Wednesday, 30 June 2021


We've been trying desperately to find motorhome campsites at which to stay for a few weekend jaunts, but everywhere is fully booked now that everyone and his dog is buying a motorhome.

I came up with the idea of recontacting the owners of some of the smaller sites we've stayed in who don't have on-line booking systems and asking whether they have any weekend slots at all between now and September. 

Bingo - we have a weekend slot at a farm in the Brecons and another at the last place we stayed at a farm near Bee Sands in South Devon. 

It seems it's the larger, established sites that have simple to use booking systems that are under pressure, but if it takes a bit of effort to book a place (such as the smaller CL sites with no internet booking system), then the chances are that you'll find spaces there.

Tuesday, 29 June 2021

The Running Man

Hay has decided to engage in the Couch to 5k scheme, whereby you gradually ramp up a bit of running to the stage where you can do 5 kloms. She's managed to do it in just over a week, but she's built like a whippet to start with and will, I'm sure, exceed the 5k many times over in the next few months. In fact, I'd lay bets on her doing a marathon at some stage next year.

However, that said, she has developed something called runner's knee, which may not bode well, and has booked a physio session to ensure it's not systemic. She's probably just overdone it a bit.

Being slightly competitive, and despite asthma and COPD, I though I'd give it a go in a very specific and limited way (as they say in political circles these days), especially after one of our AirBnB guests said he'd lost 5 stone simply by taking up running and not changing any other aspect of his life.

I can't run for toffee and detest running at the best of times as my lungs simply can't cope with the demand; however, last Tuesday I managed 1 mile with a rest half way, and on Thursday I managed 2 miles with a rest half way. That was repeated Sunday morning and I repeated it again this morning - it's becoming easier with each outing and I now find myself almost looking forward to a run.

It's having a benefit in other areas - I have had a knee problem for about a month, which I attributed to either age or an injured ligament (although I have no idea how I might have injured it), but it has disappeared completely.

I'm trying to eventually aim to manage 2 miles without a rest and doing that 3 or 4 times a week. Along with my press-ups and arm weights, that should suffice to keep me alive a bit longer than my dad, who died at the relatively tender age of 86, although it was cancer that took him away. If I can squeeze another 30 years out of this body and make it to 96, I'll be more than pleased. The speed at which bio-science is progressing means that by then I may be able to buy myself a totally new body, if I start saving now.

Just some quick asides on the p-bike.

Firstly, I suspect the heavy clutch may possibly be due to the cable run to the clutch lever not being straight enough - there's a rather severe bend, which I will try to eliminate. I'll also over-lubricate the sheath. I believe it is possible to adjust the clutch spring, but a lot can go wrong. In any case, I've ordered a pack of 5 new sets of clutch and throttle cables - cost £18.

Secondly, I'm not really happy with the chain tensioner and have ordered a spring-loaded tensioner that fits over the clutch actuator plate - cost = £12.

Thirdly, I'm having dangerous thoughts about electrifying either a Johnny Loco cruiser, or a tandem...

The Johnny Loco (above) is quite a rare bike - only 200 were made - and very expensive, but it looks cool and robust. I'm keeping my eye out for one at the right price and in the right place. The fact it has only one gear makes it a simple bike to work on and gears are relatively immaterial to a P-bike or E-bike anyway. However, ideally I'd want a beach cruiser with disc brakes, although it would appear beach cruisers have only one gear as standard.

Stop Press: I've found a Johnny Loco look-alike (Huffy Cruiser) about an hour away in Shaftesbury, which I hope to collect sometime this week.

It's being sold through a mental health charity, so the proceeds are going to a good cause. No disk brakes, but eminently suited to a 250W, road legal conversion for Hay.

Monday, 28 June 2021

P-Bike Complete

 Managed to fire up the p-bike yesterday:

  1. There was something wrong with the throttle mechanism, as it raced away and the only way to control the engine speed was by tapping the kill switch, which obviously isn't the orthodox manner in which to control speed - it was like riding a bucking bronco to start with. Something was obviously making the carburettor piston stick open. I had to dismantle the carburettor, unhook the throttle cable and start from scratch.
  2. The choke was incredibly loose and kept flipping up (a common fault), so I opened up the filter, roughened up the choke flap to provide more friction, tightened the nut and removed the sponge filter completely. A lot of users maintain it serves little purpose on a £80, 2-stroke motor.
  3. The clutch is incredibly stiff. Not sure why - I've had the lever and pin out several times, but it just seems to be a stiff return spring on the clutch plate itself. Hopefully it will loosen with time use.

