Friday, 18 October 2019

Another project has commenced

It was time to start a new project.  This one will take some time.   The bath is going to be removed and replaced with a second toilet.  We’ve not used the bath and never likely too.  Showers for us!


After carefully examining the bath I recognised the wall tiles had been fitted after the bath had been installed.  We want to keep as many of the wall tiles as possible which means I’m going to need to work carefully.  Time would be an important factor for a tradesman so they would probably use power tools.  I will be using a cold chisel and hammer.


This is where I pause the project.  Paying to have the removal done would involve hiring a skip for the rubble.  I’ve filled the bath with the broken bricks and tiles.  These will go into the wheelie bin and as I already have so previous rubble to dispose it will likely be a month before the bath is empty.  The bath isn’t metal and I therefore intend to cut it horizontally with a jigsaw at each end.  The idea being I’ll then be able to ‘wriggle and jiggle’ it away from the tiles.  Of course the bath will also be cut up and placed in the bin.   There are a number of other projects to continue with whilst the rubble is removed.

Tuesday, 15 October 2019

Who is scaring our grandchildren?

After watching 16 year old Greta Thunberg speak at the United Nations I started wondering who is scaring our grandchildren.  Thunberg suffers from mild autism, Asperger syndrome and obsessive-compulsive disorder (OCD).  Frequently this results in restrictive and repetitive interests.  Greta appears to be fixated on climate change.  She should be enjoying her late childhood, instead she is being manipulated by adults with their own agendas. 

In the last few days Extinction Rebellion (ER) has been protesting about climate change whilst a week ago school children took a day off their studies to protest.  One assumes with the support and encouragement of their teachers.  ER wants to legislate a vegan diet and family air travel restricted to once every six years. 

In January of this year US congresswoman Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez stated at a rally “we only have twelve years or the world will end”.  The UN Secretary General informed the General Assembly he had recently visited the Pacific Island nation of Tuvalu which was sinking into the ocean as sea levels rose.

It’s simply nonsense to suggest climate change is going to destroy the world in 12 years if we take no action.  Any reputable climate scientist will confirm that.  The UN Secretary General is also wrong.  An Auckland University (NZ) study has shown that the total landmass of Tuvalu has actually grown by more that 2% during the last forty years.

ER advocates nonviolent civil disobedience and wants supporters to be arrested (see ER strategy).  This strategy of self sacrifice for one’s beliefs has been effectively used by earlier pressure groups.  Suffragettes and early Christians being fed to lions immediately spring to mind. 

So why isn’t ER attempting to implement the changes they advocate by standing for election?  The recent European Parliamentary elections may provide the answer.  ER fielded 9 candidates in the London and the South West England constituencies as Climate Emergency Independents.  Between them, they won 7,416 out of the 3,917,854 total votes cast in the two constituencies.  That’s 0.1893% of the vote.  It must have been obvious to them adopting a strategy of effecting change through the democratic system wasn’t going to work.

I recall a discussion with a colleague 35 years ago.  He was alarmed because his son at university wanted to quit and spend the last few years of this life enjoying himself before the impending nuclear holocaust which one of his lecturers had convinced him and his peers was going to happen.  

There is nothing new in this type of fear campaign and with time, it will naturally die out <no pun intended> provided the ‘oxygen’ feeding it starts to dry up.  Hence the ER desire to get arrested (and media attention).  My main concern is ensuring we don’t allow our grandchildren to be convinced they don’t have a future.

On a more amusing note.  I chuckled at the photo of the ER protesters inside MacDonalds after their rally.  Haven’t times changed in the justice system.  Arrested ER protesters vehemently complained about the lack of vegan food supplied by the authorities.  A hundred years ago all prison food was vegan….. bread and water!   Which does make me wonder why people taken into custody are provided with food in the first 24 hours.  Not eating for 24 hours won’t kill you and there would be a financial saving to the tax payer.  Some people might even decide not to get arrested.

Here in Perth the police were able to deploy a very effective strategy which quickly terminated the second attempt by ER to close the CBD.  The police deployed a mobile Centrelink Office (Job Centre Plus for UK readers). Smile

Finally, a comment about Brexit.  Those wanting to remain refer to it as the Benn Act.  The Conservatives refer to it as the Benn – Surrender Act.  The Brexit Party refer to it as the Benn – Dover Act.  I’m not sure what a port town has to do with the legislation?

Saturday, 12 October 2019

One completed and another started

The coffee tables have been varnished and are now beside our recliner chairs.


I’m reasonably pleased with the way the colour and grain of the Jarrah turned out.


The amusing thing is we’re not using the tables and chairs as we are waiting on the delivery of the internal shutter blinds for the bay window.  At the moment the room is almost empty which means any noise echoes rather loudly.

