Not a Great Start

rambler build

The Ocean Air Cycles Rambler arrived Thursday afternoon, and I finally had a chance to start on the build. I thought I might have everything I need to at least get it rolling, but recognized the possibility that some of my parts might not work as well as anticipated. It didn’t take long for things to go awry.

The first thing I tried to do didn’t work. My bottom bracket tool is missing. It could be in several logical places that my parts or tools usually end up, but it isn’t in any one of them. No idea. I was able to thread the bottom bracket in most of the way by hand (thanks to Rob’s wonderful frame prep), but I’ll need to go buy another tool before I install cranks.

The next thing I tried took two attempts. I found my old SON dyno hub front wheel, and added a new tube and tire. Within minutes, the tube “sprung a leak” near the reinforced area around the valve stem. Weird. So I removed the offending tube (to be hopefully patched later) and tried another.  Holding for now.

Thirdly, my lack of attention to detail bit me hard. The rear wheel that I had assumed was 650b is actually 700c. That doesn’t work at all, but I had a back-up plan. Since my Hilsen came home from my last S24O with two flats (another story for another day), I figured I’d borrow its rear wheel for the Rambler build and get another wheel for the Hilsen later. But that didn’t work either.

rim crack

As I started cleaning the layers of Texas gravel dust and C&O Trail mud off (the Rambler should at least start reasonably clean, right?), a crack at one of the eyelets became evident. Amazing. I’m only moments into a new build, and have already discovered I need two new rear wheels.

I tried to remain calm. Determined to show some progress, I found my seatpost and new Brooks Cambium saddle, and installed them successfully. Even I could get that right. The new stem, cable hanger, and parts bin bars went on to the fork steerer tube to allow for a semi-mock-up look-see. Just enough done to remind me of my limitations and fuel the anticipation fire simultaneously. It wasn’t a great start.

25 thoughts on “Not a Great Start

  1. Chris:

    Every build seems to have “those moments”. Hopefully you’ve gotten them all out of the way at once. Weird about the wheels though. I love the yellow that Rob uses on the Ramblers. Can’t wait to see the finished product!


  2. I love cycling, my only regret is I discovered this great past time too late in life, I have 2 bikes I really enjoy, bike shop bikes, both Treks and am proud of them, I have seen many custom bikes I would like to own and the one frame that stands out is the Ocean Air Rambler, you really have a nice build going and the yellow is really nice, to me there’s just something about a yellow bike that makes you sit up and take notice, these set backs will make that first ride on your new bike Mott enjoyable and the pride of ownership will only deepen.
    Dave 😀🚴

    • Thanks for the encouragement, Dave. It is nice to have a brighter color back in the mix. Hopefully, I’ll have some ride impressions before too long so you can see if the Rambler stays on your “consider” list. I’ll tell you now that I’m impressed with the quality so far. The paint actually has a subtle sparkle that doesn’t photograph well, but is quite pleasant.

  3. I think moments like this, plus my mechanical ineptitude, mean I never attempt to build a bike. Sorry it didn’t go smoothly. And yeah, I hate that moment when you discover the up-until-then-“fine” part to be broken.

  4. Chris, congratulations on acquiring that gorgeous yellow Rambler. I’ll be curious to learn of your impressions of the Rambler compared with your Homer. Patience will win out and you’ll end up with a very nice machine!


  5. Yep, been there. Often. Probably why it takes me a solid year to build up just about anything these days. I’m always about 20 percent and two really crucial parts away from having everything, right up until I do.

  6. What?! No pictures of the finished project YET!That’s not how this internet thing works. We need pictures NOW!

    Okay…..I’m alright….I went to my breathe. I started to calm down after a minute of deep breathing. I’ll be okay. Deeeep breathe….

    If I think back to 2008, I bought a new custom frame. It would have been almost exactly 7 years to the week. I had a blog, I posted pictures of me unpacking the frame. And then I posted pictures of the finished built bike…..6 months later. Yep. It took me 6 months. Of course there was the arm munching crash and 4 months of rehab, depleted savings from the frame purchase, and the Minnesota winter setting in. But, those are just excuses…..

    Christopher, we need to see the finished pictures!!

    Okay, I’m breathing…….

    • Hahaha…I was telling someone today how I’m really being a little dramatic about my slow progress. I’m a little embarrassed. Obviously, I’m anxious…and I appreciate all the good humor out there sympathizing with me.

    • Wow, another rescue offer! Thanks, Jon! In addition to you, I’ve had three others 650b wheel set offers from folks trying to save me from panic. One guy is sending me a rim!

      I’m planning to use the free rim and my current hub to build one of the wheels I need. I’ll probably buy one of the wheel sets also.

      One of those wheel sets was loaded up and brought downtown for me to use on a borrow/purchase option plan. He also brought me a loaner BB tool. Alas, the BB tool, for some mysterious reason, didn’t quite fit. So all I could do tonight was add a rear wheel.

      Now my downtube shifters are missing. Right now I’d give my entire parts bin for my BB tool and my missing Silver shift levers.

  7. While I don’t have an extra set of 650B wheels laying around (Why is it that so many people do?), I do have a set of Silver shift levers laying on my shop bench right now. In case yours don’t turn up, let me know. I don’t have any plans for the levers right now.

    I do have an extra set of offset fat bike wheels laying around, but that doesn’t help you out at all.

      • Do you still have my email address? Let me know your mailing address. I can get those sent out to you tomorrow, or even today if I hear back.

  8. This post made me smile Chris. So much of my valuable tinkering time is taken up rummaging through my shed with a torch clasped between my teeth, looking for that illusive tool, washer or esoteric doodad that turns a useless collection of rubber, metal and plastic parts into a functional bicycle.

    I remember one evening preparing for a mountain bike race and finding that the lack of a split pin meant the difference between rising and not riding the following morning. It doesn’t take much to halt the progress of a build does it?

    Subsequent posts suggest that your patience has been rewarded with another beautiful bicycle that is at once a big contrast with your existing bikes yet shares a fundamental lineage. Listening to interviews with Rob Perks one feels that there’s a huge GP influence there.

    Happy riding and coffee drinking. May the road rise up to meet you.

    • That’s funny. When I read about my internet pals building up new bikes, I imagine that they all are expert mechanics, organized, and things go smoothly. Even the on-line discussions are folks getting their questions answered in advance…before being surprised something didn’t work. I guess there are others out there like me that just sort of bump along, go off in the wrong direction, fall down, get up, and eventually make it work. Thanks for the encouragement!

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