Thursday, September 25, 2014

How long is a piece of string

It has often been asked "How long is a piece of string?"

Today on my lunchtime ride I noticed a piece of string on the road, a yellow one - the string, not the road, which was ordinary road-colour - and it started at that funny corner at the foot-bridge turnoff - you know the one I mean and if you don't I scarcely think you'll lose sleep over your ignorance - and it went merrily along the road. It went along the road past the Hotel behind which lies a plot of land once owned by John Stuart Mill who never visited our Colony of New Zealand so what he was doing imagining himself to own swampy bits of it I don't know but that's economists for you, and then it (the string again) went into the petrol filling station. It came out of the petrol filling station, crossed to the other side, followed the Dehra Doon right-hander, went to Cook's Corner and then turned sharp left towards Takaka Hill. It came to an end with a small loop and a knot at number 100.

So I can now tell you how long a piece of string is.

It's 3.1 kilometres long.

I can also tell you that there was a mouse, a live one, running gently down the hill just inside the kerbstone: what it was doing there it didn't disclose. We are commanded in the Colony to slay all wild mice but it seemed happy and I fancied I would only make it unhappy by killing it so I didn't. It probably went off to commit sexual intercourse and have sixteen baby mice and of them eight would probably have committed further sexual intercourse and had - um - a hundred and twenty-eight other baby mice etc etc etc and next winter I shall regret not killing it because they'll be all over the damned place again. - It might have been a vole actually: it had a pretty vole-like face but I didn't know voles lived here. Or a very small possum.

I can further tell you that I have started to make webbing straps, and I can state that their supporting 7.6 x 370mm zip-ties, of which I require 28, cost $10 for ten in Mitre Ten and $20 for a hundred in Repco.

Start the fold in the middle - au milieu de if you happen to be a Frenchman which I don't

using the Special Wooden Recessed Thingy

which cunningly has 'zackly the right spaces chiselled out

and use the T-shaped thingy that you made for the purpose.

Continue the fold in the vice

without focusing your camera

and press the steel wire into the middle of the aluminium/webbing sandwich

Wrap the parrot-nose pliers in cloth to avoid scratching the aluminium

and nip the ends

and then the middle

and when you've extracted the T-shaped thingy, squeeze everything v. tight in the vice

again, without troubling yourself to focus the camera

and there's the end, ready to drill

and rivet. All I have to do is cut the slots for the zip-ties.
I can announce, should it be of interest, that the punch that I fitted with a 1/8" plunger to save myself the trauma of drilling holes through each aluminium and webbing sandwich didn't work at all. I was miffed. A lot of work went into making that plunger. It had to have a matching anvil and I had to make that, and that - obv. - didn't work either. So I have been forced to revert to drilling through the sandwich and the only consolation has been the discovery that if you spin the drill very fast, and bring it very slowly through the first bit of aluminium and press the webbing very hard against the table of the pillar drill, you don't get such bad laddering of the webbing as the drill hits it.

I expect you wanted to know that, and I expect you want to know how many beans make five. Two beans, a bean and a half, half a bean and a bean is the answer. Keith William White esq. told me during an O-level geography class about a million years ago when we were taught by - oh god what was his name - Mr. Kay. It must have been in Division or Transitus because when we were in Remove we had Cedric Egbert Marmaduke Fison who was always known as Gut Fison on account of his protuberant stomach and when Gut taught us the said Keith William White who was always known as Wally White did not impart useful information about how to enumerate leguminous seeds. He wrote Tits. On every book I had. I would glance round (cautiously, because Gut Fison was something ferocious about classroom behaviour) and when I glanced back I would find Tits written in huge capitals on the cover of my geography folder, which to the merriment of Wally White I would hasten to cover up with an elbow lest it capture the attention of the said Mr. Fison. - It is remarkable what one remembers from school geography. Teachers fondly imagine they are imparting valuable knowledge about how the Natives go into the jungle and tap rubber plants and all you can remember several decades later is that Wally White always wrote Tits on your homework and you had to do it again before handing it in.

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Friday, September 19, 2014

LWB Steering rod

Until you have actually been me you cannot know what it is to be stupid. Yesterday I walked into the workshop and picked up a broken rear mech that I didn't need and repaired it which I didn't have to do and then used it to bite three cubic millimetres out of my left index finger which immediately bled as if a mediaeval surgeon was in attendance and had forgotten his leech. And it hurt.

After which uninteresting bit of whingeing, where was I back in the Pleistocene when I last made an entry to this blog? - Oh yes, microscopes, and there are another four to do and still four more after that. (Actually you can get quite bored cleaning microscopes. Actually I don't mind if she doesn't bring me any more for oh about fifty years.) - We're onto steering.

The Ricardo bike (see past entries if obsessional or sufficiently moved) yielded some beautifully light-weight seat stays. In the Olden Days I got my steering rods from East Midlands Alloys, but lacking ready access thereto, I welded these seat-stays together end-to-end and back-to-back with the usual pokey-inny bit inside to stiffen the joint.

And welded 6mm nuts on the ends. And cycled to Richmond where the Exclusive Brethren have a bearing supply shop where I bought some track rod ends. Actually it was an Exclusive Sister who served me, probably the owner's wife. I've often wondered if the shop is owned by several Exclusive Brethren or just one, because if the latter we are posed with the difficult quandary of what to call him. Is he an Exclusive Breth? Exclusive Brother does sound a bit mundane. And since they aren't allowed to have computers and will never happen on my linguistic concerns I suspect we shall never know the answer.

Then back to the bike heap to see what else I could recycle, and it struck me that I could weld a cantilever brake stub to the fork to connect front wheel to handlebar, and so it proved.

So next I have to steel myself for the task of making webbing strips, which I most hate doing, and then fitting cables, which I moster hate doing, and painting it, which I mostest hate doing.

The longer arm at the handlebar sort of gears up the steering movement. How much is a bit of a guess at this stage, but a guess based on past machines.

And right now the flowering cherry's doing its annual fortnight's worth of decorative garden-work so it must be springtime in the Dominion of New Zealand and soon it will be dry enough to resume gluing together yon proa hull which has spent the winter getting in the way and generally being a tripping-over workshop nuisance. But right now it is eventide so I have to stop to check on Mr. Larrington's progress as he attempts to cross every bridge in our Colony of America on his way back from Battle Mountain.

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