Thursday, 1 April 2021

English Treat

A 30km drive north to Merriwa this morning.  We went early as the temperature was forecast to be in the high 30’s.  These northern suburbs of Perth are known for having a relatively high number of UK immigrants and we were on a mission to find some traditional English food.  There is nothing special about the Merriwa community shops.


However we were looking for one special shop


The Yorkshireman’s Pie and Bakery

I acquired quite a taste for pork pies whilst we were living on Waiouru and they we quite easy to obtain.  Finding one in Perth isn’t nearly so easy!  Jan had obviously anticipated this because she bought a timber pork pie mould before we left the UK. 

The young lady behind the counter asked if I wanted a pie with or without jelly.  Why should I be restricted to only one pie? 


I’ve already eaten the pie without the jelly and to be honest it was slightly dry.  They are also smaller than the standard sized pies I remember buying in the UK. 

Wednesday, 31 March 2021

Fishing and the Shower

Well I haven’t updated the blog in almost a week.  Very remise of me.  However I have a reasonable excuse as I’ve been preparing all my fishing gear for a day out with Ken down south at White Hill Beach.  The big day was yesterday and we enthusiastically left for the beach in his 4WD (beach access is 4WD only).  The vehicle was unpacked and we started seriously fishing.

The waves were about a metre high and I was in beyond the waterline attempting a cast when I noticed one of those larger waves approaching.  Having complete the cast I promptly attempted to back up the beach as fast as I could only for one foot to step backwards into soft sand.  Loosing my footing I sat in the wet sand only for the wave to wash up me to chest height.  Ken was most concerned for my welfare laughing his head off at my predicament!  He seemed to have forgotten I’d be going home in HIS vehicle.  Or maybe I was walking home? 

Well we fished for a good three hours changing both bait and rig.  All without a bite!  Finally I decided to try out the small plastic lures I’d purchased.  They look like small fish.  Well I immediately started getting bites and caught two small snapper.  Too small to keep and I didn’t get the lures back as they had been swallowed.  We continued fishing getting bites and undersized fish which we returned.

I’d taken the 4K video camera but in all my excitement failed to take any video.

Eventually we called it a day returning to Ken’s house where he kindly did some welding to the brackets I’ve made for the shower tent.  You may recall I originally tried gluing the bolts to the  brackets and when that failed Ken offered to weld them.


I’ve given them a clean with a wire brush before a coat of paint.

The brackets have now been fitted to the underside of the camper tent base


Ken’s welding has worked and the bolt heads didn’t rotate when I tightened the nuts.

With the brackets now installed I need to think of a method of securing the shower tent to the supports.  The shower tent needs to be directly under the camper tent in the travelling position and extended clear of the trailer when in use.

I have a length of steel flat plate and Ken has kindly given me a similar length of box aluminium.


I’m thinking of fitting the steel plate to the mounting brackets and the box aluminium to the shower tent.  between the two there could be a 1200-2400mm lockable drawer slide.  The side would be closed at 1200mm when travelling and pulled out to 2400mm when a shower is desired.  I’ll sleep on the idea.

Meanwhile I’ve started making my second small case from scrap Jarrah timber. 


This time I opted for blue felt. The glue bottle states it’s material glue, but it looks very much like woodworking PVA glue….. only more expensive!  I had problems cutting the felt on the first prototype and the end result was the edges looked slightly frayed.  I need to find a sharper edge.  Perhaps I can remove a blade from a safety razor.  This time I’m using magnets for the catch, but have two small concealed barrel hinges to secure the lid to the base.

Thursday, 25 March 2021

Wiring problems and the shower

I had this rather brilliant idea on mounting the shower tent to the trailer.  Using the off-cuts from the flat steel I made four small rectangular pieces of steel and then drilled a hole through the middle of each one.  These pieces of steel are now the right width and thickness to fit into the aluminium profile railing that secures the tent to the trailer. 


