Saturday, 14 December 2019

Beep Beep Beep

Have I found the source of the annoying noise?

If you dredge back 18 months in this blog you’ll probably find where I wrote about fitting a Tyre Pressure monitoring system (TPMS) to the Isuzu 4WD.  TPMS has been mandatory for new vehicles in the USA since 2007 and this was subsequently adopted by the EU.  Australia has yet to follow, which means most vehicles are sold without a TPMS.  Having a TPMS is an important safety feature.  A significant portion of non vehicle to vehicle incidents are caused by tyre failure and a tyre monitoring system assists in reducing that risk.

Our after market TPMS came from a Chinese eBay seller.  It consists of a control box, monitoring button, tyre sensors and antenna.  The control box has to be wired into the screen of the vehicle head unit which then displays the status of each tyre.  The screen can be displayed by either pushing the monitoring button or automatically should the status of one or more tyres go outside the user settings.  Each tyre sensor wirelessly communicates the current tyre pressure and internal temperature to the control box.

My problem is the system has never worked.  When turned on the control box emits a constant  “beep.. beep..beep” noise.  My initial assumption was I’d incorrectly wired the control box into the vehicle.  After several attempts to check the wiring I came to the conclusion there was nothing wrong with my wiring and with other projects requiring attention I suspended work on the problem. 

Several months ago I wrote to the manufacturer asking for advice on what the sound from the control box meant.  Had the control box failed or was it my wiring?  To date no answer has been received.   

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A bad back and high temperatures here in Perth had me once again looking at the TPMS.  I started to think “dead battery”.  Perhaps the beeping was a warning there was a flat battery. Remember the unit is 18 months old and battery life was quoted as 5 years.   It wasn’t that difficult to work out how to dismantle the monitoring button and put a multimeter on the lithium battery.  It was fine.  This left the four sensors which are screwed onto the tyre valve stem.  They obviously contain a battery but the units looked to be sealed.  Eventually I worked out I could dismantle the sensors by placing them upside down in a vice and carefully unscrew the base with a pair of water pump pliers.  All four batteries were flat!  Is this the cause of the noise problem and defective system?  We will have to wait until the temperature falls before venturing out to purchase replacement batteries.  

Friday, 13 December 2019

Rear camera installed

After waiting more than a month for the blind, lame and geriatric camel to travel across Australia with the dash camera I’d ordered from Melbourne we declared it lost and claimed a refund.  Fastway Snailway Couriers have excelled themselves.  Jan ordered a replacement camera from a different eBay seller on the 11th and it was delivered this morning.  Even better, this camera came with the gps option and hard wiring kit.  Despite the heat, I enthusiastically fitted everything this morning.

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Now we have recorded coverage should anyone hit us from behind. 

I’m still not satisfied with the power supply to the after market accessories.  The problem is the Voltage Sensitive Relay (VSR) between the starter battery and the accessories.  It cuts out (switches off the accessories) at 12.7V.  This is the voltage of a fully charged battery.  As a consequence the accessories get disconnected shortly after the engine stops.  I need power to the accessories to remain on.  But I don’t want them to stay on a flatten the starter battery.  My solution has been to buy a different VSR.  This one has an adjustable voltage cut out which I’ve set to 12.6V.  This is approx 75% of a fully charged 12V battery.  I just need to find somewhere to mount it in the engine bay.  Which happens to be very short on space Sad smile

Jenny it is the hottest start to summer on record.  There are currently two more bush fires to the north of us and I don’t envy the volunteer fire fighters with their attempts to contain it.  Regrettably it appears one might have been deliberately lit.  During period of extreme heat the sensible pensions without air conditioning (or money to run them) catch the bus to the nearest mall and sit there in the air-con all day.  How do I know this?  All the seats are already taken when I try to do it Smile

Thursday, 12 December 2019

Great stuff

This Sikaflex adhesive is great stuff.  I first used it on Waiouru securing the galley glass splashbacks to the tumblehome.  Yesterday I used it again for a couple of very small repairs.  The antenna port in the TPMS printed circuit board had parted.  It’s too awkward to solder or weld so I’ve held the two parts together with Sikaflex.

