Thursday, 28 February 2019

Latest Solar Bill and more ideas

Jan sent me to the local supermarket to get a bag of dog food for Molly.  So there I was in the checkout queue with my bag of dried dog food when the woman behind me asked “Do you have a dog?”  What a stupid question.  Anyway, I decided to have some fun and told her I was going to do the dog food diet.  She told me she’d never heard of it.  So I explained dried dog food was a perfectly balanced meal containing all the necessary vitamins, protein and other necessary nutritional supplements.  My method was to place a handful of pellets in my trouser pocket and just eat a few any time I got hungry.  I preferred the chicken pellets to the beef & gravy as the former was tastier.  She then asked me how much weight I anticipated losing.  By now the other people in the queue were listening intently.  I told her this was actually the second time I’d done the diet.  The first time I’d lost 30kg but ended up in the hospital intensive care ward with tubes running out of me. “OMG!”  she said “Was it food poisoning?”  “No!” I replied. “I stepped off the kerb to smell the butt of a cute poodle and was hit by a car”.

The latest electricity bill arrived by email this morning.  This is the first regular two monthly invoice since the panels were installed.  The details were:

   Total consumption       $115.88
   Supply Charge     $62.78 for 68 days
   Sub-total               $178.66
   GST (VAT)            $17.87
   Total                     $196.53
   Rebate for electricity sold back to the utility company $108.52
  Final Bill                $88

Two things immediately stand out. 

1.  The utility company has charged us GST(VAT) on the total electricity but not given us a GST credit on the electricity we supplied to them.
2.  If you remove the supply charge (the amount we pay for the privilege of being connected to the grid) then we actually purchased  $9.46 per month.

Looking at the total kWh’s is also interesting

We consumed 450kWh but exported to the grid 1521kWh.  So we exported more than three times what we used.  Of course they sell us electricity at $0.30 per kWh and purchase it from us at $0.07 per kWh.  The utility company requires us to pay for their infrastructure as a daily service charge.  We get nothing in the way of a service rebate for incurring the cost of our infrastructure. 

I’m keeping a close watch on residential battery storage costs.  We are obviously producing far more electricity than we require so there is plenty of surplus solar electricity to store and use when there is no sunlight.

Whilst pottering around in the man cave today I remembered the offcut of 100mm sewer pipe.  The rest of the pipe is under the shed concrete slab and will form part of the planned dust extraction system.  I decided I could do something with the surplus piece of pipe. 
First I had to cut it into three 200mm lengths which would leave a further 140mm spare.  This was done on the table saw using the slide and a clamped block as a guide length.

The PVC pipe was pushed onto the saw blade and then rotated to make an exact cut.  Next I used a 40mm hole saw to make a hole 100mm from one end.  Yes, I made that rough jig to hold the pipe whilst I drilled an cut it!

Then I used the jigsaw to cut the slot before filing off the sharp edges.  The lengths of pipe were then screwed to the underside of a scrap piece of plywood.

Finally the plywood was screwed to the workshop wall.

A rack for the portable drills with a shelf above for the bits and other odds & ends.

You haven’t forgotten that last piece of pipe…. and neither had I Smile

I scribed a circle on a piece of scrap particleboard and then cut it out with the jigsaw.

Then I glued another piece of particleboard to the base and cut the combined pieces into a square

Finally, the last piece of pipe was glued into the hole.  I now have a container for my files and wood rasps.

There were also a few pieces of scrap Jarrah hardwood behind the shed which I used to make a rack for my old wood chisels.  I found these in a drain before I met Jan, which means they are at least 50 years old.

Good quality British steel

Wednesday, 27 February 2019

Firefox Survey Scam

It appears I was almost the victim of the Firefox survey scam.  I was using Google in Firefox when I clicked on a link.  A pop-up window appeared telling me as a valued user I was being asked to complete a survey and would be in the draw to win a prize. 

I tried to close the window but it just took me to the survey page.  So I completed the simple survey on Firefox was was then advised I had won a Samsung Galaxy 9 phone for $1.  How you can '”win” something and still pay for it is somewhat of a mystery to me! 

In the bottom half of the screen was a list of comments from people who had either received their prize or were waiting for it to arrive.

Anyway, the next window asked me to enter my credit card details for an amount of $1.  The web address was https, but something seemed wrong.  Why would they want my card details before asking for my address?

A quick online search revealed it’s a scam

If it’s too good to be true….. then it probably is!