Overall, it works just fine, although I will need to reposition a few levers and re-run some cables and I have yet to fit the chainguard - which will be difficult as there's not much room to manoeuvre. The fuel line also needs upgrading to something less flimsy (braided fuel line on order), but overall I'm happy with the result. It still requires a bit more setup tuning, but not a lot. Brakes could do with an upgrade too.

Next job is to find out what the legalities are before taking it on the road. I'll obviously need a helmet and probably moped insurance, which I'm sure I can add to my existing motorcycle policy for pennies. Not sure though what other regulations I'll need to obey, if any.

I would really like to make another of these, but using a really retro bike, like the Wildfire. Having done it once, I'm sure I could build another in a single afternoon.

Sunday, 27 June 2021

Lessons in Patience

Had a slight problem with the e-bike. I say slight - disastrous in terms of the electronics, but not that costly in terms of the damage done.

There are some 14 parameters one can change via the LCD screen. I decided to change a few, including the state at which the throttle engages and the wheel size. All well and good; however, I noticed that the max amperage setting was at 12 and, given the battery is 48v x 20a, I thought that perhaps the setting should be 20 amps and set it thus.

No.2 Son took the bike for a ride for some 10 miles just after I changed the setting, but with no adverse effects. The following morning I was about to set off for a test drive with the new settings and there was a pfftt sound and the smell of electrical burning.

Investigation of the error code that showed on the LCD screen indicated a communications error between the controller and the LCD display. I decided to take it apart, while having ordered a replacement - not expensive at £33.

As you can see, there's a lot of burning at the top. It was bloody difficult to prise apart and the short had basically heat-welded it shut.

A salutary lesson in electronics - just because the battery can pump out 20 amps, it doesn't mean to say all components can take that amount of juice. While the motor and controller are rated above 20 amps, the display screen certainly isn't.

That was the first problem. Next I was keen to get the bike working without the LCD screen - impatience. I was aware that it was possible to have a fully functional e-bike without a screen and all that was needed was a jumper connection on the leads coming from the controller to the screen. 

I searched high and low for some assistance and finally got a chap on an e-bike forum on Facebook to give me some guidance; however, his guidance catered for a brown wire, which I didn't have on my system. I kept searching on t'internet and found a diagram that showed a jury rig to cater for exactly what I wanted. 

Made up the jumper connection, connected it to the controller and set off down the drive. 

Everything seemed normal till I braked, upon which the bike once more went dead. Inspection showed I'd horribly fried some wires on the controller itself. 

Another bloke then told me I should only have connected only the blue and red wires together and isolated the rest, but I think even this is incorrect, as it was the red wire that melted.

A new controller has been duly ordered (cost £35), but it will be several days before it arrives. I must learn the virtue (and cost saving) of patience. I should be back on the road again by next weekend.

Meanwhile, I was alerted to this motorised bike for sale by a friend:

Very retro and just what I want. Unfortunately, it was sold before I managed to contact the seller.

Saturday, 26 June 2021

Enforced Change

It's no use the travel industry continually complaining about restrictions on their businesses due to Covid. The world has changed with the advent of pandemics and certain processes, procedures and even entire industries simply have to change and adapt to the new paradigm that has been forced on us. 

To ignore this is to fly in the face of reality and disregard what successive strategic threat reviews over the last 10 years have shown governments - that the number one threat to them is now pandemics and the fact that what were previously isolated epidemics are now becoming pandemics, precisely because of the manner in which we travel so much more frequently and much further.

Of course, the knock-on effect of making international travel more difficult is a positive for climate change - in every cloud there's a silver lining.

Perhaps one solution would be for airlines and the like to charge far more for their services so as to enable them to operate normally but have a reserve to see them through times of pandemic. Obviously, many would simply pocket the extra charges, so they would have to be funnelled to special reserves that are enforced and protected by statute - like pensions are. Yes, charging more would reduce travel, but is that necessarily a bad thing?

