Mar. 11th, 2016 09:36 pm
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Life continues to be more or less the same as it ever was. I’ve been working, at least intermittently, and I’ve even been paid. That has been rather nice, although it’s led to a bit of a flurry of spending as I’ve taken a bunch of stuff off the ‘want list’ which included several things that I’d decided I wouldn’t buy until we got to the US.

I’d been holding that restraint for a couple of years. Adding in the last 3 months of me not buying pretty much anything (I bought a few books, and a few items for our business) and then say “look, you’ve been paid”. I snapped. Much of this is ‘fun’ stuff, but the other thing that’s sucked up funds is things like ‘UK to US’ plug adaptors (10 of ’em, on the way). I’d thought I’d replace the old UK plugs with US ones, but bare US plugs are actually ridiculously pricey, so instead I’ve just bought adaptors. From China. Also, bonus, I get to keep the fuses for added safety.

And BC – Edison Screw lamp adaptors. I was unaware that such things existed – so I’d bought one of the 85-250v LED BC lamps for one of the anglepoises (as a test), but having discovered these I can just go to the store and get what, in the US, are regular LED bulbs and throw those in. Hurrah! These adaptors were way cheaper than the special bulbs and had free postage. Since I’m not in a raring hurry to get the lamps working, that’s fine.

I also started setting up my ‘home lab’, as it were. Up until now I’ve scrounged stuff from the lovely John, but 4k miles is a little far to take things for testing, and it’s a little tricky to ask John if he’d like to pop over for an evening of tinkering with electronics. I’ve finally got it together and bought a (new) soldering iron / rework gun combo. I wasn’t going to get a rework gun, I mean, me and surface mount are not close friends. But with our business plans, I may want to put together some kind of board with surface mount components, in which case a rework gun will become handy – and it was a few dollars extra to get that functionality. Second hand kit that’s also winging its way to me is a ‘scope that weighs approximately the same as the house (50Mhz Tektronix 453*).

Die perfekte Welle

I doubt mine will look 1/10th as nice when it arrives. Indeed, I know some of the plastic knobules from the switches are missing (the selector knobs are all there). I’m hoping (really hoping) that one day my 3D printer will arrive and I can print myself some new ones. If not, I’ve got some sugru in the toolbox.

I thought about getting something a bit fancier that would be better for digital hardware (perhaps the 150Mhz 454), but if I decide I need that later I can either sell off the Tektronix 453 and get something ‘more modern’, or just suck up the expense if I’ve got attached to the 453. I’ve also got an HP 6200B bench power supply on its way too. John has infested my mind with his HP / Tektronix lovin’, which meant that other, cheaper options got ditched on the way to this selection, but I think they should be handy. And the 453 seems to be considered to be a pretty good scope – which it’s within the realms of my knowledge to repair and keep going.

Whilst the scope is slightly frivolous at the moment, and is partly a ‘I have little to do at home’ thing some of the kit will be handy straight away. The bench supply will be handy getting the car alarm configured… since it wants to charge a bit before it works, and you need to send it various text messages to get it configured. That bench supply will also be doing duty building up the circuit for the first kit we’re planning for our business.

Most of this kit is pretty tatty, but should be enough to get me ‘up and running’. At least, once I’ve given it a really, really good clean it should be.

This splurge of spending does mean that I’m now rather over excited when I see UPS and USPS vans, which tediously never seem to actually stop here…

Still. I don’t think I can buy much else for the rest of the month (except for needs – like maintaining my poor Minor, that’s had hundreds of miles added some weeks). At any rate, I shall try to exercise restraint. I’ve put a bit into my savings this month and then I’m hoping to put some of the funds we extracted back into the house-savings too.

At any rate, the rain paused yesterday for long enough for me to go and throw silicone sealant around the minor with reckless abandon.


Water’s been dripping in through that wiper spindle’s hole for a while. In an attempt to prevent it totally destroying the glove box liner, and the radio underneath, and then the floor below that, I whipped off the nut cleaned up the seals and put them back with a thin layer of windscreen silicone on them. I note that this has been done before, with what appears to be gasket sealant. That might have been me… but it didn’t work that time. Here’s hoping this time it does work. Overnight it’s rained and there wasn’t any water that I could feel, so fingers crossed I might get some relief from that.

I also attacked the boot (trunk) – using sealant around the holes where the “MORRIS 1000” badge is mounted. This morning the boot (trunk) was actually bone dry, which I think is a first, and made me quite happy.

I also commenced trying to understand how to fit the alarm – and realised that actually, it’d probably make more sense for it to be on our family contract for it’s SMS messaging, rather than me stick it on the Net10 sim I’ve got kicking around. Well, maybe. We need to go and see if we can beg a cellspot for the house as it is slightly ridiculous that you have to go outside to make calls a lot of the time and while we’re there I’ll see if I can add it on at a low rate. Otherwise I’ll see which provider is cheapest for a pure voice/SMS option. It doesn’t need data of any sort, so it’s a big silly getting it a voice/data contract. I also realised that the alarm wants an SD card for some of its more handy features, and it makes sense to fit that before I put the alarm in the car.

Given that it’s a cheap Chinese system the manual is somewhat challenging to understand at times. Fortunately, it doesn’t seem to require too many features the Minor doesn’t have (indeed, it looks like it should actually be able to track the fuel level of the Minor, which is pretty nifty, though why I’d want to is unclear).

I thought about fitting it this morning; indeed that was my ‘plan’ for the day. But I am distrustful of the weather, and although it said “0% chance of rain” the forecast started to get a bit sketchy around lunchtime, and it looks like rain every day after now for a while, so getting part-way through is undesirable. I succumbed to my rain-fear and went for a walk instead.