Here’s an observation

European.  I drove for 3 hours and passed through seven countries

Australian.   I drove for 12 hours and I’m still in Western Australia

Tuesday, 26 February 2019

Slow Progress

More pottering around in the ‘man cave’ has seen some improvement in the overall layout.  The most significant issue at the moment is lack of storage capacity.  I’ve been recycling much of the old timber into shelving.  I also moved the old ‘peg board’ from the garage to the shed.  The long bench for the mitre saw has been completed and my thoughts have now turned to a dust extraction system.

I found a place for the clamps to the right of the roller door.

Jan has been saving all her glass marmalade jars for me.  It's actually rather hard to find suitable glass jars as most of them are made from plastic.  I made a shelf and then screwed the lids of the jars to the underside.

The mitre and bench saws are major dust creators.  Currently I can't do much about the bench saw as I've yet to make the custom bench for it.  However I can make a start on a shroud for the mitre saw.

I'm going to install a dust duct system which will (hopefully) capture most of the sawdust before it gets airborne.  So the dust extraction system and the bench for the table saw are the next two major projects.

It was with some sadness we read the passing of Paul on the latest Manly Ferry post.  Surprisingly we never actually met Paul & Elaine during our years of continuous cruising.  However you do feel you know them through Paul's writing.   He had a wonderful humorous style!

I really need to make some progress with the camper trailer modifications.  It's almost March and soon the Australian Salmon will be running up the coast.  I want to be in some isolated spot catching dozens of large fish <dreamer>. 

Monday, 25 February 2019

BBQ Lesson

I’ve had a BBQ lesson from an expert.  Knowing George & Carol (WB Still Rockin’) were planning on visiting Perth during their Oz odyssey we invited them to a BBQ in an effort to ensure I improved my level of expertise in front of the iron monster.
George kindly gave me some advice…. “keep turning them Tom” and we have a lovely afternoon discussing a wide variety of subjects…. including toilets!

We do hope they will find time to visit for a follow-up lesson towards the end of their Australian holiday.

This morning I grappled with the trailer tail light wiring.  There seems to be no standard colour coding with Chinese trailers which had me scratching my head for some time.  Eventually I worked out the blue connected to the green and the black to the white whilst the yellow connected to yellow.  Oh the red connected to the brown.  Everything worked correctly in the end.

Jan came back from the fortnightly food shopping rather puzzled.  Apparently she had mentioned to the person operating the supermarket checkout that they worked faster in Aldi UK.  The checkout person then said “Well when Brexit happens the Brits won’t be able to travel anywhere!”  Jan hadn’t realized the UK might be going into national quarantine. Smile   Then the lady behind her in the queue asked how long Jan had been in Australia.  “Two years” said Jan (well it’s two years since we’ve returned).  The woman then said “You’re now an Australian”.  To which Jan replied “If you went and lived in Bangladesh for two years would that make you a Bangladeshi?”  “Of course not!”  Replied the woman.  Work the logic out…… I can’t!

Thursday, 21 February 2019

Been Busy

There may not have been a post for a few days but that doesn’t mean we haven’t been busy.
The local timber merchant allowed us to use their courtesy trailer enabling me to bring home a sizeable quantity of 4x2 framing timber and some sheets of plywood.   I’m making a 3.6 metre long bench in the workshop.  There has been a change of plan and I now don’t intend to make a purpose bench for the mitre saw.  More on that later.

The task which has taken the longest time is the cutting of the rebates in the bench legs.  There are 14 legs and each required four rebates.  I started doing the legs individually and then realised it would probably be easier and more efficient to cut as many as possible simultaneously.  To achieve this I used the bench saw slide.

This enabled me to simultaneously cut 7 legs.  It was a tedious task repeatedly running the timber through the saw blade to cut the rebates.  Eventually it was done.

The frames were then assembled.  They were glued and screwed.  Ten years ago I wouldn’t have cut rebates and the frames would have been nailed.  I even took particular care to ensure everything was level and square. 

That’s when I discovered the concrete floor wasn’t level near the roller door.  I’ll have to fit a small piece of packing under this leg.

I’d ordered 2400x1200x19mm plywood only to find it was 2440mm long and slightly wider than 1200mm.  The timber merchant informed me it was old imperial stock.  It must be really old!!!
By the end of today I’d managed to fit ¾ of the lower shelf.  The top shelf has also been cut out but I don’t want to install it until the lower shelf is fitted.  It’s easier that way.

My sister called to tell us she and my brother-in-law had purchased a second hand outback camper trailer.  It’s somewhat more luxurious than ours, but then it’s not a true outback camper.
The trailer has a pop top and extending ends that form two separate double beds.  there are a further two bed inside the main body.  There’s a fridge, oven, gas hob and microwave. 

Yes.... we did discuss toilets.  Their camper trailer doesn't have one.  I suggested they purchase a shovel!