I need to secure the heads of the bolts that will fit into the steel plates and I don’t have any welding equipment.  I’m going to try using Sikaflex.  The bolts go through the plates and then through the shower tent mounting brackets.


Hopefully the Sikaflex will stop the head of the bolt turning when I tighten the nut.  <two hours later>  That didn’t work.  Another solution is required!

Meanwhile I’ve been attempting to get the trailer indicator lights working.  However these is a problem and it’s all Ken’s fault <I can blame Ken because he isn’t here to contradict me Smile >  .  It has taken me an hour to realise the problem was there was a fault in the earth (ground) trailer wiring.  With that fixed I still had a problem with the upper left indicator.  Another wiring fault.


A loose spade connector connection

Unfortunately that still didn’t fix the problem and I had to delve further into the wiring loom to find yet another loose connection. 


Three separate breaks in the wiring, all caused by me pulling on the cable loom in an effort to make it reach the new light fitting location. 

I can’t actually test the lights as the vehicle is at the garage.  Instead I made the rooftop tent bed.

The first step was to lay out the shade cloth on the tent carpet floor.


This will (hopefully) act as a “breather” membrane between the bottom of the mattress and the floor of the tent box.   Then the mattress was fitted.  This wasn’t an easy task as it’s bigger than both the tent entrances and the floor of the tent box.  I tied it into a roll to get it into the tent and then packed it under the lips around the edges of the tent box.


The mattress is 75mm thick and firm.  That’s firm in capitals.  To take some of the firmness out of the mattress (I’m getting old) I’ve installed a 30mm foam topper.


Finally I’ve fitted my old US Army poncho liner purchased in the Hawaii PX back in 1984.


There’s also room for the sleeping bag and pillow with the tent in the closed (travelling) position.  I just need to test the indicator wiring and the trailer is good to go.


Monday, 22 March 2021

A Land of Drought, Fire and Flooding Rain

Australia is a land of contrast.  For several years much of eastern Australia has experienced prolonged drought.  Then came the bushfires destroying homes, farms and flora & fauna.   Next came COVID-19, followed by a plague of mice.


Millions of them are everywhere, in homes, cars, businesses, eating everything and leaving the stench of their droppings

Now the same area is experiencing flooding, with the locals hoping the rodents will be drowned.  However the flooding rains bring their own problems…… Including spiders!


All the brown in the above photo is a carpet of spiders attempting to flee the rising waters.

Over here in the west the temperature has dropped from 38C to a cooler 28C.  No mice, spiders or flooding.  I even managed more work on the camper trailer this morning.

Saturday, 20 March 2021

Small lunch and hot days

Yesterday it was 38°C and today is the same.  We haven’t had lunch out for some time and decided to have a chinese meal at the Joondalup Food Hall.  Jan always packs our own chopsticks and a thermos of cold water.  The drinks at the food hall outlets are quite expensive!  The chinese food outlet has an option of rice or noodles plus a choice of four other dishes.  After the meal we both commented that the meal appeared to be smaller than was previously the case.  I wonder if the COVID-19 social distancing restrictions are the cause.  Many food outlets were closed for several weeks and their income would have been adversely affected.  Perhaps they are attempting to recover losses by reducing the portion sizes?

In the afternoon I donned my Wickes onesee and disappeared into the man cave to make some trailer indicator light brackets from a couple of pieces of scrap steel.  It needed to be bent and I used my cartridge torch to heat the steel.  The torch won’t put out enough heat to get the steel red hot, but it was sufficient to bend the steel.  After cutting the brackets to size and drilling the mounting holes I gave it a coat of galvanised paint followed by two top coats of gloss black.


Finished product.

By now I’d realised only mad dogs and english men go out in the midday sun and I was a ball of sweat!  Time to head inside where Jan had the air conditioners running….. using our free solar generated electricity.  I hate to think what our electricity bill would be if we didn’t have the solar array on the roof!

