Monday, 19 August 2019

Stone Stomper fitted and now for the trial

The trailer and 4x4 were coupled this afternoon enabling me to do the final fitting of the Stone Stomper (SS).  I’ve already identified one potential issue.


I’ve used a couple of pieces of different diameter scrap pvc pipe (orange & white) as a temporary support in the middle of the span between the trailer and 4x4.   My modification to the trailer jockey wheel securing it in the horizontal position appears to have worked.

Ground clearance under the mesh looks OK.


The potential problem is the gap between the SS bar and the rear of the 4x4.


Stones flicked by the tyres might ricochet up through the gap either hitting the trailer or rear door on the 4x4.  I could bend the ends of the bar reducing the gap but that would create another potential issue.  The canvas flaps on the bar only just overlap with the SS mesh when the bar is in it’s current position.  Bending the bar towards the vehicle will create another gap between the canvas flap and the SS mesh.  More thinking required!

So today the trailer was prepared for tomorrow’s outback trip.  I’m going to the edge of the western desert with my brother and wife.  We’re heading for Elachbutting Rock Nature Reserve some 375km east of Perth.  It straddles the boundary between the eastern Wheatbelt and western desert.  Almost all of the route is on bitumen which means the SS will have a very limited test.

Obviously no blog posts whilst I’m away however there will (hopefully) be some good photos on my return.  

Saturday, 17 August 2019

Stone Stomper Installed

The trailer mounting bracket has been made and fitted….. But not before I managed to crush my right thumb between the body and blade guard of the reciprocating saw.  Copious amounts of red stuff (I was expecting blue) and a considerable amount of pain.  Then we discovered the band aids were far too small.  Eventually four managed to contain the red stuff….. but not the pain!  I didn’t get much sleep that night.

The mounting bracket had been manufactured from the 3mm galvanized angle iron I salvaged from the old workbench in the garage.  Once it was cut, welded and drilled it received a coat of black Hammerite paint.  Black because it was the only paint I could find in the shed.


The next step was to fit it under the trailer.


You can probably see some of the holes in the vertical face of the bracket.  These are to secure the full width mudflap which will go across the trailer

Would the measurements I sent to the Stone Stomper manufacturer be correct?


YES!  Everything fits as planned.  The last step will be to fit the other mounting bracket to the vehicle towbar and adjust the tension on the Stone Stomper.  I’m taking it for a test next week.

Meanwhile I’ve noticed a ‘pong’ coming from my right thumb.  Jan also noticed it telling me “You stink” and I wasn’t going to be sharing the bed unless something was done.  The band aids were removed and the damage to the thumb inspected.  It’s larger and slightly crooked but at least the fresh air has eliminated the stink.

Friday, 16 August 2019


In case you are wondering whether the gap since the last update is a result of laziness on my part I can assure you that isn’t the case.  The study and computer systems have been dismantled to allow me to refurbish the room.  The painting has now been completed and new carpet laid.  today I reassembled the desk and reinstalled the computer systems.  We’re back in business!  Whilst I’m still using the laptop as my main computer you may recall the laptop keyboard has failed.  Letters C,V,B,N and S, plus the 0 key and the spacebar.  I don’t use the laptop keyboard opting instead to attach a full sized usb keyboard.  However that needs a desk or table and we had neither.

Last weekend I was invited by our good friend; and blog reader; Ken to join him on an Isuzu Australia I-Venture Club training day in Lancelin some 100km north of Perth. 


Ken has purchased the latest model of the Isuzu MUX 4x4 and opted to purchase a slot in the I-Venture Training Day.  As each vehicle can have two drivers he invited me to have the second position. 

Isuzu Australia created the I-Venture Club as a means of demonstrating the capabilities of their vehicles and conduct these training days around Australia.  Ken took his caravan enabling us to have a base to work from.  We drove to Lancelin on Friday afternoon to be ready for the start on training at 7.30am the following morning.  We also stayed on Sunday so we could practice what we had learned the previous day.

