pyoor_excuse: (Default)

So, I had this simple plan for today: Get up early, take Rebecca for MOT. She passes MOT. I spend rest of day either pottering in garden or recording podcast.

Actually the day went: Drive to MOT. Fail on a few minor points (no pun intended), then drive back via parts store, then grab lunch, then reorganise the garage so there’s more space, then… well.

First up was the washer pump. The old pump’s been moderately pathetic for quite a while. It still sort of worked, but most of the spray was kind of directed onto the screen surround unless it happened to be in an astonishingly enthusiastic mood.

So, it was out with the old…

Out with the old...

And in with the new. Which would have been awesome but for the fact that the generic washer pump I picked up has a substantial design flaw. One of those design flaws where you look at it and think ‘Really? Really? You didn’t think that was a problem?’. Can y’guess what it is?

Untitled

Didja get it?

Both the holes for the screws are behind the supply and output pipes (which are moulded into the body of it) and, as a bonus, on one end they’re behind the power connectors too. Well done Generic Brand designer. Fortunately, because it’s made of cheap nasty plastic it was bendable enough that I could brute-force-bend it enough to get the screwdriver in to get one of the screws properly tight. The other screw is a bit more of a problem, but I’m really not sure how to fix it short of an entertaining bit of 3D printing to make the damn thing some kind of bracket with clips. Either that or tightening the screw edge-on using pliers :-/

Oooh, or I could replace it with a teeny tiny hex-bolt. Cunning. I might do that.

Untitled

Anyhow, the washer fluid now hits the screen in a most vigorous way. Cleaning the screen with vim and enthusiasm. So I also changed the somewhat leaky windscreen-wiper-washer, which, it turned out was a bonus level challenge because the windscreen wiper spindle comes through at a subtly different angle than the chrome finisher is meant to fit, so the rubber doesn’t fit at all. In the end I used two of them on the one side to give me a bit more thickness in an attempt to make it fit. The other side doesn’t really leak, so I’m going to leave that for the minute.

Then we had to explore the brakes. There were two failure points:

- Nearside brake binding
- Brake imbalance

Now I could have assumed that the brake imbalance was due to the brake binding, but thankfully I didn’t. A quick look in the off-side drum revealed a partial cause for the imbalance; everyone’s favourite paper gasket had failed. Again. Oh ho.

Yes, it's everybody's favourite oil seal failure...

So my brakes had a thin coating of oil on them. Again.

Although I’d picked up new brake shoes I’d not bothered to get anything else; I mean, why would I? So a quick dance with the stanley knife and the cardboard from a packet of ice-lollies later I produced a new gasket. This is, of course, the oldest trick in the book. Well, one of ‘em. I also popped a thin coating of silicone gasket sealant on it this time since I did that to the other side and that, finally, seems to have stopped the recurrent failures. I have a feeling though that I’ll need to repeat this with a paper gasket instead of the cardboard one I’ve made up because I imagine it’ll leak again :-/

Of course the plan is, as part of the EV conversion, to switch it for an Escort rear axle and a Sierra gearbox. So it would be amusingly ironic if I finally got the seals to both be perfect now.

Anyhow, having tweaked that and the brakes on the other side which seemed to be over adjusted-up (oddly, since I’ve not adjusted them since the service 2000 miles ago), things seem better. The handbrake is coming on at 4 clicks like it should. If it’s not good enough then either I or the garage will have the joy of replacing the shoes (I’ve got them, just didn’t really want to waste the barely used ones that were on the car, even if they’re a bit oil contaminated).

Then there was the misadjusted headlamps. They’ve been ‘a bit low’ since she was returned to the road, and every MOT has been kind of scraped through on that front. I don’t know if the suspension’s settled a bit, or if the guy today was a weeny bit more picky, or indeed, the simple fact that the fuel tank was all but empty was enough to tip the scales against her, but she failed on that too. I’ve tweaked them both up a bit, but it’s kinda guess work. We don’t have a flat area with sufficient room to back up that we can adjust the headlights properly. Unfortunately, this brought me into close contact with the plastic headlamp dome, which it turns out is a terrible fit. After several minutes of me fiddling, I managed to get the headlamp ring back on and screwed on, but it…well, it’s still loose and any degree of tightening in one area makes it want to pop off from somewhere else. Modern parts really can be quite rubbish.

