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.


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



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

Richard "I hate it slightly less now" B