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So, with a little break in the middle we've spent a week touring physically, and a week having our minds enlarged ;)

So, let's begin at the beginning. Late in the evening a heavily laden DAF (one with a cornucopia of spares, tools and indeed our luggage) clattered out from a quiet suburban street in Slough. Not the DAF we wanted to take; no; because that was stuck at a garage. Instead it was Vixy, the veritable home of light use that was to carry us around Europe*. Our 'plan' consisted of a ferry across to Calais (cheapest), then driving from there to Brugge (in Belgium). After that things got a bit hazy, plan wise, and involved the Ardennes, and Germany, and Luxembourg. That kind of thing.mahusive post about our tour )
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1) Kathryn drives much more economically than me.
2) It took me much longer than it should to work out the DAF's MPG. Given that I think she's still not running quite right (mixture wise), and am pondering whether there's some clutch slippage going on, we should be able to get better fuel economy from 'em.

The result of the pondering is that a 1974 DAF 44 returns, with an economical driver, 38mpg (which equates to approximately a CO2 rating of 194g/km (or, adjusting for how optimistic auto manufacturers are, about 155g/km). That latter 'adjusted' value is disconcertingly close to a Mini One.

But the government in their pseudo-green drive are scrapping cars that are just as green as the modern ones, discounting the energy required to build cars, and essentially are propping up companies that failed to adapt to changing market conditions with more environmental destruction. Thanks Labour. Don't think you'll be having my vote. You've actually driven me to voting for the Greens. Seriously. I never thought I'd do that.

Sadly, incidentally, there've been some classics which were casualties of the destructiveness of this government... Anyone who said Classics wouldn't be affected want to reconsider that answer.


In other news, I've been continuing to ponder the construction of an EV-DAF. Slightly prompted by Mr Clarkson's annoying take on the (probably awful, but his whining about all EVs and his belief that climate change is all in everyone-elses heads make me want to recommend it anyhow) Honda Insight Mk II*. I knew it'd been done before, albeit somewhat badly - Nikki B, of the a minor journey EV blog & appearances on EV cast waved it at me a while ago - essentially, this conversion consisted of a Milkfloat motor dropped into a DAF with some scaffold board to support it. That the owner claimed it moved at all was no mean feat.

What I didn't realise is that it'd been done somewhat more thoroughly somewhat earlier; twice. Shell used the cute little DAF to build a Fuel Cell Hybrid (yes, seriously) in the 60s.

I wonder if the technology of producing an extremely poor energy carrier for nothing is close to maturation yet ;)

Apparently it wasn't great - but what do you expect from 60's fuel cell and electric motor technology? The colour choice was good though :)

What was more interesting still (although the photo was very cool) was that there were two independent companies that built DAF 44 EVs in the states (in the 70s). CHW, in Athol, MA. (who later became 'ElectriCar' - and seem to have disappeared) and a company called EV Propulsion. Although the DCA chap has figures for CHW's cars (around 60 produced) he didn't mention how many EV Propulsion converted... But that, lack of money, time, space, and plans to do it in a vague and hazy future haven't stopped me mailing them.

Still, there's plenty to keep me entertained on them as it is. Vixy's off to an actual factual garage to have the brakes done, although I'm going to have a little go at mixture again tomorrow, having invested in a colortune. I'm also going to give her actual new spark-plugs. We'll see how that whole thing goes. Her new door should arrive in a couple of days time too, just a case of spraying it to, uh, match and fitting it. I'm looking forward to her having a window winder that works :)

Jejy's new wheel bearing is sat in the lounge too, all ready to be fitted, and I've got a 'source' hopefully tracking down a silencer (or two), wheels and some clutch shoes to re-con. The new drum and inlet manifold have arrived, so that's all shiny. Lots of work to do there...

I've got a quote for fetching the 'zed from my mum's to here. I think I'll go make it accessible, and then get the couriers to bring it over.

Unrelated but very, very good: We were sat in the garden and one of the birds (?sparrow) decided it didn't want to wait until we vacated the area - and hopped around a few feet from us (literally, 2-3 feet), fairly much disregarding us. It was really just incredible.

Unrelated but very, very bad: Change we can't believe in.

