If the freedom of speech is taken away then dumb and silent we may be led, like sheep to the slaughter.

- George Washington

Sunday, 12 July 2009

The cussedness of material things

The very kind MoT man gave the XT a pass a few weeks ago, with an advisory on a nearly-bald back tyre. So like a good boy I went and purchased a pair of new ones [1] and waited for a dry day to fit them. Here in Wales, even in summer, dry days are not all that frequent, but eventually I got down to it, pulled out the back wheel, put the new tyre on and attempted to get it all back together. Except for one thing - a small collar which is vital for the spacing of the rear axle had gone AWOL. Things often do this at my house. The problem is that the drive I have to work on consists of browny-grey gravel which is almost exactly the same colour as a rusty nut or bolt. I assumed it had dropped off in the dismantling, and did an all-points search of the area. No luck. I searched all the other likely locations (garage floor, workbench, back of Land Rover, back pocket of jeans) but no. I even got out the old metal detector and did a sweep of the entire property. No.

I waited a week in the hope that it would turn up (things sometimes do) but nothing came of it. So on Saturday I went into my local dealership and ordered the part. This would mean another week commuting on the Honda, which is a bit like going shopping in a Hummer - the tool is too big for the job.

Bored with waiting, I decided to replace the front tyre, taking advantage of a rare sunny evening. Wheel out, tyre changed, into the workshop for some air, courtesy of Mr Compressor. And there on the workbench, exactly where I would expect to see it, is the Missing Spacer.

Now I know for a fact that I went into the workshop and searched the bench and surrounding area at least twice. So the magical appearance of the Missing Bit is a total mystery. It wasn't even hiding. It was there, in plain view, in the middle of the bench. Perhaps it's just the Special Part Pixies who have been having yet more fun at my expense. But I think it is a conspiracy. Vital parts wait until my back is turned, and then secrete themselves in sundry hidden locations. When they have had enough, or when I order a new one, they all do a tiny metallic cheer, and plant themselves somewhere obvious, waiting for me to have 'just one last look'. This trick was played by a tiny springy metal clip which holds the headlight bulb in place on the Honda. (It is one of the class of components called a Pingfuckit, from the noise they make when they go missing.) It hid itself somewhere mysterious, and I made a new part out of some springy wire I had lying around. And when I am looking for the Missing Spacer with the metal detector, there it appears - bold as brass, lying in clear view on the concrete, three sodding months too late.


Anyways, the XT is now re-shod, all back together, and raring to go. While I had everything apart, I noticed that the brake pads were getting wafer-thin, so that will be the next job.

Well, it keeps me off the streets.

[1] Avon Distanzias - a 90% road tyre, compared to the TrailWings I have taken off, which are more like 70/30 on/off road. As virtually all my mileage at the moment is on Tarmac, it seemed sensible to go for something suitable for that, rather than my first choice, the Continental TKC80, which look fabulously rugged, but would probably throw me in a hedge at the first corner. Will post about the new tyres in due course.

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