Thursday 23 May 2024

Wept like a baby!

I teared up and wept like a baby.  Why did I get so emotional?  It all started when I walked into the kitchen and found Jan playing with her new toy.  She was standing at the bench peeling onions to go through her new dicing machine.  The diced onions would go into plastic bags and be frozen.

Of course I offered to take over (big mistake) and within a few minutes was blubbering.  That’s when Jan appeared with a second bag of onions!

It wasn’t all tears.  As a reward for my sacrifice Jan baked a loaf of bread she had infused with rosemary from her garden.


Today saw the completion of the skirting board installation project.  Once the paint is dry Jan will mop the floors to remove the residual dust from my sanding.


As one door shuts somewhere another opens.  It’s the same with projects!   A delivery from the hardware store this morning.  Jan had previously asked if it would be possible to have a splashback on the wall in her pantry.  Above the bench and below the shelves.


We could pay to have it done but as I fitted the splashbacks in the galley on Waiouru I decided to take on this project.

Apparently times have moved on and it’s possible to have a splashback with a scene.  Jan has chosen a winter forest scene.



Some cutting will be required.  The splashback is too long and too high.  Moreover two cut-outs are required for the power points.  Should be an interesting project.

Another completed project was the installation of the Lekkie ‘One-Nut on the bike.  I’ve been hoping the creaking sound from the bike was something simple like loose pedal cranks or the nut securing the Bafang motor to the bike would be loose.  I had previously tightened the cranks and today decided to do something about the Bafang securing nut.  I’ve never been comfortable with it.  Moreover, when I had the hydraulic brake lines replaced during my cycling trip in Taiwan the mechanics loosened the nut.  They didn’t have the required special spanner and I thought it might not have been fully tightened.

bafang nut

I removed the left crank arm and placed my special spanner on the nut (right arrow) to check if the nut was tight (left arrow).  It wasn’t!

The Lekki ‘One-Nut’ is an “after market” replacement for the Bafang nut. 


You can probably see in the photo below that the ‘One-Nut’ has a cut through most of it (upper arrow).  The nut is tightened and then two grub screw are tightened (lower arrow).  This forces the two parts of the ‘One-Nut’ apart locking it in place on the thread.   It’s a much better solution for securing the motor to the bike.

one nut

Friday 17 May 2024

Remember to look for the simple things first!

I rode the bike to my brother’s house yesterday and because we are both a little deaf, I wore my hearing aids.  This resulted in me discovering the bike was making several alarming noises.  A horrible rattle from the front; creaking from the motor and clunking from the rear geared hub.

The bike will need to be in good condition for my planned seven week cycling holiday in Europe in a few months so these issues need to be resolved.  I tend to ‘think of the worse and pray for the best’.   Look for the simple things first!

The metallic rattle from the front of the bike had me checking the security of the front carrier, the panniers and the connection between the fork and frame.  Everything appeared to be secure.  Rather than commencing to disassemble everything I reviewed the situation.  That was when I realised I had the bag containing the tent poles and pegs strapped underneath the handlebar.


The bag now resting loose on top of the handlebar

The cause of the rattle were the metal tent pegs vibrating against the poles in the bag.   Some elastic bands will solve that issue.  “Look for the simple things first”

The creaking and groaning sound from the motor when pedalling had me worried.  Could a component inside the motor be failing?  The sound was coming from the vicinity of the bottom bracket and could only be heard when pedalling.  The bearings in the motor might be the issue.   They aren’t expensive but I would need to remove the motor from the bike and disassemble it.   Before starting that I decided to check the bolts that secure the crank arms to the bottom bracket.  “Look for the simple things first”   They were both slightly loose!   A simple task to tighten them.


The clicking and clunking sound from the internally geared rear hub was concerning.  I only consistently had gears 1 to 8.   Gears 9 to 11 either didn’t engage or intermittently did with a grind and clunk.  If the motor failed I could still ride the bike without it.  However if the hub failed I’d be in serious trouble.

It seemed an opportune time to strip, clean and relubricate the hub.  This would also enable me to inspect it for any damage.

