Nothing Left.

It’s been a funny old couple of weeks.

I started cycling to work to try and maintain some fitness and avoid having to have the front door widened. It was begrudgingly, unwillingly, and ungraciously done. But necessary, so I set to it.

It wasn’t as terrible as I remembered. Obviously the weather turned cold immediately. Because of course it did.

Bracing

Within a few days of cycling I was going for commute Personal Bests, then, following my usual, somewhat exhausting, obsessive pattern, I had a whim for a faster bike. The next day I wanted a faster bike. Then I spent a week constantly searching the internet because I *HAD TO HAVE* a faster bike. I was looking at second hand bikes in my (budget) price bracket, reading the reviews, checking the brand sizes, the equipment spec, etc, etc. The curse of the internet is as soon as you start researching anything the reviews always say “that’s OK, but this one (3 times the price) is way better. And what you really want is the this one (over a grand dearer)”

I am thinking of maybe getting back on a turbo trainer and renewing my torture sessions on the Sufferfest (the online cycling thing) so I wanted a bike with a 9 speed minimum back cog. Basically the only game in town was the Decathlon (sports store) own brand Btwin Triban range. They are not as low a riding position as dedicated road/ racer bikes, but they are good spec and cheap.

I was looking at the basic Triban 5, which is about a year 2000 or so bike, so there’s a risk of stuff being worn out. I actually had one lined up but the guy who was selling it was taking at least a day to reply to each of my questions, and couldn’t arrange a viewing. While that was all happening I came across a Triban 520, which is a much better bike and they only started making them in 2016 (I think) so a lot newer. The Triban 5 was going for £150, the 520 was going for £270 but it had an option for offers. I put in an offer for £240 and got it! Yay! When I was looking on eBay the other 520s were over £100 dearer. Also, it’s hard to get a bike in my size. I take a small or XS, they are definitely the exception to the norm.

Anyway, I got it. It took me an hour to sort out the slack brakes, adjust the seat and handlebars, reposition the gear lever/ brake and pump up the tyres. I noticed a bit of a buckle in the back wheel and the handlebar tape was a bit of a shoddy job on one side. I got the wheel straightened and bars re-taped the next day for £17. Job’s a good ‘un.

Actually, that was before I had the handlebars rewrapped. He’s done it all in black, but at least it’s a decent job now. The thing I don’t like is it still feels too upright.

That was the compromise. Buy the cheaper Triban and get a “comfortable” riding position bike. I’ve ordered a longer stem which will push the handlebars another two inches forward. That should sort it. That’s the bike with the new tape, by the way.

To clarify, the reason I didn’t want to buy the much better bikes is I still only want to commute, and at some point get on the Sufferfest, a super-duper road bike would be overkill for that. And, let’s face it, bicycles are all about the engine. And mine ain’t worth a carrot. I had a £2.3K full-on triathlon bike and I was still slow and rubbish. A decent bike can’t fix that. As Eddie Mercx said, “Don’t buy upgrades, ride up grades.” Also, this is just me obsessing while I’m trying to recover from running injury. As soon as I’m running I won’t have the time or the inclination for pushbiking.

Another expense and hassle this week was the washer dying. I had to go and get a new one from Argos. The guy had a sack barrow so wheeled it out to the car and helped me lift it in. I had to get it out, drag it through the house, shove it in it’s hole, then drag the old one out, lift it into the car and get it out at the tip all on my own. The tip guy had a sack barrow, so he got rid of it really easy. I am *so* getting a sack barrow before I next hump some awkward big lump.

To add to the unnecessary expenses (OK, necessary, but not fun) I was getting out of my truck the other day and dropped my ‘phone from about 8’ up. Onto concrete. It has a rubber back thing on it, which saved it from smashing to pieces, but it has shattered my screen. On the bright side, I dropped it a few weeks earlier as well and cracked the bottom of the screen. At least I didn’t replace it then. I would have been a bit miffed paying twice. I need to tie it round my neck on a piece of string, like a kid’s mittens.

The big news though, is I’ve finally got there. There is nothing left to strip!

It was a massive faff, but I’ve split the cases and removed the gears and crank. As you can see I’ve found all the bits of smashed piston.

When I started cleaning up the crankcases prior to rebuild I noticed this.

That looks like a serious crack to me, but I’ve asked some of my Twitter engineer people and they say it could be a casting imperfection, don’t sweat it. I’ve got to strip my spares engine down so I’ll compare. I might just use the spares engine crankcase.

