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Showing content with the highest reputation since 28/05/15 in Blog Entries

  1. 4 points
    As I live off grid and the daylight hours are failing, reducing the reliance on solar power for the next few months, it's time to give the old diesel generator a service. So that's my job today. I made the genny 29 years ago out of a 1968 Lister LR 1 engine driving a 12 volt alternator, charging a battery bank, which in turn supplies the house with 240V a.c. via a step up D.C. to A.C. inverter, and 12 V D.C. with the huge jumps in technology over the past few years and the increase in L.E.D. lighting and usb powered equipment, it means my reliance on 240 volts is now almost nil, and instead of having a huge battery bank, I can now rely on two 120 amp leisure batteries working independently and charged via a split charge relay. When wind and solar charging is not available, I only have to run the genny for 5-6 hours every 3 or 4 days. It runs on recycled cooking oil, and burns about 5 litres every 18 hours of running. So that's pretty economical. I've just got a new digital radio that runs off a usb plug, and I've got some usb powered lights on test just now to see what the power drain is like over the period of a week. Pic for reference.
  2. 3 points
    After many years of using our faithful Honda 536 mower, the poor old girl has finally come a cropper. Part of the cast aluminium deck where the rear roller attaches has sheared off, making it impossible to use. Over its 19 year tour of duty, it's had a couple of new gearboxes, a few springs and cables and numerous new blades. So we've had to buy a new one. Like the watch world, it seems that there are plenty of 'looky-likeys' in the mower world. The new mower is a 'Cobra', but looks almost identical to the Honda....in fact it uses exactly the same engine as the latest version of the Honda. The controls are identical, so are the wheels and rollers. The Cobra, however, has something that the Honda lacked...a large fan above the blade to create a massive updraught, and so blow the cuttings into the bag. This was always the Honda's downfall...it was hopeless at picking up...especially in the wet. Time will tell as to whether I like it or not....it was a fair bit cheaper than a new Honda, (though I didn't have any choice, as I don't pay the bills here!) I just hope the build quality is as good. The old girl won't be thrown away, though. We'll strip her down and get the deck welded and keep her as a reserve. A few pics of the new and old. And the final two pics are side views of the new and old so compare the similarity. Watch this space for more updates!
  3. 2 points
    After a pleasant night under canvas, the day is decidedly dreich. Overcast and rain. Today's journey is to the nearest town via the Gask Ridge and an old drovers track. From above Auchterarder to Perth. The Ridge is around ten miles long, and was fortified around ten years before Hadrian's Wall was built, and is believed to be Rome's earliest fortified frontier. There was a system of towers strategically placed along its length, the foundations are still clear to see. The road connecting them now forms part of the modern local road system. Onto the drovers track. Anyone who's into woodwork and burrs? Altogether a round trip of about 22 miles, and even in the pouring rain, enjoyable. I'm not using any high tech clothing. Oiled sailcloth cape and wool layers on top, wool still retains its thermal qualities when wet. For the better weather, a ventile shirt does fine. Next time I'm going to use my Kelly Kettle. The wood gas stove is too slow. More to follow.
  4. 2 points
    The secret society of the Scottish estate gardener is a little know subject that I shall now offer, at risk to my personal safety, a little insight. In days gone by, an apprentice gardener would be carefully vetted and chosen by the estate factor, more commonly known as the "wee laird" or " the lairds sooker". Once employed the new boy would be handed down a simple bonnet as uniform, from a previous worker. These bonnets always showed signs of wear and alterations as a result of being passed down over the years from employees with different head sizes. The bonnet would have to be worn at all times and failure to do so always resulted in summary dismissal. During the first two years the new boy would be given such tasks as emptying the estate septic tanks by hand to prepare compost for the greenhouse hot boxes. Once two years were in, the apprentice would then be handed down a uniform simple flat cap, again for another employee who had moved up the ladder so to speak. No longer the new boy, the apprentice gardener would now be allowed to handle dung unsupervised, be taught the art of trampling and turning over the compost heap, and the luxury of staying all night in the greenhouse during winter, having to stoke the boiler every hour to ensure the correct temperature was kept. After completing his apprenticeship, the journeyman gardener would be presented, by the Lairds wife, a new, dark coloured eight piece cap. This entitled him to be shouted at by the head gardener without delegation, and the privilege of cleaning tools and equipment, and the head gardeners wellington boots, (inside and out) and properly lining the insoles with straw during the winter months. Only after reaching the age of fifty five could the journeyman gardener reach the heady heights of Head Gardener. This involved a secret initiation, followed by a public celebration of the award of the "Scone Bonnet". This bonnet, always oversized and exclusively made from Harris Tweed, would be presented, almost like a Knighthood, by the Laird himself, with a speech in old Scots Gaelic. Here is a quote from the history of Harris Tweed: Waulking the Fabric Waulking has two important effects. Firstly it cleanses the cloth and eliminates excess lanolin, oils, dirt, and other impurities. And secondly, it makes the material softer and thicker. Originally this was done by literally ‘walking’ (i.e. treading) the fabric in water, perhaps treated with a proportion of URINE for its ammonia as a cleansing agent. But don’t worry, nowadays the process involves nothing more than pure water. Because of the ancient preparation of the tweed, the head gardener would now always be affectionately referred to as " the big piss head " Many of Scotland's estate gardens open to the public still adopt this little-known practice, and tradition, so any of you who are lucky enough to visit these beautiful locations in full bloom, always look out for the man with the big Harris Tweed bonnet, and ask him " are you a big piss head" spectators will always find the response amazing.
