Saturday, October 18, 2014

Geared Facile Ride

You remember that craze for building Geared Faciles that suddenly swept the world and gripped an enormous number of people about 2.75 years ago? Well every single one of those people visited me the other day, and he brought it with him, and I duly rode it. It feels like pedalling a small penny farthing backwards. This may not be a particularly useful analogy to those who have not ridden a penny farthing but it's the best I can do. The builder of the Geared Facile stood at the side of the road and took photographs, in the process of which something mysterious happened to the children's digital camera. So here is the only record of my ride. Given that there are but thirteen Geared Faciles in the world1 only three of which can be ridden, this was the unusuallest ride I have ever undertaken, yet the picture of it holds the title of Worst Photograph on the Internet.

The Geared Facile owner - who shall, as will have by now been detected, remain nameless on account of what he claims he didn't do to the children's digital camera (and he's lying) - got in his car and drove away as fast as he possibly could, being anxious to quit the scene before discovery of the digital-camera-wrecking-incident took place. The camera came in a box with some kind of shiny disc and a manual concentrating only on how to print pictures, and the PDF of how to actually use it is over a hundred pages long and full of recondite pictures of icons none of which I can recall or even identify. So all photographs will now be blurry whited out or otherwise useless until the children come home and tell me how to work it. I shall refrain from further comment other than to echo that part of Mr Einstein's observation which remains pertinent on all occasions involving digital technology: "everything should be as simple as possible".

Mrs. Geared-Facile-Owner on enquiry observed that she was very proud of it and my wife observed that the Geared Facile was very beautiful so I deduce that 2 years and 9 months of dedicated bicycle-building evokes wifely admiration. Therefore I have resumed work on the LWB webbing. Which I hate doing. Cos it's fiddly and annoying and there's a lot of it to do and it involves making wide holes in unpromising material like aluminium and webbing sandwiches.

Having failed to make a hole-punch and having found that drilling works if you're very careful which I never am, I took some old pincers and ground off the sides and sharpened them and nipping the cutting part in the vice to afford greater pressure, had a go at snipping out the middle bits for the zip-ties. This worked, after a fashion. I still had to heat up a bicycle spoke red hot and cauterize the cut webbing, and I still had to carve the aluminium edges with a penknife and then file them smooth with a needle file, and it still took a long time and made me fed up. So I thought I'd just try chiselling them out, and behold! it worked, and was dead easy to do.

The chisel had to be small so I made it out of a piece of fencing wire. Old fencing wire in the Colony is pure iron and very bendy and that's why it's used for fixing everything and holds an iconic place in New Zealand Life and is called Number Eight Wire. New fencing wire is high carbon steel and not bendy at all and you can't fix anything with it but if you file an end to a sharp point, heat it red-hot and plunge it into water, you have a source of cheap small chisels.

Chiselling the slots with a piece of fencing wire, a photograph taken of necessity with a Borrowed Camera, Mr. Knight

Whether any further progress is made on the LWB remains to be seen because owing to the weekend's rain the grass is growing at a pace normally only managed by bamboo shoots and for the next few months I imagine I shall spend eight hours a day mowing it. And it is only owing to the weekend's rain that the Geared Facile Owner didn't do any riding of the Geared Facile himself which he sore wanted to do and I hope his penance in this regard matches the heinous crime of changing some as yet unidentified setting on my inherited-from-the-children digital camera.

1 I am told there is actually a second Geared Facile Builder, somewhere in England, and the machine was on this year's Benson Run.

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