Sunday, 30 November 2014

Hell, it's December tomorrow!

My first activity on Sunday morning was to give my engine mounts a quick rub down and get a third coat of primer on them. I had added a dash of thinners to the primer, changed my brush and it has made a world of difference. With a fair wind I should get some enamel on to them at some point in the coming week.

Painting activities took me until just before ten. The local feed store doesn't open until then on a Sunday so I was then able to head over there and pick up enough layers pellets and wood shavings to last us through until the New Year.

The remainder of the morning was spent out in the garage where I attacked one of the gearbox mounting plates with a mini sanding drum on the Dremel to remove the corrosion and remaining paint. These mounting plates are going to be a pig of a job to paint, and achieve a reasonable finish, as the garage is unheated and that is before I list the accessibility issues presented by them being bolted to a bloody great big engine. I guess I will just have to persevere and trust to good fortune.

After lunch I had summoned sufficient enthusiasm to unload 150Kg of chicken food from the car along with a huge bale of wood shavings. I also managed to get a coat of rust inhibitor on the mounting plate I had stripped earlier in the day. Late in the afternoon TP and I headed out around the Three Miler with the dogs before returning home and doing very little for the rest of the day.

Saturday, 29 November 2014

I know just the spot for it ...

I suppose it must be that time of year as, yet again, we found ourselves in Stratford this morning.

The main purpose of the trip were fittings for a couple of items of clothing and the collection of a large leather beanbag but we managed to find a pair of presents for 30% and also one for TP too. We also managed to get mildly squiffy on the free Prosecco offered at Jaeger. I generally tend not to drink until the sun is well over the yardarm but must admit that a large glass of pink, sparkling stuff at ten in the morning does tend to take the edge off the irritations of Christmas Shopping.

We also took a wander through the antiques stalls in the market and it was there that I spotted the must have item … at front and centre of one of the stalls was a small, vintage stuffed crocodile. Our eyes met across the crowded market and through a tightening throat I uttered the immortal words "I fucking love that". 30% looked horrified but before she could intervene I had committed to the purchase and money was changing hands. She did however manage to dissuade me from carrying the small reptile around the town and it was left for collection upon our return to the car.

We went about our business and eventually headed home. It was only as I was about to sit down to lunch that I realised that my beloved crocodile had been forgotten. It goes without saying that I lay all blame for this with 30% as there was no way that I could carry a large leather sack full of polystyrene beads, walk AND remember the earlier purchase of a taxidermied crocodilian. Fortunately we had the telephone number of a Stall Holder* on the same market who was more than happy to collect and hold the beast until we can collect him in a couple of weeks time.

The afternoon saw us totally ignore the threat made by the Dog Groomers and we took a walk around the Three Miler. It was filthy out there and Whiffler's lower half was covered in shite by the time we wandered back in to the house as the sun started to set.

If I am honest I really just wanted to spend the evening in front of the TV but we had promised to attend a show that had been put on by the local Am Dram group at the Village Hall. This rash promise had been made because TP had volunteered to work the lighting and sound console for the production and we felt that we should do the right thing. I'm not really sure how to sum up the evening so I will just stick with the lager was reasonably cold, at least I hadn't had to travel far** and I did manage to laugh in the right places … most of the time.

I also have a cold coming on.
* The artisan leather worker who had constructed the fabulous leather beanbag that caused crocodilian amnesia in the first place.
** 400 yards

Friday, 28 November 2014

Whose dog are you?

This morning I ran a razor around my face, threw on a tidy…ish pair of jeans and headed towards the Nearest Depot.

I should have been accompanied by 30% but she had woken to an horrific migraine and preferred to lie in a darkened room only venturing from her bed to vomit.* It was therefore left to me to drop Whiffler off at the Dog Grooming Salon and head in to the Office where I spent a happy few hours chatting to colleagues, filling in an expenses form and grudgingly completing the final field on my on-line appraisal form.

By two o'clock I was done and my colleagues were silently wishing me to go so they could get on with whatever had dragged them from home in to the office on a Friday. Fortune smiled on them when the Salon called to let me know that Whiffler was ready for collection. I headed down the road, wandered in to the Salon and was greeted by this …
I had left them a fluff ball of a puppy. Admittedly he had been a very large fluff ball of a puppy, but I had returned to collect very attractive coiffed young dog. I had forgotten the shock of how different they look after their very first clip. Apparently he had behaved beautifully during his wash and cut and I was threatened with dreadful retributions should I consider taking him for a walk down the muddy lanes for at least a week. I was also asked if I would like to consider buying shares in the Grooming Salon as T&M are booked in for a clip next Wednesday!

I headed home and finished my working day from the study. That really sums up the day. I did need to head over to Worcester and drop off a pair of Peter Gabriel tickets with Jules as 30% was in no fit state to head over to the NEC this evening. I then settled on the sofa for the evening and as the hours ticked by I felt less and less chipper …

… I don't know if it was the bad night's sleep I woke from this morning or if I had a cold coming on. What I do know is that I felt quite yucky and was glad when TP came home and I could lock up and hit the sack.
* This statement might seem a little "cold" but after more than a dozen years together I am well versed in the lore of the migraine. There is nothing I can do but just leave her be and let it dissipate over the course of the day. Questions like "How are you" or "Do you need anything" are pointless and simply an unwelcome intrusion in to a world of pain and nausea.

Thursday, 27 November 2014

It's that time of year ...

... for most of today I experienced rising panic as I stared at the Neat & Tidy Piano Movers' On-line Appraisal Tool. What on earth should I write? What have I done over the past twelve months to justify my continued employment as a Junior Shifter? I bloody hate this self-justification exercise and am absolutely certain that much of the angst comes from my twelve years of servitude at Dante's Nine Circles of Hell. I'm not going to start a rant about the perverse aspects of their staff appraisal system. I am sure there is a Journal Entry from a couple of years ago where I moan about it and a recent blog post by an ex-colleague suggests that things are probably worse there rather than any better. What I do know is that I am somewhat scarred by Dante's appraisal system and consequently have the same expectations here at the Piano Movers. 30% is far more relaxed about it and tells me that I shouldn't worry. My Boss loves me and the grading decisions have been made already. Apparently all I need to do is enter a few concise notes that simply say that I succeeded in or delivered my various objectives. I'm not so sure ... what if I miss out a critical piece of evidence and my career dissipates like mist in the early morning sun or, likely more accurately, like a small antelope with a bad limp wandering past a starving lion. I guess I should relax but it is hard when it is my livelihood that is at stake.

