OMG… the day from hell yesterday… it’s been 20 years since I set foot in Halifax and I will be glad if it is another 20 after that!!! I spent the entire day running around becoming more and more frustrated until finally I contemplated throwing myself off the bridge to Dartmouth.
It all started out well… quick bagel before heading off for a short 2.5 hour drive to Halifax. Easy right… WRONG! The drive wasn’t particularly nice with strong winds and temperatures reaching the mid eighties. Then the traffic into Halifax sucked because the only time the Canadians can pave is during the two week summer they have… which is apparently right now 🙂
I foolishly decided it was time to try and see how accurate the “you have this many miles of gas left” indicator was… and by the time I got down to 2 miles I was in a serious panic. Then I meant to get off at one exit but instead missed the turn so had to go another 1.5 miles up the road with 2 miles of gas remaining. Yes… DUMB AS#, I know. I did end up making it to an Irving station and began to fill my 33 litre tank. It only took 28 litres so the gauge must not take into account the 1 gallon reserve… good to know… or maybe bad to know 🙂
Refueled physically and mentally, I decided to tackle the task of acquiring a tool that could remove the front wheel of a BMW without having to drive back to Moncton to the only BMW motorcycle dealer in the maritimes. SO… from my research all I needed was a 19mm socket for my ratchet set and a 19mm nut… and a welder. With directions in hand to the nearest hardware store I sped off. Once at the store I approached clerk number 1 with my reasonable request… or so I thought. Having deciphered all the Canadian road signs in Kilometers I figured that getting a metric size socket and nut would be no problem… Canada is on the metric system right… WRONG AGAIN! They are some half-baked hybrid of metric and imperial and, of course, all their fasteners are in imperial. NO 19mm nut for me. The clerk was so unhelpful and not wanting to deal with the whole 19mm thing that he basically said “I can’t help you”… he couldn’t even give me a place that may possibly sell them.
Feeling undeterred, I typed good old Home Depot into my GPS and whipped off further into Halifax. This time clerk number 2, a knarly old dude with a scraggly beard, tried his best by visiting the bike several times with different size nuts but none would work. Then he took it upon himself to direct me to two places (Home Depot doesn’t sell individual metric sockets) and even called them to find out if they carried what I wanted. Great guy. So off I sped to Canadian Tire where I acquired a 19mm socket from clerk number 3 for the princely sum of $7! Then it was off to Fastenals where clerk number 4 gave me 3 different size zinc hex nuts to try. I took them to my bike and VIOLA… the 16mm hex nut fit perfectly. I took all three nuts back inside and asked if he had the 16mm in stainless steel… YES SIR, WE DO! Awesome… I’m making progress as I ask him if he knows of a welder. Magically, he guides me over the Dartmouth bridge to an industrial park that is home to Rod’s Machine Shop (http://www.rodsmachineshop.com/). I quickly explain that I need the socket welded to the nut and showed the welder what I was trying to accomplish. As I put the stainless steel hex nut into the front wheel opening… IT DIDN’T FIT!!!!! What the heck? I was mad now thinking that the clerk at Fastenals had given me the wrong size stainless hex nut back. It didn’t matter to the welder who said, after measuring the wheel, just go down the street to the metal shop and get two inches of 7/8’s hex rod and then go get a 7/8’s socket and I will weld the two together.
BAH HUMBUG, I said, knowing better and wanting to use my hex nut solution. This welder had no idea about bikes! I went back inside Rob’s Machine Shop to talk to the office manager who then informed me to just take the nut back to Fastenals. No way I am going back over the bridge I said, only to be informed that a Fastenals was in fact about 400 yards down the street. I tore off there to speak with clerk number 5 and explained that his mate at the other store had messed up. Looking at me as though I had horns, clerk number 5 calls clerk number 4 who swears up and down that he gave me the right size stainless hex nut. So, feeling a bit dumb, I went outside and tried it again and sure enough… IT STILL DIDN’T FIT! I went back inside and told clerk number 5 who then proceeded to tell me I am crazy… yes, he literally implied I had a mental defect… who told him I wonder 🙂
Now I am really confused, how did the nut fit at one store but not at the other? Then it hits me… I ask the clerk for a 16mm ZINC hex nut and compare it to the 16mm stainless hex nut… the zinc one looks smaller to me. The clerk grabs them both from me and proclaims again that I am crazy and that both are the same size. Now, I’m starting to get irritated. I take the zinc nut out there and VIOLA… it fits. So, apparently the same size nut in zinc and stainless steel are in fact slightly different.
