Thursday, December 31, 2020

Overjoyed: Cleared for takeoff in 2021

 Three days ago, my vision began to clear far more rapidly than it had in the previous six weeks.
Yesterday, my eye doctor declared it good, and canceled the upcoming surgery we'd scheduled just in case. What this means is that I can see well enough to ride my bike around the neighborhood, and that my eye has nowhere to go but up.
So today, I ran a few local errands. It was glorious. In bright sunlight things are still sketchy (note to self: get some cheap sunglasses!), but in cloudy daylight it's pretty good.
I rode all over the neighborhood, starting with a couple of Buy-Nothing Group errands and a trip to the Post Office, and ending with a grocery trip before heading home in the late afternoon sunshine.
It was glorious.

Tomorrow, since it's just another day for me, I'll probably enjoy another little ride, and spend some time jumpstarting things in the Brain Trust. I've got some projects I need to finish up move out to Catholic Charities and elsewhere.

Evidence photo:

I also installed a very small front basket on the singlespeed, a PDW Takeout Basket.
I'll do a writeup on this later, but once I sorted out the installation, it mounted nicely and is just the right size for the bike. Plus, since both my other bikes have a basket or rack up front, I was finding that the lack of a basket on this bike made the handling more squirrely; adding one calmed things down right away.

Wishing you all a 2021 filled with bike rides galore, and hopefully with friends as soon as it's safe.
Happy riding!

Tuesday, December 22, 2020

very s-l-o-w going: eye update and more

A couple days ago, the rain stopped and the sun came out. So I took a chance and took a short ride to the store, where I needed to pick up a prescription and fill in a few things.

It was actually nice out, unusually warm during a sunny break between rain storms. But with only one functioning eye, it was very slow going, as I struggled with gauging distance and bright sunshine (my eyes are very light-sensitive now, post-surgery). Still, it was nice to be on my bike, turning the cranks and feeling the breeze pass along my cheeks. And it was also lovely to be able to get somewhere without having to depend on Sweetie to drive me there, or taking the bus where levels of mask compliance have varied more than I like. (Homeless folks are riding Trimet basically all day just to stay dry and warm, and they may put on a mask to get on the bus, but they will take it off or pull it down from their nose once they've taken a seat. The driver can't really enfoce anything while operating a bus, so that's basically that.)

So I enjoyed my short ride of roughly two miles RT. By the time I got hme, the sky had darkened, the air got colder, and the rain started up after I'd gotten inside.

I've really enjoyed my singlespeed city bike. Taking care ti check and tighten the cranks and chainring bolts periodically and refill the tires as needed is about all the maintenance it's needed.

I enjoy the simplicity and the lightness of this bike, even as I sacrifice carrying capacity. I recently acquired a large front rack, and also a PDW Takeout basket and bag; I'm deciding which I want to mount on the front and I'm leaning towards the latter, simply because of its smaller size.

I hope to get out again this week during another dry spell. Even in the cold weather, a short bike ride around the neighborhood would do me some good.

Switching gears: I've noticed for some time now the increasing popularity of enamelware coffee mugs, a throwback to the cowboy days when you made your coffee in an enamelware pot over an open fire. The mugs are durable and hold up pretty well, they keep a cup of coffee hot long enough to drink it, and they've enjoyed a resurgence in the "Coffee Outside" fad. Companies all over are now selling brand new enamelware mugs emblazoned with their logos, with prices ranging between $20 and 40.

I recently acquired a set of old mugs for very little money, and decided to clean them up well and paint over the chips (outside only, folks). Thenl I decided to turn a couple of them into my own "Coffee Outside" mugs, using some leftover decals from my friend Tarik. His #tarkisalehbikeclub items have become ubiquitous among the older bike hipster crowd in Portland and elsewhere, and I thought one of the decals would work nicely on a mug.

Here's the first one I made up. I've offered to give it to Tarik if he wants it.