A start has been made on the next project.  If you’ve been reading this blog over the last 15 months you may recall my first serious outback trip and how the suspension on the loaned camper trailer broke on the second day. 


All four shock absorbers had totally failed.

Our ‘new’ Chinese camper trailer has exactly the same shock absorbers.  They do come with a 12 month warranty and if they did fail the trailer supplier would probably provide replacements.  Which would then also fail.  I’m not a suspension engineer but I do want to understand what the problem is and how it might be rectified. 

So under the trailer I went with a jack and tape measure.  I measured and marked one of the shock absorbers when the trailer was both empty and partially loaded.  Then I removed the shock.


The black line is the shock fully compressed.  With the trailer half loaded the shock has 35mm of movement before it ‘bottom outs’.  The maximum extension of the shock is 180mm.  Now the role of the shock is to counter (dampen) the upwards movement of the spring to keep the tyre in contact with the road.  As you can see from the photo; if the trailer wheel hits a bump in the road then the shock only has 35mm of upwards movement.  The spring has significantly more upwards movement before striking the bump stop.  I assume this is why the shocks in the loan trailer failed.  Another issue is the poor manufacturing quality of the shock.  After being compressed the shock should start to extend when the pressure is released.  But this one doesn’t!   end result is I have four cheap and useless shock absorbers.  Which raises another question….. Why four shocks? (two each side).  The 4x4 only has one shock each side.  My assumption is the Chinese manufacturer believes doubling the number of shock compensates for the poor quality.  Of course the shocks would probably be satisfactory on a relatively smooth bitumen sealed road.  But outback tracks are going to kill them very quickly

A trip to the local suspension supplier proved to be interesting.  The parts storeman confirmed the quality of the shock was shocking <sorry couldn’t help myself>.  After measuring the shock he consulted their database to identify a compatible replacement.  I nearly had a full litter of kittens when he informed me each shock would cost $227.  That’s $900!!!  However he went on to explain the shock he was recommending was one of their “upmarket” nitrogen foam models which would probably outlast the life of the trailer.

All this leaves me searching for another solution!

Monday, 7 October 2019

Great Excitement

This morning there was great excitement in our street when the Google StreetView car with the 360° camera on the roof drove around.  We must be due for an update!  OK I exaggerate….. almost everyone else in the street was away at work, so Jan was probably the only person to see the vehicle!

I never saw the car as I was in the workshop working on the coffee tables.  One has received it’s final sanding and is awaiting varnishing.  The frame of the second is complete and I’m now working on the top, which is currently clamped whilst the glue in the biscuit joined mitre corners cures.


The fluting around the top was done with the router whilst the rebate for the inlayed panel was cut out using the bench saw.    Tomorrow I’ll start on installing the inlay panelling.

The frame has received it’s final sanding.  I’m in the process of gluing some corner bracing in the top.  All the fluting on the legs and rails was done using the router.  The joints are all dual doweled.


And this is the finished table


The varnish should bring out the colour and grain in the timber (I hope).

Friday, 4 October 2019

More projects

Ladies looking for something to give the special man in your life!


Now as for the latest projects.   I’ve been making two coffee tables from recycled Jarrah timber.  If I get it right they will go beside our recliner chairs.  More on that later.

The other major project is a swimming pool.  Jan has always wanted a pool.  Somewhere to cool down on those hot Perth days!  We’ve visited a number of pool manufacturers and Jan has decided on a rectangular fibreglass pool with one curved end that has steps.  The question was whether it would fit into the proposed location.


Some calculations were required to ensure the pool would comply with the minimum gap between neighbour boundary fences.  The pool will ‘just’ fit although the curved entrance end butts against the pergola paving stones.  I’m planning to fit the pool pump, filter, etc behind my workshop in the bottom right of the above photo.  Pools are required to be fenced in Australia and our existing property boundary fences aren’t sufficiently high.  Moreover we would need fencing on the other two sides.  We obtained a fence quotation and at slightly over $5000 I’ve decided to do the work myself.

The pool will go on this piece of ground.  I’ll need to dig and remove all the grass otherwise we will be paying $700 for a skip and excavator.  My plan is to piled the grass and allow it to decompose before disposing it in the wheelie bin over several weeks.  The existing corrugated fibre cement fences will be replaced with a higher steel colourbond


After looking at the condition of the brick pavers in the pergola area we’ve decided to remove them.  I’ll stockpile the bricks and if I can’t find a use for them they will also go into the wheelie bin a few at a time.  The brick pavers will be replaced with ‘liquid limestone’.  We’ll do this before the pool is installed.  Once the pool is installed we’ll also do the pool surrounds in liquid limestone


We’ve decided on a frameless glass fence between the pergola and the pool.  A metal or solid fence would be more of a visual barrier.  The quote for the glass fence was $3200 and so I’ve decided to install it myself with the materials costing us around $600.