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There will be no strain on the connector once the antenna wire is screwed on.

My £3 stainless steel watch strap from China broke at the join between the flexible strap and the watch anchor point.  I smeared some Sikaflex into the end of the flexible stainless steel strap and more on the anchor plate before joining the two pieces and leaving the adhesive to cure for 24 hours.  It appears to have worked!

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The small stainless steel latch above the watch is one of six I ordered from China for the camper shower box.  I hadn’t realised they were going to be so small, however I think they will work if I can find screws small enough.

Here in Perth we have had the hottest start to summer since records have been kept.  The temperature is back up to 40C and likely to stay that way until the middle of next week.   The heat woke me at 5.30am; Jan had already been woken by the temperature.  We were probably sensible having the two additional air conditioners fitted in winter as all three are currently being used.  Fortunately we also have the solar panels which means no increase in the electrical bill.

Monday, 9 December 2019

Recovery component and the gas

One tip Ken and I were shown on our recent 4WD training day was how to connect two or more snatch straps.  Brief explanation.  A snatch strap is a strong fabric strap about 3” wide and 7-9 metres long.  It will stretch under tension much like an elastic band.  The purpose of the snatch strap is to recover a vehicle stuck in sand, mud, etc.  One end is tied to the stuck vehicle and the other to a recovery vehicle.  The recovery vehicle then drives away stretching the strap snatching (pulling) the stuck vehicle.  One potential hazard with doing this is only using one strap.  There is a risk the recovered vehicle will ‘spring’ out of the ‘hole’ and hit the recovery vehicle.  The instructor explained it was better to increase the distance between the two vehicles by using a second strap.  Very interesting but I only had one snatch strap purchased from Aldi.  That all changed when Outback Armour gave me a complementary recovery kit with my recent suspension purchase. 

This is how the instructor explained the snatch straps should be connected.

Each strap has a loop at each end.  The straps are laid out parallel to each other and opposing loops are passed through the opposite loop.  In the drawing below the blue snatch strap loop passes through the red loop at the right end and the red through the blue loop on the left.  The straps are them pulled apart.

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The straps are them pulled apart.

Yes it’s a very rough drawing.  The two loops join in the middle.  Obviously the loops will form a very tight knot during the recovery.  To prevent this rolled magazines are inserted between the two loops.

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It will look something like this with the grey vertical bar representing the magazines

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The instructor stressed the importance of using the correct type of magazine for this task.  Consequentially I’ve used two copies of Jan’s “People’s Friend’ magazine.

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According to the instructor you can also use  Woman’s Weekly, Woman’s Day, House & Garden, Vogue, Elle and Playboy.  OK I’m joking about the last one.  Under NO circumstances should you use ‘Wheels, 4WD Action, Hunting & Fishing, Esquire or Men’s Fitness’. Smile

My two copies of People’s Friend have been tightly rolled together and bound with Duct Tape.  It now resides inside the recovery bag

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The gas instant hot water burner had once again started playing up.  It wouldn’t ignite if the shroud was fitted to the unit.  I got onto eBay and purchase a new high voltage module which arrived today

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The old module.

It was a reasonably simple task to exchange the modules.  Whilst it’s early days, the heater appears to again be working with the shroud back in place.

Sunday, 8 December 2019

Ken to the rescue

A 7.30am start on the suspension upgrade and after two hours I had reached the point where the first of the front suspension struts was almost ready to be removed.  I was also considering whether I should continue with the upgrade or reinstall what I’d done.  We need the vehicle for Monday and this “alleged” four hour job was likely to take me a week given the current state of my back.  It was also apparent I’ve lost 80% of my physical fitness in the last eight years.  I’m physically getting old and my brain needs to realise that.