Below, is the second cup I did, a much older mug that I intend to keep for myself.

Why buy a bunch of new, expensive stuff when you can make it at home?

I'm pleased with how these worked out.
And I get a lot of satisfaction in making culture instead of consuming it so much.

What do you have lying around that you can convert and re-culturize for yourself? Have fun with it, and happy riding.

Sunday, December 13, 2020

Lights in the tunnel

 So I went to my eye doc for a checkup. After several rounds of eye drops and peeks through various machines, he gave me a verdict For Now:

-- He's seeing very slow but steady improvement in the graft adhesion, and would like to give it more time to improve before scheduling a re-do surgery. This means that I will keep doing what I'm doing -- eye drops every two hours while I'm awake and covering with an eye shield to ease light strain -- until my next checkup on December 30. At that time, he'll decide whether to proceed with the surgery in early January, or push the date out another couple of weeks.

-- If I feel brave, I can try riding a bike around my neighborhood. Obviously, distabnce and field of vision still remain issues, but if I stick to residential streets and short distances I should be okay.

-- I can resume wrenching on bikes at home, though seeing things up close will require that I use reading glasses.

I should be thrilled.

I'm not.

In fact, I feel super low-energy and kind of down. I know some of it is physical/seasonal -- I live with Seasonal Affective Disorder, IBS, and Crohn's and those things can sometimes be really pesky -- and some of it is just that it is cold and very wet outside and I haven't felt like being out in the muck.

Am I getting "soft"? Am I just lazy?
Or is it hard to get motivated when I have nowhere else to go during a pandemic?
Likely a bit of all of the above.

So tomorrow, I am making a promise to myself to bundle up, go out to the shed and kick on the tiny space heater, and spend some time working on bike projects that have sat too long.
I'm not yet sure how comfortable I feel trying to ride again, but we'll see.

Tonight, I'll bask in the Chanukah lights and my Sweetie's embrace.

If you're celebrating the return of the light this month in any form, enjoy the lights and the warmth and hope they bring. And let's all hang in there so we can see what the future holds for us as the days lengthen again.

Monday, November 30, 2020

Nothing to see here just now, except my new trailer

On November 11, I had the second of two eye surgeries for cataract removal and partial corneal transplant due to Fuch's Dystrophy. The first surgery on my left eye in September had been successful, with the only hiccup being the need to apply a second bubble to my eye to help with healing. By the time I was preparing for the second surgery my left eye had clearer vision and felt fine. I had no reason to expect a different outcome the second time around.
Sadly, there have been ongoing complications with my right eye,  requiring not one but two bubble re-applications. I was advised that if the second re-bubble didn't work, there was likely a problem with the transplant and I would have to go in for a complete do-over of the surgery on my right eye.
It has been a week and a half since the second re-bubble. In that time, there's been no improvement. I have a followup this Thursday and it's likely I'll have to start all over with this eye.

I tell you all this because it's why I can't ride a bike, or even walk very far. I have NO depth perception and that makes riding dangerous and walking risky on old, uneven sidewalks.
So I'm antsy to return to riding but I know it will be quite awhile before I can.

I've tried to stay busy otherwise, mostly by drumming daily and also by upgrading/downsizing my trailer. I sold the old Burley kid trailer I'd had for years, and replaced it with a used Travoy. I don't plan to haul guitar and amp to gigs anymore -- I'll take the bus or catch a ride as needed -- so having a big trailer no longer made sense. The Travoy comes highly recommended by friends and it folds down small enough to fit inside its own large fabric shopping bag. I bought an extra bracket and wheel guards to make it a little nicer; and I'll sew a rain cover from an old waterproof laundry bag. I think it will be perfect or larger grocery runs and scavenging at yard sales.

                                                                                        I got the previous model (2010-2019),  which is shown here:.     
Below it is the 2020 model which has a few new features but is essentially the same trailer made a little fancier.

