Saturday, 11 August 2018

Last Post…….. for 3 weeks!

A frenetic day purchasing last minute items and packing both the trailer and 4x4.  We depart at dawn tomorrow on our three week odyssey around Western Australia and the southern part of the Northern Territory.  There will be no internet coverage and therefore no blog posts until my return.  Hopefully there will be plenty of interesting things to write about.

Already I can see I’ll be busy on my return.  A hire r trailer to unpack, clean and return.  Plus 3 weeks of other blogs to catch up.

Au revoir!

Friday, 10 August 2018

I’ve just been too busy

It wasn’t until a very good friend phoned to ask if I was OK that I realised time had gotten away on me and it had been a week since the last blog post.  It’s not a case of nothing happening or me being lazy but I’ve just been so busy attempting to finish the house and preparing for the outback trip.

The new timber floor is now down in the lounge room.  This is the last of the new flooring for the near future.



Only a couple of minor jobs left in the kitchen and it will be done.

Our eldest grandson and his girlfriend arrived on Wednesday and we’ve been spending much of the time preparing the trailer for the big trip. 

We’ve been into central Perth to collect the rental satellite phone.  There is no plan to make calls on it (expensive) but rather use it should an emergency arise (snake bite, vehicle breakdown, hit a camel, etc)

Our camper trailer has just reached the port and is waiting customs clearance so we accepted the dealer’s offer of a loan trailer.  That bought its own problems because we need to fit equipment into the trailer but obviously this won’t be permanent.  It also means no drilling holes, etc.

Carlin and I have made a temporary frame to hold the Engle freezer in the large bin on the trailer drawbar.  It needed to be secured as we are anticipating the trailer will be bouncing and vibrating for three weeks.


The temporary mounting takes up all of the bin.  I think I can recover some of this lost space when I fit the freezer into our trailer.    More thinking required.

The roof top tend and awning needed to be seasoned and then dried.  We also needed to check it for damage.


Carlin and Monique will sleep in the roof top tent whilst I will sleep in my stretcher tent under the awning.  The ‘Batwing’ awning wraps around the opposite side of the trailer and the rear.


Much of today was spent manufacturing temporary framing to secure the 2nd spare wheel inside the trailer tub.  I’m already thinking this 2nd spare will fit under our own trailer.  I’ll also need to modify the trailer rear door as it is currently only designed to open 90deg.  I’ll need at least 150deg.

Tomorrow we will do a test pack with a planned departure date of Sunday 12 August.  I’m aiming for Sunday as that is the day we are least likely to encounter ‘road trains’.

Saturday, 4 August 2018

Another one almost completed

The external half of the split air conditioning unit has been moved.  But not without a little extra work.  I wanted the pipework and wiring concealed in the cavity between in the inner and out walls of the house.  To achieve this the internal unit had to be moved 150mm to the right and a new hole cut through the wall.  This left the original holes exposed.


You might have noticed the external half of the unit is now up on the wall in the above photo.

A common way to repair these holes would be to inject expanding foam into the hole.  But that costs money!  My solution has been to screw up several sheets of newspaper into balls and force them into the holes before plastering over.


It’s only the first coat of plaster and several more will probably be required.  Yes…. this is a part of the wall recently painted. Sad smile 

I’ve also been busy in the front yard cutting up the trunk of the gumtree with the small electric chainsaw.  The pieces have to be small enough to fit into the “wheelie bin”.

Local blog reader ‘Ken’ and his wife Elaine visited today.  They head to the UK early next week with a three week canal cruise on the agenda.  Lucky them!  With the UK currently experiencing a heatwave they won’t need to acclimatize. Winking smile

Thursday, 2 August 2018

No heatwave here

After reading about the ultra hot weather in the UK during the past few weeks it was interesting to note the difference on the other side of the world.

Last night we experienced yet more strong wind gusts and heavy rain.  I think this was the fourth storm in the last 10 days.  The grass turned white with some of the locals claiming they were experiencing snow.  It doesn’t snow in Perth, Western Australia.  Yes it was hail!

