Saturday, September 04, 2021

Fixin' Up Ol' J.B.

My battered and well used Topeak Joe Blow floor pump.
 It was about 2007, I'd say. Most likely over Spring break when the kids were out of school. We took a family vacation to see the relatives in El Paso, Texas. That would have been back when I was in the thick of things with "Twentynine Inches", the 29"er website I wrote and reviewed product for back then. El Paso has mountains, by the way. Real mountains. So I jumped at the chance to take a couple of test sleds down to ride in Franklin Mountain State Park. I had all the requisite gear packed up for the trip, or so I thought. One crucial piece of equipment had been left behind. 

A floor pump.

So, I searched for some bike shops in the phone book, (remember those), since Amazon wasn't a thing back then. I found a recommended shop called "Crazy Cat Cyclery". I went in, and asked about getting a floor pump. All they really had were a couple of Topeak models. I ended up with a Joe Blow model. I think it was less than 30 bucks, as I recall. 'Good enough', I thought to myself, 'I'll likely never use it again once I get back home.'

Famous last words. 

Signs of years of use.

I not only used it again, but I used it again, and again, and again! It became the defacto "Guitar Ted Productions" gauge of air pressure and I used it probably six days a week on average. Sometimes multiple times per day. I used it on tubeless set ups, on my Presta valve wheels, (most of what I have), and on my utility bikes, which are mostly Schrader valved bikes. This went on and on until I reviewed a Silca floor pump in 2018 and then that pump pretty much took over the daily pumping routine. By this time, that ol' Joe Blow had some issues.

Mostly it wasn't staying on the valve after a few pumps. The rubber gasket was shot. I figured, ya know, since it was so old, and cheap, that there would be no replacement parts available. I related this feeling to a then co-worker of mine, who happened to be the buyer for that shop. He took it upon himself to check into things, and lo and behold! there were replacement parts available for that Joe Blow pump!

Old used up gasket on the left. New bits on the right.

The order was placed, and I received the parts, but for one reason or another, I just muddled along with ol' Joe. I'd hold the pump head on by hand, and anyway- this was just a shop pump now. Relegated to the dank darkness of the G-Ted Laboratories. (Trust me, it's dark AND dank down there!) The parts went into a drawer. I didn't even bother think about any of this until late one evening recently when Mrs. Guitar Ted insisted I find my COVID vaccination card, which I had misplaced. "Let's see, is it in THIS drawer?', I thought as I systematically removed things one by one from the drawer. 

New bits installed and another decade-plus of life injected.

 And then I came across the parts!

(By the way, I did find the vaccination card as well!) So, now I have revived ol' Joe Blow- finally - and he works good as new! A little worse for wear, but it's just cosmetic stuff anyway. Character lines! Signs of a well used life. And there will be many more days and years to come with it now. 


baric said...

The Joe Blow is a great pump. Had mine about as long as you've had yours only mine still looks slightly better. I've even used it to pump up truck tires occasionally in a pinch. What a workout! So where could one get spare parts for Ol' Joe Blow?

Guitar Ted said...

@baric - Yeah, I've pumped up my truck tires with my Joe Blow also! Ha! You are correct- it is a workout!

I guess those pump head bits came from Topeak or one of our distributors. I don't know because I did not have a hand in ordering them. I would contact Topeak and see, or get your LBS on it to find parts for it.

Max T. said...

Bit late to comment. The Joe Blow is an amazing pump. It’s been my dad’s pump since about 2005 I guess. I’m 29 now, so It was also my “childhood” bike pump. Been in heavy duty action ever since, as my dad and I have always ridden our mountain bikes A LOT. When I get home to my parents now it’s still there, reliable as ever. Was very happy to see it on here. I myself got a sks floor pump which does the job but doesn’t feel as stable and just has not the same feeling. Keep it up!