Which was probably a good plan as it’s been hacking with rain for the last hour and half, and I’d’ve probably still been out there dangling upside-down. I think when I have all the relevant bits, I’ll be a bit more enthused about getting it done.

In other news, I headed out yesterday to see if I could find a stick blender. We’ve wanted one for a long time, and before I got paid I kept seeing them at goodwill and value village. Of course, now I’ve actually been paid, they’ve vaporised. Goodwill does make me miss the cleanliness of most British charity shops. I’m sure there’s awesome stuff in there, but the electronics sections always make me feel rather like I need to wash my hands thoroughly on leaving. Anyhow, what I did find was ‘Goodwill Outlet’, which is a fearsome place. Unsorted, sad old things piled into plastic waist high bins… It’s the kind of place I feel the need to have a companion, because rifling through the stuff in there by yourself, it feels kinda weird. I suspect that there probably are stick blenders lying prone at the bottom of those bins, but I didn’t quite have the guts to pull so much stuff out.

And then we come to the elephant in the absent room. The house.

We’re off looking at properties this weekend. Five of ’em. One with a building, one with a ‘building’ (it’s a house of “poor quality” built in 1901), and 3 bits of land that are just land. I continue to feel the disappointment from the permit-disaster-wetland-hideousness, but hopefully one of these will speak to our souls. One of them, funnily enough, enormously close to where Kathryn’s mom used to live, and would give us effectively the same view. Which is weird. Although the land-with-buildings-on may be better for us, in terms of both location and usefulness. Still, we’ll see what happens.

* Handily, this is old enough that the entire manual is available here

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

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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?


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.


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.

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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.

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As I travelled back from Gloucester yesterday, Rebecca’s odometer clicked over to 44,000 miles*. On these bigger transitions the worn mechanism that advances the numbers struggles to move the five (or six) cylinders required. The ‘tenths’ figure will sit between 9 and 0, clicking with every tenth of a mile unable to move as the higher values furiously resisting advancing milage.

And then it happens, there’s a click, the speedo flicks wildly from 70 to 90 and back, and we settle in to the next 1,000 miles…

Sometimes I think she just doesn’t like getting older.

* It has no relation to her actual milage.

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

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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.

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So, the sums were in. The unbiased non-car-o’phile had been presented with raw facts and come to her conclusion. The answer came back the same as Kathryn’s. Basically – the new car – is a good idea although can we afford it?

The bank was rung, and they gave their loan costing. The change from the current payment ended up being 60 quid.

60 quid extra a month on the loan but no petrol spend (or at least very little), no servicing, and hopefully much more painless MOTs.

We should break even on our spend just before 2 years. Just as we’re leaving… Although, obviously, at that point we can consider whether we’re taking the EV with Rebecca, or selling it on.

Because, that’s what we’ve done. We’ve bought an EV. Well, we’ve had an offer accepted on a second hand EV which is currently approximately 3 times it’s normal driving range from our house. Ye-es. I blame Nikki. Having faintly floated the concept to her she instantly pointed out the one which we’ve kind of ended up buying (we’ve bought it’s twin, actually, the guy had two).

We’ve also applied for a free charging point from Polar Network, which will look quite lovely in the garage, I feel. Of course, this also means that I need to get my act together and tidy the garage, because at the moment it’s a one-car-and-shed-loads-of-crap car garage, rather than a two car garage.

Of course, at the moment, it’s likely that we’ll still take Rebecca Mog down to my mum’s because of the absence of charging points in convenient locations. Ironically, we can get 100 of the 130 miles to my mum’s house, because there’s a rapid charger 30 miles from our house. Driving really carefully we could probably just about make it there, but just around Exeter there seems to be a bit of a dearth of rapid chargers. Also, winding up the already 3 hour journey to 4 hours is not ideal…

But the rest of our existence, which is powered by sunlight and bought locally will continue to be revoltingly green.

To counteract this, I spent the morningday servicing Rebecca. It turns out that I’m way out of practice, and that I am completely incapable of turning the engine over without the starting handle (so I had to cut the hole in the glass fibre bumper valance for the starting handle), and that I am quite slow, therefore, at servicing her. She has, however, got greased nipples & fresh lubrication ;)

I’ve also changed the fuel sender for a new fuel sender, which means that the fuel gauge now shows an actual quantity of fuel. I did try the ‘LED Indicator Relay’ which it turns out is a lie. I’m quite pissed because I bought it off e-bay a while ago, and it turns out now that it does not, in fact, work.

It is a standard relay, so far as I can tell, and thus goes absolutely spare when connected to LED indicators. However, the act did allow me to change the rear light lens which had cracked in so many places I thought it was going to drop off. A trip to a classic carboot sale is probably in order. I was going to delight your visual senses with a timelapse courtesy of ‘Lapse It’. But it doesn’t seem to render large time-lapse files. Or at least, it’s so far failed 5 times to render it – just quitting with no explanation having ‘Processed’ the final image. This is, as you might guess, quite annoying. Especially since I paid for it after my playing with it yesterday.

I also spent a little time attaching pieces of metal to my freshly varnished driftwood and spraying the brass-bits-of-stuff which I bought accidentally (but it turns out I require) black, so as they’ll blend with the plastic bits of stuff (which I bought on purpose and do require) and not stand out as being brass against the chrome bits (which I also bought and which I thought would go okay with the black bit).

I may offer up photos at some point :)

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

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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.

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So, I spent some more time with my minor today…


Having stripped the dashboard down I was able to complete fitting of the heater more easily, although I had to do hideous, hideous things to the ‘footwell’ setting on the passenger side to get it to fit with the new heater matrix, which saddens me, but hey, the whole thing will be going when she’s electrified, so I suppose it doesn’t matter.

