cp: 1, broken bolt: 0

It’s getting on winter, and in southern California that means rain. Well, it means the ominous if not particularly realistic threat of rain. Not even that: there is definitely a possibility that some time between now and next summer it may rain. And as you all know, rain means the opportunity to buy new gear for your bike. SKS fenders in my case.

Unfortunately, I have a bad habit of working on my bike after work, and the muse to wrench often strikes after particularly trying days. This leads to calamity more frequently than I’d like. This was definitely the case with the fender installation.

My first attempt was actually at the end of a very pleasant Sunday and got the front fender on without difficulty. Unfortunately I was a little overzealous with the rear fender, broke one of the little plastic guards that goes on the end of the v-brace and snapped a spoke on the wheel.

I have no spare spokes, nor do I know how to properly true a wheel — this has to change. I wonder if the bike kitchen still does wheelbuilding classes? — so I imposed upon my gracious wife to take it down to Stan’s and have it fixed.

After that was done I put the rack back on, rode it to work, had One Of Those Days, got home and decided that it would be a dandy idea to give the fenders another go. Not five seconds passed before I snapped one of the bolts holding the rack on — it was also to hold the fenders on! — right off the bike.


My best efforts to extract it with a locking wrench weren’t that hot. In fact they made the situation worse, breaking off what little was left of the bolt.

I consulted some friends and my dad and decided to invest in a left-hand drill bit to try to either drill the damn thing out or turn it out. A trip to Osh, one 5/64th” bit, one 7/64th” bit and twenty minutes with a drill later and I had a 7/64th” hole through the still very immobile bolt.

My next attempt involved a trip to the Home Depot and the purchase of an Alden Pro Grabit damaged screw extractor. It’s basically a left-handed screw built on to a drill bit. It’s also not at all designed to take bolts out of bike frames: it lasted maybe half a second before it broke right the damn off.

Broken Pro Grabit

It’s still wedged in the frame of my bike. I imagine that it will take an act of God to remove it.

At this point I was done with the whole thing. To hell with the fenders. I live in Southern California where it never rains. Off to REI for one of those dumb looking racks that just attaches to the seat post.

Unfortunate — or fortunately, depending on how you look at things — the dumb looking racks are way more popular than the old school racks that need 10,000 mount points and braze-ons and what have you, so they start about $50. Which was just enough to make me look around a bit more and discover a $5 pair of Delta Rack Mount Clamps.

These things are awesome. They hook on to the seat stay or the chain stay and let you pretend like your frame has all the mounts you need. It also lets you forget that you destroyed the perfectly good rack mounts that you already had. Anyway, about ten minutes after I got home I had both rack and fender attached.

Rack *and* Fenders FTW

(Pause for a moment and bask in the majesty of my high-tech bike work stand)

So now I can ride to work with my stuff, and I can avoid getting water sprayed all over me if it ever rains. Braggable. Here’s a closeup of the fully awesome Delta clamps.

Delta Rack Mount Clamps: recommended

Perhaps the best thing about getting the rear fender on is that I got to use my awesome reflecty tape. The night commuting is still sort of unnerving for me, so any chance I can get to be visible is appreciated.

Reflecty tape!

So there you have it. cp: 1, broken bolt: 0. Also, there will from here on out be a house rule against screwing anything in to the frame of a bike without grease.

Posted in , | | 5 Responses

5 responses to “cp: 1, broken bolt: 0”

  1. Stephanie
    November 13, 2008 at 2:56 pm |

    This new house rule is right up there with that pearl of wisdom from Matt Groening’s “Life is Hell”:

    Don’t Drink and Drill

  2. Pat
    November 14, 2008 at 12:48 pm |

    Hm; the broken bolt is still in there.

    I think the best you can call this is 0-0-1.

  3. Connie-Lynne
    November 14, 2008 at 11:04 pm |

    I have never had a situation where one of those damn screw extractors has worked — they always break. Maybe if you could get them made out of cobalt or whatever it is my awesome metal bits are made out of (speaking of which, I hear Erich couldn’t find them… we’ll have to look this weekend so that you emerge with a flawless victory over the bolt).

    WRT wrenching-when-angry and attaching-parts-without-grease, I recommend you ask Erich to tell you the “honey, get me a hammer” story. Or, I think maybe, ask me and Erich to both tell it the next time we’re together — he often leaves out the funny parts because, I dunno, they make him look bad or something.

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