For now, I'm content to wait and heal. But I'll be dreaming of bicycle rides to come.

Happy riding!

Friday, October 30, 2020

Finally, my workshop is complete: Wilton bench vise

Yesterday I noticed that someone was selling a smallish bench vise in the want ads.
I messaged him to ask if he would deliver it for a few bucks more. We agreed on a price, and he delivered it today.
I had to clean up and shore up the left end of my homemade work bench.

That took some time, as I had to remove the tiny hand-cranked wheel grinder that was there, sort and put away the random parts that had been sitting there for ages, and wipe down the surface. Then, I had to install a cover for the "dammit" gap at the back of the bench top.

Since my workspace isn't insulated, I have to trim license plates to fit into the spaces between the studs. It works well enough and is sturdy enough for me to place lightweight plastic tubs back there if I want. Mostly it keeps me from dropping things behind the bench and yelling "dammit" -- which is what I usually do before I then have to remove shelves and tubs from below to get at whatever I dropped.

Then, because I didn't have a space 2 x 4 sitting around, I decided to make do (for now, anyway) with a section of closet rod, trimmed to fit under the left side of the bench at an angle and screwed into the underside and the back wall for extra support. I didn't know how big the vie would be or how much it would weigh, but I wanted to be able to try mounting it if it would fit.

To keep the ends of the closet rod from splitting totally apart when I screwed them into the wall and benchtop, I fastened hoseclamps around each end near where I screwed it into place, to keep the rod from splitting and give the ends some additional support. It seems to have worked pretty well so far.

Not long after I got this set up, the seller delivered the vise, an older Wilton that was light enough to carry with one hand, but heavy enough to handle popping freewheels off and similar tasks.
I would ultimately need to add some support by scrounging up a length of 2 x 4 and cutting it to fit vertically under the bench, as I'd done on the other end of the bench. But for now installing the vise was straightforward.

I rode over to the local lumber yard for the right size bolts, washers and locknuts I'd need.
My largest drill bit is 1/4" so I drilled holes and then burred them out a little to expand them. I figured if I was careful I could thread the bolts into the holes and they'd screw in snugly.
Then I could atached the washers and nuts underneath and tighten everything down.

The finished vise will be a great addition to my workspace. I'm glad I waited until I could find a good one that would last.

Tuesday, October 27, 2020

Coffeeneuring Challenge 2020 #7: The accidental Coffeeneuse

I hadn't planned on making another Coffeeneuring trip this week, even though my eye surgery looms closer every day. I figured I could find a way to squeeze it in at the last minute.
But then my sister called and said, hey! Let's meet up. Since I'd already planned bike errands I decided to tack on a quick cuppa joe at an outside table somewhere.
We settled on the Starbucks at 15th and Fremont, since it would be at the end of my errand loop and then I could head home.

Wanting to ride the singlespeed again -- I've fallen in love with this bike! -- I loaded up my backpack with the box I planned to drop at the Post Office, and rode up and over the little hill in bright sunshine. The sun is carving a much flatter, lower arc across the sky these days, so I wanted to enjoy the warmth while I could.

The Chrome backpack is an older model that was really designed for errands by bike, for messengers and others; its size and shape accommodate mailing boxes nicely with room to spare.

Riding on such a bright afternoon is challenging these days, thanks to my being between eye surgeries. The surgeries address both cataracts AND my need for partial corneal transplants in each eye. After the first surgery in mid-September, my left eye became immediately more light-sensitive, to the point where my first few weeks of rides have required me to wear sunglasses. Today, with the sun not as high in the sky, I decided to try riding without sunglasses. It wasn't as bad as before, though it wasn't ideal, either. My ophthalmologist has told me that over time my brain and eyes will adjust, but in the meantime it has been interesting to ride on sunny days. I am hoping that after the second surgery and some time, both my eyes will adjust so that I might not need sunglasses to ride.

