Sunday, 22 April 2018

Arriving by camel train

You realize Australia is a big country and Perth is the most isolated city in the world when you buy an item that has to come from somewhere else.  We were obviously spoilt in the UK where items were delivered within 24 hours.

Ten days ago I purchased a 12V air compressor for use (or hopefully not) on my outback trips.  It takes three days for the freight train to cross Australia and the courier company website indicated delivery would take seven days.  I assume they hold onto freight until there is enough to fill a container and make the journey financially viable.  However by Day 8 I was starting to get grumpy.  By the ninth day I knew the air compressor could have made the trip twice!  Obviously it was crossing the desert by camel train.

It’s the largest (and cheapest) 12V compressor I could find online.  The supplier had to be Australian to ensure I received a 12 month warranty.  It’s twin cylinder with a maximum output of 300 litres per minute and 150psi.  The manufacturer is unknown to me but in all likelihood, Chinese (as is almost everything these days).

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There were smaller and cheaper 12V air compressors, but the 4x4 has large tyres and if you physically remove the tyre from the rim to do a major puncture repair the tyre frequently doesn’t reseat on the rim bead afterwards.  This means you need a large volume of air into the tyre very quickly to pop the tyre back onto the bead.

I was pleasantly surprised to find a carry bag included along with a complimentary puncture repair kit.  Actually I’ll probably discard half the repair kit.  The thought of a plastic handle breaking and the steel shaft puncturing my palm brings tears to my eyes.  I’ve already started looking for replacement tools that have metal handles. 

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Of course I’m going to do some modifications to the compressor.  The 12V power lead isn’t very long and I’ll need to replace the battery terminal “alligator” clips with an Anderson plug.  Hopefully some of the items I’ve ordered from China for the trailer modifications will start arriving shortly.

Friday, 20 April 2018

Covering the map

Lately we’ve been remising about our six years in the UK and our journey around the inland waterways.  It’s true we miss the lifestyle and canal community.  I did a quick internet search and found a map which I think is from British Waterways.  Using a drawing program I overlayed our travels in bright green to see just how much of the network we managed to cruise.

canal network

As you can see we didn’t manage the Ribble Link and Lancaster Canal.  Neither did we make it to the Fens.  But we did manage to cover most of it.

Rain has been forecast for the weekend which will be a change.  Autumn has started to put in an appearance and it’s interesting to read boater’s blog where they are starting their six monthly cruising season <sigh>.  Ah, but some of the components for the modifications to my camper trailer have started to arrive from China.  The trailer is due towards the end of June and I’m planning my first trip for August. 

Wednesday, 18 April 2018

Sunday, 15 April 2018

Noisy black strippers chew our nuts!

This blog post title will have either pricked your interested or result in a comment about offensive racism. Smile

Once again it’s that time of the year.  The nuts have ripened on one of the large native trees located on the front lawn.

tree The tree is abundant with leaves and ripe green nuts which have attracted a large flock of native Black Cockatoos.  They are raucous as they quickly start stripping the tree of it’s foliage.  Not only do they eat the nuts, but also break off minor branches leaving the tree looking almost naked.  All the stripped foliage leaves a mess on the ground for me to gather and dispose.

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There’s nothing small or dainty about these guys.

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And that’s a large and powerful beak.

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Last autumn the foliage on the ground had to be racked and collected by hand otherwise it would cause the reel mower to stalls.  However our new rotary mower is far more brutal chomping it's way through the stuff. 

What’s most annoying is the birds only eat 2-5% of the nuts with the remainder discarded on the ground.  But then I suppose that’s what nature intended to happen.

Friday, 13 April 2018

Stuff from the sky

Yesterday there was “stuff” falling from the sky, it was cool, opaque and slippery!  A Brit tourist told us it was rain!   Of course…. I should have remembered.  We last experienced it six months ago!  Autumn has arrived with the temperature dropping to the low 20’s.  I’ve turned off the water reticulation controller which should have a positive impact on our electricity bill.

Jan has been issuing veiled threats towards Australia Post.  The delivery of her UK magazines has been very erratic and they’ve also been arriving in the wrong sequence.  She has come to the conclusion Australia Post should outsource their postal deliveries to the Jehovah’s Witnesses because THEY ALWAYS KNOCK!

Rather than sit around watching the rain I decided to see what small task could be completed.  All the small scraps of plywood and pine had been consigned to the rubbish bin several weeks ago.  However the hardwood is more valuable and I’d been keeping it.  Today I made this interesting box from scraps of Jarrah.

