The Case of the Useless Valve Adaptor


Warning: the following article is even more boring than this picture

I’ve been rewatching Babylon 5 after 25+ years with my kids. I’m chuffed that they’re enjoying it, that they love G’Kar and also find Marcus intensely irritating. We’re in mid-season 3 where things are getting really interesting… But then arrives an episode like “A Late Delivery From Avalon“, which is needless filler and annoys us for ruining the flow. This post will be a bit like that, so feel free to skip ahead to Back to Apping, Part III, if you can. If you can’t, unfortunately it would appear that you live too much in the present, sorry!

You might recall that, in my previous post, I talked about things that needlessly suck away my time. A good example arrived promptly after I’d written that, and I thought I’d share.

I had to collect my son from school, so I wheeled out my bike and its trailer and, because I was a few minutes early, I foolishly decided to pump up one of the trailer’s tyres before I left. It didn’t really need doing.

(Now, my daughter had “borrowed” my bike pump in the summer, in an attempt to inflate a paddling pool that was never used, because the instant the pool was inflated, it rained for a week and then stayed relatively cold. Somehow she had managed to break one part of the pump, the connector for the very tyre valve that I now needed.)

Instead of adding a bit more pressure to the tyre, all I succeeded in doing was to expel the remaining air from the inner-tube. That’s why my son had to walk home with me.

The pump has two connectors for it, you see, the normal “Presta” one, which every other bike pump in the world has, and one for a “Schrader” valve. It’s the Schrader part I needed, and (of course) that was the one which was broken. I found three other old bike pumps in the shed, and none of them had this connector.

So I spent a while trying (and failing) to fix the broken connector. It wouldn’t lock. I suspect a vital piece was missing, a treat for future archaeologists to gush over when they dig up my lawn in they year 5000.

A normal person wouldn’t have bothered any more with this. They’d buy a new pump. If they were really flash they’d buy a new wheel. And, if they were filthy rich, I don’t think they’d have a bike trailer in the first place; they’d have a solar-powered helicopter or a Hyperloop direct to the school.

But, as others will gladly and maliciously attest, I’m not normal. When faced with a problem, I can’t rest until I’ve solved it – as cheaply as I possibly can. It occurred to me that I could buy an adaptor to turn the Schrader connection to a normal connection, and then use the working connector of my pump with it.

So, off I cycled to my local Hagebaumarkt (which is German for B&Q), and bought an overpriced small bag labelled “bike pump adaptor”, containing three different adaptors, one of which I knew should do the trick. And I cycled back, quietly confident it would work.

It didn’t.

Inflating a Schrader valve is as simple as it can be. There’s no chance to do anything wrong here.

bicycle-guider.com

The adaptor screwed on perfectly, the seal was good to my pump. But I couldn’t pump air into the inner-tube. Because, to do this with a Schrader valve, the inner-valve pin thingummy needs to be pushed down in order to let the air in, and the adaptor did nothing to push the inner pin. It merely entombed it.

No, the inner valve would not screw outwards. The adaptor was useless. Like a travel power adaptor with the right holes for your appliances’ plugs but none of the internal copper to conduct electricity from one end to the other.

But I wasn’t finished just yet. If the adaptor wouldn’t push down the inner valve pin, I’d need something else to do it for me. So I rummaged around in the dirt of a nearby flowerbed and found a tiny pebble, and I placed that in the adaptor and screwed it in. The pebble wasn’t so perfectly formed that it would block the air, but it did push down the pin like a charm, and I was finally able to pump up the tyre.

Life’s like that, sometimes. You try to fix something that’s not really broken, and you break it. And then you waste time getting back to Square One. Like your day, for example. I bet it was going just great until you wasted your time here. You didn’t need to read this twaddle. But now you did and you’re going to have to work hard to find a more interesting article to erase this experience from your head… Good luck! 😀

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