Wednesday, June 20, 2012

Violin explosion

John went to his violin tonight. The string holding the tailpiece had broken. Catastrophe! The bridge had vanished and the strings and tailpiece were up near the scroll, all loose and floppy. It could have hit him, he told me, if he'd been playing it at the time. If he'd been holding it the wrong way round, I told him. Nevertheless he was amazed, both at his incredible escape, and at the random nature of spontaneous violin tailpiece dehiscence.
'God! Anything can happen!
''Anything can happen. I slipped over this afternoon and cut my lip open on a cardboard box.'
'Anything did happen.'
'On a scale of things, how does it compare with that 150mph typhoon going over Fukushima yesterday?'


Thursday, June 7, 2012

Seat mounts

Mr. Knight thinks I have been a-slacking but it is not true at all. Well actually it is, but I'm not admitting to anything. For lo! I have finally Got On with It.

It is a fact that the fiddliest and most irritating parts to make are the small ones. Where'd we got to? Making the seat frame, that's where, and I think I mentioned that a frame needs to be twelve inches wide max, so that part of your bum sits on the frame and the whole of it doesn't become pinched by the sagging canvas of a wide frame, which (I have unilaterally diagnosed) causes what our American cousins so delicately call 'recumbent butt'. Actually I suspect part of their recumbent butts arises from too low a bottom bracket making them sit upright, putting weight on muscles which are working hard. Be that as it may, I have divined that narrow seat frames lead to Great and Unexpected Comfort and I sing their praises accordingly.

However, a seat frame does not of itself balance terribly well, so brackets must needs be made, and, given that seat frames are of 3/4 inch OD and perfectly good gentlemen's mountain bicycle handlebars are (sometimes) of 3/4 inch ID, it is the work of a moment to machine four washers to fit and four bits of five-sixteenths tube for bolts, and weld them all together, and then bisect the welded handlebar to make two seat brackets. - When I say the work of a moment I mean the work of about three hours. - It is the work of a moment when you have leant an incipient high racer against a small chair which has no support and you perceive is gently toppling over, to stick your hand out rapidly to grab it and inadvertently impale your left-hand little finger on a 3mm drill bit that you hadn't removed from a drill that you'd balanced on the chair, and then it's the work of a moment to rush inside squealing and get your wife to administer plasters. Amazing amounts of blood inside a left-hand little finger, believe me. - Well not afterwards of course - afterwards it's all spattered across the workshop floor.

Next it's the work of several hours to cut a bent crank - the alloy is lovely to machine so you never throw 'em away - into two lumps and to bore 7/8 inch holes in them for the top bits of the seat clamps, but it is the work of a moment to throw these across the workshop in a screaming hissy fit when you realise they should have had 3/4 inch holes instead.

So the next work of the moment will be to make fresh ones, and to weld some bits to the thingummies, so that they can be exhaust-clamped to the frame and John can balance on his seat frame. Which is all he'll be able to do if it rains as hard as it did yesterday when not a peep of sunshine was to be seen. And my god there was a fine view of the sun today, in front of which a small black dot was not moving. - I have just calculated that since the transit took c.6 hours and since the sun is c. the diameter of a dried pea at arm's length, we can daily work out where Venus will be. - It will rise approx 8 dried peas before sunrise tomorrow morning. Get your 90mm telescope on it and you will see a spectacular tiny moon-shape, Venus being an Inferior Planet. (Just reminding you of the astronomy that I know for a fact you've forgotten since you were 14 and last studied it.) And that reminds me of another Important Experiment which English readers are required to do: note whether the moon is a C or a D tonight, this being a remarkable proof of whether New Zealand really is upside down. It isn't. The Universe is actually the other way up. Australians are all the right way up, and Englishmen are all upside down, and absolutely none of them know it. Amazing, eh?

(It's a D tonight from here, a bit of a gibbous D, and since it's quarter to ten as I write this, a bit of a gibbous D lazily lying on its back.)

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