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After all the rough edges had been planed smooth I gave it a quick sanding.  The oil stone is a perfect fit.

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I think I found this oil stone 44 years ago in an overgrown ditch I was clearing.  It’s taken me a few years to make a case. Smile

Jan then told me our new bed required burping.  She had already removed the bedding in anticipation.  For those who have never owned a waterbed you never manage to extract all the small air bubbles when you fill it.  Eventually the all combine to form one or more large bubbles on top of the water which can result in some uncomfortable nights.

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I’m unwilling to purchase or rent an extractor pump so my technique is to carefully remove the filler cap and place my mouth over the opening sealing it.  I then pull the outlet upwards with my hands.  This draws all the air bubbles to the outlet as it’s now the high point.

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Then it’s a case of exhaling through my nose and inhaling through my mouth whilst keeping an eye on the mattress to avoid inhaling the water.    

Wednesday, 11 April 2018

Energy Matters

But first……. Jan became quite excited this morning when she woke to find a blog comment from reader Caroline informing us they had recently seen Waiouru on the Ashby Canal.  It was good to read Waiouru is out and about.  Even more interesting was Caroline & Martin have a narrowboat, Sonia Louise and a blog.  Of course the link can now be found on our Blog List.

Readers might recall I fitted an electrical consumption monitor to the house shortly after we moved in.  The monitor is capable of recording electrical usage by the second and also has the ability to produce various reports.  Today I created monthly reports of our hourly usage for the period Jul 17 to March 18.  The system allows users to download these in CSV (comma separated value) format.  This information can then be inserted into an Excel spreadsheet.

If I’m going to analyse the data then it’s easier to look at it graphically; which is what I did.

The first step was to average the data by month, day of week and hour of day.  Next I produced graphs for average monthly usage by day of week into daylight and night (day 0700-1800) (night 1800-0700).  The logic behind this was to identify our usage so I could establish the size of a proposed future solar panel array and also the size of a battery for use when there’s no sun.

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The first thing I noticed was how much lower our consumption was between July and October 2017.  It jumped significantly from November onwards.

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This situation is replicated during daylight.

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The same during the night

So I had a look at the data for July 2017 by day of week and hour of day.

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Except for the time around breakfast (kettle, toaster, etc) were averaging less than 0.5kW per hour.

There was a dramatic change in November which has continued.

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You’ll notice the three major spikes between 6 – 7am.  Also, the consumption has risen between midday and 6pm.  After thinking about it I realised those three large spikes were on Sunday, Wednesday and Friday.  This is the electric water pump running the bore water reticulation system for the lawns and gardens.  Also, it was getting hot in November, which is when we started using the air conditioning unit.

With this information I could start calculating the required size of a solar array and battery.  One of a size to enable us to be self-sufficient.

The resulting table looks like this.  If you are interested you should be able to double click on it to see the original size

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First column is obviously the month and the second is the average daily hours of sunlight from the government website.  My variables are the size of the solar array (proposed 5kW) and the battery capacity (5kWh with 4.8kWh’s usable)

I’ve assumed the solar panels are 80% efficient.  I’ve also assumed the solar panels have to add an additional 30% to the battery capacity to fully recharge it.

Surplus kWh’s are sold back to the power company at $0.07.  The daily utility company service charge for the privilege of being connected to the electrical grid is $0.9498753. 

The figures that matter are in the last column.  If in red that’s the money the electrical company will owe us.  If it’s black then we owe them. 

Based on this monthly average data we would actually produce more electricity than we require.  However if we wanted the security of being connected to the national grid then we would have to pay during the winter months.

I now need to do a cost comparison of the solar array and battery –vs- paying the full cost of remaining on the grid. 

Monday, 9 April 2018

Saving the clothes

Jan mentioned the retracting clothesline under the carport probably needed to be replaced.  The cords are brittle, frayed and discoloured.  The box the lines retract into was faded and covered in rust.  After checking the price of a new clothesline I decided to see if it was possible to purchase new line.  The current clothesline is located against the edge of the carport close to the neighbour’s boundary fence.  It gets some sunlight but is also exposed to the rain.  I decided to move the line so it ran down the middle of the carport.  This would get it away from both the rain and sunlight.  The fierce Australian sun rapidly fades clothes whilst the former just delays the drying process.

The mounting bracket was moved to the middle of the garage door lintel.  At the opposite end the mounting bracket was bolted to the last carport beam.