When it comes to stormwater drainage Perth is very similar to Riyadh.  There’s almost no stormwater drainage system as 90% of Perth is built on sand.  Any stormwater is either directly absorbed into the ground or diverted to local soak pits.  Of course there isn’t much in the way of annual rainfall anyway.

We arrived back in Australia at the end of May 2017 just in time for winter.  That winter didn’t appear to be very cold.  This winter is about the same but we are certainly feeling colder.  I guess our blood has thinned.  Mine has….. the cardiologist placed me on blood thinning medication. Smile

I can envisage next winter we will be keeping warm by running the reverse cycle air-conditioner on our free solar electricity.

Have I previously mentioned removing the third gumtree in the front yard.  We had the first two removed professionally at $1000 a tree.  I decided to save money and remove the third myself.  Its taken weeks, but slowly I’ve cut the tree back to the main trunk disposing the cuttings into the weekly rubbish collection.

With just the trunk left I started digging a trench around the base sawing through all the major lateral roots as I went.  Digging was reasonably easy (sand) however the task then became complex when I identified the gas main, electrical main, data, telephone cables and ground reticulation pipes all ran under the tree.  The service that worried me the most was the gas.  Once I had dug down to a level where all the pipes and cables were exposed either side of the root system I used the garden hose and water to wash the sand out from under the tree.  It’s a gumtree which I hoped would mean there wasn’t a vertical tap root.  Of course the washed out sand filled the trench which meant several cycles of washing and digging.  I then decided to take a break, which proved to be rather fortuitous as the tree fell over in the hole shortly after I’d left.

Now I need to cut the trunk into smaller rubbish bin size pieces before filling in the hole.


Maybe I could find employment with Fountains.  I rather like the idea of operating a ride on mower!

Meanwhile the glass splashbacks have been installed in the kitchen.  When I fitted the splashbacks in Waiouru I used Sikaflex.  These installers used silicon sealer. 


Is that eggshell blue or baby powder blue?

I’m not in favour of using silicon sealer, unless the plan is to remove whatever it’s holding at some future date.  Silicon sealer tends to degrade and fail over time.  However the installers informed me they had to use silicon as it was a ‘neutral’ product.  If they used Sikaflex it would ‘eat’ the paint off the reverse side of the glass.  That’s when I realised they painted to colour on the glass whereas the colour was baked on the reverse when I fitted the splashbacks in Waiouru.

Just a few minor jobs and the kitchen/pantry project will be finished.  The air-con man arrives tomorrow to move the exterior half of the unit.  Then the new French doors can be fitted.

Tuesday, 31 July 2018

Kitchen floor is down and all appliances installed

We got the kitchen floor laid today and it’s certainly gives the area more character after the previous insipid mock timber floor.


The pantry is now complete, although Jan is thinking about having glass splashbacks installed.


Some careful manoeuvring then took place as Jan and I carefully moved the fridge and freezer into their new locations.  The freezer was more technically challenging as it went into the pantry.  I also had to replace the original plug on the cord to get the freezer to fit.  It wasn’t a coincidence that the freezer fitted into the space.  I actually designed the pantry to make it happen.


The fridge was heavier, but Jan managed under my supervision.  All that paddle and gate work has been a boon!  It’s going to be fun watching her move the new settee. Smile

Monday, 30 July 2018

Long Gap

Five days since the last post.  I’m getting lazy!  Actually I think I’ve been slightly depressed with the thought of doing all that plastering and painting.  Well it’s now completed (I hope) and I’m starting to feel better.  The kitchen and pantry are almost completed, just the glass splash backs and flooring to be done!  I would have attempted the former but it proved too difficult to find a DIY website.

Once the oven cabinet was completed the oven could be installed.  Doing this wiring also enabled me to get the lights working.



Plenty of light in the kitchen


Doorway through to the pantry

Jan’s now thinking of having glass splashbacks in the pantry.  Now there was a problem with the LED strip light in the pantry.  It wouldn’t work!  I started to think it might be my wiring….. but then I never make a mistake (I reluctantly overcame my modesty to make that last statement). 