I approached the day on a task and reward basis. Each time I fancied a cup of coffee or food I made myself enter the evidence for one of my dozen objectives before I allowed myself the luxury of getting up to seek sustenance. By the end of the day I had entered results against all but one of my objectives and I have until Monday to complete the exercise. I still find it surprising how relieved I feel when I can finally press the submit button and get this crappy task completed.

In the late afternoon TP and I took the dogs for a walk around the Three Miler and we then had an early dinner before heading over to the NEC ... A colleague at work had tickets for Lee Mack's Hit the road Mack tour but was not able to attend. As a result TP and I found ourselves in pretty good Block A seats to enjoy the spectacle. The warm-up act was an appalling misogynistic throwback to the seventies and I was relieved when his half hour finally drew to a close. Mack, on the other hand, was a delight and his set was filled with laugh out loud moments.  A definite 8/10. This would have been a higher score but there was no free tin of Spam.*

* a running gag coming out of some audience interaction.

Wednesday, 26 November 2014

This is gonna take longer than I hoped

I applied the first coat of primer to the engine mounting plates and spacers this morning and it is fair to say that I ain't impressed. It looked fine in the tin and loaded up on the brush beautifully but is horrible to apply, leaving runs or streaks depending on the quantity applied and the amount of brushwork. It may be the temperature. It may be the rust preventative applied yesterday.  I just don't know, but what I do know is that I will have some rubbing down to do and may well be thinning the stuff to see if that improves things. I also know that painting the brackets that are still connected to the engine is going to be an utter bastard of a job based on today's experience.

Sticking with the Enfield Project I also finally bit the bullet* and ordered tires and tubes for my shiny new wheels. I had been contemplating a pair of road legal, but super soft and grippy, trials knobblies but was concerned about the wear rate** and instead settled on a pair of Continental Escape Trail Tyres that are the best part of sixty quid cheaper than Dunlop D803s and probably a lot more sensible on the road.

I also learnt that patience is a virtue as random perusal of a website taught me that my standard rear shock absorbers are ten millimetres longer than I thought. Had I rushed out and ordered a shiny set of Hagon shocks I would have ended up with the wrong size …

… Perhaps an oily fingered God is looking down on me and my project bike.***
* Did you see what I did there?
** Christ knows why. It is not as though I do a huge mileage on any of my bikes!
*** and is, no doubt, shaking his head and sighing in a combination of frustration and desperation

Tuesday, 25 November 2014

I haven't a clue about a title for this stuff …

It was another cold, wet day and by lunchtime I had succumbed and had a fire burning in the study. It does make the room delightful to work in but it also adds a very strong temptation to just close ones' eyes and lean back in the chair for a few minutes … zzzzzzzzz!

For most of today things had been pretty quiet at work and then, just as I was about to step away from my laptop I received an urgent mail from one of my colleagues. The consequence of this was that I then spent the next thirty minutes reiterating information previously provided and excavating evidence to demonstrate that the client is now asking questions about service elements that had been clearly marked as out-of-scope.   

I eventually escaped just before five o'clock and attempted to head over to Alcester. This involved a search for the car keys and within moments I found them or, more accurately, identified their current location … they were nestling in 30%'s handbag after yesterday's trip to puppy training. This was no good at all as she was still in the Office.* I grabbed the spare set and headed out to the car where I made a startling discovery … the Range Rover alters it's settings dependent on which key is used to open it. I found myself sat in a new seating position, with different radio stations stored and a rather posh, but irritating woman, talking to me from the innards of the Sat Nav.***

It took a few minutes to restore the car to it's previous set up and, after a brief stop at the Auto Bank, was soon collecting my shiny new wheels from Ray. He has made a super job and I am so pleased that I made the decision to invest in new hubs rather than attempt to restore the tatty originals.

Back at home, yesterday's lamb carcass was brought up from the "beer fridge" and 30% and I set about identifying and packing the joints and chops. I also, briefly, wandered off in to the realm of butchery, as I needed to bone out the two breasts before I could say my work was done.

With half an hour to go before dinner, I finally made a start on the painting of the brackets and spacers. These now have a coating of a rust preventative and I will start on the first coat of primer tomorrow.
* I should point out that she is notorious for putting things safely in her hand bag out of the way.  She will claim, in her defence, that she is always the nominated beast of burden and ends up with anything I refuse to put in my pockets such as diabetic paraphernalia.** However, this week I have already had to search the cavernous chaos to extract my cheque book that had been missing for the best part of a week.
** Blood testing kit, syringe, emergency high carbohydrate snacks etc etc …Allegedly these are required on all outings but I rarely take them unless I am away for a good length of time and am eating out.
*** I get enough of that at home, Thank You!

Monday, 24 November 2014

Busier than expected

Monday … and I didn't need to sit in front of a laptop.

Today I had taken a day off to take a wander around the Motorcycle Live exhibition at the NEC. I had hoped that, by going on a week day, the crowds would be reduced from those tramping the exhibits over the opening weekend.

 I started the day at a leisurely pace and cleared my crap from the study so that 30% could work there today. I also did the decent thing and lit a fire so it was toasty warm for her by the time she settled to work. I left her and home shortly after nine and had a gentle drive up to Birmingham.

The show was very good but the attendance was huge, and after four hours of walking, side stepping visitors and throwing my leg over countless bikes I was ready to go home. I had gone with a shopping list of a few bits and pieces for the Enfield but there were no massive bargains that simply could not be missed. I purchased nothing more significant than a rather crappy burger … I'll source the parts I need via the internet over the coming weeks.

I arrived home in the early afternoon and had barely sat down with a coffee when the 'phone rang … it was Ray the wheel builder … my new wheels are ready for collection so I arranged to pick them up tomorrow evening. I then took it easy for an hour or so, after all it was a day off, before getting busy again.

I spent the next couple of hours setting up a warm, dust free working area where I can paint the engine mounting plates and spacers from the bike. The components were attacked one final time with sanding disks and wire wheels before they were degreased in preparation for priming tomorrow.

The reason I was not painting this evening is that it is puppy training but yet another errand needed to completed before heading off the class …

… Kathy H-R had called yesterday to let me know that she had a lamb for the freezer, so this evening I raced over to her small holding, handed over a cheque, threw the carcass in the car and headed back home. It was then a case of removing the lamb and replacing it with Whiffler before heading off to the Dog Training Club.