There were 13 vehicles (26 participants) all our age or slightly younger.  We’re no longer young enough to know everything so no ‘boy racers’ in the group.  Most of the morning was theory on the characteristics of the vehicle with the rest of the day spent driving in the large area of sand dunes behind Lancelin or on the beach.

It was excellent training on driving in sand.   Something which I previous had little experience with.

After an hour of ‘baby steps’ we started on the serious dunes driving up and down some rather steep slopes.


The sand recovery phase was also interesting.  The instructor managed to recover his bogged ute without using any recovery aids.


One of the ‘boy racers’ wasn’t so good and we were shown how to recover a vehicle using a snatch strap.  This is what can happen if you drive over a steep sand dune without checking what’s on the other side!


The following day Ken and I were back in the dunes practicing what we’d learned the previous day.  We even managed to recover a Toyota driver who had managed to go over a dune the wrong way.


He had managed to run his front passenger tyre off the rim  turning too swiftly at speed.  We were able to re-inflate the tyre and pop it back onto the rim using Ken’s 12V air compressor.


Sunday, 4 August 2019

The Doughnut

Today I’ve been working on the sawdust extractor project.  The first task was to buy a metal rubbish bin from the local hardware.  At 55 litres it should be sufficient for my needs.


The diameter of the bin is less than the cyclone, hence the need for the doughnut. 

The first step was to measure and scribe the circumference of the bin on the reverse side of the doughnut.


That was followed by a large amount of routering as I cut the groove for the bin lid and then the outside diameter of the doughnut.. 


A test fit before cutting the inner ring in the doughnut


A change of router bits to cut a round edge on the doughnut before giving is a good sand.  hopefully I’ll now avoid splinters.

After some scrounging I found a short length of metal wall bracing strap


Three sections were then cut and bent to provide ‘Z’ brackets which will be used to secure the doughnut to the cyclone.


The rubbish bin will be secured to the doughnut by upward pressure.  I’m going to make a separate sawdust extractor cabinet on the outside of the shed so today was just a temporary solution.  The first step was to bend the vertical support brackets on the extractor assembly in order to secure the cyclone.  Then I measure the gap between the doughnut and the bin before making a temporary box that fits underneath the bin


Three small wooden wedges provide the upwards pressure to hold the bin against the doughnut.  Then a test was conducted to see if the modification works



Friday, 2 August 2019

What’s been happening?

There is now more room in the ceiling cavity now that all the old air conditioning ducting has been removed.  All I need to now do is take it to the tip.  However there are many other objects that also need to go there which means that won’t happen until I’m confident my back is ready to do some heavy lifting.


The front lawn is full of weeds which meant half a day applying weed specific poison.

I’ve made a start on the modifications to the workshop dust extractor.  you can see the problem in the next two photos.


I’ve made a temporary repair with duct tape.


Scrounging around behind the shed I found some old pieces of 8mm plywood sheet that originally formed the lower shelf in the garage bench which I dismantled several weeks ago.  They were roughly cut to size before being glued and clamped.


Whilst the glue was setting I dismantled the sawdust extractor focussing on the ‘cyclone’ portion.  This was laid on to of the plywood and the circumference marked with a pencil.


Then I measured the radius of the scribed circle.  Well the cyclone isn’t circular… it’s actually oval (Chinese made… of course!).  I then made a jig for the router using pieces of scrap timber.


A small hole was drilled in the jig away from the router bit.  The distance being exactly the radius of the circle oval.


Then all I had to do was spin the router on the template several times lowering the bit by increments into I had an 8mm deep groove in the plywood.


The next step was to do a test fit of the cyclone.


It fits!

I’ll now need to turn the plywood over and repeat the operation cutting a groove for the new sawdust container (when I buy it).

The Stone Stomper arrived from the manufacturer in Adelaide this afternoon.  All the components were laid on the lawn to check they were present.


