It all began with the altitude bearings, which decided everything else mechanical about the re-design. Bigger means better, smoother tracking, as well as a smaller rocker box and better balance. That old particle board monstrosity had to go. So I got a piece of cardboard and made a template. I settled on a size that matched the diameter of the tube. As it is not a box shape, anything bigger would have started to get unwieldy. I also like the matching symmetry. I added cut-outs to lighten the load, and matched them to the circle cut-outs within the existing side bearings ... I insist it’s symmetry, not obsessive compulsiveness!
I briefly considered making the new bearing out of metal, but I’m no good at metalwork. Wood is another matter. So I checked in with my dad, a woodworker in the antique trade. Sometimes, when he can’t rescue an antique, he rescues the wood. He fished out a piece – old shelving – from under the house that he declared ‘‘pretty solid’’. It looked like grey gum (Janka scale rating of 14), ate a bandsaw, a jigsaw, two brand new blades and had scorch marks from the cuts by the time I had fashioned what I wanted.
Bonding my new wooden bearings to the existing metal ones was a crucial step in the process. I used Devcon FasMetal 10 HVAC 19770 - made in Massachusetts. It’s real strong. How strong? They glued Australia to the bottom of the planet with this gear, and it’s still there. OK, I made that bit up, but it’s serious stuff all the same: aluminium-filled two-part epoxy that I had to go to a specialist outlet for. I simply wasn’t prepared to risk anything cheaper that mightn’t work. I had a working time of 45 minutes or so and setting time of two hours, which suited me just fine. I roughed up the metal bearing surface, said a prayer, wondered briefly if it is possible to order replacement Lightbridge bearings, then took the leap of faith.