Sunday, 17 February 2019

50 Years

The Australia Post courier delivered the shed electrical distribution board early this morning.  So early that I was still asleep!  Anyway, Jan accepted it.  Another cheap purchase from eBay.

Obviously it needed to be fitted which I decided to do before it got too hot.  It's been some time since I last fitted a switchboard and I've seen too many boards where the reverse looks like a birds nest.  Fifty years ago, when I'd started my apprenticeship, my 'master' was a tyrant demanding both speed and neatness.  He taught me well and I've always endeavoured to keep my wiring tidy.

The white cable loop sticking out of the box is actually plastic covered steel curtain wire.  It's the drawer cord for the yet to be installed main power and earth cables.

I've fitted a temporary supply cable to the power board whilst I wait for the necessary energy and enthusiasm to dig the cable trench from the shed to the house.

You can see the 32mm diameter grey plastic conduit for the power cable below.  The white cord is for pulling the main earth through the wall.  To the left is an orange conduit which carries the power cable for the bench saw plug which is in the middle of the concrete floor. 

Friday, 15 February 2019

The rear needs modifying

One thing leads to another and before you know it you need to do more than you anticipated.

I want the trailer tailgate door to open 180° which will provide unrestricted access to the interior of the trailer.  So the hinges were modified.  However in opening the door 180° I discovered the left rear light fitting was going to be an obstruction.  If I needed to relocated the left fitting then obviously the right also had to be moved.  Then I realised the spare wheel mounting on the tailgate would also need to be moved as the larger tyre and rim would catch on the back corner of the trailer.

So this is what the rear of the trailer now looks like.

OK... the spare wheel mounting hasn't changed.  But do you see the other changes?

Well the first change was with the rear lights (A).  After relocating them higher on the trailer I discovered they were non compliant with the Australian Design Regulations (ADRs).  Lights must be not more than 1750mm above ground level and with the larger tyres and rims on the trailer they were slightly over the legal limit.  To rectify this I purchased a second set of lights  (B) and mounted them on the rear bar.  Of course the number plate was then in the way and was also going to be obscured by the spare wheel once the mounting has been moved.  So the number plate and wiring (C) was moved to the opposite side.

By the time I finish there isn't going to be much that's original on this trailer! :-)

Thursday, 14 February 2019

The Floor is In!

You would think the trailer floor qualified for frequent traveller points based on the number of times I’ve attempted test installation fittings.  However before I could do this I needed to cut the matrix of 10mm holes with the router.  The first problem was with the chinese sourced router bit.  The diameter of the shaft was 0.5mm less than standard.  So it wasn’t a ¼ inch bit.  This was overcome by wrapping some masking tape around the shaft.

Cutting the outer series of holes in the board was achieved using the router guide.

A length of dressed pine was then used as a guide for the inner holes. 

After completing all the holes I discovered the router bit is only 9mm rather than the specified 10mm.  So perhaps a cheap bit from China wasn’t the best option.  Anyway, the holes are completed and I have (I hope) a perfect matrix of holes at 100mm spacing.

I wanted to ensure the sheet of plywood doesn't bounce around.  It's not likely to happen, however I made a set of small timber blocks which were then screwed to the corners of the trailer frame.

When I was fitting the plywood floor into Waiouru the joiners showed me how to use wood screws into metal.  So that's what I did with the blocks.

One lateral partition was made from the sheet offcuts.  I'm waiting on the delivery of brass rod from China to make the pins which will then be glued into the base of the vertical partitions at 100mm spacing.  The photos below are just a demonstration on what the system will look like.

The idea is to have a set of movable partitions that will provide flexibility for various size loads.  

I can probably start fitting some of the camping gear into the trailer and identify how many partitions are require.


Monday, 11 February 2019

It's Cooler

Not the outside temperature!  I’ve installed all the insulation and plywood lining in the shed and its had a dramatic affect on the temperature inside.

Today everything was removed from the shed apart from the table and mitre saw.  Then I used the Aldi spray paint gun to apply three coats of paint to the plywood.  I used the grey paint left over from the boundary fences.  Halfway through the task I discovered the rubber in my face mask had perished and I was occasionally sucking paint vapour.  I’m extremely disappointed with the quality of the mask.  It’s only lasted 33 years!

The postman delivered the router bit I’d ordered from China.

It has a pointed tip and will cut a 10mm hole.  I could have purchased a similar bit in Perth for $44.  However by ordering one from China and waiting a month for delivery it cost me $1.64 including postage.  So why do I need this bit?  The plan is to drill a matrix of 10mm holes in the 19mm plywood upper floor in the trailer.  You may be able to see the matrix of 2mm pilot holes in the photo below.

