Last night was my first at a Volunteer Repair Party as Seattle Bike Works.
Several years ago, I volunteered for Earn-A-Bike, BW's program wherein kids learn to work on bikes, and in the process, put enough labor into a (used) bike of their choice, as well as other bikes, to have earned it. But, get a bunch of tweens and teens together, and the energy in the room takes on a life of its own, so my sessions at that time were really more about working with kids, rather than working with bikes. Given that my own household was going through very rough times, with a teenager in severe crisis (and I mean really severe), I just couldn't put in the effort, and had to back out.
Nevertheless, I have stayed interested in BikeWorks, and have always meant to return to volunteering when my life got sane enough. Now, with both kids out of the nest (can you believe it?), and Carol firmly established in the local job market, I felt it was time.
And so, last night, I was back. Cue the Rocky theme? Picture me running up the steps to BW, turning and pumping my fists in triumph? Not quite. The evening ended by my apologizing profusely to the volunteer coordinator for damaging one of Bike Works' tools.
The bike I was working on (an entry-level Bianchi mountain bike) had the chain installed wrong (not through the front derailleur cage). I don't know whether this was intentional, as a way to remind people that the chain needed to be cleaned and lubed. My bench didn't have a chain tool, so I wandered around trying to find a bench that did. A volunteer at an adjacent bench handed me one. It was marked "BMX". That should have stopped me, but for some reason, it just didn't. Well, profiles of BMX (3/16") link plates are wider than the profiles of non-BMX (1/8") plates, which means that if you seat a 1/8" chain into a BMX chain tool (in this case, the Park CT-7), the chain's pin will not align with the channel into which it is to be pushed. The result? Screwing in the handle results in the driving pin in the chain tool getting bent. That's what happened to the CT-7 I was using.
The rest of the overhaul went OK -- I found several things wrong on the bike that weren't marked on the repair ticket (stripped rear derailleur cable anchor bolt, very slow leak in a replacement tire, unadjusted front derailleur), and their repair went smoothly -- the only problem I felt was that, since I was unfamiliar with the bench and location of stuff, it took me a long time to get things done -- I was always looking for something.
I think a sign of maturity, and a behavior I expect of other adults, is that if you make a mistake, you should expect criticism, and you should be totally focused on learning from your mistake. And so, I quietly accepted the volunteer coordinator's comments about needing to ask, if there's any question about a tool or repair.
BikeWorks didn't ask me to, but I've ordered a replacement CT-7. I see this as a long-term engagement, and I don't want BikeWorks to pay for my mistakes.