30% joined me for the training class and Whiffler, once again, performed incredibly well considering that he has only just started. The highlight of this evening was a retrieve. We had forgotten to bring one of his toys so were given a squeaky, rubbery item and were told to throw it half way down the hall and then release the dog. Like last week I was extremely dubious of success as this was a novel experience for Whiffler … again the little bugger proved me wrong … I threw the toy, he charged after it, fumbled the pick up but persevered* and moments later was charging back towards me with it clamped in his jaws. He even let me remove it … he will do anything for cheese.
* This drew a collective "aww!" from the club members

Sunday, 23 November 2014

A quiet Sunday

This morning we took a leisurely start to the day and, after breakfasting and a quick tidy of the kitchen, I prepared some vegetables and put another batch of vegetable soup in the slow cooker. 30% and I then put on our coats and boots and headed off around the Three Miler with the dogs, wandering back in to the house in time for lunch.

In the afternoon 30% needed to head back in to Stratford to collect an internet order from M&S and I was informed that she wouldn't be very long. I volunteered to stay at home and keep the dogs company and woke two hours later just as she was parking the car back on the drive.

I then headed out to the garage and spent a couple of hours sorting through spacers and fasteners, either cleaning them of crud or sanding them free of rust, n preparation for painting.

I wandered back in to the house shortly before dinner and put myself on the outside of a beer and a few olives before settling down to enjoy the evening. I have a day off tomorrow and I had that warm glow that results from knowing that a) the working week is still a day away and b) it will be quiet as the Americans are celebrating their Thanksgiving Holiday and will have taken their eyes well and truly off the ball.

Saturday, 22 November 2014

Shopping, Cooking and Dancing

Saturday morning involved yet another trip in to Stratford.

I needed to attend a fitting for a coat that 30% is having made for me, so my first stop involved putting on a calico. The calico is a basic coat stitched up from panels of calico cloth and eventually becomes a customer specific pattern. It is used to ensure that the fit is perfect and for the next few minutes Jonny wandered around marking the positions of pockets, hem and sleeve lengths and various other tweaks that need to be made. He also provided a sample of the most beautiful yet tough leather that will be used to make the coat. A further calico will be made over the next week incorporating the adjustments and I will need to attend another fitting before a start is made on the coat proper.

Whilst being fitted for the coat we also made a sort of impulse purchase … many months ago we had seen and tried a beautiful leather bean bag chair that is another of Jonny's product lines. Today he had one in cream and brown that would be perfect for the study. The one we saw was about to be collected by it's new owner so we ordered another one just like it.

Having finished with our purchases of hide based goods we then legged it over to Jaeger where I had a voucher that was nearing it's expiry date. I had initially thought to use it on a sweater until my eyes fell on a rather fine jacket. They didn't have one in my size but the assistant soon had one on order for me and a combination of my voucher, a promotional reduction and free alterations meant that I will have managed to buy a four hundred pound jacket for less than half of the price.

The shopping then had a deleterious effect on my health and I had a massive hypo necessitating the consumption of a chocolate bar and a short stop at a pub for a coffee and cake. We then headed homeward making a brief stop at the supermarket to pick up a few essential groceries.

One home we lunched and a quick look at the clock made us realise that we needed to divide and conquer. The reason for the time constraints was that we had agreed to assist at a fundraiser this evening and dinner needed to be eaten early. TP and Peanut were encouraged* to take the dogs for a walk whilst I prepared dinner …

… for some reason a packet of lasagne sheets had been left out on the work top and I had decided that I would make one for dinner. The presence of the lasagne was surprising as it is something that we almost never eat, so lord knows why it was in the house in the first place. I imagine that this is because we live in a a busy household and generally just make a bolognese sauce and add it to some cooked pasta rather than going the extra miles of making a cheese sauce, assembling the dish and baking it in the oven for half an hour.

Well today I had the time and the ingredients so we sat down to an early dinner of lasagne, salad and crusty bread and it was declared a huge success. It looks like I may well be down to make another one in the not too distant future.

With dinner out of the way we all put on our chequered shirts, boots and hats and headed down to the village hall where we we helping out with a Barn Dance that had been arranged to raise funds for the Zambian Exchange that TP is involved with. I was directed to the bar and spent most of my evening selling beer and wine to the dancers. It was a well attended do and I actually did get dragged out on to the floor for a couple of dances at the very end of the evening. I also received a very early Christmas Present which Stevie and the Elf insisted I open there and then … `

… Stevie had been working at Motorcycle Live and had purchased an Enfield Workshop Manual from one of the exhibitors. He knew it would be needed before December so did the decent thing and gave it to me today.
* Nagged until they got off their lazy arses, came downstairs and actually did something constructive instead of trying to suck off each others' faces.

Friday, 21 November 2014

Warm & Toasty

Today was cold, wet and grey … a typical British November day.

As I sat in the study this morning the house cooled rapidly once the heating had switched off and I noticed that my feet were bloody freezing. This was no good at all so I headed out to the garage and wood pile returning with kindling and a few logs. I opened up the log burner and lit a quick newspaper based flash fire to heat the flue. Five minutes later I had a fire laid and lit and twenty minutes after that the room was warming delightfully.

I then did what any decent human being would do and pinged 30% who was seven miles away at the Nearest Depot. She absolutely, and I mean ABSOLUTELY loves a fire so I knew she would be delighted to know that I lit one all for myself in the study. There was most definitely a slight tinge of envy in her response.

In the early afternoon TP and I headed off around the Three Miler with T, M and W and returned with three very soggy dogs. The piping hot study was a delight to return to and within moments Tyson and Marauder were curled up in front of it drying out. Whiffler, on the other hand, settled for the large dog bed in the Hall for his post walk snooze. We think he may find the house a little too warm as he has yet to be clipped and his coat is long and no doubt insulating.

My day, and also the working week, finished at a civilised half past four just as 30% returned from her day at the office.We passed in the kitchen as I headed over the road to the local surgery to collect a prescription. By the time I got back I found her literally curled up on the rug in the study in front of the fire.

Marauder was not impressed.

Thursday, 20 November 2014

The rudderless ship

In the middle of last week I was assigned to a new project so, over the past few days, I have dutifully attended calls, listened relatively carefully and made several pages of rather scruffy, but comprehensive, notes. We had already worked out that I had been summoned to perform task a when in fact tasks b and c  were also needed and, in fact, needed to precede task a.

As I asked a few probing questions it became apparent that, although a solution was required, none of the project team had considered it necessary to document the requirements for that solution. I could understand this as, after all, they had only been assembled for several months and the issue that spawned the project raised it's head years ago*!

The absence of a Requirements Architect from the project team was no surprise either so, with four days exposure to the issue, I set about drafting a high level requirements document. I then e-mailed it out, asking for comments and approval. I received a couple of replies and it suddenly became apparent that this project had been running for the best part of a year and no-one had bothered to involve the relevant Service owner.

This was unbe … fucking … lievable! These halfwit, cretins had been attempting to create a new service and had not involved an accountable individual who would take responsibility for the new service. Needless to say there were several tumbleweed moments on today's call when I pointed out this fundamental deficiency with the project. How the hell did they think they could make decisions when none of the group had any accountability. Give me fucking strength!

