Sigg’s aluminium and stainless steel drink bottles had a degree of quality about them in a world of cheap and sweaty plastic, which is the Devil’s own job to keep clean. Olde Graveller has for many years used a treasured ‘retro’ stainless flask with an over-centre stopper-lock just like those on Corona pop bottles delivered to his Granny’s house by a horse-dray in the 1950s.
As all things must pass, so did the sealing washer. Buy a replacement at a Sigg stockist? Not so simple: this bottle type has been discontinued, and a demerit to Sigg for not keeping spares available to keep perfectly good bottles out of the recycling bin.
Anyway, an email to Sigg followed, and the people at the UK end of the operation went to the trouble of finding a couple of sealing washers and sending them to Graveller Towers, gratis. Thanks gents, and unless Mrs Graveller sits on it, the bottle should see out Grav’s declining years.
Olde Graveller is not one for complaining. He spends much of every day whistling ‘Always look on the bright side of life.’ That is well known, but sometimes even he is moved to put finger to keyboard.
Earlier in 2015 Grav treated himself to a new velocipede: a Specialized Diverge, which is essentially a civilised cyclo-crosser, with disk brakes and decently low gears. And very good it proved to be in all departments except the braking. Even with the calipers properly centralised, and the pad clearances adjusted, both brakes ‘pulsed’ in even moderate use ‑ rather like an early anti-lock system on a motorcycle. It came and went. On one ride it was so bad at the back that Grav checked the headset and looked for a frame breakage at the side of the road. Readjustment usually made it go away, but it was back inside one short ride. The bike went back to the dealer ‑ FW Evans in Gateshead ‑ where a helpful workshop guy tried it, agreed there was a problem, and had a fiddle. It was better, but the problem was soon back.
A web search found a lot of comment about this issue, mostly regarding cable-pulled brakes on road bikes, and not Specialized in particular. Plainly something was wrong. Graveller wrote to FW Evans on 11 May, setting out the problem, and asked them to contact him to say how they would fix it. At the same time he made contact by email with Specialized in the USA, and with the brake manufacturer, TRP, in the USA and the UK. All three made contact very quickly. Specialized said to take the bike back to FW Evans and that the factory technical people would liaise directly. TRP in the USA were even more helpful. They candidly said that the heavily scalloped and drilled disks as fitted may be the cause, and they sent a set of ‘more-metal‑less-hole’ disks across the Atlantic by fast courier, free of charge. These were fitted after a bit of a struggle in removing the six ‘torx’ screws holding each original disk, and once the pads had bedded back in the brakes worked well at both ends, with no pulsing. Olde Graveller was happy once more.
So there you are. Excellent service from Specialized and particularly TRP in America, while FW Evans over in sunny Gateshead (about 8 miles away) still has not bothered to make contact after nearly four weeks. Graveller has had this sort of can-do customer care from the States before with Patagonia and Cannondale ‑ even the Atlantic Ocean is no barrier to getting things fixed. This side of the pond only Rohan seems to have the same attitude (which is good, given that their quality control is still a bit iffy).
Footnote. September 2015. Even with the new disks fitted, the braking was still not quite right. A set of sintered pads (not an ‘expensive’ make) was bought from Mr Amazon, and fitted. Another noticeable improvement, but the whole set-up is still not as positive and pull-responsive as the rather ancient Deore hydraulics on Grav’s MTB. What’s that you ask? Did FW Evans get back? No, they did not.
Saving is generally a good thing. ‘Jesus Saves!’ said the poster in Cullercoats many years ago, and some desperate Toon fan (is there any other sort?) had written underneath ‘but Wyn Davies scores from the rebound.’ Albert Einstein once said, ‘The most powerful force in the universe is compound interest.’ Olde Graveller has no knowledge as to whether Wyn and Albert ever played in the same team.
Anyway, Kate Ashbrook of the Open Spaces Society has penned Saving Open Spaces, a 28-page potted history of, and prospectus for, the Open Spaces Society ‑ 150 years young and still with some of the original members. How many people who use public paths have any knowledge of the long and uphill struggle to get them surveyed and recorded in the first ‘definitive map and statement’, which was started 65 years ago? It took a further 50 years to get a ‘right to roam’ in England and Wales. The definitive map system of recording and protecting public paths is one of the jewels of post-war social legislation; how long until the current crop of barrow-boys, with their neo-con hatred of ‘public service’, pull it down, or flog it off to the French?
It’s a fiver to buy (Google the Open Spaces Society to find ‘publications’) and a pleasure to read.