Having almost immediately decided I hadn’t made a mistake it was obvious the new fitting was defective and I returned it to the shop.  The store owner was quite defensive telling me “We’ve never had one of these fail”.  I suggested he test it where he discovered it was defective.  No problem with the replacement unit and Jan has been happily stocking her new kitchen and pantry.  There were squeaks of surprise and pleasure as she unpacked five cardboard tea chests of kitchen items that have been in storage for the last 7 years <phew…. no requirement for Christmas presents this year>.

The oven proved to be a slight problem (it’s a German NEFF) and Jan couldn’t change the default language from German to English.  With that overcome she ran it for an hour to burn off the preservative and then baked a lemon cake using some of the fruit from our tree <burp>.  Well I had to be the guinea pig and test the oven was working satisfactorily.

The installers from the flooring company are supposed to arrive today and make a start on the new timber floor.  My guess is they will spend the first day preparing the concrete surface and do the actual installation tomorrow.

Meanwhile our thoughts have turned to the glass sliding door to the patio.  It’s a bit of a choke point and after some discussion Jan has decided she would like it replaced with colonial style French doors.  This will open the room up and also provide easier access into the house for larger objects (ie, appliances and furniture).  However there is an issue.  The installation of the reverse-cycle air conditioning unit was done on the cheap with the cable duct running externally on the wall.  In this location will prevent one of the French doors from fully opening.  I think we need to move the cable duct so it runs vertically from the external unit into the eve and then horizontally to the internal unit.  But if we are going to do that then it makes sense to also move the external unit.  Currently it’s on the ground where it collects dust, leaves and other debris.  I want to relocate it along the wall and up higher.


Wednesday, 25 July 2018

What happened to Blogger

The email problem with Blogger comments has returned.  Actually I hadn’t realised this had occurred until Andrew sent me an email asking if his comment had been received. That prompted me to go directly to the source (Blogger) where I discovered seven unpublished comments from our valued readers.

I’ve now published them and have also replied below

Pip & Mick.   Hi Tom I think it was the Rochdale Canal Company (Pre British Waterways) that sold off their reservoirs to the Manchester Corporation for drinking water supply in the 1950s once their canal had become derelict and disused. On restoration of the canal in 1990s/2000s the reservoirs weren’t available to supply the canal. The Leeds & Liverpool canal never did become derelict so they kept hold of their reservoirs, it’s just that the Leeds & Liverpool never built enough reservoir capacity in the first place! All three Pennine crossings are now due to be closed to all traffic from mid August unless it rains lots and lots. There is no sign of rain in any weather forecast. Good luck with the plastering.

Mick I hadn’t realised the L&L had kept all their reservoirs.  You learn something new every day!  We’re about to receive our third storm in three days.  Strong winds and heavy rain resulting in fallen trees and numerous vehicle accidents.  I’m staying tucked up inside plastering Sad smile

Mike Griffin on Sterner Stuff _ I doubt it, British grit and Stiff Upper Lip; are now so watered down by immigration that we are turning into a nation of; Snowflakes and; struggling in the heat. Excellent blog, your toolkit is better than mine!  Scumbling some boat panels for me to-day.

Don’t undersell yourself Mike.  The nation hasn’t shown much sign of wilting under pressure.  Obviously the unusual heat is going to be an issue as everything is structured around a different climate.  I must confess to being somewhat pleased to have access to a wider range of tool.  If I was a skilled tradesman I could do more with less.  More tools results in a better finish (most of the time).  hope the scumbling has gone well.

Andrew Daykin. Are they Smart Meters like we have in the UK ?

If you mean they have the capability to measure electricity flowing from the grid to the house and from the solar panels back into the grid, then it’s a smart meter.  I suspect the meter can also send that information back to the electricity provider.  I learned something new last week.  Here in Western Australia it is illegal to disconnect from the Grid.  This means even if we become self-sufficient with solar power (panels and batteries) we must remain connected to the Grid and pay the daily service charge.  Moreover, if there is a Grid failure we are not allowed to use the electricity we generate.

