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Sunday, 9 November 2014

Sinking Feeling

A decided drop in support for me recently. First my office chair settled slowly to its lowest position and wouldn't come back up again, then three days later my bicycle saddle decides to fall off.

I've had to replace saddles before when metal fatigue gets the better of them, and to be fair I had been hearing a creaking noise recently when I pedalled, but I thought it was coming from the pedals. However, when I had a closer look it turned out that the metal about to come away was not the saddle, but the tube that joins it to the frame. Interesting—you wouldn't think that would ever go. Still, it's a small piece, so I got my spanner and removed saddle + tube from the bike, and drove to the most convenient bike store.

They didn't find it as easy to replace as I'd hoped. In fact, they gave me a choice of two possible replacements: one just slightly too wide and one just slightly too narrow, but both far too long ("you can saw it down to size!"). I demurred, and headed off to a less convenient cycle shop. As this was the one where I'd bought my bike, a Gazelle Esprit, I figured that if they didn't know how to replace it, I'd probably end up having to buy a whole new cycle. As part of being less convenient, there is very little car parking anywhere near it. (Presumably they expect the bulk of their customers to arrive on two wheels rather that four.) So stopping at a public car park just five short minutes walk away, then realising I had no change for the ticket machine and that there were no shops nearer than five minutes away where I could get some, I spent the best part of the next ten minutes on my mobile trying to pay by credit card. It was a hassle, particularly as there is no Backspace key on a telephone keypad (which meant I had to start over), and listening to a recorded message when the wind's blowing past your ear is no joke either, but it was eventually achieved, and at least next time I won't have to set up an account first.

So five minutes after that palaver I'm looking for salvation in the cycle shop (appropriately named 'Cycle Heaven'). The shop assistant took one look at my saddle and went off to get the part I needed. Never have I felt so pleased to shell out £4.99 for a small piece of metal. At a stroke my bicycle is transmuted from large garden ornament back into trusty steed.

The office chair is proving harder to fix. I'd always known there must be a compressed air container somewhere in a swivel chair, but I hadn't realised it's actually the whole tube that runs between the five-wheeled base to the seat. On YouTube there are plenty of videos showing how trivially simple it is to replace this gas cylinder. You start by hitting the wheel unit with a mallet, and off it pops from the cylinder. Except, it turns out, on my model. Mine has a clip at the bottom to hold it in place. Fortunately I hadn't been using the mallet for very long before I guessed something was wrong. At the other end the gas cylinder goes into a hole in a metal assembly that is screwed into the actual seat. Again, the videos are agreed: you can try hitting the cylinder from the side to dislodge it, or twist it out using a pipe wrench.

Well, maybe I need a better wrench, or perhaps a better grip. No amount of brute force and WD40 had any impact on it. I decided eventually that there might be another clip to release it, but if so I would have to unscrew the assembly from the seat to get access to it. So I did.

No luck there either: there is absolutely no sign of the cylinder from the other side, and I'm at a loss to see how I can take the assembly apart to find it. So tomorrow I will have to shamefacedly take it back to the shop where I bought it, in pieces, and ask if they can replace the faulty component. At least now the chair will fit in the car more easily.

I shall watch very closely how they replace the cylinder. Who knows? I might even make a video of it.