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The retracting box was disassembled before the case was wire brushed back to bare metal and primed before receiving three coats of silver paint left over from the refurbishment of the 4x4 wheels.

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Sixty metres of clothesline cord cost me $26.20 from Bunnings.  The line was laid out and I replaced the original cords.

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It was then a matter of reassembling the mechanism and mounting the clothesline in its new position.

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The lines are slightly higher, but that would only be an issue for the vertically challenged (sorry Jaq).  Of course Jan can’t use the clothesline because the carport is currently my workshop.

I’ve also had a failure.  I wanted to jack up the 4x4 and add 70mm of Nulon G70 additive to the gearbox.  Despite several hours of strenuous effort I’ve been unable to level the vehicle on the ramps and stands.  Consequentially, when I removed the filler plug, oil started to run out.  I’m going to need to find an alternative method.

Readers may know the Commonwealth Games are currently underway on the Gold Coast in Queensland.  Australian athletes appears to be winning many medals.  Which probably isn’t surprising because if you were watching the Australian commercial TV channels no other country is competing. Smile 

Of course the local media latched onto the story about used syringes being found discarded near the Indian athletes accommodation and there was muttering about cheating until someone mentioned the cricket.   Cricket…. mention cricket around here any everyone will profess to only knowing it as as small insect. Smile

Saturday, 7 April 2018

The knock at the door

We slept in this morning only to be woken by a knock at the door.  It was the parcel courier from Australia Post.  I leapt from bed dressed in my birthday suit and ran to the front door.  The courier was knocking and calling out “Is anyone there?”.  If you don’t promptly collect the package the courier will depart as he has a tight schedule.

Well I grabbed the doorknob of the front door and gave it a quick twist only to feel a “crunch” and be left holding a wobbly knob in my hand. (obviously I need to cut back on the breakfast Wheatbix).  Now the door was locked with no knob on the inside. 

This resulted in a frantic sprint to the back door whilst simultaneously attempting to get both legs into a pair of shorts (don’t want to frighten the neighbours……. or their dog!) unlock the back door and run through the garage to open the electric roller door where I met a somewhat amused courier driver.

After breakfast I made a trip to Bunnings for a new door lock.  Of course the current lock is so old (1986) that it’s no longer in stock.  The replacement is stainless steel rather than the original brass……. and it wasn’t an exact fit!  Out with one of the recently sharpened chisels to widen the recess in the doorframe and the barrel hole in the door.

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I even managed to fit the lock with sufficient accuracy that the door no longer rattles in the wind.

On the way home from Bunnings I stopped at two chemists and obtained a price for them to fulfil the two prescriptions the doctor has given me.  Australia isn’t like the UK; you have to pay for your medicine; albeit the cost is subsidised.  One chemist quoted me $50 and the other $79.  It pays to shop around! 

The quarterly house electricity bill arrived by email this morning.  Total owed was $49.85.  We had used $0.38 of electricity.  The balance of $49.47 was the service charge (ie, the cost of being connected to the grid).   It’s not hard to see why I’d like to build a lithium battery and wave good bye to the utility company.

Wednesday, 4 April 2018

More Thinking

I’ve previously mentioned the requirement to fly a ‘Sand flag’ when travelling remote outback tracks.  I made a flexible mast from an old fishing rod and Jan made the flag from a Hi Viz vest purchased from China.  My thoughts had moved on to the positioning of the Sand flag on the 4x4.  For $30 I could buy a Two-Way radio aerial mount which would be fitted between the top edge of the front passenger side mudguard and the bonnet.  However this position gave me some concern.  Firstly, it was a potential obstacle when working on the engine (I’d tear a hand or arm on it.  Secondly, the flag and mast will violently whip around which might create stress fractures in the vehicle panel at the mounting point.  Finally, on the side of the vehicle isn’t a good location as the flag is likely to strike overhanging branches.  Mounting the mast on the vehicle centreline would be a better position.

It would be possible to manufacture a mounting fitting behind the front radiator grill.  The bracket would then protrude through the front of the grill where the mast would be attached.  There were three problems with this location.  The mounting bracket would be expensive.  I’d need to make a hole in the insect and grass seed mesh I’d already made.  The flag wouldn’t be very high.

Then I had a revelation.  I could mount the flag on top of the trailer.  The cage on top of the trailer is 2.1m above the ground which would mean the flag was 5 metres above ground level.  I could also mount it on the centreline.  Aldi became my friend when I re-discovered a strong metal bracket I’d purchased six months ago whilst following Jan around the store.  I modified it with some mounting holes and then gave it two coats of paint.