Fortunately ‘young’ Ken arrived to help.  OK Ken is only several years younger than me…. But he’s still in better shape physically, which made all the difference.

I’d only just started on the first strut when this photo was taken.  Why take the photo?  I wanted a record in order the reinstall everything correctly.

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Ken arrived in time to remove the top three nuts from the strut when then enabled us (him working me supervising) to install the larger Outback Armour strut.

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Once everything was installed we went around checking all the nuts and tightening them where necessary.  The original struts look quite puny compared to the new Outback Armour replacements.

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By now it was 1.30pm and I’d been working on the vehicle for six hours.  So much for it being a four hour job! 

We stopped for an hour to have lunch before replacing the rear coil springs and shock absorbers.  As you can see in the photo I continued to supervise!

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No… Ken is not working under the raised vehicle with just the small bottle jack holding it up.  The 4WD was sitting on three jack stands not shown in the photo.  The rear proved to be slightly easier than the front and the task was completed by 4.30pm. 

It was time for a test drive.  Ken and I have the same model vehicle which enabled us to provide comparison thoughts on whether the change in suspension was noticeable.  The ride was certainly ‘firmer’.  That’s probably not surprising as the manufacturer would have designed the vehicle suspension to have soft ride for the average owner driving around town or on bitumen.  When turning a corner the outside front part of the vehicle used to dip or roll.  The new suspension has stopped that.  It will be interesting to see what the ride is like when I next take it off road.

What it now requires is a wheel alignment.  The camper trailer also needs a wheel alignment, which means they will probably be done together.

Thank you for all your assistance Ken Smile

Friday, 6 December 2019

Preparing for the lift

When I initially started discussing replacing the suspension on the 4WD with something more substantial many of the salesmen immediately espoused the value of a “lift” their suspension system would give the vehicle increasing ground clearance.  That’s nonsense!   Increasing the height of the suspension does not increase ground clearance.  Out Isuzu has a live axle at the rear and independent suspension in the front.  Increasing the length of the coil springs raises the body of the vehicle but the springs sit on top of the axle.  Therefore the height of the axle (and ground clearance) doesn’t change. 

One way to increase ground clearance is to increase the diameter of the wheels by replacing the tyres and rims with a larger diameter.  I’ve already done this and increased the ground clearance by an inch.

My objective in replacing the standard suspension was to make it stronger as I’m concerned about the stresses placed on it when travelling for hours (and days) off road.  I wasn’t looking for a ‘lift’.  Unfortunately it’s almost impossible to replace the standard suspension without getting a lift.  One other advantage of a suspension (body) lift is the suspension might settle back close to ‘stock’ height with the addition of fitted items like a bullbar and winch.  Plus more load in the back.  However a disadvantage is the increased angle on the constant velocity joints (CV’s) in the front.  An increased angle increased the potential for the CV to snap.

The weather forecast for tomorrow is cooler temperatures.  High 20’s rather than high 30’s.  Ken suggested this might be a good day to change over the suspension.  In anticipation of that occurring I measured the current height of the suspension which I’ll be able to use as a reference point to see how great the left was after the new suspension. My method was to use two right angle squares.  These were used to measure the perpendicular distance between the top of the rim and the bottom of the wheel arch on all four wheels.

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Hopefully everything will go without any issues tomorrow.

Thursday, 5 December 2019

Reviewing the plan

Shortly after I’d published yesterday’s blog post Jan received a fire “watch and alert” message along with a recommendation for all recipients to review their bushfire plans.  Almost simultaneously we started to hear the continuous sounds of helicopters passing overhead.  I suspect most readers will know much of Australia is experiencing high temperatures and significant bushfires.  Our turn had arrived!

The city of Perth is on the west coast of Australia and the prevailing winds comes off the Indian Ocean.  But not yesterday!  The wind was from the east bringing with it high temperatures from the ‘Red Centre’

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Perth courtesy of Google Earth

We are located on the NE fringe of the city in the suburb of Ballajura.  To our east is a conservation park covered in native vegetation.  To our west is suburbia all the way to the coast.

