Tuesday, 27 February 2018

Work to Rule!

The laptop has decided to work to rule, which I’m finding quite frustrating.  Approximately every 4-5 minutes it shuts down leaving me with partially completed work.  None of the diagnostic tests have revealed the source of the problem.  I did wonder how many people who have this type of problem either purchase a new pc or take it to the repair shop where they start to prepare you for the financial shock in attempting a repair.  I’ve decided to stick to the “look for the simple things first” rule and removed the back.


In this state it ran for two hours without a problem.  My assumption is the problem is overheating with some type of thermal ‘trip’ turning the machine off before it damages the cpu.  I’m going to need to remove the fan which is the large grey circle in the bottom right of the photo.  I’ll also need to purchase a small aerosol can of compressed air to blow out all the accumulated dust.  Before you leave a comment….. I have checked the fan and it does work!  My guess is the fan assembly is choked with dust and restricting airflow across the cpu.

The offcuts of plywood from the 4x4 cabinet project were just begging to be used so today I made a small box which will be used to store the  4x4 cleaning items.


I partitioned it to allow washing items on one side and polishing the other.  There was an old can of white timber primer in the garage which was useful.  More hunting around revealed another can with a small amount of white gloss topcoat.


The box was carefully made the correct height for standing on to wash and polish the roof of the vehicle.  OK the truth.  The height of the box was dictated by the amount of spare plywood!

Sunday, 25 February 2018

Another project completed

Jan and I fitted the drawer and fridge slides into the Isuzu this afternoon.  One minor piece of the project to complete.  I need to connect the 12V power supply to the fridge…… But that requires an Anderson Plug, which has yet to be delivered.


Time to get serious about the repairs and refurbishment of Jan’s sewing cabinet.

Meanwhile our Sunday afternoon have been taken up visiting open homes.  We’ve decided purchasing an existing home might be a better option than building.  Primarily because the blocks of land in new sub-divisions are so small.  I want room for a workshop, Jan wants a swimming pool and we also need room for the fruit trees.

Friday, 23 February 2018

Carpet Laying and the Camper Trailer

The application of the carpet to the cabinets is almost complete.  One final piece of gluing and cutting to shape will finish it. 


I made a mistake erred in my judgement when I ran out of carpet adhesive and tried using PVA wood glue as a substitute.  The PVA seeped through the carpet and left a white stain <damn!>.  I was then  forced to purchase another litre of carpet glue.  The front of the drawer is also complete awaiting the glue to set in the grab slot.


With a little luck it will be fitted into the 4x4 tomorrow.

The requirements for the outback camper trailer are firming up.  There are many large campers on the market.  However I’m not looking for something a family might take to the beach and stay a fortnight.  I want something small and rugged which is 95% dust proof.  Thus far I’ve identified two potential trailers.  Both are manufactured in China and assembled in Australia.  The first is the PMX Jardine SE.


It has independent suspension, an 80 litre water tank, tailgate kitchen.  Storage is accessed either through the tailgate or by lifting the top.

The second trailer is the Stoney Creek Nugget.


This has three side lockers each side with  a rear fridge slide.  It also has independent suspension and a 100 litre water tank.  The Nugget also comes with two leisure batteries and a BMS. 


Lifting the top on the Jardine to gain access to the interior is an issue.  Also, the Engel fridge won’t fit in the Jardine.  However it’s almost half the price of the Nugget.

The Nugget is expensive and there is nowhere to store long items such as folding chairs and a table. 

I’m leaning towards the Jardine

Wednesday, 21 February 2018

Teaching myself another skill

I’ve decided to teach myself how to lay carpet.  Of course I don’t want something simple like a floor as my first project.  I’m going to cover the 4x4 cabinets with the two slides.  Obviously this requires some carpet and off I went to the Bunnings Hardware to purchase 4.5 metres of boat carpet.  They didn’t have any in stock!  This meant driving further only to find that outlet didn’t have any either.  Nor did the 3rd store!  Finally I got lucky at the 4th Bunnings where I parted company with more of our hard earned readies. 

Once back home I did some planning (unusual for me) on the technique I would adopt before carefully placing the carpet on the cabinets holding it in place with clamps.


Once I was satisfied with the position of the carpet I commenced gluing it one panel at a time allowing the glue to go off between panels.


I now have the top and both side panels covered with carpet.  The back will be completed later today, provided I have sufficient glue.  Then all the fiddly parts have to be done.  I’ve already decided carpet laying isn’t going to be one of my strengths!

