Working in the Dark

mayday 709 Tools of the trade: Broom, mop, dustpan and whiskbroom.

This article will discuss techniques useful to the workers of the bicycle world. Although I try hard not to, sometimes parts are dropped on the floor. Sometimes, very small parts are dropped. On the preventative side, have a place arranged to place your small parts. Use a tub, or better yet keep them in the Park Tool MB-1 magnetic bowl.

Begin by keeping a tidy floor. Small items will show up much easier with less floor clutter. As with most work, tool selection is important. Swept the floor every night with fine bristle broom. Mop it at least once every week. Dirt and smug marks will cost you valuable seconds when looking for the clip/ball bearing/setscrew. An old habit of mine I cannot seem to break is to inspect the sweeping for any useful nuts, bolts, spacers or other items. Also, don’t be afraid of glasses. If you need ‘em, wear ‘em.

When that part falls, you should strike the iron while it is hot. If possible, try to notice the trajectory. Listen for a hit. Don’t panic, and don’t move just yet. Look around carefully before stepping away. If you cannot find it, begin with a visual sweep by moving from the outer perimeter working inward to where you estimated it should be.

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Remember trimming those cables and how little pieces flew? Keep the floor swept and reduce the chance that one will find your customer's tire.

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A 3/32-inch ball, small coil spring, a nut for a 3mm thread, a Shimano disc pad clip, and President Roosevelt to give some relative sizing.

As an example, we will play a game of “Where’s Waldo,” but possibly substituting a derisive statement for “waldo.” Above are our four contestants.

The view from above is often not very useful. The aerial view from above creates a two-dimensional view, and small part will get lost.

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See 'em?

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Even with parts outlined in blue, a close up view from above is still not so helpful

Get your eyeballs down low to the ground and see what it looks like to a mouse. Small items suddenly are given perspective.

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Any better? Look for anything sticking above the flats plains of Kansas here

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Does this help any?

So that didn’t work? Then it is time to come into the light. Get a good flashlight, turn it on, and then turn off the shop lights. Get the flash light down on the ground and play the beam across the floor, looking for the long shadow.

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The nut cast a nice long shadow

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There's that pesky clip!