In the Google Earth photo below you can see the boundary between the suburbs and the native vegetation.

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A bushfire has started out in the conservation park and the wind was blowing it towards us.

The helicopters were could hear were water bombers collecting water from Emu Lakes and dumping it on the fire.  Ground fire crews had also arrived and were attempting to contain the blaze.

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The critical issue was ‘Time’.  The helicopters can’t fly at night and it was 5pm.  At this time of the year the light has gone by 6.30-7.00pm.    Time was on our side and the fire was contained (not extinguished) before flying ceased.

Wednesday, 4 December 2019

Wired for sound

I’m now wired for sound…. only for 24 hours!  A visit to a different cardiologist practice this morning as I wasn’t happy with the competency of the last one.  Two tests before I have a consultation.  The first was an ultrasound echo test of the heart.  I was able to verify the comments about my heart from a former colleague were wrong.  He told me I had a heart of gold…….. small, hard and yellow!  Well it’s none of those things.  Actually it large, semi soft and sounded like the boat Whale Gulper shower pump. 

Next I was fitted with a ‘holter’.  This is a small electronic device that records your heart activity.  Three electrodes have been stuck on my chest and connected to the recorder which will run for 24 hours.  I’m wired for sound.   It’s not possible to shower during this period and as the temperature outside is in the high 30’s – low 40’s I’ve decided to spend most of my time inside limiting my perspiration (well Jan does have to share the bed tonight!).

The poor old postie can’t avoid the heat.  He must boil in his hi viz jacket and helmet during temperatures like today.  It’s also the pre-Christmas rush period which means large volumes of mail for him to deliver.  Two of the packages were for us.

My hose connectors have arrived.

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If we were in the UK I would have been able to quickly purchase them from the local chandlers.  Not that easy in Oz.  Eventually I found a supplier on the other side of the continent, and they weren’t cheap.  Delivery was also slow.  No doubt it was that blind, lame and geriatric camel bring them across.

I rushed out in the heat to reach the workshop where it was a two minute job to fit the the hose connectors to the pump.

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The sides have yet to be fitted to the pump box.  I’m not going to do that until the inlet and outlet hoses have been fitted.  My pump box looks like this

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Water inlet and outlet will be at the base with the 12V on the top.  you may have noticed there are two  12V Anderson Plugs fitted to the top.  One is the supply to the pump and the other a ‘pass thru’ plug which can be used to run a second 12V device.

A start was made on the outside excavations for the second toilet in the bathroom.  I removed the pavers and started to dig almost immediately striking a copper water pipe <@#$%^&>.  This is going to complicate the excavation.  fortunately it became too hot for me to continue and the task can now wait for a cooler day.

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Paul the consumer law may be the same in Australia and the camper trailer seller did offer me shorter shock absorbers when I showed him the “problem”.  But they would have just be more cheap Chinese shocks.  Actually the existing shocks work on bitumen and gravel roads.  It’s only when the trailer it taken off road and into seriously rutted terrain that they bottom out.

Dave the drawing wasn’t to scale.  However the shocks can’t be fitted vertically as there isn’t enough travel in the suspension.  Fitting them vertically would mean they would only be about 150mm long and you can’t purchase a shock that short. 

Sunday, 1 December 2019

Problem Identified

Readers may recall during our outback trip in August last year there was a problem with the loan trailer suspension.  The four shock absorbers shattered and the head of the suspension arm bolts sheared off.  Fortunately we were able to make temporary “bush” repairs and continue on to civilization. 

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The camper trailer we have purchased has the same suspension system and I want to ensure the problem from last year doesn’t repeat itself.  therefore I have been carefully examining the Chinese designed suspension and I believe I’ve identified the problem.

The trailer has independent coil suspension with two shock absorbers attached each side.