It will, hopefully, be producing warmer air. I must remember to top-up the coolant system before starting her again.

I also got the new indicator stalk in, which turned out (surprise surprise) to be not quite as straightforward as you might like to imagine. The old one was actually held together with tape (well, the ball bearing which makes it ‘sit’ in left-off-right positions was held in place with tape). This is because the thing that holds the ball bearing in had disintegrated, and removing the ball bearing led to an indicator that flapped around like a wet fish. So the ‘temporary’ fix was to tape it in place, in such a way that it still sort of worked. I’d bought a new indicator lever with the intention of fixing it ages ago, but not got around to it because it required taking the dash apart. Today I had no such excuse, and after a brief tussle with the lucar connectors (lucas is not known as the prince of darkness without good cause) I had the new lever wired in, but hanging like an ornamental basket from the dash.
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Originally published at Kates Journal. You can comment here or there.

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I know, I know, she’s riiiiiiiiided a few times in her many years in my ownership, but today, following some help from my awesome friend Nikki (who kindly put aside her EV journalism for some of the day to come help) Rebecca is sporting a ‘new’ diff and actually, for the first time in months trundled up, and down, the private road outside our garage (without me having the fear that she was going to emit a ghastly ‘crunch’ noise and stop dead).

Today has, in fact, been a bit of a slog though. Indeed whilst fitting the differential went very smoothly, nay, incredibly smoothly (at least, assuming I don’t get down there tomorrow and find a huge pool of oil under the car, or that a rending metal noise does not occur when we’re enroute to the garage for the MOT).

If you’ve never worked under a car before, a way to simulate it would be to crawl under your bed with some 2kg bags of sugar. Now, whilst an assistant sprinkles you with bits of mud and grit, and ideally whilst rubbing your head in a mixture of mud and oil, hold the weights up at the most inconvenient angle you can until you’re whimpering from the pain.
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Originally published at Kates Journal. You can comment here or there.

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So, despite having not made any more progress on the house (we have narrowed our selection of colours on paint, so I need to go and buy some, but I keep putting it off, because I’d like to do the woodwork first, and that means getting the minor sorted and back together, which means, ideally, a few days off in a row), I’ve treated myself to a birthday gift.

Heated seats.

Now, if I was clever, and trusted myself, I’d also like fabric covers for the seats in the minor, but I don’t think I’m quite at that level*, although I’d miss the look of the vinyl. I understand that they make leather seat covers to match the original vinyl ones, which is an interesting possibility. Anyhow, for the ‘moment’ I’ve got new foam, new seat springing things (it’s a big rubber sheet to replace the original straps) and new straps to replace the ones at the back.

Irritatingly it’s a job I’ve actually already done once, when a seat frame collapsed on Rebecca years ago I stripped the driver’s seat down and replaced the broken straps and ‘repaired’ the seat with a ‘temporary’ repair of riveting it using a chunk of scrap aluminium. That was about 8 years ago though, and at the time I didn’t buy enough straps to replace the straps in the back section, so ended up selecting the least-bad of them to make the back up.

Now whilst both seats aren’t actually too bad on their seat bases, on both of them the backs have given out hopelessly, making driving actually quite uncomfortable. Since she’s off the road for a while longer it seemed a good opportunity to fix the seat problem. It does make the tetris cushion Kathryn made me redundant from the car-comfort job, but it’s such a gorgeous cushion I quite like having it in the lounge, where it is unlikely to get quite so dirty.

I’ve got a spare seat base which I can use to replace the temporarily repaired one, and in an exciting development (and the sole reason I got new foam) I’ve got… seat heaters. I’ve wanted them ever since experiencing the excitement of seat heaters on Chester (although they are both now, sadly, dead). I actually bought everything to do the seats except the seat heater and foam because I felt it was really an unjustifiable expense. And then I thought about it a bit more – I’m hoping not to need to strip the seats again for a very long time. Which would mean no seat heaters for a very long time. So I trawled the universe and found some reasonably priced carbon seat heaters (these seem to be the in thing in seat heating, although there’s something e-ink based elements which sound like ‘the next big thing’), with a mod suggested so that whilst there’s only one temperature control you can at least switch the two seats independently.

I’ve also, finally, bought the liner for the glove box, which is interestingly fuzzy inside. I don’t recall the original being fuzzy (and we all know how I’m a stickler for originality ;) ). So, that’s quite exciting. Anyhow, I’m trying to persuade myself to go down to the garage, but I’m not really in the mood for attacking seats. Especially since I actually spent my birthday at work, and this morning having a few hairs zapped, I’m quite feeling like spending today reading :)

I’m not very good at taking days off. And some days it’s nice to work on the car, but I was pretty tired yesterday (shattered, let’s be honest) and so the idea of curling up with a slice of birthday cake, a cup of tea, and a book is pretty appealing. I do need, however, to do the washing up first.

* Although, one of my birthday gifts from Kathryn was an awesome Contemporary Upholstery book – because up under (or combined with) the pile of boxes upstairs is the remnants of a 20th century chaise longue which I’m wanting to reupholster. Just need to actually sort out the boxes first.

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

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Well, I’m not sure. I collected Chester yesterday, and he’s clearly much better. The handbrake’s no longer sticking (fitted with new cylinders, new handbrake cable and new shoes. Thankfully the drums survived) and so pulling away doesn’t feel like the car’s dragging it’s feet.

However, tbh, despite it being almost a year since the last service he’s actually been running fairly well the last few weeks, so there wasn’t an awesome change in running which I have encountered after abusing cars in this way before. But normally our garage warn us when we’re nearing the 400 quid mark. Unfortunately, I think they’ve got used to the fact that we will keep Chester on the road, pretty much against the odds. That I’ll source parts for even expensive repairs (like a new front strut), because I’d much rather keep a solid old car on the road than buy a scabby but just as expensive to maintain modern car where parts are cheaper.