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I’d already threaded the fibreglass core of the rod using my Aldi Tap & Die set.  Sikaflex on the thread of the bolt and the base of the rod assisted in ensuring a strong bond between the rod and the metal bracket before apply two coats of anti-rust paint.

The Aldi 240V reciprocating saw was a lazy way of cutting four small strengthening plates from the remains of the flat steel bar I’d purchased to make the 4x4 fuel pre-filter bracket.  These were then drilled and threads cut before applying four coats of paint.

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The plates will be used to ‘sandwich’ the bracket to the mesh on the cage.  Whilst wandering through Aldi with Jan today I noticed a box of various sized machine screws which will be most useful in mounting the mast.

With that done I started looking at what else might be useful.  There were plenty of odd sized small pieces of scrap plywood lying around so I made these.

IMG_2298 Caravan owners will probably identify them  A caravan (and our camper trailer) has a wind down stability foot at each corner.  My four flat blocks with a lip around the top will go under the stabilizing feet preventing them from sinking into soft ground.  The fifth piece of plywood is a double thickness of 12mm ply which will be the base for my vehicle jack.   

Monday, 2 April 2018

Another Tyre Fact

I’ve discovered something I didn’t know about tyres.  I’d always assumed they needed replacing when they reached the minimum tread depth.  Yesterday evening I discovered they also have a time life.  Prior to 2000 this was 10 years and since then it’s six years.  The clock starts ticking from the month of manufacture.  This means you might purchase a new tyre which has been sitting on the shelf for years thus leaving you with a minimal residual life.  Obviously this is something to remember when purchasing new tyres!

The date of manufacture is on the tyre, usually after the letters ‘DOT’.  It’s in the format of four numbers.  The first two are the week of manufacture during the year (01 to 52) and the last two are the year.  With this information I checked the four used tyres I had intended keeping for the trailer.

4911  (49th week of 2011)

4111  (41st week of 2011)

2 @ 0215  (2nd week of 2015)

The first two tyres expired towards the end of 2017 and the latter two will expire in 2021.  I doubt a tyre reaches six years and then immediately fails.  Therefore I’ll stick with my original plan and keep the two tyres made in late 2011 as my trailer spares.

Sunday, 1 April 2018

Nine and Five

You may recall months ago I managed to buy four used 16inch steel rims with the same stud pattern as our Isuzu 4x4.  More recently I managed to buy a further five used rims and tyres.  Again with the same stud pattern and wheel offset.

The first four steel rims were in good condition.  However the last five rims were showing signs of rust.  Yesterday the five rusty rims were wire brushed before being given a coat of rust kill (Fertan equivalent) and left overnight.  This morning the rims were given a coat of steel primer before I applied four top coats of gunmetal grey paint.  Feeling enthusiastic, I then blacked the tyres.

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All the used tyres have approximately 10,000km of tread left,  Three have the same tread pattern with the remaining two being orphans.  Of the three the same, one has some damage to the sidewall.  I’ll keep this as a puncture practice tyre.

So the current situation is I have nine 16 inch steel rims and four used tyres.  The objective is to have a standard set of outback rims and tyres for the 4x4 and trailer.  As a minimum I need five for the 4x4 and three for the trailer (total eight).  There are nine rims which gives me an additional spare rim.

The standard rims and tyres on the 4x4 are 255/60/18 with a tyre diameter of 763.2mm.  My plan is to replace these rims and tyres with 235/85/16.  This will provide a tyre diameter of 806mm.  The four used tyre are 245/70/16 which gives a diameter of 749.5mm.

After looking at the above I have decided to fit three of the rims with the best of the used 245/70/16 tyres.  These will go on the trailer.  Six rims will be fitted with new 235/85/16 tyres for the 4x4 (two spares).  I will keep the fourth good used 245/70/16 tyres as a second spare for the trailer, but it wont be on a rim.  The 2nd spare for the 4x4 and the tyre without a rim will be carried on top of the trailer. 

My tyre repair strategy will be to replace any punctured  tyre with a spare and then repair punctures on the evening of the day they occur.  Knowing my luck, if I left repairs any longer I’m almost convinced it would result in multiple punctures, with me having to complete a repair in the blazing heat of the middle of the day, in a most inopportune place.  Of course carrying two spares will probably result in me never getting a puncture!

