December 11, 2010 · 9:45 am
Sorry to keep on about the cold and the snow, but the temperature has gone from -22ºC to + 6ºC and the snow is melting fast. They (whoever ‘they’ are, the Met Office I suppose) say we are to get a day or two’s respite before we are back to the freeze. I was tempted to say ‘back to the blizzards’, because it sounds better. But we are not back to the blizzards because, thankfully, there has been very little wind. Being told, in a thaw, that we are in for another Arctic event is rather like being in the trough of a massive wave on the Atlantic convoys, knowing you are in a state of calm but about to be hit by the biggest wave in history. Well, I’m sure you get my drift…
At the bottom of the garden I have a ‘power-barrow’. It is still under one foot of snow and slowly turning to rust. The last time I tried it the engine took an hour to start and then coughed and spluttered like someone on 30 a day. I know it sounds like ‘Power Rangers’, that kids’ thing, but buying a power barrow saved my life when I ordered 34 tons of soil (can you even IMAGINE some idiot ordering 34 tons of topsoil for his garden from his local council – and having them dump it in the wrong place, halfway down our road? Can you even imagine what a 34 ton heap of topsoil looks like? It came in two of those massive, high-sided motorway trucks). Shifting it took two days and almost killed me, even with the assistance of the now-redundant petrol powered wheelbarrow.
Recently I have been wondering if it is possible to turn my power barrow into a snowplough. Don’t laugh. Snowplough blades are available for ride-on mowers, but I don’t have a ride-on, I have more soil than grass. You can even buy (at great expense) push-along petrol-powered snowploughs. So is it possible to convert a power barrow into a snowplough? Time will tell. Trouble is, I can’t weld, and the thought of constructing a snowplough with superglue boggles the mind.
If I had the money to buy it, and the space to put it, and if it wouldn’t upset my neighbours (and my wife), and if I had the money for petrol to run it, I would buy one of these:
It is ex-government, and only £35,000.
It’s amazing what is available out there.
Perhaps I’ll put it on my Amazon wishlist.
December 2, 2010 · 4:54 pm
I haven’t done much restoration work on the old police bike lately. I had hoped to have it finished by now but other things seemed to take over. I’m feeling rather like the man who said that when he retired he became so busy that he though about taking on a lad.
I did spend a few days on the bike in the summer, managing to paint most of the parts (the parts that needed painting, that is. I don’t mean the engine and tyres). It isn’t a case of blasting the bike with a Halfords spray can, it’s more a case of stripping everything to bare steel, removing the rust, sanding it smooth and then hand-painting it with primer, undercoat and three or four top coats, sanding it down between every coat to remove the brush marks. It takes time (far too much) but so far I have managed to undercoat most of the parts. Several large components (the frame, mudguards and petrol tank) have even had their first topcoat. Oh… and they now have another coat. It’s called dust.
I have also been messing around making a radio, a mock-up rather than a real one. I have been trying to get an original for years, but the only one I know about is in a museum and that, judging by their lack of response to my entreaties, is where it’s going to stay. Quite right too.
So here is my part-built replica. Like the rest of the bike, it’s unfinished. Note the dust.
*I know the bike stuff is boring, but a few people have asked me how the bike is getting on. Now they know it isn’t.
I suppose I should be out in the garage now, getting on with things. Trouble is, the weather is nasty and there’s another 5″ of snow out there to be shifted (not sure where to shift it to though, there’s not much room left) so instead I’ve been writing my novel. Like the bike, it’s time I finished it.
For Christmas I would like one of these:
November 26, 2010 · 6:22 pm
It’s about time I accepted that winter is here, sort out some warm clothes to wear and stop pretending I’m hard like those Scots that wear kilts – or shorts – all year round (I am not a Scot anyway, and these days I only bare my legs in public if I feel threatened).
This year winter has sneaked up on us and we have snow. There’s not much here – yet – just the odd flurry. We had our first frost in August, and after it had zapped my vulnerable vegetables the weather got warm again. Compared with Sweden we have it easy. Or maybe we don’t, because here we get snow that comes and goes. They get snow that comes and stays, so once they have cleared the drifts they let the snow build up in layers. During my short trip there in the 1980s I was driven out of Stockholm by a geologist on a road so icy you could almost see your face in it. He drove as if there was no ice. Approaching a crossroads at about 40mph he didn’t brake until the last minute and the car stopped as if he had thrown an anchor out. ‘I have tyres with nails,’ he said in a Kurt Wallander voice. ‘They spike the snow.’
It was my first (and only) encounter with studded tyres. He went on to tell me that the hard-packed snow on the road was about 30cm thick, that the highway authorities scrape the surface to keep it flat but they don’t grit or salt the roads. Once the temperature falls it tends to stay low and the snow stays frozen. Ours does not. Hence our grit and salt.
Not all cars I saw had studded tyres, most had chains (but it was some time ago and I suspect things have changed). I have driven with chains on all four wheels (I had a jeep) and could plough through two feet of snow. Trouble was, when I got onto cleared, salted roads it was like driving with tank tracks, marking the road surface and cutting my tyres. The other problem was that it makes no difference how macho your vehicle is, if the guy in front of you is blocking the road there isn’t anywhere else you can go.
December 17, 2009 · 7:25 pm
The north wind doth blow and we shall have snow. We’ve got it, actually. Only one inch of the stuff, but from the traffic chaos this morning you would think we were knee-deep in it. I won’t put adverts on my blog and I don’t particularly like external links, but here is one that really gets to me, I love it. It reminds me of my ‘ducks in a row’ blogpost. Just when you think you’ve got it together… click this!