So when they wandered past 400 quid they didn’t tell us this time. And the fact that their basic service is now just shy of 200 quid….didn’t help – and that it was a 12k service, not a 6k service (last time the service bit of the job was just over 50 quid +VAT).

And then…they forgot to actually bill us for the service, so as I was quietly in pain from the £450 quid ‘service’, shortly after I pulled up to the house they rang and said ‘oh, we forgot to bill you for the actual service’. I said that my invoice said ‘service’ on it, because I thought it did and had been looking through old invoices to decide how much whimpering I should do…

…and offered to go check. And got in the car, instantly apologised, and then when he said it was 200 quid extra I believe the words out of my mouth were ‘How much?! On top of the £400?!’. I may have said ‘Are you serious!’, although I’m not sure. I paid it though, obviously. But I’ve really got to get back to servicing the car myself. Doing the brakes would have been hassley, but it’s definitely within my sphere of competence. The service itself is pretty easy stuff, and probably would have been no problem.

It’s just adjusting those vario-belts that gets me.

Anyhow. I just have to remind myself that in general he’s cheaper to run than a modern car, unless we did the evil ‘run it until it dies and replace’ model of car ownership. And that our insurance is “insanely low” because he’s old enough to be covered under a multi-car classic policy.

But I’m still holding out slightly on buying the replacement parts that he still needs, there are two tie bar bushes (currently hard rubber, will be replaced with polybushes because sports stuff is much more easily sourced) and similarly there’s a brake hose that needs replacing. P’raps once the minor’s out of the garage I’ll force myself down there and work on Chester.

On the Minor front, one of the two packages of ‘stuff’ I ordered for her have arrived. I might consider going down there once I’ve done my day’s cleaning duties to p’raps get one of the seats into usable condition. I was having temptation to fit a heated seat, but having considered it I think if I were to do that I should have got new flame-retardant seat foam (which I have not) and thus it should probably wait.

When the other package of ‘stuff’ arrives, the ‘new’ diff can go in, and the car should be mobile. Although she may need a new battery, I think I’ve somewhat hurt that one. She does need a wash, and she needs a polish too…

Then I can get back to cutting up wood for the house.

My main plan for today was to work on the garden, but it’s raining, which is upsetting. If it stops I may go and force chunks of wood thorough our chipper.

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

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So we’re well into the time of year when we should have little tomato shoots sprouting and growing up towards the sky. Only we’ve not. We’ve got packets all out and sorted ready – and once I’ve warmed up again I’ll start working on planting, but as usual we did the dumb-ass thing we normally do. We left the propagator bases outside. And some of them seem to have gone missing. I’m not sure where they are, which is somewhat upsetting. We appear to have most of them though…

I’ve just been trailing round the garden, which was quite fun when the sun was out (despite the layer of ice on the water out there – can I point out that it’s march, and I don’t really expect to see a layer of ice on water). But it became distinctly less fun when the sun went in and the clouds rolled over (as they are wont to do at the moment).

Having located them, then comes the job of getting them clean enough to be in the house. This is one of the things you’d think we’d learn. After a few years of our version of gardening (largely plant many things, see what survives) you’d think that we’d have worked out that leaving the propagators outside leads to them getting covered in dirt, and the little clear plastic covers getting broken. We did better this year, just the bases were outside, and one cover (that I think we couldn’t find last year) was lurking under a pile of scrap wood. Yes, our garden is a disaster area, thank you for asking.

Also, on the plus side, I found our missing trowel. It went missing at some point during planting last year, which was obviously upsetting, and it appears to have been covered by ‘a lot’ of dirt. However, the miserable rain we’ve had washed off enough that I went ‘hang on a minute, that looks like a trowel’ today, and lo, there it was.

So yay.

Unfortunately, being out there for even the half hour or so that I was has demonstrated that my cough is not better, however much I might hope. I have come back in to sit in the relative warmth of the house, and having settled back in my cough has settled back down, but it was tedious for a little while. My nose, also, seems to have decided to spend today running. I’m not sure where it’s trying to get, but it seems to want to get there fast. Feh.

Anyhow, today we shall try for planting tomatoes, and anything else which proclaims “Plant in march”. Although a lot of things say “Plant in late march, after the threat of frost has passed” which, given that it’s April in a couple of days, and that there’s still a good layer of ice on the bucket of water outside (no, there’s no good reason for us having a large bucket of water outside), I’d say that threat’s not quite passed yet.

I’ve also made a list/shopping basket on our favoured mud suppliers, this is because we need more mud. Lots more mud. Mud and gravel. And they have 10% off this weekend, so when my beloved arrives home I’m inclined to consider ordering a big pile of mud and gravel. I suspect, actually, we need much more than is in my ‘shopping basket’ at the moment, but as the order already comes to 300 quid, I think I best stop there.

So that is task one for the day. I also used the ‘searching for the garden stuff in the garage’ opportunity to hook Rebecca back up to the slow-charger, so that when the ‘new’ differential arrives (winging its way from Berkshire, it is) I can install it, and she will be able to move. Of course, this means that I also need to place the scary big order from Bull Motif – because frankly I’m fed up of my arse nearly touching the floor from the failed seat-straps. Also, I’m fed up of water dripping on me from the roof, I’d rather it ran down the inside of the roof-lining and disappeared down the water runs. I’d no idea there was so much condensation on the inside of the roof. Also, one of the sound-deadening panels has dripped something manky down the door (glue, I imagine) which needs cleaning. Oh, and I’d quite like the radio to work, rather than just being ornamental, which means fitting the kick panels where the speakers are meant to live. On top of this list of minor (ha) list of parts, she also needs new seals and I think I should fit new bearings to the axle, given that the old ones were subject to the fine-fine grit of a disintegrated differential.

