Sunday, February 24, 2008

Another Day of Surgery

Today was a big day for PhattKatt as more upgrades were fitted to the little kitty's body. Today's surgery involved the PhattKatt's very reflexes... messing with the drive line.

The first upgrade started over a week ago by obtaining true Teflon tuning. Experience has shown that Teflon is the perfect material for guiding bicycle chains as long as the taught side of the chain always runs in an arrow-straight line. So the first challenge was to straighten out the tubes delivered from a spool and rolled up in a box. Turns out that placing the curled 1/2ID; 1/16" wall tubing in a large PVC tube while blowing a hair dryer on full heat through the tubes would relax the material enough to straighten itself out. Once cooled, the tubes maintained a pretty straight profile.

Today, the tubes were flared with a tapered grinding bit in the drill press and a coned grind stone in the drill. Only the entry sides of the tube requires a prominent flare but all 4 ends were rounded to some extent. The slack side receiving end got the best flare as you can see in the pix below. Each tube length can be best optimized when you know where the trike or bike boom will be set. In this case, the boom is set to the shortest position it can go. This is a picture of the tubes ready to install:

Here is a view of how the insides of the Teflon tubes look:

Even after years of use, these tubes will look nice and shiny and they will wipe clean by running a cloth through the tube. People have complained of noise with these tubes. I can't detect any.

I haven't told you yet why we are doing this... seems a lot of bother, no? Just wait, the bother has only just begun, but let it suffice to say that these are the modern edition of chain guards. These are installed to keep the ever popular chain tattoos away from your legs and your cloths. Having had excellent success with these on the *other* trike, PhattKatt is certainly deserving of having the same treatment.

From afar, it seems a simple thing to add; put tubes over the chain your done... right? NOT! The art is in making sure the chain tube will stay on place. This is easy for the slack-side chain; we use a tube clamp... and we also put a tube clamp on the power side with a few caviats. Trick here is to make sure that the tube is directly in line with the chain while in all three chain rings. The key is to make sure that you capture the tube near the idler since that is where the deflection is least. In the following series of pictures, you will see a lot happening on the idler axle. From the outside inward, you have: a) tube clamp for the slack side tube b) the chain keeper that keeps the chain from falling off the idler c) the idler d) a flat plate [bracket]; which holds the tube clamp; which holds the power side chain tube. I've provided lots of images in hopes that these references will help you determine the best way to implement these in your application:

You can imagine how this area could foul pretty easily. Indeed, it is an area that gets the regular once-over and general maintenance. When something goes wrong in this area, you know it pretty quick. I don't see how it can mess up to such an extent that it will be completely disabled, though.

The results are spectacular. After all this careful work, these tubes are carefree as they simply allow the chain to glide along and a major portion of the messy part of cycling has been held at bay. The entire power side chain tube floats from the one tube clamp at the idler, which was carefully adjusted to make sure that the chain goes into the tube unhindered from the idler. If you look carefully at the next image, in the lower left corner, the slack side chain tube has been captured with a pair of zip-ties around the trike's cross member [from the left side] to help manage this tube, and the chain, in left hand turns. This particular tidbit is also from experience. Have a good look at how it all ended up:

Surgery one accomplished... but wait; we're not done. We still have a chain ring to replace. We learned that PhattKatt has a pretty high strung gear train. So we're going to calm down the climbing gears. This is a 2 part operation where the first is to replace the 30 tooth [30T] with a 24T chain ring. Here is the gear chart that we are aiming for:

We will be adding two more teeth to the rear cassette to get to the 13.2GI [gear inches] but let it suffice to say that the swap of the 30T gear for a 24T gear is providing a significant change. In preserving the larger chain rings, we have not sacrificed any of the top end gearing as was the consideration with the chart. Take another look at the image above for how small that little 24T chain ring looks in the chain ring set! Here is a shot after changing out the ring on the crank set off the trike:

One consideration often talked about on forums, with my vocal input as well, has been dispelled as myth today. Specifically, when you exceed the chain wrap capacity of the rear derailleur, the derailleur should cause the chain to crash into itself potentially causing problems. This means that when you exceed the chain wrap capacity of the rear derailleur, you need to avoid certain gear combinations. The SRAM X-7 rear derailleur is a 45 tooth chain wrap capable derailleur. I have now exceeded that capacity by 4 teeth. But look! the X-7 doesn't have enough return spring to lift the long length of the recumbent chain high enough; it just goes slack! This certainly is not true for all rear derailleurs but in this case it is an interesting phenomena. I'll let the two pix talk for themselves as the chain is on the 11T cassette cog and on the 24T chain ring:

So we still have the 11-34 SRAM PG970 cassette to put on PhattKatt. This will involve splicing in a longer bit of chain. Everything is on the bench; just gotta do it. We'll let you know how that goes as well. But for now, time for the mechanic to rest.

Over and Out.

P.S. when viewing larger images by clicking on the pictures, if you change the *...s800...* in the web address to *...s1600...* you get the larger images just in case you want to see more detail. One of those hidden little blog secrets.

Saturday, February 23, 2008

PhattKatt Climbing Hills

Hello, here is the one who rides the PhattKatt ... The hubby does all the technical work and I just enjoy the rides ...

