Collected Blitherings

Reality error. Started 12/04/2015
    April the 1st has passed. I seem to have survived, but my sense of reality is seriously bent. It all started in the morning when I went to the loo, now you don’t really need to know that, and are probably starting to worry. Stop worrying, it’s not going to turn into an organ recital. In the loo there’s a small 6″ by 9″ oblong mirror, conveniently placed for the examination of any bits of my head that might need cleaning (engine oil, paint etc) bits of grit in the eyes, haircut time and all those little tasks for which a mirror is so useful.
    Perusing the phiz as one does, I noticed a strangeness, or one more than usual. The mirror did not show the top of my head, which it had previously. I know because I use it to see if my hair is standing up in the ‘Emperor Penguin’ style it takes to occasionally.
 P1060135   
     This led me to the conclusion that the mirror was lower than before, but the string was unchanged and the nail ditto. I hadn’t changed my carpet or shoes, shun thick socks and couldn’t put it down to spinal decompression as it was the regular time of day for such a visit. So what happened to the two inches of either added to me or lost from the wall? I would be concerned if I lost 2″ in height, but to gain it at 60 something? Fortunately my shirts still fit. I had to stand back for the photo, so it’s actually worse than it looks, I have to crouch to see my eyes. 
Cars.
    Putting mirror movement down to just one of those inexplicable phenomena that let us ignore reality mis-matches, I went to get the Midge out for an MOT. It started easily and I set off. After a half mile the engine started missing, so I stopped and put the spare gallon of petrol in. The car has a rather small tank and a somewhat approximate fuel gauge, so it’s not unusual. However the fault didn’t go away and I deduced a blocked main jet in the carburettor. I returned home, cancelled the appointment and cleaned the carburettor jet. Restarting caused petrol to leak enthusiastically, suggesting a sticking float valve. I paused and thought about it.
House.
    Meanwhile the next stage of upgrading the houses continues, both houses are due to be clad and re-harled. i.e. a layer of insulation put on the outside of the houses and then pebble-dashed. They should hold the heat better and look quite a bit tidier. Our house has been painted by ‘professionals’ relatively recently, but they turned out to be idiots, and while there is nothing wrong with the paint, the preparation was slip-shod and it all started peeling off after a few years.
     12-04-2015~~element4This should solve the problem, I’ll be looking very carefully at the warranty though. We will be doing a bit of internal insulation at the Old Manse later, and will be increasing the loft insulation at the rental house. That won’t bring in any increase in rent, but will make the tenant cosier, especially if we can install a wood pellet burning central heating system.  At the moment we are waiting for the last of the paper-work to arrive so that we can get going.
Weather.
    The weather continues to be a bit peculiar, yesterday, the 13th, provided sunshine, wind, hail, rain, calm and snow in a variety of mixes, and then the temperature went up in the night. The only predictable bit was the fact that it was generally lighter during the day than the night. Errol the Cat spent quite a bit of time explaining how the hotel services should include weather control. He then sat, rather pointedly, in front of the wood stove, alternately looking at it and me. I explained that it was actually quite warm, but apparently it’s a subjective kind of thing.
​    Having used the wood burning stove quite a bit over the winter I found the wood-pile to be somewhat diminished. Fortunately the proposed summer house requires a few of the trees to come down. They had been a hedge when the previous owner planted them, but had out-grown their usefulness. Two of them are now chopped, split and stacked in the re-organised wood-shed, and there will be a few more joining them once the wind drops. There isn’t much room for tree felling, so I’m using a technique I developed recently where the tree comes down slowly. Generally when dropping a tree the idea is to avoid ‘hanging’ it on others, this way by hanging on purpose, using chains, it has made life somewhat easier, and the last one came down (with three inches of clearance on each side) over about five minutes.
    There are five Sitka Spruce trees that were planted in the field, now the wood, by persons unknown, being in amongst the trees (that we wanted planted there) was some danger of collateral damage. That and the proximity of the road means I shall get plenty of practice at the ‘slow drop’ and although Sitka is rubbish wood for burning, it will add to the stock when properly seasoned.
Tractor
    Gradual progress can be reported, we now have four new tyres and tubes on repainted wheels, and the brakes seem to work. The bonnet is repainted and various mechanical faults corrected. The steering, tool-box and dashboard are refurbished and the exhaust and swinging draw-bar replaced. Various other bits are tidied up and the arrival of the fan-belt should allow me to start Fergie up. Not a very unusual name for such a vehicle, but it seems to have stuck.
P1060136
    Hopefully, once I have a hitch-pin, it will be ready for picking up the Sitka logs. There’s a bit more painting to do, but I’m not going for concours qualities, just as well given my spray-painting skills. I’ll be working it in the field rather than on the cat-walk. Sadly it looks as though I’ll have to split it, (i.e. separate the engine and gearbox) because the clutch is very ‘snatchy’ and tends to drag when cold. It’s quite a big job, but not particularly difficult, just heavy, and slow. I know Dad did it once, so I’ll be looking for some advice from the other side. Here’s a picture from John, another TE20 enthusiast who had to do some clutch work. I wish my garage was as tidy as his. (Though not enough to actually tidy it.)
Tractor 019
Health
    It’s a pain in the butt, as they say over the pond, I managed to get some kind of head-cold. Double vision, severe headache behind the right eye. Temperature control off-line and only firing on one cylinder. Weak as the proverbial. Still it’s not all bad, I listened to the whole 3 hours of Radio 4’s ‘Good Omens’ (Sir Terry Pratchett) and did not very much for two days. The blowing exhaust on the Vauxhall will have to wait, and the MOT on the Midge ditto. I thought I had simply ‘over done it’ taking down the trees where the summer house will go, logging, chopping and stacking them. Still, whatever it was it seems to be lessening and should be gone tomorrow. Mind you, I thought that yesterday.
Family
    Jo, or Mum as I call her for obvious reasons, has bitten the bullet, and decided to stay where she is rather than moving house to a point slightly south of Twyford. The prospective buyers were wittering on about dozens of technical questions, wanting guarantees on this and that, and generally wanting a reduction on an already low price. This in spite of the fact that the local prices had gone significantly higher since it was agreed. They’d been told to take it or leave it, but I am beginning to think they were getting cold feet. Either way, Hell mend ’em. The advantages of moving were evaporating slowly, and the disadvantages, such as the loss of good neighbours, a good local shop and a convenient hospital were becoming more apparent. Also the new house and garden lacked a soil analysis certificate, since the site was Barny Dunford’s old scrap-yard, which would have absorbed at least some waste engine oil, that was rather important, and the builders were asking for acceptance on the unfinished house.

