanted that night and next morning, trying to avoid mould, and to free up space. I don't think you can claim lightening of the load, when you eat it... I still had stuff that went back in the fridge when I returned.

The sun when it was out - I had a thermometer, it hit close to 40 before I noticed and put it under cover. Humidity was up there - I was a mass of sweat. The day was a mix of showers, sun, showers. I didn't bother with wet gear - was wet enough from sweating.

I think it is the chain tensioner which is causing problems. It had been behaving without a problem in test rides, but it didn't play well with the loaded bags. Something was slipping/jumping. I don't think it is the hub - as it has never skipped before, and has 3000km on it. If I pretended I had a single speed - the chain would not skip if I was travelling slow enough, no matter what the gear. Chain skip occured more in the higher gears than the low. The low gears, I had to be spinning crazyily to have it happen. My thinking is that at the faster speed, the road bumps gave the chain that bit more bounce, to press outwards just enough enough to jump a tooth or two. I've taken the chain guard off to see better what's happening - but that far back, its hard to see. I tried to simimulate the problem pedalling with the front brake on - but unless I go fast enough, there isn't a problem.  So, going to change the chain tensioner to the two wheel versions. This will cause the chain to hang lower, destroying my nice chain line, but such is life.

Update this morning: I went for a ride with the usual ride stuff on and had no problems - much as I tried. Returned and had someone sit on the back and watch while I pedaled, then we swapped. Me pedaling,  it would skip. Hard to tell what it is though. When I was on the back, it only happened a couple times. Neither of us could see the chain jumping  - but it is hard to tell. Feels like and sounds like its jumping a link. I do have a half link and a joiner link, but it can happen too often for it to be those two links - which are at the same spot. Need to be moving to have it happen. Going to change the tensioner, change the chain - remove the half link and the joiner link, change the oil in the hub. See what that gives. Hope it isn't the hub, but still think that it can't be - its given 3000km of trouble free usage, though admittedly, I've probably not loaded it with 80kg plus of weight.

There's no denying it was a heavy load. For instance, with all the food only in one Go-Getter, I could not pick it up one handed. Thats before adding on the tent, tools, junk and water. The bags fully loaded - were a struggle to even pick up. But I wasn't out of space to stack more stuff on if I wanted to.

How did it handle - like a dream (not the nightmare ones). Yes you could feel it was heavy - I used low gear lots - just sit and spin. Skipping chain helped with this - I had to resist my temptation to push harder gears. It bounced happily over railway lines and pot holes I didn't manage to avoid. It didn't feel unstable. There was no flex - standing an pedalling was - well, just like standing and pedalling on your bike. Better than my MTB with rack and gear - the rack used to sway. No sway here. Downhill speeds of just over 50km/hr didn't present any problems either - stable at speed.  A benefit of the weight I think is that semitrailers and B-doubles didn't blow me about.  The upright seating is a real bonus - much easier on my arms and shoulders. Though, for only two days that isn't saying a lot.

So, in the end I had the choice of pushing on for a small town to sit and wait for a different chain tensioner, or retuning to base (so to speak). It seemed a better idea to return.  It was it was downhill, I could off load the stuff on my family for them to use, and the local council helped with my choice. They were spraying from the camp ground up the road. I spent some time waiting for them to get away, but after pedalling up for a bit, I caught up to them. Then they stayed just infront of me.  I didn't want to breath poison spray all day following them. So turned downhill.

One nice thing - riding along, looking over the side into the water - saw a platypus swimming along.  Only got to see it as I was going slow along the edge of the road. No chance of any motorist seeing it.