  5. 2 points
    Mrs Wrench is barely 5ft 2" and size 8, but she swings a mean axe. Apparently as an end of day therapy for anger management. Oak being her choice to split, but on inspection I noticed my vintage Canadian Black Prince axe head has been coming into contact with stones as I was unable to shave with it this morning. So it looks like more tool service tomorrow. Had a camera malfunction so no pics, as I was going to show "Roger" my mower. New card ordered, and my diamond file and axe stone at the ready. Hopefully all will be working again soon.
  6. 2 points
    As it's so wet and dreary here today, I'm spending the morning in the greenhouse getting my collection of tender plants ready for the coming months. These plants are more commonly found in Spain and Portugal....or any of the Mediterranean countries. They are quite happy in the UK during late spring, summer and early autumn, but must come inside for the winter months into a minimum temp of 10°C. The plants here are the very large flowered Hibiscus, and the Shrub Verbena. The Hibiscus are all grown from cuttings,as they rarely produce viable seed, and were all purchased in the UK. They are meant to be enjoyed for a few weeks, then binned, but I have kept these going for more than 2 years now, and they are getting quite big. The Verbenas were bought as seed, and I have several stock bushes that I take cuttings from every year. They root very easily, and it doesn't take long to increase my stock. All the plants are slowly having their water reduced and all dead leaves and flowers are removed to get them ready for their winter snooze. Hibiscus (Hibiscus rosa-chinensis) in various colours. These are the flowers that Hawaiian girls wear in their hair. Shrub Verbena (Lantana camara) cuttings about 6 weeks old. ...and the stock plants...
  7. 2 points
  8. 1 point
    Here's my first torch, definitely older than me, and works perfectly well, on paraffin. My next one is this, now converted to run off a led gell battery and fitted with a three watt Cree bulb. It gets charged via a solar panel. Both simple. Now this. Modern technology, adjustable beam, an array of settings; high beam, low beam, strobe, and S.O.S flash mode. What a pain in the @r$e.
  9. 1 point
    My first experience of work was delivering this stuff, at the age of 11. Most of the households round about relied on it for heating, and some for cooking as well. Paraffin ovens like this one were quite common. The drums held 5 gallons / 25 litres, so a full one including the weight of the drum was around 26 kilos, and I used to carry two at a time. I remember there being a huge outcry when the price went from 1 shilling (5 pence) to 1 shilling and 3 pennies. A lot of the local households still relied on paraffin lamps as well. The old Tilley lamps were the best and brightest, but made a continuous annoying hiss. As did the Tilley heaters. I've still got all this stuff, and it still works. Yesterday I was reading about all the household appliances that are now controlled via phone apps, but I can't find one for my phone that operates an axe. The area I live in had no mains electricity before 1965. I still heat my workshop with a homemade indirect kerosene heater, so the fumes all go outside, and it doesn't suffer from condemnation like the old days. Simplicity does have it's benefits. Even if it means getting up at 5 am to get the stove going for hot water.
  10. 1 point
    Well, one small ball and how I got it out. It's not as bad as it sounds.....honest. Once I got the bezel off, all that was left was the remains of a spring and no ball bearing for that wonderfull "click" when you rotate your bezel. Being pointed in the right direction from Jsud2002 and a link to one of Roys hacks as I like to call them, I proceeded to find a Bic pen and my clippers and followed Roys instructions which can be found here. Roys ball seems bigger than mine, so once I get a mitt full of spring bars tomorrow, I will be able to tell, but you get the idea of the job in hand. There seems to be a mixed view on using these balls as they are not stainless steel, but Tungsten and over time may wear away the bezel. I dont use my bezel as it should be used, so in my case I dont mind using the Tungsten. If you prefer your balls of steel, they are about £3 for ten of the 1mm little blighters. Enjoy the pics.
