Tuesday 23 July 2019


I have come across some great phrases recently. One of my friends teaches at a primary school in a nice part of Surrey. Her class were generally five year olds when the parents of the next year's intake visited the school. The children are nosy and craned their next to observe the strangers. "Miss, Miss" one of them said to the teacher "my cleaner's here". The child is five, and it's not even his mum's cleaner, by my cleaner! Of course that means it's a shit school if you have to share it with the children of the help.

A large piece of graffiti on a motorway bridge that my brother saw: "Boris is a coked up pervert."

All the emojis have a name as well as a Unicode value. One of my friends has a habit of including emojis in his contact names. At the weekend he said to his telephone "Hey Siri, call Richard Bo---------ke". His phone replied "Calling Richard Bo-------ke man-vampire with a light skin tone".

Driving on a race circuit is a daunting experience, doubly so if you are in an unfamiliar car, and even worse if it's a car you can't afford to crash. A friend of a friend was in exactly that position, sitting in my car, crash helmet on, engine running and about to make his way to the assembly area. He's quite pale, and he's not a physically intimidating man. He took a couple of deep breaths to calm himself and said "I am a strong independent black woman. I can do this".

Richard "and so is James Bond" B

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