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).

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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.

Beating the No-Bicycling Blues

The sorry lack of posts over the last few days have been due to one inexorable truth – it’s been No-Bicycling Week here at theverydaycyclist HQ. No it’s not some new government initiative – a stinking cold has rendered the bike a sorry spectator instead of principal protagonist in the drama of daily life.

Resurrectio, waiting patiently in the hallway for his master to regain full cycling functionality.

What makes things worse is that last week’s miserable, wet and windy weather has been replaced with still air, clear skies and 17 degree temperatures. The temptation to ride is great, but I know that riding the bicycle today will set my recovery back two days (the stairs in work were a tall order yesterday).

However, I can use this enforced downtime to carry out some essential maintenance. Resurrectio hasn’t had a good wash and relube in a while, and that bar tape could do with a fresh coat of shellac.

Also on the agenda is some more craftsy stuff – I’ve got some leftover cloth tape, that’ll be just enough to wrap the right hand chain-stay to replace the frankly hideous, yet functional, Lizard Skinz neoprene chainstay protector. I’ll wrap and then shellac the chainstay and it’ll end up looking just like the handlebars above.


Are you lookin' at me? Walz, wool and a wary expression.

I may finish it off with some twining (if I can find some decent hemp twine). If I’ve got enough, I’ll also tape, twine and shellac my kickstand so it doesn’t gouge my left hand crank. A little like this.

So, when my body gives me the green light for riding, Resurrectio will be ready (and a little more beautiful). Hopefully, in this way, I can beat the no-bicycling blues.

Also, when I’m recovered, I’ll have my rather excellent tweed Walz cap to enjoy on those wonderful autumnal rides on the bike path.

Right, I’m off – there’s chores to be done.

Shock News – A Bike Related Post!

I’ve been harping on so much about Primal Blueprint that I thought I’d post some bike stuff for a change. 

Spent yesterday clearing out the shed in the fine spring weather and I found three bikes that I’d almost completely forgotten about! Well, almost…

Above: The country bike, basking in the autumn sunshine, back in 2008
I’ve decided that the country bike is just too nice to sit there in the dark, slowly rusting away. So I pulled it out of the shed and gave it a dust down, pumped up the tyres, gave the bar tape a couple of coats of shellac and let it dry in the sun. 
Today I took it for an afternoon spin around the park. I had the bars set pretty low and have got used to a much more upright position on the Dahon, so I pulled them up, a la Rivendell. Grant Petersen’s advice is to get the bars at least level with the saddle, if not a little higher, for the moustache bar to work best. This is certainly good advice when you’ve got shellacked cloth tape, which doesn’t afford the hands much in the way of cushioning. With this tape setup, it’s best to carry a little more weight on the saddle – and the B17 Standard is great in that respect. 

Above: Reelight SL100 induction lights – fitted to both of my ‘useful’ bikes

So I can make sure I get the most use out of the country bike, I’ve ordered a set of Reelight SL100s for it. The Dahon D7 has got a set and they are unbeatable for fit and forget battery free lighting. 
I’ve also ordered a Carradice SQR block for the country bike, so swapping over the Carradice isn’t a pain. What I’ll do is alternate between the folding bike and the country bike for commutes, and keep the folder in the hallway for shopping errands and the like. 
Which just leaves the other two bikes in my stable. A 2004 Claud Butler Alpina MTB, which has served me well on bridleways, trail centres and rocky Pennine trails. 
The most neglected of all is the road bike. An aluminium framed ‘winter bike’ with carbon forks and a few Rivendell inspired touches – bar end shifters, Brooks Swift saddle, Stronglight compact double crank and a set of 28mm tyres – the biggest that it’s clearances will allow. 

Above: The latest version of the Picador – ours is much older and rustier
Also loitering in the shed is a Pashley Picador trike which must be 20 years old or more. It’s my step-daughter Kelly’s and it’s going to her dad’s house to live – he’s got access to some great country parks and bike paths so it should get a lot more use up there. Just a new set of (incredibly hard to source) 500a (20 x 1 3/8) tyres and tubes and it’s ready for action. 
And that brings us up to date on the bike front. The much modified Dahon continues to serve me well – so well that the other bikes have had to fight for their place. 

To Wrap or Not To Wrap?

Just toying with the idea of wrapping by the forward section of the North Road bars, so I can get a moustache style position on them. Rivendell do it and I’ve seen it on http://epicureancyclist.blogspot.com/

Looks quirky but very very good. It’ll look even quirkier on a folding bike. Check out this video of Riv mechanic in action shellacking a set of Albatrosses (that sounds odd out of context…)