  11. 1 point
    casio for the run - and for the first time in ages i miss-pressed the buttons so instead of starting a stopwatch i did bugger all to a down timer. good run anyway - i have a start slow and slow down after a mile strategy which seems to be working. anyway down 11 pounds in weight since mid September; the huge drop in beer and cider consumption may have as much to do with it as the resumed training. finding it a bit too cold for the rowing machine in the mornings (garage). some free weights indoors but god that is boring... on call from home today after another busy week - almost up to date with the paperwork. if i get a call out i hope it comes soon - Friday afternoon specials are a royal friggin' pain and i don't get overtime - i have a lot of time for the NHS. most of the folks there are diamond, but there are a few skiving brain deads who wait until the very last minute to call something in so they can sit and drink coffee as "the machine is broken". quote of the week - "well its started making this really bad mechanical noise and was running really rough a few days ago, but it didnt break down completely until this morning" ... rant over. luxor for the weekend unless back to the casio for work - it had been the seiko for the last few days. and it turns out its 8 in total not 7 - i put them all in the box at the same time and counted - yes for a while there there was no watch at all on my slightly slimmer, anger vented wrist. BFN Jimmy and Leonard this week - am i getting old ? Hagwe
  12. 1 point
    I like macro pictures, but could never really justify forking out a shed load of money on camera equipment. Then one day, I was in TK Maxx having a mooch and see this weird gizmo. A smart phone camera attachment from National Geographic. A 30x lens for £6.99. In for a penny in for a pound. I trust national geographic, but even the demo images seemed to be digitally enhanced. I got home and attached the lens to the smart phone. All I could see was a blue tube with a close up of my watch lens. I thought "Oh well, at least I didnt spend much". Then I pinch zoomed on my phone screen. WOW now that was better. For £6.99 it became a bargain. Get one, its amazing. I suspect that if you can not find a National Geographic one, there will be others available on the bay of various China sites.
  13. 1 point
    OK, I couldn't wait and made a start tonight. The bezel was stuck and full of **** crud. I took it off with my trusty bezel removal tool** and proceeded to clean the crud off the bezel and case with my son's electric tooth brush. Better than it was and I am happy I made a start. It has lost it's click as I think the BB has gone. (can this be replaced?) ** You dont want to know my tool list, but the work. Just dont ask me to work on youe Rolex
  14. 1 point
    For that final cut, first the leaves decending from my ash trees require collecting, there are various forms of equipment for the job, here is my preference. It has served me well over the years. Next, the proper equipment for that low impact cut, and compaction to ensure perfect stripes.
  15. 1 point
    Today I'm going to cut this Leylandii hedge as it's looking a bit shaggy and I want to get it done before the weather closes in. This will ensure that it looks neat and tidy all through the winter months. I like cutting this hedge, as planting it 19 years ago was the very first job I did when I started here. I'll be using a Stihl long reach hedge trimmer, as I find you get a better perspective of what you are doing when you are stood back slightly, plus I don't need a ladder to reach the top. With a standard trimmer, I have to keep stepping back to look at what I've just done, which is a bit of a pain...especially on some the long hedges I have to contend with...consequently, I haven't used a short one for years now. Anyway...this kept me busy for an hour or so this afternoon. This is an old pic of the hedge trimmer...I won't be needing the pole pruner attachement today. The hedge before trimming... ...and after... Before... ..after...
  16. 1 point
    Those that follow the 'Mowing the Grass' thread will know that I have looked after an estate owned by a local property developer for the last 19 years. Whilst I am normally based there, I am sometimes called upon to look after the grounds of properties that we are building/built until they are sold. This one is in Surrey, and is a £2M property. I come here to cut the newly laid lawn on a fortnightly basis, and this was a great opportunity to put the Cobra through its paces....not for much longer, as it is now sold. Before cutting... And after....the Cobra did a fantastic job...well pleased!
  17. 1 point
    working locally today - not much over 100 miles there and back. late call out - some inspired troubleshooting on my part concluded that the system was fine the monitor was buggered . nicked another monitor from a nearby pc and Bob's yer mother's brother. its a good temp fix until i sort something out speedbird today - nice to see i have honed my skill from setting watches exactly an hour fast to exactly a minute fast. fine as it happens as it runs about -5s/d. way down the southwest tomorrow - babysitting an engineer for a day before he goes for assessment next week, either a boring day or a bloomin' nightmare still no training - but the paperwork is almost done, as is the laundry and some ironing - life on the edge
  18. 1 point
    just under 300 miles today - same watch. might swap to the speedbird tonight for the remainder of the week. muck donalds for lunch - what was i thinking ? YUCK ! - except for the banana milkshake again no training today - too much work and driving - on standby tomorrow so might get a run in before it all kicks off. not enough stuff for sale in the classifieds and not much horology in the forum as of late - lets hope things improve as the night draw in ... must look into that luxor with the Jenny case - its for sale you know - all i need is a decent offer - mind you actually knowing roughly what is worth would be good too i suppose. tea and lemon drizzle cake for supper
  19. 1 point
    casio 5610 1er on bracelet. squeak under 400 miles today to work with a prat who had fixed the problem for which he had called me out, then decided he wanted me on site anyway. turkey and ham subway for lunch, yogurt and tea for supper. no training as had to spend almost 9 hours driving in biblical rain and m4, m5 and A30 with more road works than bloody road ... bedforshire tomorrow - cant wait
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