The only other news is the plague weakness is back again. Not sustained like the fortnight bout, but less than great. It makes you think you’ll never get properly better. Worse, Wendy has had a bad recurrence. We thought she was over it. Meh. Some virologist on Twitter was saying he’s had the plague, but he also had some other foul bug, and the effects of that wasted him for 9 months. Which: A, gives me hope this could end, at some point. And B, makes me wonder if virology was actually the ideal career choice.

Talking of Twitter, here’s a few tweets:

Boris Johnson announced that people were to be restricted to meetings of groups of six as, inexplicably, the governments policy of pubs and restaurants being opened with no need for masks, forcing people back to work, and sending kids into enforced covid death camps didn’t stop the plague. Then they held an emergency cabinet meeting to exclude toffs shooting animals from the ruling.

And the usual twitter whimsy.

And finally, a motivational sign for 2020.

Later,

Buck.

Cracking On.

I’ve been making a few attempts to return to running, in between bouts of plague weakness, but every time I do my foot immediately starts hurting again. Happily, all my races have been cancelled this year, so I’m not losing out. The one that looks to be actually happening is the Warrington Way, a 40 mile loop of Warrington. That’s in November, due to the small field and the natural separation over that distance, it looks promising that it can take place. 

I was hopeful about doing that, but my foot is just useless. I’ve had enough of it. It’s been 21 months of bothering me, now is the time to rest it until it heals properly. This can take up to 9 months. I’m going to test it every 3 months.

The thing that decided me was the plague weakness. It progressed from recurrent, 2 or 3 day bouts,  to 2 solid weeks of feeling wasted, to a greater or lesser degree, every day. I decided to seize the plague ridden day and rest. It was that constant that I’d accepted that was it, my life was plague weakness from here on in. Then I noticed I’d been 3 days without it, 4 today. It’s not permanent. Yet. That is such a relief.

Nasty, nasty bug.

My resolve has cracked and I’ve fallen off the veggie wagon. Again.

In a karmic balancing of the scales I am back to pushbiking to work now, (to try and maintain some fitness and not die of morbid obesity now I’m not running) so I’m not destroying the planet as much that way. Not that that is a great consolation to the poor animals.

I had a sweet and sour pork and fried rice from the Chinese on Saturday. Wow. Literally the first thing I’ve properly tasted in about 3 years (since I got that bad cold that wiped out my sense of taste). Sorry piggy, but you didn’t die in vain, at least.

I’ve done a few things in the garden. I was looking at how to lay shed bases for when my uber-shed arrives (in 5 months!) and saw these plastic gravel grids.

The idea being you dig, then level an area, lay a weed suppressant membrane, click the grids into each other, then fill with gravel. This makes them strong enough to drive and park cars on, so easily strong enough to hold a shed. 

I wanted a bit of a test run, and fancied a gravel path. I have a pair of muddy boots in a bucket by the door for any time I want to walk down the garden, a path would stop that.  It wasn’t as easy as it sounds. The big thing I’ve learned is to buy a ton of sand. You can level off the dirt and tamp it down with a plank or by stamping on it, but my dirt is cleggy so it sticks to whatever is squashing it and lifts up again in clumps.

For the shed base I’ll dig in, roughly level off, then shovel in a ton of sand and level it off properly.

Anyway, after making heavy weather of the job, and it taking roughly twice the 10kg per square of gravel they said, job’s a good ‘un. I’m going to get some edging to prevent the stones from migrating, but yeah, happy with that.

It sounds like a tory drive.

Also I bought a mixed bargain lucky dip of perennials. When they arrived they were tiny and it said I had to pot them on. I did, but I’ve been wondering how to set them up for winter. Our dirt isn’t great for drainage, and they are still only small, and the slugs are a pain. I remembered I still had some plastic hoops left from when I cut up a barrel, so I made some temporary raised beds today. They should be happy as Larry in there.

Also, when I cleared the shed out to make it into my motorbike workshop I rigged up a tarpaulin roof between the fence and the shed and shoved all my gardening bits in there. It was only supposed to be a quick fix, but it was letting in water and the water that was running off was making the ground boggy.

I put up a proper roof of that corrugated plastic sheeting, with a gutter so the rain water runs into my water butt barrel. Then I cut a hole in the side of the barrel, wedged in a length of hose pipe and ran it to my bamboo. Now when it fills instead of overflowing it redirects the water to the “can’t overwater” bamboo.

These are just side issues, and quick projects.  Obviously the biggie is still the bike project.