Monday, 19 February 2018

No carpet

We visited two hardware stores today and were disappointed when both were out of stock of the carpet I wanted for the 4x4 cabinets I’ve been making.  Fortunately the staff at the second store were able to advise us the location of a store with plenty of cheap black marine grade carpet.  That will be a task for tomorrow.

Some progress has been made with the second carcass being assembled.


Some timber needed to be removed from one side and baseplate as part of the strategy to reduce weight and improve ventilation for the fridge.


I tend to ‘over engineer’ everything and the drawer was no exception.  It’s large and might hold quite a bit of weight which meant extensive gluing and screwing.


All the exposed timber surfaces were either painted black or given a coat of Maple varnish before the final assembly took place.


Covering the exterior with the carpet will be the final task before it’s installed in the back of the vehicle.

I need to make two small metal brackets which will be the anchor points for the fridge rear securing straps.

I also did some thinking about the fridge power cable.  It needs to be kept up high otherwise it might foul the metal drawer slide.  It also seemed a good idea to connect both the 12V DC and 240V AC cables to the fridge.  This means we can probably plug the fridge into the house 240V when the vehicle is in the garage.  So I connected both plugs and then carefully cable tied the cords to the rear of the fridge.


Hopefully I can make a start on the carpet tomorrow!

Friday, 16 February 2018

Another scorcher of a day!

It's been so hot today we've spent almost all of it inside with the air-con on full. Some of my time was spent on computer data maintenance. My sister's old pc has now become our data backup machine. I'm using the Linux operating system and control it remotely using VNC.  One other thing I’ve noticed with the main pc is the volume of junk mail which has increased significantly.  Most of it is from India.

Much of my day has been spent reading history. Whilst I suspect most people know the dastardly Europeans took horrible diseases to the Americas. The local inhabitants had no immunity to smallpox measles, etc, etc and these killed tens of thousands. However I wonder how many people know the ingenious population gave the Europeans something equally as nasty. I'm referring to syphilis, for which the locals had a level of natural immunity, whereas the Europeans had none. Returning sailors rapidly spread the disease throughout the western world and eventually on to Asia.  Winston Churchill’s father, Lord Randolph Henry Spencer Churchill, allegedly died of syphilis aged 45.  The fatal stage 4 syphilis usually occurs some 15-25 years after initial infection. Which would probably make Winston a very luck child to not be infected upon conception. 

Well it got exciting in the late afternoon with fire bombing helicopters passing backwards and forwards over our house.  They were loading water from the lakes just south of us and then racing back north to spray it on a large bushfire.  I walked outside to see a large dark cloud of smoke about 2km from us. Meanwhile, further north the largest cyclone of the season is starting to form with a forecast rainfall of 600mm.

And now another change in topic.  I feel such an idiot!   Readers you may recall I fitted a dash camera to the 4x4.  Today I removed the dashcam (it just unclips) and connected it to the laptop so I could view the captured video.  The images are very blue.  Of course this is a hot and sunny country with a blue sky, however I thought I might be able to do something to filter out much of the blue in the image.  A search on eBay identified numerous sources for CPL filters that fit the camera and I was about to click the purchase button when I thought “Does this filter actually remove the blue tint in the video?”  So I Googled ‘VIOFO dashcam blue filter’ and immediately got a hit from someone who had already asked the question.  The answer they received was “Have you removed the thin piece of blue protective shipping plastic over the lens?”   OOPS…. Sure enough, there was a blue plastic film over the lens designed to protect it during assembly and shipping. <phew> Saved some money there!

Ade I have a confession.  Both our sons are Apple devotees.  I have racked my mind, but haven’t been able to establish what caused this affliction.  My only association with Apple is I usually eat one daily.  I suppose all families have their dirty little secrets!

Thursday, 15 February 2018

The Tablet is Working

My guess that the LiPo (Lithium Polymer) battery in the Samsung Tablet was defective proved to be correct.  A courier arrived at 8am with the $30 replacement battery and I was pleasantly surprised to discover the retailer had included a couple of plastic tools and a miniature screwdriver with the replacement battery.
Replacement battery and tools
The first task was to check the replacement battery was genuine.  I carefully compared the markings on both batteries to ensure they were the same (they were).
Of course this isn’t a 100% accurate way of ensuring you have a genuine battery as the fake batteries can look the same.
The removal and replacement turned out to be quite easy…….. if you happen to have two young eyes and a steady hand. Sad smile  With only one old eye, poor lighting and shaky hands it took me twice as long. 
The first step was to remove the ribbon cables (left and right RED arrows in the photo below).  This is achieved by peeling off the sticky tape over the top of the connection and then prying up the grey bar with the supplied plastic tool.  The ribbon cables then pull free. 
Next remove the four very small retaining screws with the supplied screwdriver (PURPLE arrows).  Don’t drop them because they are tiny!
Carefully pry the battery out from the side opposite the battery terminal connection. Remove the piece of sticky tape over the battery connection.  Lift the battery out holding it at 45 degrees to the battery terminal and then apply upward pressure.  The white terminal plug should pop off the pins.
{The photo below is very large}
tablet1 Follow the above steps in reverse order to install the replacement battery.  I suggest you check the tablet will start before inserting the screws as I discovered one of the ribbon cables when I did this. 
Once I was satisfied the battery and tablet were OK I screwed the battery in place and clipped the back panel back on.   Job done!
Now if you have an iPad and the battery dies……. Throw it in the bin and buy a Samsung! Smile