* I always rather liked the look of the Mark I, although tbh I want an EV that looks all futuristic and modern, not a Hybrid. Basically I want an EV1. Yes, I'm still whining.
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Work's been suprisingly pleasant of late; perhaps everyone'e scared of Swine Flu and haven't been coming in? Can we please keep it that way? I've had some odd ones though, in triage. People who've broken things days/weeks ago, not really in pain, slight, possible, deforimities and off to Xray they go, then we find out they've completely broken their humerus or fractured radius/ulnas... Also sick people who've actually been sick. It's been quite like actually working in an emergency department.

Then, to make things even more strange I was working in the Resus area; normally when I'm there it's like there's a neon sign that goes up outside and we get overdoses, cardiac arrests, infections-gone-septic and the odd bit of major trauma (at least potentially). I am like a magnet for the very sick and accident prone to go and be ill and fall off something. But on this occasion I had one person who was very sick who was there when I arrived - and some potentially sick kiddies who improved (one of whom kindly vomitted on my top).

I was quite confused. Why wasn't the red phone ringing constantly? Why was I stood there doing regular obs on people instead of running past going 'oh crap! His BP is 60 systolic! It was 120 before!' en-route to administer some drug to prop some other patient up for a bit.

Not that I'm complaining mind; I've quite enjoyed it. I've been riding my little red bike to work and bike, slow as it is, and now it's got a brake light working again I'll be much happier* (so it is, of course, raining today). Ironically, the MOT and Tax run out next month, so I'm contemplating using it as a spares bike to build up Charlie. I looked on e-bay and MZs aren't worth anything anymore. It's rather sad. They're on there really rarely, and now the company has gone, completely, as opposed to just being bought by new people every 3 weeks, they seem to have disappeared.

I've also wired the exhaust back on to the DAF - there's only about a foot between the missing exhaust hanger and the next one, but really... I've ordered bits of Morris Minor to use to hang it all back together properly(ish) - and will hopefully get a chance to do that this weekend. I need to get Vixy up on ramps and check the belt tension on her... but... the weather forecast looks attrocious. Which does not bode well :(

Vixy's booked into my local garage for the rear brakes to be done, too. I just need to actually source the parts. My local place can get them but they're more expensive than getting them shipped from Holland, although he's having a look through his personal stock and will give me a ring back with a price for that... apparently. Although he's yet to ever actually ring me back about anything.

I'm hoping, also, that the bits of car for Jejy will arrive before too long and Jejy will get a new clutch drum and new shoes, and an inlet manifold without a huge crack in it.

The garden continues to progress; lots of things are flowering and producing a great deal of pretty, we've got more Swiss Chard than we can eat, the beans are growing into great tall bean-stalks; we picked up some more plants when my mum was here (some more dogwood, and some other things which I'll journal about later) - which have gone in. I've clearly found an effective way of making it rain though, which is to remember to water the new plants. Then it pours with rain for the rest of the week :(

Anyhow, Lunch and then Work.

* My initial assumption was that the contacts were dirty &/or sticking, and would clean with a few uses. That has occured before, but having ridden to work it wasn't working. Riding it home, I presumed the bulb had blown; but no. I checked that and it was fine. Finally, in a fit of enthusiasm (and desire to not be squished, and having got fed up of doing hand signals) I dug around the foot brake switch on which both wires had broken. This made me happy because 10 minutes later they were resoldered and the bike has a brake light again :)
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Not all car stuff today; to skip the car stuff just scroll down to where it proclaims that car stuff endeth. :)

So, today I shuffled the cars to get the Minor on the drive, and whipped off the ill-fitting exhaust, separated the 45 degree segment at the base of the downpipe (which I spent about 40 minutes attacking last time with 'penetrating oil', this time I got the Plus-Gas on it, and the thing just came apart. Simple as that). Then, with Kathryn's help, we reattached the exhaust.

Only took from 11am to 3pm. I'm not very good at exhaust fitting, and having done it we drove into town and... it's rattling against something at the back. Usually this is the exhaust hitting the fuel tank; not a soothing noise at the best of times; so that's something to attack later.

Then I spent about half an hour adjusting the mixture. She's been running rich and idling too high. A bit of a tweak to that and she's now idling at a much more sensible speed and lord knows what the mixture's doing. I suck at setting carbs up, I keep meaning to buy a colortune to aid in my attrociousness. The DAFs have a much more 'relaxed' carb than the HiF44 in the Minor, which is slightly worn (not terribly so, she doesn't hunt horribly at idle) and which has proper mixture adjustment.

Still, she's running okay, so I'm going to presume it's alright for the minute.

Next week will be more car stuff, hopefully, in so far as I'm hoping that the brake bits will arrive for Jejy and Vixy and we can get them assembled.