After dropping the box off at my Post Office, I continued on down the other side of Sabin hill to the Fremont Starbucks, which was not far from where I needed to make an ATM deposit.

I parked and ordered coffee and an egg sandwich. As I finished my order, my sister pulled up and we grabbed an outside table.

I kept my mask on until S. had gotten what she wanted, then took it off to eat and drink.

After I finished my little lunch, I noticed an uptick in pedestrian traffic, and decided to put my mask back on, even though technically it wasn't required. I figured I'd see how it felt, since it seems likely we're headed into a time when restrictions will be increased again.
It actually was fine. I had no difficulty breathing or talking.

While we sat and talked, a guy walking by called out, "I like your bag!"

He pointed at the patches that basically covered the front flap of my backpack, and smiled broadly.

I admit it. I covered my bag with patches to personalize it and set it apart from the thousands of other bags Chrome has made. But it also brightens up an all-black backpack rather nicely, and shows off one of my favorite Coffeeneuring awards from previous years.

I also watched in awe while my sister simultaneously carried on a conversation and crocheted a brand-new pattern. Here's a little video of the master at work.

Yeah, she's amazing.

I wanted to get going before the sun sank low enough to make things cold again, so we said our goodbyes and I pedaled off, taking a scenic loop to find a gentler slope past the ATM and back up Sabin hill and then home.

On the way, I passed ReRun, one of my favorite second-hand shops. It was open for business, with racks of clothes in the parking lot and a sign requiring face masks for entry.
I didn't need anything so I rode past, and stopped briefly to admire the sky.
Looking at the bike rack I'd leaned up against, I saw this and couldn't resist.
Sadly, it's not so true anymore, especially in inner northeast Portland where expensive condos are breeding like rabbits these days.

I was really enjoying the sunshine, knowing that in another hour it would begin to fade and temperature drop. So I worked up some sweat to stay warm while riding back up the hill, and then meandered home while admiring turning fall leaves and the dry breeze gently rushing past my cheeks. 

And that is officially a wrap for my 2020 Coffeeneuring Challenge. Nothing terribly ambitious, but I'm glad I was able to participate. I will be spending my remaining free bike time in the Brain Trust, whipping as many bikes into shape as I can before my surgery, so I can get through as much of the stack as possible and have some space to work with when I resume wrenching sometime in January.
Special thanks to Mary G. for letting me start early so I could get in all my rides before my eye surgery. I know it's all in fun (and coffee!), but still I want to play by as many of the rules as I can.
For those of you completing your Challenge within the official allotted time, enjoy every ride and every cup of coffee along the way.

Monday, October 26, 2020

Coffeeneuring Challenge 2020 #6: Koken Coffee

It turned cold a couple days ago, coming in with some big wind gusts that made it even colder.
Today the wind calmed down and the temps warmed -- a little. The morning low was 35F, and the afternoon sunshine warmed things up to around 50. Bundled up against the cold, I tweaked my singlespeed one last time, swapping a laprade seatpost I'd finally scored, and then I set out for a brisk spin.


I managed a couple fast residential sidestreet loops around the far side of Woodlawn Park, primarily to meet the minimum two-mile suggested ride length, and then meandered over to MLK and Dekum, where I decided to give Koken Coffee a try.

They'd set up the space last year but were delayed in opening it until August. Now, they're offering fresh roasted Ethiopian coffee and select brunch items to go.

There was a picnic table facing east, which was bathed in sunshine, so if I sat there I'd be warm.

I ordered a cup of hot coffee and sat down outside to enjoy it.

The location is around the corner from the convenience store space, also called Koken [Market], that the family owns and operates.

If you didn't know where to look, you might miss the cafe; but brightly painted walls and a sign help mark the place.

The coffee is roasted on-site in a back room, with beans imported from the family's native Ethiopia.