Wednesday, 14 February 2018

A Quitter

Yes, I’m a quitter!  The temperature was over 30C today and tomorrow will be even higher.  After four hours under the steel shelter roof I lost the enthusiasm to continue with the 4x4 cabinet project.

The two pair of drawer slides were delivered by a courier yesterday which allowed me to make a start on the fridge cabinet.  The drawer slides are lockable in both the open and closed positions.  My plan is to cover the exposed parts of the cabinets with black marine grade carpet and today I sprayed the interior of the cabinet with black paint. It’s not going to be covered in carpet, but I didn’t want any bare plywood showing.


Before painting

Obviously a fridge removes heat from the contents which means hot air being expelled by the fridge.  Therefore I need to think about ventilation.  I need access for a cold airflow at the bottom of the cabinet and room for rising hot air to escape at the top.  I’ve cut a couple of large opening in the base of cabinet to allow cold air to enter the bottom of the cabinet.  I then drilled three rows of holes in the plywood base of the drawer slide beneath the fridge compressor compartment.  At this stage I’m not going to drill holes in the top of the cabinet because I want it as a solid parcel shelf.  Instead I decided to cut large rectangular holes in the side of the cabinet.  This side will butt up against the adjacent drawer cabinet.  I’ll cut corresponding holes in the drawer cabinet which will (hopefully) allow the fridge hot air to escape into the drawer cabinet.  If that doesn’t work I might install a 12V computer fan on the side of the fridge cabinet.


Interior painted black.  You might just be able to see the three rows of holes in the fridge slide floor. 


Fridge test fit


The slide appears to be OK.  There is a small compartment between the rear of the fridge and the back of the cabinet which I’m thinking of using as a storage compartment for some of the 4x4 emergency equipment (towrope, cargo net, jumper leads, hazard light, etc)

We ran out of beer a fortnight ago forcing me to drink the horrible tasting ‘stuff’ that comes out of the kitchen tap. Sad smile

Monday, 12 February 2018

An unusual link

Long term blog readers may recall me writing about the Round House at Festival Park, Stoke Upon Trent.  I’d stumbled upon it when walking the towpath catching a glimpse through the trees which conceal it on the two sides adjacent to public footpaths.  Obtaining a good view proved quite difficult as there is now a ramp between the towpath and the busy A53 (Etruria Road).  Eventually I was able to access the site on a weekend via the Bet365 car park which just happened to be under construction.

round house

The Round House

This is one of two round houses which were located at either end of Josiah Wedgwood’s original pottery factory.  The remainder of the factory has long gone.  More information can be found in this link <Round House>

Google Maps doesn’t show the building


However it can be seen in Google Earth


This is the only remaining part of Wedgwood’s original factory and I assume hundreds of boaters pass each year without realising it’s there.  But that’s not why I mention the Round House.  I’d actually been reading about Charles Darwin and discovered he was related to the Wedgwood’s.  Charles married one of his cousins, Emma Wedgwood, the daughter of Josiah Wedgwood II.  Interestingly back in the late 18th century it wasn’t uncommon for cousins to marry.  Charles married Emma and one of Emma’s brother’s married one of Charles’ sisters.  This situation repeats itself through the generations.

Another interesting fact was the control parents had over their adult children.  Although aged 22, Charles Darwin felt obligated to ask his father for permission to accept the invitation to travel with the Beagle on its voyage of discovery.  His father refused; however Josiah Wedgwood (Emma’s father and the brother-in-law of Charles’ father) convinced Charles’ father to give consent. 

Charles proposed to Emma when they were both 30.  She was initially reluctant to accept because his views on evolution conflicted with her own religious beliefs.  They went on to have 10 children, seven of which survived.  Quite a low child mortality rate for the day.