I’m hoping that someone’ll buy the old diff on E-bay for ‘money’, although I imagine not.

So, the other job I’m working towards tackling whilst I’m laid low with this cough (I don’t really want to be sanding stuff and faffing about on ladders when I’m hacking up a lung) is The Horror. This is The Horror:

The Horror

See, when I moved out of my parents house I boxed up a lot of stuff. And when my dad died, I boxed up some of his stuff. And when I moved to Slough, I boxed up a bunch of stuff. And when Kathryn moved in, we left some of her stuff boxed up.

A couple of those boxes are CD and DVD boxes. They’re easy: Strip artwork out, plastic for freecycle or recycle, artwork into a much smaller box (when we settle finally, I’d like a music library with all the albums out and nicely shelved). DVD’s I’m not so sure I’ll want out – because with film I’m not so bothered about the medium. Purely digital media doesn’t bother me at all for film – although I would like a more reliable method of backing it up (really that’s just a case of sucking it up and paying for a decent RAID array). Some of the boxes are books. Many, many photos. It’s just a case with them of sucking it up, sorting through them – keeping a few that might want to be album’d, chucking most and storing the negatives. Some of the boxes are assorted ornaments and desk stuff – which are largely going to be an awful nightmare to sort. I’m trying to build up the willpower to get a box down and start. The idea is, if I can do one or two boxes a day, then I should be through the pile in not very long and meet our requirement that nothing goes up in the attic except, possibly, my dad’s prototype computer hardware which I want to display but have yet to obtain the means to do so. I suppose one of those 1930′s glass / bow fronted cabinets would be the best bet :)

No where to put one in this house though! I quite like the idea of that, in my final office space though. A little miniature museum of old tech. Hrm.

Then there’s the job. See, I applied for a Senior Staff Nurse position, and I came second. This in itself is not unusual. I’ve come second a lot in job interviews. I came second in a position with the BBC (they said “if the person turns it down or their references don’t work out, we’d like to contact you”… they never did though). I have come second in lots of SSN positions – which has meant that I’ve been offered senior positions later, without interview. This time, I’m actually in a position to take the rather nice and suddenly offered second place prize – which is 2 months of the job that I applied for. For the person who’s got the job can’t start for 2 and a half months, so the plan is that in half-a-month I’ll do the job for 2 months. Which is both scary and exciting, and mentally leaves me thinking “Oh god it’ll be a disaster”. Which just goes to show I should have more faith in myself, because I did the role when I was working in Reading.

Incidentally, the reason I came second? I didn’t ‘sell myself’. This does not come as a huge surprise.

Uh, so, that’s my ramble for the day.

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

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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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So, News:


The Seager Brother’s piano is now in tune. Ish. Close enough for jazz, as they say. Apparently it’s a little flat, but it – our tuner reckons – has always been a little flat. Or at least, sufficiently always as to not be a good idea to change her. And whilst yesterday I said I didn’t recall whether previous tuners had mentioned it (the poor beast was last tuned at least 6 years ago – and by my mum’s piano tuner), I do faintly recall her mentioning it.

The hammer, which we thought went missing when @aminorjourney was giving it a thorough work out (and was definitely not the first hammer to break in it) apparently didn’t. I thought, honestly was convinced that Nikki and I had checked out all the notes, and that they’d been working. Apparently not. Apparently it went missing at some point before that. At any rate, our illustrious tuner will be returning with a spare hammer and, most excitingly, a music stand. I’ve had this piano about 31 years, and at no point has it had a music stand. It came with the broken remnants of one, and we’d always bull-dog clip the music to it, and when I was practicing longer pieces, my dad would sit next to me to flip the pages (and remind me to actually practice). Eventually, we got my dad’s piano, which was in substantially better condition (but ended up being difficult to make keep tune, because it was wood framed and the wood had dried out), and ‘my’ piano went to live in the garage*. It’s been submerged in 3 foot of water (the flood waters reached approximately a metre deep in my mum’s house, which would have been lapping at the base of the keyboard), ferried around in the back of a transit having been (wo)man handled into the back of a truck off a forklift. If you can abuse it in some way, it’s been abused in that way.

The previous owners took a power-sander to one end. I mean, really. A power sander on a 1891 piano.



Incidentally, that looks to me like July 1891 Jubilee. I got quite excited for a second by the concept that it might have been for the Austro-Hungarian jubilee exhibition. I mean, that would be pretty nifty, but July’s too late. That was in May. The only Jubilee I know of in 1891 is Punch magazine, and what they’d be doing with a Piano from a small piano maker I don’t know, so I can’t imagine an obvious connection there. I’ve always been intrigued, though, by that marking.

Anyhow, she now sounds like a piano. I’m sure professional musicians would be sadly disappointed in what I consider adequately in tune. But I am satisfied that she sounds like a piano.

Sufficiently so that I spent some time attacking the ivories**. First Tom Lehrer, because I need some inspiration. Then some ‘Joy of Piano’ simplified fluff – but what was pleasing about that was that despite my keyboard ineptitude, something akin to music did come out at several points. It was, at least, not totally unrecognisable. I had some idea that it was (a) music and (b) a chunk of the New World Symphony.

Which was enormously gratifying. Sufficiently so that despite my achy fingers, I shall endeavour to continue this ‘practicing’ m’larkey up.

Ivories tickled... On with the rest of the day :)

In other news. Rebecca. *sigh*.

What to do with a problem like Rebecca.