I’ve also ordered a length of 10mm brass rod from China.  My plan is to cut the brass rod into 40mm lengths which will become pegs.  These pegs will be glued into the base of the 19mm plywood vertical partitions I plan on making.  Having a matrix of 10mm holes in the floor will allow me to move the partitions around to suit the size of the contents of the trailer.  Well that’s the theory.

As with all jobs..... Safety First!

Saturday, 9 February 2019

Hard Border

There was a TV news article on Northern Ireland yesterday and I was slightly surprised to hear the Northern Ireland Parliament hadn’t met for two years because the major parties were in dispute.  One assumes that a country can operate without their elected representatives.  But then the program mentioned Northern Ireland was being governed from Westminster.

Now the elected representatives of Westminster appear to be in turmoil with no clear agreement or directions.  Should the UK parliament be suspended and government be vested in….. Brussels?  Just saying….. :-)

Actually I was more interested in the ‘hard border’ argument.  One ‘remainer’ stated that if the UK were to leave the EU without a deal the WTO would require a hard border between Northern Ireland and the Irish Republic.  A little research on my part suggested this wasn’t true.  WTO rules require a country to allow all trading countries equal access, unless specific arrangements have been agreed.  The WTO would therefore not require the UK to install a hard border if it allowed all nations to trade with the UK on equal terms.  However the Irish Republic would require a hard border because it’s a member of the EU.  The EU has a protectionist approach and has applied tariffs and quotas on many good and services from non EU countries.

An example of this is Irish beef.  67% of all Irish Republic beef goes to the UK.  Under WTO rules they would have to compete with much cheaper beef from countries like Australia, Argentina and Brazil.  This would decimate the Irish beef industry.  Actually it gets worse for the Irish because without a hard border, cheaper beef could be imported into the UK and then slipped across the Irish border. 

Actually I think this hard border is a red herring.  Switzerland is surrounded by EU countries and there is no hard border.

Of course adopting WTO rules wouldn’t be all good news for the UK.  Local farmers (eg, sheep) would have to compete with producers from the rest of the world.  New Zealand could probably send their lamb half way around the world and still sell it in the UK at a lower price.  NZ and the UK have similar standards of living which suggests the NZ farmers are more efficient. 

One of the problems with being a member of a protectionist organisation is it results in inefficiency and increased costs which are borne by the consumer.

If the UK does leave the EU without a deal and adopts WTO rules there will be some parts of the UK economy that will go through a period of pain whilst they struggle to adjust to a competitive market.   Interesting times ahead.

Tuesday, 5 February 2019

Testing AGAIN

non illegitimi carborundum

More reading and research regarding the OLW problem.  This is yet another suggested solution to the problem caused by Google abandoning its API.

If this post publishes and the photos are displayed I will explain what I’ve done.

Today was definitely a day for indoor jobs.  Despite this I did manage to install another three sheets of plywood lining in the shed.  So these are the before and after photos of the light fittings



Well the "fix" for OLW didn't work and I was forced to do this post in Blogger.  Hence the unsatisfactory format.

Monday, 4 February 2019

Google is playing funny buggers!

Well if you've been following my various attempts to get photos to publish from Open Live Writer you will know I've failed spectacularly.  Google keeps moving the goal posts.  I've just read an official notice from Google advising this state of affairs is likely to continue to 1 March so I'm going to cease these fruitless attempts until after that date.

Meanwhile Jan mentioned she didn't particularly like the horrible (her word) blue light shade in the laundry.

Nor did she like the hallway shade by the front door.

And while she was on the subject, the shade in the front room looked tired.

All this led to a decision to visit the local lighting warehouse where they have an excellent range of Chinese made light fittings (Isn't everything made in China these days?)  Whilst we were in the shop I added to strip lights to the purchase order.  Actually I require four in the shed so the last two are on order.

We also visited the timber merchant where I purchased 11 sheets of 9mm plywood and two bags of insulation Batts.  He sold me the non itchy version...... But he lied!

Jan helped me carry the plywood sheets from the trailer to the shed (good girl) and I then used the Batts from one pack to insulate most of two walls.

Then I started cutting and fitting the plywood.  Eight years ago I would have nailed the sheets in place, but after the boat fit out I'm a fan of using screws.  It takes longer, but the sheets are less likely to move.

It was so damned hot in the shed I probably drank more water than a thirsty camel.  If I left any tools out in the sunlight there was a chance I'd burn myself picking them up.  In the end it became all too much and I retreated inside to the air conditioning and a cold cleansing ale.