Ethiopian coffee actually isn't my favorite; it's lighter than the dark roasts I normally like, and ends with note of fruit and flowers. If that's your thing you'll like this. It tasted fresh and lovely. Pro tip: Skip the creamer and just get some sugar if you need sweetener. The only thing they had on hand was some non-dairy flavored creamer that's pretty awful. The coffee is good enough black and I was happy to just take a little sugar in mine. Bonus: a cup of hot fresh coffee is no more than I'd pay at Starbucks, and this is a super-local small business I'd rather spend my limited funds at anyway.

I enjoyed my coffee at the picnic table, soaking in the sunshine and letting it warm my face.

While I sipped my coffee, I looked around at all the recent construction along Dekum.
In the past two years, several older houses had been removed and were replaced by three- and four-story apartment buildings whose architecture is what I'd call Hipster Brutalist: klunky blocks in earth tones.

Not the most inspiring look, but with houasing being at such a premium, replacing single-family dwellings with apartment probably made the most sense -- even if the new apartments cost more to rent than a couple of the smaller houses had.

I finished my coffee, unlocked my bike and took another longish loop back home, to put a total of four miles on my ride. I'm really enjoying my singlespeed these days. It's light, simple and easy to pedal since lowering the gearing on it. A perfect bike for urban coffeeneuring. I'm waiting for a slightly larger saddlebag to arrive, and I still need some way to carry a cup (though the latter will make the bike look more cluttered than I qwant, so maybe I'll just carry coffee in a thermal bottle  and call it good).

Thanks to Mary's dispensation, I will start and finish my Challenge early so I can get all my rides in before my second eye surgery, which is coming up soon.
Weather permitting, I'm planning a multi-modal ride for my seventh and final Coffeeneuring ride next weekend. If I have time to add an extra rider before my surgery, I will; but I'm not making any promises. I have a couple more bikes to finish working on and some manuscript to write out before my surgery (because afterwards, I won't be able to see clearly for a little while).

But I'm glad the fall weather has been sunny and brisk, and very pleasant to ride in.
Happy riding!

Monday, October 19, 2020

Coffeeneuring Challenge 2020 #5: Vaccineuring

This is more likely a candidate for January's Errandonnering festival, but I had to do it now.
It was past time for my flu shot. Not usually a huge deal, except for folks like me who are immuno-compromised and therefore need to take a little more care.
So I rode over to Safeway Pharmacy and stood in line.

The Pharmacy is inside the grocery store, and when you're waiting your turn you have to stand in a line that goes down an aisle, everyone spaced six feet apart and masked.

This did not make me feel noticeably safer. But this being Medicaid, you take what you can get, and give thanks that it's available and affordable. That's my One Good Thing today.

So I waited in line, filled out a form, handed it in and was shown to a small waiting room next to the Pharmacy counter. Where I waited a little more until the Phmaricy tech came in and gave my shot. The whole thing probably took 45 minutes, with most of that just waiting.

When I was done, I had a nice new band-aid on my left arm, and was ready to head out.

There was nothing else pressing this morning, so I stopped in at Starbuck's across the street to get an Iced Foofy Drink, which I enjoyed on the ride and finished at home.

I often pass this intersection on my neighborhood loop. It's home to a former mom-and-pop store that was pushed out of business when the 7-11 went in across the intersection. This is the shape of things around here, and everywhere I guess. Gentrification removes local color of all kinds, and replaces it with monoculture.

The longtime locals have responded to this in some colorful ways.

I use the still-empty store as a marker of sorts. I've lived in the neighborhood for almost two decades, and I figure that when someone is finally able to develop this lot, the gentrification process here will be nearly complete.

It's a shame. There's no way corporate culture will allow the small, local shops to compete with their franchises, so out they go.
This one was simply driven out of business by 7-11's lower prices and longer open hours. Sometimes that's really all it takes.

When I got home, I did a little more tweaking on my "new" singlespeed, which I'm really enjoying on my neighborhood rides. I swapped in a more comfortable saddle and added a safety triangle in back.

