Sunday, 28 April 2019

Murphy's Law

What to name this post.  I started with "Joneses Luck" then moved to "Wasted Time" before settling on "Murphy's Law". 

Most of yesterday was spent on the laptop doing some initial planning for a future outback trip.  By now you will have realised I don't like paying for information if I can find a free source and that's what I've been doing with the maps.  My technique is to use five sources.  Initially I look at websites where I collect gps reference points (latitude and longitude) to key points (where tracks meet, water, fuel, points of interest. etc)  Then I trace the track I want to use in the Open Street Map.  This isn't particularly accurate when it comes to outback tracks so I then convert the trace to a Google Earth format using a free program (GPS Babel).  The converted trace is then loaded into Google Earth.  Next I insert the reference points from Step 1.  finally I closely examine Google Earth looking at the satellite photos and correcting the trace.  Finally the corrected trace and reference points are converted to Garmin GPS format using GPS Babel and uploaded onto the GPS.  This process takes a long time. 

Whilst working on this yesterday I realised I hadn't checked the electric brakes on the camper trailer.  Had the Chinese manufacturer done a good job?  This morning the trailer was jacked up and placed on stands.  I then spun the right wheel and depressed the brake pedal in the 4x4.  No brakes! 

Well I fitted the electric brake controller and cabling into the 4x4 so it was down to me to find the problem and rectify it.  All the wiring was traced, checked and then double checked.  Logic told me there was power to the brake controller as the LED's were illuminating.  So I started checking everything back from the brake controller to the plug beside the towbar.  Everything was pulled apart and rechecked.  There appeared to be nothing wrong with my installation.   It must be those dastardly Chinese!

The next step was to remove the right trailer wheel.  That's when I noticed the loose wire.

The wire was reinserted into the plug but still the brakes didn't work.  The next step was to dismantle the hub to check the brake solenoid and internal wiring.  If you're going to do that you might as well check the wheel bearing and re-grease them.  There didn't appear to be any obvious issues.  That's when I decided to call on the assistance of the family chief financial controller.  With Jan at the wheel of the 4x4 I spun the opposite trailer wheel and had her apply the brakes.  The trailer brake on the wheel stopped it.  OK, I have a fault with the electric brake on the right trailer wheel.  \

Of course I could have established that five hours earlier and before pulling the 4x4 apart if only I'd used my head!  

The problem was that same wire in the plug behind the hub.  It had popped back out when I'd reconnected the two halves of the plug.  This time I ensured the terminal remained inside the plug when I connected the two halves.  Next I wrapped duct tape around the wire and plug to hold them together.  Finally I used a couple of cable ties to secure the cable to the hub.  I've done this last step in an effort to minimize the potential for stones and other debris on the tracks pulling the connection apart.

So "Murphy's Law".  If I had checked the opposite trailer wheel first I would have discovered the trailer brakes were working and would probably not have bothered tested the wheel with the defective wiring.   Also, I should have more faith in my own wiring!


Wednesday, 24 April 2019

And then I had an idea

There's been a "missing link" in the man cave dust extraction system.  Flexible vacuum hose is required for two of the outlets.  One for the bench saw and more for the portable power tools like the sander.  The problem has been the cost with the timber tool sellers wanting an astronomical price per metre.  Then I had an idea..... swimming pool hose!

A quick trip down to the local hardware where I'm now on first name basis with most of the staff.  The place was packed.  Apparently there was a party under way in Isle 15.

I'm too old to party and headed for the pool section.   Success; eight metres of the right size hose at less than 20% of the tool shop price.

Now I have permanent solution for my flexible hose problem

I probably have three metres of surplus hose.

The hose to the bench saw appears to be too long but my plan is to mount the saw inside the bench which will lower its height.  In the background you can see the cut down wardrobe doors from the master bedroom which will become shelving the the garage.

Monday, 22 April 2019

Those little jobs

Fountains doesn't do a 'veg pledge' for us which means reluctantly I've been drawn into the fortnightly lawnmower and strimmer routine.  We purchased a new 4 stroke lawnmower and strimmer shortly after our return from the UK and since then I've been thinking we need desire a lawn edge trimmer.  However at a price of approximately $300-500 the decision keeps beling delayed.

Last week I noticed an old edge trimmer in my brother’s garage and commented on it.  He said “You can have it if you want it.  I don’t need it!”  So of course I accepted his offer.  Then he mentioned “It has a petrol leak somewhere and might need a new carburettor!”  Obviously we are related.  The engine is a Briggs & Stratton 4 stroke with a horizontal shaft.  It shouldn't be too hard to do some fault finding.

The edger looks as if it's been hiding in the corner of the garage collecting dust and cobwebs.  Based on the comment about the fuel leak I removed the fuel tank, air filter and carburettor.

Everything looks faded and rusty.