Nath’s bike has been put on the back burner. I’m really fixating on the the NTV.

I’m getting there. I’m one job away from splitting the engine casings. Then it’s pull the rest of the guts out, clean and rebuild. *Then* things get interesting. The one job is pulling the rotor, but the workshop manual says you need a specific tool for that so I’ve ordered it today.

They say when you’ve stripped it as far as I’m doing it’s standard practice to replace the bearings and seals. To which end I’ve just got an electric oven. I was going to buy it for £30 but the woman has damaged it, huge dent in the top, so she said I could have it for free. That way I can heat (and expand) the engine cases so the (frozen and shrunk) new bearings just drop right into place. Wendy has said I’m not allowed to cook my engine cases in our oven so I had to get one for my shed. She’s still going on about “stinking the house out” and the interestingly piquant “chemical death” flavour to the food from the last time, all those years ago. Unreasonable.

One issue I’m struggling with is one of the bearings is discontinued. I want to do a proper job on them, but I just can’t source the parts. For the rest of the bits I have a plan. Instead of buying all brand new bits and second hand bits (£45 per piston, £19 per set of piston rings, £45 oil pump, nuts, bolts, etc etc) I’ve seen a complete second hand engine. I’m bidding on that. I’ll strip that and use it for parts. I’m still getting the engineering practice (twice!) but it won’t cost as much.

Anyway, here’s where I’m up to with the engine.

Actually, I’m a bit further. I’ve taken off the gear change externals (the bar sticking out on the left of the picture and the black linkages attached to it) and the starter motor (the cylindrical thing on the top left of the picture).

I need a special tool to take off the rotor (the big round thing.)

I’ve already taken off the water pump (silver thing with the pipe coming out of it).

As I say, get the tool, take off the rotor, and I can split the cases. Clean everything out, hopefully source some new bearings, replace, rebuild.

Fun times.

Later,

Buck.

PS, We’ve got a new kid.

Emelyne.

She’s got my hair.

Wendy has found some charity that feeds, educates, and save kids from being abused and trafficked.

She want’s to be a doctor, so we’re sorted when the Tories finish selling off the NHS. Cunning plan, Wendy. She’s only 5 so Wendy’s playing the long game, but still, cunning.

Extra: That engine I was bidding on. The second cheapest engine I could find was £150, (some are going for £500) then there was this one. It had only been on eBay for a day and had already had 5 bids on it. The latest bid was £26 with 6 days to go. Rather than start a bidding war, I got a bid sniper (an app that bids at the last second for you with your maximum bid). I wanted this engine so I put my maximum bid as £151.

I won at the last second!

£27!

TWENTY SEVEN OF HER MAJESTY’S POUNDS STERLING!

Hahahahaha! Brilliant!

Got it after work yesterday, 310 mile round trip (nothing is ever local. It’s the law) but with my skills and Wendy’s brawn we got it into the shed. Happy, happy bunny!

And, while I’m here, revising my blog, here’s some from Twitter:

A harsh review:

The Tories in a perfect picture (the slogan reads “From Project Fear to Project Prosperity”)

A wonderful summation of 2020 from Morticia Addams:

And cuteness:

Cracking On.

I’ve been making a few attempts to return to running, in between bouts of plague weakness, but every time I do my foot immediately starts hurting again. Happily, all my races have been cancelled this year, so I’m not losing out. The one that looks to be actually happening is the Warrington Way, a 40 mile loop of Warrington. That’s in November, due to the small field and the natural separation over that distance, it looks promising that it can take place. 

I was hopeful about doing that, but my foot is just useless. I’ve had enough of it. It’s been 21 months of bothering me, now is the time to rest it until it heals properly. This can take up to 9 months. I’m going to test it every 3 months.

The thing that decided me was the plague weakness. It progressed from recurrent, 2 or 3 day bouts,  to 2 solid weeks of feeling wasted, to a greater or lesser degree, every day. I decided to seize the plague ridden day and rest. It was that constant that I’d accepted that was it, my life was plague weakness from here on in. Then I noticed I’d been 3 days without it, 4 today. It’s not permanent. Yet. That is such a relief.

Nasty, nasty bug.

My resolve has cracked and I’ve fallen off the veggie wagon. Again.

In a karmic balancing of the scales I am back to pushbiking to work now, (to try and maintain some fitness and not die of morbid obesity now I’m not running) so I’m not destroying the planet as much that way. Not that that is a great consolation to the poor animals.