Catherine. First time I have seen corner drawers. At least you can access some of the space.

Jan’s choice Catherine.  I don’t think they allow greater use of the available space as there is a triangular void either side of the drawer.

Debby - nb Chuffed. Panty layout Tom? Does Jan know your plans?? :)

Debby I’m never going to be brave enough to design Jan’s pantry.  I might timidly offer the odd minor suggestion! Smile

Pip & Mick. I think you might need to invest in a few more mugs and glasses for your big cupboards Tom! ;)

Jan’s cupboards!  However there should be plenty of room for the beer.

Fran. Hi Tom, we have granite transformation worktops at home and on the boat. The home worktops were done about 10 years ago and still look good, we've got a couple of what I can only describe as impact marks rather than chips (due to items falling out of the cupboard) but you have to look for them. For the boat we used the product they have using glass, as it is lighter, people think it's granite. Hope you are both well.

Jan would have preferred granite transformation in Waiouru’s galley but we went with the granite not realising it wasn’t going to be as durable.  The granite was also heavier.  Jan seems happy with the combination of the dark bench top and the timber cupboards and drawers.  It was suggested to her that a timber kitchen is “dated” and most kitchens these days are primarily white laminate.  No doubt the white laminate will dated with time!

Tuesday, 24 July 2018

Have I Mentioned

Have I mentioned that in addition to painting I now hate plastering.  Three days I’ve been plastering the gap in the ceiling like a Danish pastry (layer upon layer upon layer).  Almost done. 

The timber floor has been lifted and taken to the tip.  That left another problem.  Whomever laid the timber floor glued the beading to the wall.  This beading ran around the edge of the floor where it butted against the wall.  The glue (of course) removed the wall plaster when I lifted the beading.  More plastering and sanding now required <grrrrrrrr>.  I’m having a non plastering day!

Looking around for something else to do, I decided to make a couple of timber boxes for the camper trailer.  The trailer hasn’t arrived, which means I can’t measure the tray dimensions and make all the boxes.  However I can make a start.  Today I made two 400mm cubes from 12mm plywood.  The sides are box jointed which should result in them being very strong.  This is important as the trailer and contents will be subject to very severe vibrations.


These two are likely to be food storage containers.  I’ll halve them internally with a lift out tray.  Well maybe one with have an internal tray at the halfway point and the other at ¾.   I’ve decided the lids will lift off rather than being hinged.  A removed lid placed upside down will make a reasonable tray.

There was a brief snip on the evening TV News about water shortages on the Leeds – Liverpool Canal.  We obviously already knew there was a problem from the various bloggers we follow.  No mention was made that a contribution to the lack of water was the historical sale of the upper canal reservoirs.  Not that many Australians would have been particularly interested. 

Occasionally Brexit gets mentioned.  Mostly around the politics of the Conservatives appearing to tear themselves apart.  I must confess to being slightly bemused by the likes of Tony Blair demanding a second referendum.  “You will keep voting until you deliver the right decision!”   If my memory is correct both the Irish and Danish voters had to keep voting until they got it right!  Smile  It will be interesting to see if the British are made of sterner stuff!

Wednesday, 18 July 2018

A knock at the door

This morning we (almost) didn’t hear the knock at the door.  It was a contractor from WesternPower, the government corporation responsible for electrical distribution in Western Australia.  He wanted to replace the consumption meter on our main switchboard in anticipation of us having the solar array fitted early next month.

We now have a nice new meter.


This meter records how much electricity we generate and export back to the grid.  WesternPower will pay us 7 cents for every kWh we export.  We pay them 39 cents for every kWh we import from them. 

The TV wall has now been painted and everything reinstated.


No sign of that channel now.  The shelving in the pantry has now been installed.  I must remember to take a photo.  There’s some outstanding minor cosmetic work to the cornices and the air conditioning vent needs to be reinstated.  