The funniest thing about the day was I rang the garage to check up that I’d hit all the points on the MOT list, and the guy proclaimed “I thought you’d fix it, well, I hoped you would. It’d've been disappointing if you didn’t”. Hopefully we can trundle up on Saturday with the iMiEV and the Minor and come back with both of them sporting new MOTs.

To be honest I’d've quite liked to go out for my nice lunch at Hart’s instead of spending the day lying by the car. But hey, needs must… :-/

Originally published at Mostly lemon based. You can comment here or there.

pyoor_excuse: (Default)

Not, oddly, one of those days where you wonder about whether your continued existence on the planet will ever produce anything tangible and worthwhile, or whether you are instead doomed to spend the entirety of the rest of your life looking at cat pictures on the internet*.

No, today was one of those super productive days.

I’m wondering if I need to write myself a to-do list for every day when I’m not working because the effect was astonishing.

On my list was the following:

- Clean some house
- Practice Guitar
- Practice Piano
- Order power supply connector
- Bottle cider
- Garden
- ?Print sepsis card

And apart from the sepsis card all of it got done and some other bits and bobs. Also I listened to lots of music, which is a bonus.

Read the rest of this entry  )

Originally published at Mostly lemon based. You can comment here or there.

pyoor_excuse: (Default)

So, it is traditional this time of year to look back on the past year and think ‘what did I achieve’ and discern whether it was ‘a good year’ or not. My vague notions about last year is that I didn’t really make much progress on the house, and that it was a quiet but not unpleasant year, for the most part. However, as with my friend’s recollections, thousands of miles away my general opinion wasn’t exactly the whole story.

It started well enough, with the discovery of Rise, the music store in Bristol, where I make infrequent pilgrimages and fawn hopelessly over the ranks and ranks of records. The fresh stacks of vinyl make me want to spend all the money. Every time I head in there I find my bank account substantially lighter on leaving, and frequently seem to pass from not knowing of a thing’s existence, to utter total desire without pause. It’s both terrible and wonderful simultaneously.

Not only that but I took my aged BBC Master around to my friend John’s, and he applied his L337 soldering skills and replaced the dodgy capacitors before they could expire. It functioned exactly as it should, lending hope to the possibility that I can inflict it on our child, when s/he is old enough to want a computer. Heh. Actually, I think our child will get something akin to the Pi. When I got my computer the deal was “here are some basic games, if you want more you’ll have to write ‘em” which I think is a fair way to do things :)

Anyhow, so it was an auspicious start. Flicking through blog entries made me finally take stock of what I’d achieved on the house over the year, and perhaps I’d been unduly harsh on myself. Perhaps, when you look at it, I’ve actually achieved a fair amount. In the last year I:

- Finished decorating the bathroom (which was essentially decorating the bathroom and plumbing in the new shower)
- Painted the downstairs half of the hallway
- Built and installed the understairs storage
- Insulated under the house
- Designed and made the kitchen lighting
- Built the top surface of the deck, including sinking 4 posts in to the ground
- Completely decorated Kathryn’s office

Amongst that there were a number of smaller jobs like installing the telephone, adding a radiator to the central heating, adding in bits of trim, repairing other bits and bobs that broke throughout the house.

Y’know, given that I’m working full time and had various other projects ongoing last year, I don’t think that’s a bad list.

As I say I had a number of other projects ongoing, my beloved Minor’s disintegrated differential was finally replaced after months sat at the front of the house being sad. I’m still working on the Electric Minor Project, and have a potential sponsor to contact, which has led me to fawn hopelessly over Adobe In-Design. My background with Ovation Pro (which, assuming it still works in modern versions of Windows I highly recommend to anyone needing a cheaper DTP package for Windows) came in handy because it had many of the features of In-Design and works in fundamentally the same way. Playing with layout and design is quite delightful, and one of the few things in IT that I think I could get quite into if my career in nursing ever went south.

