Waxing Lyrical; Whipping Twine, Chain Lube and the Tale of the Lost Mudguard Eye Nut

It’s funny how things happen in threes. There I was, this morning, sitting, drinking my coffee, wondering what my blog post would be today. Then an hour later, after my commute, three interconnected things come along, all at the same time; handlebar twine, chain lube and a lost mudguard eye nut. But what’s the thread that twines this trio together? Well, it’s wax.

Waxed cotton twine on brown cloth tape with four coats of amber shellac.

Twine

I’ve been experimenting with twine for a while; a few weeks ago I shellac-hemp-twined my handlebar tape ends, but, after living with it for a few days, I wasn’t entirely happy with the results. Hemp twine can be pretty ‘hairy’, meaning that something that’s meant to neatly finish the bar tape ends up looking messy. However, the other day, and quite by accident, a roll of waxed-cotton twine came into my possession. A nice cream colour makes a nice contrast with the dark brown cloth tape. However, the killer feature for me is the waxed finish, which makes the twine adhere to itself and its sub layer. The wax finish also makes the tying-off more secure and will also make the twining water and dirt-proof. Some folks don’t like waxed twine because it doesn’t take shellac well, but I see no need for shellac on the waxy stuff. Its main use is in nautical circles, where it’s used to ‘whip’ rope ends, and also to bundle wiring in electrical installations.

Lube

Late yesterday afternoon I received a package from my friends at Green Oil, who, for some years, have been marketing their excellent range of environmentally friendly lubes and bike cleaning products, which use plant-based (rather than petroleum-based) ingredients. Their latest product is something that’s been missing from the shelves forever – ‘White’ liquid chain wax; a beeswax-based dry chain lube, which claims to protect and lube the chain in all weathers, and doesn’t attract road grime. Now, waxing chains is nothing new. Grant Peterson described the process of paraffin waxing chains in one of his fabulous Bridgestone catalogues and he wasn’t the first; it’s been a popular practice with master-mechanics for generations. However, this is (to my knowledge) the first beeswax-based (and therefore non-petrochemical) wax lube available, which is great news. I’m looking forward to degreasing my drivetrain, White-lubing the chain and seeing how it performs over the coming winter. Expect a full test in a few months – in the meantime I’ll keep you posted.

Nuts

And finally, on the way to the station, I noticed an annoying rattle from the front end of the bike. Before I could locate it, one of my mudguard eye nuts had worked loose and rattled onto the road. They’re special 8mm nuts with an extended ridge at the back which tightens into the ‘eye bolt’ and grips, the mudguard stay, keeping the mudguard properly adjusted. I cussed, shook my head and put up with the annoying rattle all the way to the station (I hate annoying rattles). No biggie though; I’m pretty sure I’ve got a spare in my nuts and bolts tin at home. However, what I plan to do is use a little candle-wax on the threads to stop the new nut rattling loose (another top tip courtesy of that clever Mr Peterson). And let’s face it, there are worse things in the world than rattles (but not many).

Back on board, shellac, twine and Carradice Camper Usefulness

Bike? Check. Beautiful evening? Check. Happy Rider? O yes...
Bike? Check. Beautiful evening? Check. Happy Rider? O yes...

It was with unbridled joy that I climbed back on board Resurrectio for a dreamy ride down into town and along the waterfront yesterday evening. You know, one of those rides were the wind always seems to be behind you and you just want to keep on rolling. I left the house with the intention of maybe riding down to the Pier Head to take in the sights; the Three Graces glowing in the evening sun, the sleek Isle of Man-bound catamaran, rolling gently on the current, the photographers setting up long exposure shots as the sun set. But I just had the urge to carry on, brisk but never hurried. I cycled through Albert Dock and along Otterspool promenade, blissfully traffic-free, all the way to Aigburth before cutting home through Wavertree; all in all, a ride of about 15 miles, by my crude reckoning.

The ride also gave me a chance to take some snaps of my convalescence handicrafts.

Here’s my twined and shellacked bar-tape trim – hemp twine and two coats of amber shellac.

Here’s my twined kickstand – looks nice, in a rustic sort of way, and protects my cranks from knocks.

How about my gear-cable keepers? Much nicer that wrapping the cable inside the tape for a few turns, to my eye.

And here’s my twined aluminium water bottle. This took a lot of hemp twine and a fair old amount of shellac. Grips nicely in the bottle cage and turns an overtly sporty looking item into something altogether more nostalgic.

Here’s a picture of the whole ensemble, glowing in the evening sun (that dipped below the Welsh hills across the Mersey just a few moments later).

And finally, here’s a picture that follow up on my recent Carradice Camper Longflap review, to illustrate its usefulness and load carrying ability. Today I was faced with the prospect of carrying laptop, charger, two video cameras, digital SLR, lunch, commuting gear/tools and a large heavy duty tripod back into work. The quitter in me was reluctantly saying ‘take the car’ but then I thought “Wait a minute…”

So it was; camera bag on back, laptop, lunch and commuting gear in the Carradice, tripod trapped and strapped under the generous lid. All this and there was no need to deploy the Longflap. Once underway I didn’t notice it was there (just had to remember not to squeeze between tight gaps on the way to the station!