Jan has accepted a quote to replace the floating timber floor throughout the house. 

With some spare time I decided to fit the second set of rims and tyres to the 4x4.  The Kumho Road Venture MT265/75R16 tyres are for the outback trip but I want to give them a chance to settle before we leave.  It will also give me an opportunity to see if there are any issues.

With the larger diameter tyres the 4x4 is now 20mm higher off the ground and the speedo is 100% accurate.


I’m assuming fuel economy will get worse as the engine now needs to work harder to turn a larger and heavier set of tyres. 

Tuesday, 17 July 2018

Stretcher Tent and Wall Repairs

I (eventually) managed to get the new ethernet port in the lounge room working correctly.  The problem was my assumption the data cable installer had wired the other end to the latest standard. I’d therefore wired my new end to this standard only to find the ethernet socket didn’t work.  After pulling apart the other end located in the study I realised the installer had wired it using the old standard.  With that fixed and the connection successfully tested, the channel in the wall was plastered over.

Two further coats of plaster with sanding in between has resulted in the wall being ready for repainting.


Just waiting for the last of the plaster to set before it gets a coat of sealer.

On a more interesting note, a courier delivered the folding stretcher tent I’d ordered for the forthcoming outback trip.  The original plan was to purchase a rooftop tent to go on top of the camper trailer.  During the trip our oldest grandson will sleep in the tent with his girlfriend whilst I slept in the ‘annex’ underneath the tent.  The delivery of the camper trailer has been delayed and the local dealer is lending us their hire trailer for the trip.  Unfortunately it doesn’t have the annex.  This meant I needed a tent. 

Forty years ago I’d have just slept on the ground….. but I’m getting old and soft!  The solution was to buy a single person folding stretcher tent for me to use during the trip.  It also means we can defer any decision regarding a rooftop tent for our trailer. 

The stretcher tent was delivered today.  It’s made by ‘OzTrail’, which doesn’t mean much because all of this style of tent are probably made in the same Chinese factory.

There are two main parts to the tent.  An inner with insect screens and an outer waterproof fly.


If it’s no going to rain I can probably just use the inner.   My luck changed with the mattress.  The tent doesn’t come with a mattress but we happened to be in Aldi where I noticed they were selling self-inflating mattresses at a very reasonable price.  So the green mattress inside the tent is a 50mm thick Aldi mattress and it’s quite comfortable.


Rather snug with the fly on. 

The flooring salesperson arrived today and measured the floor in preparation for the replacement of the floating timber floor.  I really need to get on with the removal of the current floor but am currently waiting for my brother-in-law to return from interstate so I can borrow his trailer to take everything to the tip.  I don’t want to double handle the old floor if I can avoid it.

Meanwhile there is work to be done completing the pantry.

Monday, 16 July 2018

Another busy weekend

Jan is tired of living in a construction site and I’m becoming exhausted with the workload.  I just don’t appear to the energy that I had a decade ago! 

The channel has been cut out of the brick wall in the lounge room for the data and TV coaxial cables.  I used the angle grinder and it filled the house with dust.  Jan hid in the spare bedroom until all the dust had settled.


The square hole for the mounting box was made using a masonry drill bit and cold chisel.  There must be a cleaner way of completing this type of task but I don’t have the tools for it.  After clean all the rubble I vacuumed the timber floor and then left the vacuum cleaner running for 30 minutes to filter the air.  

The next task was to sand back the plaster on the ceiling patch.  Of course this resulted in the air once again being filled with dust.  More vacuuming!  This area will require a second coat of plaster and obviously more sanding.  In the meantime the lounge ceiling was cleaned and the various fittings masked before giving it two coats of flat white paint.

Then I returned to the cable channel and wired in the TV coaxial and ethernet cables. 


The latter proved to be a slight challenge as a “special tool” is required to insert the wires into the ethernet connector.  I don’t have the tool and I’m not buying one for a “once only” job.  In the end I used the back edge of a Stanley Knife blade to secure the wires. 