No, seriously. Taking a step back and reducing the panic to a more manageable level, because staring a massive bill in the face (and weeping) is what I’ve been trying to contend with. What I have to remember, and tend to forget, because I’m ridiculously impatient, is that I don’t need her back on the road right now. Yes, I want her back on the road. Yes, I do. Because I like driving my beloved minor. It’s that simple.

But that is not actually a requirement. We/I am not without transport. I have Molly to get around the city on, and Chester for longer trips. Kathryn, despite the train’s many failings*** take Chester only on Sundays when the train service moves from overpriced bucket of crap to unusable bucket of crap (with a free side of insultingly overpriced).

So. Stepping back, let’s look at the big picture.

The big picture is the Warp 9″ motor going in once we’re in Canada; until then we’re going to keep using the 1275 with a fast-road-cam. This engine is marginal on the standard Morris/Wolsey/Riley diff. Those diffs were mated with, and were considered just-strong-enough for 83ft/lb torque and 55bhp (more or less; the rated output of a 1.5l B series engine), the engine in Rebecca should give about 75ft/lb and 70bhp. So theoretically, if I drive ‘like a nun’, it should hold together. And I don’t tend to thrash her wildly anymore, because I’m not in that much of a hurry to get anywhere.

However, putting in a standard diff with the 9″ Warp motor is going to be hysterically metal shaving inducing. That dinky little electric motor (which I can’t lift) provides 152ft/lbs of torque and 82Hp. That will turn the standard diff into powdered metal quicker’n I can get the car off the ramps. So that’s a big fat no.

But what has been flagged up to me is that Volvo 240s do a very nice limited slip differential, which comes in a range of ratios (an insanely large range of ratios) and are built like battleships. They’re unpopular only insofar as no-one ever needs to replace them (apart from the guys who use them to build hot-rods and thrash them mercilessly).

I’ve let the Capri axle I was looking at go, because it’s apparently an English diff, not an Atlas one, and that would have been a touch marginal on the torque/strength side. I suspect my dad’s Escort, which ate diffs, probably had the English Diff, judging by the comments from the rallying crowd. (If anyone ever sees SBH392R****, I’ve got some nice pics of her, although I imagine she’s scrap by now. Easily recognisable, said ‘FOFD’ on the boot, thanks to Ford’s awesome quality control).

Anyway, meandering somewhat.

So, the question is, do I try and pick up a Volvo 240 axle (complete with axle etc), get it shortened (apparently you can get it shortened to minor lengths without trimming the half shafts, which is excellent news), and mounts made, and a special prop shaft… now.

Or do I spend 70-80 quid on a second hand diff of unknown provenance, and throw it in, and just see how I get on for the time being, and do the Volvo axle later.

I’m tempted by getting her on the road, but really that’s a waste of money that I don’t have spare.


Needs more thought, I feel.

Incidentally, the place I rang about Volvo parts don’t think they have a 240 axle in, at the moment…

* I’m often stunned at how tolerant my parents were of me. Things I had that were of no use at all throughout my childhood included massive chunks of CTL Mini computers, A manual telephone exchange operator’s desk, a spare piano (in case, what, the other one rolled off or joined the circus?), and eventually a rusted out heap of a Morris Minor… more on that momentarily.

** I’d say ‘tickling’, but it was more like a masacre. I’d no idea how rusty I’d got. Then there are the terribly amusing pauses as I stare at the music and try and work out which note that is meant to be, and whether I’m playing it.

*** And believe me, there are many and manifold ones.

**** It’s funny how that plate has stuck in my head. I can’t remember the numbers off my mum’s Fiat 126 – that was HNK…Y, and the other cars my parents had never stuck with me. But the Fofd, that was bought because my mum was pregnant with me, and that old Austin A40 wasn’t big enough (also was rusting away – indeed the front wing was made, partially, out of wood, I’m told).

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

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So, I know, in my heart of hearts that my car is not a person. I know she is no more a person than the piano stool, and the personality I imbue her with is merely a reflection of myself and the miriad mechanical parts of which she is made, and some distillation of the many and various people who’ve worked on her over her many years on this Earth (and their standards of quality, and what is ‘good enough’).

I know this.

I know this because I am not insane, and am only a moderately foolish person.

I know that when I feel that broken down vehicles are sad, or lonely, that again is a reflection of my own emotions rather than something that is inherent in them.

But still, after the vast amount of money sunk into Rebecca, the fact she’s fairly thoroughly broken again, and that having had discussions with various (more experienced) sorts than me have led me to the conclusion that it’s not worth replacing the differential that was in the car, because the engine has sufficient umph that it will probably eat it for breakfast. Which’d be 450 quid drainwards. And even if it didn’t, the 150lb/ft / 82Hp Warp 9″ motor sat in the garage and awaiting fitting will not merely eat the riley differential for breakfast, it will devour it, its kin (including distant and far-flung relations) and then set fire to the family home before going on a merry diff destroying rampage.

So instead, I’m contemplating other rear-axle options.

Which is sad, I liked the fact that apart from the engine and front brakes, my minor would remain essentially minor. But I don’t think that spending a fortune on a new diff to have it turned into freshly ground steel is a terribly wise plan.

Thoughts at the moment are:

- Ford Escort / Capri diff – this has the advantage of there being bolt-on kits available, and also of only needing the half-shafts modifying to fit the Morris Minor’s wheel’s PCD. Also – I’ve been offered one for £100 plus shipping, which has only covered 65k miles… I’m taking this as ‘not bad’. I’d need new (custom) handbrake cables, flexible brake pipes, and a new prop shaft made up, and a mounting kit, but that should be about it. The mounting kit is off-the-shelf, and spares are plentiful because people use the Escort diff for rallying…

- Volvo 240 Diff – this was suggested by Jonny Smith who’s doing the awesome flux capacitor – which was once my Enfield*. The 240 axle would need shortening, but would be insanely tough. It also would mean the minor would be disk braked all round… which is excessive! The cost saving of buying a 240 diff and axle would probably be lost in shortening it and making up mounts, because there’s no 240 axle fitting kit.