Feeling that I had definitely earned today's pay, I headed out to the garage and turned these manky, shitty items
 Into these shiny, soon to be painted engine mounting plates
* This, for any American Readers, is sarcasm

Wednesday, 19 November 2014

From Shitty to Shiny, Part 2

A couple of weeks ago I made a start on degreasing and tidying up the Enfield's engine. It runs and starts up beautifully … or at least it did before I took the bike apart … so hopefully all it will need is attention to the cosmetics and a service as part of this project. I have made a few references to this activity so I thought I would use today's Journal entry as an opportunity to illustrate progress.

The Journal entries of 28th September, 12th and 26th October show the grimy and oxidised state of the engine. These photographs show the progress on this almost Herculean endeavour.
Most definitely a "before" 
Getting There
Very different to the photo taken on 4th November
I'm now willing to approach it without donning a Hazmat suit
Note the nasty engine mounting plate on the gearbox
The enamel and primer is due to be delivered tomorrow so the weekend activity is likely to be sanding brackets and spacers before I get busy with the paint brush.

Tuesday, 18 November 2014

Enfield Stuff …look away now

There is not a huge amount to report for today but I did find time in the early evening to head over to the other side of Alcester and drop of my wheel components with Ray. He is a semi-retired chap who likes to keep his hand in and his pension topped up. If all goes to plan I should be able to pick up my new wheels in a week or two.

I also made another call to my friendly Bike Workshop with yet another MOT related enquiry … During the shot blasting and powder coating the VIN Plate needed to be removed from the Enfield's frame. There was no way that the original plate could be riveted back on* and I started to look at replacement services. They do exist but the quotes were high for a few square centimetres of stamped aluminium plate. An internet search suggested that the VIN plate was not mandatory from an MOT perspective provided that the vehicle identification number was clearly stamped elsewhere on the frame. The number is clearly engraved on the Enfield's headstock and a quick call to my local Bike Workshop confirmed that this was sufficient.

I now need to concentrate on reaching the point where the engine and frame can be reconnected. My to do list looks something like this …
  • Strip and paint engine mounting plates and spacers (paint ordered, stripping started)
  • Polish Engine Cases (in progress)
  • Refit Headstock Bearing Races (this weekend perhaps)
  • Check and refurbish or replace engine mounting bolts
It doesn't look too bad but the first job is going to be tricky as a couple of the engine mounting plates need to be stripped and painted in situ. This means that there will need to be some very careful sanding and masking to avoid marking the engine. The other bits and bobs are straightforward to paint and I will probably do those in the warmth of the house.
* Perfectly legible but the fixing holes were destroyed during removal from the frame. Now carefully filed with the bike's documentation.

Monday, 17 November 2014

School Fees are due

Today started with yet another two hours of travelling to spend twenty minutes in a waiting room and five minutes in a dentists chair.

After poking, prodding and tapping on my implant the Dentist pronounced that all was well and my next visit will be in three weeks time. Only then will they finally take the impression for the double crown that will be anchored by the aforementioned implant.

I managed to make it home before eleven o'clock and fortunately had a relatively quiet working day. Having installed my front wheel bearings yesterday, I found the time to call a local, semi-retired chap who builds spoked wheels. I talked him through my requirements and he seemed pretty pleased with my approach … apparently former clients had turned up with 36 spoke hubs to be connected to 40 spoke rims and all sorts of other nonsense, so my fairly straightforward request was viewed positively. I arranged to drop the parts over to him on Tuesday evening.

30% arrived home well before six this evening as tonight was to be Whiffler's first attendance at school. At six o'clock sharp we bundled him in to the car with a large bag of treats,* membership forms and a cheque book to pay his school fees. We are rejoining the Dog Training Club that we used when Tyson and Marauder were young and it was a delight to see familiar faces still running the sessions.

The puppy class was the expected chaos of excited young dogs and we took our seats after registration and introducing ourselves to our new classmates. Neither us nor the trainers had any great expectations for Whiffler as general experience is that it takes a puppy a good few weeks to get over the excitement of school and work out what they are supposed to do.

The first exercise was walking to heel and sitting. We have already taught Whiffler to sit on command and he is reasonably used to walking on the lead so this went very well. From the dog's perspective he was getting free cheese for stuff he normally does for nothing! The second exercise was the real test … the recall. I left Whiffler in the arms of an assistant and retreated the length of the Village Hall. The aim was to call him and have him run directly to me. I must admit that I had real doubts as to his new puppy friends and 30% all sat in a row on his left. I thought the chances of him running to me were minimal. I gave the club assistant the nod and she released Whiffler. I called him, crouched and opened my arms to encourage him …

… and he charged across the hall to me, barely swerving in the direction of his classmates. The little Devil had, as they say, nailed it! The final exercises were doorway etiquette and walking amongst dogs and their owners. The former was a doddle as this has been ingrained in him from his first day here at The Pile and the second went well using a vast quantity of cheese to keep his attention on me rather than the other dogs.

It was a great start to his edumacation and I really enjoyed taking him along to puppy classes. I always regretted not training T&M further than we did, but the classes just did not work for Marauder after she was nipped by an unruly Collie.

Let's see how far we can go with Whiffler.
* cubed cheddar … he will do anything for cheese

Sunday, 16 November 2014

Weekend Round Up

Saturday started with some gentle tidying after TP's party and then seemed to be a re-run of last Saturday, in that we again headed over to Stratford, ... but this time we managed to spend less money.

After a few essential errands we headed back to the car, pausing at the market to buy extra vegetables after locating the long lost soup recipe a couple of days ago.

The afternoon saw me nip in to Bromsgrove to purchase a new Dremel, as I have killed mine polishing the engine cases of the Enfield. TP and I then took a wander around the Three Miler with the dogs and, at no point, did we see either Gypsies or any dead horses. This might seem a little random but the reason for this statement will become apparent later. After not seeing any dead horses TP and I headed home and, to be honest, I didn't do a huge amount for the rest of the day.

I did remember to put my new front wheel bearings in the freezer in the garage as I planned to fit them in the Enfield's front wheel hub on Sunday … those in the know advise that they are far easier to knock in if they are chilled and the hub is warmed.

Late in the afternoon were joined by Stevie and the Elf for an early supper. 30% had foolishly agreed to attend a Carol Concert performed by the choir in which her mum sings. She kindly advised that I didn't need to go if I didn't want to … This was a result, as a group of pensioners singing festive and religious songs was never going to have me champing at the bit to attend. To make life easier for everyone I even came up with some semi-plausible bullshit to justify my absence … apparently I needed to stay home with the dogs as their routine had been sufficiently disturbed already after TP's party.* It was obviously Stevie was in no mood for carols either as he asked me if I needed a hand to look after the dogs.

