Thursday, July 2, 2009

Random Oddities

Today I ran into two, random, unrelated items that just struck me as worthy of comment.

The first I found when I was removing the bottom bracket on an old Givin/Proflex dual suspension mountain bike. The bike itself is a bit of an oddity, as you really don't see very many of them at all. I can only recall seeing two in the six years I've been working in bike shops, and I've never seen one outside of a shop. It's apparently from the early 90s, and was pretty hot stuff in its day. An odd looking machine, but I was surprised by how light it was, and how well it rode. Granted, noodling around a parking lot isn't an exhaustive test for a "dually". (I'll try to post pics of this bike if I remember to get a shot before the owner picks it up.)

The odd thing in removing the bottom bracket was the labelling on the cups that screw into the frame. As you can see in the picture to the left, they say "KSS SCHWEINFURT BSA 1.37"x24-68-TF-L". The "BSA 1.37x24-68" part simply refers to the threading standard used in the parts. I'm not sure what the TF stands for, but L probably means "left" since this is the left cup.

But the part that caught my eye was the first part... KSS SCHWEINFURT must mean that the assembly was made by KSS, in the German city of Schweinfurt, long known for ball bearing manufacturing... and for being the site of two major air battles during World War II. I remember hearing from my dad about the "Schweinfurt Raids" (Schweinfurt-Regensburg and Second Schweinfurt), and how so many American bombers were shot down or heavily damaged trying to destroy the ball bearing plants. The bomb group my dad was attached to flew both missions, and had a rough time both times, but especially on the second raid. My dad was stationed on the ground, and loaded the bombs both days, but I still remember him talking about how they waited and counted the returning planes. There were a lot missing on the second raid. It was all part of the attempt to wreck the war manufacturing plants of Nazi Germany, the success of which I believe is debated to this day. What isn't debated is how awful it was to fly those missions, and how many young men lost their lives flying them.

The second oddity of the day was much less serious. As we were getting ready to close up shop for the day, John called out to me "Do you want a frog?" To which I reasonably responded "Huh?!?!" "Out by the dumpster", he said... and sure enough, upon looking, I saw this large, cast frog sitting by the dumpster... or rather, one big frog with several small ones on top of it, as part of the casting. No doubt some sort of yard decoration... and since I have an affinity for amphibians that dates to my childhood, I did actuall pause and think about it. But no, I really don't need a large hunk of frog! Worth a picture though, don't you think? Odd, odd, odd.

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