Then comes the difficult decision, which of the cars to take on holiday with us. We're looking at around 1000 miles plus whatever motoring we do while we're there. The minor's swivel pins are worn, but I don't know how badly. Jejy's a big no-no, without the new clutch drum she's not going anywhere far (so that's easy), but Vixy? Vixy's kind of an unknown quantity. Unknown quantities aren't good for holiday relaxing, I find, but on the other hand she's been recently serviced by a garage, she'll have new brakes, she's got a spare pair of belts in the boot...

...and only 21k on the clock.

We'll see.

Anyway, hopefully we'll have less car-posts for y'all once this is done. Then we can return to the 'house posts'

car stuff endeth here

Mind you, I ought to do a garden post because the garden is *awesome*. Kathryn spent time today breaking up soil and prepping it, then planted some of our wild-flower seeds; she's hacked down pruned the buddleia, out the front, which officially needs to be dug up and moved into the raised bed at the front, but since the builders haven't quoted (or contacted me) then, uh, that's not quite happening yet. The back garden is looking really very nice; when she takes the photos off her camera and flickr's them I'll linky.

It is just amazing to look at the ground and go 'my god, they're beans. They are our beans, that we planted and they're growing. I could get quite into gardening, I fear. It's really lovely though, to go out there, in the nice weather we've been having and see plants we planted growing, and indeed growing well. It's not like either of us is particularly 'green fingered', but we've got good soil, and my mum's around to help and advise us (and Kathryn's mom is available for advice too :) ) and it's come together to be a really restful place, potentially.

And the lie and deception which is the gravel-over-concrete path appears to be working.

Anyhow, now it's time to make dinner. So I shall scoot.
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If I don't get what I want done, and I imagine that it's a reasonable amount of work that I've set myself, I feel very negative about the things I did achieve. I feel like I should have worked on the Minor, but I know, logically, that I've never managed to get a decent seal on the LCB manifold without help. And therefore, what would have been the point? And had Jagdev have said 'yes, I can get the parts' when I rang then I'd've been stuck. On the other hand, when we hit mid-day I should have realised I'd not get the brake parts in time to fit and bleed them, so I should, maybe, have started work on the Minor.

At any rate, tomorrow I'll have to get up early and do the Minor. I can douse the connections on Jejy and Vixy in plusgas too, in the hope that when I come to try and remove them I'll actually manage to get them off in one piece.

Looking at the positives: While the radio is tatty, it is fitted. The parts I need are ordered and possibly even winging their way here. And I painted the kitchen window aperture (whatever it's called) with basecoat to cover the shite layer of paint and flakey plaster up at the top of the window and the not-great plastering I did on the left hand edge. Ready to paint, my arse.

As a side point, I've not heard back from the builders about the quote for new work or fixing the old work since their 'I'll ask such-and-such'. See, negative.
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So, I spent some time fitting the radio 'properly' to the car (there's a bit of a limitation to how neat it was going to be without damaging the dash, and I didn't want to do that*). The Rover cassette radio (with presets no less, thanks John!) has been fitted into the 'standard ISO' holder -attrocious quality as it was, the wiring held out the way with tie-wraps, and all of it neatly crimped with my new crimping tool (nowt exciting, just a plain ordinary press as hard as you can crimper).

I bought a stick-on glass mount aerial (yes, I know they're not great, but I really didn't fancy drilling holes in the bodywork to fit an aerial; and quite frankly, unless it's roof mounted I think people like to snap them.

The total cost of that little toy? 10 quid.

I need to fix down the speakers at the back - I 'fitted' them yesterday but as I said, they're just resting on the parcel shelf at the moment.

I'm still waiting for the elusive call back from the auto-factor. I'm now 99% certain the parts won't be arriving today, if he can order them, and in a few minutes I'm going to declare that time's up and order the bits from Danny in Holland.

It's frustrating because I could have ordered them this morning and spent the day sorting out the Minor, but instead the whole morning's been spent doing footling little jobs and watching TV waiting for a phonecall...

...'I can't get them anywhere'
[thinks: "well why the frack did you not actually call and tell me that?!]
"Oh, that's okay, I'll order them from Holland".


Customer service here sometimes sucks. But at least we can do maths...

* In the end I opted to drill two very small holes (2.5mm) under the dash. Everything else is run through existing holes. Should anyone ever want to make her standard again they just have to weld up two tiny holes and paint over it with black.
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So today was hard going. Started at 9:30, finished at 17:30 with only a break for lunch and a couple of quick trips to (a)Halfords and (b)Proper MotorFactor.

