Wednesday, October 28, 2009


Satan, and I know you've been wondering this, doesn't live in Hades any more. He's moved. He now lives in Richmond and goes about under the name of Duncan McDonald and he's just emailed to tell me that there is an old Colchester for sale on Trademe and bless my soul the vendor is now happy to take three hundred dollars for it. That's about a hundred and fifty quid. Get thee behind me.

Here's the offending lathe. Now you as an engineer are going to fall over chuckling not only at the rust and general decay and tin shed (all sheds in New Zealand are tin. It is a Law of Nature) but also because after gazing upwards to the left and half closing one eye for a moment, you've recognised this as almost certainly not a Colchester but rather a Britannia probably dating from about 1899. And you'll at once have gone zipping off to Tony's website where we all spend far too much time of an evening dribbling enthusiastically down our cardigans, and have located this pickchure:

and thought to yourself, Yes, hey! that's the little chappie. Trouble is I possess this lathe

which is its baby brother. Get thee behind me, Duncan. It's in Invercargill. Invercargill is to Motueka as Inverness is to Marble Arch, with the addition of the Southern Alps to negotiate. And a Britannia 17 lathe weighs two-thirds of a ton. 13.5 cwt, in fact. (Why did we stop measuring things in cwts? 20 cwts in a ton, 8 stone to a hundredweight, 14 lbs in a stone, 16 oz to the pound and four-hundred-and-thirty-seven-and-a-half rather delightful grains in an ounce. A marvellous divine system. Whatever possessed the Frogs to invent kilograms? Philistines. Barbarians. Savages. Foreigners. Etc etc etc)

'D'you think I should buy a lathe?'

'You've got a lathe.'

'I know but d'you think I should buy this one? It's like mine only bigg - '


'But - '

'What would you use it for?'

'Well nothing. But - '

'Could you fix the cutlery drawer with it?'

'Hush.' Sore point. The front of the cutlery drawer fell off this week, and inspection revealed two diecast rivets (can you have diecast rivets?) had sheared, which rivets I carefully drilled out and tapped 4mm and replaced and it still fell off and slightly closer inspection revealed that a diecast lug had also sheared and so I went to see Bryce who built it and Bryce had closed-down-or-gone-bankrupt so I got mad and fixed a *ucking great bolt through it. It was a completely *ucking stupid unnecessary bit of engineering Bryce'd used, an absurdly complicated device for fixing the front of a drawer onto the remainder of a drawer, and Bryce'd used it even though it was expensive because I'd asked for something that was so good I wouldn't ever have to spend some distant Wednesday evening fixing it back on. And they'd made it out of cast zinc or something equally pathetically feeble. Here it is, a crappy out-of-focus photograph but since it was a crappy machine it deserves crappy photography. I hate it.

There's an eccentric lug to save the woodworker having to measure where to put the screws in accurately, and a twisty-sort-of-spring-loaded-quick-release-thingy to get the lugs out of the way of the slots as you fit it to the steel drawer, and yet they'd made it out of utterly feeble zinc only 2mm thick and thought it would be adequate in a kitchen, for God's sake, where children do not carefully close cutlery drawers nor ever have in the whole history of washing up. I hate them. They are stupid stupid stupid baaaaarstards and probably foreign to boot and when I take over the world I'll make them measure the zinc for their bloody castings in drachms and pennyweights. - And while we're about it, how do you stop Shimano cleats twisting in your soles? Eh? Eh?


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