30% eventually rolled in from the Carol Concert at about half past ten and it was apparent that I had had the better evening. The concert was the typical cliche'd church choir "do" right down to the tea being served in the lined, green, Wood's Ware Beryl teacups.

Saturday rolled in to Sunday and one advantage of Whiffler sleeping on the floor in the bedroom is that he no longer wakes me as early as he used to. I actually managed to remain in my pit until after the clocks had struck seven.

My morning started with a couple of minor DIY jobs before I headed back in to the kitchen and put a batch of vegetable soup in the slow cooker. I then headed out in to the garage and, after a little tidying, made a start on fitting the wheel bearings in my new front wheel hub. The job went incredibly easily and by eleven I was back in the kitchen drinking coffee.

We lunched early and then 30% and I headed out around the Three Miler with the dogs. As we headed back in to the village we noticed that there had been some fly tipping in the gateway to one of the fields. For some reason I wandered closer to view the pile of rubbish and only then did I notice something peculiar poking out from under the heap … it was a horse's muzzle. It didn't take the deductive powers of Sherlock Holmes to come up with the theory that one of the local Gypsy groups must have decided that a piss poor attempt to hide the corpse was far easier than paying hard cash to have the poor thing taken by a Fallen Stock Handler … tight fuckers!

Once back at home I headed back out to the garage and rapidly got bored with polishing aluminium engine cases. I therefore decided to degrease the Enfield's engine plates and start to remove the paint and corrosion as they need to be repainted before I can mount the engine back in the frame.

It was dark by the time I returned to the house and, after cleaning up, I seasoned and liquidised my batch of soup. I then pottered and irritated 30% as she prepared a superb roast leg of lamb for Sunday dinner.
* There is a modicum of truth in this nonsense as Whiffler was not a happy boy after TP's party and was not going to settle in his crate … it now appears that his new sleeping place is on the floor on 30%'s side of the bed!

Friday, 14 November 2014

First fire of the Autumn

Today, perhaps somewhat foolishly, 30% and I had agreed that TP could invite a few friends over to help him celebrate his eighteenth birthday. Whilst I worked, 30% and TP clattered around the house clearing the three rooms that had been assigned for the purpose of partying. He had all of the ground floor with the exception of the lounge , dining room and study and 30% and I would do our best to stay out of the way with the dogs in the lounge.

As the day came to a close TP and I took the dogs around the Three Miler and I then took on the task of lighting a fire in the Ingelnook in the Hall. It had been a few years since I last lit a fire in this hearth and, if memory serves me correctly, it would have been a small, smoky, low heat combustion used for the purpose of smoking some green bacon. The last time I lit a blazing fire in this hearth must have been about ten years ago when we had a joint housewarming cum bonfire night cum eighth birthday party for TP back in 2004.

I soon had a reasonable fire burning and the occasional swirls of smoke soon diminished once I had some heat in the hearth, chimney and fire back. The fire made the, as yet undecorated,* hall come to life and it became a superb party room.

TP's guests arrived around half past seven and 30%, the dogs and I slipped away for an evening with the TV turned up significantly higher than usual. The party, apparently was a huge success with minimal breakages** and a single episode of exterior vomiting.*** Late in the evening most of the guests disappeared and the few that remained headed off to James N's house at the other end of the village for reasons that never actually became apparent.

TP eventually returned at about half past midnight with Peanut and another rather pleasant young lady in tow. He then asked "where's Annabelle?' We gave him blank stares in response. After some semi-drunken conversation we eventually learnt that the mysterious Annabelle had crashed upstairs and had escaped our notice when we had been clearing up the party debris and depositing items in TP's bedroom. It became apparent that TP had also failed to notice her presence in his bed and was stripped naked and about to climb under the duvet before he noticed her and made a tactical retreat.****

He had a lovely evening and it was a delight to hear a group of teenagers partying in the house.
* After the burst of refurbishment during the first six months of the year, I frankly got fed up with it and  a combination of work, a new puppy and the Enfield Project have been filling my time instead.
** two glasses
*** James N, in the garden … apparently a tactical chunder according to Charlie B.
**** Having seen Annabelle and her friend my advice would have been to carry on!

Thursday, 13 November 2014

Vegetable Soup*

For the past few days I have had my head down trying to understand and progress a piece of work for a colleague.

I won't go in to detail as the actual task isn't really relevant. What I can say is that it is the usual nonsense involving lacklustre individuals that have failed to progress a fairly simple activity. Matters have now come to a head, as the deadline for a deliverable is this Friday. My task is to pull together loose threads and hassle and harry individuals to get them to do their jobs.

It has been challenging as the deliverable was not well defined and neither was the owner clear. As a result I have been retracing the team's steps to ensure that the source data is as complete and accurate as possible before passing it across and telling them to bloody well get on with it.

As of Thursday evening they appeared to be quite happy with progress and had enough information to blag their way through a presentation session with the client.

This isn't much of a Journal entry considering that I couldn't be bothered to jot anything down yesterday either so I thought I had better find some space filler ...

… A few weeks ago 30% and I attempted to recreate a soup I had made a couple of years ago. Normally one would consult a recipe book but I do have a habit of adapting recipes and I had a vague recollection of doing so with this culinary masterpiece. We found the source recipe but unfortunately the recipe book was unblemished with annotations and this Journal was silent on the subject too.

30% made a brave attempt at the recipe but her comment, after tasting, was along the lines of "it's alright, but you won't like it". This suggested a strong flavour of swede and parsnip, neither of which I am particularly fond.**

Where am I going with this? … a few moments ago 30% shifted the bread maker and and out wafted a scrappy piece of paper with the the following scrawled on it:-

12 oz Carrots (peeled and cut in to 2"lengths)
12 oz Celeriac (peeled and cut in to 2" lengths)
12 oz Leeks (halved and cut in to 2" lengths)
1 large Onion (roughly chopped)
6 oz Parsnips (peeled and cut in to 2" lengths)
6 oz Potatoes (peeled and cut in to 2" cubes)
3 Bay Leaves
Salt & Pepper to taste
3.75 Pints of Stock

6 hours in the slow cooker then liquidise

It was worth writing down so must be worth trying again.
* This title is amazingly appropriate for both subjects in today's entry.
** Actually I don't mind parsnips but swede is classed as sheep food in my family and I tend to avoid livestock fodder in my dietary choices.