 

Politics
   yesDid you know that if all the non voters who don’t think they can have any effect, voted Green then there would be a Green parliament?
    I’m in Scotland and I am tired of having my vote ignored, so I’m voting SNP. If Westminster goes Conservative/ Red Conservative/ loony party – I’m going to dig a moat in front of Hadrian’s wall.
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harassment is not a virtual issue

I’m working out the mechanics of reblogging, so I’ll risk putting my comment here as well as on the rockstardinosaurpirateprincess blog and see how it works
If I may add a thought of my own, there is a natural, if unpleasant habit of most creatures to want to be strongest, thereby getting more food and better breeding rights, even when they already have enough. Unfortunately humans are so ‘intelligent’ that they will form rules, laws and societies to gang up on anything that looks like a weaker group, and if that group also thinks it is weaker then the first group will probably win. Until the second group realises it is an illusion, at which point you get an uprising. How else could the English, and a few others, run slave plantations of hundreds of individuals with a few lightly armed men. The Axis forces led thousands to slaughter who knew they would die at the work camps and prisons, yet even when they had nothing to lose they didn’t attack their oppressors. Fortunately the majority usually works out that it’s a con, eventually and we can only hope that it hasn’t learned too much from its bullies and replicates them. There is one kind of hero. She or he who immediately attacks the aggressor proportionate to the perceived threat, I wouldn’t recommend shooting the bum-grabber, in spite of the immediate appeal.

rockstar dinosaur pirate princess

I was going to write something about drinking this week, because it’s been a while, and last week’s post was kinda feministy and I like to usually mix things up a bit in between the being Really Angry About Things but something, well, two somethings but really the same something, happened this week which made me, well, Really Angry about Things.