I’m currently talking to someone about a Capri diff, for which they want 100 quid for it – it’s from a car that only covered 65k miles, but it’s an English, not an Atlas differential. Apparently the Atlas diff is the stronger variant… And I need to perhaps ring a few places to work out how much the 240 diff might be to convert.

And then, well, we’ll see.

But still, sometimes I think that she hates me!

* I wish to point out that it was the owner prior to my mum that put the Rover grille on the Enfield, not us!

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

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So, whilst I was on my nights I came across this sign, which actually caused me near physical discomfort. It made parts of my brain really, really uncomfortable and I came away from it with that kind of flickering twitchyness that comes from something inherently wrong existing.


Yes, yes! Fear the kerning disaster. I just want to run over and *FIX* it. I’m guessing it ‘looked fine in word’. I blame this on my graphic-design-in-my-youth-to-20s/technical writing history. This is why we don’t use word people, because it’s a bucketload of shit*.

Thankfully, there were nice staff on shift to take my mind off the horror ;)

Also, Bristol decided to bless me with a gorgeous (if cold) day as I cycled home…

Home time (@fuckyeahbristol)

Insanity is just seconds away. (@fuckyeahbristol)

Today is my post-nights day off, and then tomorrow is the joy of painting. Hopefully I can get it all finished tomorrow, (if two coats are sufficient for both the ceiling and the walls), then Sunday I can put the light up… Tuesday, when Kathryn’s home, we could pop the phone on the wall – then it’ll be the shelves under the stairs after that. But finishing the major work in the hall means we can properly clean the house, apart from Kathryn’s office… which will be awesome

Nikki is suggesting she may be free for a bit on Sunday, which may mean that I finally find the time and energy to remove the diff from Rebecca, so she can get back on the road.

I also need to resist this. If we were staying here, that might actually be impossible. But I keep reminding myself that whist it falls into the category of ‘we could get it going for under 3k’, it would not fulfil the “could replace Chester for Kathryn’s work” requirement – which requires a top speed of at least 60 and a range of at least 40 miles. Also, as time goes on, the 3k requirement becomes a smaller and smaller value, because the amount we’d save by having an EV drops since we won’t be here as long to recoup the funds…

But a Reliant Rebel EV, that’s pretty cool. Not as cool as the DAF EV, but much better converted, looking at it. Mind, that’s not hard.

* Personal opinion, YMMV.

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

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So, I had mentally scheduled (indeed I’d actually scheduled) today to work on RebeccaMog. Having sucked it up and accepted that we’re not going to have her EVified before we go to Nova Scotia, she needs to be made roadworthy again and today’s plan was to strip out the diff. However, you may be aware that it’s snowed here. It’s snowed, and the temperature is indicated to be -1 (“feels like -3″). Given that the gas cylinder in the heater ran out a while back and this would involve significant lying on the floor I decided that discretion was the better part of valour*. There’s also the factor of the GT550. It is on e-bay and will hopefully be whisked off by the next time I have a couple of days off so there should be some more space in the garage to work, which will be nice. Although I’m really going to miss having a motorbike. It’s one of those things that’s become part of my identity and not having the bike is kinda weird. Dyke with a bike, only no bike**. Meh.

Anyhow, so, that not being on the list, the vacuum was instantly filled by many other little jobs. So I spent some time (quite a lot of time, really) fixing the old Dead Bug Jumping podcast. Whilst I couldn’t find a speed changing plugin for Ardour, I could find one for Audacity. And while Audacity feels very…basic…now, after Ardour, and I spent quite a lot of time going “Argh” as things work differently in each application, Dead Bug Jumping now sports a complete set of updated podcast episodes with the first track playing at some approximation of the right speed. It is only an approximation – but given the variability of gramophone playback, I’m not too worried. The new episodes are recorded at a stroboscopically checked 78rpm, so that shouldn’t be a problem again.

That essentially took up the morning, but I did take a moment to put our meter readings on our utility supplier’s billing page, and then saw a ‘how do you compare’ kind of thing. And if you’ll forgive me a moment’s smugness:

Mmm, smug much?

Mmm, smug much?

Now, it’s not wholly accurate, because our last months reading was much higher than expected (although, to be fair, it’s been sodding freezing, and our heating is struggling to keep pace (one heater down, missing internal doors, it’s all not good for it). But I’m quite pleased about that. We’re doing quite well. Combine that with our reduced car usage (Kathryn commutes in it once a week) and my fairly committed cycling to work (although the cycling through the snow probably suggests I should be committed, rather than am committed), local food shopping, and habit of buying most things second hand and so on, and I’m feeling that for once we’re actually starting to do our bit. There’s much more that we could and should do, but until we get moved and settled, I don’t feel this is a bad place to be.

This is obviously the appropriate moment to segue directly into my consumerism. Heh. So, I am weak. Whatever… ;)

No, seriously. The Superpad III has continued it’s previously unsullied run of disappointment, continuing to be crap and randomly not working very well. I have to say it’s the worst piece of tech I’ve ever owned, and I really, really, really wish I could have found a solution that used the (now sold) iPaq. But the plan was (at least in my head) to pick up a slimp3:


I’ve even had logitech’s Squeezebox Server running on the music server in the optimistic hope it might attract a slimp3 to the house. Now, I’d given in and started considering that maybe a Squeezebox 1 would do. It is no-where near as pretty as the slimp3, but it would work, and it would mean I could free up that end of the book shelf, and get rid of some trailing wires, and also flog off the Superpad. All a win.