Tuesday, 11 November 2014

From India with love

This morning I thought I would check on the progress of the two wheel hubs that I ordered from India at the beginning of the month.

After a few moments spent on the DHL website it was frustrating to find that they had made it from the Subcontinent to the village in four days but the half-wit driver had failed to find our house and had returned them to the Depot.* They were marked as On Hold, Address Information Needed. I phoned DHL and ensured that the delivery driver had additional information and also a contact number if they needed to be guided in. I was given assurances that the parcels would be delivered today.

Around mid-morning there was a knock at the door, or more accurately a lot of barking which meant that I got to the door before the knock was err knocked. I signed for my parcels and scurried back to the study like a child with an armful of Christmas presents. After wading through some of the most thoroughly labelled and wrapped parcels I have ever seen I was soon marvelling at two perfect wheel hubs. They had taken just over a week from ordering to arriving and were a fraction of the cost a UK Supplier would charge. I had even managed to avoid Customs charges on one of the parcels too.

Needless to say, my lunch break was spent comparing the new parts with the old to ensure I had ordered the right components … I had, which means that all I need to do now is get a pair of bearings installed in the front hub before I can arrange to have my hubs built up in to shiny, new alloy rims. Needless to say, my evening task was to chase one of the bearings from the old front hub in order to access a spacer that needs to be transferred to the new hub.

Other News
I will also take a moment to give a brief update on Whiffler's progress.

Over the weekend he was seen to be chewing on something and we explored to ensure he hadn't found something that would harm him. As TP explored his mouth a small tooth fell from his jaws indicating he has reached the point where his adult dentition is starting to come through. He is definitely growing up.

We all know that youngsters need to be educated and it is school time for Whiffler too. On Monday I received an email from the local Dog Training Club and he will be starting Puppy Classes next Monday evening … watch this space.
* The mendacious fucker had actually recorded the delivery as Not at home to make it look like it was my fault that they weren't delivered rather than the more accurate It's Friday and I can't be arsed to find a house on the High Street. There was definitely someone at home all day.

Monday, 10 November 2014

TP reaches his majority

Today is TP's eighteenth birthday so, as he shambled in to the kitchen this morning, I wished him happy birthday and advised that my obligations were now fulfilled and it was time to release him out in to the wild … His response was a pained look followed by a request that I put a slice of bread in the toaster for him.

The working day was reasonably relaxed and at midday 30% and I received two pairs of visitors. BMS, and SMS, shortly followed by 30%'s Dad and sister, turned up bearing gifts for TP. We therefore interrupted our working day to catch up on each others' news and drink coffee.

Late in the afternoon TP returned from college and we did a quick circuit of the Three Miler before putting on our glad rags and heading over to Worcester to collect Peanut before we travelled on to Cheltenham for a seven o'clock reservation at Daffodil. We had a beautiful dinner only slightly marred by an over loud jazz quartet* and then a dash through the rain back to the car.
* I am not a fan of this musical style and could go on at length about why I dislike it but elevator music sums it up. It may be clever and technically demanding but it goes nowhere and is basically just a bunch of prats showing off.

Sunday, 9 November 2014

Weekend Round Up

Saturday morning was taken up with a trip to Stratford. 30% wanted me to look at a couple of ideas she had for my Christmas and Birthday presents. This necessitated a visit to the establishments of two traders at opposite end of the retail spectrum.* I can report that both were items of exquisite beauty … as for their descriptions, that can wait until the days in question.

In the afternoon we braved the weather and headed out with the dogs around the Three Miler. We had barely walked a quarter of a mile when we met a couple walking counter clockwise. They asked if we planned to walk the loop and then advised that further on the road was more flooded than they had ever seen, causing them to turn and retrace their steps. We thanked them for this warning and wandered on. I have walked the Three Miler on many occasions and have slipped on ice, tramped through snow and waded water so I was prepared to walk at least as far as the "flood" before making a decision.

When we reached the flood we could see that it's magnitude and depth had been somewhat exaggerated and could be passed by stepping up on to the verge and jumping a couple of open gullies where the water was pouring from the road to the ditch. Safely traversed, we continued and finished our walk without getting soaked … if only I could say the same for Whiffler. He acted like any four year old child and charged from puddle to puddle getting as wet as he possibly could.

A fairly lazy afternoon followed and a trip to the local Chinese Takeaway ensured that my kitchen tidying efforts were apparent for longer than normal.

On Sunday I headed out to the garage and spent much of the early part of the day degreasing and cleaning the engine. I discovered that alloy wheel cleaner applied with a nylon kitchen scouring sponge is remarkable at removing years of grime and oxidation from the alloy engine cases.

The early afternoon saw another circuit of the Three Miler completed and after a restorative cup of coffee I returned to the garage. The engine was now pretty clean so I thought I would try out an aluminium polishing kit that I had recently purchased. After an hour or so I stood back to examine my efforts and was amazed by the results. The once grey and crusty engine cases are now reflective and that is after the first phase with the coarse mop and polish. There is final stage yet to be completed that involves a soft mop and fine polish … however I need to purchase some smaller mops to reach in to the nooks and crannies of the engine before I perform the final polish. I am greatly encouraged by the results of the polishing, as previously I had experimented with a Dremel and, whilst satisfactory, realised that it would be very hard work to achieve a good finish.

We ate early this evening and then headed over to the Artrix at Bromsgrove for an evening of lunacy with Jason Byrne. It was very funny show delivered in Byrnes chaotic style and was filled with laugh out loud moments. Definitely an 8/10 show.
* There is no exaggeration here. One store had a doorman and an appointment had been made, the other was a tarpaulin covered pitch.

Saturday, 8 November 2014

Christmas Shopping

This morning we headed in to Stratford as 30% wanted to gauge my reaction to a couple of ideas she had for my Christmas and Birthday presents. She had given me advance notice that she was considering a tailor made leather coat from a chap who operates from a stall on the market and also that Pragnells; the high end jeweller had slashed 30% from their prices on Tag watches … This was definitely shopping at both ends of the commercial spectrum and ranged from sipping coffee amongst millions of pounds worth of gemstones to chatting with Johnny under his tarpaulin covered pitch surrounded by vendors that range from artisans to costermongers.

I do already have a Tag watch.* I bought it back in the late 1990's after my unexpected exit from the Inland Revenue. An out of court settlement, in response to my claim of constructive dismissal, produced a small windfall and I purchased a Swiss watch rather than just fritter it away. At the time I bought it I had no idea what a fantastic watch I had bought, only that it looked subtly beautiful and was far from common amongst my friends and colleagues. It is only after fifteen years of ownership that I can report that they are incredibly tough time pieces. The entries in this Journal show that I do tend to get involved in some rather grubby jobs from time to time and, for all but the filthiest, my watch hasn't left my wrist. There is not a mark on the sapphire glass and it still keeps perfect time. I love it for both it's reliability and it's looks.

