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The T3sk3y Defenestrator

53.75 miles – and ANOTHER blown spoke

This weeks RAGBRAI training didn’t start like I planned it to.  I had planned on riding 100 miles this week – and doing a round trip to and from work on Monday and another later in the week.

Monday started off bad – I overslept, I forgot to bring my clothes to the office so I had to ride with a backpack – and my tire was flat.  After changing the tire, I finally made it on my way at about 8 AM.  I only made it to the trailhead on the east side of Chaska when I heard another TOOINNNNNNGGGG!!!  Since I just heard the same noise a few days before, I knew what that meant.  I blew another spoke – the second in 20 miles.   This time I just turned around, called my wife for a pickup, and started limping home.

When I took it to Erik’s Bike Shop that night, they commented that they’ve had a lot of trouble with that wheel and that they’d warrantee the wheel on the spot.  I could either wait for a new replacement or they would give me full credit towards a new wheel.  Being that I didn’t want to wait, I jumped on the replacement cost.  This also gave me a chance to buy a new brain bucket and some other important accessories.

Monday’s ride: 5.91 miles, 38:12 for a really crappy average speed of 9.2 mph.

Friday went tons better – I had a new wheel, new helmet, new gloves, new inslulated water bottle (see – I told you I needed new gear) – and a slight headwind.  I didn’t set any records on the way in, but most importantly – I didn’t feel wiped out when I got there.   I felt so good on the ride home, I set a new personal best time & best pace (either direction), AND best outbound leg speed.  I also could have kept going when I got home.

I think I’m ready.

Friday 7/20/07:

Inbound: Total time: 1:34:38, Average speed: 15.5 mph, Total Distance: 24.49 miles

Outbound: Total time: 1:27:10, Average speed: 17.2 mph, Total Distance: 24.7 miles

PS: If you own a training GPS like the Garmin Forerunner 301, throw away the Garmin software and use SportTracks – what awesome software.  It’s the best $40 you’ll ever spend..

TSPP Restoration Pt. 5 – The Mini Playfield and Cabinet

The restoration is nearly done.. in the course of two hardcore nights, I rebuilt the entire mini-playfield and cleaned up the cabinet.

The mini-playfield was one really dense bit of engineering – there is so much crammed on to it! I started teardown at about 9:30 and finished at about 1:30 AM. It was somehow one of the dirtiest parts of the entire game – which says a lot. Everything got torn town to the bare playfield and cleaned – with a new couch, ramps, rubbers, bulbs, and garage door decal used.

As usual, it wasn’t without hiccups. Whatever the garage door decal is made out of should be used to stick the tiles back on to the space shuttle. It took me the better part of an hour to freeze, sand, and Goo-Gone that baby off. The coil stop on the couch weldment was broken off as well. This caused the plunger to overextend and jam in the open position. Since a new couch weldment is about $39 – I decided to make a coil stop with a big washer, a screw, and a rubber post top. Works like a charm!

The TSPP Mini-playfield

The rebuilt mini-playfield on TSPP

Next up was the cabinet. Truth to be told, I’ve never done a lot of cabinet cleaning before – but this one couldn’t be ignored. I think somebody stored coal inside this machine during the winter months and gouged the insides of the cabinet shoveling it out.

Ten rags and half a bottle of Windex later, the inside was squeaky clean. I had to patch the scrapes with Rock Hard (a quick dry plaster), then repaint with Painter’s Touch Semi-gloss black. It turned out great!

New siderails

New siderails and repainted insides

The side rails had to be replaced with the new style Stern siderails to cover up wear around the flipper buttons. These look great on the machine – and nobody would know unless they were a real student of Stern pinball machines.

My final task was to rebuild the flipper buttons. I put in brand new buttons and brand new switches inside. Between the time that Stern made this machine and now, they switched the switches to a different design. These are supposed to be more robust – but it required drilling new mounting holes.

All that’s left is to put the playfield back in and wire it up.. but I’ll save that tale for next time.

As usual, all the pictures are here: Link

53 miles and one blown spoke.

My bike training continued well this week…

I got in 53 miles on Thursday when I rode both to and from work.  According to the pocket GPS training thingy – I burned somewhere around 4300 calories in the process.  Not bad.

The ride in was a little rough – I got a late start and had to race in to a headwind.  By the time I made the halfway point, I was pretty smoked.  I think I waterlogged myself before taking off – and didn’t have enough breakfast or something.

According to the GPS, I had a time of 1:32:04 on the way in with an average speed of 15.9mph.

