Of wogs and rides and trying to kill me kids

I've luxuriated in the arms of a full on throat virus this last week - coughing, spluttering, loopy thinking (even by my standards). Lost a week at work, got thoroughly bored with myself and managed to give it to my son, just as he started his year 12 exams - yup, he did one of the big maths subjects, hardly able to talk.

So things have been interesting.

For the record - the term 'wog' is Australese for an illness ... though it was also used in the past as a derogative term for foreigners of mediteranian extraction.

Also for the record, the lad's thrown off the worst of the wog and is confident about the exams he's done and preparing well for those yet to come. He tends to smile indulgently at his mad father's obsession with bike polo and fixed gear bikes in particular. Leaving the court yesterday, he jumped on my bike, accellerated across the court, threw the bike into a turn and, being used to a freewheel, stopped pedalling. That's nice, but a fixed gear bike's pedals don't stop and he was spat off, landing heavily on a shoulder. He likes fixed gear even less now.

BTW, does anyone else out there understand the ability of a budgie's cheerful cheep to seemingly split one's brain lengthwise? There's no doubt my two budgies are happy little birds but by cripes they can be a tad enthusiastic about it at times.

Back to bikes. I have spent some time tinkering with the polo bike as I felt better/less crook/bored. Different pedal combinations including plastic toe clips and those 2" wide straps. I picked up a Shimano Tourney brake caliper and that now rubs the rims of the rear wheel - it's not a lot better than the rubbish thing I took off, but looks more the part. I even made a new polo mallet.

I'm always impressed with the human ability to make a meal of the simplest jobs. That polo mallet is a case in point.

In making a polo mallet, the basic task is to drill two holes on opposides of the head to push the handle through. You then need a hole through the handle for a bolt - that bolt goes through the head and the handle to stop the two parting company or twisting. At this time, I should point out that all holes were drilled in the right place - this is the hard part of the job so of course I got that bit right leaving only the easy bits to cock up.

To understand this journey more fully, you need to visualise my workshop. It's a double garage with work bench in the middle of one side, storage shelves along two sides and a workbench in the middle of the final side. Sounds good, and it is. It also features two half built wooden boats, both about 15' long and to fill in the remaining vacant space, there are half a dozen bikes in various stages of usefulness. To get to my tools or either of the two work benches, I have to push the boats to one side to provide a narrow space to squeeze through - not a hassle if you do it once, but it wears a bit thin after the fifth such expedition.

First job, cut the plastic pipe for the head of the mallet. I wanted the ends square so I decided to use my mitre saw - hand saw held in a frame so it cuts vertically, and it would have too ... if I'd tightened the blade first. So the ends were crooked. Not a problem, that's why they invented bench sanders, and I have one, which I used to get one end ... angled again. After resetting the bed of the sander so it was square to the sandpaper, I was able to get both ends of the pipe square. See? Easy.

I squeezed back down the middle passage (for I'd been using the middle bench), then decided I'd better collect all the tools I'd need for the next stage because I'd be going to the rear bench. Of course, I knew I'd forget something and have to go backwards and forwards which involved pushing a boat aside and climbing over a hybrid bike on every trip, but I accepted that and am proud to say that the following hour produced few profanities from this source.

Now to the back bench where the drill press lives. Climb over the hybrid as I squeeze past the bow of one boat, squeeze past the bow of the second boat then push that boat aside, squeeze past the big sheet of chip board, push the boat further aside and address the drill press.

The first holes go through the head for the handle. Hah, not a problem - it's true that the handle didn't want to go through the holes but with the head being a rubbery plastic, I suspected I'd be able to force the handle through and achieve a good, tight fit. This proved to be correct though the effort involved made one hope that the exercise was worth it.

The hole in the handle is fun because I'm using golf club handles (finally, an honourable use for golf clubs) and the steel is very very hard. I don't have a centre punch to get the hole started but a rough cut with the hacksaw provides a good starting point. Hmm, pity the hacksaw blade seems a tad short on teeth. Get a new one? I considered the trip past the sheet of chip board, squeeze past the bow of one boat, climb over the hybrid while trying not to shove the other boat off its stands, then squeeze past that boat to get to the hacksaw blades. Being lazy, I used the blade I had ... and polished the golf club shaft rather than cut it so that despite my best efforts, the drill bit wouldn't start drilling. Fortunately, there was a short inch of teeth left on the blade at one end and I was able to use that get a rough cut started so eventually, I managed to drill the hole in the shaft.