When all's said and done, it's now incumbent on all industries to make themselves pandemic-proof. One thing is sure - we can't simply carry on as normal and ignore the problem. A second thing is also sure - that the problem will be ignored - that's how market capitalism works; it is driven by the market and the market doesn't have a brain, nor does it like reserves, as they're not profitable in the short term.

Perhaps we simply need higher taxes to cover all bases in terms of pandemic reserves, but that's not a vote winner, despite it being necessary and pragmatic. Then there's the problem that money put aside by government for one purpose can so easily be used for something else - like (ahem...) campaigning.

It's a fact of life that while profit is privatised, risk for entire industries has been nationalised and, time after time, governments (i.e. the taxpayer) has been required to bail out industries considered too big to fail. 

Unfortunately, we in the West are beset by short-termism. That's the main problem of a focus on markets - a return on investment in the shortest time possible. Countries, like China, plan many decades, or even centuries ahead. But there again, votes aren't a consideration in those plans. That's why totalitarian countries were able to contain the spread of Covid so much better than democratic ones.

As an aside, I learned the other day that China had problems manufacturing traditional, deactivated Covid virus vaccine precisely because they were so efficient at containing the virus - there simply weren't enough Covid infected patients around from which to harvest the virus.

Should it be a case of simply a binary choice of totalitarian or democratic, or could we accommodate the best of both systems in a synthesis of horses for courses? There is an arm of Parliament that is not dependent on votes and could be put in charge of long-term threat planning within a command economy model. I'm talking, of course, about the House of Lords. 

However, people are almost totally resistant to being told what to, do or what is necessary, by those who are not elected. Brexit has shown this starkly. Our fixation with democracy and democratic accountability is hampering progress on some of the most existential and important issues facing us, like pandemics and climate change.

What do you think?

Friday, 25 June 2021

BMW Rules

Went to the BMW dealership in Bristol yesterday morning to order a new key for our works mini van, the one and only original having been lost by a member of staff. 

Took the logbook registered in the company name, a letter on company headed paper and my driving licence, to cover all bases.

I was informed by the bloke behind the counter that, according to new rules BMW has imposed, they require the car to be present in order to place an order for a new key.

I asked him how that would be possible, when the reason we needed the key was because it couldn't be driven and we can't even get into it. 

The only option is to pay a vast sum to have the car towed there - and back.

I have to state here that I'm not the one who looked up the requirements - I was acting under orders.

Thursday, 24 June 2021


The beauty of YouTube is not the conspiracy theories or false information spread by mindless drones.

The main one for me is videos of how to make, assemble or fix virtually anything. 

Yesterday I decided to calibrate the controller on the e-bike, but the instructions were useless. All they did was show you how to access the parameters, but nothing about setting them and what the settings actually mean, Here's where YouTube became invaluable. 

Two critical parameters were that for setting the size of the wheels (essential to get an reasonably accurate speed and distance reading) and another that disengages the throttle when stationary (which prevents the bike accidentally lurching forward when stationary).

Despite being ordered as a 29 inch setup, the display was factory set to 26 inch, meaning the distance and speeds I assumed the bike to be doing are wrong, but that has now been corrected. Similarly, the throttle was set to engage immediately, even when stopped.

Wednesday, 23 June 2021

Magpie Stash for England

Could one of the tactics to win the Euro championship be to ensure your opponents contract Covid and have to self-isolate? 

Who is this Hublot chap that keeps coming on whenever there's a substitution? He seems to come on for every substitution in every game, but manages to look totally different each time.

I saw a strange behaviour in some magpies this morning - a behaviour I was unaware of in birds.

I had thrown some stale bread on the garden. A couple of magpies came down and had their fill; however, once they'd satiated their hunger, they began to collect 2 or 3 pieces of bread at a time and then stash it in some of the long grass in our unmown patches.

They kept doing this until it was all gone. Clever little buggers. There have been a lot of studies of Magpies hiding food for later use and they seem to have an accurate, long-term memory for where they left it.