Anyhow, so the Minor is [touch wood] back on the road.

However, it wasn’t all sunshine and bunnies. Last year witnessed the death of our plan to move to Canada. Nova Scotia telling me in the politest way possible that I would need to spend thousands of Canadian Dollars if we wanted to land up there. The difference between UK and Canadian nursing registration was simply too great. However, the good news is that we plan to move to the States, which will put us closer to Kathryn’s family and some of the awesome people (Kathryn’s friends that I’ve met too) over in the USA. We’re maybe looking at San Francisco, although it’ll be a while.

We also found out that we can’t have the free solar panels installed. A fact which makes me very sad, because in all honesty, if the UK was like Germany our roof would be well within the benefit side of the cost-benefit analysis; solar panels in the UK being way more expensive than in Germany. This is because UK has decided that we’d like to pollute the planet and our local environment as rapidly and depressingly as possible, by fracking every last bit of this once green and pleasant land. Indeed, politically this has been one of the most heartrendingly awful periods I can recall. The Conservatives and their political lackeys, the Lib Dems, for whom, shamefully, I voted, have destroyed the few bits of Britain of which I was proud. The’ve pushed our xenophobic streak and also made this country hateful for it’s treatment of the poor, those with disabilities, the sick. They’ve divisively separated every minority group and demonised everyone who’s not rich.

I recently saw a quote from Aneurin Bevan, the awesome angry Welshman who rounded up the Doctors and Nurses and said ‘Fix the people’.

“Illness is neither an indulgence for which people have to pay, nor an offence for which they should be penalised, but a misfortune, the cost of which should be shared by the community.”

Which I think is a perfect way of describing illness. Mr Bevan rocked. Incidentally, he also said of the tories, this, which seems pretty accurate at the moment:

So far as I am concerned they are lower than vermin. They condemned millions of first-class people to semi-starvation. Now the Tories are pouring out money in propaganda of all sorts and are hoping by this organised sustained mass suggestion to eradicate from our minds all memory of what we went through. (1945)

Anyhow, enough depressing, because all in all it was actually a pretty good year.

So, other projects are the ongoing attempt to re-rip music and video. That’s sort of fallen into stasis, but I really should get that going again. There are still massively large stacks of stuff that need to be re-ripped. All the DVDs/Blu-Rays, and still stacks and stacks of music. Actually, that’s pretty depressing to think about. It was a good starter project but maybe I need one of those lego diskchangers. Unfortunately so many of our disks fail to pull down art, or fail to get listings… which completely screws up the rapid disk ripping.

Oh, actually, whilst we’re on depressing, I sold my motorbike. I, for the first time in many years, am without motorcycle for the long term. The thing is though, I’ve no excuse to ride them. And not enough money to just ‘have’ a motorbike kicking around. Nor the space. So… Yeah. But I do miss it. It’s like not having a bit of me. One day I’ll have a Zero or somesuch.

We also, on a more cheery note, sold Chester. We ran all over France, toured the place, and having pushed him really hard travelling down to the base of the Alps and back we sold him and switched to our much loved iMiEV. You gotta love an electric car, they’re just flipping awesome. Not only that, but it’s also managed to get me a little bit of fame writing as a guest writer on the Transport Evolved website. I need to have a ponder about more things to write about because I’ve enjoyed writing them. I also got featured, briefly, on the Kyocera blog. Not my writing, but a brief bit about our aged Kyocera FS-1030D which continues to provide sterling service and provides endless glee when it prints wirelessly.

And on the writing front, I also did NaNoWriMo. Didn’t finish it, but I’m still working on the book, which is interesting. I’ve never written a novel before, it may be awful, but it’ll be my bit of awful. I need to find some people to look at it, so if anyone wants to read a not very good first-half of a detective novel (be my Beta testers!) then let me know :)

I also, for the first year ever (I think) managed to push out a full year of Dead Bug Jumping. Something I’m quite proud of, because it’s actually a fair amount of work to produce new episodes.

