Monday, December 31, 2007

Ridden by my new owner!

Today PhattKatt finally got the feel of its new owner. Yes, today the gears were shifted and the seat was sat in, and the wheels rotated with my wife at the helm.

My wife is a stoic of sorts. She is a wonderful lady who cares for me as no other could or even would, and I love her dearly for that and much more.

Anytime a trike was mentioned in the past, one would have to know her to know that the thought appealed to her. Today, learning how to shift and pedal, even though it was very cold outside and a short ride, was telling merely in the fact that nothing at all was said. Yes, this kind of joy needs to be held within. That tell-tale trike-smile did come through in glimpses. PhattKatt is a great fit for my wife... and the fitting continues.

First thing this morning was a trip to Performance Bicycle. We needed shoes that could be converted to clipless. Not knowing her true foot size, and the current sales, it seemed a good idea to see what was available.

Found was a pair of Diadora TrailBlazer Women's Shoes... that were $99.99 on sale for $19-! WHAT A DEAL!... and they fit like a glove. Needless to say, the ride today was NOT with clipless pedals since that is a day of learning on its own.

When we got back from the short cold ride, I decided to follow the instructions of the sales lady at Performance on fitting the cleats to the shoes. I offered my wife the fitting of the SPD that came with PhattKatt or the Crankbrothers Egg Beaters that also came with PhattKatt. She choose the SPD probably because they are also platform compatible. Next came the fun part...

Today is New Year's Eve... not April Fools! I scored the soul as instructed and tried to peel out the center. Then tried prying out the center... more scoring... more cutting... Nada! Then I proceeded to pull out little pieces to see what was going on. I even wondered if these were really cycling shoes! Good fortune... they were indeed SPD compatible cycling shoes. Here's the joke someone at Diadora played on me... the centers that are suppose to be removed were GLUED IN PLACE! Once I knew this life was much easier. Now I know why these shoes were on sale. Is that always the case: "on sale" means "factory goof" but sell em anyway? I don't know, but we now have a pair of clip-in shoes so we can ride safely without worrying about the dreaded 'leg suck'.

The aftermath of preparing Diadora shoes for SPD Cleats:

Friday, December 28, 2007

Truing Trike Wheels

Today was another quiet day watching the skies get grayer and grayer after a brief burst of sunshine. So the forums kept things interesting for a while.

I was thinking this afternoon was a good time to start to commence to consider truing the wheels on PhattKatt. I noted when I first put the trike together that all the wheels had some wow to them. The wobble seemed a lot worse at the time although it turned out all three wheels were within 2mm of true.

Since I set toe adjustment based on spoke position, it was important to have the wheels true to start with. Off I go to find a way to prop up the wheels and for the trike to be stable. I started with the rear by placing the trike on a board and a couple of 4x4's that have been trimmed specifically for setting the toe adjustment on the ABTT.

I "sounded" the spokes to make sure no dud or overly taught spokes were present. Turns out that all the spokes were pretty evenly tensioned on all three wheels. All three wheels were pretty much round as well. All that was needed was a little tweaking of the spokes to straighten out the wobbles.

The adjustment setup was pretty crude. Luckily I already had experience with this on the ABTT, so I proceeded to adjust each wheel. About two hours later, all the wheels were true and dinner was ready.

After dinner, it was time to check the toe adjustment. I had measured the tie rod replacement against the one that came with the trike. From my toe-check today, toe was correct within 1/2 a turn on the new tie rod. Only a test ride on a smooth flat space will let me verify the setting but in the meantime I will line up the wheels on my porch where 2x8's run nicely parallel and I can at least do a sighting down on the wheels.

Only one pic today: truing setup

Wednesday, December 26, 2007

Fine Tuning PhattKatt

.-^ ^-.

Today, PhattKatt got some accessories added:

First things first: a trip to REI and Performance; then a bit of wrenching.

REI offered a great deal on Egg Beater cleats at $17.95 (still waiting for shoes!); they also had the Cateye mirror (great mirror for $7-!), a safety triangle, a spare SRAM quick-link, and a couple of reflective leg straps. Next stop; Performance - needed an Incredibell which was on sale and a pair of full finger gloves to replace my old ones. I also bought some bar ends that I didn't get to use (*).

Once home, I go to add the mirror using the Forte bar end (*). HA! For some reason Big Cat decided the horizontal steering arms didn't need to be "handle bar" sized. Big bummer; no bar ends... So I opted to put the mirror on the left vertical handle end:

I've used this mirror on the ABTT and it is very appropriate for cycling. I didn't want to ruin the fixed SRAM grip so I fitted a foamy as you can see above.

Next; mount the Incredibell (real tough - one screw). Indeed a nice loud bell with a rotating dinger for adjustability. If only people would heed a dinging bell! Oh well; the steering arm upright is now full:

I went off on a tangent and mounted the flag. I had a flag laying around but it was to short to put in the stock location. I also wanted it to be quick release so I put a spare seat clamp on the bottom of neck rest. It has a quick release and was now tall enough so it did not poke me in the eye! I didn't post a picture because I am not quite happy with it yet.