We don’t want the glass fence at the end of the pool so I’m going to position it back 500mm from the edge of the existing pavers.  Perhaps you will now understand why we are planning to do the liquid limestone in two stages, 

The photo below shows the planned location of the fencing.  Two the left and at the rear will be high steel colourbond.  To the right an aluminium tubing fence and the purple line is the glass fence which will have a gate to the pool.


The purple line is the location of the planned glass fence and the arrow points to the edge of the pool


I want to take my time doing this project.  I’ll probably complete the two colourbond steel fences first  and then remove the pavers.  Once the pergola pavers have been replaced with liquid limestone I’ll install the glass fence.  Then the glass can be removed and the affected inground lawn sprinklers capped off.  I’ll also need to dig a trench from the house to the workshop for the 240V electrical supply. 

I think all of this is going to keep me out of trouble for several months. 

Thursday, 3 October 2019


My best efforts to avoid scratching the panels of the 4WD appear to have worked.  Only a few shallow scratch marks which I was able to polish out.  The interior of the vehicle took longer to clean.  Probably because the pressure washer makes the exterior cleaning so much easier.  Upon opening the bonnet I found the engine covered in orange ochre dust.  Most of it could be brushed off.

After eating Ken’s dust on the track for four days I was pleasant surprise at the condition of the air filter.  No need to replace it yet.


The same couldn’t be said for the oil catch can.  This is an ‘after market’ accessory I fitted to the engine.  It catches and holds the majority of the oily fumes emitted from the engine and which are usually returned back into the engine for a second burn.  This process is part of the engine emission control measures.  I don’t want to return the oil to the engine as it can potentially combine with engine carbon to form a hard sludge which chokes the engine intake.

I used a large syringe to draw the oil from the can via the dipstick hole rather than unscrewing the base of the can. 


Approximately 50mls of oil and water (gunk) has been captured.

Friday, 27 September 2019

Holland Track Trip – Day 6

Those high winds during the night (which I slept through) were the leading edge of a major storm potentially heading in our direction.  Bob had been listening to the radio weather forecast and alerted us to the possibility of some serious rain.  Did we want to continue camping in miserable weather and would a heavy rainfall make extracting ourselves on the dirt tracks rather difficult.  We decided to move north away from the storm front.

40km north of us was Burra Rock.  Yes another rock!  This location proved to be rather interesting.  After walking up the first part of the hill I was surprised to discover a large body of water.  You can see in this next photo that Europeans have constructed a stone wall around the circumference of the rock to capture the rainfall.  This is very similar to Wave Rock at Hyden


What I hadn’t anticipated was the volume of water that had been collected.


The rocks have the same rain and wind weathered shapes as I saw at Elchabutting Rock. 


What was more interesting was the rusting farm machinery.  Why would someone drag this old machinery to such a remote location?  Well the answer is in the early 1960’s a family attempted to establish a farm here raising grain crops.  They used the water from the reservoir on the rock to irrigate the crops.   It must have been a hard and remote life and the venture must have eventually failed


Ken thought the hill in the next photo was Cave Hill Rock but I suspect it’s too close


We continued north towards Coolgardie.  No need for the sand flag so I took the lead leaving Ken and Bob to eat my dust for a change.  Suddenly I noticed a few wild flowers on the side of the road and stopped for a quick photo.  The wild flower season is very brief occurring after the spring rains.  One day I must make a specific trip to see the more impressive wild flower displays


Coolgardie was established in 1892, a year before John Holland blazed his track.  The goldfields in the east of Australia were almost exhausted when gold was discovered in the Coolgardie area.  Thousands of miners flocked to the region in a new gold rush.  By 1898 Coolgardie was the third largest city in western Australia.  Today it’s a tourist attraction and ghost mining town! 

In the early 1890’s the only way to reach Coolgardie was either on horse or by foot.  Most of the miners walked pushing a wheelbarrow of supplies.  In march 1894 "’Afghan’ cameleers successfully crossed the deserts from central Australia with 46 camels.  These were used to transport supplies Coolgardie.  Eventually the cameleers numbered around 300 and the town had a number of mosques.  However there were no muslim women and no marriages, births or burials.  With the arrival of the railway from Perth most of the cameleers moved to Perth.

The sudden increase in wealth meant there were funds to build some large, ornate and interesting buildings in the town.  I managed to take a passing photo of part of the Goldfields Exhibition and Museum. 


This used to be the courthouse for the goldfields mining warden.