After removing the gear mechanism from the hub I placed it into a container of petrol which was then placed into the ultrasonic cleaner for 20 minutes.   The clean gears look to be in good condition.



I let the petrol in the container settle to see what impurities had been extracted during the ultrasonic cleaning

dirty petrol

Some muck had been remove.   Was any of it metallic?

I used a small magnet on a wire to probe the bottom of the container.   The “black stuff” stuck to the magnet.

clean petrol


Next, the magnet was cleaned to reveal a very fine metallic paste,


Unfortunately the cleaning of the hub didn’t identify the problem.  Eventually I discovered the problem was a combination of the gear shifter on the handlebar and the gear cable that connects the shifter to the hub (it had stretched).  That was a relief as the cost of replacing cable and shifter is significantly lower than a replacement hub. 

These bike issues have been a distraction from the house skirting board project.  Everything is installed and prepared for painting.   I’m just trying to find the enthusiasm to do the painting.  Have I previously mentioned “I hate painting!” Smile

Monday 13 May 2024

I Wet the Bed!

It wasn’t an age thing….. or that I’d had too much to drink!

When I got out of bed this morning I noticed a bright blue patch on the light blue bottom sheet.  Couldn’t think what had caused it and promptly went off to do something else.


When making the bed Jan noticed it and told me as it was on my side I must have created the patch.  Probably when lying on the bed fully clothed in the evening watching the TV.  She thought it might be some type of chemical on my shirt!  That didn’t make sense to me as the patch was located around waist level. 

On investigating further I discovered the side of the sheet was damp along with the mattress cover.

Then the penny dropped!  The blue colour was from the copper sulphate Jan adds to the water in the waterbed mattress.  We have two bladders in the bed and mine was leaking.

Fortunately I’d just finished making the 12V water pump for the camper trailer shower and was able to use it to empty both bladders. 

Extracting the water from Jan’s bladder was relatively easy (the one she sleeps on…. the other she empties without my help!).  The leaking bladder on my side proved to be more difficult.   Apparently the bladders can be repaired.  However we’ve decided to replace them with a single king sized bladder.   With twin bladders there was a foam divider down the middle which formed a hard edge.  I suspect Jan found it slightly difficult to climb over the divider when she was feeling amorous.  OK, more likely feeling cold and looking for a large hot water bottle.  


The mattress has been disassembled to allow the surface water to evaporate.



The plywood top to the bed base was also damp and I used my heat gun to accelerate it’s drying.


The local waterbed shop had a king size bladder in stock so we should be alright for tonight..  

Tuesday 7 May 2024

Slightly Annoying

A somewhat sigh of relief upon completing the media server project.  The Raspberry Pi has been reassembled and the data on the four attached usb hard drives repaired or replaced.


Jan asked me to print an email she had received.  That was when I discovered the black ink printer cartridge was empty.  Then I noticed the ink in other three coloured cartridges was very low.  We rarely use the printer as almost everything is done electronically.  The cartridges were the originals from the initial purchase of the printer two years ago.

I searched online for the cheapest replacement cartridges.  Unbranded cartridges for $65.  I used to refill ink cartridges and still have the bottles of ink and syringes.  These cartridges look difficult to refill and they also have a microchip to prevent refilling.  A new Epson printer (same model) was $69.  $4 difference between the price of replacement cartridges and a new printer. 


Old printer

I opted to purchase the new printer


The price difference seems crazy and I suspect the manufacturer sells the printer at a loss intending to make the money from replacement cartridges.  I wonder how many people purchase the replacement cartridges not realising the price difference.  Yes, it’s also highly likely that the cartridges included with the new printer don’t have much ink.   But they lasted two years.

This is the annoying part

For the last 12 months it has been getting steadily harder to start the 4WD.   Sometimes the engine starts and then after 10-20 seconds it stops.  On other occasions it won’t immediately start.  In both situations the engine has to be cranked for some time before it starts.   I thought it might be air leaking into the fuel line and checked all the hose connections were tight.