The carburettor was stripped down and cleaned with a carburettor spray before being reassembled

Now you might be thinking I took the above photos for this post.  WRONG!  I took them to ensure I knew how to reassemble the engine :-)  Whilst reassembling everything I removed all rust and gave it a clean before repainting parts where necessary.   Oh, the cutting blade was also sharpened.

Then I did what I should have done right at the start.  Added some petrol to the fuel tank.  It promptly started pouring out the front of the air filter.   Some exploring on my part revealed the fuel was coming from the carburettor.  It appears to be missing a needle valve.  Now I could search for a replacement part but the entire carburettor can be purchased from eBay for approximately $16 (£7) so I'll probably take that option.

The second job has been to rip the shelving off the garage wall.  It's going to be in the way when the hole is cut through the wall for the master bedroom air conditioning unit.  I'm going to replace the old shelving with material salvaged from the original bedroom wardrobe doors.

It's also seven months since the oil catch can on the 4x4 engine was drained.  I fitted the catch can because I don't like the oil fumes being recycled back through the engine.  This process is part of the vehicles environmental emissions control system.  Twenty years ago the fumes would have been vented to the atmosphere but today we need to save the planet.  So the fumes go back through the engine intake to be re burned.  That wouldn't be a problem but they are combined with some of the hot exhaust gases before being returned to the engine.  The hot gases are an emission control process.  The problem is the hot gases contain carbon.  The carbon and the oil fumes combine leaving a porridge like sludge to build up in the engine which can eventually choke the engine.  Of course by then the vehicle is out of warranty meaning the owners wears the cost of an engine clean and potential rebuild.  The oil catch can is supposed to catch most of the oil from the fumes before it is fed into the engine.  My method of removing the oil is to use a thin hose attached to a large syringe.  I poke the hose down the hole where the catch can dipstick goes and suck out the oil.

Photo is slightly out of focus in the background.

The syringe was advertised for hydroponic use but it's ideal for my purpose.  The engine has only done 3500km since I last drained the can.

About 25mls of oil that won't go back through the engine.

Friday, 19 April 2019

Lipstick on a Pig

A couple of interesting articles I recently read or viewed.

The decline in EU immigration into the UK in the wake of the Brexit Turmoil has proven to be a massive boon for workers, with unemployment falling to the lowest level since the 1970s and UK wages surging:

Average wages are rising at the fastest rate in a decade and employment has reached a record high in the UK, according to official figures released today…

The Office for National Statistics (ONS) said total earnings were up 3.5%, including bonuses, despite expectations the labour market would be suffering more from the UK’s looming departure from the European Union.

Figures released by the ONS also show employment has soared to its joint highest level since records began at 76.1% of the working-age population. The official unemployment rate has dipped to 3.9%, the lowest since the mid-1970s…

Matt Hughes of the ONS said: “The jobs market remains robust, with the number of people in work continuing to grow. The increase over the past year is all coming from full-timers, both employees and the self-employed”…

Employers don’t want Brexit and are now complaining the shortage of labour from the EU is driving up their costs. 

It’s simple economics.  When you stem the flow of foreign workers the bargaining power of existing workers increases.  When wages grow the least efficient businesses close and workers move to more efficient industries.  Allowing the mass importation of foreign workers circumvents the ordinary functioning of the labour market by enabling employers to pluck cheap foreign workers in lieu of raising wages. It also discourages employers from training locals in favour of hiring ready-made workers from overseas.

It makes sense that the majority of Conservative MPs support Remain, because they are the party of employers.  What I don’t understand is why Labour isn’t strongly supporting Brexit.  It’s their supporters who have the most to gain.

Then I watched an interview of a government minister from the Irish Republic.  He was explaining that a no deal Brexit would seriously hurt UK consumers because 90% of the UK beef comes from the Irish Republic.  The British were going to struggle without Irish beef.  Moreover non EU beef may not necessarily meet the current EU high veterinary standards.  I almost choked.  Was he delusional, an idiot or just telling lies? 

Beef from non EU countries is subject to a 50% tariff (tax) and is also subject to quotas (the EU limits the amount imported to protect EU beef producers).  Moreover this imported beef has to comply with the EU veterinary standards.  Finally, it’s the Irish beef that was whinny and neighing – not the non EU.

If the UK leaves the EU then UK consumers will have the choice of buying expensive Irish beef or non EU sourced beef which is likely to be 50% cheaper. 

Actually I can see it would be imperative for the Irish Republic to install a hard border in the event of a 'no deal'.  Without it cheaper foreign produce would be smuggled over the border from Northern Ireland.

I’ve no doubt there are advantages in being a member of the EU.  But don’t put lipstick on a pig and try to convince people it’s beautiful.