I had a sweet and sour pork and fried rice from the Chinese on Saturday. Wow. Literally the first thing I’ve properly tasted in about 3 years (since I got that bad cold that wiped out my sense of taste). Sorry piggy, but you didn’t die in vain, at least.

I’ve done a few things in the garden. I was looking at how to lay shed bases for when my uber-shed arrives (in 5 months!) and saw these plastic gravel grids.

The idea being you dig, then level an area, lay a weed suppressant membrane, click the grids into each other, then fill with gravel. This makes them strong enough to drive and park cars on, so easily strong enough to hold a shed. 

I wanted a bit of a test run, and fancied a gravel path. I have a pair of muddy boots in a bucket by the door for any time I want to walk down the garden, a path would stop that.  It wasn’t as easy as it sounds. The big thing I’ve learned is to buy a ton of sand. You can level off the dirt and tamp it down with a plank or by stamping on it, but my dirt is cleggy so it sticks to whatever is squashing it and lifts up again in clumps.

For the shed base I’ll dig in, roughly level off, then shovel in a ton of sand and level it off properly.

Anyway, after making heavy weather of the job, and it taking roughly twice the 10kg per square of gravel they said, job’s a good ‘un. I’m going to get some edging to prevent the stones from migrating, but yeah, happy with that.

It sounds like a tory drive.

Also I bought a mixed bargain lucky dip of perennials. When they arrived they were tiny and it said I had to pot them on. I did, but I’ve been wondering how to set them up for winter. Our dirt isn’t great for drainage, and they are still only small, and the slugs are a pain. I remembered I still had some plastic hoops left from when I cut up a barrel, so I made some temporary raised beds today. They should be happy as Larry in there.

Also, when I cleared the shed out to make it into my motorbike workshop I rigged up a tarpaulin roof between the fence and the shed and shoved all my gardening bits in there. It was only supposed to be a quick fix, but it was letting in water and the water that was running off was making the ground boggy.

I put up a proper roof of that corrugated plastic sheeting, with a gutter so the rain water runs into my water butt barrel. Then I cut a hole in the side of the barrel, wedged in a length of hose pipe and ran it to my bamboo. Now when it fills instead of overflowing it redirects the water to the “can’t overwater” bamboo.

These are just side issues, and quick projects.  Obviously the biggie is still the bike project.

Nath’s bike has been put on the back burner. I’m really fixating on the the NTV.

I’m getting there. I’m one job away from splitting the engine casings. Then it’s pull the rest of the guts out, clean and rebuild. *Then* things get interesting. The one job is pulling the rotor, but the workshop manual says you need a specific tool for that so I’ve ordered it today.

They say when you’ve stripped it as far as I’m doing it’s standard practice to replace the bearings and seals. To which end I’ve just got an electric oven. I was going to buy it for £30 but the woman has damaged it, huge dent in the top, so she said I could have it for free. That way I can heat (and expand) the engine cases so the (frozen and shrunk) new bearings just drop right into place. Wendy has said I’m not allowed to cook my engine cases in our oven so I had to get one for my shed. She’s still going on about “stinking the house out” and the interestingly piquant “chemical death” flavour to the food from the last time, all those years ago. Unreasonable.

One issue I’m struggling with is one of the bearings is discontinued. I want to do a proper job on them, but I just can’t source the parts. For the rest of the bits I have a plan. Instead of buying all brand new bits and second hand bits (£45 per piston, £19 per set of piston rings, £45 oil pump, nuts, bolts, etc etc) I’ve seen a complete second hand engine. I’m bidding on that. I’ll strip that and use it for parts. I’m still getting the engineering practice (twice!) but it won’t cost as much.

Anyway, here’s where I’m up to with the engine.

Actually, I’m a bit further. I’ve taken off the gear change externals (the bar sticking out on the left of the picture and the black linkages attached to it) and the starter motor (the cylindrical thing on the top left of the picture).

I need a special tool to take off the rotor (the big round thing.)

I’ve already taken off the water pump (silver thing with the pipe coming out of it).

As I say, get the tool, take off the rotor, and I can split the cases. Clean everything out, hopefully source some new bearings, replace, rebuild.

Fun times.

Later,

Buck.

PS, We’ve got a new kid.

Emelyne.

She’s got my hair.

Wendy has found some charity that feeds, educates, and save kids from being abused and trafficked.

Emelyne want’s to be a doctor, so we’re sorted when the Tories finish selling off the NHS. She’s only 5, so it’s a bit of a long game, but still, cunning plan, Wendy.

Later.