Oh, and there were a few other minor achievements. I finished and passed my MSc. And I got a permanent Senior Staff Nurse position… so, job wise, that’s pretty good.

I think all in all I achieved a fair bit in 2013. Some things didn’t go at all the way I’d hoped. Some things went very well, and y’know, screw my sense of ‘I didn’t work hard enough’. I clearly bloody did. Stupid brain.

So here’s to 2014. Let’s hope it’s a good one.

Originally published at Substantially lemon based. You can comment here or there.

pyoor_excuse: (Default)

So, I know I’m harping on about it but. Look, sometimes I forget how much I enjoy driving the minor. Driving the minor is a properly visceral experience. It’s so simple, there’s as little between you and the road as there realistically can be. It would be considered pared down, except that at the time, that’s just how you built cars.

Tonight I slipped into ‘that place’, with Filthy/Gorgeous playing on the radio, Rebecca’s engine humming along, and winding country backroads between here and Bath*. That place where it all comes together, the car is gripping the road like a limpet, the road is clear and the whole thing is just bucket loads of fun. The exhaust note of that 1300 A series engine is wonderfully musical, and in the moment the whole thing, that whole package, it’s delightful. The entire point of putting a fast-road 1300 A+ engine in a minor is that the car is delicious like that.

A well tuned minor, on good suspension**, with brakes up to snuff is quite simply a joy to drive.

Then I got home, and had to put the car in the garage.

And whilst our garage is pretty darn big by UK standards, the garage doors are pretty narrow. So it’s a careful shuffle to get in. And it’s not like it took a long time, I did in about one more than the customary 2 shuffles. It did take a little longer than normal because I forgot that I’d put a box off the shelf on the floor earlier today, and that stopped me getting in. So, maybe in all an extra minute.

After all that – the garage was full of fumes. It was hideous. Kathryn was coughing and I stepped out of the garage with a headache. Having dipped our toe (rather an expensive toe, I’ll grant) in the EV waters, we’ve found it warm, inviting and perhaps above all, so clean and quiet. And the idea of taking Rebecca on that journey with us fills me with delight (and a little trepidation, because we’re heading in to territory that I don’t know well). But I’m quite excited, and need to go save up lots of cash so I can make it happen :)

And we can stop burning this hideous dinosaur juice.

It is funny though, we’re so used to it that we just think that’s the way it has to be, and then you discover it doesn’t need to be that way and…well… it just doesn’t. It makes you think about things.

* I was off to Topping and Co to see Deb Perelman talk.
** My car may not be standard at the back on the suspension front, but the front end is pure Issigonis.

Originally published at Kates Journal. You can comment here or there.

pyoor_excuse: (Default)

So today was a big day for the deck. Also, we had polar network come around and install our free EV charger. Fun fun fun, really.

It didn’t entirely start positively, though. One of the things I sold on ebay came back. My beloved AE-1 which served me perfectly came back as faulty. And it is, or at least, it seems to have been and I don’t trust it enough to sell it again (quite a lot of fiddling has made it work again, but I think it needs servicing). However, having nipped out to collect that parcel I finally made it to Hart’s Bakery. I’ve wanted to visit Hart’s Bakery since seeing it on Bristol Culture back in December last year. Last time we went shopping we tried to stop there and missed the last loaf of bread by seconds. Seriously, had I parked quicker, we’d've had it. And having thought about it some more (and having watched this…)

I decided that I was entirely going to get some bread there. See, normally we get our bread from ‘The Olive Shed’ on Gloucester Road, but they don’t actually bake it there, and though it is very nice, the idea of fresh bread from the baker…well… Nummy.

Anyhow, I knew they opened at 0700 and given the Polar Man was coming to install the free charger at 0900 I reckoned I could nip over, get the package, and get some really fresh bread. As I pootled there I thought…maybe I could get croissants too.