Friday, 30 March 2018

The New Camper Trailer

After a considerable amount of haggling, cajoling, manipulating and downright toadying, I managed to buy a camper trailer which closely met my specifications.  The asking price was $14,995 and I bought it for $7500.  Moreover it’s version 3 which is longer and has two additional lockers.  How did I get the price down?  The following standard items were excluded.

  • Stainless steel tailgate kitchen
  • 100ah deep cycle battery and the majority of the domestic electrics
  • The rooftop tent
  • Wheels

The order has been sent to China with delivery in 10-12 weeks

So what does it look like?  I have a drawing of the trailer minus the tent.

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The following are photos of the earlier version

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I don’t like their telescopic ladder to the rooftop tent.  The tent was $1000.  I’ve sourced a tent with a folding ladder and an enclosed lower compartment for $770.  I’ve also sourced a cheaper ‘Batwing’ awning.

I didn’t like their stainless steel tailgate kitchen.  The bulk of the kitchen was taken up with a sink.  I will use a collapsible plastic basin (thank you Aldi Dudley).  The stainless steel would get very hot in the West Australian sun.  Finally, the tailgate only opens 90° which means the kitchen fouls access to the interior of the trailer.

trailer4

You can see in the above photo that there is a considerable height between the top of the tailgate opening and the top of the steel trailer.  I plan to install a false floor just above the tailgate which will give me upper and lower compartments.  I also plan to modify the tailgate hinges which will enable the tailgate to open 180°.  I’ll also make my own plywood tailgate kitchen (no sink!).

Access to the upper compartment is obtained by lifting the top.  Obviously I won’t be able to lift the top when the tent and awning are erected so this area will have to container either items needed to establish the campsite (chairs, table, poles, ground mat, etc or items only required when the tent is packed away (eg, tyre repair tools)

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There is a 30 litre water tank underneath the trailer and a 50 litre tank on the front along with two jerry can holders.

As mentioned earlier, these are photos of version 2.  Version 3 has higher and more side lockers.

The height of the wheel guard has been lowered (bottom red line) and the locker height raised to the top red line.  This provided room for a 3rd locker above the wheel arch.

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I took one of the second hand 16” rims and tyres I’d bought earlier to the dealer and checked it would fit the trailer wheel hub (it does).  However the inside clearance between the side wall of the tyre and the wheel arch is only 15mm .  My plan is to extend the stub axle with a 20mm steel packing plate which will increase the clearance to 35mm.

The dealers version of the trailer has a 100ah battery in one of the side lockers.  I plan to fit a ‘slimline’ 150ah AGM battery horizontally under the trailer forward of the wheels.  It will be protected with an aluminium bash plate.   The Engel fridge will go in the large front locker.

There is one problem.  With the rooftop tent on top of the cage the trailer is too high to pass under our garage lintel (ie, the trailer won’t fit in the garage).  I’m working on a solution.

Meanwhile Jan’s Pfaff sewing machine is back together and much happier after a good scrub and bath. Smile

Monday, 26 March 2018

Machine Repairs

Well Jan’s Pfaff sewing machine does sew standard stitching and it has been useful in making the sand flag.  Unfortunately the expensive part of the machine doesn’t work.  There are sixteen buttons and an LCD panel on the front.  By pressing the buttons and entering specific codes the machine can sew 90 different stitches.  However Jan discovered that each time she pressed a switch there was a slight “crunch” sound and the switch locked into that position.  The manual does say that the machine should be serviced every two years with light usage and annually for heavy usage.  This machine was purchased in 1984 and has never been serviced.  Moreover it's been in storage for seven years. 

With nothing to lose I decided to disassemble the machine.  Of course I don’t have a repair manual so the whole process became a matter of trial and error.  With my luck, as you would expect, the control panel is one of the last items to remove.

The top had to be disassembled to gain access to the panel top securing screws.  Then I needed to start disassembling the base. 

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After numerous experiences in my younger days of racing into a project only to finish with a pile of “left over parts” these days I tend to take photos of the more difficult stages.

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Just making sure I have a record of what plug goes where

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Almost there

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Once I had the panel apart there was access to the micro switches behind the frozen buttons. At this point WD40 was my friend. Each micro switch was carefully manipulated +/- or ON/OFF until the frozen mechanism was loosened and the switch would move freely. 

The machine was then partially assembled before being connected to the 240V and the switches tested.  They all now work!   I’ll finish assembling the machine tomorrow.   