This morning I was back working on the trailer before it reached the forecast 38°C.  One light was fitted on the new bracket and the other bracket was installed.


The wires on the second indicator are too short to mount it on the bracket.  I’ll have to extend them.  However the heat got to me and it will have to wait for another day.

Oh, it’s Saturday.  Swen the good looking and well built Nordic pool cleaner will be here to give the pool its weekly clean.   I case you hadn’t realised it, I’m Swen.  When it comes to the pool there is a fair distribution of work.  Jan swims in it and I do the cleaning along with Jacques Cousteau.  Jacques gets to cool task of cleaning the bottom whilst I stabd in the heat and clean the filters before testing the water chemical levels.  Sometimes I help Jacques by using the brush on the sides, whilst on other occasions I informed him he’s done an unsatisfactory job and make him spend another two hours of cleaning.  I suspect he does this deliberately in order to have more time swimming in the pool.  Of course when I drag him out I have to them clean his filter and put him to bed.


Wednesday, 17 March 2021

The Saw and the Tent

When the refurbished miter saw didn’t run I suspected defective brushes and ordered replacements via eBay.  They arrived this morning and it was a five minute job to fit them before testing the saw.  Everything worked correctly and Jan has now advertised the saw for sale. 


It’s cost me about $30 to get it to the above condition.

Last night I thought long and hard about the installation of the rooftop tent on the camper trailer.  Fitting it to the existing roof rack was the easy options.  You can just see the flat black roof rack between the base of the tent and the trailer in the photo below.


Removing the roof rack would lower the overall height of the combined tent and trailer but it would also entail a more complex installation operation.  Moreover the upper indicator lights would need to be relocated along with the shovel mounting brackets. 

The conclusion was that the height was the critical factor.  I need the trailer to be able to fit under both garage doors and when Ken arrived this morning I informed him I wanted to undertake the more complex option.  I’m grateful that he went along with the decision as the tent would now need to be lifted off and on the roof.  This was going to be a heavy task for a couple of “oldies”.

The situation wasn’t helped by the temperature.  This was the first day of a forecast heat wave.  We drank a lot of water during the operation.

After five hours the tent installation was completed.


Ken poses!

Ken then suggested we connect the 4x4 and check the trailer will fit through the garage door opening.  I drove whilst he checked height clearance.  The result was 35mm of clearance.  A success!

Remaining task to be completed

  1. Relocate the high level indicator lights.  This will involve making some new brackets.
  2. Fit the batwing awning on the port side
  3. Fit the shovel bracket somewhere.  This will involve repairing the original holes.
  4. Fit the shower en-suite tent.  Probably across the front of the trailer box.

Sunday, 14 March 2021

Trial Fit

If I’m to lift the new rooftop tent onto the trailer roof rack then I need to make it as light as possible.  Opening the tent whilst it was supported by the sawhorses enabled me to remove the collapsible ladder and large mattress.


I’ve decided to buy a piece of shade cloth which will go between the bottom of the mattress and the carpeted floor.  The intention is this will minimise moisture build-up by allowing air to circulate.  The gas struts make it quite easy for one adult to open and close the tent.

At midday my sister and brother-in-law visited.  He immediately offered to assist lifting the tent onto the trailer using the method I’d decided on.  It all went well and the tent is now in place, although not secured!


I then had a discussion with Ken (friend and reader) who suggested we dispose of the roof rack and mount the tent directly to the trailer.  I didn’t think this would be feasible as the rack is mounted on six small plinths which can’t be removed.


A – Plinths

Then I realised the mounting bars on the underside of the tent floor were the same height as the plinths.  So the rack could be removed and I’d reduce the overall height by approximately 30mm.  However this created a few more problems.  The tail lights (B) are higher than the plinths and would need to be repositioned.  Perhaps I could reposition them to the underside of the trailer floor (C).  Whilst that is feasible it would then require repairs to the original bolt holes.  Another negative is the floor of the tent would be below head height and as the 270deg awning fits to the side of the tent box I’d need to constantly crouch or stoop when the awning was erected.  Conversely, the lowering of the tent height reduces the trailer centre of gravity and wind drag when towing.  Much to think about!