Thing 1 – Sue Perkins – cake botherer, national treasure and all round amazing person – was hounded off Twitter due to some baseless rumours that she could be in the running to present Top Gear. For non UK people, Top Gear is ostensibly a program about cars, but for many years has basically been a vehicle (oh, lol) for the champion of the sort of people that say things like  “I’m not a bigot but I should be allowed to say these things it’s political correctness gone mad MAD I…

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Grubby Fingers

25/03/2015
 
    When you play with elderly tractors you will probably get your hands dirty, especially if you are doing a few repairs, a bit of re-assembly, spray painting, changing the oil….that kind of thing. Sometimes it takes several scrubs with various cleaning compounds, especially if you get paint, dirt and old oil combined. It can take almost as long to clean off as it took to get on. Nowadays the industry recommends the use of latex type gloves, which is fine for a bit of light tinkering, but completely pants if you are using any real force at the fingertips. Yesterday saw me reassembling the offside brake-drum which involves some fairly solid bits of metalwork, and it went well enough.
P1060117 
    I won’t know how well until I give it a run and try braking. Maybe a slow walk first then. Sadly at the other end it looks as though the two front tyres have not far to go, as you might say, and will probably need replacing before any brake test can happen. I might get away with new inner tubes, but I don’t think it’s worth the effort of removing a tyre and then putting it back. Anyway, progress is being made, and there’s a lot of helpful people out there. It’s an oddity, but no matter how arcane a piece of machinery I get stuck into there always seems to be a nearby helpful expert on hand. In this vein I have located a local engineer who also sells new and second-hand bits of Fergie, and there are a couple of useful blogs like Ploughmyfield.com and Jeff’s 1260engineer.com which have saved me quite a bit of trouble pointing out pitfalls, short-cuts and snags. As mentioned, one of the effects is filthy oily hands, and I had a look for a hand cleanser as effective as old style Swarfegar but without the ‘flayed alive’ feeling after use and the funny smell. Manista ‘natural’ hand cleanser certainly works, although the packaging leaves a bit to be desired, and…… well I’ll cheat and paste my product review here.  
 
