The Reanimators, part two

Earlier this month I became a proto-reanimator, joining Loop Groop’s Build Your Own Bike workshop in Eden Terrace. It’s a learn-by-doing experience in assembling your own ride from the groopies’ piles of recycled bits. My donor bike was a mid-90’s Klein road machine abandoned in the basement of my apartment building. Here’s the second part of Revenge of the Klein:

On our first Saturday I had stripped the bike down the frame, found a front wheel for it, and rebuilt the headset and wheel bearings. The next job was to replace the tired bearings from the bottom bracket. They were sealed bearings, not easily restored, so I bought new ones from an automotive dealer in Mt Eden and brought them with me for the next session. And this is where the Klein, which everyone had earlier agreed was a sweet little bike, revealed itself to be a brat.

In a perfect world my new bearings would, with the aid of a bearing press, squeeze readily into the bottom bracket. The groopies didn’t have such a press but, drawing on their “do what you can with what’s at hand” ethos, they suggested pounding the bearings in with a mallet. So I locked the frame into a vice, gingerly held the wooden handle of a steel brush against the first bearing with one hand, and wacked away with the mallet in the other. The bearing stayed put. I wacked harder. Same result. Harder again, and the inevitable happened:

First blood to the Klein, then. But we humans can be at least as obstinate as a sealed bearing, so I persisted, hammering away at the bearings on both sides until they grudgingly eased into the bottom bracket shell. Progress! I’ll just reinstall the cranks and we’ll be well on our way to getting the Klein back on the road.

The Klein had other ideas. The cranks had disappeared. So too had the wheels with freshly serviced hubs, and most of the other bits I had carefully stowed away in a cardboard box.

The Klein’s cranks and other essential bits.

Here, some context: Loop Groop’s scruffy site in Minnie Street has very recently been sold and the groopies, knowing they had to be gone by July, had invited anybody and everybody over to help themselves to their spare parts. One of those ungrateful wretches had apparently liberated the Klein’s bits, including the cranks.

No matter. There were loads of spare cranks lying around. All I had to do was make like Tinder and find one that matched. We needed one with double chain rings, and the first candidate was a triple. No good. The next was a double but it couldn’t clear the chain stay. The next worked as a single, but it too fouled the chain stay. I tried a fourth and a fifth and a sixth and, I kid you not, none of them worked.  Not one, even after I exhausted the groopies’ entire stock of cranks.

I gave up.

If you follow the Auckland Blues, you’ll recognise a noble cause fated to fail. The Klein restoration was such a cause; I was keen but the Klein was not. With its essential bits gone walkabout and Loop Groop closing down, I consigned what remained of the Klein to spare parts in the hope they will one day find another life in someone else’s reanimated ride.

Loop Groop signs off this Saturday with a Goodbye Junkyard party.


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