A Workshop of One’s Own
Wednesday, May 10th, 2006
Do you work on your own stuff? I mean, when your bike is all broke-ass and it needs fixing, do you do it yourself? Where do you get your work done?
Man, when I was growing up on the farm in Iowa, we fixed a lot of stuff. My dad - while not the master metalworker, or super anal finish carpenter - was a true problem solver and a visionary when it came to getting it "good enough." Some of my first memories are of him wrestling with the old Ford 8N tractor (I think it's even where I learned my first real cuss words.)
The best part about helping Dad out with the wrenching was his toolbox. It was a standard issue Craftsman steel box filled with the essentials - Channel-loks, 1/2" drive set (SAE thank you very much), Vise-grips, Craftsman red white and blue screwdrivers, and a ton of other greasy, well-used tools. I used to be in charge of hitting all the Zerk fittings on the various farm implements. "Just until you see a little grease come out the sides, Son." Damn, that was fun. As time went on my responsibilities gradually increased.
Thing was, we didn't really have a workshop. Yeah, there was a workbench in the barn, but mostly the work had to be done where the problems were. That meant a lot of toolbox and raw material hauling. The whole farm was the workshop - under the Hesston mower-conditioner changing out broken teeth on the sythe bar, digging fencepost holes for (mostly) straight fences, putting the sliding door to the sheep barn back on its tracks for the 45th time.
Since that time, I've spent my life amassing tools, but I've never had a place for them. Therefore, I haven't been particularly insane about keeping them pristine or in any sort of organizational structure. They're just where they are because I'll probably need them someplace else. I've kept the mobile workshop alive... until recently.
Three months ago I changed my living circumstances (due to a weak moment on the part of my very excellent and extremely understanding lady-friend) and was given carte blanche to do "whatever I want" with the largely untouched basement. Time to go to Sears!
A few weeks and a nearly empty savings account later I've gotten a good start on the BaseMANt - my den, my sanctuary from the pain of life, my place of refuge to tinker and get grease under my fingers. My tools have a home now, as does my ever growing pile of bike parts. I'm putting down mechanic's roots and it feels good. I finlly even invested in a good bench grinder and a vice! Heaven.
So, if you find yourself fixing your bike on someone's lawn and losing small bits in the grass, or the living room of your shitty apartment has a parts washer on one end and a pile of wheels on the other, keep faith! You may yet find the nirvana of an empty garage or a quiet cool basement where your tools can live in their natural habitat. Just be real nice to your significant other, pet dogs when you can, and always try to do right by your fellow humans. Karma may come around for you.
Or maybe not.
Brent, from Phil Wood, informed me that they've manufactured 145mm bottom bracket axles for you Pugsley owners who want to use a tapered axle/crank system. $180.00 complete. Yep, that's a bit of dough, but it's Phil Wood. You know it's gonna last. I'll raise a glass or two or three…
From the mailbag this morning: hey you surly folk - started with a 1X1 a few years ago. it rocks at going over rocks, around rocks, even under rocks occasionally when i'm in the right place. then rock gardens started getting easier and i thought a fixie might make them…