Friday, December 27, 2013

Munted Penny Farthing

Tragedies come in threes. Everyone knows it. Everyone's sceptical,, but nevertheless tragedies do come in threes and all we're lacking is the theory to account for it.

We went on hols, and the first tragedy was returning to find the racing pigeon had drowned himself in the rain tub. He had flown erratically before we went away but we hadn't anticipated the need to cover the rain tub, nor its lethality when only half-full of water. How he got in will ever be a mystery. He was floating face down, and no, we didn't take a picture.

The second tragedy was finding that we'd left a $300 pure merino blanket behind. This tragedy was relatively easily fixed: quick email to the house owner, who found it and put it aside before the next holidaymakers arrived. To be collected.

The third tragedy was a Christmas Day barbecue. A friend had his friend staying, so he came along too, and, evidently alerted to its existence, requested a go on my penny farthing. Had he ridden one before? - No. -  I talked him through the basics, and instructed him that if he felt at all uncertain, merely to scoot along and stand on the peg and that way he'd have a feel for what the thing's like without endangering himself. I showed him, twice, how to get on and off but he was too eager to watch or listen, and after a couple of wobbly tries he got into the saddle and promptly crashed it onto the neighbour's lawn and bent the wheel sideways, yielding the unexpected benefit that now I can explain the word 'munted' in a single photograph.

A munted penny farthing
The odd thing is that before this occurred and for some reason I can't recollect, he had told me there were a number of people he would happily kill. - That having been said, he was more than contrite afterwards. But offering to pay for the repairs presupposes there's a penny farthing repair shop in Motueka, which I happen to know there isn't. And when he said he'd buy me a new one I didn't want to point him at Robin Willans's machines because I happen to know they cost about ten thousand dollars each.

Still, at least none of the spokes broke. And on a scale of climate change/Fukushima/drowned pigeon, a bent 48" bicycle wheel could be worse.

Not quite sure where to start the repair. Whether I can straighten the rim sufficiently to take the compression of the spokes again is the issue. And since after 141 years it was no longer perfectly circular each spoke is a slightly different length, so truing it is going to be hairy.

The unfortunate chap was so mortified that he was almost weeping to expiate his guilt. It occurred to me that I would have been wiser putting him on a smaller machine first, so I looked up 36ers on the web and found this site, and he's buying me spokes, a rim, a tyre and a tube.

However I might get sidetracked into looking up Kangaroo, and then I shall construct something infinitely better than wot Mr. Knight has just made, you may be quite sure.

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Tuesday, December 17, 2013

Epoxy repair

I have discovered that frantic and enthusiastic gluing isn't a very good substitute for preparing the surfaces properly. And that the little disc cutter on the Dremel will go straight through bubbles of fibreglass and sound fibreglass and wood, another worthy discovery. So the lesson is that prising off bubbled fibreglass is best done with a sharp knife inserted where the glue isn't, and then the tattered fibreglass can be ripped away. Where it doesn't rip, I assume it to be soundly glued.

Repairs effected, I have started filling the chinks on the underside of the hull and the two halves are beginning to look boat-like, though some fairing with filler has perforce taken place and will have to be concealed by paintwork. Nobody will ever know, other than the NSA and two billion people with an internet connection.

I must now tape and glue the seams, and in preparation have hopped on my bicycle and ridden over to see Saunders who lives 15.33 miles away, the last two of which are at the top of a very steep incline, and who has in a former life built two Kayel canoes and who is even now glassing the hull of a bargain plywood powerboat he bought on Trademe for a dollar. - We will not embark on a discussion of the meaning of the word 'bargain', nor, tactfully, will we discuss the need to purchase a trailer and a suitably heavyweight road vehicle to tow said trailer. - He told me, when I described my gluing technique, not to be so stupid. All you have to do is lay the dry tape on the seam, and then stipple it very hard with fresh-mixed epoxy. The epoxy soaks into the glass and into the wood surface. Leave to harden, and bingo! a taped seam. He then presented me with some epoxy wood filler paint,  and told me that it soaks into even soft and porous and rotten wood and converts it into hardened material suitable for coating with glass, and if painted on according to the 'structions, will protect the innards of the boat from rot.

So there will now be a pause while Christmas is undergone, and ahead lies the interesting mental tangle of where to put mast steps and rudder mounts and what sort of sail to use and how to rig it and all the complicated stuff about centre of lateral resistance and centre of underwater resistance, or whatever it is. - The attentive reader, if there is one and if he chances to be a sailorman, will perceive that I have a great deal to learn.

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Thursday, December 12, 2013

Racing pigeon

On Motueka Bridge at the weekend there was a grey rag on the path, crumpled up, which on stopping (one always stops to inspect grey rags. It's like the citizens of Shepshed who stop and gather round in a circle to watch a hand grenade. "I thought it was a hedgehog" said Ms Elaine Smithers (36) of 48 Bennett Street, according to the Loughborough Echo. - This happened a good fifteen years ago, and somewhere-or-other I kept the newspaper cutting. - You may take it that there isn't a great deal to do in Shepshed) turned out to be a comatose racing pigeon with faint trickle of blood from his beak. I thought he might have been hit by a car. He'd lost several feathers and I brought him home expecting him to die. For two days he sat unmoving in a little pigeonhouse, ignoring both water and wheat. He's now perked up, wanders round the garden, comes into the workshop, and betrays a particular attraction to the angle grinder. However this morning he flew erratically into the kitchen window and retired for the rest of the day back to his house, presumably with something of a headache. - If that other pigeon is anything to go by, he'll spend a three week holiday with us and then vanish, one hopes to his owner somewhere in the North Island.

NZ-PUKE-2012-0168 with a bit of a headache. The close observer will deduce that the hens roost in the tree just above his right shoulder.

In shipping news, now the rain is over what I have discovered to be the protracted business of gluing all the joints has resumed. Epoxy hardens quite quickly in the sun. This is so dull a business that a single photo will have to suffice. It's of the overlapping wooden joint of the side planks, which worried me enough to chisel away all the overlap, and the worrying was rewarded by my finding hardly any glue underneath. 

The photo is rubbish but if you have a vivid imagination you can see the glue that isn't there. I can't take another photo cos it's now been replaced with glass fibre.

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