Equipment malfunctions

October 19th, 2008 by scott and becky

We never expected perfection from our equipment, but Scott is getting a bit grumpy with some of the failures we’ve seen. Back in June, our shifter lockups were the beginning, but since then Scott’s shock failed in New Brunswick too. DT-Swiss were very good about sending a replacement ahead to meet us in Florida – unfortunately it was the wrong length, but once Scott discovered the problem, they were also willing to overnight a correct-sized replacement.

Today, he finally took the failed shock apart, and it isn’t clear what caused the problem. Two washers in the main air chamber are definitely not in good shape. There was still significant pressure when he disassembled the main barrel (even after removing all the air from the shock per the documentation), and a loud “pop” when the barrel finally came free. We suspect that the plastic washer got damaged somehow and caused the mechanism to block. In any case, we don’t feel comfortable using it (even as a backup) without factory reconditioning. Scott has stripped it for parts which we can use on our good shocks if needed.

On the camera front, Scott is on his second Canon G9. The first died in Louisberg, N.S. – it just wouldn’t turn on any more, first with one battery, then with the second (all within two hours or so, so we don’t think it was the batteries). This was as we were visiting the Fortress of Louisberg, so very annoying. Fortunately, after a bit of convincing, Henry’s Camera was willing to replace the camera fairly quickly. We had purchased their extended warranty, which gave us a replacement for failure in the first 90 days. Unfortunately, the second G9 also misbehaved. At random, the backlight for the LCD display would turn off, but the screen would still be faintly visible. This started back in Fredericton, but we were unable to do anything about it until we reached Florida. There, Henry’s kindly hooked us up with a local repair shop (Southern Photo, in North Miami Beach), which was able to expedite repairs and get the camera fixed before we left on the freighter. We paid up front for the repair, but will get reimbursed under the terms of the Henry’s extended warranty. The repaired camera has worked very well for the last two weeks, so we’re crossing our fingers.

Becky’s camera behaved better until we took it snorkeling in Florida. It’s an Olympus 850SW, which is theoretically waterproof to 3m. We never took it below the surface, but water still got through the seals and caused the battery door switch to fail. Talking to the fine folks at Henry’s repair, this isn’t that uncommon, and Olympus is pretty good about fixing it. Unfortunately, it needs to go back to the factory for this, and we discovered that we didn’t purchase her camera through Henry’s, so there wasn’t much they could do to help. In the end, we decided to ship the Olympus home, and just buy an inexpensive new camera. Becky decided on the Canon SD1100IS, which is both smaller than the Olympus and takes much better pictures. It isn’t waterproof or shockproof, so no more pictures in the rain while riding, but it looks good so far.

And then there was Becky’s GPS. Becky’s GPS started randomly turning itself off in Quebec. After a while, she discovered that it was more likely to turn off on bumpy roads than on smooth ones. The initial mounting configuration caused a fair bit of vibration, which appears to be the cause of the intermittent failure. This is a common failure mode for many Garmin GPS’s if they are hard-mounted to a bicycle. Becky re-adjusted the mounting system which reduced the occurrence of the random shutdown for a few weeks. By the time we reached Nova Scotia, Becky decided that her GPS was not worth the trouble – it was shutting down too frequently. We emailed about getting it fixed, but it is no longer under warrantee, so it would cost over $100 and requires that it be sent back to Garmin.

Shortly after Becky’s GPS started acting up, her cheap backup bike computer randomly reset itself. A few weeks later, it was resetting itself at least once every other day. The challenge with the reset is that it resets the tire size to default. Our front tires are 20 inches – must smaller than the 26 inch default. In the end, Becky decided to replace both her GPS and her computer with a slightly upgraded computer (one that had ride time, distance, and a thermometer).

Hopefully this will be the last of equipment failures for a while.

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