Yvan Rodrigues' problogue

(like a blog, but with less effort)

Disconnected ramblings about software development, iOS, FreeBSD, anti-social networking, kittens, drosophilidae, small business, Android, web services, finches, Windows, electrical engineering, XML, rental cars, rye, or ... FIVE dollars??!... something something beer.

Bicycle engine clutch gear replacement (Part 2: Gear removal)

Getting to the clutch gear

Tools: small flat-head screwdriver

  1. Disengage the clutch and lock it.
  2. Remove the gearbox cover by removing the five Phillips screws.
  3. Remove the flower-but retaining screw with the small flat-head screwdriver.
  4. Remove the flower nut by hand.
  5. Remove the pressure plate and return spring

Removing the clutch gear

Tools: 2 socket wrenches, 14mm socket, two 19mm socket, Super Magic Tool (SMT)

  1. Remove the clutch-lever cover by removing the three Phillips screws.
  2. Remove the 14mm nuts at the gearbox end by using two socket wrenches simultaneously, one on the gearbox end and another on the clutch level end. This will prevent and strong forces from being applied to the chain.
  3. Install the large end of SMT into the clutch gear assembly.
    Installing SMT
  4. Using a 14mm socket, turn the small half of SMT into the large half. It acts as a gear-puller to remove the gear assembly.
    Gear assembly removal
  5. Find the Woodruff key before it is lost, and put it in the magnetic part tray.

Pro tip: If your gearbox exploded like mine did, and the Woodruff key is missing like mine was, the two may have something in common.

Removing the Drive Gear

Tools: Big-ass flat-head screwdriver, SMT, magnetic part tray

  1. Remove the retaining screw with bag-ass screwdriver.
  2. Install the medium size end of SMT into the gear,
    SMT installation in drive gear
  3. Using a 14mm socket, turn the small half of SMT into the large half. It acts as a gear-puller to remove the gear assembly.
  4. Find the Woodruff key before it is lost, and put it in the magnetic part tray.
    Woodruff key

Super Magic Tool (SMT)

Super Magic Tool (SMT)
Pair of wrenches using SMT

If you plan to work on your chinese bicycle engine, you need Super Magic Tool. Technicians call this a Specialized Service Tool, or SST; but I like SMT better. If you bought the engine as a kit, it probably came with SMT. If not, do not attempt disassembly/assembly without it. Pick one up for three bucks.

It is the fucking bees' knees.

The engineers that designed this engine cleverly threaded just about every shaft, passage, hole with one of three sizes of fine threads. SMT can be installed into or over any of these. It is a press, a puller, and an alignment tool, all in one.

Bicycle engine clutch gear replacement (Part 1: Trouble)

I have one of those chinese bicycle engines that you see all over the place. In my home town of Guelph, I see one almost every day. You see them sold all over the place: online, the back of Popular Mechanics, eBay. I got mine from a Canadian company called ZoomBicycles a few years back. They are all the same engines.

If you want a fun way to give new life to an old bicycle, one of these engines is a great way to do so. That said, if you are not mechanically inclined and/or have no interest in learning, these are not for you. I've spent about 1 hour riding my motorbike, and about 24 fixing it.

You see, these little two-stroke engines are beautifully engineered. Unfortunately they are made with poor materials, which is not surprising since you can find them for about $100 for a complete kit if you shop around.

Pro tip: In addition to the kit, buy a spare engine, carb, gasket kit, 10+ clutch pad sets, spare clutch and drive gears. They can take weeks to order from China (some are available in North America).

I won't go into detail about the installation. It takes a few hours, the instructions are pretty good, and unless you're missing any major parts, they usually run the first time.

One recommendation though: the manual recommends a fuel:oil mix of 16:1 for the first two tanks. I know where they are coming from, because you want lots of lubrication while the rings wear in; however at 16:1 combustion is far from optimal, and yoy may spend lots of time try to tune a poorly running engine when it is actually fine.

Pro tip: Use a fuel:oil ratio of 20-25:1 for the break-in period.


One day I got the bike running and decided to drive it home from the office, about 7km, or 15 minutes on the bike. After about 1km I lost power and heard angry noises coming from the engine. I headed back to the office and took the gear cover off. Wow. A gear had chipped a tooth, which caused a chain reaction that caused teeth on both gears to chip. Then a piece of shrapnel left the engine, via the engine wall. It tore a large chunk out of the gearbox and its cover.