I didn't even have any trouble drilling the cross holes in the head - the holes that take the bolt through the head on one side, through the shaft and then through head on the other side. I'd learned from the previous mallet that you drill the first hole in the head, insert the shaft, then feed the drill bit through both of them to position the hole on the other side. That cunning plan avoided one mistake (the bolt missing the hole on the other side), so I was able to really enjoy the next comedy of errors.

On my first mallet, the hole in the shaft turned out to be too loose, so I used a smaller drill bit this time. It was too small wasn't it. Not realising this, I'd worked my way out of the shed and settled on a low retaining wall to fit the bolt. Hmm, it wouldn't go through the rubbery plastic of the head. No problems, I needed to get a screw driver anyway, so I squeezed in to get a screwdriver, couldn't find it among the tools, shifted everything around (including climbing over that sodding hybrid) and moved a boat so I could get down the centre isle, couldn't find the screw driver, spotted it back where I'd just been and where it should have been, repeated the process, retreived the screwdriver and returned to the retaining wall where it was now raining softly.

I used that screw driver to drive the screw through the head and to the shaft. It didn't want to go into the shaft. I tried and twised and jiggled and finally admitted that the hole in the shaft was too small. So, over the hybrid and past the boat, past the next boat, move the boat, squeeze past the chip board, move the boat a bit more, back to the drill press. I ran the next sized bit through the hole.

Then back outside again (anyone want to buy a sodding hybrid?).

The bolt screwed through the head, not easily but I wanted it tight so it wouldn't work loose. Then the bolt reached the shaft. The bolt screwed into the shaft, with effort, and I watched in amazement as the shaft slowly peeled off the thread of the bolt!

Okay, I need a bigger drill bit.
Back to the drill press. The spot for the next sized drill bit is empty. Ahh, that's why, it's over with my cordless drill. So I've got to squeeze out past the chipboard, around the end of the boat, move the boat over, down the centre isle, rummage around and retrieve the drill bit. It's broken!

"That's not really a problem," I say as I work my way back between and around boats, moving one so I can get to the drill press, "there's already a hole and all I need to do is enlarge it". This proved true on one side, the second side was rather more stubborn - at least I didn't have to worry about ruining a drill bit.

Hole enlarged, back outside (past the ... over the ... you know the trip by now) and I finally assembled the mallet. Mind you, I had to move a boat and squeeze down to my tool box to get a spanner, but at last the head was finally attached to the shaft. A good job it was too, only it felt a little heavy. I know, I'll drill some big holes in the head to lighten it, and I've got some great spade bits that'll do the job nicely ... under the middle bench.

So, after shifting stuff around, climbing over that horrid hybrid a few more times, I was able to swiss cheese the head (made a noticeable difference), put the spade bits back, forget some tools over by the drill press so go back in to get them, then, close the shed ... only I had to turn the lights off first ... and the switches aren't by the door, they're in one corner so I had to squeeze down past a boat and turn them off.

The mallet worked very well on the polo court yesterday, better than I did as I wasn't really fit enough to be riding around like a mad git. But the journey was fun.

Does anyone want to buy a hybrid? (seriously)

Views: 72

Comment by Gus on November 8, 2010 at 19:20
Great post. Hope you're feeling better ASAP, and family life gets back to normal... or whatever normal is around your household of boat and bikes... I have visions of the film The Castle.

I think you should pick the eyes out of the post about the actual making of polo mallets and post it in the Polo group because I'm sure as it gains popularity and the nationals come to town next May people will be asking.

..and no I don't need a hybrid but you can try offering it in the classifieds/ listings or Buy or Swap group.
Comment by Richard on November 9, 2010 at 6:30
Thanks Angus.
The nationals will be fun won't they. Maybe I should practice more. Maybe I should buy some more bike bits. Maybe ...

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