Wednesday, 14 April 2021

It's Dead Jim

 A couple of years ago I killed a deer with a heavy motorbike. It was an accident and it was pretty frightening and upsetting (even more so for the deer than for me) but one of my friends can still find it funny from one particular point of view.

It was dark and raining. I was approaching a roundabout in the left lane of a dual carriageway. In a parking place on the left there were a few cars, parked badly, flashing their hazard lights and there were a people milling around. I didn't know what they were looking at or what they were doing, but I felt the effect of a strong "somebody else's problem" field. I thought "whatever that is I'll give it a wide berth". I changed lanes to the right and then instantly hit the deer which was sitting bloody and crumpled in the road.

My friend likes the story of the person who accidentally hit a deer with their car but didn't kill it, standing distressed in the rain wondering what to do. Along comes a motorbike which swerves towards it, finishes it off and doesn't even stop. When I had regained the balance and control of the bike I had already joined the roundabout and I was swept away by the flow of traffic.

Richard "Venison" B

Monday, 12 April 2021

Easter Eggs

 This Easter I did a lot of technical cooking. Nobody gave me a chocolate egg, but I am being given a lot of hens eggs, so I decided I would like to be able to make an old fashioned egg custard. The temperatures, timings and techniques are quite critical but I'm happy with what I can now produce. Sadly the recipe I'm experimenting with is for Crème Caramel so I also need to be able to make caramel. The caramel is even more sensitive than the custard. You only need to make the slightest mistake and it's too pale, too dark, too runny, stuck in the pan, burned, or crystalized. At the moment I can make a pretty good Crème Suspension of Sugar Precipitate.

Richard "Happy Zombie Jesus Day!" B

Tuesday, 30 March 2021


 I recently completed the UK census form and there were two question missing that I think should have been included. Firstly "Do you like the ewoks?" A much smaller survey suggests that there's a positive correlation between the answer to that question and date of birth. I believe that the line crosses from dislike, through indifference to like some time in the mid 70s.

The other question is "which shop sells the best pasties?".

When I was a child the answer was clearly Ivor Dewdney. It was a difficult an eye opening day in the early noughties when I had to admit that Oggy Oggy was better. It happened so slowly that I never noticed that Ivor Dewdney pasties had got soggy, greasy and insipid, and I would never have changed my allegiance. I was in the city centre having lunch with a girl I had just stated going out with and she went to the "wrong" pasty shop as though it were the most natural thing in the world - and she turned out to be right.

An even worse experience for pasties than choosing the wrong shop is to move away from Plymouth. My oldest friend studied in the East Midlands and told me about his delight (followed by horror) when he found a bakery selling "pasties" which turned out to be shortcrust monstrosities, crimped along the top and containing mince and carrots! He now lives in the South East and while you can buy a pasty there they're neither good, ubiquitous or convenient and they're priced as though they're an exotic luxury from a far-off land.

Richard "maybe it was a cocktail pasty from a giant's buffet" B

Tuesday, 23 March 2021

Washer Bottle Slime

 This week I want to talk about an affliction that nobody ever mentions. I don't know if it's because it's so rare or so shameful, but other than myself, I only know a couple of people who have suffered with "washer bottle slime". The windscreen washer jets in your car deteriorate and then eventually fail, and when you find the blockage it's a mass of sludgy slime in the washer bottle.

I first came across this problem in my mum's Ford Fiesta Mk3. The slime was blue/green in colour and we assumed it was caused by an incompatibility between detergent based screenwash and alcohol based winter screenwash. Just recently I had to take the washer bottle out of my Hyundai i40 for the same reason. It was blocked with grey/green slime and I did start to wonder if it was alive. I once bought a Landrover Discovery and one of the conditions of sale was that the washer bottle be disinfected. The screen wash jets produced such an unpleasant smell that there was a serious disincentive to using them.

Richard "screenwash" B

Tuesday, 16 March 2021

Fuel hose

 When I watched the Netflix documentary "Black Fish" I was darkly amused to find out just how naughty a disgruntled killer whale can be - it will bite and drown its keepers.

The family lawnmower turned just as malevolent last week when it tried to set me on fire. It leaked a good quantity of petrol onto the bottom of my jeans, but thankfully it didn't manage to set light to it. I barely remember it, but I think the fuel cock was replaced in the 80s. The replacement either came from the chandlers or my dad's stock of parts. Either way it has a bore and a flow rate more suited to an ocean-going vessel and I think it's made of bronze. The spigot is stubby, larger than 5/16 and doesn't have a lead or ring-barbs. The original carburettor had a 5/16 spigot and an integral filter gauze. You could just make the connection with a length of 5/16 fuel hose if you warmed it up and stretched it over the fuel cock. I changed the carburettor last year and the new one has a 6mm spigot pointing in the wrong direction and no filter. Last year I used a length of rubber hose, some elbows and an inline filter from a Chinese dirt bike. This year the hose had got so brittle that it leaked around every joint and spilled a load of petrol onto my trousers.

This lawnmower has become a superstition to me and a labour of love so I have spent a good bit of time, effort and money on the fuel feed system. There's now a short length of 5/16 hose going into a nylon 8mm->6mm reducing elbow, then a length of genuine tygon 1/4 hose, then a low displacement filter with a sintered brass ball mesh, then another length of tygon, then another elbow then tygon into the carb. The whole thing doesn't hold much more than a teaspoon of fuel and it's all bone dry on the outside.

Richard "no smoking" B

Saturday, 13 March 2021

Hyundai i40 washer bottle removal

 The washer bottle is accessed from the RHS front wheel well. You need to jack the car and take the wheel off.

The wheel arch liner liner is held on by expanding plastic clips.You do not need to take the whole liner out. I just took out the clips from the front half and bent it out of the way.

There's a guy who keeps showing up on the forums saying that this job is better tackled from the top by taking the headlight out. Having found the fasteners, I'm pretty sure he's wrong.

 There is 1 large phillips screw and two 10mm hex screws. The front 10mm screw is a twin to the one shown in the photo. You will need a small ratchet to get to it and you will need the patience of a saint to thread it in when you put it all back together.

The pump will pull out of the bottle if you push the clip up out of the way. You will get wet as all the screenwash drains out of the bottle. There is an electrical connector (not shown) on the bottom of the bottle for the level sensor. I didn't take the pump out of the car because the hoses were old and brittle and I didn't want to damage them. The wiring and the hoses clip to the side of the bottle (on the right of the photo). The wiring also clips to the top of the bottle in 2 places. It took some deft work with as long screwdriver to free it.

The pump has as filter gauze in its inlet. You can prise this out of the pump with a knife or a thin screwdriver.

Richard "Haynes" B