I’ve been having a bit of bother with the back wheel on our tandem, Daisy. Basically, the bearing’s either loose, so that there’s some definite wobble in the wheel, and corresponding slack handling of the bike, or tight, so that the wheel doesn’t run free. Neither are good.
So this morning before setting off to take Daughter to a birthday party in North Shields - about three miles each way - I took the wheel off and re-adjusted the cones & their locking nuts.
It’s something that I’ve always done myself, ever since I started taking bikes apart & having to figure out how to put them back together, and once you’ve done it a couple of times, is a pretty simple task.
Except this time, I obviously arsed it up. Either that, or there was some sort of latent problem that I thought I’d fixed, but I hadn’t.
About half way to the party, something was obviously very wrong with the back wheel, so we got off and peered at it. It looked like I’d set one of the cones too tight, or one of the bearings had seized, and the forward motion of the bike had screwed the axle through the hub:
I called ahead to the party (what did we do before mobile phones?), and arranged for a parent with a car to come and collect Daughter, before leaving Daisy in the care of the bloke who runs the plant nursery in Tynemouth, while I walked home for my cone spanners to sort this mess out.
Fortunately the 20 minutes’ walking gave me time to re-appraise the situation, and in the end, I took the car to collect the tandem. It’s quite a squeeze, but with the back seats down, most of the bike fits in - enough for me to tie the boot lid down for the short trip home, anyway.
At home, I found that I could loosen the cone on the left hand side, but there was something really odd with the one on the right - it seemed to have vanished to somewhere inside the freewheel, and the axle wouldn’t turn either. I guessed that it was properly seized, and needed a trip to the bike shop to fix it.
Being Sunday, the guys who run Whiptail Cycles in Tynemouth were out riding their bikes / being with their families, and their shop was shut. So I headed [drove - I'm so sorry] into Newcastle to the Edinburgh Bicycle Cooperative’s shop in Byker.
Some hammering from inside the workshop later (during which time I had a look at some new bikes . . . ), the axle was out. But then the scale of the problem was also revealed. Basically when the axle had screwed itself through the hub, the right hand cone hadn’t unscrewed. Instead, it’d been pulled through the bearing, destroying the inside of the hub.
Every cloud has a silver lining though. I’d wanted to replace that wheel anyway, as it has a smooth steel rim. Nice and shiny to look at, but totally useless for stopping in the wet - even with the TWO sets of centre-pull brake callipers that are on the tandem’s back wheel. A new alloy rim should make a big improvement on that.
The only problem is Daisy’s old fashioned sizing (26 x 1 3/8), and the fact that as a tandem, the wheel loads are high. The original wheel has 40 spokes, which isn’t exactly standard issue either . . . I’ve a feeling that this story isn’t yet finished.