Mowing the lawn today in advance of the Irene. I want the place to look good before it is torn to shit. The mower didn’t feel right. Last week I mowed the lawn while it was still wet. The mower was a mess when I finished. I used the hose to clean it off (why did I do that–I never do that) and then dried every inch of it very carefully. No matter how well you dry something washed with a hose, there are always areas that you can’t dry. That’s what happened here.
I couldn’t tell what was wrong, but one side was dragging seriously. I was in the middle of mowing, so rather than take the mower to my workbench and have an easy and fun time of it, I grabbed the tools and tore it completely apart on the patio. In the sun. On my knees. The left and the right sides of the thing are held together by three cross members (triangles are strong). One is in line with the axles for the tiny rear wheels. One is the straight edge blade that the reels contact to cut. The final is the trim piece with the Scott’s logo on it. First remove the big drive wheels. Just a trim cap and a circlip. Then you can remove the bolts securing each of these three items and the whole thing comes apart. The reel is now free and the bearings that the reel turn on can be accessed. The bearings aren’t well sealed. The bearings on one side (1/4″ balls on a retainer, just like many bottom brackets) were rusted (probably started before my hose job, but the water surely didn’t help). The other side was fine. Both were dry (no grease). I cleaned the races, replaced all the bearings, greased everything well and bolted it all together. I also greased the floating clutches governing the gears that move the reel when the drive wheels go forward.
The thing is now super wonderful. So free reeling that I caught my thumb in there even when I was turning it very lightly as I adjusted the contact blade. I always have to cut myself. That’s how I know I am done with a project. Tiny cuts this time.
The improvements are as noticeable as pedaling a freshly restored bicycle. Night and day. Mowing the second half of the lawn was still not fun, but it least it wasn’t as much work. I wonder how many reel lawnmowers have grade 25 bearings and Phil Wood grease?
I biked only to the library today, but I enjoyed the strength I pretend I feel now that I have taken a few longer rides in the country. Both my legs and lungs feel stronger. Might have helped that I was on my ANT Light Roadster fixed gear with triple Phil Wood (both hubs and the bottom bracket). So little friction. So little sound. Like pedaling a Swiss watch (or some other stereotypical example of precision).
I stopped by the police station to ask a bicycle officer if they would give an interview to another blogger. I had suggested the interview to the other blogger to counterbalance a piece they posted about bicycle officers pedaling in ways that violate the law. The officer was cool and gave the names, numbers and working hours of two sergeants to contact. I passed them along to my fellow blogger. We’ll see what happens. I thought about doing the interview myself, but I doubt I will. I don’t have a dog in the hunt, as they say. While it bugs me when I see officers talking on cell phones as they drive, I am not bothered by bicycle officers rolling through stop signs or pedaling on the wrong side of the street. When officers on bicycles pedal outside the rules, it is generally their safety that they are placing at risk. Generally. The blogger and commenters asserted that the officers were setting bad examples for other pedalers. It would be great if all bicycle officers set good examples all the time, but first and foremost they are doing an important job–not teaching us how to behave. We don’t see an officer chase a perp at high speed, run them into the guard rail and pull a gun on them and then think we should do that. I don’t think it is ok to talk on a cell phone while operating a vehicle just because I see officers do it. If an officer tramples our rights, by all means bring it to light, but bicycle officers who pedal outside the lines aren’t really a big problem in my book.
As I was wrapping up my conversation with the bicycle officer, another officer was entering the station and yelled over his shoulder to the officer with whom I was conversing “where is your basket?” My first thought was that the officer was indirectly flipping me shit for having a basket. The officer with whom I was conversing asked me if my dog rode in the basket. She was trying to be nice and maybe take some of the sting out of her colleague’s taunt. I hope I misinterpreted the second officer’s intentions. I was trying to build bridges. The bicycle officer was helping. The second officer…not so much.
Time to get off the soap box–it’s Friday! I hope my neighbors trees stay up during the big blow (or at least come down on something other than my house). Scheduled to arrive on Sunday at 1:00 pm, last I checked. I’ll calm my nerves by heading to Mahar’s for a pint of Ommegang Aphrodite (assuming the locals haven’t drained the keg). [Update: I did, they hadn’t and it was very interesting. Didn’t light my fire the way Adoration did, but Aphrodite was a very unique offering that, as my pint emptied, lifted my spirits and left me wanting another pint. At 8.9% ABV, that would not have been a good idea. I did need to pedal home.]