New Year Hobjectives

Last year I decided to set myself some hobjectives.  These are like resolutions but specific to the domain of hobbies: character building, life enriching sort of things rather than the usual “cut down on the booze, swear less, get a new job” sort of stuff.

How Did I Do in 2012?

  • Sleep in the back of The Duke – Pass
  • Learn to fly my tricopter – Pass
  • Smelt aluminium at home – Fail

The first one was a resounding success.  Though it may annoy the ex-military purists, the back of The Duke is now kitted out for sleeping rather than helicopter maintenance. There’s a comfy mattress, some dust-sheet-curtains, boxes of outdoor equipment and emergency rations. There’s even a flat-screen TV in there for FPV flying, though I haven’t managed to get it to work to my satisfaction yet.20121202_080457

I ordered my first shipment of multi-rotor parts in November of 2011 and had my first DIY tricopter up and running just before Christmas.  Unsurprisingly I was a pretty crappy pilot to start with so getting better seemed to be an obvious hobjective for me.  The original tricopter is hanging on a nail in the garage (victim of yet another broken servo) and I am now a quadcopter convert.  I’m much better at flying, though still have a long way to go.  I’ve done FPV too, which is a bit of an added bonus.IMG_7057

Smelting was a total fail.  Partly due to the weather and partly due to the lack of a big metal cylinder I just never got the stuff together to try it.  Dr Johnson is signed up as an official project partner to get this one licked in 2013!

2013 Hobjectives

  • Smelt aluminium at home – with Dr J’s help this should be easy enough.  We just need to buy some protective clothes and a few bags of charcoal and we’ll be good to go!  Success will be measured on a small pile of ingots on the bench above an empty scrap bin.
  • Finish the Duke’s Raspberry Pi brain – pull all the bits together to start The Duke tweeting about his adventures.  Some niggles to work out around the power supply and the enclosure and some software to write then it should be good to go.
  • Do some impressive FPV flights – get some long range flights done, preferably somewhere with a suitably high natural beauty rating.  Capture some top-notch video footage of the sort that will make viewers raise their eyebrows and nod in mild appreciation.
  • Make tasty bread in a Dutch Oven – I got a black pot for Christmas.  Being able to make fresh bread from scratch anywhere in the world is frankly a vital skill.  It’s a wonder I’ve managed to reach my 35th year without it!

I think those four should make for an entertaining year.  Of course there are a thousand other jobs I need to get done this year in addition – The Duke’s gearbox needs looking at and I’d like to make a second ‘copter so I can crash twice before going home.  There’s an FPV ground station to build and all sorts of tweaks to be made to the quad.  Before I cook bread I’m going to have to do a chilli and maybe some southern-style barbecue chicken and ribs.  I should really add some insulation to the back of The Duke and there’s no doubt I need to sort out the alignment of the tailstock on the lathe… you get the idea.

A Winter’s Tale

This weekend we headed off into the frozen wastes of Wiltshire to set up a rough shelter amongst the converted barns, Range Rovers and tweed-clad organic hemp farmers.  It was cold!  Apparently it got down to -4C during the night, though I slept like a warm, cosy and pleasantly drunk log in the back of The Duke.

On the way there we took in a few choice green lanes.  This included one of the most challenging we’ve been on to date.  After taking us through some woods – the map lead us to believe – the lane would join a track which would in turn take us back to society.  As we entered the woods we hit a very muddy incline which tested the ‘drovers mud plugging abilities and gave Dr J and I a chance to try and remember anything we may have known about off-road driving.  Clearly somebody had been up the slippy hill on a quad bike recently, but as we trundled further into the woods we started to get the impression that this was not a well-worn lane in any way.  The woods were clearly used for hunting, with a multitude of grouse feeders, shooting hides and even a pair of snapped-off deer shins to prove it.  These sorts of places don’t like green laners, they have guns and they are apparently willing to rip the forelegs off a woodland creature.  So by unspoken agreement we got a wiggle on and made for the exit.  Of course the track-to-freedom was little more than a narrow, impassable footpath.  We made our way out of the woods by retracing our steps like city-slickers out of deliverance-country; beating a hasty retreat to the Kennet and Avon for a bowl of chilli, over which we vowed never to return.