Sunday, 11 February 2018

More progress with the 4x4 modifications

The 12V power connection for the fridge has been installed.  From what I’d viewed online most owners of the Isuzu MU-X install their additional 12V sockets in the small recess located on the left of the tailgate (Arrow ‘A’ below)


This left me wondering how they gained access to the reverse side of this panel.  Eventually I realised access could be obtained by removing the plastic trim cap on the armrest (Arrow B).  However by now I was having second thoughts about drilling holes in the plastic trim.  Then I had a revelation.   The fridge and drawers will be on a false floor and I could install the plug and wiring under this floor.  So I decided to install the Anderson Plug on the left below floor level (Arrow C).

The 12V cable would be clipped to the side of the timber bearer and down through the floor of the vehicle.  I’d already decided NOT to use the 12V cigarette style socket installed by the manufacturer (above Arrow A in the photo) as I was concerned it might be possible for the fridge to accidentally flatten the vehicle starter battery (don’t ask how I know this can happen!).  The 12V supply for the fridge will come from the secondary side of the Voltage Sensitive Relay in the engine compartment which will prevent the fridge from discharging the starter battery.  Actually I decided to connect the fridge cable to the trailer main supply cable.

I needed to drill a suitably sized hole in the floor of the vehicle using the ‘Step Drill Bit’ (thank you Aldi UK).  The hole was then masked and sprayed with primer before clipping the cable to the timber.  I’ve also fitted a rubber grommet to ensure there is a waterproof seal.



It was then a case of getting onto my back and wriggling under the rear of the vehicle to make the soldered connections to the main trailer feed cable. 

The project has come to a temporary halt whilst waiting for the drawer slides to be delivered.

Friday, 9 February 2018


The brother-in-law has made it clear he is no longer willing to come around and mower our lawns.  It’s a rather despicable act forcing a retired old man (ie me!) into performing manual labour.  My one piece of revenge is to use a rotary mower.  He’s a lawn fanatic and uses a reel mower with integral roller.  He also uses a strimmer (line trimmer) and edge trimmer.

It was with a heavy heart that today I took my ‘flexible friend’ to Bunnings where my ‘friend’ went on a crash diet.  We are now the owners of a Ryobi 4-stroke rotary mower and a Makita 4-stroke line trimmer.


I prefer a 4-stroke engine over 2-stroke and selected these two after considerable research.  I’ll make a start on my “veg pledge” tomorrow.  Meanwhile my flexible friend is sulking in the bedroom and refuses to have anything further to do with me!

Wednesday, 7 February 2018

Moses didn’t have this problem

The fridge and drawer slide project for the rear of the 4x4 has been making steady progress.  All the pieces have been cut out but they won’t be assembled until the slides are delivered sometime in the next week.  A test fit has been undertaken to ensure the base of each cabinet is stable.


The right side doesn’t extend to the vertical wall of the vehicle because access is needed for the jack which is stowed inside the wall.  I’ll have to think of another use for this area.

Meanwhile I’ve experienced a problem Moses didn’t have.  None of his tablets malfunctioned but my Samsung Galaxy S 10.5 inch tablet died during the night.  I’d left it on charge and in the morning it wouldn’t turn on.  A couple of tests confirmed the problem wasn’t the charger or lead so I removed the back to check the connections to the battery.


I did this by slipping a thumbnail between the chrome edge and the plastic back and then used a credit card to carefully “pop” the clips around the perimeter.  Two ribbon cables cross over the battery with the battery connection in the middle.  After checking the terminal connections I came to the conclusion the lithium battery has died.  This should have been anticipated as the recharging has been sporadic.

today I bought a replacement battery on Ebay for $29.99 which should arrive by 12 Feb.  It appears replacing a Samsung tablet battery is a reasonably easy task.  Those Apple iPads’ <yuk> are a completely different story.  The iPad has to almost be totally dismantled to get at the battery.  One suspects Apple isn’t interested in extending the life of their product and would rather the owner purchased a new one.

Tuesday, 6 February 2018

Spice to Canals

This is going to be a canal post but I'm going to approach the subject indirectly. Actually this subject started with me reading about spices after Jan had produced an interesting dinner dish. Of course the rarest of spices came from the spice islands, which are now known as the Moluccas and part of Indonesia.

The Spice Islands were almost the exclusive source of nutmeg, cloves and mace. For centuries these spices had slowly made their way to Europe by land and sea passing through Persia and on to the Roman Empire. The European end of the trade came to be dominated by the Venetians' and each time the spices changed hands the price rose. Moreover the Moluccas formed part of the greater Islamic world and the Christian West was frequently at war with Islam making spices rare with a corresponding increase in price.