Now, I know what you’re thinking. You’re thinking this is a tale that ends in disaster. But no! No, I actually did go and get some bread and some croissants, and y’know what, they were bloody delicious. I could eat the whole damn loaf if you put it in front of me, and the croissants? Like being in France. Yum.

Breakfast done in a most satisfactory way, the Polar Man arrived and started work down in the garage on the new charger. Now originally I’d planned to put the free charger on the side we traditionally park Imey, but I’d rethought that and concluded that, until Imey sports a new charger, there’s little-to-no point faffing around with the charging system. And since I didn’t know if it would get unhappy with the charging doohickey being on a timer, well, then I thought it made more sense to stick it next to the Minor, in the way of I damn well will convert my minor soon, yes kind of positive thinking. So I shuffled Rebecca out and left him to it. And lo:

Untitled

Lovely.

Less lovely was the abuse given to our garage’s consumer unit. They changed the RCD for a 20A one, which apparently is required to stop the thing ‘nuisance tripping’. Now I’d managed (with some effort) to get my timer switch in, albeit upside-down, and done so without damaging the box.

Untitled

Yeah. That appears to be the work of a Stanley-type-knife hacking an ill-fitting hole in the box. I’ve not looked to see why the RCD is at such a jaunty angle yet, because I fear looking. It took me bloody ages to get the timer switch in and get it all correctly together again. I suspect that he’s not managed to get it to clip in right – or that the dirty great copper bar connecting everything except the timer switch doesn’t fit properly in that RCD. At any rate, it’s not good and I’m a bit unimpressed. My ‘magic’ cable also doesn’t quite work. I suspect I need a better 880 ohm resistor. It does kick in and start the charger, and I can turn it off, but if I switch it from ‘off’ to ‘on’ it doesn’t work. It only works when first plugged in.

Anyhow, you all don’t care about that…Whist he was working down in the garage I proceeded to working on the deck. Before the sun attacked the back porch area. A plan with no flaws…

No really, no flaws.

See a couple of days ago I took off the strange little ‘alignment’ bits of wood I’d used.

Untitled

Which meant that today I could move straight on to attaching the beam. Which reminds me, I should take out the little screws I used to hold the beam up whilst I was attaching that first set of bolts. It all went remarkably smoothly really. The posts are indeed beautifully in line, and they’re all vertical (which of course doesn’t look exactly right near anything around our house which is jauntily non-Euclidian in nature). And in the end having carefully lined it up, made the two first holes in one of the centre posts, attached that, and then worked my way from the stairs-end back to the other end making holes and bolting it all together I ended up with something which was horizontal and at the right level. I am stunned.

I immediately flailed about in a horribly unfit woman attempting to use her arms but with no upper body strength to haul herself up onto the bar kind of way, which after sufficient flailing, waving my legs around, and use of the piles of crap surrounding the new posts led to me balancing somewhat precariously on the beam and going “Ha! I’m HIGH”*, much to my amusement**. Now, earlier in the day I’d pondered whether the size of pallet I originally intended to use would fit in Imey. The answer, when I investigated with a tape measure, was a resounding NO. It might be possible to brute-force one in, but I’m not doing that to the poor car. Frankly putting the postcrete in the car was a bit upsetting, the idea of hodging a pallet in where it barely fits doesn’t bear thinking about.

So I messaged Nikki and asked if she could (a) help and (b) whether they’d fit in one of her fleet.

But now I’d reached the end of what I could do on that for the day, which saddened me, but meant I actually got on with other things I should be doing… like, for example, trying to source an 18 volt battery for our circular saw (got a bid on an 18 Volt drill). And more importantly, preparing my little talk for my job interview. My temporary ‘Senior Staff Nurse’ job has finished – and I’ve just applied for a permanent Senior Staff Nurse job – and got an interview for which I have to give a brief talk (5-10 minutes). So I’ve prepped the slides. I also rang and confirmed the interview (I’d left them a message before, but I’m glad I rang because they’d not done anything with the message). I also rang the solar company who got back to me to tell me they’d get back to me on Friday (a marked improvement on previous phonecalls and e-mails which have gone unanswered). Then I e-mailed the insulation people, who are getting back to me with a price, and then… well, then I had a genius idea.

