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A hardened rivet

This blog entry is completely unimportant so I urge all busy readers to stop reading now.

Indeed, it's not my goal to inform you about every tomato I pick from a shrub (another one today!) or every roll I bake in the oven. ;-) Those things are mundane, boring, about 7 billion people is encountering similar things, and I don't have too many comparative advantages when it comes to these matters – perhaps a slightly enhanced talent to entertain you.

But the title I choose allows me to merge two distinct down-to-earth-topics into one blog entry: music and bicycles.




I've moved by about 40,000 kilometers – one circumference of the Earth – on the bikes throughout my life so far which probably places me above the average of bike users. But I have never replaced a bicycle chain in my life (unlike the tubes which I have replaced 100 times or so), at least not in the recent enough memory I remember, i.e. at least not without a help of someone else.




This may sound paradoxical because the chain replacement is recommended every 1,000-1,500 km or so. Well, I can assure you that I have made more than 10,000 km on the previous chain and all the measures of the chain's enhanced length were showing that the bike should have exploded billions of years ago. But it was still working sort of fine. I had avoided this activity (or services by professionals) before that because I tended to buy new bikes at many points – in Czechia and in the U.S. (including a female bike I possessed in New Jersey and finally sold to my Bulgarian classmate, after assuring him that they wouldn't think he was a gay).

But the chain on my tracking bike started to produce silent, subtle, but slightly unhealthy sound and I decided to replace it a month ago.



One buys a chain tool and a new chain for a dozen of dollars each. The 7-speed chain I use is a sequence emulating the \(\ZZ_{114}\) Abelian cyclic group composed of 114 pins and (one-half times two times) 114 plates connected by those pins. You place the chain in the chain tool and by screwing, you move the pin in one direction or another. The friction is huge. First you break the old chain with the tool, then you install a new one, and finally you use the chain tool to push a pin through some holes in the new chain.

It's simple in principle but with the simple tool above, the chain is hard to put to the right place. It jumps out hundreds of times, or the other part jumps out. It drives you crazy. You want the authors of this technology to be executed or their graves to be removed from the soil and used as toilets on the cemetery, and so on. You get the point. Once you calm down a bit, you agree that it is a pretty simple technology.

The new chain was originally worse than the old one – it was jumping by one tooth under stress. I was made ready for that outcome by the guy who sold me the chain and the tool. He was completely right. It is counterintuitive. Right now I believe that the jumping isn't really caused by the flattened, abraded teeth that aren't sufficiently sharp anymore. Instead, I believe that the new chain is tighter and the old teeth that have some extra "small teeth on top of that" occasionally don't "fit" into the holes in the chain.

After 500 kilometers i.e. the first month of the new chain, this problem faded away completely. However, today, quite suddenly, the chain broke – the pin escaped from one of the holes. So I just fixed it: another hour of repeated work with the disobedient technology that tends to misbehave, some anger. I took a pair of plates from the old chain; we will see how resilient everything will be.

The last problem was a "hardened rivet". I guess it's not the right term for that because a hardened rivet is probably an improved one. But what I mean is that one of the pins I was connecting with the cool prevented the plates from freely rotating around the axis of the pin. The final 10 minutes were dedicated to making sure that the plates may rotate around the pin's axis. The chain tool had to be used again, somewhat chaotically, but now it's no longer hardened.



This leads me to the song above, a Czech parody of the 1997 hit song by Sqeezer [sic] called Saturday Night. In the version above, the song is sung by the Smurfs (in Czech, we call a Smurf "Šmoula" [Shmowluh] which is a playful word close to many childish sounding nouns and verbs), i.e. electronically modified voices by various singers.

The lyrics for the album were largely composed by Mr Lou Fanánek Hagen (1999). I think they're sort of ingenious, designed to sound much like the original. Songs with a similar idea are also being redone by a duo (of radio hosts, not real "professional" singers) called "Heavy Pokondr" ("Pokondr", meant to sound like "hypochondriac" in Czech, is an acronym from the two men's surnames, Pokorný and Ondráček).

The name of the song – which is repeated many times in the song – is translated as a hardened rivet: "Zatvrdlej nejt". If you listen to the video above, you will probably agree that it sounds almost identical to "Saturday Night"; nevertheless, it is a perfectly valid sequence of words in colloquial Czech.

The whole lyrics is all about work and funny mundane problems that take place during work or everyday life in general – this is also somewhat typical for funny Czech songs etc. Relatively to songs like this one, virtually all American songs (about parties, love, and all this stuff) sound cheesy, don't they? ;-) Here is my backward translation of the Czech version of the song:

Hey!