So, why do I want another one? It is a good question but I am not sure that I can give a good answer. Probably because we can afford one and, although they are expensive, I know it will give decades of service unlike most of the time keeping shite that most people wear on their wrists.**

To cut a long story short we wandered out of Pragnells with not one but two new watches. Both were Tag Heuer and both are automatic. Basically the combination of huge price discounts combine with plenty of surplus cash sloshing around in our bank accounts meant that 30% and I will work out the fine details of what is present and what is self indulgence at some point in the near future. The first of these indulgences is a 2012 Carrera Calibre 1887 Chronograph SpaceX. It is a limited edition of 2012 watches that was produced to celebrate the fiftieth anniversary of a Swiss watch in space. The second is a Link Automatic and is probably a little more workaday than the SpaceX but is still a delight with it's second glass on the rear showing the self winding mechanism.

The leather coat has yet to be made but I was shown a sample that Johnny had made for his wife. It is based on a Belstaff jacket but will be made in leather and mine will have a few minor modifications beyond those to suit the contours of my frame. I need to give colour and design some thought over the week before we return next Saturday to confirm the order.
* It is a 1997 2000 Quartz model
**  It took me more than ten years to get 30% to realise that she, or more accurately I, was spending a lot of money on fashion watches that would break after a year or so of ownership. Last year she finally succumbed to a ladies Tag with a black face and a ring of tiny diamonds embedded around the face. It was her Christmas present and she adores it. On the subject of cost of ownership I bought mine back in 1999 for around six hundred pounds. After fifteen years of ownership it has cost me about one pound a week!

Friday, 7 November 2014

Setting the bar high

At the mid point in the afternoon the 'phone rang and it was Dave from Redditch Shotblasing. My frame and tinware was ready for collection. As soon as work allowed I headed over to to their workshop and used the strategically placed pallet to avoid stepping in the enormous puddle that blocked their doorway.*

There in the gloomy, gritty, monotone interior of the workshop was my frame and cardboard box of tinware all beautifully wrapped in bubble-wrap and tissue paper to protect it from damage. Dave carried  it all out to the car and unwrapped a couple of items for me to inspect the colour in daylight … I was absolutely flabbergasted. The colour was a splendid green, perhaps a shade or two darker than the background colour of The Journal website, and the finish was beautiful. I thanked him profusely and was even more delighted when I discovered that the price I had been quoted included VAT.

I headed home and realised that the quality of the powder coating had set the bar high and I now needed to ensure that everything else was completed to a similar standard … reusing nasty fasteners was always a repugnant idea to me and now even more so.

As is traditional, I proposed storing the refurbished parts in the spare bedroom and, to be scrupulously fair to 30%, she did little more than give me a look in response to this suggestion. When I pointed out that the frame did have bare steel areas that needed protecting from rust until the bearings were reinserted, she even went as far as to suggest where in the bedroom I should place it … she is amazingly tolerant of me and my eccentricities.

So that was my exciting news for today … I am trying to avoid thinking about moving the new tumble drier down the stairs to the cellar
* It was a rainy day today

Thursday, 6 November 2014

I need a roll of bubble-wrap

There have been faint signs of progress with the Enfield project over the past couple of days. Yesterday I received an automated message from DHL indicating that I had Customs Duties* to pay on a package in their delivery system. I accessed their on-line systems to find that the rear hub is still in New Delhi but should be delivered early next week. I need the front hub before I can get the wheels rebuilt so a chaser was sent to another Indian spare parts supplier to check on progress.

I also had a call from Redditch Shot-blasting this morning. The frame and tinware should be powder coated this afternoon so all being well I will be able to collect them at some point on Friday. I must admit that I am quite excited to see the results and am hopeful that I have made the right choice of colour.

Realistically it is going to be a while before I am able to start the reassembly of the bike. The engine still needs to be degreased, then there is the refurbishment of the engine plates and the polishing of the engine cases to complete before I can join frame and engine back together. In the meantime I think I need to purchase a large roll of bubble-wrap to protect these newly coated parts form accidental damage.

I also managed to pick up a couple of pieces of work and will be helping out my frolleague Lou on a monstrous project she is managing.
* Even after taking account of Customs Duty payments the rear hub is still less than half of the price a UK Parts Company is quoting.

Wednesday, 5 November 2014

Bonfire Night and other memories

Work is still quiet and as a consequence I actually made it out for a walk around the Three Miler with T&M this afternoon. I also made it out to the garage and the Enfield gearbox is somewhat cleaner than yesterday's photograph.

As the evening progressed we ended up with with T&M cowering on the sofa as the Bonfire Night celebrations kicked off in the village. It is fair to say that Tyson is incredibly stressed by the explosions and just sits and pants until it eventually quietens. She normally dawdles in the garden when I let her out for her late night pee but this evening she was out, squatting and back in under two minutes. She really doesn't like fireworks and Marauder isn't much better. Whiffler didn't seem too alarmed but 30% reported that a couple of overhead detonations caused him to become agitated.

I remember as a child loving the weeks leading up to Bonfire Night. We still lived at Corbiere; the Bungalow at Lower Field Farm in Wickhamford. Although my Dad no longer farmed there we used to scavenge amongst the farm buildings* from September onwards and build the most enormous bonfires on a patch of ground to the side of the stables.

I recall particularly one year when the Bonfire was so large that there were safety concerns. Fortunately out neighbour was Fred Bates who had a garage at the top of Abbey Road in Evesham. This was during the height of the Northern Ireland conflict and Fred had a contract to build small fire appliances based on Land Rover chassis for use in Belfast. We actually had one of these in attendance … just in case. The fire didn't get out of control but I can remember unearthing glowing embers in the remnants of the fire a full seven days after Bonfire Night.

We also had a mountain of fireworks to let off although they were nothing like the amazing ones that can be bought nowadays. It was a more innocent time and the shop at the top of Pitchers Hill** was far more lax with restrictions on the sale of fireworks to minors. I recall wandering up a couple of times each week with a couple of shillings scrounged from my mum or dad and taking an age to choose the most spectacular fireworks from the display before hurrying home to store them in a tin for the Big Night.

Autumn was always a delightful time of year and Bonfire Night was part of the lead up to the excitement of Christmas. To this day I still delight in fireworks and bonfires it is just that having T&M means that this is a pleasure I must forego … and am more than happy to do so.
* When BMS and his Father dissolved their partnership the farm was sold and taken on by an Irish Guy called Rowntree who ploughed up all of the pasture and converted the farm from diary to arable. No-one knew where he lived and the arable nature of the farm meant that there was never anyone there apart from during the key phases of the arable cycle; ploughing, sowing and harvesting.