Manista ‘natural’ hand cleanser.
      This gets a mixed review. The hand cleanser works well, leaves your hands in good condition and smells of lemons, all of which would get 5 stars. However, the packaging is the same as other reviewers have noted, not up to the mark. Mine had a shattered lid and while most of the cleanser was in the container, there was 25% in the plastic bag and 15% outside both. Fortunately the cardboard box stopped it at that point. Obviously I had to find alternative packaging, the lid being split and in 3 pieces. I was hoping that the word natural would have some meaning for more than the primary ingredient (Water), but the granular component, while perfectly functional, is polythene, which will not break down in my lifetime. I would prefer a pumice or other non plastic abrasive. I googled Cocamide DEA, or cocamide diethanolamine and found that wikipedia  classified it as ‘as possibly carcinogenic to humans. The next ingredient Trideceth-7 seems to have a low toxicity but as it is a polyethylene glycol ether of Tridecyl Alcohol I think ‘Natural’ is pushing it a bit. Lauryl Sulphate is given a low to moderate hazard risk as long as it doesn’t stay on the skin. My eyesight gave up at this point because the ingredients list is in very small print. I assume this stuff is actually quite safe, but I think the word Natural is being stretched a bit far, and will try to find something ‘greener’ next time.
    I know the Elfland Safety boys can be a bit over-sensitive, but it does make you think. Fortunately our septic tank system will leave the bits of polythene deep in the moor and while I hope they are small enough to pass through all but the smallest digestive systems, I wouldn’t want them getting in the food chain, being exactly the kind of micro-granules that fish eat and Greenpeace hates.
    Well, I’ve done a bit of computery and that’s the front tubes and tyres ordered, It’s a useful thing the internet. £126 including transport from May Hill Tractors, could be worse, and it’ll certainly look a lot smarter than the old ones. One oddity arose, when I was checking the size of the old 19″ tyres, (4.00.19), I noticed they were made by an English firm, Kelly. Which explains the purpose of the two Kelly tyres I was given some years back. Probably just as well I didn’t try them on the Midge, they are very knobbly and I doubt they are designed for road use. So if you hear of anybody with a tractor that takes 15″ front tyres, I could help them.
    Now that the brake drum is reassembled, I can put the wheel back on,P1060116
and the old tyres can pretend to be flower-beds.
P1060120
If there is one thing that could do with a good re-cycling program it’s tyres. Unfortunately there’s an unidentified local tyre centre that just dumps them in the countryside, sometimes Hermand Birchwood car-park. It would be nice to find out who they are. I’d suggest an import or manufacturing tax on new ones that would automatically pay for their disposal, but since the same idea has been proposed for cans and plastic bottles without success, I think I would be wasting my time.
    Between engagements we took the opportunity to view the eclipse of the sun. The sun arrived at the appointed hour, but so did the cloud, so while it got dark and cold, nothing much else happened. I did catch a couple of glimpses through cloud, but frankly it was a bit of a disappointment. I’m not sure I’ll bother with the next one, a totality might be more interesting, but the next isn’t due until 23 September 2090. I’ll see how I feel at the time.
    As spring gets going the nights are getting a bit warmer, but the cat and Fiona both still feel a fire is necessary in the evening. This means the wood store is getting used up and further dropping and chopping of trees are required. We still have a fair number of surplus trees, mostly softwood, and I don’t see any shortage soon. In fact, to start at the beginning, I was recently given a collection of ex-church windows. i.e. windows that were in a building that used to be a church. Before your imagination goes completely off the chart, I should point out that they are plain glass, made up of small squares held together with lead channel and about 30″ x 5′  ( ” means inches and ‘ means foot for those who were born metric)
    My idea of using them up by making a summer-house was viewed favourably and a suitable site was discovered next to the garden shed. This leads my discourse back to the trees that are currently growing in the picture below, they will make a contribution to the wood pile shortly, though I’ll have to check for birds nests first.
25-03-2015~~element7 
 I’d be firm about the use of said Summer-house since ‘her indoors’ tends to fill things with plant-life, to the point when the humans are restricted in their movements. However, since I can always find a place to stand, or even sit if somewhat hunched, with book and whisky, I’d probably better not. It is more diplomatic building another room each time I find myself pot-bound.
    Spring has brought on a rash of home improvements, there’s a new carpet in the bath-room with a better layer of underlay. Half an inch off the bottom of the door solved the slight awkwardness of a door that wouldn’t swing.  The carpet should warm the toes more effectively.
    Next there’s a piece of what I still call either vinyl or lino for the porch. The current bit of plastic is well past its useful life, having been retrieved pro tem a year ago from the rental house when the kitchen floor was re-covered.  I was also looking for a couple of reading lights to replace the rather ungainly standard lamps in the living room, so we wandered into the local town and bought the lights, carpet and vinyl, all suitably discounted after a small detour for some really urgent tractor parts.
    I suppose the term Lino is rather out of date now, it was a floor covering made with a solidified mix of clay and linseed oil and had a hemp-fibre webbing back. I haven’t actually seen any in 30 years.
    I suppose there is always a product or two disappearing into the mists of time. Rexene, Bakelite, Paraffin, Walnut Whips.  Actually I don’t know if Walnut Whips disappeared or simply got too small to see. The magic of the internet tells me they are still available, 32 grammes and £2 each including postage, and still selling like hot cakes. £1 for 3 in Poundland just now apparently.
    So I shall change that to the disappearance of the walnut inside a Walnut whip. Damn, I can remember them; Thruppence each, the size of my fist and four to the pound. ((1.25 pence each  and 113.398grams)) As to whether my memory is accurate, well that’s another matter.
    Would I go back? no chance. No central heating, (well we didn’t anyway), boring food, overt racism, the cold war, no, if I wanted to go back 50 years I’d go to the Shetland Islands. Most of the modern advantages, including electricity, but with an old style community that even accepts ex pat English. You can get Walnut Whips too.
    In closing this page I should add that I am trying this WordPress thing as an addition, and possible alternative, to my web-site effort, that started out as a family newsletter and morphed into a sort of blog. It has a load of stuff on it, and I’ll have to decide whether I want it to go public.

Gone, but….

