Sunday, 14 July 2019

Wax for Car Wheels

I'm not one of those car washing enthusiasts, but I thought it might be instructive to share my experiences here.

My wheels get absolutely filthy with brake dust and they're quite hard to clean. After some research I bought a bottle of "Wonder Wheels Colour Active" and a bottle of "Collinite 845 insulator wax" and I'm very impressed with both.

Wonder Wheels is for cleaning. It comes in a spray bottle, it smells disgusting, it clings to the wheels and it washes off with water. It turns the iron from the brake discs into something bright red and water soluble (don't look at me if you've got carbon ceramic discs or sintered aluminium), it removes the pad dust too. It doesn't remove anything greasy so you might still need to get the shampoo out too.

Before (right) and During (left):

You can buy Wonder Wheels at Halfords, but if you can tolerate the indignity of going to Wilkinsons you can but it at half the price.

The Collinite on the other hand really costs, with delivery it was £30 for an American pint of the stuff (almost half a litre). It supposedly leaves a hard glossy layer which can withstand high temperatures. I found it easy to use and it leaves a very high gloss finish. My other set of wheels that aren't covered in stone chips and weight adhesive gleam like fine jewellery.

I've been to a track day since so the brakes have been smoking hot several times and the wheels are covered in dust. It pains me to admit it but the wax really works, you can just wipe the grime away with a cloth. Look at the finger marks in this photo!

Richard "14 inch minilite" B

Wednesday, 10 July 2019

Diggerland Devon Review

At the weekend I went to Diggerland and I thoroughly enjoyed it, although I suspect it would have been less fun if the weather was bad or the queues were long. I drove a skid-steer loader and a little dumper truck, both were severely speed limited and had the bucket controls locked off. I drove a full-sized wheeled excavator (but wasn't allowed to change out of first gear). I failed a dexterity challenge in a small excavator (which had the track controls locked off). I moved large buckets of earth around in another excavator that had the track controls locked off. I tried to stack some old tires using a tele-handler. I was lifted towards the sky in a large cherry picker and spun around in the bucket of another excavator until I felt quite sick.

The speed and throw limiters were so harsh than none of it felt quite dangerous enough, but the training I was given in each machine was so cursory and the supervision so light that it also didn't feel safe enough.

The weirdest bit of the park was the post-apocalyptic dodgems. I've seen old fairground rides before, but this was like something out of a horror film. The floor and the ceiling were heavily corroded, the entire structure (which clearly used to be mobile) looked dangerously unsound and whatever the floor stands on has collapsed in places. The fa├žade which should have been shiny and illuminated was dirty, broken and covered with cobwebs. Half of the cars were broken and they were being used to fence off the large dead spots where cars couldn't run. One of the cars was retired while we were using it, it was producing large smoky arcs and showers of white-hot metal.

It was great!

Richard "buckets of fun" B

Tuesday, 2 July 2019

Track Days Roundup

I've been on a couple of track days since I last mentioned them here, so I'll just give a quick summary of the least boring bits.

At Donnington Park we had a few hours of dry weather, followed by a short period of rain, followed by a tropical storm. In the 1970s your mum would hand a cloth around the car as soon as it rained so that the passengers could wipe the mist off the inside of the windows. My car misted up very badly and the experience was similar. If you got into top gear on a straight and had a couple of seconds before the next braking point you could just about wipe some of the windscreen and the drivers side window. The racing cars on the circuit didn't have front lights and my rear visibility was so badly compromised that it seemed rather too dangerous to be fun.

I took a complete novice out on circuit for the first time at Pembrey, and drove what I thought was a nice couple of demonstration laps. Early braking points, straight line braking only, no heel-and-toe. I then handed the car over to him and told him to do the same thing. He got the car up to about 100mph and then made a really limp attempt to scrub off speed while we hurtled towards a 2nd gear hairpin. At about 50mph he hauled the wheel over and sent us into a violent pirouette. To be fair he did get the clutch down and put on the brakes smartly and by the end of the day he was a solidly mediocre driver.