At it’s last service I asked the workshop to check everything.   The subsequent reply was “No faults in the computer!”  Two months ago I took the vehicle to a local Isuzu workshop and asked if they had a mechanic who had previously seen the problem.  I informed the workshop manager I wasn’t interested in paying for a “”fishing expedition!”   Well they found the fault, but I paid for a fishing expedition ($1000).  The problem was identified as the secondary (after market) fuel filter which they had removed.


I fitted the secondary fuel filter as a precaution against dirty fuel from a remote outback supplier.  There isn’t much to this filter and I had difficulty in believing it was the cause.   I replaced the fuel lines and reinstalled it.  The fault returned.  Obviously there was a problem.  The next step was to take the entire filter to a fuel injection specialist and have them check it for leaks.  They confirmed the assembly leaked and I should buy a replacement as “they weren’t expensive!” 

Looking online a replacement cost $250-450.  It’s the filter head that has the leak, but you have to purchase the entire assembly.   Eventually I found a filter head supplier on Aliexpress.   $37 for the required part.

The most annoying part of this saga is I should have taken the additional time to identify the faulty part and replace it, saving us $1000. 

Tuesday 30 April 2024

Open Live Writer Solved!

With Google blocking Open Live Writer to Blogger I was seriously contemplation giving up blogging.  (who reads this rubbish anyway).  However I persisted with my efforts to find a solution and eventually identified the problem.   It was actually rather simple!  

When I downloaded OLW from the official site it was version 0.6.2.   Upon checking the version on the old laptop I discovered it was version 0.6.3.   After searching through all my stored data (Yes… I’m a hoarder) I found a previously downloaded copy of 0.6.3 which I installed.   Google then authorised access from OLW to Blogger.

Meanwhile I’ve been pulling the last of my hair out with a media server problem.  I had the Raspberry Pi 5 configured as a network media streamer with four externally attached USB hard drives full of video files.   I successfully ran the new server in parallel to the original desktop server for a two week trial before dismantling the original server.  Two days later the new server stopped working!  The operating system was ‘frozen’ and I couldn’t reboot it.  Eventually I was forced to dismantle the Raspberry Pi to get it working discovering one of the attached hard drives had failed locking up the system.  To cut a long story short a week has been spent attempting to rectify the various contributing issues.

During this period Jan’s coffee maker started to leak.   Could it be fixed?  The user manual doesn’t provide any advice on how to dismantle the machine.  After hours of ‘trial and error’ the machine was completely disassembled enabling it to be inspected, cleaned and rather quickly reassembled.  It now works!


The ‘pod’ holder part of the machine choked with coffee 

During this period Jan asked if I could install timber skirting boards in the house.  The walls are plastered double brick.  Without skirting boards to protect the base of the walls the vacuum cleaner chips away at the plaster.


small part of the project

There are two things I should mention.  Fixing the skirting boards was achieved by drilling and plugging the brick walls before screwing the boards to the plugs.  Three quarters of the way through the project my brother visited us and informed me I was doing the work “the old way”.  The “modern” way is to glue the boards which you paint before fitting Sad smile.  The second point is…. Jan has offered to completed the filling, sanding and painting part. (I might have got that wrong!)


I’ve also noticed the engine on the lawnmower is surging.  Another job! 

Test Post

I have a new Windows 11 pc and when I attempted to install Open Live Writer on it Google blocked access to Blogger.

This is a test to see if OLW still works on my old laptop.

Wednesday 17 April 2024

It's Completed

You may recall last November I wrote about converting our old Maglite torch to rechargeable lithium batteries with a LED bulb <here>.   The battery was ordered from Aliexpress and we waited for it to be delivered.  And waited….. AND WAITED!   After the 70 mandatory days without delivery Jan claimed a refund and I ordered a replacement bulb from a different Aliexpress seller. 

This time the bulb arrived within 10 days.


Project finished!

This left me with the laborious job of polishing out the scratch on the camera lens.   I changed my method.  Instead of using the battery Dremel I used a larger polishing bit in the bench press.  This new pad had a greater surface area and using the bench drill press provided more control.

After an hour the last of the scratches on the lens had almost been removed.


Just the one tiny mark left.

