Fleshing out the bones

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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).


Kate is lord and mistress of all she surveys at pyoor.org...