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Side view

B - Red coil spring which expands and compresses

Grey suspension trailing arm

A - Yellow shock absorber which expands and contracts

The wheel fits at point C

The red coil spring expands and compresses as the trail travels over bumps and humps.  The shock absorbers also extend and compress as the trailing arm goes up and down.  However the shock absorbers to this at a slower rate than the coil spring damping the movement.  Without the shock absorbers the trailer would bounce like you were playing on a trampoline.

What is the issue?  There are actually two issues.

  • The shock absorbers are very poor quality and not extending or compressing properly
  • They are also too long.

When the trailer is fully laden the shock absorbers should be at the halfway point (ie, half compressed and half extended)  However these shock absorbers only have 35mm of compression left even though the trailer isn’t fully loaded.  To compound the problem the spring has another 150mm of compression before being fully compressed.  This means the shock absorbers will be fully compressed before the spring.   The problem is reversed when the coil spring is fully extended.  At this point the shock absorber has another 90mm of extension left which is unused. 

When removed from the trailer and tested the shock absorbers fully extend by 180mm.  Therefore they should be at 90mm when fitted to the laden trailer.  But the actual measurement is closer to 30mm.  The consequence of this is the shocks a ‘bottoming out’ before the spring and shattering under the impact.  Moreover I suspect the force of this impact was being transferred up the trailing arm and shearing the head off the retaining bolts.

To resolve this the shock absorbers need to be replaced with a shorter and better quality model.  The current 415mm long shocks need to be replaced with a 320mm version. 

Time to start searching online.

Tuesday, 26 November 2019

Suspension

For some time I’ve been thinking about the suspension on our Isuzu 4x4.  The fact is, most light vehicle suspension systems are a compromise based on cost and where the vehicle will travel.  The majority of light 4x4 vehicles don’t do much off road travel, so the factory suspension is usually soft and designed for smooth bitumen roads.  During my first outback trip last year the tens of thousands of heavy corrugations gave the factory suspension a thrashing.  It survived (unlike the trailer’s) but the ride wasn’t comfortable. 

After researching various manufacturers I decided on Outback Armour.  They are the only manufacturer to offer an “unlimited kilometres” warranty and also supply suspension to the Australian Army.  Obviously army vehicles spend a considerable amount of time off road.  It was then a case of waiting until I could purchase at a discounted price.  That occurred at the recent Perth 4WD Show where I was able to discuss the various suspension options with the Outback Armour representative.  He offered three categories of suspension for the Isuzu. 

  • Trail.  Designed for lightly loaded vehicles
  • Expedition.  Designed for heavily laden vehicles
  • Variable Valve.  A user adjustable system based on the vehicles load and the terrain.

The Trail and Expedition systems were the same price with the Variable Valve an additional $300.  My assumption is the only difference between the Trail and Expedition was the internal valve configuration with the Variable Valve giving the user the ability to adjust between the two.  As the vehicle will spend much of its time lightly loaded I opted for the Trail components.  The old suspension could be removed and replaced with the Outback Armour at a cost of $300.

The representative was offering a 10% discount and a ‘free’ recovery kit if I placed an order during the show.  I placed an order and have decided to do the fitting myself saving $300.  Today I collected the components.

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The first thing I noticed was how heavy the components were.  Fortunately (for me) local blog reader and friend Ken has offered to fit everything.  He is younger and much stronger than me so it won’t be much of a challenge!  Well OK….. the last sentence might be a slight exaggeration…. Smile

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From left to right - what our money purchased.  A nice heavy duty bag to hold the recovery kit consisting of a snatch strap, two HD bow shackles, damping flag and an insulated beer can holder (very important).  Two rear shock absorbers.  They are approximately twice the diameter of the factory shocks.  Two rear coil springs and a large number of decals which won’t be going on the Isuzu.  Perhaps one on the rear of the trailer?  Two front struts (combination of shocks and springs.

Oh….. I mustn’t forget the folding chair.