Feels good to be back on the (newly beautified) bike.

More Mixte Emotions

The Friday Cyclotouriste - an SF based comrade in the 'ride beautiful bicycles slowly' struggle

It seems I’m not alone with my distate for velo-gender-prejudice. Nathan at the achingly well-shot The Friday Cyclotouriste rides his Nishiki mixte (avec basket) with pride. He also stated his case far more eloquently and succinctly than I could ever hope to:

“People sometimes tease me for riding a girl’s bike, but I could care less if it’s a girl’s bike. This is not just a case of a well developed Jungian anima at work. The step-through frame is downright practical for city riding and for things like getting on and off at red lights.”

Check out the full blog entry and more here: http://thefridaycyclotouriste.com/?p=2752

Commute Envy

I thought my commute was pretty good. 20 minutes into the city centre through a quiet park in the morning, then an hour on the train to work/read the paper/listen to an e-book, then a 20 minute canal ride out to the office, but Jay and Vaughn’s commute from Rivendell HQ in Walnut Creek (shown here to demo the capabilities of their new Hunquapillar trail/touring bike) has left me feeling a might green…

Liverpool, UK might have a mighty river, two amazing cathedrals and some great bike paths, but it can’t rival the SF Bay Area for riding…

Further Reading – Rivendell Reader 42

Always a beacon of sense and judgement in our crazy times, the latest Rivendell Reader, #42 is out now (in fact it has been for a fair few weeks).

Formerly a perk for Rivendell members, the Reader is now freely available as a chunky PDF download or for the first time, hosted as one of those online bookish things here.

Clickety click on the pic to open the online Reader

The Reader is always like wandering through an antiquarian goods and chattels emporium, owned by a bicycling guru. It’s a little dusty, pleasantly anachronistic, thoroughly relevant and always able to take you by surprise. There are bike related and non-bike related posts: In this issue there’s stuff on market economics, bodge repairs, beausage (live by that word, friends…) and a New Jersey janitor with learning difficulties who’s cycled over a million miles – a real life, bicycling Forrest Gump. Plus in every issue, there’s a small piece on the typeface used  – in #42’s case – Hoefler.

It’s a bumper 70 pages, so pour yourself a cuppa, feet up and enjoy…

All Hail El Resurrectio!

My Plain Jane commuter bike has been crying out for some detail ever since I sourced the frame over a year ago. I’ve wanted to decal it up for a while, but didn’t want to misrepresent the bike and apply Surly stickers (nice as they are) or the like. Originally the frame came from an early 1990s Saracen hybrid, but Saracen decals didn’t go with the image of the rest of the bike.

Country bike before decals

So I was rummaging around the www.rivbike.com and came across these excellent Resurrectio decals, which are expressly made for bringing an old-but-good frame back from the dead.

The stickers come in two varieties, one for under laquer, one for over. I chose the over-laquer version and after a few emails to Riv’s shipping guy, Vaughn Dice, the stickers were on their way from Walnut Creek, CA, to Liverpool UK.

Applying the decals was a little daunting, as they could easily rip and were pretty much a one-hit affair. Thankfully, Vaughn sent me a link to this excellent How-To, which saved me a whole lot of trial and error.

I think that the result is excellent – the cream and gold of the decals tones perfectly with metallic British Racing Green of the frame.

I give you El Resurrectio

A big thanks to Riv for an excellent product – now when someone asks me what type of bike it is, I say, “Why, sir, it’s a Resurrectio”.

Ch, ch, ch, changes





The postman arrived today with  two packages containing three items, which meant some QT with the all-rounder bike. New additions are:

The ultimate barbag, seatpack or manbag – A Swedish Army Gas Mask Bag re-purposed as a bike bag. I’ve long thought that Army Surplus kit can be made into great cycling luggage and this is my first item. 
I saw it first on OYB – a cool sustainable living blog. This guy adapts his to make it work on the bike even better, adds his OYB (Out Your Backdoor) patch and resells ’em. And good on him. Take a look.
I bought mine from Ebay shop Jungle Clothing UK
The second item was a kickstand – I always loved the kickstand on my Raleigh Chopper when I was a kid, so why not have one now. I’ve got one on the Dahon and I use it at least three times every ride. 
Last item from the postman, and definitely least, was a very boring pair of curved rack mounts for my SL Tournee rear rack, meaning I can use it in conjunction with V brakes. 
The other change I’ve made is to swap the 610mm North Road bars for a narrower 490mm pair with a greater sweep-back. They were on a Pashley trike I’ve got that was just begging for wider bars. I’ve polished them up – they’re a little scratched from about 20 years of usage, but I think the scratches polished out count as beausage.
I’ve finished them with a minimalistic wrap of bar tape and a pair of wine cork bar end stoppers. 
Most people think I’ve created Frankenstein, but to me, she’s a workaday Venus.