Bikehack: If your safety triangle won't hang flat because the vinyl has scrunched up, simply use a section of spoke to hold the bottom edge straight. It also adds a tiny bit of weight to keep the thing from flapping too hard, and improves visibility from the rear.

Next weekend, the weather's supposed to turn quite cold but remain fairly dry, a perfect opportunity for a longer ride and maybe some migratory fowl sightings if I'm lucky.
Happy riding!

Saturday, October 17, 2020

Coffeeneuring Challenge 2020 #4: Luncheoneuring at La Cocina

After five days camping with my sister and not doing a whole lot of physical activity, I was really ready for a ride today.
I planned to meet up with someone from Cascadian Courier Collective PDX to pick up my order of one of their cool cycling caps, and we decided on an intersection near their HQ. I chose to ride my "new" singlespeed, since I had adjusted the gearing by installing a smaller chainring and tightened everything down. The ride was easy and fun, except for the saddle (more on that later).

I ordered lunch at La Cocina, a quesadilla that promised guac, sour cream, cheese and shredded chicken.
I got everything but the sour cream, and since I was meeting up with someone I didn't feel oike hassling about it (it was included in the cost, so whatever).

As quesos go, it wasn't bad. The outdoor seating was spaced far enough apart for my comfort level, and I wore my mask unless I was actually eating or drinking.

My beverage on this sunny afternoon was a glass of ice water, that paired well with the slightly zingy guac.

I enjoyed some people-watching while eating and waiting for my cap delivery.

                 (Not this cap. I wore this one on my ride.)

While I finished lunch, a nice fellow from CCC-PDX stopped by to deliver my new cap.
All cotton and black, very classy, and it will fit my tiny head better after a washing.

Afterwards, I headed home, stopping at the drugstore to pick up a prescription. The sky was clouding over quickly, and I wanted to be home before the possibility of rain because I hadn't taken a jacket with me.

The one bummer about riding during the COVID times is that public restrooms aren't nearly as available now. So I have to ride around and look for someone doing a remodel -- and hope the porta-potty is unlocked. (With Crohn's and IBS, this can sometimes become quite urgent. Thankfully, Portland will always be under construction, at least until the final collapse of capitalism, so I can usually find one along the way.)

It was a lovely afternoon and I was so glad to get back on my bicycle.

The saddle issue will need to be corrected. I installed this light brown saddle thinking it would look nice. It does, but it's not actually leather -- which my tender butt can't handle these days.
So I'll pull it and try something else.
I'm enjoying this singlespeed bike and plan to keep it at least through next spring or summer. After that I'll see if it makes sense to keep it longer.

Anyone want a saddle, cheap? It's similar in size to a B-17, just a little firmer than my girly-butt likes. If you like the Cambium, this will work fine for you. $30 bucks includes shipping in USA.

Happy riding!

Saturday, October 10, 2020

Coffeeneuring Challenge 2020 #3: reuse, repurpose, recycle, enjoy.

 The rain came to Portland today, and it was delicious.

I had a hankrering for one of my One Good Things -- sushi -- so I rode over to Mio for a to-go Sashimi box. (Below: Evidence of participation. Thought this would be more attractive than a shot of me in mid-chew...)

The air was cool and damp, and I rode around until I found a covered spot to enjoy my lunch. I found a nice long bench under cover at the PCC-Cascade bookstore, where I enjoyed my lunch while watching fast-moving clouds come in from the west.
By the time I'd finished, I needed to don my rain gear because the clouds were directly overhead and began sharing water with the ground.
I may be tired of it by March, but the first rains of the fall are always a delight.

On my home, I swung by the Re-Claim It! store, a source for many of my craft projects (some readers may remember the Torah case, or ark, that I built from a reconsctructed planter box and old license plates, most of which I got here).
They are allowing ten people at a time into the shop with masks and distancing, and no one can spend more than ten minutes at a time inside. So I feel pretty safe here.

