well another day has dawned and I'm not dead yet. (I'll explain that one later) Most of the post cladding repairs and re-arrangements, are done. The house is looking very shiny and new. The surveyor said that the builders had done a good job, apparently the choice of finish, white chips of quartz or similar on a white substrate is difficult to get right. He thought that the work had made a shabby, tired looking building look quite presentable. I should say that being diplomatic, he didn't actually use those words, but I got the impression that's what he meant. I tend to agree. It is certainly quieter inside, but it will take a while before we know how much effect it will have on the heating.
Pebble-dash, or 'harling' as it is called here, involves throwing the stuff at wet mortar and getting about half of it to stick. Of course there is a fair bit of splatter from the under-coats, bits of debris from the wall-fixings, not to mention the crisp packets and coke cans. To be fair, they had cleared up the bulk of it, but there's always a bit that escapes, and there is a limit to what they have time for if you don't want a bigger bill. Being of a parsimonious nature I collected the bulk of the contaminated gravel that had landed on the plastic collecting sheets and was due to go in the skip.
I'll be giving it a spin in the concrete mixer, that way it gets cleaned up, and when sieved will form a reserve for any repairs. Also it doesn't go to land-fill. I could use it to make a decorative finish to my next concrete floor, the trick is to sprinkle it on the top before flattening the surface.
So the house is back to our version of normal, the guttering (called 'roans' here) re-affixed, the downpipes renewed, and the diverted rainwater sent via a new arrangement to the polytunnel storage tank. I'll have to re configure the plants in front of the house as the drive is now somewhat narrower, I've also developed a morbid fear of clipping the house with a car. Old patterns and habits eventually get replaced with new, but it takes a while to 'program in' the fact that the house is 6" wider.
During the house adjustment I've been putting off the tractor work, i.e. splitting it and digging out the clutch, because it looked as though it was going to be a difficult, lengthy and possibly hazardous process. There's a lot of very heavy metal, and I was working out how it will respond to having bits loosened, I really don't want to have anything that big fall over, especially if I was underneath, and it might damage bits that would be expensive to repair or replace, like the radiator which appears to be original, 60 years old, and made of brass or me (ditto but made of protoplasm and other squishy stuff).
So having sorted the house out, and fitting in a bit of plumbing, the attention drifts back to the tractor. The clutch is the problem, it 'snatches' and tends to not release properly when starting off. I'll not bore you with the details, suffice to say that heroic surgery is required. First I separated all the connections between the front end and the back end, there are surprisingly few. Then I unbolted the engine from the gearbox, having jacked up the two halves. It would be a pity if it fell on the ground, especially if I was under it.
I had heard you can push the halves apart by treading on the clutch pedal, and letting the leverage do the job evenly. It worked a treat. That was when I thought to myself, I need an engine hoist to hold it up and roll it forward, then I thought to look for it. Poor planning, I should have thought of it before as, once split, the tractor is hard to move, and you'll see the top of the hoist hidden by the back end of the tractor, it's the red thing sticking up next to the yellow box. Unfortunately I had backed the tractor up as far as possible so I could roll the front end forward and stay inside the garage.
I had to climb over the back end and disassemble the hoist in situ, and reassemble it in front of the tractor. Tricky, and it wouldn't have worked if my knees were any thicker. Wriggling around the 3 point linkage required a flexibility I didn't know I still had, and lifting the middle part of the hoist at the same time did make me think I should start working on bicycles instead.
Here's the hoist in place holding the front end up. Now I have to decide whether to do a complete engine re-build or pop a new clutch in and re-assemble. Either way it will need a new crankshaft seal to prevent the oil contaminating the clutch. Curiously if you don't need to regrind the crankshaft it is easier to rebuild the engine in situ when it is bolted to the gearbox than after separating it.
Decided, I'll put it back together once I have a new clutch plate and do the rest through the sump.
