When you play with elderly tractors you will probably get your hands dirty, especially if you are doing a few repairs, a bit of re-assembly, spray painting changing the oil....that kind of thing. Sometimes it takes several scrubs with various cleaning compounds, especially if you get paint, dirt and old oil combined. It can take almost as long to clean off as it took to get on. Nowadays the industry recommends the use of latex type gloves, which is fine for a bit of light tinkering, but completely pants if you are using any real force at the fingertips. Yesterday saw me reassembling the offside brake-drum which involves some fairly solid bits of metalwork, and it went well enough,
    I won't know how well until I give it a run and try braking. Maybe a slow walk first then. Sadly at the other end it looks as though the two front tyres have not far to go, as you might say, and will probably need replacing before any brake test can happen. I might get away with new inner tubes, but I don't think it's worth the effort of removing a tyre and then putting it back. Anyway, progress is being made, and there's a lot of helpful people out there. It's an oddity, but no matter how arcane a piece of machinery I get stuck into there always seems to be a nearby helpful expert on hand. In this vein I have located a local engineer who also sells new and second-hand bits of Fergie, and there are a couple of useful blogs like Ploughmyfield.com and Jeff's 1260engineer.com which have saved me quite a bit of trouble pointing out pitfalls, short-cuts and snags. As mentioned, one of the effects is filthy oily hands, and I had a look for a hand cleanser as effective as old style Swarfegar but without the 'flayed alive' feeling after use and the funny smell. Manista 'natural' hand cleanser certainly works, although the packaging leaves a bit to be desired, and...... well I'll cheat and paste my product review here.  

Manista 'natural' hand cleanser.
      This gets a mixed review. The hand cleanser works well, leaves your hands in good condition and smells of lemons, all of which would get 5 stars. However, the packaging is the same as other reviewers have noted, not up to the mark. Mine had a shattered lid and while most of the cleanser was in the container, there was 25% in the plastic bag and 15% outside both. Fortunately the cardboard box stopped it at that point. Obviously I had to find alternative packaging, the lid being split and in 3 pieces. I was hoping that the word natural would have some meaning for more than the primary ingredient (Water), but the granular component, while perfectly functional, is polythene, which will not break down in my lifetime. I would prefer a pumice or other non plastic abrasive. I googled Cocamide DEA, or cocamide diethanolamine and found that wikipedia  classified it as 'as possibly carcinogenic to humans. The next ingredient Trideceth-7 seems to have a low toxicity but as it is a polyethylene glycol ether of Tridecyl Alcohol I think 'Natural' is pushing it a bit. Lauryl Sulphate is given a low to moderate hazard risk as long as it doesn't stay on the skin. My eyesight gave up at this point because the ingredients list is in very small print. I assume this stuff is actually quite safe, but I think the word Natural is being stretched a bit far, and will try to find something 'greener' next time.
    I know the Elfland Safety boys can be a bit over-sensitive, but it does make you think. Fortunately our septic tank system will leave the bits of polythene deep in the moor and while I hope they are small enough to pass through all but the smallest digestive systems, I wouldn't want them getting in the food chain, being exactly the kind of micro-granules that fish eat and Greenpeace hates.
    Well, I've done a bit of computery and that's the front tubes and tyres ordered, It's a useful thing the internet. £126 including transport from May Hill Tractors, could be worse, and it'll certainly look a lot smarter than the old ones. One oddity arose, when I was checking the size of the old 19" tyres, (4.00.19), I noticed they were made by an English firm, Kelly. Which explains the purpose of the two Kelly tyres I was given some years back. Probably just as well I didn't try them on the Midge, they are very knobbly and I doubt they are designed for road use. So if you hear of anybody with a tractor that takes 15" front tyres, I could help them.
    Now that the brake drum is reassembled, I can put the wheel back on, and the old tyres can pretend to be flower-beds. If there is one thing that could do with a good re-cycling program it's tyres. Unfortunately there's an unidentified local tyre centre that just dumps them in the countryside, sometimes Hermand Birchwood car-park. It would be nice to find out who they are. I'd suggest an import or manufacturing tax on new ones that would automatically pay for their disposal, but since the same idea has been proposed for cans and plastic bottles without success, I think I would be wasting my time.
    Between engagements we took the opportunity to view the eclipse of the sun. The sun arrived at the appointed hour, but so did the cloud, so while it got dark and cold, nothing much else happened. I did catch a couple of glimpses through cloud, but frankly it was a bit of a disappointment. I'm not sure I'll bother with the next one, a totality might be more interesting, but the next isn't due until 23 September 2090. I'll see how I feel at the time.
    As spring gets going the nights are getting a bit warmer, but the cat and Fiona both still feel a fire is necessary in the evening. This means the wood store is getting used up and further dropping and chopping of trees are required. We still have a fair number of surplus trees, mostly softwood, and I don't see any shortage soon. In fact, to start at the beginning, I was recently given a collection of ex-church windows. My idea of using them up by making a summer-house was viewed favourably and a suitable site was discovered next to the garden shed. This leads my discourse back to the trees that are currently growing on the left there, they will make a contribution to the wood pile shortly, though I'll have to check for birds nests first. 
    I'd be firm about the use of said Summer-house since 'her indoors' tends to fill things with plant-life, to the point when the humans are restricted in their movements. However, since I can always find a place to stand, or even sit if somewhat hunched, with book and whisky, I'd probably better not. It is more diplomatic building another room each time I find myself pot-bound.
    Spring has brought on a rash of home improvements, there's a new carpet in the bath-room with a better layer of underlay. Half an inch off the bottom of the door solved the slight awkwardness of a door that wouldn't swing.  The carpet should warm the toes more effectively.
    Next there's a piece of what I still call either vinyl or lino for the porch. The current bit of plastic is well past its useful life, having been retrieved pro tem a year ago from the rental house when the kitchen floor was re-covered.  I was also looking for a couple of reading lights to replace the rather ungainly standard lamps in the living room, so we wandered into the local town and bought the lights, carpet and vinyl, all suitably discounted after a small detour for some really urgent tractor parts. 
    I suppose the term Lino is rather out of date now, it was a floor covering made with a solidified mix of clay and linseed oil and had a hemp-fibre webbing back. I haven't actually seen any in 30 years.
    I suppose there is always a product or two disappearing into the mists of time. Rexene, Bakelite, Paraffin, Walnut Whips.  Actually I don't know if Walnut Whips disappeared or simply got too small to see. The magic of the internet tells me they are still available, 32 grammes and £2 each including postage, and still selling like hot cakes. £1 for 3 in Poundland just now.
    So I shall change that to the disappearance of the walnut inside a Walnut whip. Damn, I can remember them Thruppence each, the size of my fist and four to the pound.
    Would I go back? no chance. No central heating, well we didn't anyway, boring food, overt racism, the cold war, no, if I wanted to go back 50 years I'd go to the Shetland Islands. Most of the modern advantages, including electricity, but with an old style community. You can get Walnut Whips too.

A Ferguson rear wheel hub
A Ferguson rear wheel.
A pair of Ferguson flower beds
bathroom in progress
Summer house site.
The depleted wood shed.