To the left of the photo are the grey canvas mudflaps and rail which attached to the vehicle towbar.  The flaps will hang vertically when the vehicle is stationary but will be pushed into the horizontal position when the vehicle is at speed.  The black mesh fits between the rail and the underside of the camper trailer.  It actually looks quite simple to install.

When looking at the trailer I realised there would be a problem with the jockey wheel in the travelling position.  The wheel will press down on the Stone Stomper mesh.   I want the jockey wheel to travel in the horizontal position rather than the vertical.


The solution was to drill a 6.5mm hole through the Jockey Wheel shaft when the wheel is in the horizontal position.  The wheel can then be held in place using a ‘D’ clip which is inserted into the hole.


Right arrow to ‘D’ spring clip.

It was then that I realised there was another potential hazard.  The nut on the end of the bolt holding the jockey wheel to the shaft was on the underneath side.  The end of the bolt might tear the mesh.  The solution was to reverse the direction of the bolt thereby repositioning the nut at the top.

Tuesday, 30 July 2019

A Cheap Solution

I do like a cheap solution to a problem and have I had an expensive problem to solve. 

The issue was the computer media server which contains all our video files.  The server is connected to our local network and is capable of streaming multiple video files simultaneously to multiple devices (TV’s tablets, etc).  We have so much video data that it takes four hard drives to store all of it.  I have a smaller, 5th drive which holds the Linux operating system.  The problem was one of the hard drives was randomly disappearing from the system.  It would disappear and then reappear making me think the hard drive was failing.  Eventually I replaced it and the problem disappeared.  Then a month later the problem re-appeared, but with a different drive.  After several months I started to suspect the hard drive controller on the computer motherboard had developed an intermittent fault.  Testing equipment is expensive and I didn’t want to take it to a computer shop where they would charge an initial $80 just to open the case.  I’d resigned myself to the expense of replacing the motherboard <ouch>. 

But then whilst lying on the bed trying to forget about my back pain I started to wonder whether it might be possible to fit a hard driver expansion card to the motherboard.  Did such a card exist?  Google said yes….. but they were more expensive than a replacement motherboard.  After further searching I found a Chinese retailer selling a 4 port card for $25.  This card would expand the existing hard drive port capacity on the motherboard from 6 to 10 ports.  I need 5 ports and two on the motherboard have failed.  This card might be a cheap solution.

The card arrived today.


I guess the same Chinese factory produces the same cards but with the expensive brand name embossed on it.  A DVD containing drivers was included which initially concerned me as I’m using Linux.  But Linux is rather forgiving and I was hoping the card would work straight from the box.

As you can see in the next photo there are four SATA ports on the end of the card.


The expansion SATA (hard drive) card has been fitted and it was immediately recognised by the Linux operating system.  The two “defective” server hard drives were then connected and recognised by the system.  The media sever is back in business for $25 <phew>

Now I can get back to struggling with the second desktop pc (which is very old) that contains the five TV capture cards.   

Monday, 29 July 2019

Local Weather

According to some of the Perth locals the recent winter weather has been freezing with frost on the ground in the morning.  Even my sister (born in NZ) has said its so cold she is heading to Bali for a week in an effort to avoid the winter cold.   It’s interesting how one becomes acclimatized.  The temperature has never dropped below 16°C (60.8°F) and it was dew on the ground… not frost!  I shouldn’t be too critical of the complaints as I remember our return to NZ from two years living in Singapore.  We arrived back in the middle of winter.  I had to go to work, however Jan and the children spent their initial fortnight huddled together in the double bed with the electric blanket. 