The ride home was supposed to be a slower cruise, and I sort of got forced in to it.  At about mile 4, I heard a loud “TOINNNNGGGGGG!!!” over the top of my iPod – which was cranking Dio at that exact moment.   “TOINNNNGGGGGG!!!” is never a good sound.  It’s even worse when you feel a severe shimmy that accompanies it.  I looked down and my back wheel had taken on a slight Pringle shape that rubbed on the brake.

I rode nice ‘n slow to the Erik’s Bike Shop in St. Louis Park to get it fixed – while wondering the entire way if I was going to have the broken spoke puncture the tire or if it was going to Pringle worse.  30 minutes and $24.99 later – I was back in business and riding home.  This detour was what caused the extra 3 miles on my route.

The ride home was slower, but longer.  I did it in 2:02:38 at an average speed of 13.8.  My true speed was faster – I forgot to shut the GPS off inside of Erik’s.  My bike computer said 14.9 – which is much closer to the truth.

I’m going to try for 100 miles in the next 10 days.. wish me luck!

TSPP Restoration Pt. 4 – Bart is back!

Finally.. after a week of tedium.. real progress is happening on my Simpsons Pinball Party. I was able to spend several hours late Saturday night and Sunday rebuilding the playfield. It’s my favorite part of the restoration – putting shiny new and cleaned parts back on. It’s also like the latter stages of a jigsaw puzzle – the ‘velocity’ of adding parts goes way up once the number of parts remaining start going down.

Daredevil Bart
Daredevil Bart back on his perch

After Sunday, I’ve almost finished the lower playfield. I completed the right side along the flipper and added Itchy and Scratchy back to their perches. I rebuilt and reassembled Daredevil Bart and put him back on. I also cleaned up Comic Book Guy and added him to his Treehouse Ramp perch. I put the garage ramp and the Treehouse Ramp on as well. All that is left on the lower level is the wireforms and the Moe’s ramp.

Comic Book Guy and the Ramps
Comic Book Guy guarding the Treehouse Ramp

I’m still a long way from done – I’ve got to rebuild the entire upper playfield and I have to recondition the cabinet. But, it’s nice to see real progress.

As ever, all restoration pics are here: Link

1:28:00, 17.3 mph average

I was apparently feeling a little extra mojo this morning when I biked in to work.

Ride to work
My ride to work 

It’s about 25 miles from home to work, and I’ve been biking it twice a week. Since I started riding in April, I’ve shaved a solid 20 minutes off of my time and I’ve raised the average speed 4 mph. Today was a new record both in terms of time and average speed.

Total bike miles in 2007: 225

TSPP Restoration Update #3 – Pop Bumpers Suck.

The pop bumper is one of the iconic pinball playfield items. It looks kind of like a mushroom – except it ‘pops’ when you hit it causing the ball to be forcefully flung away. The typical number of pop bumpers on a playfield is three – though I’ve seen as few as none (Elektra, Pharaoh) and as many as five (The Addams Family, Slick Chick). I’m sure there are some with even more, but not in the modern era. I’ve owned two pop bumper-less machines – Elektra and Pharaoh, and though Pharaoh is a great machine, it is kind of naked without ’em.

So, why the big dissertation on pop bumpers? There is nothing – and I mean nothing – that I hate working on more than pop bumpers. They were plainly NOT designed for service. Need to take them apart? Prepare to get out the soldering iron to remove the light socket. It’s a major teardown just to replace something stupid like the plastic saucer.

The old Sterns (like Flight 2000) were on the right track. They made the pop bumper unit one solid module that fit through a hole in the playfield. It took only a few screws and the entire unit came out as one. Awesome.

Over the weekend I had the pleasure of rebuilding the pop bumpers (also known as jet bumpers or thumper bumpers) on my Simpsons Pinball Party. Like everything else, it was more work than anticipated. I had a broken yoke attaching the plunger to the saucer, the saucer rods were mushroomed and fused to the yokes (which made them impossible to take apart), and everything was very dirty. I also put new mylar around the pop bumpers which Stern neglected to do in the first place. It’s amazing how much wear the playfield gets around the pops without it. I fortunately caught it when it was only denting and it hadn’t worn paint or broken through yet.

After a few hours of work and some new parts.. viola.. clean and hopefully well working pop bumpers:

TSPP Pop Bumpers

Rebuilt Pop Bumpers on my Simpsons

Check out the rest of my restoration photos at: Link

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