Right Jim, pull yourself together. That’s quite enough wallowing in it, and it’s not going to bring him back. A REAL MAN would get out there, stop whimpering and WRITE SOMETHING There is after all a bloody great vacuum to be filled. Fortunately there are a few good types out there, otherwise I would feel like trying to replace a suddenly missing sun with a candle on a stick, and I don’t think a readership in double figures is really going to cut it. I found this picture on a blog, (Its all narrative) I don’t know who made it, but I’d like to thank them, and apologise for not being able to identify them. It produces a rather nice image of continuation.

sir-terrydeath

Meantime, we’ll just have to see how life is when everything has settled down and the country has resumed it’s previously cheerful progress toward Spring. Here in the humble there are lots of jobs to be avoided, tasks to be left undone, or at least until later, and bits of tractor to clean. I do like the gradually rising temperatures, although it hit 0˚Centigrade again last night. It’s up to 3˚ already and it’s only 11:50. The days lengthen, the cat gets a bit less fluffy, the lawn mower stays exactly where it has been for the past 5 years. This accounts for the non-occurrence of the G&T on the lawn… no lawn. That and the occasional light frost.

I think my upbringing in Hampshire must be wearing off, I would have considered that fairly chilly before I came up here to Scotland. Now, when visiting the fossil, who currently resides in Winchester, we have to turn the radiators off and open a window. That was mid February. I try to avoid expressions like southern softies, mainly to avoid a poke in the eye, but also because I know that most of it is down to avoiding the cold by wearing the right clothing, and actually it is more a lack of practice at dealing with the heat. We do get the occasional heat-wave, and as the daylight hours are longer here in Summer, it can get quite uncomfortable. It takes a while, and sometimes the Scottish summer can just be a day or two of sunshine, but when it gets going, usually a ‘stalled’ jet-stream, there are expressions bandied about like ‘jings’ and ‘the sun’s splitting the trees’ and a few will take off their simmets and turn brown. Having gone from pale blue through white, pink and red and patchy of course. I know of two other locals who use the expression ‘jings’, so I think it’s OK, in moderation. I’ve never heard ‘Hoots’ except in relation to owls, and though you’ll often hear a noise similar to ‘Och’ preceding ‘Aye’, though it’s more of a sort of throat clearing exercise, and ‘The Noo’ is now officially extinct.

Here in mid March it’s on the cusp. The various small brown jobs are twittering as per protocol, zipping about screaming threats of violence and offers of sex. Small enthusiastic, but as yet unidentified green shoots are trying to get through my ‘things not thrown away just yet’. A tom-cat has visited the garage and anointed a car tyre. Life burgeons… Spring is usually a time to start a project or two, but I accidentally started early in the garage, fitting a newly supplied tractor exhaust, which led on to changing the back tyres and discovering the leaky half-shaft, that expanded into a refurbishing of the brakes, noticing the state of the front tyres, rebuilding the steering column, painting a few bits….on it goes. There is now a short period between the melting of the residual lower level snow and the arrival of the midge (insect) , so if I want to do any paint spraying I’d better get on with it. A year or so back had a very good period of pre-midge warm-and-sunny, which was just as well since I had discovered a red paint for the Midge (car) which took an unbelievably long time to dry. It produced a reasonable 5′ finish in the end, but I’ll not use brushing coach paint again.P1040804

I see Clarkson is in the Beeb’s bad books again. Odd that, could it be deliberate? I know he does objectionable rather well, but “fracas” ? Straight out of William de Word’s book of helpful headlines. I didn’t look but I assume it was the Sun or the Mirror that perpetrated that one. On the matter of thinking styles I consider Top Gear to be an honest but unreconstructed post war child, from before we noticed the environment, and anyway I like to have someone I can disagree with that is able to string a twelve word sentence together without repetition, deviation or hesitation, and hasn’t been chosen for their chest or meteoric rise to obscurity. I always assumed he was a careful construct designed to engage, enrage and distract, a sort of a human Farrage, but likeable. Thinking of which, how can we consider firing Clarkson for political incorrectness, at the same time as considering electing excrescences like UKIP? Or could it be that it too is a distraction?