Today the ride was tough, my knees hurt when we do some hills climbing, actually everything hurts after the ride. The Phattkatt is comfy, but has to have more adjustments (hubby job!! Ah Ah!!!) so, it won't be as hard for the old body!!!

The ride was nice, good weather, lots of green, some nice smiley people walking on Rock Creek Trail, some nice drivers in the roads and some not too nice drivers.

Another day of fun ...

Sunday, February 17, 2008

Spring is in the air!

I know what you're thinking... but this has nothing to do with the birds or the bees.

Well, maybe in the fact that all these things seem to have come to life today. Our warmest day of 2008 and we were out in it! A nice 14 mile gentle wandering thoughout the burbs with some splendit visions from afar.

BTW; PhattKatt behaved perfectly enjoying a quickened pace and clear blue skies.

Some of todays caps:


The great Blue Heron

Pacific Northwest Coast Range

Mount Hood

Saturday, February 16, 2008

To serve a purpose.

After all the fussin' and futzin' in getting PhattKatt all prep'd and prop'r, the days are finally becoming longer and that warm ball in the sky is peeking form between the gray matter overhead. These things in the macrocosm of course awaken the same emotions in the microcosm within as the sheer joy of riding trikes through the suburbian terrain is part of spring's awakening.

Today's route was tracked on the MotionLingo Adeo. A GPS workout aid what can record your route for later download. Pretty simple to use and provides online workout tracking, workout data for analysis including elevation and speed, and much more. Today's was transferred to Google Earth for review.

Here was today's route: 10 miles at a very casual pace... most excellent to share with your S.O.!

Learn more about the Adeo at .
Feel free to ask questions about the Adeo if you like.

Think we can do it again tomorrow? I hope so!

Sunday, February 3, 2008

Faith Rules!

Faith... a pregnant word with unlimited implications. But today at least the word had definition: Faith in the weather; that the gleam of light should hold long enough to fully awaken, prepare and consume breakfast, and roll the machines out into the environs without the fates forcing rain from the skies.

Indeed, faith held dear for these events and the events to follow. Today PhattKatt wandered nearly 10 miles into the City Proper via the various byways that lead there. First the batteries in the camera failed to work and the battery in the Adeo wasn't charged enough to even get going. So today would be all about enjoying the sights. And wonderful the play in the skies was. Menacing dark clouds were dancing with the fluffy light cloud while the Sun itself played peek-a-boo with the inhabitants below. Nothing much came of the clouds and little mind was given to the possibility of wet coming from them.

But before we left for today's trek, we did fit PhattKatt's paws with booties. Pretty simple mounting and squaring up but definitely a bit fragile in positioning. Nothing really holds the arm from twisting on top of the Cane Creek covers and over-tightening the bars didn't seem promising either. That's a lot of leverage for mounting on a domed surface. I left it as is for now but may just have to machine a few flat covers if the fenders stay. I did hear a few grumbles about not being able to back up by just pulling on the tires. But for now, it was worthwhile since we didn't knwo the conditions of the streets we would be exploring. I'm pretty sure putting the fenders on today was a good option. They sertainly come off easily enough it it is deemed "dry" on the next ride. Here's a shot of PhattKatt and her booties:

Several hours later, we made it back home. Bikes now clean, fresh and happily excersized. I wasn't quite happy with the Cateye OptiCube headlight. We don't ride in the dark, but the light only draws attention every so often and really wasn't doing what it was meant to do in daytime riding. I headed for the Performance Bicycle shop to get a floor pump. While there, I came across the ViewPoint Flare 5 on sale for just under $15-. The demo was nice and bright on its flash mode, much like my 5-LED Nashbar light on the "other" trike. Here a good look at it:

One thing I noted in the store is that the demo had a smaller bracket and a different button for the switch. I asked the sales-person what was up with that and they told me that the older one had problems with the switch. So be aware if you see one that doesn't quite match.

So now I know that PhattKatt will be noticed when she approaches intersection. Makes me a whole lot more comfortable. With the smaller lens, the light is also a little less vulnerable to foot strike.

I also noted that when assembling the fenders, I heard that annoying "snap" when tightening up the screws. Turns out I over-stressed the little plastic mount and cracked it. But this had its rewards as well: I learned that a) super glue doesn't work on these clamps... and b) Planet Bike has a WONDERFUL service where you can buy small parts for their products at their web site. Yes, I ordered spare clamps and ordered a few spare rods while I was at it all for $10-. And as if that wasn't enough, they will ship it FREE... YES, FREE! Have a look for yourself:
...and the part that failed:

I'm thinking that with a spare strut, I could secure the fender on the backside. With three mounting points, this should be a pretty secure mount.

[edit 2/6/08: The Planet Bike parts came in the mail today. Excellent service!]

On a side note: The Topeak bottle cage holder let loose today. Nothing broke, but when tightening the wedge that holds the angle, make sure it is well seated. If not, the whole kit-n-kaboodle will go crashing to the ground. Luckily the rider caught the water bottle and the other half of the clamp and wondered "what the heck!". Got the toolkit out and tightened it back in place and all was good.

Be safe!