And now for another example of the size of Australia 

Tuesday, 16 April 2019

Homeward Bound

Most of the 'grey nomads' had started to head off yesterday with only the 'die-hards' prepared to stay and persevere with the anticipated Mongol horde (children) on the weekend.  We were all packed and ready to go by 10AM.  I decided to see if I could dismantle and pack the trailer batwing awning on my own.  I'd been thinking of a new technique during the previous two days and devised a method which worked.  However I may need to make some modifications to the awning if I'm going to erect it single handed.

Ken suggested we take the coast road north rather than retracing our original route through the state forests.  The route took us via Hamelin Bay seen in the map below.

It's a rather attractive holiday location with a large camping ground.  There were considerably more people here than at Windy Harbour.

The remains of the old jetty can be seen in the above photo.  It was built in 1882 to support the local timber industry.  Navigation is difficult due to the nearby reefs and rocks.  Twelve vessels were wrecked here over an 80 years period.

The bay is well known for its sting rays which appear on the shoreline most days.  Sting Rays are the vacuum cleaners of the ocean which makes sense as they are flat with their mouth underneath.  Tourists can interact with them and that was happening when we visited.

They're damned sight braver than me (or perhaps more foolish).  Didn't they read about the Crocodile Hunter, Steve Irwin being stabbed to death by a sting ray. 

More galling to me were the fisherman at the other end of the bay hauling in large numbers of Australian Salmon from a big school just off the shore.  They are behind the yellow sign!

We continued north, passing through Margaret River, another tourist hotspot.  The area is well known for it's wines and surfing.  Although the town is some seven kilometres from the coast.  Our journey involved a slight detour to Gracetown.  The location was initially designated as a holiday camp site but the state government subsequently decided to designate it as a township.  These days it's well known for it's surfing and at least one major international event is held here each year.  The town is also starting to acquire a reputation for shark attacks (sufers <burp> love them!>.  The town was almost closed when we arrived.  Apparently this isn't uncommon when there are good surfing conditions.

It was about a six hour journey back to Perth with me arriving home in the dark at 7PM.  The trailer freezer did a good job keeping all the fish frozen during the trip.  I have a few more modification to make and the trailer should then be ready for a more isolated trip.


Monday, 15 April 2019

Fishing - Day 3

My sole contribution to the catch of the day was a small Flathead.  This was obviously dumb enough to commit suicide on my hook!  Of course the others caught fish all day.  It must be my fishing gear?

In the afternoon we went for a walk around the local area.  Ken had already discovered a small bay on the opposite side of the headland.  I could probably have walked there on the first two days of the trip and caught no fish, thereby saving fuel!

Another 'non fisher' popped out of the bush in front of us casually giving us the eye before moving on.

Later in the afternoon I assisted Ken fillet fish in the vain hope I'll know how to do it on my own at some future date.  

We were settling down for the evening when a young fella poked his head through the caravan awning door to ask if we knew anyone who could assist him tow his loaded boat trailer off the beach where it was stuck in deep loose sand.  We couldn't help, but decided to go down to the boat ramp in the dark and see what was happening.

The boat was actually quite large and on a tri-axle trailer.  The primer mover was a large 4x4 Isuzu truck.  They were two young commercial abalone divers.

The boat has a cage on the back which is lowered over the side with a scuba diver inside.  This is supposed to protect the diver from being eaten by a shark. 

The trailer had been disconnected from the truck and they were attempting to retrieve the trailer from the soft sand by pulling it backwards with the winch on the rear of the truck.

Both the boat and truck were well equipped.  The latter had a small sleeping compartment behind the cab.  They managed to pull the trailer back onto compacted sand closer to the waterline before re-hitching it to the truck.

Then they headed further up the beach to a second track through the sand dunes.  This track is steeper but shorter.  A good approach enabled them to get over the dunes and back onto the road.

Meanwhile we headed to bed.

Sunday, 14 April 2019

Fishing - Part 2

Following on from yesterday I should have mentioned all the ‘Roo Poo’ covering the allocated camp site.  This should have set off warning bells, but instead I retrieved the long handled shovel from the trailer mounting bracket and cleared the site.

That evening half a dozen kangaroos arrived to find us on their dinner table.  I doubt they were pleased but settled for eating around us.  The following day they decided to graze beside the camp site kitchen block.

The dominant male (the big fella) kept an eye on me.  Perhaps he thought I was after one of his five wives.  You can see the size of the claws on his front legs that he wasn't to be trifled with.  Eventually he decided I wasn't a threat opting to pick at the fleas on his chest before deciding to scratch is <censored> fundamentals!

If you want to see what can happen when you arrive unannounced then you can look at the YouTube clip in the following link <here>

After breakfast (I cooked myself bacon and egg jaffles) we headed to the nearby 'Salmon Beach' in the 4x4's.  The road is sealed which meant reaching the beach was quite easy.  On the way we stopped at the lookout to get an idea of the beach layout.  More importantly, we were looking for gullies, gutters and rips along the foreshore.  Also signs of schools of salmon.  No one on the beach,  all the fish are ours!