A hardened rivet how!
A hardened rivet hey!
A hardened rivet how!
A hardened rivet hey!
A hardened rivet how!
A hardened rivet hey!
A hardened rivet how!

A hardened rivet is the worst of the defects,
[with] a hardened rivet, the harvester can't assemble
the corn and pack it into the cylinders for the Smurfs.
The whole harvest will be put at risk
by one hardened rivet.

Nah-nah-nah nah-nah-nah-nah-nah nah-nah-nah nah-nah-nah-nah.
Nah-nah-nah nah-nah-nah-nah-nah nah-nah-nah nah-nah-nah-nah.

Nah-nah-nah nah-nah-nah-nah-nah nah-nah-nah nah-nah-nah-nah.
Nah-nah-nah nah-nah-nah-nah-nah nah-nah-nah nah-nah-nah-nah.

Hey!

A hardened rivet how!
A hardened rivet hey!
A hardened rivet how!

When they found the hardened rivet in the morning,
the Smurfs didn't want to let the harvester alone
and go to mow manually:
they no longer want to live as in the old days again.

Papa Smurf just woke up
and gave a good advice to the Smurfs:
the harvester has to be hidden against rain.
In that way, it can't develop a hardened rivet.

Yes, ah!

A hardened rivet is the worst of the defects,
[with] a hardened rivet, the harvester can't assemble
the corn and pack it into the cylinders for the Smurfs.
The whole harvest will be put at risk
by one hardened rivet.

Nah-nah-nah nah-nah-nah-nah-nah nah-nah-nah nah-nah-nah-nah.
Nah-nah-nah nah-nah-nah-nah-nah nah-nah-nah nah-nah-nah-nah.

Nah-nah-nah nah-nah-nah-nah-nah nah-nah-nah nah-nah-nah-nah.
Nah-nah-nah nah-nah-nah-nah-nah nah-nah-nah nah-nah-nah-nah.

Yes, yes, the rivet is hardened.
Yes, yes, they will hopefully loosen it.
No, no, they will probably install a new one.
And that one will be one with chromium.

They dismantled the harvester on the courtyard,
to fix it, they have used [approximately this tool].
A bustle of skillful blue hands
have extracted the hardened rivet.

Because it was largely rotten,
they have replaced it with one from stainless steel.
Now, it's fine when precipitation falls at the harvester.
Next year, it won't be hardened.

Yes, ah!

A hardened rivet, wow!
A hardened rivet, wow!

One hardened rivet.

A hardened rivet, wow!
A hardened rivet, wow!

One hardened rivet.

A hardened rivet is the worst of the defects,
[with] a hardened rivet, the harvester can't assemble
the corn and pack it into the cylinders for the Smurfs.
The whole harvest will be put at risk
by one hardened rivet.

Nah-nah-nah nah-nah-nah-nah-nah nah-nah-nah nah-nah-nah-nah.
Nah-nah-nah nah-nah-nah-nah-nah nah-nah-nah nah-nah-nah-nah.

Nah-nah-nah nah-nah-nah-nah-nah nah-nah-nah nah-nah-nah-nah.
Nah-nah-nah nah-nah-nah-nah-nah nah-nah-nah nah-nah-nah-nah.

One hardened rivet.
Please forgive me that it doesn't sound like native speaker's English. I have really gone through no training that would allow me to talk about hardened rivets in harvesters in a way indistinguishable from a native speaker's way – or at least I don't have enough innate aptitude for such linguistic achievements. ;-)

I doubt that there is a sufficient market for such backward translations but there are dozens or hundreds of cool funny Czech renditions of famous songs although not too many are as creative as this one. For example, the Heavy Pokondr has made dozens of such songs as well. To mention one, Y.M.C.A. has been translated as Raise the Rent – a song full of recommendations for young owners of apartment buildings (it seems that for those who just inherited them, spoiled brats). What should they do with the old tenants who can't pay much etc.? Some of the advises are... tough.

Some more comments on popular music. I have been listening to various "genre" radios and decided that the 1990s (like Prague's 1990s subradio of Radio City) sound most intriguing to me. I thought that it was the 1980s when things were still right in the West but we were behind the Iron Curtain and the songs couldn't have been hardwired into my brain, mostly, or there may be other reasons. I think the number of hits peaked in the 1990s.



Even a decade ago, there were many cool songs from places that haven't repeated. For example, the Croatian band Karma released their hits, especially the most famous one above, Malo Pomalo. They became maximally popular in Czechia. It's sort of baffling why such a band could remain unknown in the rest of the world (and Europe). How does the national-specific music taste work so that (Czech) Ivan Mládek's Jožin z bažin becomes the most popular song in Poland while Croatian dance music like the music above makes it in Czechia?