I'd go and get an MOT on the Green Midge in the mean-time, but it keeps raining, or in this instance, hailing. It just shows you can't trust the weather. It has been quite sunny for parts of the day but tomorrow (currently the 20th of May) looks more suitable. With technology like satellites the forecasting system is getting better, and as long as you keep an eye open, a predicted sunny day usually is.
I do wonder occasionally though, yesterday had heavy rain firmly predicted at 3pm for days ahead, then five minutes before the deadline, the forecast abruptly changed to dry. I think somebody must have looked out of the window.
Of course If I made some side-window panels to the Midge I could go out in the rain, but I prefer dry weather driving, not only does it keep the car from rusting, rotting and getting water in the electrics, but also the visibility is much better. I shall have to fabricate a heater sooner or later, so that I can clear condensation from the screen, it can get a little hairy if your vision goes suddenly with a temperature change.
Alternatively we could move somewhere dryer, but it would probably be easier to make some side panels.
It's the day after tomorrow now, or to put it another way there has just been a 48 hour gap. Yesterday, (previously referred to as tomorrow), was indeed fine, and we went out for a meal and a walk with Brenda and her sister Greta. The meal was at 'Ducks' in Aberlady, and the walk at Aberlady Bay. Both proved very acceptable. I'm referring to the activities here rather than the sisters. The coast to the east of Edinburgh is quite sandy, with big, and in this case blue, skies and provides some good dune walking which I re-discovered was quite hard-work on the uphill sections, and tricky down. I guess the dunes indicate a tendency toward high winds, but it was relatively calm. Unused to such exercise, l developed a good appetite for the meal. That came courtesy of John Marshall, known to all as Barry, who passed on recently. I met Barry and Brenda a very long time ago as friends of my parents, Barry had a series of interesting cars including the Peerless and most of them gave the impression of going faster than was legal, however I don't think anybody ever proved it. Around 1973, and out of a clear blue sky they gave me a Convertible Morris Minor 1000, which started my association with 4 wheeled mobility, Until then I had been riding a moped, a horrible device which did hundreds of miles to the gallon but took forever to get anywhere and left me freezing or par-boiled. Bluebell, the Morris, gave me the opportunity to pick up girls and usually drive them to where they wanted to go, thereby providing a lot of useful education in a reasonably comfortable environment. I can't say I learned much about sex, but quite a lot about girls. I certainly learned a lot about cars and how to keep them going, which was probably less exciting, but safer in the long term. All of them require a degree of due care and attention and most of your disposable income, they are safe if you are reasonably cautious. But you may already know that.
The photo of Aberlady Bay, and others that I include in my ramblings are all digital, and I thoroughly approve of the ability we now have of being able to take lots without printing them, however Apple, which I use and no doubt Microsoft, which I don't, have a tendency to working up new software which then is automatically uploaded to the computer. That's all fine and dandy, but they seem to be getting a bit 'data hungry', I think that's the right term, which does lots of clever things, but gradually slows the computer down. In the end this means you have to go and buy a bigger, faster, smarter computer. This new 'photo' replacing 'iphoto' takes twice as long to load, as was the new Operating System 'Yosemite'. If I'm not careful I'll be upgraded to the point where the computer is smarter than I am, but so slow that nothing works. There is a button missing, Something marked "Leave it alone, it's clever enough and fast enough, stop adding things I don't want" Apart from anything else, the broadband around here is rather slow, and sometimes it feels quicker writing a letter. I definitely need a button on the key-board marked 'Go Away'.