Above: Note the missing teeth.
Below: That hole is not supposed to be there.

The aluminium that these parts are cast from is quite brittle.

Declawing is amputation

Declawing sounds innocent. You remove the nail so it won't grow back, right?

Cat paws and human hands and feet actually have very similar anatomy. Declawing actually is an amputation of the last bone in the paw and the connecting tendon.

It often leaves cats in pain, and arthritis at age 2 or 3 is common.

Learn more at the Paw Project.

"You don't currently have permission to access this folder" on symbolic link

You will face this error when creating a symbolic link (using mklink for example) to a network path.

I encountered this when trying to workaround Visual Studio's insistance that projects not be opened from network drives.

Symbolic links can only be created on local drives.

Profile of Mac vs. PC users


Does your family know what you do?

A fictional conversation between me and a well-intentioned family members.

Them: I was telling Jim at work about what you do and I gave him your contact info, he's looking for a Web Designer.
Me: Oh. Ummm. I'm not a web designer.
Them: Yeah, but you do web pages.
Me: Actually, I'm an Integrated Technology Solutions Consultant. I solve business problems by engineering custom hardware and software to automa---
Them: ---BUT I've seen you do web pages, and you did that nice site for XYZ Inc.
Me: Well, yeah, but that was part of a bigger project, I was creating an extranet to expose an e-commerce component that I integrated with their legacy back-end information system.
Them: Yeah THAT ONE, that's what I mean, you made it look really nice.
Me: Actually I outsourced the design for that project, I just assembled their---
Them: ---AND you designed that site for ABC Ltd. and it looks nice.
Me: Yeah I guess, but that project had a slim margin and I just made do with my own---
Them: ---PERFECT. I'm sure that would be fine for Jim.
Me: I'm really trying to focus on Industrial Automation. What sort of business is Jim in again?
Them: I think mousetraps..., or maybe its metal scrap...
Me: Uh huh---
Them: ---It might have been house wrap... I wasn't really paying attention.
Me: Right.
Them: He was wondering what it would cost.
Me: Well, I usually don't touch anything for under $5000--
Them: WHOA why does it cost so---
Me: --- well, there are a lot of factors to consider, is it data-driven, there's the cost of writing a proposal, I write a project plan, analyse his needs, define the scope, stakeholders, risks, define metrics for success, I need to hire a designer and a photographer, the content needs to be written and proofread, I do A/B testing and penetration tests, there's documentation to be written, and of course I have to cover the overhead of rent, my assistant, insurance, etc.
Them: No, no, he just needs something simple, can't you just whip something up?
Me: Well, projects that seem simple have a way of bloating into megaproject---
Them: BUT he said a guy from the Yellow Pages called and said they'd do one for $70/month if he bought an ad, and it would have Flash, and---
Me: Well I've seen some of those sites... umm... if that's all he needs I'd say go for---
Them: ---But then he said his nephew was good at computers and he could do it cheap.
Me: Actually that's a great way for young people who are learning to gain experience, he should take him up on---
Them: ---but he wants it to look professional.
Me: Uh huh.
[awkward silence]
Me: Hey! I heard an ad for SquareSpace on TWiT -- it actually sounded like you can make some pretty nice sites from their templates and it's only like $8 a month.
Them: Yeah, I think his business is really going to take off. It's going to be BIG. You know, you need to take these small jobs to build up a reputation---
Me: Actually I'm really well respected among my peers. Remember all those articles I wrote and how well received they were? And I've never had to look for work since I started the business, my skills are actually specialized and there is a lot of demand---
Them: ---look, if you don't want to do it just say so.
Me: I don't want to do---
Them: ---I was just trying to help, and Jim's such a nice guy and I just thought---
Me: Fine. Tell him to email me.


AFI's 100 Years… 100 Movies

In 1998, the American Film Institute (AFI) unveiled a list of the 100 best American movies, as determined by a poll of artists and leaders in the film industry from a list of 400 nominated movies. It became a must-watch list for a generation of film buffs who had enjoyed the films when they were released, and a generation of budding film buffs who discovered these masterpieces for the first time.

This app encourages you to browse both lists, enjoy the original movie posters, make your own watch list, rate each of the titles, and learn about the directors, actors and writers of these films.

Awesome Tips and Tricks



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