Tuesday, 22 June 2021

Garlic Magic

I decided to fit the kill-switch brake to the front cable brake yesterday. The chance of turning the throttle while stationary and moving the bike is simply too great and risks the bike running away. Had a good ride on it and it's simply exhilarating and so smooth. Can't keep No.1 and No.2 Sons off it.

The days are now drawing in and Hayley harvested her garlic crop at the weekend.

A bumper crop and enough to last us the rest of the year.

You can do magic with garlic - crush it, mix it with olive oil, basil and pine nuts and - hey pesto! Get it?

What with the alternate sun and rain, I've never seen the grass on the Common outside our house to long and lush. Same goes for the unmown areas of our garden. The downside, however, is that it's playing havoc with my hay fever.

Monday, 21 June 2021


Managed to do some more work on the p-bike on Sunday, but the e-bike was finally completed, bar a bit of soldering on the XT60 connectors between the battery and the controller.

The connectors didn't arrive from Amazon till at around 4pm and No.1 Son, who had been helping me with the p-bike, pestered me to get them attached ASAP, but they need more than crimping (solder is the only solution). I did give in to him though, as it was Fathers' Day, and he took it on a test drive, managing to get 60kph (40mph) out of the beast on a large, empty car park. I now have to regulate it so it doesn't do more than 15mph on the road. This is simply achieved by connecting 2 wires on the controller.

Just like electric cars, the full torque is immediately available, so take-off is extremely swift. The kill-switch on the brake levers supplied don't really seem necessary, but I may change my mind when I come to test drive it.

After much buggering about and with the aid of No.1 Son, I managed to get the drive cog and tensioner on the p-bike, although it took two chain splitters to achieve it, the first one having cross threaded and having to be ground off. 

Can't yet generate a spark at the plug on cranking the pedals though, so I'll have to go over the wiring once more to see where the problem lies. It's bound to be something very simple. The electrical installation instructions leave much to be desired and the wire colours don't match fully those found on YouTube videos.

Sunday, 20 June 2021

Woo-Hoo - Swedish Jam Jars on an E-Bike

Have you noticed that, for some people, all Covid restrictions have already ceased? While buying my Sunday paper, I noticed that, of the 4 people in the newsagent, only I was wearing a mask. No bloody wonder cases are going through the roof around here.


I've noticed that over the last 3 weeks or so, my readership in Sweden has increased dramatically to the extent that Sweden is currently at the top of the list. Any Swedish readers of my blog care to comment why this might be? 

As a regular Jam Shed Malbec imbiber, I've been entering their promotion, where you can win a £1 off a bottle of wine, or a couple of their Jam Shed, hipster, jam jar glasses.

I won about a week ago, on both counts - a couple of pounds off and two jam jars.

Great for the van, although not what I'd usually choose to drink wine from. A glass, when all's said and done, is a glass, no matter its shape.

However, on attempting the competition once more, I was informed I'd reached the maximum number of goes. Hay therefore entered and she won another couple of jam jar glasses at the first attempt. That's rather jammy.

E-bike nearly finished - just the battery wires to connect - the issue being different connectors as the battery is not part of the kit, so awaiting a delivery of the correct XT60 connectors from Amazon sometime today.

I was a bit confused as to how to connect the ring connectors on the 3 Pedal Assist Sensor wires to similar connectors on the controller, as it was not obvious how this could be achieved without bolts and acres of insulating tape. No.1 Son suggested there had to be something in the kit to accomplish said task and had a look in the box of bits, where he discovered a small, 3 pronged connector block which was obviously the part needed. Not an elegant solution, nor colour coordinated (bright yellow, which I painted black), but effective.

Still not entirely happy with the battery stability - something is needed to keep it better secured, but of a quick-release nature so it can be easily removed for charging or security - it is worth £320, after all.

Next project might be an electric unicycle, with a gyro, or even converting the Triumph Daytona to a pedal version...

Saturday, 19 June 2021

A Yakking Disaster

Well, kayaking was a disaster - for me at least.

I sent my mate and Hay off on the water, my mate in a kayak and Hay on her SUP, while I sorted out a few things at the car. I followed about 5 minutes later, but was told I wasn't allowed in, as I required a flotation aid (I'd given mine to my mate and Hay had to have the other because she didn't have a tether to her SUP).