While I'm on the subject, why is there no button on the phone to indicate "I'm not interested, push off"? I mean; telling them that their phone call is important and leaving it for half an hour has the desired effect, but it blocks the landline. There should be a better way. Perhaps if we could divert the call to an expensive rate phone-line or send a brain melting virus down the line, but then the poor cold-caller is not the problem, it's the employer. I can see a real use for domestic Artificial Intelligence here, if the household robot engages the sales thing in conversation, and keeps it chatting pointlessly, or pressing 3 for more options, for ages perhaps they would go away. Better not give it the bank codes though, you could end up with a new bathroom, or a lifetime supply of snake oil. I suppose I'll have to get caller identification, but it's expensive, you have to deal with BT who are loathed by all, and doesn't always work with genuine international calls. I have a brother in Australia, and a friend in Pakistan, both of whom have phoned me (Hi to both of you) and I wouldn't like to shut them out with a blanket block on unidentified callers. The logical answer is to use a proper, computerised system like Skype, and do the whole thing through the internet, in fact I'm amazed that we haven't migrated to something like that years ago.
So getting back to my original thought, what's this about still being alive? Well I got bitten by something while I was cutting down trees for the summer-house and developed a number of symptoms, nothing dramatic and certainly not Lyme's disease (no sheep, no bracken and no ticks) but it did make me a bit weak for a day, and produced a strange rash just above my right knee. Then it went away again and I forgot about it. I didn't take it to the doctor because they just give you a dose of antibiotics, thereby messing up your gut flora and tell you to come back in a few weeks if you're not dead.
Then a week or so later I was bitten again, in a wildlife reserve. I saw it this time, and brushed it off. 24 hours later my hand had swollen up and gone red. Again I avoided the doctor, and it went away after a week or so. So I'm still alive; I think avoiding hospital acquired infections, anti-biotics, and multiple journeys to waiting rooms full of sick people helps. I'll go if it looks serious, otherwise I let my body deal with it.
The next project is under-way, a proper gate for the new garage. I was given a pair of wrought iron gates a while ago when they were on the way to the tip. Actually 'wrought Iron' is pushing it a bit, I think they are actually mild steel, still they were free and with a coat of black paint they should look the part. The drum is for the burning of all the bits of wood that were uncovered in the process. Wet, rotten, contaminated and just too awkward for the wood burning stove; the drum eats it all. I did make one mistake though, but fortunately my neighbour didn't have a lot of washing out.
It's looking a bit of a shambles at the moment, but it'll save unhitching the mesh fence every time I want to take a vehicle out. I'll have to make a proper entrance to it though, otherwise the local dogs, being walked, will use the indent as a toilet.
Ah well, time for tea.
Post MOT update
Success. A bit of wear on one of my front wheel bearings, and a couple of track-rod end covers are getting old, but nothing bad enough to fail. My thanks for all the Midge Owners and Builders Club support.
I appeared to run out of fuel on the way there, which surprised me, as I thought I had plenty. I put the reserve can in and it started up again. After the 'examination' I headed off to fill the tank, and the reserve can, at the local supermarket. So far a normal day. Returning home takes me past Hermand Birchwood, a small Scottish Wildlife Trust nature reserve that we look after. As usual somebody had left some rubbish, in this case 4 CDs, 3 12 volt relays, 4 fuses, 1 drinks can and 2 rather expensive looking child seats. The drinks can was empty but the rest seemed undamaged. The music wasn't to my taste and I wouldn't trust an unknown car seat, so I recycled the lot, keeping the relays and the fuses for testing. I managed to get all the rubbish in the back of the Midge as it was dry and clean. Headed for home, well I tried to, but the engine wouldn't start. Some kind of blocked fuel line, or the new pump has failed. Perhaps the Midge isn't used to a full tank, and got indigestion, but it's probably a failed non return valve in the pump. Fortunately Fiona came past Hermand on her way back from shopping and gave me a tow. The fuel problem will be soon sorted but it will have to wait until the heavy rain stops. It started 5 minutes after I and the car got back under cover, 2 hours earlier than BBC Weather said it would. Several other rather strange things happened, although the only other motor related ones were a melted vacuum tube, and a tow rope that inexplicably undid itself. One of the brakes started binding straight after the MOT but that's quite normal, I think machines know when you are paying a bit more attention than usual, and use the opportunity to get incipient problems fixed.