Sunday, 25 March 2018

Mignon Battery

I’d never heard of a Mignon battery until the digital display on Jan’s Pfaff sewing machine showed “Batterie”.  The machine was purchased many years ago and I doubt we have a manual.  A quick check on Google stated the machine required two Mignon 1.5V cells.  More searching revealed the battery compartment was under the base.  I couldn’t check this as the machine actually works with flat batteries and Jan is currently using it to make my ‘sand flag’ from the orange Chinese HiViz vest.

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The flag slowly takes shape

Imagine my surprise when I finally gained access to the battery compartment and discovered two standard AA sized batteries.

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The batteries have “Made in Belgium” on them which leads me to assume they are the originals.  They’re also very corroded (along with the corresponding terminals in the battery compartment.

Now I know what a Mignon battery is!  Of course if I’d done some further internet searching I would have discovered this https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/AA_battery.

The completed flag.

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Now I need to fit the aerial mounting bracket to the vehicle.

Meanwhile, I noticed this interesting poster

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I don’t have much respect for either man.  Assange is probably indirectly responsible for the deaths of a number of people through his disclosures.  And he wasn’t doing it for free….. there was money being made somewhere!  Zuckerberg is just another large corporate shark portraying himself as a genial harmless geek!  However; unlike Assange; he can at least claim his victims willingly gave him their personal data!  Well that last sentence is no longer true.  Both Google and Facebook employ facial recognition software and encourage users to add the names of the people in their photos.  So you don’t have to be a Facebook user for Facebook to collect your personal data (and sell it).  Moreover, even if I asked a Facebook user to delete one of their photos with me in it, Facebook doesn’t delete the photo.  They just hide it from viewers.  Data is power (and money). Facebook deletes nothing!

Friday, 23 March 2018

Camping & Caravan Show

Money was mostly wasted going to the annual West Australian State Camping and Caravan Show.  UK readers will know of the Birmingham Camping and Caravan Show held at the NIA.  for those who have visited the UK show imagine going to the toilets in the north west corner.  That’s about the size of the West Australian Show.  Well I might be slightly exaggerating, but it’s small beer compared to the NIA.

I wanted to look at camper trailers managing to inspect two potentially suitable trailers.  One I’d already seen an the salesman at the other wasn’t particularly interested.  However I did manage to purchase an R&R Beadbreaker with a show discount of 5%.

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Ordinarily, when you get a flat tyre you replace it with the spare and take the flat to the garage for repair.  However when you’re in the middle of nowhere and all on your own, you need to do the repair yourself.  Swinging tyre levers on a heavy duty large 4x4 tyres is hard work and actually proved too difficult for a 75 year old German migrant, so he invented the R&R Beadbreaker to take the majority of the physical effort out of the task.

He actually invented the tool to put the tyre back on the rim. However it was quickly modified to enable it to be used to remove the tyre

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I used this tyre because the tread has almost gone and it had a steel screw through the wall.  The shinny tip of the screw can be seen in this next photo.

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Now I need to teach myself how to replace the tyre on the rim.  Several rehearsals will be required before I’m proficient.

There was a financial win when we purchased a folding table from Aldi for $29.95.  They were being sold at the show for $55.

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Postman Gary appeared today with two small packages.  The first was an orange HiViz vest.

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When travelling lonely outback tracks you are required to fly an orange HiViz flag.  The shops sell them for almost $100.  My HiViz vest from China cost $3.32.  Jan is going to pull out her sewing machine and convert it into a flag.  I’ve already converted an old fishing rod into the aerial.

Gary also delivered the replacement part for the Samsung tablet.

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The usb charging port in the tablet has failed and after an online search I was able to purchase a replacement from China for $12.

On a more general note, our retirement fund (mostly shares) has taken a hit.  Thank you Donald Trump!  This guy is starting to worry me.  When you start surrounding yourself will “Yes” people and think your infallible, you can make a serious mistake.  Ask Hitler, Saddam Hussein or Muammar Gaddafi.

I was also interested in the latest Brexit announcement.  It appears the interim agreement mostly gives both sides another two years of negotiating.  This gets the EU out of a financial crisis, because their next budget forecast is 2020 and if the UK had exited in 2019 the EU would have a massive hole in their budget.  What did the UK gain?  It appears Liam Fox has to get his skates on and have a significant number of free trade agreements settled within the next two years, because that’s the only way I can see the UK having any strength during the final negotiations.  Interesting times!

Meanwhile the Australian weather has gone crazy.  Two major cyclones up north.  Two large bushfires in the south east with more than a hundred homes destroyed and flooding in the east.