I offered to take him out again, but apparently being driven by me when I'm not driving the school line is violent and frightening.

I was frightened at one point. A slower car pulled over to the right to let us past and while we were two abreast we came across a stationary smoking car that was smashed into the Armco.

And my replacement radiator has already failed.

Richard "bad instructor" B

Tuesday, 25 June 2019


I have never and will never understand fashion. My sister is older than me and I can remember her complaining bitterly on the three or four occasions that wedge heels came back in to fashion after she'd thrown hers away. In the late 90s (I think) I was a great enthusiast when every young woman started to wear a choker instead of a necklace. What I don't know is how every single one of them got a memo on exactly the same day to tell them to switch back to necklaces.

It was hot and sunny at the weekend when I went out for breakfast with friends, and the tourists are out in force. You will not believe which awful fashion from ten years ago has cropped up again! And not just in Plymouth, it's seemingly a worldwide phenomenon.

Richard "behind the times" B

Sunday, 16 June 2019

I'm Better Than You

While we're a pair-bonded social species we still compete and organise ourselves into social hierarchies. We play competitive sports, watch televised singing contests and secretly judge our friends. I once got involved in a drunken "who's more upper class" competition and just recently one of my friends wanted a rematch on exactly that topic as he now has gout.

While I've never topped a squash ladder, lived in conspicuous opulence or stacked the skulls of my vanquished enemies there are two aspects of life where I'm pretty sure that I'm top of the tree. My vomit bucket is better than yours and my 6mm allen key is longer.

My vomit bucket is Dartington crystal and stylus engraved with my initials. It's heavy and stable, easy to wash up, has a wide mouth and is deep enough that there is virtually no splatter. It might have been sold as an ice-bucket for Champagne, but they clearly don't know what or how I drink.

My car recently got filled with water (in truth it wasn't even ankle deep) and I had to service the seat runners. It's impossible to get to both ends of the bolts that holds the seat in so I made this allen key extension.

notice the paunch in the bottom left of this photo - I need to eat less.

I've seen Ed China tackle the same problem by tack-welding the bolts to the seat runners but I can't weld and I don't want to give them any more excuse to rust. I've also heard rumours about a technique that involves having a friend inside the car while you're underneath with the spanner - but that doesn't sound practical.

Richard "call it a draw?" B

Tuesday, 11 June 2019

Party Weirdo

What do you call a scouser in a suit? - The accused.
In Leicester what do you call a smartly dressed woman from Nottingham? - The accused.

I've just come back from a lovely long weekend in Leicester, although it did include a hangover commensurate with coming home from a night of heavy drinking and being left unattended with three barrels of delicious beer.

When we were drinking in a nice little place (clean modern decor, modern cloudy craft beer with too much hops, organic carbon neutral ethically sourced scotch eggs etc.) we were approached by a smartly dressed woman who asked if she could sit and talk to us, she said that she'd had a hell of a day in court and wanted to have a drink. I assumed that she was a lawyer or a judge and that she would regale us with stories about the inner workings of the legal system and so I invited her to join us.

It very quickly became clear that she was very drunk and quite unhinged. What we learned was that Leicester's shit, it's all shit, court is shit and that it's all shit. She said that I looked overly gay, that one of my friends looked like a fucking copper and that the other looked like a tudor - and he wasn't even wearing his frock-coat and ruff collar! It turns out that she was only in there because she'd been thrown out of Wetherspoons!

We're a very democratic group and the two of us that wanted to leave got our way, while the one of us that wanted to buy tequila and see just how bizarre the evening could get was outvoted.

We had to go back to the same place later and retrieve a coat that we'd forgotten. Carol QC was still there but she was now asleep and we got the coat very carefully without waking her.

Richard "Steve Naive" B