Next, I dug back into my box of goodies and commenced replacing the stock tie rod. In Big Cat's wisdom, they opted to go for two right hand threaded rod ends. This means you have to remove one rod end from the steering arm to make the toe adjustment. I knew all about procedure and also understood why Big Cat would do this but I had already worked out a left and right hand threaded tie rod solution and happened to have the materials to make one for PhattKatt. I use hollow aluminum structural tubing that is properly sized for tapping a 5/16-24 thread. I had a tie rod that was already tapped but was about 3" to long so I cut it to length and re-tapped the one end. After this, I dig through inventory and found the aluminum hex nuts and the lock washers. Put everything together and verified nothing bound up. Working like a charm!

These studded rod ends allow for 50 degrees of offset. This means that throughout the entire steering range (which is when the tires hit the seat frame), the rod ends never bind. Stock rod ends have very little offset capability which causes the rod end to bind on the steering arm which can loosen the tie rod's jam nut. Loose jam nuts on a two right hand threaded tie rod does not change the overall length of the tie rod. Conversely, a tie rod with left and right hand threads needs to make absolutely certain that the jam nuts remain tight. This is easy to do IF the rod ends do not bind. You can see in the picture the small hole in the tie rod. This is to help loosen the jam nuts if necessary. The full motion of the steering is a bit smoother now at the extremes of the steering limits:

BTW: Do note the thread size Big Cat choose for their rod ends. These are plenty beefy (3/8" UNF me thinks!) ...and the tube is also a lightweight aluminum: so I commend Big Cat for their robust design. However, $2- more for the rod ends could have had studs added and go back to left and right hand threads. It is the studs that allow for the larger offset. Maybe someone at Big Cat will read this and rethink this option. For now, I will enjoy the fruits of this effort as I do for the ABTT also.

PhattKatt also came with a Cateye wireless computer. I know, "wireless, bah!" but hey, free (included) is a very good deal. First things first, mount the sensor... Yuck! But again my ever growing spare parts bin has the solution in hand. An aluminum bracket I used for the ABTT steering upgrade happened to fit nicely under the left rod end; and the sensor fit nicely below the bracket... until I thought about transporting the trike with the front wheels removed. This setup would leave the sensor vulnerable. So I moved it to the right side; accepted the less that esthetically perfect bracket implementation and now the sensor is above axle. I could hear the clicking of the reed switch so I knew I was getting a clear reliable signal:

Next; Computer... the horizontal steering arm? "...would be close to the sensor..." but it looked awkward there. "27" unobstructed range"; hmmm. So I zip tied the mount to the frame whiuch is close enough to the sensor and hopefully not overly obstructed. The computer picked up the sensor signal in my living room so hopefully it will work in the field as well:

Last but not least, the Zefel Road Morph also found its way here with the trike. I have the Mountain Morph for the ABTT and it came with an incredibly sturdy mount. I opted to give it a shot on PhattKatt by strapping the pump to the chain stay:

Did you note the nice fit of the rear fender? PhattKatt came with a full set of fenders too. I'm not mounting the front ones yet since the tires make great backup-handles.

In the meantime, I ordered a few things from Nashbar: A helmet, frame bag, oiler, and a few tools. I ordered the full '05 Bell Metropolis kit at $49.95 for me last year and really like the helmet. It works very well with neck rests on a trike compared to road bike helmets. Today I order one for my wife without the accesories for $29.95! She is welcome to use my helmet accesories. She will definitely be using the light that came with my helmet! That MARS 3 is very bright.

If you are still reading this entry, you are really hard core! ...and I appreciate that so please leave your comments.

Here is a pic of the trike after todays wrenching sessions:

Now all we need is some sunlight and take kitty out for a spin :)

Monday, December 24, 2007

Idler Upgrade Details

PhattKatt's 1st Upgrade: Idler

A view from below reveals the subtle upgrade from the stock idler:

Idler developed for the Actionbent Tadpole Trike (TW/Bents trikes):

Flange-nuts were machined to accept a 12mm ID bearing (in hand):

Detailed drawing for the Delrin idler (bearing captured with circlips):

This upgrade was very simple and made for a nice clean chainline on PhattKatt. The first adapter/flange-nut fixed the axle solidly in the frame, and the other half captured the idler solid to the axle. A new chainkeeper was added and the stock nylok hexnut finishes the assembly with the tube-clamp.

This idler has proven itself on the ABTT. 1500 miles and virtually no wear.

PhattKatt's Rebirth; Dec 24th, 2007

Today, Christmas Eve, the promised red '06 Catrike Road was delivered by UPS. This is a hardly used Catrike purchased form the east coast for a fair value. This Road's s/n is 626. And it arrived in excellent condition.

Within 2 hours, the trike was on the road for a test ride. The same UPS truck came by later and asked if the trike was what was in the big box... "indeed" was replied.

The ride is quite impressive! The quick-release everything, including the axles, will make it quite easy to transport. Cane Creek headsets, 165mm Ultegra Octalink cranks and BB, Avid BB7 disc brakes, new Schwalbe tubes and 406-35 Slicks all around... very impressive componentry.

PhattKatt Reborn