There has been more progress with the outback camper trailer modifications.  I’m fitting a ‘Stone Stomper’ and some angle iron underneath as the support for a long mudflap.  One of the hazards towing a trailer off sealed roads is the stones can flick out from underneath the 4x4 striking the trailer (or caravan).  This can both damage the trailer/caravan and result in the stones ricocheting back against the 4x4 chipping the paintwork or even smashing the rear window.  The Stone Stomper is a length of heavy mesh cloth that is the width of the rear of the 4x4 and which extends back horizontally under the trailer.  The idea is it prevents any stones coming out from under the 4x4 hitting the body of the trailer/caravan.  however that isn’t enough for me.  I’m concerned all these stones will ‘shot-blast’ the suspension and underside of the trailer.  In an effort to reduce this I’m fitting a length of angle-iron across the width of the trailer at the rear of the ‘A’ frame.  The angle-iron will have a triangular shape with the apex pointing towards the 4x4.  My plan is to fit a vertical rubber skirt (old conveyor belt rubber) to the angle-iron.  My theory is all the stones coming out from under the 4x4 won’t be able to rise because of the Stone Stomper.  The will then strike the arrow shaped rubber skirt and be defected to either side of the trailer.  Well that’s the theory!

Meanwhile Jan has been busy baking in the kitchen.  Some lovely smells have been emanating from that part of the house.  The peanut butter and oatmeal biscuits look and smell delicious.


Unfortunately I’ve been forbidden from tasting them.   Jan has sternly informed me they are not for me.  Moreover Molly would probably snarl if I put my hand anywhere near them.  Yes readers, Jan has baked dog biscuits for Molly.  Sad smile

Oh…. I appear to have found yet another small project.  The large plastic bag on the ‘man cave’ sawdust extractor has a hole in it which was probably caused by a splinter.  Now the bag spews out sawdust through the hole when the extractor is running.  Replacement bags are $25 which seems rather excessive.  I have an idea on how it might be possible to replace the plastic bag with something more substantial.

Saturday, 20 July 2019

Delayed post

Time has passed since the last post and that wasn’t intended.  I put my back out (again) pulling weeds in the front lawn and have been lying on the bed for almost a week waiting for the pain to subside.  In a few days I’ll hopefully be good to go…  One consequence of my inactivity is a delay to the house maintenance tasks.  I still have two ceiling air conditioning ducts to remove and patch and the modifications to the spare bedroom wardrobe need to be completed.  The good news is I completed repainting the bedroom before the back problem occurred which means there has been no delay to laying the new carpet.  I first laid carpet more than 30 years ago and didn’t enjoy the experience of acquiring an aching knee from stretching the carpet with the hired ‘knee-kicker’.  It wouldn’t surprise me if all old carpet layers had bad knees.

You can see in the photo below that the old carpet has seen better days.  I cut the edges off to provide better access for painting the bottoms of the walls.  Jan has selected a darker coloured carpet with a pattern as the replacement.


She also wanted the built-in wardrobe modified.  The three lower vertical shelves have been removed and replaced with a smaller shelved section on the right.  The larger area on the left will be for brooms, mop, vacuum cleaner, etc.


Yes…. it’s not finished!

Now for a warning

Don't wash your hair with shampoo whilst in the shower.

I never used shampoo when I was single opting instead to wash my hair with a bar of soap. Back then I was lean and taunt.

Once married I seemed to slip into a routine of washing my hair in the shower with shampoo. Nearly 50 years later I've realised just how dangerous this is. When you wash your hair in the shower it then runs down your body into the tray and the drain. Big mistake..... If you read the warning on the shampoo bottle it clearly states "For Extra Body and Volume".

No wonder each year I get "chunkier". Well I've ceased using shampoo and commenced using dish washing liquid. Hopefully this will reverse the process as the label states "Dissolves fat that is otherwise more difficult to remove!"

Friday, 12 July 2019

More Changes to Open Live Writer

Our post on Wednesday <here> included two photos.  Strangely after the post had been publish to Blogger I could see them, but Jan only saw blank squares on her Android tablet.  Eventually I worked out that if I was logged out of my Google account then I couldn’t see them either.  It appears Google has made yet another change and the method I’ve been using to link images in Google Photos to OLW no longer works.

However blog reader Robin (of blog Romany Rambler) had almost simultaneously sent me a link to a forum where yet another method had been described.  I’ve now discovered it is possible to insert a photo into OLW from your computer by going to ‘Insert’ on the OLW toolbar and then ‘Picture’.  In the drop down window select ‘From your computer’.  When the box opens navigate to the location on the pc where the image is you want to insert and select it.  Then click the ‘Open’ button to insert it into the OLW draft post.

