Settle.

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.

IMG_20160310_164646

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.

IMG_20160311_095307

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

Creeping ever onwards

I’ve not posted for a little while because progress has been painfully slow. Despite reassurances from our conveyancer, the contracts haven’t been exchanged, although she believes that they’ll be exchanged on Monday*.

Today we did the sad thing, we sold our iMiEV. Well, technically we sold it a few days ago, but the very lovely (and excited) chap came to pick it up today. He’s taking it on a massive trek (well, for a little EV it’s a massive trek – across to Wales, then back to his home…), which is funny, given that it was the first thing we did too.

We’ve also been packing, the front office is nearly completely packed, and after lunch I’m going to head down to the garage to do more packing down there…

…and we’re selling things off, and giving away, and recycling, and so on. And arranging meetings with friends who we’ll not get to see again for a long time.

Mostly it’s switched from excitement to a mixture of terror and the complex practicalities of scheduling, or disposing of things. Our lovely cabinet in the lounge, that needs to go. Our espresso machine? Not suitable for 110 volts… got to be sold. Piles of gunks in the garage – oils, greases, polishes? All got to go.

It’s like one big discount superstore here at the moment.

And it’s hard, because this is stuff we like, or care about, and have collected over our lives together. But it’s all got to go if we’re going to cram both the car, and our stuff, into a 20′ container.

Oh, in other news, Rebecca is done. MOT’d, graced with new brakes, gearbox, back axle and exhaust. She’s roadworthy and running. So I’ll be bringing her home on Monday… Which leaves the Prius to be sold once it’s been cleaned and polished and photographed… Oh, and ideally after the many trips that we’ve got to do to see people, because whilst I adore my Minor, she’s not the most efficient beastie in the world.

In other news, I’ve applied for 2 jobs, and screwed the application for a third (it submitted it when I logged out, despite it not being finished, although I’d still like to get an interview*). I’ve got a third that is in progress, and a fourth that I’m poking at.

But today? Today is going through stuff in the garage. Woo.

* I am not holding my breath.

And in other news

We have many boxes.

Our shipping company brought around the many boxes so that we could work out if we can cram both Rebecca and all our stuff into the shipping container. If we can fit everything we want to take, and the furniture, into the space currently occupied (essentially) by our dining area, then it’ll all go in one container.

If not, then we’ll be getting a container twice the size, which will have sufficient spare space in it that we could probably pack a second car in there. If we had a second car worth taking.

(We don’t, not for the amount of hassle it’d be).

However, what we still don’t have is a contract. We now have confirmation that the buyers solicitor has actually started the searches. It’s only taken them a month.

…and they’ve actually started returning phone calls, which is progress.

I, myself, am swinging wildly between fear about my upcoming exam (monday), and sadness at leaving Bristol (which I love), and excitement about a new adventure in the States.

Oh, and angsting about the money spent on Rebecca (lots), the money I’m not earning because I’m studying (-lots), and worrying about Rebecca being finished in time to take across. We’re looking at this coming Wednesday, hopefully, for ready-date. Which should be plenty of time. But I’d like her to have at least a bit of a ‘shake down’ before we pop her into that container.

Anyhow, it’s all waiting on that contract, we’re poised for full-steam ahead, but not quite able to hit the go button.

Monday’s not the day

But in my head it feels like the day.

There’s no particular reason that I shouldn’t get a visa for the US. I’m not a terribly naughty person, beyond my ownership of a rather high number of MZs and my two soviet era watches, I don’t think I harbour enormous communist sympathies, and I’ve (so far) not been kicked out of the US on my trips there.

I’m a reasonably well educated person with a fair potential for being a productive member of US society.

And my health is pretty good. Yes, I’ve got a bit of a crap liver, but apparently something like 20% of people have a fatty liver – probably more – because most people never find out. Just that routine blood tests before an operation in my past picked it up. I now eat more healthily, exercise more, and that seems to have at least fixed my blood results… So I don’t really think that there’s a good reason to deny me entry on health grounds.

But Monday is the medical.

Which means that I get to trek to London, have the deep joy of going through my medical history, then hopefully at any point in the 6 weeks after that I might have a visa in my grubby little hands.

Obviously, we still need to sell the house, two cars, a bunch of non-usefully-exportable tools (like, say, my drill-press, which I used once, or the shredder, which I did use, but got fed up with it being so noisy), clear a million books, make a container to transport my vinyl and gramophones in… pack everything, organise the shipping of the piano and some of our nicer bits of art…

…Rebecca needs to go to JLH for the expensive repairs and modifications to get her back roadworthy.

…it’s not like our move will be superquick once that visa’s here.

But it’s making it very real and quite scaryexciting.

And yes, yes, I know people do far more scaryexciting things. They go and live on deserted islands, or near volcanoes, or they move to some place where they don’t speak the language. But this is big for me. I, like most people, have never lived outside the island (country) I was born in. So it’s big.

On the plus side, my friends Nikki and Kate will already be in the country, in their nice new house. Hopefully just a month and a half ahead of us.

I have done stuff

So we’ve been away. I’ll tell you about that later (summary: Norway is awesomepretty).

Next week is my USA medical.
6 Weeks after that I might have my visa.
Which is terrifying and exciting and scary.
Work know, now. Because they asked me to apply for a more senior position, and I had to explain that I can’t because…I’m planning to leave.

Which means that the house needs to be ready like yesterday to go on the market. Which it’s not. It’s nearly, but it’s not. Today I ran around and touched up the paint in the kitchen using paint which, thankfully, has not merely survived in the garage but actually it’s pretty much invisible when used as touch-up paint. Some of it needs a second coat because I managed to yank it back to bare plaster with the masking tape, but it’s looking pretty much okay. The bit around the where the worksurfaces were installed that I filled…when they were installed… that’s looking much better now it’s been sanded and painted. It’s kind of odd to have put up with this stuff being not quite right for so long, and then to fix it in minutes. (I’ve updated The List, incidentally).

Next up is the mortar under the sink and the render at the back of the house. Which means going and getting some ready mix mortar (for speed, I think that’s wise). Which I’m trying to coax myself into doing now – but having just come back from Norway I’m feeling that things are financially a little tight.

A feeling compounded by talking to Jonathon at JLH who advised me to get the gearbox I’ve got rebuilt (or buy a rebuilt one – and then suggested getting a much higher spec one given the torque available from the electric motor…) and get the axle similarly treated – which did painful things to the price of the work on my minor. I fluctuate between option A of getting all the bits for the EV conversion installed now, so all we need to do is, essentially, battery pack and motor when we get there, or option B of putting in a recon minor gearbox – but the cost of a really good gearbox that’ll tolerate the fast-road cam’d engine is pretty close to the cost of a type 9 ford box, and then…well, it just seems foolish to not do the rest. Feh.

That futzed with the plan

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

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

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

So, it was out with the old…

Out with the old...

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

Untitled

Didja get it?

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

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

Untitled

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

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

– Nearside brake binding
– Brake imbalance

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Oh hai, it’s January

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.

Getting older…

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.

What is this shit?

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.

In which Kate spends a lot of money, services her Minor and wonders WTF is up with charging points

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 :)