Jan's mode of cooking has changed.  The gas is out and electricity is back.  Most of the cooking is now done in the pantry and Jan became concerned about heat from her cooking appliances adversely affecting the plasterboard wall lining.  Could a small glass splashback be fitted to the wall in the area where she cooks?  She probably remembered I had fitted glass splashbacks on Waiouru's galley tumblehome.

Why do one small area?  Let's cover the entire lower wall!  Rather than use glass we've opted for a polymer product which I should be able to cut to shape with a suitable blade in my circular saw.    

Did I mention Jan has also asked if I can install skirting boards in the house? 

Saturday 13 April 2024

6 Hours

There is fine orange powder everywhere!  

After four hours of polishing the Insta360 lens with the powder and Dremel the result looked like this.




Four hours.  Three small scratches remaining


Six hours. 

There are still three small scratches but I decided to stop and do a trial recording tomorrow to see if (and how badly) they affect the picture quality.   Hopefully I won't need to continue as it's quite a laborious and dirty task.

Friday 12 April 2024

An error I won't repeat!

First evening on my Easter 4WD trip and I decided to use the new Insta360 camera to record activity at the campsite.  The camera was fitted to the extended selfie stick which was then fitted onto the tripod.  My thinking was it would be sufficiently high enough to capture quasi drone footage.

I had just walked to the opposite side of the camper trailer when there was a strong gust of wind followed by a crash.  The wind had blown over the tripod.  That's an error I won't repeat.

Two days after my return from the trip whilst attempting to edit something useful from my recorded trip videos (I'm a poor photographer) I noticed a blur in some of the recorded scenes.

After examining the camera I realised one of the two lenses had been scratch.  Probably when the tripod fell over.


Replacing the lens requires it be sent to the USA at a cost of approximately US$200 plus shipping.

I started thinking about polishing the scratches out.  With nothing to lose, I researched polishing glass and identified cerium oxide powder can be used.  The only supplier appeared to be Amazon and the powder was expensive.  Further searching identified a supplier on Temu.  At $15.99 with free shipping it was a financially viable option.   The order was delivered last night, less than a week after placing the order!  


The pads are far too large to use on the small camera lens.   It's the powder I need.

I masked around a scratched lens with paint masking tape.


I remember being in a UK Lidl eight years ago and seeing a small battery powered Dremel.  I said to myself "That might be useful one day!"


I even bought the case of additional accessories


Of course I haven't used the Dremel in years and consequentially the rechargeable battery was flat. 

I'll let you know whether the plan works.  If it doesn't I'll have to examine replacing the lens.

Friday 5 April 2024

Easter 4WD Trip - Day 4

Some of the group were up at 5:00am this morning heading off at 5:30 to walk to the summit of Peak Charles, a three hour round trip.  I decided against going as my right heel was very sore after driving yesterday.  The usual breakfast before wandering around the lower slope of Peak Charles with the Insta360 camera.

Today's route turned out to be rather interesting as we wended our way north on  winding dirt tracks adjacent to dry salt lakes. 

Our intended campsite had been burned out by a bush fire sometime during the last couple of years and the trees hadn't grown back.  Everyone wanted shade and a decision was made to continue on to "The Breakaways" on the Norseman - Hyden Road.


The afternoon was hot and the flies were out in force.  Foolishly I went walking without my head net and paid the price.  At the base of The Breakaways I met Vlado and Audrey, two members of our group.  Vlado is from Croatia and Audrey from Singapore. 


This is a large camping area.  However the only facilities is a bush toilet (long drop)

The Breakaways are formed when there is a hard surface layer covering a softer and deeper layer beneath.    The ironstone or granite top layer remains in tact whilst the softer underlayer is eaten away by the constant action of wind and rain.  Eventually this creates a mesa or cliff.  When the sun falls on the Breakaway it produces a spectacular array of orange, red and white. 



That evening the wind arrived along with a serious drop in temperature (it is desert).  I decided not to attempt to cook an evening meal in the wind and went directly to bed with a ham & cheese sandwich. 

During the night the rooftop tent on the trailer received some buffeting from the wind however I managed to sleep through most of it.

The wind had died by morning and I decided to have last night's dinner for breakfast.   Grilled sausages and two eggs.