For most of the year it was our personal realm. We had one hundred acres of land and deserted farm buildings to roam over. We drove old cars and motorbikes across the stubble in Autumn and built the most extravagant dens in the straw filled barns. We wandered the deserted building with air rifles, always hopeful of shooting a rat and on one wonderful occasion I encountered a stoat in ermine white in the old dairy. I will always remember it sitting bolt upright watching me whilst I stood immobile taking in this tiny little predator.

Out in the fields a brook ran along one of the farm boundaries. It was edged with Willows that had long ago been pollarded and one in particular had a magnificent bowl at the top of it's trunk that could hold half a dozen children and young teenagers. I remember being there with my sisters and other friends in a hot Summer; enjoying the shade from the trees and the cool waters of Badsey Brook on our toes.

On the other side of the farm was an almost impenetrable coppice called The Spinney. Again I remember adventures here including the time Chris Bates and I managed to work our way through the middle of this bramble filled thicket. I also recall another occasion when I came face to face with a Tawny Owl when tree climbing there.

** The Village Shop and Post Office; owned and operated by Margaret Winkett.*** There was another shop in the Village run by the Woodcocks but, for some reason my mother would never shop there. It was only in later years that I learnt that my Dad had an affair with Anne Woodcock hence her understandable refusal to cross the threshold. I have a rather vague recollection of an encounter between my mother and Mrs W when she interrupted an assignation … I must jot that down when my day is so tedious that I have nothing else to mention.

*** I also have a few memories of Margaret's plump, blonde daughter; Lynne but I'm not sure that they are suitable for inclusion in the Journal.

Tuesday, 4 November 2014

From shitty to shiny

This evening T&M were heaved in to the back of the car and taken for a follow up appointment at the Vet's. After a five minute examination I was informed that their ear infections are much improved and my wallet was relieved of a crisp ten pound note.

That's about the most significant event of my day … Work was incredibly quiet and the Enfield project is somewhat hampered by the need to get the engine outside for degreasing.*  I was mildly frustrated by the current hiatus, where I can do little more than source or price parts, so I headed out to the garage to amuse myself before dinner.

My plan was to clean the filth from the more exposed parts of the wiring loom but I soon tired of this and realised that my primary objective had to be to get the engine cleaned up. I can't put it back in to the frame filthy so cleaning followed by  polishing of the engine cases needs to be my priority. I therefore settled with a can of degreaser and a rag and made a start on removing the crud from the back of the gearbox. This may be a somewhat surgical attack rather than the wholesale assault it really needs but it keeps me occupied and the more I remove in the week, the less there is to scrub off at the weekend.
I did say it was nasty … rear of gear box part way through degreasing
It does have potential … polishing test on gearbox casing
As can be seen from the photographs, the engine cases are badly oxidised but tests, with a Dremel and a metal polishing kit, show that they have the potential to be restored to a lovely sheen.
* Definitely a job for a dry weekend rather than a dark, damp Autumn evening.

Monday, 3 November 2014

What am I going to do now?

It was the first day back at work after a week away.

I must admit that I didn't have any great sense of urgency this morning as I had already been made aware that we had not been down-selected by our latest client. Consequently I sidled up to the laptop shortly before nine o'clock* and refreshed my mailbox. Less than two hundred mails flowed in and I soon had these whittled down to a handful after the junk and irrelevant had been deleted. Had we been successful things would have been very different but, by mid morning, I was kicking my heels.

My afternoon's agenda had already been populated with a couple of calls so I used the free time in the morning to wander in to the kitchen and knock up a Bolognese sauce for dinner. Just as I had finished I head a knock at the door … It was Les; an acquaintance from the Village with whom I have a common interest in motorcycles. He had learnt about my latest project, when I bumped in to him a couple of weeks ago, and had called round to check out the contents of my garage. We spent a pleasant hour chatting and firing up my bikes before he left and I returned to my desk.

So that covers my working day. Obviously I need to find myself some new projects, as the dissection of the corpse of our recent venture is not going to keep me busy … and I have a strong suspicion that the failings I identified are likely to be rapidly swept under the carpet anyway.

The evening saw me head back out to the garage to cover the bikes and attempt to clean up the Enfield's headlight before joining TP and 30% for dinner.
* Just in case some sneaky Bugger had decided to arrange a nine o'clock call on my first day back at work.

Sunday, 2 November 2014

Weekend Round Up --- or not, as becomes apparent

I finished my week's holiday with a rather lazy weekend. My significant activities seemed to either involve dog walking or pottering in the garage and it is pottering that is the subject of this entry.

The Enfield is now at a transitional stage. The deconstruction has now been completed and, with parts being refurbished and a pile of shiny new components sat waiting on the work bench,  it is reaching the point where reassembly will soon commence, This next stage will, no doubt, include ongoing refurbishment and replacement of components as parts are found to be filthy or damaged beyond the point of economical repair.*

As this project has progressed I have attempted to compile a list of parts that will be needed and jobs that need doing. One of those jobs is the rebuilding of the wheels. At the moment the Enfield has 19" wheels front and rear but the new bike will have a 21" wheel up front and an 18" at the rear. I have the new rims and spokes and the plan was to employ a local chap to build the new wheels on the original hubs.

This is a perfectly normal approach but seemed to involve a huge amount of faffing around. The wheel builder would need to take possession of the intact wheels to take crucial measurements such as any offset of the hubs. These measurements would need to be recorded before the wheels were dismantled. I would then need to collect the hubs, remove the bearings and then ship them over to a Powder Coater to refurbish the bubbling mess that passes for paintwork. Only once the hubs had been refurbished would I be able to take them back to the wheel builder for incorporation in to my shiny new rims.

I started to tot up estimates for the refurbishment of the hubs along with replacements for components corroded or worn beyond acceptable use and wondered whether a new pair of hubs might be a more sensible approach. A few minutes on eBay located exactly what I needed. Both are located in India and will take a few weeks to arrive here but the price is remarkable and I will end up with brand new wheels … and none of the to-ing and fro-ing to the wheel builder and powder coater.

I appreciate that there is an element of risk buying components from Indian Suppliers via eBay but the damned bikes are made there, have minimal variation between models and all I am really doing is cutting out the significant mark up that the best known UK Spare Parts Supplier seems to be applying.
* I am well aware that the Enfield is beyond economical repair but it wasn't bought with motivations for financial gain. It was about having something that is almost the antithesis of my working life … an oily, mechanical Yin to the sterile, electronic Yang of modern working life.