We arrived at the camp site just before dark, pitching tents and erecting what can only be described as a “rude shelter” by stringing a giant oil stained tarp between the Land Rovers.  We broke out the camping chairs and began the complex procedure of lighting my portable barbecue and emptying a few cans of ale.

I suspect Dr Johnson snorted a wrap of organic speed before we went to the pub.  Either that or the warmth made him loose his mind a little bit.  The beer was nice, the food overcooked, the other patrons were probably offended by our avant garde humour and the logs were plastic – or at least that’s what Dr Johnson thought.  An antique spanking paddle found on the shelf helped to keep the conversation flowing.

On arrival back at the gypsy encampment I set about boiling bottle after bottle of water in my Kelly kettle and poking them between the duvets in my drover-bed.  I slept very warmly and very well, awakening to an icy ceiling and the pleasing sight of a frost covered field glistening beneath the tentative caress of a December dawn.  It would have been more pleasing if I didn’t have a headache.

After a traditional breakfast we went for a nice walk and then headed home.  On the way back home something nasty happened in The Duke’s gearbox.  I haven’t had time to work out the cause, but he’s having some issues with gear selection which make me very nervous indeed.  Expect a detailed report on my findings soon!

Official End of the Petrol Era

The Duke’s original engine and the lucky recipient

Yep, that’s The Duke’s engine 200 miles away from The Duke next to somebody else’s Land Rover!  Decided there was no point leaving it in the garage to go rusty so sold it to a fellow forum member.

He was kind enough to send me a photo and offer me some beer money too.  Cheers Ed!

Manventure – February 2012

Went away for a couple of days last weekend to Blaenavon in South Wales.  Had a brilliant time and managed to fit in a bit of green laning in West Berkshire on the way there and back.  Here’s some pictures and there’s a video too.

Getting going

Parked a bit close
This pictures reminds me of one taken in 2010…

The Duke splashes through the same puddle a couple of years ago

Man Pose
Stopped for a cuppa

Boring video, I know, but the camera was only held on with gaffa tape and we were too scared to attach it to the bumper on any of the muddier and more exciting lanes!

Brum Brum! Plus some Welding

Brum brum!  Quite a big update today.  Spent a few hours this afternoon doing a couple of the nastier welding jobs on my list, plus there are some photos of some other bits and bobs related to the engine conversion.

Firstly though, a brum brum video…

Here’s a couple of photos of the high pressure fuel fittings I got to replace the leaky DIY hoses I’d connected to the fuel filter.   Found some information on a forum which explained how some bloke had done a great job of sorting his fuel lines. He even included info on the parts he used and recommended a great supplier – SSL Diesel Parts, who I used and they were great.

High pressure brass fuel line coupling and, above that, the DIY throttle linkage I made from an old choke.
Proper compression fitting for the fuel pump.  Only cost a few pence.
Not the best photo ever, but this is DIY exhaust MkII.  The flexi bit really helps lower the noise.

The big job today was sorting out the seat box hole on the passenger side and sorting out the rusty dumbirons.  Only managed one of the dumbirons, but after a lot of head scratching today, at least I have a plan for sorting the second one.

Simple patch for the footwell.
Starting with the right hand dumbiron

Since my dumbirons are different to most – being the military version – it’s not so easy to replace them with new ones that simply weld on.  The Duke’s dumbirons seem to have thick steel plates on each side which are still relatively strong, so just the bumper mounting bit in the middle needs to be swapped.  I did this by making a 75x75x75mm cube with one side missing, then drilling holes and welding in place.

Full of sand and rust.  Maybe somebody left The Duke nose down on a beach for a couple of years?

New bit made up from 2mm steel plate

Welded in place.  Bumper fits on perfectly… but one of the holes needs widening as it’s slightly too far to the right.

Hume amount of sand and rust!

Hopefully the weather will be nice enough to do the other one at the weekend…

Family History

I never knew my Grandad – he died before I was born – but people always tell me we’re quite similar.  This may have something to do with our shared obsession with tinkering, redness of hair and dashing good looks.

Anyway, I was pretty chuffed when Mum sent through this picture (recently found in the family archives of our Canadian cousins) of him in what appears to be a Series 1!

A family tradition.

I tried a search on the DVLA (well, you never know!) and, sadly, it seems that KAL986 is no longer on the road.  Still a nice bit of history though.