Monday 31 October 2022

White Stripes

 Years ago I had arranged a third date with a woman whom I was VERY keen on. It was to take place at my house and I spent a good number of hours worrying about what might stop her from attending. Did she still want to meet me? Were my directions clear enough? Would her car break down? Would a natural disaster destroy the bridge that she needed to use? Etc. While I was nervously waiting for her I checked that my doorbell still worked, imagining that she might come all the way to my place, press the button, I wouldn’t hear it, and that she’d give up and go home.

I believe that this experience gave me a rare insight into the song “My Doorbell” by The White Stripes which goes “I’m thinking about my doorbell, when ya gonna ring it, when ya gonna ring it?”. A song which I used to be able to play the drum part for – but so can anyone.

Anyway for the second time in the 23 years that I’ve owned the same house and the same doorbell the doorbell went wrong. For the second time in 23 years the batteries are still good and it’s the switch contacts which have deteriorated. I wonder how long these batteries will last, and whether I’ll be cleaning the switch again in 2033?

Richard “ding dong” B

Sunday 9 October 2022

Instruction Manual

 Congratulations on taking ownership of your new worn-out and modified Atco cylinder lawn mower. A few decades spent familiarising yourself with the operation and maintenance of the machine will pay dividends in the coming months.

The machine is fitted with a seriously worn Villiers F6 two stroke engine which should have been thrown away in the 1970s. It will provide rattly and unreliable power to both the cutting blades and the roller.

  1. Charge the battery.
    The magneto failed in the early 2000s and was replaced by a lead-acid battery and a dc coil. There is no charging system fitted to the mower. Connect the battery to the charger and turn the charger on at the mains. After several hours the charger will show the green "full" light. The charger is also a battery conditioner so should be left plugged in and turned on indefinitely.
  2. Mix the fuel. Tip petrol and two stroke oil into the mixing bottle to achieve a 25:1 mixture and agitate it to distribute the oil evenly throughout the fuel.
  3. Fill the fuel tank
  4. Food the carburettor
    Open the fuel tap. Depress the tickler (float valve override) twice for one to two seconds.
  5. Start the engine
    The engine runs rich and is liable to flood if it doesn't start quickly. Do not prime the engine and do not turn the ignition off during the process. Turn the ignition switch to ON. Despite what I say in the video, set the throttle to 100% (left). Close the chock fully (up). Briskly pull the starting handle two or three times. When the engine fires it will be trying to flood itself or shake itself to bits, you must act quickly. Open the choke a little and the engine revs should climb dangerously high - counteract this by closing the throttle part way. Continue this process until the engine is running with the choke fully open. Continue closing the throttle little by little until the engine is warm and will tick over with the throttle closed. You have now started the engine. Congratulations.
  6. Cut the grass
    The clutch lining is absolutely irreplaceable so operate the clutch as little as possible. In particular you may not open the clutch to turn corners or to turn around at the end of a run. Open the throttle a little to increase engine revs and close the clutch. Cut the grass. Close the fuel tap. Turn off the ignition.
  7. Clean
    Use the toothbrush and broken china teacup of oil (supplied with the mower) to lubricate the cutting blades.
The machine is mainly assembled with whitworth fasteners, except for the ones which wore out in the 1970s and 1980s which were replaced with A/F fasteners. Fasteners replaced in the last 30 years are mainly metric. There are various lubrication points in the sideplates and hidden under the chain cover. The front roller is missing and broken and has been replaced with pram wheels.

Tuesday 4 October 2022

Caterham Rear Brake Discs

 You have to remember that Caterham don't manufacture many parts. Their cars are made mainly out of bits that they have been buying from other manufacturers for years. The rear brakes are no different. The calliper is off a Ford Sierra, the hubs are seemingly from a racing car, and I've no idea where the discs are from, but they're not expensive.

The disks are bolted on to the back of the hub, but to make everything fit the heads of the bolts have been faced off and are very thin. You can change the discs, but it's tricky, and you might break something. Caterham would rather sell you a hub and a disk together and if you need to get the job finished quickly, or you're rich I would suggest that that's what you buy. If you're in cheapskate club with me, this is the procedure.

The hub nuts are done up tight, and the thread on the nearside is lefthanded. Loosen the hub nuts by half a turn while a friend or a piece of wood firmly presses the brake pedal. Then take the callipers off. Then undo the hub nuts and pull the hubs off the driveshafts.

You will find that there are 4 bolts behind each brake disc holding the disk to the hub. I successfully removed and re-used all 8 of them.

In this picture you can see the tool that I used. It's a single hex 14mm socket that has been ground flat on the end and very carefully deburred.

I applied heat to the bolts to disturb any threadlock and corrosion and I doused them in penetrating fluid and let them soak for 24 hours.

With the hub in a large vice I drove the modified socket onto the bolt heads with a hammer and undid them quite easily with a breaker bar.

Of course the bolt heads aren't really 14mm, so you also need to grind a 9/16 socket down flat to do the up again.

Richard "EBC D198" B