Feeling vindicated, I return to the welder with zinc nut and 19mm socket in hand and thrust them toward him. DUDE… I told you that these won’t work, there isn’t enough metal to weld… go get the two inch piece of 7/8’s steel hex rod and the 7/8’s socket like I told you! CRAP… feeling humbled I tore off down the road to the metal shop. Metal graveyard is more like it but who knew there was so much money in scrap metal… maybe East End should go into the business.
As I stand in line, I realize how lucky I am… the guy in front of me has a face like caramelized onions. He has burns over 90 percent of his face and probably elsewhere since its almost 90 degrees and he is wearing long clothing. It doesn’t faze me as I ask him how his day is going and he instinctively puts his hand up to his face and looks away… amazing unconscious reaction to a stranger talking to him and I empathize with him because I sometimes do the same thing with my small blind eye. Funny what the human brain will do without thinking about it.
Anyway, I ask clerk number 6 for 7/8’s hex and after much hunting and clanging, he pulls out an 8 foot rod of 7/8’s hex. “How much do you need sir?” Two inches I mumble… he shoots me a look similar to the one I got from clerk number 5. Here the day brightens slightly because Canadians (except Jamie) are such nice people… NO CHARGE for a two inch piece of hex… apparently they don’t sell it by the inch 🙂
Hex in hand I tear off out to my bike and foolishly try it in my front wheel… of course… IT DOESN’T FIT!!!! Head hung low I get back in line at the metal shop and explain my dilemma to the clerk. Simple, I will come out and measure it, he says. Calipers in hand he proceeds to my bike and proudly announces that the fit is “a hair” under 7/8’s. Now I am pissed at the welder for not measuring properly but really more mad at myself for not measuring it myself. No problem says clerk number 6… just get the welder to grind the hex down until it fits. Ok.. simple enough.
Off I whip to visit clerk number 7 for the day. Princess Auto in Dartmouth sell a very nice single 7/8’s socket for $3… why Canadian Tire sells the same thing for $7 is a mystery. Back at Rod’s Machine Shop, I pull into the parking lot and park next to… the Canadian Border Patrol truck that has conveniently appeared. Out come two agents who ask me where I am going. OMG… images of handcuffs and deportation dance through my head as one agent goes on one side of the bike and the other moves in front of me. Turns out that one of them has a BMW 650 and was checking out the bike. After exchanging pleasantries, off they roar and into the machine shop I go.
The welder grunts as I give him the hex and explain to him that he needs to grind it down to fit. 5 mins and several trips to the bike later, the welder hands me the tool… NO CHARGE he says… have a good trip. Did I mention how nice Canadians (not Jamie) are?
Heading off, I contemplate going to the campground but given the hour and the fact that rain is due tomorrow, I decide to hotel it. So, it takes 5 mins to book a hotel on Expedia right?WRONG!!!! I fight with my blackberry outside the hotel for 20 mins but neither Expedia nor Travelocity will let me complete the booking. Ok, I call the 800 number on both my US and Bermuda phones… NOPE. Neither will do 800 calls… why, who knows. Another 10 mins of frustration. Brilliant idea number 3 is me going into the hotel lobby and asking if they have WiFi in the lobby. YES SIR, WE DO. So, password in hand, I fire up the iPad and proceed to Expedia to make a booking. All is going well until the last button push when the whole thing bombs out. Apple and it’s software STILL DO NOT FUNCTION PROPERLY IN THE INTERNET/PC WORLD!!! GET A CLUE STEVE JOBS!!!!! As much as I love the iPad, its idiosyncrasies are annoying… poor quality control on app development.
So next I search the internet for the non-800 number for Expedia and end up calling an Atlanta area code… only to speak with “Joe” who has a funny name for an Indian dude. 20 mins of fighting with him and I have a hotel room booked… the whole thing took the better part of an hour after the crappy day I already had. Absolutely exhausted, I go to the front desk to check in and they inform me that both my rooms are ready. Both? Ahhhh… no, one room unless the beast booked one as well. No sir, we have 2 Expedia reservations for you. ARRRGGGGGHHHHHH!!!!! Another 20 mins on the phone with Expedia and I am finally checked in although the insane asylum is probably where I belong 🙂
OH YEAH… so I typed all this into my iPad last night at dinner while listening to a beautiful woman with a beautiful voice play guitar and sing at a Celtic pub. The WordPress app on my iPad then decided to crash when I inserted a picture… all my typing GONE… even after saving it as a local draft multiple times!!!!! See what I mean about it being a bad day?
ANYWHO… drum roll please… below we have the most frustrating, aggravating, annoying $3 tool known to man… and one that only took 5 hours and 7 trips to 7 different stores to make. I should have bought one from Amazon 🙂