Brian the style of tent in your link is quite prevalent here.  They are cheaper than the aluminium clam shell style above but are harder to pack away and also higher.  Moreover I don’t like the idea of folding away wet canvas onto my bedding if it rained overnight.

Thursday, 11 March 2021

Burnt Finger and a New Method

Whilst visiting my brother earlier this week he gave me a failed battery pack.  This type of event isn’t unusual as we’ve always given each other junk.  After examining the pack, I identified it as being a Lithium battery pack from some type of Dyson appliance.   Quite often it’s only one or two cells that have failed in a Lithium battery pack and the others can still be used.  I started dismantling the pack suffering a battery burn to my index finger in the process.


This isn’t a cut.  The power from a single Lithium cell was able to break my skin.  I smelt burning flesh before I realised what had happened.

With all the cells removed I started testing them using my battery conditioner/tester/charger powered by an old computer power supply.


Why am I doing this?  You have to go back to 1980 when we were living in Singapore with three young children.  I was determined they would be treated equally and when we decided to buy toys they each get the same.  For some strange reason our daughter wasn’t interested in this particular toy and wanted Barbie Dolls instead.


Long ago the two boys destroyed they aluminium die cast remote control trucks, however the third truck has been kept in its original box and packaging for 40 years.


It’s probably worth a few bob?

The truck is powered by six D sized batteries and if my memory is accurate the vehicle would consume them quite quickly.


You will have realised my plan is to make a rechargeable Lithium battery to power the truck.

Change of subject

I’ve been rethinking how to fit the rooftop tent to the camper trailer.  The process needs to be simplified and some of the heavy manual labour removed.  My new method only requires the tent to be placed once on the trailer.  Moreover, instead of having to lift the tent above my head I’ve decided on a cantilever method and have made two temporary props.


The idea is the tent will be laid across the props  and then the lower ends raised into the air allowing the tent to be pushed onto the roof rack.  It remains to be seen if this method works.

Tuesday, 9 March 2021

Rooftop Tent Pt2

Yesterday evening Jan asked “Are we watching Harry & Meghan or MacDonald and Dodds tonight?”   To which I replied “I’m not interested in Jasper Carrott and Pelican Legs!”  Of course you can’t get away from this tittle tattle and this morning I had to listen to the TV news reader describe how disappointed Jasper was that after his resignation his former employer failed to continue paying him a salary plus benefits beyond six months.  Apparently the couple also stated they were “drawing a line” under the matter and we’d hear no more from them on the subject.  I believe that as much as I believe in the tooth fairy! 

Back to something in the real world.  This morning I borrowed my brother’s trailer and collected the hard shell folding camper tent from the supplier who used a forklift to load it onto the trailer.  I wanted it with the front of the tent facing the back of the 4WD. that way it would be facing in the correct alignment to fin onto the camper trailer roof rack.  It’s far to large and heavy for me to lift on my own.


I stripped all the cardboard and plastic packaging before laying out four saw horses.  then I dragged the tent off the trailer whilst Jan threaded two length os of 4x2 across the saw horses and under the tent.


With access to the interior of the tent now available I removed the ladder, fixing equipment and mattress in an effort to lighten the shell.  It’s still too heavy for me to light on my own. 

The next step is to rotate the tent horizontally by 180deg and then lift it onto the camper trailer roof rack where I can mark out the holes required to secure it.  With that achieved it has to be removed from the trailer and placed back on the saw horses upside down.  I’ll then remove the roof rack off the trailer and secure it to the underside of the tent.  The last installation step id to turn the tent back over and place it back on top of the camper trailer before securing the roof rack to the trailer.

