More Work Stress

The saga of the drive chain continues.

I listened to one of my coffee roaster's main drive chains buck and kick for months before finally biting the bullet and getting it replaced. The owner's manual for the machine says that the chain could be lengthened or shortened at any bike shop. I assumed that meant the chain was a standard bicycle chain. Turns out that's not the case.

Yesterday while I was preheating the roaster I heard a loud "CLUNK!" and feared the worst, I have had the drive shaft from the flywheel snap off twice before, but that wasn't it, the upper drive chain had slipped off its sprocket. So I threaded it back on, oiled it and returned to pre-heating.

A few minutes later I heard another loud "CLUNK!" and ran in to look. The chain had slipped off again and was nowhere to be found. I felt around, poked around, looked... it was as if the chain had never existed. I posted this fact on Facebook and a friend suggested that maybe it had wrapped itself around the drive shaft. I felt around again and sure enough it was tightly wound around the shaft on the back side of the sprocket. I pulled it out with some effort and decided the problem couldn't be with the new chain, but must lie with the old, worn sprockets.

I removed two of the sprockets and brought them over to a local machine shop to see if they could manufacture some new ones for me, but the shop foreman said they were fine and suggested that it might be using the wrong size chain. He told me to go to a local store that sells industrial chain, and not the bike shop again. So off I went.

In the meantime I had tried contacting Probat, the manufacturer of my roaster, to see if they could just tell me what kind of chain I needed. I got a busy signal (I didn't even know those still existed!) a couple of times and finally got through to their voicemail, I also left a message through the contact form on their web site. Finally someone called me around 4 PM and told me that I needed #36x1/8" chain.

I called the chain store again and he had to look deep into his catalogs to find #36 chain listed. It turns out its a non-standard size and that he'd need to special order it. I told him to go ahead, he took my number and told me he'd call me back. A little while later he calls back, "I had a heck of a time getting a hold of anyone there! Finally a security guard answered the phone and told me that everyone is out for the rest of the week due to the New Year holiday." He will order it on Monday and he told me that my best bet would be to put the original chain back on. It might be a little stretched out, but at least it's the right size.

So this morning I came in and started putting my machine back together only to find that the original chain was one long length, instead of a loop. The guy at the bike shop had taken it apart so he could measure the length when he sold me the new one. Off to the bike shop to get the chain put back together, but wouldn't you know it, they don't open until 10 AM. Back to my shop to kill a half hour, back to the bike shop to re-loop-ify my old chain, back to my shop to install it and I'm back up and running.

Next week I'll get the new chain and install it. A couple of other adjustments and I should be good to go for the new year.

This is just another example of the stresses that I have to deal with at my day job. I got into the business because I wanted to roast the best beans possible, I never wanted to be a bookkeeper and a mechanic and a delivery boy and all the other things I have to be. I know, the tiny violin you have is playing just for me right now, and I do consider myself blessed to be able to have a job in the first place, and to be doing what I love. But stress sucks no matter who you are or what you do and it seems like stress is all I've been feeling about this for weeks now.

C'est la vie.


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