At one point I was so demoralised I stood staring at Vixy wondering both how she'd actually managed to stay running so well, wondering if the fault I'd found had anything to do with the poor idle and failure to up-revs on braking, and contemplating whether she should return to the internet in search of a new home.

However, thankfully (I think), I opted not to do that.

Faults found and rectified today:
- Idle / Braking: There's an Electro-Magnetic doojit on the carb, it wasn't actually screwed in. I've no idea if it was sucking in air around the barely attached doojit, but certainly, doing it up screwed with the mixture. Then I found that the pipe which covers the join between the inlet manifold and one of the inlet pipes (it's got a flexible segment made by having a sleeve and a tube with a bit of rubber over it) was completely beyond saving. It was cracked and split and a mess. It's been replaced. The idle's now much better and the engine does it's thing when you put your foot on the brakes.

- Oil Leak: Turned out to be the oil-pressure warning sensor. It was leaking like a secret government meeting filled with double agents. Having spent an entertaining twenty minutes with my newly aquired 'shop towel' (like J-Cloths but less strength in tension and way more absorbent) cleaning gunky oil off bits of the engine I lay under the car waiting for the dripping to start. Sure enough, there was the leak, oozing it's way out of the pressure switch. Amazingly my local autofactor had one in stock. Took them about 20 minutes to find it, but they had it.

- Radio: Wired in and working, but I still need the bracket and an arial. Remarkably it can pick up Heart 106 (not that I like Heart 106, or it might be Star 106. It's 106, anyway) despite not having an arial. The tape bit sort-of-works, and sound comes out of the really rather silly Goodmans Speakers plonked on the back shelf. I do need some means of attaching them as they don't actually appear to have any means of attachment.

Discoveries of a non-awful nature:
- According to my wildly innacurate Autodata manual, the DAF has the pre-1972 wiring scheme. This is odd for a late '73 car. However, the Autodata manual is noted for it's similarity to the Haynes Book of Lies in the respect of ensuring things are accurate (like, for example, the non-existent Lockwasher I spent time angsting about).
- The exhaust really is an astonishing piece of bodgery. It changes diameter twice and appears to have been made by someone going 'hey, that's a big 'ol chunk of straight exhaust; that'll do'.

Things not fixed today:
- The brakes.

Discoverys of an unfortunate and upsetting nature:
- Jejy's brakes are dangerous. I took her to the store to get the oil pressure switch and had one of those 'oh-dear-god-I'm-going-to-die' moments when I put my foot on the brakes at a junction. The slightly weepy front cylinder has become the 'pouring brake fluid out in a very generous and lubricous nature thus ensuring stopping is a gentle and largely terrifing experience'. I had a look on arriving home, having got Vixy fairly much as far sorted as I could, and basically, the brake cylinder is the fucked. I've asked my local autofactor if he can order 3 brake cylinders for me, if not then they'll have to come urgent-first-class-next-day-as-soon-as from Holland, which'll be pricey.

Still, I consider myself to have rocked today. You may all praise me :)
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And I'm lying on the sofa. In a bit I'm going to take Vixy (the other DAF) out for a little jaunt to check out the new fuel mixture and brakes. They're still pulling to the right (odd, since the left is the new cylinder). Hopefully it'll settle down as the brakes bed in. The tyres on the front are knackered though.

The tyres on the back are, well, as old. So frankly it needs...guess what... four new tyres. But this time, just for fun, even the Minor suppliers don't have any budget tyres. And frankly, the DAF can cope with budget tyres. The minor's a bit more perky with 65bhp (not a great deal by modern means, but with cart-suspension at the back and lighter than a light thing on light-day she's a lot of fun) - and the grotty old 155 Nankangs are feeling their cheapitude. Particularly at speed on the motorway.

The DAF shod with Camacs though is acceptable. Not brilliant, certainly, but acceptable.

I don't really want to spend 40 quid plus per tyre, and so I've had to hunt around a lot, and have managed to come up with a company that says they have Nankang 145/80R14s in stock. If they do, once I've ordered, I'll share then name with everyone. But first we're going for a little drive-ette, see if all is well.