I’ve been trying to win one on e-bay to no avail, really, and then I came across this. Which is disappointing. See, logitech, you nearly had me. I may well still pick one up, because I’m not relying on it for internet radio, and obsolete technology’s pretty much par for the course in our house. But for once I was nearly sucked into a modern device. Granted, I reckoned the first iteration, long discontinued, was the one I wanted. But Logitech have handily saved me from that slippery slope.

Anyhow, most of the day has been spent doing paperwork. I’ve reapplied (for the third time) for the tax relief allowed to nurses (and a reclaim for the past 6 years (working up to 7)). You’re only normally allowed to claim for 5 years, but since I applied in 2008, and in 2009, and in both cases they lost the form, I’ve stated that I still want my tax reclaim to go back to 2006. I’d put it off so long because it means actually trawling through bank statement after bank statement – although I realised after a bit that my subscription to the Emergency Nursing journal, whist it changes price, it only changes once a year, so I only needed to find the cost for each year. And then having checked my UNISON subs, and found they’re the same in the first year as they are now (bargain!), I just stuck the same amount in for each year. That, therefore, did not take near as long as I thought it would (although there was still a fair amount of trawling). Also, thankfully, it turns out the NMC registration price has apparently remained unchanged every year. Which surprised me, because I thought it had gone up. But the website I found said ‘same price every year, back to 1996, when there was a massive price hike. So that all made life simpler. Of course, then I had to have 4 stabs at writing a letter to say what I wanted which didn’t say “I got heartily sick of pissing around trying to get you to contact me on a day when I was at home, since you refused to give me a direct dial number and would only do a ‘we will ring back within a few days’ thing”.

I managed to get it down to faintly irritated with an apology for being slightly irritated. Which I thought wasn’t too bad.

So that’s now in an envelope awaiting the tender ministrations of the post office.

I’ve also faxed various documents to Canada (to WES). I don’t know if you’re allowed to fax documents to them, but it seemed a bit pointless to mail them photocopies. I can do it if they want, but hey. It doesn’t say you can’t fax them.

I also sent the NMC more money, because I love them so. Or alternatively because they wanted more money to send things to Nova Scotia. As I suspected the “we’ll send it to multiple places’ only applies if you do them all at the same time. Feh. Feh, I say.

All in all, it’s been a wildly dull day, really. And now I’m sat ripping CDs again, before cooking dinner. I’ve managed to make myself feel that faint unwell that comes from spending the entire day inside looking at a computer with a fire going. And then I’m back at work more than normal this week (this is one of the make-up-shift weeks for the slight under-hours I do by working 12 hour shifts). Which is why I’d put off starting the hall until this week is done, because after Sunday I should have enough days off to get the hallway finished. Which would be really a very nice treat.

* or calor, given that it’s a calor gas heater….
** Unless we include the 1930′s pushbike collection, which brings to mind an entirely different dykey image.

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

pyoor_excuse: (Default)

So, having submitted and paid for the Nova Scotia nurses board registration*, that’s given us a sort of time line for departure. Not a fixed “we’ll be leaving at point X” timeline. But a rough idea timeline. 6 months for registration, a few months for finding a job and selling the house, and lo, we should be gone.

We’d also like to do some travelling. And saving up. But essentially. Timeline.

Which means that however I slice the cupcake (and I’ve tried many ways), I don’t think I can really schedule doing the Minor EV conversion before we go. I’d love to. I look at the sums and say “we’ll spend probably a grand on fuel, just going to my mum’s”. I think, every time I fill up the car with petrol ‘oh god, I hate petrol cars’. I despise supporting Esso, Shell and BP in their destruction of the environment. Whenever I’m stuck in a traffic jam I just am filled with this unutterable disappointment in the modern world, and in the fact that my friend Nikki was so ahead of the curve on this, and I’m still trailing along.

But it’s a simple case of “we aren’t rich enough for that”. The old adage about quick/quality/price kicks in, and to do the project quickly, to the standard I want to do it, would cost vastly more than I have. To do the project at all requires me saving up some cash, but to do it to the standard I’d like to do it, it’s simply not going to happen at this point. And as John pointed out yesterday – I don’t want to get half way through and then need to move, and need to move with an immobile minor. Not a good plan.

On the plus side, most of the bits I’ve got will remain ‘good enough’ for the project. The DC-DC, the pump, the motor and the controller are all fine. I’ll just have to package them up and ship them over… Which is irritating. But the disappointment of having pulled the Minor off the road for months, only to put her back on (when I get the diff fixed) with no improvement in her environmental impact is staggeringly sucky.

The only upside is that when we get to Canada, having a car will be handy, and Rebecca is likely to have to step into that role rather quickly.

Anyhow, I need to get on with cooking, grouting and painting. So, back to the grindstone with me. :)

* So they can tell me whether I’m eligible to sit the exam, which we think/hope I am, which will mean I can sit the exam and then register as a nurse, and then get a job there**
** Anyone want a registered emergency nurse in Nova Scotia?

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

The list

Sep. 29th, 2012 12:31 pm
pyoor_excuse: (Default)

So, I’ve got a little list of things to do when I finish my dissertation…More for me than anyone else, really.

Read the rest of this entry » )

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

pyoor_excuse: (Default)


So, despite hideous tropical humidity, and the world (or at least the English bit of the world) being pretty awful to be working in (in a ugh – it’s really humid way), we put Rebecca in the garage today. With thanks to my awesome friends who came, helped me jumpstart her, and guided her into the garage. It was a hitch free move, thankfully, and surprisingly. And the rebuilt engine? Started easily – given that she’s been sat, unstarted for months.

So yay.

This is the second step in the EV conversion :)

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

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