OK so I’m paranoid. Does that mean there isn’t a conspiracy? Is it actually just the tip of the ice cube? Those of us who spend most of our time confused, or at best ignorant, usually find, no matter which argument is used, after voting for the least appalling politician that we cannot recognise the promised policies. Once in office they all seem similarly bland, prove to be equally dishonest, interchangeably incompetent, and curiously distant. Still, smug, sticky fingered 6th formers make a change from demon driven lunatics even if the results are the same, i.e. feeling that the country is not being run for the people in it. To mis-quote Anon, “It doesn’t matter who you vote for, you always get the bloody government.”

Personally I think the clue is in the name, Parliament is supposed to refer to talking, politics is supposed to be about people, but Government sounds more like control. Perhaps we should call them Representatives, ideally of voters rather than money, and I’m damn sure the word party really means gang. If you really want to know how I think politics works, read Sir Terry from one end to the other, or to summarise, Tell them a lie, and when it becomes inconvenient, tell them a bigger one.

There used to be a tradition of killing the king when the crops failed, I thought it barbaric, but I’m beginning to wonder. The only problem is that that method puts the priests in charge. At least you know a politician is in it for himself, or his chums, or conceivably for the people. With a theocracy it can be run on rails of complete insanity ‘because god told me’, this always produces a train wreck because the rails are never parallel.

I really must produce a list of which answers are in which book, but Small Gods and Monstrous Regiment seem to cover the bulk of it.

My apologies for going on a bit about Sir TP, I’ll be back on my feet soon. I’m going to re read Nation. It seems appropriate.

Day 1 posting 1

    And so the blogging starts……

 I have been making web pages for a while now, at jimhewlett.com and have been considering this here wordpress thing, a blog making machine that I’ve seen others do and wondered about. I’ll tell you about the others soon, when I have found my feet. In the meantime here’s a copy of my last web-page to get you going. Now if I can just work out which end is up, and whether the latest is at the top, off we go.

In which Jim buys a 1956 TE20D Ferguson Tractor

By now, gentle reader, you will have noted my excursion into the fields of Ferguson. This is partly because of my being a Farmer’s son and partly because I can.
  P1060060 (1)
 When I say I can, it really refers to my freedom of action rather than my engineering skills, and  there might be a risk of hubris because I am really learning the art of tractor from scratch. I do feel slightly guilty buying one of these for fun (mostly) when Dad effectively made it possible by building up the farm after the war. Still, I think he would be amused, even if the spanner wielding would have been of more use to him almost half a century back.
 
     I learned to drive one of these back in the late 1960’s on our Hampshire farm. Our Fergie wasn’t new then, although probably less than a decade old, and I don’t remember Dad having to repair it. I think my brother, Bill, drove it more than I did, he was rather more gung ho than I was, and had a motorbike when I was riding a moped. I don’t remember him having a license though…. I must ask him about that.
 
    There was an older, derelict Fordson which had died in front of the silage pit, but the TE20 we had was the oldest working tractor I remember on the farm,  possibly younger than this 1956 model, if my memory of it being a diesel is correct. It never had a cab and was soon over-shadowed by various bigger Massey Ferguson models with cabs, the last being a 135 I think. Quite sophisticated by then, we even had a Ford Dexta which had headlights and a cigarette lighter, but the wee grey Fergie was there until sold at the auction, still working, and it may be working yet.
 
    Having developed a taste for simple, heavy, machinery in a series of Land Rovers I was looking for something to fill the new garage. I’d had two Alvis TA14s with a spare, in pieces, in an upstairs bedroom, fortunately only the price went through the ceiling, though sadly that happened after I sold them. I found a photo of the Duncan bodied Alvis and a younger bodied Jim, here they are in West Meon somewhere around 1986. I’m currently using that tee shirt as a oily rag on the tractor. Nothing wasted.
alvis   However, I digress…. Having done big and heavy, I thought something smaller, lighter and cheaper would do. A Morris 1000 perhaps, or a third Midge.
    A recent visit to Cornwall, via Hampshire, presented Fiona with a Tractor experience that she found agreeable, so when the Fergie turned up I decided that it would be the sensible thing to do. Small and light having been thrown out of the window. I mean a chap can’t spend all his time and money on Midges, can he? That’s a rhetorical question, so just nod or shake to taste.
    I don’t doubt there were better models available, but the price seemed reasonable, and frankly I get as much of my fun from repairing and building as I do from driving, so there’s no real point in my buying something that’s already finished to concourse condition.
 