Plan for today is have a fairly chilled out day, probably poke at the lounge and give it a bit of a clean, paint the window-whatsit in the kitchen; tomorrow is probably going to be fairly full-on-car stuff because the DAF...that doesn't work any more does it... Jejy's sucky tubes should be arriving. So Jejy will get ramp'd and have a going over - fiddling with the mixture, installing miles* of new vacuum hoses and whatever. Hopefully new sucky tubes and a tweak to the carb and we'll be back to running well. I'm wondering if I should have ordered some new pipe to go between the manifold and the intake pipe (oddly DAFs have a flexible bit of tube on one side of the inlet manifold which, presumably, rots like all other rubber.

I've got a dinky bit of painting to do today, and I might, just might, have a go at making the steps in the back garden. Could all go horribly wrong, really. At any rate I ought to move off this sofa, because its graviational pull has worked its magic. I have to admit I watched BSG yesterday - fracking brilliant - need to see the next episode (this seems to happen every episode at the moment, it's all so tense, building to the end. Only it's not the end, there's that 2 hour special that's been shot. So...), the L Word (ack, need to see E09), this morning I watched the Tyre Ecohouse in Grand Designs. It's awesome.

I would love to build something like that. I'm still more of a straw bale person, but I'm wondering if you could combine the building techniques - do earth sheltered homes have to be all earth-sheltered? Mind you, I wanted (want) to build the tile arch thingie too. I'm so fickle. If I built everything I wanted I'd have tile-arched, timber-frame-and-straw-bale, earth sheltered, recycled tyre & recovered materials eco-house. It'd be a mess. So it really needs to be one or two of those technologies, probably :)

Oh, and I watched house.

I really need to get off my arse and actually do something, really**.

Links for the day:
- Bad minister. Stole a biscuit. If you don't believe in the evidence for evolution and Darwin then you should not be a science minister. Away with you.
- If only I wanted to live in Detroit
- This music is teh good.

Side point: Mac Still Shiny. Have a fun day folks.

* Well, feet. Technically, I'm told, there's about 18' of vacuum hose (split across two sizes) in a DAF44, so that's what I've ordered. In blue silicone tubing. I've not had the shipping conformation yet though.
** I did actually patch up my pj's while I've been sat here. Yes, Kate sewed. It's rare, and not good when you look at the quality, but my PJ's had a hole in approximately the size of my hand, and were destined for the bin otherwise...
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So, nights were made more entertaining than normal, or scary, depending on whether I was hearing the stories about the doctor or telling the stories about the doctor. Just remember, nurses save your life. Not always, but sometimes.

Let's just say that that was one of the more scary things I've had happen. Not quite as scary as the new doctor intubating someone, and despite me clearly saying "tell me what you need, I've never done this before" he got to paralysing the patient and then looked at me and went "oh shit, where's the tube".

Anyhow, post nights have, so far, not been too awful. I stayed up yesterday, pottering in the garden. I laid the last few bricks; and then threw gravel down on the new pseudo-patio area. It makes the straightness of the concrete look a big straight line of concrete. I'm already thinking we should have forked out for the weed control fabric, but hey, never mind.

I also spent some time in B&Q staring at concrete and (very lazy) mortar mixes; I'm definately feeling more inclined to spend the extra and get the pre-mix stuff, just because I need so little to do the stairs that it hardly seems worth getting a big bag of concrete, and once you factor in the big bag of stones and half a ton of builder's soft sand... well... it doesn't work out that much cheaper, I suspect.

Today I dropped Kathryn at school which proved to me that...the minor's exhaust is lower than it should be.

This I knew.

I think it's time for a state of the fleet address:

Transmission almost dead. 2nd and 3rd attrociously noisy, and sometimes not that easy to obtain. 1st sounds awful too. 4th's pretty good though!
Front suspension worn out.
Exhaust needs two parts separating which don't want to come apart (no matter how hard I try). I will have another go, though, since the current arrangement of parts has the exhaust fouling speedbumps.

Brake cylinder needs replacing.
Exhaust needs replacing.
Probably needs a rebore and new rings, burns oil like a good'un.
Needs new vacuum hoses, probably, and new heater hoses, definately...

Needs a new brake cylinder, I think, because the one that's not been replaced's leaking more than a teeny bit. I think the new cylinders are a different diameter to the old ones, and that would explain the uneven braking. I'm hoping the new shoes will improve the braking in the sense of making it more effective, but I doubt they'll do anything to improve the significant pull. Needs new gaiters on the front suspension...will Duct-tape do?
Needs 2 new tyres (well, probably needs 5, but I've not looked at the rear ones as hard as the front ones).

Just a few jobs then :-/

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