Wednesday, 13 October 2021

Care Label

 One day last week I was walking dogs with my friend and chatting. We were discussing how both of us will often start a little project without first putting on dirty enough clothes. You start doing something in the garden or the garage and it gets more involved than you thought, before you know it you're clarted up with mud or brake dust or caulk or whatever.

As soon as we were home we pulled his chainsaw out from the shed-of-difficult-to-store-objects. One of the things that was in the way was a couple of tins of creosote. One of them was leaking and creosote got smeared up the front of the cashmere pullover I was wearing. Damn.

Richard "foreshadowing" B

Tuesday, 28 September 2021

And We All Shine On

 I've said before that I like Englishness and the national psyche, but there is one area where it runs against our own best interests. In queueing traffic where two lanes need to merge into one nobody wants to be seen to be jumping the queue and moral busybodies will police that behaviour. This means that over time the merge point migrates backwards until you have everybody treating a section of dual carriageway as though there were only one lane because of politeness. There was a time when large sections of the A38 were being resurfaced and it gridlocked because of overly polite merge discipline. It was cured (or considerably alleviated) by signs that said "QUEUE IN BOTH LANES. MERGE IN TURN".

On Saturday I found myself in one of these areas of road which I was legally allowed to drive down, but which social norms forbade. Since once owning a large, slow and comfortable car I've got quite good at not hurrying on the road. In this particular instance it was reinforced by the fact that my car is completely gutless, that petrol is hard to come by and so I was conserving it and that there was a cardboard cup full of a soft drink wedged into the centre console.

A car to my left loudly and harshly matched my speed and position so that I couldn't merge into the left lane either in front of or behind him. Little did he know I would never have pressed the brakes that harshly. I found my way into the left hand lane a couple of spots ahead of him.

It must have upset the other driver because when we got to the next bit of dual carriageway he overtook my very aggressively and pulled in very close in front of me. The next car to overtake me was a police car with lights and sirens and that pulled in very close in front of me too. The police car then stopped the aggressive driver. I overtook both and I went slowly on my way.

I don't know, but I assume the aggressive driver was wanted for some other reason. I don't think the police saw him policing my merge discipline, and I don't think his retaliatory overtake would have got him pulled over. I can't however help feeling a warm sense of vindication.

Richard "Instant karma's gonna get you" B


Monday, 27 September 2021

Day Off

 I've had a week's holiday and I think it's clear that my idea of a really good day off is quite different to most people's. The best day of my holiday was when my friend and I worked on an old lawnmower that he has acquired. It's a lovely Qualcast Commodore from the 1960s. It has a 4 stroke 75cc Suffolk engine. There's a magneto ignition system with points, an updraught carburettor with a separate slow running circuit, two clutches (one for the cylinder one for propulsion), and an engine governor (that still works). The fasteners are mainly A/F but the bigger and more structural ones are still Whitworth.

When we began it was completely lifeless, but it wasn't seized and it had some compression. There was no spark, but as soon as we had built a flywheel puller and cleaned the points that was cured. From then on it was plain sailing. New fuel, new spark plug, press the tickler until there was fuel dripping out of it, 4 pulls fully choked, one pull with the choke wide open and it fired and ran. By the end of the day we were cutting the grass with it!

Richard "Lionel Richie and the ..." B


Saturday, 4 September 2021

Pedal Box

 I'm the proud owner of a Fiat Panda and I don't like it. Among other things, the pedal box is awful. The throttle pedal is so high that: 1) If you clumsily mash your foot onto the pedals you hit the throttle at the same time as the brake - which can't be safe. 2) It strains my ankle. 3) It makes it quite impossible to practice my heel and toe. I think it was a pretty crappy conversion to right hand drive. They didn't move the brake master cylinder so there is a horrible linkage that goes all the was across the car. The throttle pedal goes down onto the inside of the wheel well, on the other side of the car there would be much more room for it.

I spent this weekend doing what I could to make the car more comfortable to drive.

I thought these pedal extensions were going to be curved. I guess I'll have to do that myself.

I don't have a slip rolls or a bender so I'll have to make something to form it around

I don't have a bandsaw, and I seemingly don't have any blades this long for the jigsaw. Don't mind me, I'll just spend forty minutes making a rip cut through about six square inches of tropical hardwood with a fucking coping saw.

Bent.

(Behind) Original flavour throttle pedal. (Front) New and improved low profile throttle pedal.

Offcut.

Fitted.

It is now much more comfortable to drive and you can heel and toe.

Richard "I hate it slightly less now" B










Tuesday, 31 August 2021

Is it a Car? Is it a Van? Is it a Pile of Shit?

 Too many people think that their cars are - and ever will be - just as they are sitting on the driveway. I prefer to see them as a collection of parts, some harder to remove than others, some more essential than others.

My sportscar for example has a luggage rack that can be fitted or removed as the need arises. It also has a windscreen and wipers, but if the weather is good and you want better straight line speed, they can be removed. I have recently put some effort into making it easier to deal with the electrical connections when you take the windscreen on and off.

I am now also the _proud_ owner of a Fiat Panda. While it is eminently suitable for driving my elderly mother around in it hasn't got enough interior space to either take a p.a. to a gig or take a broken up shed to the tip. In order to reconfigure it as a goods vehicle I have got pretty good at taking the seats out (except the driver's seat - that's on the minimum equipment list) and I am currently making a ply liner for the area where the rear seat usually goes.

Richard "Jury Rigged Van" B


Monday, 23 August 2021

White Knight

 This weekend I was an incompetent white knight to a couple of strangers.

I was walking in the rain on a mission to towers-of-hanoi my car back to my house when I came across a couple of young women with a broken down car/van/people-carrier thing. One of them was talking earnestly on the phone, the other told me that the battery was flat and that they needed to bump start it. It couldn't have been easier, the vehicle was pointing down hill and there was just about enough room to get it out of its space (if you were strong). As neither of them were confident to start it I jumped in and did it for them. I then did an inexpert three point turn to bring the vehicle back to them and STALLED IT while it was pointing up hill. I'm glad to say that it JUST started on the starter motor, but I lost my nerve. I left it running, not really parked, and not that close to where they were standing, wished them good luck and walked quickly away – to pick up a vehicle that I had left somewhere the previous day when I used it to get somewhere to go drinking.

Richard "Is a long way from home" B