Everyone was packed and ready to move by 9am.  Some; like me; were heading directly back to Perth, whilst others intended to spend another night.  Being Easter Monday I wondered how busy the road home might be with returning holiday makers.  It actually turned out to be a relatively relaxed 540km drive and I arrived home mid afternoon.

I now face two days of cleaning the 4WD and camper trailer. 

Thursday 4 April 2024

Easter 4WD Trip - Day 3

The usual breakfast of bacon and egg grilled in the frying pan and eaten on a toast sandwich.  Yes, I'm a boring cook and hate cleaning dishes.

After an hour driving on unsealed tracks we turned south on the sealed Coolgardie - Esperance Highway reaching the town of Norseman which is located at the western end of the long Eyre Highway that crosses the Nullarbor Plain to Adelaide in South Australia.

Gold was found here in 1892.   A prospector discovered a major gold seam here in 1894 and named the town after his horse (Hardy Norseman).   At one time the area was the second riches goldfield in Western Australia.  Today the town survives on mining and tourism


The group stopped to refuel at the BP Roadhouse although I only purchased 11 litres having used two of my 20 litre jerrycans before departing that morning.



Wide main street allowing plenty of parking for large caravans.

We continued south with a short detour to the east to view the western end of the Old Telegraph Line.  The telegraph line was one of the first major infrastructure projects built across the continent.  With no existing road all the materials had to be transported along the coast and then carried inland on camels.

Our campsite for the night was Peak Charles.  Another major rock formation.


Short blue line on the map above

The unsealed road into Peak Charles was very heavily corrugated and consequentially I was quite surprised to see five caravans at the campsite below the rock.  It was a tight squeeze but everyone in the group filled the last of the available sites.  An hour after our arrival three more 4WD's arrived only to discover the site was full.


Some members of the group decided they would walk to the summit of the rock.  But would wait until tomorrow morning when it would be cooler.

I decided to be adventurous and cooked pasta and mince for dinner managing to burn the bottom of the pot in the process!  We haven't been able to have an evening campfire during the trip as it's still total fire ban season. 

Wednesday 3 April 2024

Easter 4WD Trip - Day 2

Early to bed and early to rise.  Up at dawn before the flies and promptly cooked breakfast of bacon and egg.  Others rose later and I suspect shared their breakfast with the flies!P1030753

Today was to be another long day of driving.  Continuing east on the highway we reached Coolgardie, where most of the group refuelled.  Knowing I had 100 litres on the trailer, I didn't bother.  Instead I deflated the tyres in preparation for venturing off the bitumen.

On leaving Coolgardie we changed direction heading south (purple line) through the western edge of the goldfields.  Much of this area used to be covered in Sandalwood.  At one point Sandalwood oil was more valuable than gold.  Almost all the Sandalwood has now gone and what little remains is mostly conserved or protected.  The land has reverted to the ubiquitous eucalyptus trees.


Our first stop was Burra Rock.   Another of those large isolated rocks surrounded by flat land.  Here also the early Europeans built a low wall around the lower edge of the rock to collect the infrequent rainfall.


Several members of the group decided to cool down by going for a swim.


The next stop was Cave Hill Rock.   A similar setup to Burra Rock.  The Parks & Wildlife camping areas in both locations were being used.  I assumed most of the campers were from Coolgardie or Kalgoorlie. P1030762


The area on the rock was littered with animal dung.


My guess was camel dung as I assumed the feral camels visited the rock for water.   Another member of the group suggested wild donkey dung.   That surprised me as I'd never seen a wild donkey out here and didn't know they existed.

Well I know now because two hours later we passed two wild donkeys on the side of the track! 

We continued on along another less frequently used track before being stopped by a fallen tree across the track.P1030763

My small DeWalt battery powered chainsaw made quick work removing the tree.

The day ended with us reaching our wild campsite just off the Hyden-Norsemen Road.

After dusk I cooked a meal consisting of lamb chops, potatoes and peas.  I'm a terrible and lazy cook.  Therefore I tend to cook something easy, which must include little in the way of dirty dishes to clean afterwards.