The good piece of news is the tent specifications state a closed height of 295mm and I’ve measured it at 290mm.  This should (I hope) give me 10mm of clearance when passing through the two garage doors.

Sunday, 7 March 2021

Rooftop Tent

For some time I’ve been thinking about a rooftop tent for the camper trailer.  I’ve no plan to permanently live in the tent which means it needs to be functional but relatively inexpensive.  I also want a ‘hard shell’ version.  The reason for this is I don’t want to fold down a wet canvas tent after it has been raining.  Moreover I want a tent that can be opened and closed by one person.  A ‘top of the line’ rooftop tent can cost $5000+ which is far too expensive for me.

This morning Jan was browsing online and mentioned she had see a hard shell rooftop tent at a special discounted price from the 4WD Supacentre retail chain.  The tent is obviously made in China but that didn’t preclude me considering it as an option.  One advantage was the price, which was considerably cheaper than similar products from Australian or South African manufacturers.

Some quick online research suggested the first version of the tent had design defects. However these appear to have been rectified with the Mark II version.

One potential issue is overall height of the camper trailer and tent.  The clearance through the garage is 2000mm.  The trailer is 1700mm and the tent specifications state it is 295mm high when closed.  This would only give 5mm of clearance between the top of the tent and the garage lintel.  I suspect the tent height specification does not include the mounting rails which appear to be 25mm high.  Effectively the combined trailer and tent will be 20mm to high.  However the trailer suspension should compress slightly with the weight of the tent.  I can let some air out of the trailer tyres to further reduce the overall height.  If that doesn’t work then I can probably make a set of smaller jockey wheels to replace the standard rims and tyres when moving the trailer through the garage.


Photos from the 4WD Supacentre website

I’m going to visit the local store and examine the tent


Friday, 5 March 2021


The 10mm knitting needles arrived in the post and I immediately took one out to the workshop and cut an end off.


Great… it’s both hollow and made of metal rather than the expected plastic.


What is not so great is the internal diameter of the needle is smaller than the rope.  I’ve overcome that by removing some of the rope threads at the end to create a cone.  This was then taped together with electrical insulation tape.


I now had a DIY Fid.  Unfortunately I couldn’t get the Fid down the core of the orange rope.  My suspicion is I’ve made too many previous attempts on this piece of rope and the inside is “hairy” which is snagging the inserted cord.

However my luck changed as the courier arrived with the 30 metres of blue Dyneema tow rope I’d ordered online. 


The crazy part of this is it was cheaper to buy the complete tow rope than Dyneema rope by the metre.  Way cheaper!!!


.My knitting needle Fid and 16 gauge wire “pusher”. 

It took some juggling around but I managed to get the Fid and rope through the centre of the Dyneema.


No doubt you can see my error in the above photo!  I’ve managed to get the measurement wrong and there isn’t enough rope on the end of the Fid to tie a diamond knot.


Got the tails the same length on my second attempt but they were very short making tying the diamond knot rather difficult.


Second soft shackle with longer tails and some black protective sleeving I’ve recycled from the original tow rope.


The finished product with lighter to provide a perspective of size.

Next I wanted to make a ‘Bridle Strap’.  A You Tube video explained how to make a simple “Longbury’ eye splice in Dyneema.  However this splice isn’t as strong as the more complicated ‘Mobius Brummel Locking Splice’.  I decided strength was important and opted to create my ‘eyes’ in the ends of the Bridle Strap using this latter method.


My Bridle Strap connects to the recovery points on the 4x4 with two soft shackles.  Using the bridle strap means any load is being shared across the recovery points.  Less strain on the recovery points and hopefully minimising the risk of twisting the chassis.

At the end of the day all the Dyneema has been used and I have 11 soft shackles and two bridle straps.  Plus one blister!


I might now have a further attempt at creating soft shackles from the orange rope.

My thanks to readers who sent suggestions on how I might achieve all of this.