There was a knock at the door which Jan answered.  Postman Wee had a parcel delivery addressed to Jan.  It was the cast iron Dutch Oven she had found online and purchased for my planned outback trip.


I’ve been spending some of my evenings reading about Dutch Oven cooking.  Apparently the oven requires seasoning before it can be used.

Back to the kitchen project.  The gas hob has been installed.


Slightly larger than the hob on Waiouru Smile.  There has also been a test fit with the sink.


It hasn’t been installed because the edges need polishing.

I need to get the coaxial and ethernet cabling completed so the channel can be filled.  Then the lounge room walls be painted.  Oh, I’ve also purchased three single gang wall light switches to replace the grubby old switches in the lounge.

Time is getting away on me!

Friday, 13 July 2018

It’s starting to look like a kitchen

The granite transformation bench tops were installed yesterday.  This isn’t a task I would attempt, however I carefully watched how it was done.  



The dishwasher cavity.  The machine won’t be installed until after the new floor has been laid.


Jan wanted corner drawers


And bi-folding top cupboard doors


The pantry is far from being completed.

The glass splashback company arrived this morning and spent an hour measuring the walls.  I installed the splashbacks on Waiouru but the sheets of glass going in the kitchen are too large for me to manage on my own.  The plan for the panty layout is cabinets without doors under the bench top and shelving above.  There will be a glass splashback between the bench and the underside of the shelving.  Jan should have plenty of room to leave the majority of her appliances permanently on the pantry bench top.

We need to set a date for a “dirty day”.  This will be the day I do the last of the grinding and sanding, plus rip up and remove the original timber flooring throughout the house.  The house will then be in a position to be thoroughly cleaned before I move on to the lovely painting task Sad smile.

Wednesday, 11 July 2018


What I really needed today was a flexible and fit 26 year old grandson with good eyesight :-)

Only a small amount of kitchen painting today which meant there was some time to work on the 4x4.  I fitted the two-way radio.  I know this because my back constantly reminds me!  This radio was selected because the actual radio can be fitted in a remote location out of sight.  All the controls and the speaker are in the handset which can be unplugged from the radio when not required leaving a ‘clean’ dash.  After considering and exploring various locations for the radio I selected a very tight location behind the passenger foot well trim.


Looking up from floor level

This was the most physically challenging part of the entire job.  I’m simply no longer sufficiently flexible to contort my body into the right position.  The last part of the process took ages as it was mostly done by “feel”.

The aerial cable runs up behind the passenger pillar trim and then under the roof lining to the middle of the front windscreen where I've installed the aerial glass mounting block.


The stubby aerial is almost in the middle of the windscreen (couldn't quite get to the middle because of the rearview mirror mount) and leans back at an angle over the metal roof.  The roof will act as a ground plane amplifying the transmit and receive radio signals.


I'd already noticed a spare "blank" switch plate beside the cigarette lighter socket which looked like a good place to mount the ethernet port for the remote handset cord.  Then I realised the radio came with it's own blank plate; although it was designed to be surface mounted.  I did some modifications (drill and file) before fitting the ethernet socket into the front of the blank switch.  I used Sikaflex to secure it.


The ethernet blank will go into the opening at A.  Ethernet port at B.  Remote handset at C. 


The radio does power up and I have heard traffic.  I'll fit the ethernet port into the opening tomorrow after the Sikaflex has set.

I've also been forced to modify the mounting bracket for the Ultragauge.  The standard mounting bracket wasn’t providing a good enough viewing angle of the gauge.  After some cutting, filing and Sikaflex, the gauge is at the correct angle for viewing from the driver's position.  It's located in the bottom right corner of the front windscreen.   The mounting bracket hasn’t been attached to the windscreen.  I’ve just used duct tape to hold the gauge in the correct position whilst the Sikaflex sets.


I'll fit it permanently tomorrow and then run the cable down through the drivers side window pillar to the OBD2 port under the steering when.

I think that will only leave the fitting of the Kumho tyres and an oil change to be completed on the 4x4 prior to the trip.