Posted by: Bike Rider | May 19, 2008

Bikes and dishwashers

Bikes and dishwashers? What are you talking about?
Recently, my dishwasher developed a problem, actually, it stopped working. The problem appeared after about 2 minutes into a wash cycle, then an error would appear and the chime would ring. After that, nothing. Dead!
So what does this have to do with a bike?
Well, a lot actually. Read on.
You see, I quickly determined it wasn’t something obvious, like a knife jammed in the sprayer or a piece of food lodged in the drain. After that, I jumped on-line and went to the manufacture’s website and reviewed the Operator’s Manual (only because I couldn’t locate the original in the filing cabinet). Of course the error code that was displayed was not mentioned in the ‘Troubleshooting’ guide, so I called the 1-800 number to talk to a Customer Service Rep.
The voice on the other end of the phone wasn’t much help other than he did tell me the error code was due to a fault in the wiring harness. Hmmm….wiring harnesses just don’t go bad. I mean, I’ve been repairing or servicing electronics and computers for almost 27 years and I haven’t seen many wiring harness just ‘go bad’. Sure, wires can over-heat, burn, melt, break due to stress, get cut, etc. But ‘go bad’? This was puzzling.
Curiousity and the fact that I hate to call an Appliance Repairman unless it’s absolutely necassary, forced me to do some research. I poured over several postings on DYI and repair websites and found this error was caused by, you guessed it, a faulty wiring harness.
Later in the day, armed with my tool box and soldering iron, I removed power to the appliance and carefully removed the front panel. The first thing I noticed was a rather large “bundle” of wires cascading down the inside of the door to the mechanics beneath the tub. Upon further inspection I came across a single red wire that looked as if it had been cut clean through. Where was the other end? Then I saw it-stuck in the sound-deadening material that is sprayed on the stainless steel.
I stripped both ends of the wire and slipped some shrink tubing over one end, soldered the wire together and slip the shrink tubing over the bare wire. I inspected all the other wires while I had the hood up for damage. Satisfied and confident, I applied power and started a wash cycle.
Two minutes went by and the pump kicked on and water happily danced inside the tub.
I put the skins back on and gloated to my wife that I just saved a couple hundred dollars with .15 cents of shrink tubing and 20 minutes of my time.
The moral of my story? Well, most repairs to a bike can be accomplished the same way.
Simple things like replacing brake pads or cleaning and lubricating the drivetrain can add miles to your bike, not to mention, reduce expensive repairs. For more complex repairs such as trueing a wheel or replacing a bottom-bracket, the same philosophy applies: once you learn how to do it AND you have the proper tools, you can save yourself time and money over taking your bike to a mechanic.
Work within you comfort level. If you feel you have the skills to tackle something, be prepared both mentally and financially, if something goes wrong. In other words; sometimes, no matter how easy something appears to be, gremlins are lurking just behind the door waiting to wreak havoc on your best laid plans.
So…what’s the bottom line? Bikes are not overly complex compared to other mechanical items. However, they are finicky and do require a basic understanding of the physics on how they work.
Use the Internet to download manuals of your drivetrain or other components.
Practice on an old bike before you attempt something on your new bike
Ask other riders for advice. Sometimes they have tips you may have never thought of.
Talk to mechanics. Yes, they’re riders too and they are often willing to provide technical support for free.
Work thoroughly on your bike. Remember, you do not want something to go wrong when you are bombing down a hill at 40 mph. Don’t take short-cuts or leave hardware off.
Lastly, be patient
That said, if you choose to attempt self-repairs, you can save yourself time and money plus have the right to gloat to your significant other that you just saved X-amount of dollars by replacing a chain all by yourself!
Good Luck!


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