Sometimes, people seem to prefer what their relatives in the South offer. The more Southern Slavic languages sound "entirely familiar and piecewise comprehensible" even though 80% of what you understand is wrong. ;-) But I find Polish much more "foreign" than Croatian. The Poles feel that the Czech language is more playful or intantile. But the South can't be the ultimate answer: think about all the superpopular Swedish bands... The geography may be just a coincidence. But some group differences must be very important, anyway.

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snail feedback (16) :


reader Gordon said...

"Indeed, it's not my goal to inform you about every tomato I pick from a shrub or every roll I bake in the oven. ;-) Those things are mundane, boring, about 7 billion people is encountering similar things..."


Yes, that is why Twitter exists :)


reader Luboš Motl said...

LOL, that's exactly how I understood the purpose of Twitter.


reader Shannon said...

"You want the authors of this technology to be executed or their graves to be removed from the soil and used as toilets on the cemetery, and so on". Lol.
That's how I feel about Windows 8.


reader Luboš Motl said...

Haha, I can imagine that. Do you already have the Start button back, for example? ;-)


reader Shannon said...

Nope. No Start button. What the hell were they thinking at Microsoft when they conceived this? Bloody nerds.


reader Luboš Motl said...

Sometimes I can't believe they would decide like they would decide, either. For example, the Windows RT for tablets. Windows RT looks just like Windows, with all the hatred people direct against the system, with one additional "advantage": it's incompatible with all other Windows! ;-)


Microsoft Surface which existed with RT was "fixed" in the second generation, so that the company "learned" a message. Microsoft Surface 2 RT doesn't exist. It's called Microsoft Surface 2 - but what runs inside is... now be ready for a shock... Windows RT! ;-)


reader Shannon said...

Imagine the feuds within Microsoft between the technological nerds and marketing teams etc to get to that point...


reader MxD said...

The trick is to never push the rivet all the way out, but leave it sticking out of the outside plate. That holds the rivet in position when it's time to push it back in.



The alternative is to get a SRAM chain which uses a slip-on plate to close the chain. So you don't need to ever push a rivet back in. You still need the rivet tool to push out a rivet to shorten a new SRAM chain to the proper length, but that step is relatively easy.


reader MxD said...

It's a good idea to replace a chain when it's lengthened due to wear. A worn chain will quickly wear out your sprockets, which will cause jumping of a new chain as you discovered. Better to never get to that point.

I replace a chain when it's more than 0.5% longer than new, or about 1/16 inch over 12 inches. This is easiest to measure with an inch ruler, since a new chain has exactly 0.5000 inch pitch.

The main cause of chain wear is oiling a dirty chain. This pulls the dirt on the outside of the chain down into the chain, where it makes a nice abrasive paste. Cleaning a chain before re-oiling will greatly extend its life.


reader Luboš Motl said...

I learned that it's hard to reinsert the pin in the hard way. ;-)


Quite typical that these technical comments of yours are posted from MIT. :-)


reader Luboš Motl said...

But it actually got fixed after several hundreds of kilometers, and as I already wrote, I don't believe that the sprockets got grinded off so that they would be too flat. Instead, I believe that they got scratched so that with the pieces of metals around, they effectively got wider and harder to insert to the holes of the new chain which is tighter (narrower holes).


Moreover, I totally fail to get this obsession with the sprockets' health because as far as I understand, they can be replaced as well and they're as cheap as the chain itself.


So it seems more sensible to me to bike for 5-10 thousand km and replace both chain and sprockets than to replace the chain every 1,000 km.


reader John Blake said...

"Zen and the Art of (Trail Bike) Maintenance?"


reader Gordon said...

Hmmm, I thought the purpose of twitter and texting was to keep morons occupied so that they don't annoy us with their drivel :)


reader Shannon said...

Exactly, and I suspect it was something of the latter in this case ;). Thankfully these engineers can rectify Windows 8 by introducing 8.1 with the ever-so useful and handy Start button ;-). The old Desktop with icons was much user friendly than these silly tiles. Steve Ballmer should have seen this...


reader Casper said...

Although I am not an expert on bicycle chains I know that we always used a 'chain joining link' to join the chain. This is a separate link with a loose side plate held on with a hairpin shaped circlip. All this talk of pressing out a pin and pressing it back in again seems to me like asking for trouble. The side plates are too thin to get a reliable press fit. I would assume that the pins are originally mushroomed slightly at the ends to keep them in. Pressing the same pin in and out again would mangle this arrangement and cause the pin to become loose.


reader Peter F. said...

I've replaced more chainsaw chains than bicycle chains. ;-)
Thanks for linking to the cheerful and easy going music! :-)