What I particularly wanted to find was John Holland’s grave.  I’d read it was located in the old settlers cemetery in Coolgardie.  Whilst we were refuelling at the Caltex service station I noticed a road sign pointing to the old cemetery.  We followed the sign eventually turning onto a dirt track which took us to the cemetery.  It looked rather abandoned.


There were only two headstones with the rest being unmarked graves.  The headstone in the far left corner was John Holland’s grave.



Bob & Ken


Bob & Tom.   Yes I have been eating well!

I was saddened to read John’s wife, Agnes died in 1894 a year after be blazed the track.  John live until November 1935 aged 80.


Now we face a 560km drive back to Perth.

Thursday, 26 September 2019

Holland Track Trip – Day 5

Cave Hill Reserve is known for it’s cave and granite hill.  No surprise there!  It’s claimed access is restricted to 4WD vehicles but having travelled the road I believe it would be possible to reach the reserve in a 2WD vehicle.  The camping area is well laid out with long drop toilets and camping tables.  There is no water and no rubbish facilities. 


Ken cooked the evening meal (actually he reheated it) of pasta and mince with veg.  A good evening sitting beside the fire sinking beer and solving the world’s problems.                  


There was a storm during the night which woke both Ken and Bob.  They got up to resecure the tent whilst I slept through all the excitement (one of the few advantages of being deaf).  They both slept in whilst I woke and went for an early morning walk before the flies started to move.


There was very little firewood around the camping area which suggested to me the location is well used. 

After breakfast we packed the vehicles and drove to the rock.  It was a 300 metre walk from the car park to the cave which was large but not particularly impressive.


Ken and I then walked to the top of the rock.


Not a particularly steep climb

Endless native vegetation in all directions


With signs of the usual water erosion.


Bob thought he heard cattle lowing during the night but Ken thought it was camels.  It appears Ken may have been right as we came upon fresh camel droppings up on the rock. 


Why were the camels up on the rock?  There’s no vegetation so they must be searching for water.   Then I came upon a sign with a map, the contents of which surprised me.  I had assumed this area had been largely uninhabited.  It was quite a surprise to read the entire area around Cave Rock and as far north as Coolgardie had contained a network of bush railways.  These railways were used for two purposes.  The first was to cut timber for firewood which became the fuel to power the steam engines at the water pumping stations alone the pipeline from Perth to Kalgoorie.   The second purpose was for the collection and transportation of Sandalwood.  The timber is native to India and Australia.  In the mid 1800’s the oil from West Australian Sandalwood was more precious than gold.


The majority of the workers in these mobile logging crews were Italian or Yugoslav migrants.  Single men were housed in tents and families in small timber shed mounted on rail wagons.  The rock hills in the region were a source of both drinking and washing water whilst also providing water for the steam locomotives.   Today the region has returned to native flora and the railways have been removed.

Mick, you are correct.  Fuel in the UK is approximately twice the price as Australia.  Over here the vehicles tend to be bigger with larger engines so they use more fuel.  The UK would pay approximately the same base price for oil as Australia so I suggest it’s the government taxes that make UK fuel more expensive (don’t miss the opportunity… blame the EU!).  Of course if you go to Saudi Arabia you can buy a litre of petrol for 19p Smile

Wednesday, 25 September 2019

Holland Track Trip – Day 4

We must be around the halfway point because we came upon the visitors book beside a wrecked and abandoned ute.


The book was inside an old rusty metal case on a post.  Actually traveller had left all sorts of interesting things inside the case.  I didn’t trust the bottle of beer and limited myself to entering our names, the date and the direction of travel.


At the base of the post was a lost pet


Adjacent to the post and mounted on a piece of basalt was a commemorative plaque


Back on the move and more mud holes.


Some two hours later we reached Agnes Gnamma holes.  This is a large area of open granite containing numerous Gnamma holes. 


The aborigines would cover over the holes to both reduce evaporation and prevent animals from falling in.  Some of the holes were quite large and a number had tadpoles swimming around.  One assumes this occurred because of the recent rainfall.


John Holland actively sought these Gnamma holes knowing they would be a source of water for travellers using his track.  Can you see the tadpoles in these next two photos.

Agnes was the name of John Holland’s wife so one assumes he named the location after her.



Back on the move and we are heading to Thursday Rock


By now you will have realised the exposed granite areas were likely sources of water which is why the track passes near them.


Yet more Gnamma holes


Only another 30km to the end of the track.


Made it!  It’s another 80km to Coolgardie but we have decided to take a detour and head 55km SE to Cave Hill.

And the wildlife Irene.


It’s a ‘bug’…. A big one… about the length and thickness of my thumb.

A blurred photo of a 3ft long lizard rapidly making his escape before he ended up on the menu!