The car park has a covered picnic table and long drop toilets.

Down on the beach we prepared to fish.  Ken put out his burley pot containing a large piece of frozen tuna.  It would gradually defrost and disintegrate in the waves attracting small fish to our area. 

After 30 minutes of continual casting I remembered the only fish I catch are those that commit suicide by throwing themselves onto my hook.  Ken caught a large salmon whilst Donny was pulling in herrings.  In desperation I eventually managed to foul hook a herring.  In disgust at my poor efforts I wandered further down the beach looking for stupid fish.  Then Graham (the non fisher) caught a second large salmon.

Photo courtesy of blog reader Ken

That's me in the distance :-(    I started to resign myself to the fact that all I was going to catch was a cold!  Actually I caught too much sun and ended the day with bright red feet. 

We packed up around 2pm and returned to the camp site where I abandoned thoughts of fresh fish for dinner and instead settled for sausages, potatoes and mixed veg washed down with an ice cream.  Hey, the camper trailer has both a fridge and freezer so why not!  I must have drunk too much during the day as I had to get up four times during the night to water the nearby fence post.  That was a smart move on my part because Donny elected to water the grass in front of Ken's 4x4 (twice).  It was only when we were packing up on the last day that Ken mentioned his 4x4 has a dashcam with a motion detector which automatically starts recording.  Hopefully Elaine (Ken's wife) doesn't get too much of a surprise! 

Marilyn it was certainly a monster of an outback caravan with all the essentials of a life on the road for a retired couple.  I would think there wouldn't be much change from $130,000. 

Ade, Bailey exported a number of caravans to Australia but then their local distributor went bust!

Saturday, 13 April 2019

The Fishing Week – Part 1

It was a simple plan, we would drive the 387km from Perth to Windy Harbour on the southwest corner of Australia and fish for Australian Salmon which hare making their annual migration from the Southern Ocean up the west coast. 

The latter part of the 4.5 hour drive was through State National Parks which are mostly former logging areas.  This south western corner of Australia is where valuable Karri hardwood was logged and milled before being exported to locations as diverse as London and India.   Karri is one of the tallest hardwoods in the world and was much sought after.  The forests were heavily exploited and as a result there is little Karri of any consequence left.  The millers went on to exploit the Jarrah which is also now in short supply.

There were four of us making the trip in two Isuzu MUX 4x4’s.  Ken was towing his caravan whilst I took our off road trailer on its trial trip.  Four hours into the journey we stopped at Northcliffe for supplies and fuel.  The price of diesel was quite a shock with it costing an extra 20 cents per litre.  The service station is also the general store, and it’s a general store in the true sense of the word selling everything from food to fishing gear and clothing to nuts and bolts.

General Store


I gained the impression the community was slowly dying.  The timber mills have closed and there is little alternative industry to retain the population.  A number of the old timber clad two bedroom saw millers cottages were for sale.  I thought they might be worth around $40K but after looking on line the asking price was $150K.  Somehow I doubt there will be many interested potential purchasers.

The was a small outdoor museum beside the former timber company offices

old timber company offices

 An old steam traction engine used to provide power to move logs

 Ooh a Lister engine

an all steel skidder used to drag logs out of the forest

The forest is left behind when you depart Northcliffe for Windy Harbour.  The prevailing wind is from the south (Antarctica) resulting in low vegetation resembling salt bush.  

It was on this road that I first noticed the profusion of wild orange petal flowers.

We stopped to investigate only to discover the flower didn't have petals in the conventional sense.

They are almost 'hairy'.  

Whilst local Aboriginals have been visiting Windy Harbour for thousands of years it wasn't until after WW2 that a semi permanent settlement was established.  European forestry workers started to build small holiday cottages here with designs based on their own forest huts.  Today there are virtually no permanent residents apart from the camping ground caretaker and his wife.

The community doesn't appear to be connected to the national electrical grid.  The caretaker has a small wind turbine and the communications towers are all powered by solar panels.  One assumes the holiday cottage owners either use solar, generators or rely on gas.

We found our booked campsites and started establishing a camp.  Ken has a european manufactured caravan.

It's very well appointed inside but you wouldn't consider taking it off the bitumen.  This next photo is of an Australian made outback caravan in the same camping ground.

You can immediately see the difference.

After a long drive we were all keen to establish camp.

Ken's caravan annex proved to be very useful when  sheltering from the wind

I erected the trailer 'batwing' awning for the first time.  It proved to be a 'three man' task so I will need to rethink my technique.  I'm not sleeping in the trailer but have instead opted to sleep in the stretcher tent which I placed under the awning for additional shelter.

All for now.... more tomorrow.