The fact I would be sitting on one of the largest flotation aids known to man, in the shape of an air-filled, unsinkable kayak, was neither here nor there. I enquired if I could rent one of the lake operator's flotation aids, to which the answer was no, as they were reserved solely for those engaged in organised kayaking, and not those bringing their own kayak. Rather sad, especially as I'd paid them £10 for the privilege of not going into the water and couldn't get a refund.

I was fuming, despite fully understanding their position from an insurance perspective. Health and Safety gone mad, I believe, is the usual expression. Muttering under my breath, I changed into civvy gear, stowed my kayak away on the roof bars and sat waiting for the other two to return.

From now on I'm not going anywhere near a managed lake - it's only rivers and the sea for me, where I can be as foolhardy as I like, at my own risk and judgement. wouldn't have happened when I was a kid, but then road deaths from not wearing seatbelts or crash helmets were legion then.

Friday, 18 June 2021

Yakking Lessons & e-Bike / p-Bike

Taking a mate of mine kayaking today, but we're doing it in small steps, as he's never been on a kayak before and has a fear of sharks.

Firstly we're doing a watersports lake in South Cerney today, where he has a rather swish static caravan that he recently purchased and we occasionally use.

Once he's mastered going round what equates to a goldfish bowl (and I will find enormously uninteresting), I will progress him, in a week or so, to the River Avon at Bradford on Avon, including a weir or two. Might get him as far as Bath, sharks permitting.

Finally I'll take him to Lee Bay in August for a finishing session on the sea, along with a bit of sea bass and mackerel fishing. Might even catch a shark. I could use my mate as bait.

Remember I had a problem with the p-bike (as I now call the 80cc petrol bike), in that I had a spare handgrip with an electrical cable coming from it and couldn't fathom out its use? Well, Hay has a habit of tidying my stuff away when I'm absent from my workspace for any length of time, and she inadvertently put the electric throttle from the e-bike in the p-bike's box of bits. Can't really blame her - one box of bits looks the same as any other to her. 

I say she did it, but there is an outside chance I did it, but that chance is very small knowing my prodigious memory....

All bits are now affixed to the e-bike and all that's required is connecting up the cables to the controller. 

The electronics is an absolute rat's nest of wires, with connections from the controller to just about everything. I'm going to have to get miles of that spiral plastic stuff to cover them.

The controller comes with a nifty pouch, which I can easily fix to the rear pannier I attached to the bike.

I do have a small problem, in that the e-bike kit comes with brake levers containing kill-switches that cut power to the motor when braking. However, one of my brakes is hydraulic, whereas the kill-switch levers are for cable brakes only. 

Theoretically this shouldn't matter, providing I remember to kill the throttle when braking, which is standard on a motorcycle anyway and comes naturally. I may just fit the one kill-switch brake lever on the cable brake, which is the front brake (although I usually use the rear brake only so as to prevent going base over apex). It will be trial and error. If necessary, I may have to convert the hydo brake to cable, which isn't a big job, but requires a new calliper.

I am a tad worried that the weight of both the e-bike and the p-bike may exceed the 60kg max load of the bike carrier on the van (or was it 30kg?). I'll have to weigh them both to see if the bike carrier requires an upgrade. I can always remove the battery pack from the e-bike when mounting it on the bike carrier, as that's the really meaty part of the whole caboodle.

Thursday, 17 June 2021


"The NHS is there to support the people, not the people to support the NHS," says Rees-Mogg the lockdown skeptic.

I know he has a habit of cherry-picking his arguments in support of turning a pig's ear into a silk purse and habitually over-uses the informal fallacy of generalising from the specific, but I at least gave him credit for a bit of common sense - after all, he kept telling people like the Grenfell victims to use it and I thought he therefore put high store on it. 

If you don't have an NHS because it has been overwhelmed by a disease, how can it possibly serve the people? He's putting the barouche before the horse and showing an abject lack of common sense.

On the No.10 front, what I predicted has come to pass, with Dominick Cummings releasing explosive messages between himself and Boris Johnson. Naturally, Boris has 'full confidence' in Hopeless Hancock. Hancock must surely now resign, if only from sheer embarrassment. 