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I’m now all set for Ken’s arrival.  I’ll be able to supervise him from the comfort of my new chair whilst drinking a cold beer from my new holder.   All we require is a cool day… or two!

Monday, 25 November 2019

Intermittent water heater

The house has a gas instant hot water system.  It’s an external unit mounted on the side of the house adjacent to the back door.

Recently the unit has started to operate intermittently, which isn’t much fun if you’re about to take a shower.  Of course there wasn’t a problem when it was only Jan experiencing cold water, but more recently both of us have been affected. 

Today I took the shroud off the unit to see what’s inside.

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There isn’t much to it!

Instead of a match or mains electricity it uses a small hydro generator to ignite the system automatically every time a hot tap is turned on.  The hydro generator is just a small plastic turbine in the water inlet pipe.  When a hot tap is turned on cold water runs through the water heater spinning the turbine.  This generates 1.5 Volts which is fed to a small capacitor. 

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The hydro generator

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The capacitor powers the spark to ignite the gas.

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The ‘spark plug’

I paused to reflect before I started pulling everything apart to look for a fault.   Look for the simple things first!

It looked very dusty inside the unit.  Probably because this is where I had the bench when I was making our bed in 2017.   The first simple task was to use the garden petrol blower to remove the dust and cobwebs.    This appears to have solved the problem <I hope>

Saturday, 23 November 2019

Tiles

After some considerable effort on my part the last of the bath was removed allowing me to make a start on the wall and floor tiles.  Removing tiles is a first for me and I carefully considered what method to use before starting.  Ceramic tiles can chip quite easily and there was only a small grouted gap on the joins.  Eventually I decided it would be prudent to remove the grout around the perimeter of the tiles that were going to be removed.  The idea was this would create a clean break between the affected and non affected tiles. 

It took most of the morning to remove the grout with the blade of a putty knife.  With that completed the tiles were removed using a cold chisel and hammer.

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As you can see in the above photo, I also removed the brick and mortar base which formed the bed for the bath.  Initially I was using the cold chisel and hammer to do this.  However I quickly realised this method would take several weeks so I borrowed my brother-in-law’s small electric hammer completing the task in under an hour.

We now have another 10 wheelie bins of rubble to dispose before I can continue.  The next step will be to dig out the sand from base of the bath and install the sewer pipe for the toilet.  

Tuesday, 19 November 2019

Best left unsaid

Potentially I put my foot in it with my last post.  Tomorrow’s bushfire status in the north of West Australia is rated catastrophic and this morning Jan asked me if I could smell the smoke.  Regrettably my sense of smell is going the same way as my sight and hearing!  However on looking out the front window it was immediately apparent visibility was very poor.  That’s when the brain cells kicked in and I started to smell wood smoke.

Our house is located less than 500 metres from the nearest tinder dry conservation park, although there is a dual carriageway road and four rows of houses between it and us.  We are unlikely to be the first to burn!

We both went outside to get a better understanding of the situation.  The wind was from the southwest bring the smoke with it.  We are located on the northeast side of Perth city fringe.  West is the Indian Ocean.  Smoke from the SW seemed very strange, however we weren’t overly worried as any fire would be on the opposite side of Perth. 

Eventually there was a media broadcast advising a controlled burn was taking place some 100 kilometres south of Perth and when the fire had been lit the wind was to the West taking the smoke out to sea.  The wind subsequently changed to the NE dragging the smoke back across the city.

It has also been a much cooler day with the temperature only reaching 25°C.  A much welcomed relief after almost a week of temperatures above 40°C.  The change in temperature enabled me to find the enthusiasm to continue removing the lawn for the swimming pool.  I’m now more than half way and pleased to report the rubbish truck hasn’t tipped over emptying the wheelie bin containing the latest batch of turf and rubble.

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If it remains cool I should have all the lawn up within a fortnight.

