"Disappointed in PA" writes:
It's taken me a while to write, but I have to tell you how disappointed I am with your Feb. 10th article titled "The Compulsive Mechanic's Best Friend". Back in PA, the attached picture was your best friend. I didn't think becoming a big-time blogger would change you, but I guess I was wrong.
(Worst eBay auction EVER.)
Now, for those of you who aren't well-versed in the ways of homemade tools, what "Disappointed" is holding there (in a hand that looks suspiciously like it belongs to my friend Bill) is my old poker-scraper, and no self-respecting bike mechanic should be without one. It's made by taking an old spoke (I used straight-gauge here, disregarding the advice of Jobst "I'm Smarter Than You, And Taller Too" Brandt), twisting a loop in the middle for pegboard hanging, grinding one end to a sharp point, and pounding the other end flat.
So what the heck does one do with a poker-scraper? Glad you asked. The flat end is great for scraping gunk out of small crevices and picking stuff out from between cassette cogs. It can double as a tiny flat-blade screwdriver in a pinch, too. The pointy end is perfect for opening up the smooshed liner of brake and derailleur cable housing after it's been cut. It's also useful for poking other mechanics in the shop -- not that I would ever do such a thing, of course.
Now, I don't want to pull a Gary Fisher here... I did NOT (repeat NOT) "invent" the poker-scraper. I was first introduced to the idea by head mechanic Paul at the shop where I worked in Iowa City. So Park Tools, if you're just salivating at the thought of slapping a blue handle on this puppy and making tens -- nay, dozens -- of dollars, write the royalty checks to Paul, not me.
Of course, "Disappointed" is right that becoming a big-time blogger has changed me since the days when I wielded this humble homemade poker-scraper. Now, I have a team of interns dedicated to flossing my cassettes clean, hand-filing the cut ends of my cable housings, and poking anyone I deem poke-worthy. Still, I like to keep a poker-scraper around for old times' sake. You never know when you might need to poke and/or scrape something.
So, Bill... er, "Disappointed in PA", sorry I disappointed yunz. Next time I'm out that way, I owe you a round of Yuenglings (wow, that sounds vaguely dirty now that I read it back...)