I could just carry the pallets back

I mean, they’re not far away. Not really far. I’m sure I could do that. I could, couldn’t I?

So I nipped around to the industrial estate behind our house, wandered into the first place that seemed to be treating their pallets as scrap and asked. And was very cheerfully informed that I could help myself. So I carried three of them back (one at a time, obviously). I am now sporting some very fetching bruises on my shoulders… Probably on my back too.

But it was worth it.

Inching closer to reality

They’re a bit thinner than the pallets I really wanted to use, so I’m not fixing them in place yet, in case I can find some with chunkier sections. But my intention is to layer a solid layer of stripped-pallet-bits-of-wood across the top anyhow, which should add a goodly quantity of strength. But I got to stand on my ‘deck’ and go ‘wow, it’s quite high up here’. And got to see a bit of what I’m heading for, and y’know what, it was damn good.

So far the costs of the deck have been:

Four pillars – about £12
Postcrete – four bags at £5 each – £20
Dirty great pressure treated Beam – £15
Pre-cut stair riser (could have done with out, but I was feeling lazy) £13 each – £26
Bolts – £10

Of course, we should probably include the cost of the pallet stripping bar, because I’m going to need that to get the wood to make the actual surface of the deck… And possibly to make some ‘special size pallets’ that fill in the gaps… (£45). Anyhow. Not bad so far…

I also need a bunch of deck screws/nails/etc – but that should be the final expense. Well, that and the circular saw battery. Oh and also, I could do with finding the charger for the 12v drill (cost free, if it charges) and possibly some new drill-screw-bits (because I’ve munged most of mine).

I’m quite excited though – it’s beginning to look and feel more like an actual deck!

* Not like that.
** This relates to me being like a child.

Originally published at Kates Journal. You can comment here or there.

pyoor_excuse: (Default)

So, with us planning to be here for most likely two years (nice to be less, but in reality probably at least 2) I’ve been contemplating the EV question again. Much though I would love to do Rebecca’s EV conversion, I’m well aware that this is not a cheap, nor low-time task. Not least because it’s something that I really want to do well which involves careful planning and design, and knowledge that is outside my normal field of work. And so I/we have been vaguely contemplating whether it might be time to consider replacing Chester with an EV.

Also, the idea of Baby + Car that intermittently sucks large quantities of money is slightly concerning.

Anyhow, as part of this, yesterday I/we did some finger in the air waving: ‘we spend…this much… on running the cars’ kind of thing. This came out at:

£ 4953.60

That’s petrol, tax, servicing, tyres… *and* Kathryn’s not-by-car commuting costs, or at least, what we thought we spent.

Having done actual sums and looked through an entire year of bank statements I’ve come up with:

£ 4790.55

As the *actual* spend, except that doesn’t actually include Kathryn’s petrol spending. This suggests I’ve woefully underestimated the amount that we actually spend on petrol, given that it might well be around £50 a month.

Of course, we don’t actually have the money to buy an EV outright. But the sums so far suggest it might be worth borrowing to do this.

Originally published at Kates Journal. You can comment here or there.

pyoor_excuse: (Default)

Just in case anyone has one kicking around, and for future reference. The axles that I’m interested in are on volvo 240s of the following flavours:

1976-79 240 with B21 and any transmission: 3.91:1 type 1030
1980 240′s with B21A/F and M45/6: 3.91:1 type 1030
1980 240′s with B21F and A/BW55: 3.73:1 type 1030
1981 240′s with B21F non-MPG: 3.73:1 type 1030
1981-82 240′s with B21F-MPG and AW55/70: 3.91:1 type 1030

(Courtesy of: here)

Originally published at Kates Journal. You can comment here or there.

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