After ratting around in the pile of plywood offcuts I found sufficient material to make the container for the camper shower.  It just requires a couple of latches (eBay) and some bathplug chain to secure the lid. 

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Two coats of paint.  Have I previously mentioned I hate painting? Smile

A few even smaller scraps of plywood has allowed me to start making the box for the water pump.

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The project is now on hold whilst I wait for the Flojet hose connectors.  Another eBay purchase which needs to be completed.

Monday, 18 November 2019

More thoughts

Yesterday I mentioned how hot it was here which led to some comments regarding climate change. Australia is the direst inhabited continent on earth (I've excluded Antarctica). It has one of the lowest carbon emissions footprints based on land mass. However it has one of the highest carbon emissions footprints per head of population. The reason for this is the majority of Australia's electrical energy is powered by coal. Australia is blessed with vast deposits of coal. One estimate is the coal reserves will last at least another 200 years.

Australia is a major exporter of coal. I recall counting the bulk coal ships waiting off the port of Newcastle during one flight. There were 56 ships waiting to enter the port. The coal trains run from the mines 24/7, loading and unloading on the move. They even refuel the locos and change the crews on the move. Much of the coal goes to China. More recently India has become interested in Australian coal and an Indian company is attempting to open a huge coal mine in Queensland. The environmentalists are protesting against that. However the State and Federal governments welcome the investment, jobs and royalties. The argument is; carbon emission in India is an Indian problem.

Many Australians would like to move away from coal and the energy companies are not investing in new coal fired power stations. Actually they are not investing at all whilst they wait for a coherent long term government energy strategy. Australian governments regularly change with each political party having its own agenda. One consequence of this is the national strategic energy strategy constantly changes or reverses. A power station has a life of 50+ years so the energy companies wait... and wait!

The State of South Australia decided to invest heavily in renewable energy sources and decommissioned their coal fired power stations. The State relies internally on solar and wind power along with power from other States via a large cable. Unfortunately this has resulted in electrical shortages. No sun or wind equals no electricity. Meanwhile the other states are sweltering in a heat wave; meaning there's no "spare" electricity to send to South Australia.

As mentioned at the beginning; Australia is very dry. Water is a critical resource. The major river systems flow through various States and each takes the water it needs (wants) resulting in water shortages downstream. The issue is exacerbated because Australians have a serious reluctance to drinking recycled water. A Labor government in South Australia attempted to partially rectify the water problem by paying for a hugely expensive water desalination plant. It's actually so expensive to run that it's been mothballed most of its life. Here in Perth 48% of the city's drinking water comes from desalination. The rest is from dams (rainwater 7%) and groundwater. It's unlikely the city will run out of drinking water as more desalination plants could be built. However we would need to find the electricity to run the plants. The problem is the lower quality water required for other uses (industry & agriculture). Most of this water is drawn from a huge aquifer underneath greater Perth and it's being exhausted. We need to do more recycling.

Back to the current bushfires. I fail to see the logic in implementing a policy of capturing carbon by maintaining conservation forests only to have them burned during bushfires? Surely the carbon just goes back into the atmosphere?

The Australian Aborigines were a nomadic people who used fire to manage the land. By burning off the "fuel" lying on the ground it flushed out their food (lizards, kangaroos, etc). Moreover the seeds of numerous Australian plants will only germinate if exposed to fire. The newly burned land would then regenerate with fresh tasty plants that attracted animals... for the aborigines to hunt. This continual "light" burning of the ground was both sustainable and beneficial.

Roll the clock forward 200 years and the conservationist object to the controlled burning of the land because it destroys the habitat for the native fauna and creates carbon emissions resulting in climate change! As a consequence Australia has vast tracts of land where the ground is heavily laden with tinder dry fuel just waiting for a spark. Too much fuel results in enormous heat with temperatures that destroys the ground. In some instances it will be sterile and won't regenerate for a decade or more.

