Saturday, 29 June 2013

Something for your Tool-Bag, Sir?

Dr Matt is at work today (Saturday), in part to find out which of these terms is the most apt self-definition, but mostly to assist with the dissemination of Work Package 4, otherwise known as a First World War digitisation project.  It must be pretty interesting, as he currently doesn't mind being inside, missing both the sun and Phil and Paul offering up such sensible strings of pearls as (on the Corsican Grand Départ breakaway), 'Well, they're just being silly with themselves, really'.

Which brings us to the first point of today's post.  How do you know if your balls are defective?  Well, the answer in most cases is simple:  if 'they are not spherical owing to war.'  They may also be 'in one or more pieces'.  Watch out, too, if they are worn, pitted or split.   Inspect regularly, and oil if necessary to avoid these embarrassments.

Such sage advice comes, as we're sure you know, from that most eminent of bedside reading, the Handbook on Military Bicycles, 1911.  Here it is:

Handbook on Military Bicycles, 1911. This artistic work created by the United Kingdom Government is in the public domain. Image: The British Library,
And here's the page with the useful information on ball-bearing maintenance.

The Handbook was issued to the many soldiers* in the First World War provided with a military bicycle.  The poor sods, must have made NCR4 look like the Regent's Park or an afternoon in LMNH.


*Or, rather, to the bicycle itself.  The handbook was to be kept in the tool-bag, and the person issued with the bike had to record the fact in the log at the rear. The bicycle could then be transferred to someone else, should the need arise... or should the worst happen.

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