I didn't have a plan, but hit paydirt when I found these little flooring samples made of recycled rubber. At only 3.5 inches square, they're not useful for much, but I tapped one with the eraser end of a pencil and found enough rebound to act on a hunch. I bought several of them for a dime apiece and took them home.

Continuing on, I reveled in the sight of turning leaves everywhere I looked. Because of the dry summer, the colors aren't as brilliant as they could be, but there's still plenty of beauty to see before it all falls to the ground.

At home, I pulled out the flooring samples and found that my hunch was a good one: for drummers accustomed to playing high-tension drums, these would serve as portable, very novel miniature practice pads. I'll add a key ring to each one, and they'll make nice gifts for a few of my drummer friends.

I might keep one for myself, too.
Happy riding!

Tuesday, October 6, 2020

Start to finish in pictures: My new Singlespeed bike. It's a keeper.

In early June, I jumped on what I thought was going to be a three-speed bike. I planned to buy it and fix it up in time for Society of Three-Speeds' fall event. I bought it for ten bucks. I it needed a lot of work, including a rebuild on the rear wheel; but it was all there.

As the summer wore on and I got busy with fixing bikes for other folks and preparing to lead High Holy Days services, the bike inched along in progress. I'd remove a wheel or clean something and then set it aside. Finally, I was able to to take some time in late August and just hang out with this vintage Roadmaster for a few days.
This actually included putting it in the stand, sitting across from it and sipping coffee while I started at it.
The bike definitely had issues. The frame was faded and a bit rusty inside, and the wheels were rusted to the point of corrosion, especially the rear rim.



I realized that, because of how far gone both wheels were, it would actually cost me more time and money than I cared to spend to bring it back as a three-speed. I also realized that, between having to support a third wheel/tire size in my stable and not being all fired up about three-speeds, I knew I'd have to move this along or turn it into something else.

So I began to re-vision this as a singlespeed townie bike.

I had most of the parts already except for a better fork. I decided to get a 26 x 1 3/8" fork with better dropouts, and use 26"/559 mountain bike wheels with street tires. When a pair of red tires fell into my lap for ten bucks, I suddenly realized what kind of Singlespeed it would be, and that if it worked out I'd keep it for myself.

After swapping in the smaller wheels:

 At this point, I had a coaster-brake rear wheel that was easy to swap in. I rode the bike around the block to see how it felt and realized two things:

a. the coaster brake wasn't enough to stop someone my size safely and quickly by itself, so I'd have to add a hand brake for the front wheel.
b. The cottered crank had slippage in the left-size crank arm, which meant I'd have to open it up and either overhaul it or replace it. Ugh.
I have the tool to remove crank cotter pins, ad it works great; but the system itself is klunky and really heavy. So if I opened it up, I sort of didn't want to simply clean it up and put it back together.

Since the frame had been made in the US, swapping in a cartridge bottom bracket and modern singlespeed crankset wouldn't be a problem. So in the end that's what I did.

Finally, I set about replacing the original fork with its cheesy, pressed metal dropouts with a chrome stock fork with real dropouts, stronger and better for the quick-release wheels going on.
And I found a better handlebar/stem combo from my parts pile that would allow me to ride slightly more upright and comfortably, and finished off the bike with a pair of caliper hand brakes.

The current gearing is 44 x 22, much lower than the bmx standard of 44 x 16 but still a tiny bit high for my aging knees. I'll live with it until I can find a 40t or 38t chainring, not a huge rush right now since I'm not riding very far on the bike. I'll probably also look to eventually swap in a lighter seatpost and saddle (though for now what I've got works fine).

I added a small saddle bag to hold tools and a lock, fenders for the rainy season, and platform pedals with plenty of grip, and took it for a ride today. Once I'd dialed in a few final adjustments, it was delightful and I can't wait to take it on longer rides around the city.

The finished bike.