    The tyres were well… tired, and the exhaust was, yes, exhausted, and obviously wrong, but it started, the engine ran and it drove without falling over, so a deal was made and I started spending. £1000 bought it and I think another £1000 should see it working properly.
    The registration number proved to be a complete fiction, and there has been a certain amount of swapping of parts where, for instance it gained a completely rubbish rear tyre which was a pity as they are £150 plus vat etc, attached with the wrong sized (loose) bolts. Also an alien exhaust and manifold from who knows where. (£30) The brakes, rear only and entirely mechanical, were oily on one side, loose on the other and about as effective as a chocolate hammer so the seal needs replacing. The PTO shaft has the same incontinence problem, but fortunately I can drain the oil from both at the same time.
P1060096
    With a new steering wheel, some bearings and the right kind of exhaust it is starting to look presentable, I have changed one of the rear tyres, seen all shiny in the top photo. Not an easy process since the local garage machine can’t handle such a size, you’ll get an idea of the task from the next picture.  I guess I’ll have to tidy that shed up sometime too.
P1060100
    You’ll be impressed with the new exhaust seen here (up a bit), with a new red u-bend manifold (wrong word but it will suffice) and the steering wheel. The jacking system lacks subtlety, being a load of 6″ x 3″ joist cut-offs, but it is stable, and does the job.
 
    The brakes are about to get a bit of attention, unworn probably because of the oil, and likely to be asbestos, but if kept wet, that’s not a problem. I’d have been further ahead but there was so much muck, rust, and caked on kak that I almost despaired of removing the hub in one piece. Then, just before I went from gentle to brutal, I discovered the inch and a quarter diameter locking screws that prevent it falling off when there isn’t a wheel on it, absolutely massive even by Land Rover standards. I was looking for something 1/4 of the size. Fortunately, by habit, if I can’t progress I usually do some general cleaning while letting my mind works on the problem. That usually finds a solution, and I end up with a cleaner machine as well. A swift clout with an impact driver did the rest.
 
    You will be pleased, I’m sure, to learn that when the screws became apparent, right under my nose, I said thank-you, rather than anything less genteel. Nearly dropping the draw-bar on my foot was a close shave too.
    A can of paint should remove most of the scruffy look, though I have no intention of making Ted look concourse, he’s for work not show.
    The grey conveniently matches the colour of our cat, Errol, though to no particular advantage. I only noticed that after the purchase, and while both started out a plain grey, now being older both have patches of other colours. I don’t think either was ever really shiny.
 
    I’ll be looking for a ‘link box’, a sort of big general purpose bucket, rear mounted on the hydraulic linkage that made the Ferguson so effective, but I think I’ll give ploughing a miss.
    No doubt other ‘extras’ will be needed, so as spring approaches, I’ll have to get around the local farms in a Midge and  see what archaic bits are lying around unwanted, unloved and underpriced. You always get a better deal in a Midge, it might be sympathy or curiosity, I don’t know, but turn up in an expensive new sports car and you’ll pay through the nose.
 
    The Midge club has been thinking of making a 2016 calendar, so in that vein, here’s a rendition of the Fergie, and before you all get over excited, I must confess it has more to do with software than art. I don’t know if Tom heard of the ‘App’ (Waterlogue) which runs on ipads and iphones. It’s certainly useful for those of us who have limited artistic skills, and who knows, maybe it would work as a teaching aid. You can get it free, I discovered after paying £1.30 for it, and there’s a PC version somwhere.
Painted in Waterlogue
     It has long been a family tradition to name vehicles. Dad called most of his tractors Start-ya-bastard, but that’s a bit politically incorrect now. We name cats too, and they take even less notice. However, I have a bit of a dilemma, the tractor is a TED model, so ‘Ted’ seemed logical, but my Uncle Tom made a donation toward the tractor fund shortly before he died, and he was an excellent water-colourist. Should I call it Tom? I could call it George after Dad, or even Errol, (though that would need white-wall tyres to match his paws). Your advice will be appreciated, especially since the Midges are still called the red one and the green one.