In 1497 the Portuguese explored Vasco da Gama set off to find an alternate sea route to the spices in the east. The plan was obviously to cut out the middle-men and make a fortune. First da Gama had to follow the winds going south west across the Atlantic to Brazil before he could head east and around the Cape of Good Hope. Until now most voyages had been shorter and often followed the coastline. One unforseen consequence of the long voyage was the crew contracting scurvy. Apparently da Gama was a determined, brutal and ruthless leader. He decided scurvy could be cured and prevented by rinsing one's mouth out with stale urine. Naturally this was unpopular with the crew! da Gama had crew members flogged or worse if they objected. The treatment had no effect upon the scurvy, but I would imagine a huge impact upon morale!

Vasco da Gama did reach India and gained access to spices such as pepper and cinnamon. The Portuguese when on to create a settlement at Malacca on the Malay Peninsula and established trading lines with the Spice Islands. However they only held onto their monopoly for a few decades before the Dutch supplanted them in the east indies and the British in India.

By 1619 the Dutch East India Company had a well established settlement at Batavia (modern Jakata).

Meanwhile the British had established their own East India Company with the intention of establishing trade with the East Indies. What actually happened was their domination of trade with India and China. Neither of which are particularly close to the Spice Islands. However in 1616 the East India Company did manage to gain control of one tiny island in the Archipelago. The Island of Run, less than 2 miles long and half a mile wide. By 1620 the Dutch had kicked out the British, although the latter never gave up their claim. In retaliation for the Dutch action the British sent four frigates across the Atlantic and seized the small Dutch settlement of New Amsterdam. Initially both companies refused to give up their claims however they eventually agreed to exchange settlement. The Dutch got Run and the British New Amsterdam. Which is why one morning the burghers of New Amsterdam awoke to discover they were now living in New York.

With a mere 2000 occupants New York wasn't much of a settlement and was overshadowed by the likes of Boston or Philadelphia. Things didn't get much better for New York when the majority of the citizens in the colony remained loyal to the Crown during the War of Independence. New York was a bit of a backwater!

However New York did have one significant feature. Running down the east coast of America from Canada in the north to Alabama in the south are the Appalachian Mountains, some 2400km in length. Today they don't form much of a barrier, but in the 16th and 17th centuries they were a formidable obstacle to trade. Goods were either transported across the mountains on pack animals or shipped around by sea. But in New York there was a gap in the mountains!

Throughout the latter part of the 16th century There was talk in New York of building a canal through the Appalachian's. However the State's reputation within the new nation was so low that there was little enthusiasm to support such a venture.

It wasn't until 1817 when a new State Governor, DeWitt Clinton, was elected that any real progress was made. At that time New York had no qualified civil engineers and no one with experience in building a canal. The route was surveyed by two judges, one of whom had only two hours prior experience with rudimentary survey instruments. No one in the Erie Canal Company had any practical experience of building a canal but they; like canal builders in Europe; quickly realised retaining the water inside the canal was an issue. Canvass White, a young and new employee of the canal company offer to travel to England at his own expense and learn all he could about canal construction. For almost a year Canvass White walked the length and breadth of England studying canals along the way he discovered the virtues of 'Roman Cement' which had excellent waterproof properties. Interestingly British canal builders used puddling clay to waterproof their canals.

Armed with his new knowledge Canvass White returned to New York to play an important part in the construction of the Erie Canal which was completed in 1825. The canal was an immediate commercial success and became one of the dominate factors in turning New York into a major commercial hub.

Railroads started to be built within 10 years of the canal's opening, however the low cost of moving freight by water meant the canal was still carrying 13 times more tonnage than the railways in the 1850's.

From spice to canals.

Friday, 2 February 2018

One completed and a start on the next

A visit to Bunnings this morning for a small aerosol can of metal primer paint so I could paint the bracket I’ve made for the secondary fuel filter.  A coat of primer before lunch and a top coat mid afternoon allowed me to install it later in the day.


The holes lined up and I’m very pleased to report this additional bracket has stopped the original mounting from vibrating.


The 3rd row of seats in the 4x4 were removed whilst the paint was drying.  This has dropped the floor level in the back providing more storage capacity.  I used the original seat mount points and bolts to fit some hardwood packing blocks before installing some lateral hardwood planks.


The tops of the planks are level however I need to raise the new plywood floor panel by 14mm to make it level with the lip of the rear door.

I’m going to make a fridge slide on the left side and a sliding drawer on the right.  There will be a full width shelf above.  The cabinets will be made

from 12mm plywood covered in marine carpet to match the existing d├ęcor.

Do you recognise the 12V fridge/freezer that I’m going to use?


It’s the one we had on Waiouru!