In another story, we hear that Australian beef and lamb will start rolling into the UK as soon as the deal is signed and not, as we were led to believe, over a period of time to give British farmers time to adjust and for Britain to drop its food standards. No wonder Boris didn't want scrutiny of the deal; he was stuffed, however, by Canberra releasing the details. Who would have thought the Australians would do something so dastardly and open?

Wednesday, 16 June 2021

Australia Deal

So Boris Johnson, not satisfied with allowing the Indian (aka Johnson) variant of Covid into the UK in pursuit of an Indian trade deal and delaying 'Freedom Day' (his words), has now negotiated an unscrutinised trade deal with Australia that allows hormone treated beef, produced cheaply on an industrial scale, to enter the UK market. In return, we can sell our higher welfare standard beef into the Australian market at a higher price - good luck with that one.

So much for fighting climate change, what with all the extra food miles that the UK and Australia exchanging a very similar product will produce. Why don't both parties just eat their own beef, rather than sending it, literally, half way round the world, always assuming there's actually a market for higher priced beef in Australia? It seems to be a very one-sided deal.

There are protections for UK farmers, allegedly, but no-one has enumerated these protections, as the deal hasn't been scrutinised in Parliament. That, suggests to me, there aren't any, although we know that tariffs will drop over a 15 year period, which will presumably allow farmers to get out of farming.

Some government flunky maintains British beef farmers will be able to take advantage of this fantastic deal by selling their superior quality beef into Australia. Now, either we're dropping food standards to allow Australian beef in in the first place (in which case our farmers will take advantage of that and follow suit in order to compete with foreign imports), or we're not dropping food standards in order to maintain our beef's quality (in which case Australian beef won't get in in the first place). Someone is telling beefies.

The government has estimated that the deal with Australia would be worth an additional 0.01-0.02 per cent of gross domestic product over 15 years, or £200m-£500m more than 2018 levels. I wonder if this includes the negatives of the effect on our own beef production - I suspect not, as they have a habit of only looking at the plus side of the equation and ignoring the negative. 

Well, that's going to do little to offset the 2.2% drop in GDP from Brexit for this year alone. 146 more of those and we'll actually catch up. That said, it's reported by the government that tractor production is at an all time high.... (that's a euphemism, by the way, and redolent of how the old USSR bigged up bad news).

You know, there's a very simple solution to the Northern Ireland impasse. That is the UK sticking to EU regulations on the foodstuffs causing the problem. Boris can't do that though, as he's boxed the UK into a corner and is hence desperate for trade deals that can only be won by lowering our food standards - Australian beef, American chicken, etc, etc. It's a race to the bottom.

The activities of this government of gentleman amateurs is unbelievable at the best of times. The economist, JK Galbraith, once said; "The modern conservative is constantly engaged in one of man's oldest exercises in moral philosophy; that is, the search for a superior moral justification for selfishness."

Tuesday, 15 June 2021

Health Mercenaries

Throughout most of history, war has been our No.1 threat. Did we outsource our defence? No, but some city states in Renaissance Italy did - such mercenaries were called condottieri - but it didn't really solve anything and they were in an almost perpetual state of war as allegiances shifted according to who paid most. War was also interminable, as the various condottieri had agreements between themselves to prolong hostilities in a minimally lethal manner so as to maximise profit.

For the last 10 years, at least, it has been recognised, by successive strategic reviews, that the No.1 threat to us is a pandemic. Since 2020 this fact has hit us in the face, hard.

Should we therefore outsource our prime defence against this threat to a third party? That, however, is exactly what we have done by relying on Big Pharma. Isn't it about time that Big Pharma was nationalised in the national interest?

For a strictly more accurate comparison, the military is the equivalent of the NHS and the armaments industry is the equivalent of Big Pharma, and armament manufacture is indeed outsourced; however, our nuclear warheads are developed by the Atomic Weapons Establishment, in which the government has a golden share.

There is the argument that nationalisation causes inefficiency, but one would have to level the exact same argument at our armed forces. That said, removing the profit motive could feasibly result in more diseases being eliminated, and it's also a revenue earner in terms of international sales.

Leaving the development of prophylactics to the free market is no solution; if a drug company has the choice of marketing an anticoagulant that people are going to take for their entire life. or an antibacterial that may be in use for a week, but saves more lives, the choice in terms of profit is simple - the anticoagulant.