It's early spring and the bushfire season isn't supposed to start for another month. But we have major fires across a wide front. This is going to be a very long bushfire season and already there are two major issues. The first is managing the human resources required to fight fires for a prolonged period. The majority of rural fire fighters are volunteers. Can they be expected to continuously fight fires for months instead of days? The second is equipment. It used to be the case that there was a northern hemisphere fire season and a southern hemisphere season. These occurred at opposite times of the year. Water bombing aircraft just moved between seasons. This year the season has started early and the north-south seasons are overlapping. Aircraft usually don't extinguish bushfires.... they contain them allowing ground resources to extinguish them. Hard decisions are currently being made with many of the fires in isolated areas being left to burn whilst limited resources tackle those threatening human habitation. It's likely the more remote fires will burn until extinguished by autumn rains.

Sunday, 17 November 2019

Hot Hot Hot

Here in Perth yesterday was the hottest day in November since records have been kept.  That’s more than 100 years!  It was 40.4°C.  The last three days have now exceeded 40 and tomorrow is the same.  Further north the bush fire forecast has gone from Extreme to Catastrophic.  The prevailing wind is driving this hot weather across Australia to the already burning east coast.  No doubt what little moisture that is left in the air will be sucked out as it goes through the deserts in the centre of the continent.  The latest strategic forecast is the bush fires will continue to burn until the country starts getting substantial rain in the autumn.  This is going to be mostly a fire containment battle.

We had our own nearby bushfire last week just five kilometres from the house.  A retirement village had to be evacuated with one of the units being destroyed.  The most dangerous part of the evacuation was the sole entrance/exit road from the enclosed village was on the fire side.

I’ve been going out to the workshop in the morning working on small projects for a couple of hours.  The ceiling and walls are insulated but the roller door is not and it faces west.  Consequentially the afternoon sun turns the workshop into an oven.  Our afternoons are spent inside where we have two of the three air conditioners running.  At least we don’t have to worry about the cost of air conditioning as the solar panels are running at maximum capacity.

The house is double brick and the door frames are steel which means there is little movement in them from the heat.  The same can’t be said for the timber doors and the one to the study has been damaged with one corner of the plywood facing peeling away from the frame after it was caught in the door jamb.  This afternoon I glued and clamped it.

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I’ve made a box for the camping gas hot water heater from scraps of timber.  I even found some old hinges and screws for the lid.  It’s great to once again have room to be a hoarder of anything that might be useful one day! Smile

Thursday, 14 November 2019

That was annoying & two deliveries

The electricity supply to our suburb failed at 11.00am today.  It’s going to be a ‘scorcher’ of a day and my guess is the electrical network can’t handle the load of all the air conditioning units.  The result is ‘brown outs’ where selected suburbs are disconnected from the network for a period of time to ensure the entire system doesn’t crash.  The annoying thing is we are actually producing more electricity from our solar panels than we are consuming.  However the system is configured by the utility company in such a way that when they cut the mains power it also disconnects our solar power.  as a consequence we sit in a hot house whilst our solar panels sit idle <grrrr>.

At 11.30am I realised I should check our garage electric roller door as I had a doctor’s appointment at 12 noon.  The emergency manual release mechanism didn’t work (another new project for the list) which meant I couldn’t get the vehicle out of the garage.  A frantic call to the surgery to notify them of the problem and an unsuccessful attempt to reschedule the appointment.  <more grrrr>   Then I remembered we had the Kipor generator from Waiouru.  The door was plugged directly into the generator and I was able to open it <phew>.  I made the appointment with 5 minutes to spare!

There were two deliveries during my absence. 

A small buck converter which is required for the rear view dash cam.  It will convert the vehicle 12V to the dash cam 5.2V.  I could have made a converter, however the area in which the converter will go is rather confined, hence the decision to buy something very small.

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We’re waiting on the dash cam to complete the project

The other delivery was 600 biscuits.  These are for the timber wall cabinet.  It will be made from Jarrah planks which I intend to biscuit join together to make the required timber panels.

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