I hope I didn't depress you all with the last newsletter, Maggie's passing saddened us, but life goes on. I shall endeavour to be a little jollier today.
The day started with a nice note. There had been some repairs made to the local electricity infra-structure, some of the poles have been replaced, presumably because of age and wind damage, and one of our apple trees had been crushed in the process.
It wasn't a big tree, Fiona having planted it a year or two back, and it, a 'James Grieve,' had suffered somewhat at the hands of another work team almost immediately. Having survived that, a year later, it succumbed last week to the arcane forces wielded by mini-digger operatives.
This time the destruction was complete, and here is the evidence.
Jim W. had indicated that there was some damage to the plant life near the work, and had identified a firm called Freedom as being the perpetrators in their support of Scottish Power.
That's electricity rather than nationalism.
Anyway, not expecting much, I called them yesterday and was surprised to have a chap turn up within an hour or so with an apologetic look. He identified the sad remains and wondered where he might find a replacement. I didn't think he'd have much luck, and was expecting a £10 gardening voucher or the like.
You will imagine my surprise, as I am required to say by the laws of narrative tradition, when the same chap, called Ben, turned up in one of those huge white pick-up trucks ( that always remind me of Empire warriors in Star-wars) with a very healthy apple tree of the same JG type in less than 24 hours. so well done 'Freedom' and Scottish Power. Needless to say, Fiona is well pleased, and thinks it's probably a better specimen than our original. Now we have to decide where to put it, bearing in mind the original was hit twice by heavy machinery, while keeping it near enough to it's breeding partners, so that the bees can do their thing with maximum effect.
We have had the occasional wee bit of tree related problem through electrical interaction, (though not involving Freedom). A different company sent a bunch of chainsaw wielding teenagers to trim, or rather 'clear fell' the trees under the power-line several years ago, and wreaked havoc through our woodland. To be fair though, they replaced everything without muttering, once the carnage was pointed out, and again the quality of trees was as good or better.
Overall I am very pleased with the eventual outcome and the speed of the response. Well done Freedom.
Progress, you will be delighted to hear, has been significant in the field of Midges. As reported in the last newsletter I have started to fit an SU carburettor to the Ford engine in place of the rather complicated Webber twin-choke. No doubt you have all been on tenterhooks to find out how it has been going. It's a bit of a gamble, as I've never tried quite such ad-hoc surgery on so vital a component, but they all run in much the same way. The Webber was a down draft, and the SU is a side draft. Conversion requires a bit of fabrication, and some juggling, but I thought what the heck, as long as it's reversible I can't go far wrong.
Now those of you who don't do mechanics can jump to the next paragraph as this bit is not going to be your cup of tea. The SU, I'm told stands for Saddlers Union because they were the only people with the right grade of leather for the early diaphragm type. Who Mr Webber was, I have no idea, but I'm assuming he was German because the device is efficient, compact, and wildly over-complicated. Unfortunately it is also beyond my understanding, as it consists of a basic idea with modifications, intermittent bypasses, compensating valves, boosters, negative feedback loops and balancing devices. All well and good if the thing isn't worn out, or clogged in some obscure corner. Later I shall take some time to disassemble it and find out what it was supposed to do and what went wrong causing it to fail. Meantime, here's a picture of the new setup, It will require a bit more tuning, but I think I have sorted most of it. I should mention the company who found me the SU hs4 and reconditioned it. They did the same with the other Midge and located a rather obscure Solex B30PSE1 carburettor which is running very nicely.
They are contactable at :-
Customer Service URL:http://www.carburetterspecialists.fsnet.co.uk Customer Service Phone:01775750166
They seem to be pretty reliable by my experience. No doubt there are others, but I've been pleased with the service here.
I know it's a bit precipitous dis-assembling both Midges at the same time, when the nice weather might start at any moment, but If I'm going to go out and show off, then I'm really going to have to improve the rear mudguards on the Green Midge as well as the reliability of the Red one. So it's off with the rusty old ones and their trailer type lights, and on with some new ones and a new pair of light boxes (not shown yet). Even as I fit them I'm thinking of a better design, but I'll use these for now. The windscreen is off so that I can replace the rubber seal between it and the bulkhead, and to make it easier to touch up the paint work where I adjusted the rake (angle) of the screen to fit the roof. Sooner or later I'm going to have to strip the paint off, as the green was put on without an etching undercoat, which means it keeps chipping off. I'll re-fabricate a bonnet as well, to get around a few constructional oddities, but that will have to wait. Once the weather warms up I'll be putting the poly-tunnel plastic on, and these jobs will have to go on the back burner. I'll be needing a warm windless day, which is not as common as one might hope up here, but will happen sooner or later. Till then I can do a bit more Midge meddling. If you are really good I'll show how to make a trailer for a buggy, but I'll have to wait for it to come back to get a photograph, in the meantime here's a picture of Fiona having a bounce on the trampoline, now safer with a net and edge pad to prevent injury. As mentioned before, the trampoline was a collection of tubes and springs that was enmeshed with the poly-tunnel frame, and at first I thought it was some kind of alternative way of tensioning the end. Anyway, the 'bag' turned out to be the central canvas bit and the rest was the frame to hold it. Great for a bit of cardio-vascular exercise, though most of my exercise was of the Krypton Factor type, a 3 dimensional jigsaw.
The mudguards are painted and the light boxes are fitted, pictures later, but don't put off eating, drinking etc as the sun has come out and I hope to fit the poly-tunnel plastic now. We had some practice putting the plastic on a neighbour's smaller unit yesterday, and that went well, so I feel confident enough to have a go. Persons with cloud-busting abilities should concentrate on clearing the skies above Tarbrax this afternoon (11th).
That did the job nicely, the rain didn't get going until we were under cover. A couple of photos to show progress so far, but it'll need some work yet on the edges. I think I've worked out how to do the ends, the handy guides available seem a little vague on that bit. It looks huge now, I'll have a go at the doors shortly, Fiona has a rather complex system in mind allowing ventilation / heat retention, insect access routes for pollination as well as part time barriers to midges and cats/rabbits/wheelbarrows/humans. Obviously it also has to be sturdy enough to take the local weather, and I'll need to find a way to collect and redistribute the rain. Fortunately I like a challenge, and it makes carburettors look quite simple.