Drug development is probably one of the key targets for AI, but we've all had enough of experts, haven't we?

Monday, 14 June 2021

On Yer Bike

Collected the e-bike from the bike emporium on Saturday after its service and having the hub motor and Pedal Assist Sensor fitted. Total cost, £119 - and well worth the expense.

Struggled to get it into the back of the SAAB estate - and struggled - and struggled. What with 29 inch wheels, there was no way it was going to fit. I got it there in the first place in my mate's Berlingo van, so I phoned him to see if he could assist - luckily he could.

The battery is mounted and I've ordered a pannier rack for the controller, as there's nowhere else to put it. I've also ordered a handlebar extender rack for the LED display and headlight.

Total cost to date, including the base bike, is £886 - a lot less than the £1,600 for an equivalent ready-built bike,

The two stroke bike conversion is giving me a lot of problems. For a start, there are three handle grips. One is obviously the throttle and one is a plain handle for the other side, but I'm damned if I know why there are another one having an electrical lead attached to it. Nothing in the instructions explains the anomaly.

Additionally, there are two cables - one for the throttle and the other for the clutch. The problem was that I don't know which was which. The one that logically connects to the carburettor (which I assembled) has an opposite end that doesn't attach to the throttle in any logical manner.

The instructions are useless and the photos accompanying them are just too small to discern what's what. The cable that fits the carb and throttle grip must obviously fit into something else before it connects to the throttle grip - but the instructions don't mention anything.

It was only on my 5th reading of the instructions that I noted the exhortation to fit 'a' kill switch, not 'the' kill switch, which made me wonder if the part I couldn't fathom the use for was the kill switch and the part that solved the puzzle - bingo, it was.

Above is the completed throttle, kill switch and carburettor assembly. The kill switch is essential, as without it there's no way of stopping the engine, except by overloading it with the brakes - not a good idea.

Above is the loosely assembled bike, less drive cog, chain tensioner and chain guard.

Once again, the instructions for the electrics leave much to be desired. Blue to blue and black to black from the coil to the engine makes sense, but there's a free white wire (apparently the generator wire) on the engine side and the kill switch has a green and a white/black wire, although I have no idea what to connect these two wires to. May look for a petrol bike forum for pointers. The fact the connectors don't match up is an added bonus - spade to bullet....

All the difficulties I've had to tackle are due to the seller bringing together parts from different manufacturers using different standards to present a complete package, but without making the necessary changes to make assembly easy. Theoretically, assembly needn't take more than an afternoon, if the instructions were given a bit more thought.

Next comes the most difficult bit - fitting the drive gear on the rear wheel. It doesn't actually fit on the hub, but around it and against the outside of the spokes. Positioning has to be done by eye, spinning the rear wheel to see if there is any wobble in the spinning gear wheel and adjusting as necessary. All a bit hit and miss, but I'll get there in the end.

Sunday, 13 June 2021

Strictly Summer Chez The Chairman

The dragonfly nymphs are crawling out of the pond and metamorphosing by the tens; soon it will be in the hundreds. Click on any of the photos to enlarge them.

Hay expanded the unmown areas this year, although I'd prefer to tarmac them over, add a mattress or two and perhaps a burn out car as a water feature.

I managed to put the new clutch on Trigger's Ride-On-Mower with the aid of No.2 Son and gave the grounds a quick once over, although Monty Don recommends one shouldn't touch a lawn till July 21st at the earliest in order to give wild flowers and bulbs in the grass (if you have any) time to gather strength.

Against Monty's recommendation, I always leave the clippings on the lawn due to the soil being clay - the addition of vegetation helps to make it a tad more fertile the following year.

And the pond is maturing nicely, despite an outbreak of spyra-gyra, which will disappear as more water plants are added to provide shade.

The edges are still relatively wild, as the spoil from the excavation is heavy clay and will take time to break down into something that plants can be put into and thrive, although Hay has started planting a few shrubs and ground cover plants.

I've come up with a concept to reduce the spyra-gyra - pipe insulation, bent and stapled into circles and covered in plastic. A few of these giant lily pads would cut down the light in the pond dramatically and control algae and spyra-gyra blooms.