This latest method previously didn’t work for me, but something must have changed because now it does!   Well I’m assuming that because I can see the image I inserted into my test post yesterday.

Thursday, 11 July 2019

Wednesday, 10 July 2019

Jan’s Pyjamas

Jan walked out of the bedroom after her shower yesterday evening wearing the new pyjamas she purchased during our recent holiday in the UK.  They are covered in small printed slices of watermelon.  I’m convinced this is part of a ‘cunning plan’ to ensure I stay on my side of the bed. 
To explain this I have to wind the clock back 39 years.  We were living in Singapore where I held the appointment of Deputy Force Engineer for the NZ Forces in South East Asia.  The ‘sharp end’ of the force was an infantry battalion and a flight of helicopters.  These were supported by logistics elements, including my engineer maintenance unit which was responsible for maintaining the camp buildings and grounds.  A good appointment which was 9 – 5 and working in an office.  No requirement to go off to the jungle which is hot, dirty and full of nasty bugs and animals.  Three months into my new appointment the NZ Army decided to participate in a joint brigade exercise with the Malaysian Army.  This would involve two Malaysian’s battalions and the NZ battalion.  Some bright spark on the NZ planning staff offered NZ support to conducted the battle simulation for the final brigade attack on the last day of the exercise.  Battle simulation involves the laying of explosive charges to simulate mortar and artillery fire.  The Malaysian’s accepted the NZ offer.
Subsequently the NZ planning staff discovered they had no one in the battalion who held a Demolitions Certificate (explosives license).  Actually they was only one qualified NZ officer in the theatre….. Me!   That’s how I found myself departing my comfortable air conditioned office being sent to the jungle with five soldiers and a truck load of explosives where we were to prepare the battle simulation.
We were duly dropped off at the location of the final battle.  Two thirds of the terrain was jungle and one third a former watermelon plantation.  I say former because the plantation had failed when the land became exhausted.  Using two large tarpaulins we create a shelter for the explosives and a separate shelter to sleep under.  No rations had been provided as I was told we would receive a ‘hot box’ meal delivery three times daily.  There was no mobile phone coverage (mobiles hadn’t been invented) and our short range radio couldn’t reach the main exercise area.  It would only be used on the final day as part of the exercise radio safety net.  The first task was to cover the explosives and then we set about establishing a comfortable campsite cutting timber from the jungle to make stretchers which would get us off the ground and away from the bugs.
That evening the ration vehicle didn’t arrive.  The five soldiers looked at me expectantly. “Don’t worry… it will arrive!”  says me.  It didn’t……  Dawn breaks the next morning and no ration truck.  Stomachs are growling.  “Guess what’s for breakfast guys…… pick yourself a cool juicy watermelon!”
Noon and no ration truck…. “Watermelon for lunch guys…… It’s very healthy”.  By that evening they had realised there wasn’t going to be a ration vehicle….. we’d been forgotten.   For nine days we ate watermelon… NINE DAYS!    To this day I STILL HATE WATERMELON!!!!!!
To something more interesting.  I’ve been recycling the timber from the old wardrobe removed from the master bedroom.  Its been converted into shelving which has now been installed in the garage.  Of course I over engineered it and the shelving proved too heavy to move on my own.  that’s where Jan came in useful.  She’s younger and stronger than me.  Don’t listen to the excuses of being a great grandmother.  Anyone who wears pyjamas with a watermelon pattern can do this.

This has freed up some space in the garage. 
The really interesting news is we received a visit today from a couple of Kiwi blog readers.  Geoff & Eileen were early starters and have stuck with us ever since.  It was great to finally met and exchange news.  Somehow the subject of toilets arose! 

We had a lovely BBQ lunch together and somehow I fluked it with the meat.  Nothing under or over done!  Thanks for visiting Geoff & Eileen