British
Human
Power
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Colonial Diaspora

Hacksaw distortion 

Saturday, June 19, 2010 11:58:08 AM Categories: junk collecting mountain bike
 
B*llocks it's cold. When I say it of course I am referring to the ambient temperature, not to It, which might be implied by a wilful misreading of the proximity of 'B*llocks' to 'it's cold.' Mind, if we're going into intimate details, cycling along the West Bank Road does tend to chill certain contiguous organs, and since they then all shrink to the size of something that can be comfortably concealed by the next fullstop, I shall have to stop automatically deleting those helpful emails from Daina Yukiko Devinehlq offering me Our enlargement pills can show you, has the are recently. The West Bank Road gets no sun in winter and you can always find plenty of black ice which yields one of winter's pleasures, viz., boy racing. You indulge in wheelspins and skids and doughnuts and all manner of exciting road adventures and yesterday I suddenly noticed in my little mirror that I was being followed by a big 4WD ute. It was driving *very* cautiously. I think he'd spotted what I was doing, and abruptly realised he was in some danger if he drove at normal ute speeds. He didn't overtake for ages, not till we reached a bit of dry road that had been warmed by the sun.
 
Cold, so time to do a little perfectly good mountain bicycle hacksawing. Sometimes I hacksaw to harvest bottom bracket shells and sometimes I hacksaw to get steering tubes and sometimes I hacksaw out of curiosity to see if the builder inexplicably filled all the frame tubes with molten lead or whether there's some other explanation for outrageous weight.
 
Mountain bicycles have the two advantages that people are constantly throwing them away and that they don't use obscure British 1940s BB threads and that you get cantilever stubs off them, so that's three advantages, and that they yield long cage rear mechs, so that's four.
 
Here is a Useful Tip for new cheapskate recumbent builders: always get perfectly good ladies' mountain bicycles in preference to perfectly good gentlemen's mountain bicycles. None of the parts will be worn out. Not even the chain. Ladies have no idea at all how gears work, so though their bike may boast fifteen of them, only one gear will ever have been used in its whole life. Once top gear has been achieved the lady will labour slowly along with her kneecaps popping, and being unaware of the possibilities of going back into a lower gear, will regard the bicycle balefully at the end of the ride and thereafter select the car for all future journeys. After seven years her husband will undrape the dust-laden blanket from it and put the machine, with crumbling brittle tyres and slightly rusty cables but otherwise intact, on the trailer and take it to the local Household Refuse Recycling Centre to be crushed into a skip. And here is another Useful Tip: as bicycles are only ejected from households of a Sunday morning, and as council officials can't abide for the public not to be forced to queue, you wait outside the town dump and ambush the line of cars at 10.40 am and offer every third trailer-load two quid for his bike. He won't accept the two quid if you try to look like a poor student bent on cheap transport. Do not discuss recumbents or hacksaws. Bike-chucker-outers won't give you them if they see the glint in your eye and the hacksaw in your hand.
 

 Distortion of frames after hacksawing 
 
The interesting part of hacksawing a bike is how much the tubes spring apart. They do this every time. About 3.175mm. Internal stresses from the welding. The other interesting part is finding out that the steel is 1.5mm thick. Actually you can ascertain the wall thickness of frame tubes without recourse to a hacksaw: you poke a vernier into a bottle cage hole and then measure the OD across the same point. It amazes me that cheap mountain bikes have tubing of 1.5mm thickness and it amazes me that the OD of one tube will be 38.1mm and the other 50.8mm and it amazes me that bicycles this strong, which cannot physically be destroyed by any means not involving asteroid collisions, always bear the legend 'WARNING THIS BICYCLE IS NOT DESIGNED FOR OFF-ROAD USE OR STUNTING'. Then what is it, pray tell, designed for? - well, actually it's designed for propping up a blanket next to the freezer in the garage for seven years, that's what.

Mid-winter 

Tuesday, June 8, 2010 1:15:39 AM Categories: junk collecting New Zealand
Mid-winter, so time for the blue insulated bootees to come out, now reinforced with an additional layer of black foam that I found in a ditch on the Motueka Valley Highway, and I am pleased to say that these now excite admiration rather than scorn among the children's peers.
'What are those?'
'Workshop boots.'
'Cool! You could enter them in the World of Wearable Art competition.'
At least, I think it's admiration.
 
What happens in winter is this: you install central heating. Central heating is not applied to the house in New Zealand but to the person, by means of hot water bottles installed inside your coat. Then only your fingers fall off.
 
The picture demonstrates the principle.  

 
 
The burnt hole in the brand-new sweater is because
a) it was a polyester garment that melted because
b) a certain stupid person was angle-grinding without paying attention to where the sparks were going. (Once I set the workshop on fire, too, when they went into a huge wad of wire wool. Amazingly combustible, wire wool.)
 
The yellow belt is as you guessed a luggage strap that I found on a ride after Christchurch had gone home from its summer holiday in Kaiteriteri. In January the whole of Christchurch moves to Kaiteriteri and lives in caravans with a bit of plastic grass outside - I kid you not - and erects a gazebo to protect the centre part of its 4WD from the rain that doesn't fall - I still kid you not - and everyone sits on folding nylon chairs reading the Christchurch papers for a fortnight. And because the campground is rather petite for the population of a small city they do this in something of an intense huddle and all the people of Motueka go there to marvel at the sight, a hundred thousand people crammed into the five flat acres that Kaiteriteri boasts, their knees wedged under flimsy aluminium camp tables with ashtrays and beer cans and hair dryers - all the essentials - balanced precariously on top, bare shoulders bright red and freckly in the intense sunlight. (January = July in New Zealand, of course, just in case you forget that the world is upside down here.)
 
For the belt buckle I retained the black steel luggage hook, and though I do wear it to hold my 25-yr-old Point North coat closed and to secure the hot water bottle, it's also to toughen the children to embarrassment for when their friends call. Nor shall I tell you which of these three predominates.

With the winter rain the children have found a new walk for their exercise; it goes up past the sewage ponds to the coast where all the wildfowlers lurk and where if you turn over old logs and look lively you can catch small lizards which promptly bite your fingers and scurry off into the grass when you drop them. Beachcombing is only less hazardous if the wildfowlers don't see you carting off their mislaid decoys because, imbued with the indiscriminate wisdom of their father, the children return with any and all treasure as is to be found. My policy on bicycle rides is to go as fast as possible but to stop whenever I see an 8mm bolt or a penny washer on the road. My wife believes I am addicted to useless junk but she doesn't know how long it takes to machine an odd-sized penny washer when I come to need one, and actually it only costs twenty seconds of riding time to stop.
 
Unf. the 8mm bolts are always munted and anyway bolts aren't washed up on beaches, but now I never need to buy flip-flops, nor indeed Holey Soleys provided my feet shrink a bit and I'm content to wear a bright and a dark blue one, which of course I would if they fitted. The pink ones are too small and both left-footed so if anyone chances to see twin children rather distinctively hopping down the road on their right feet, send me an address and I'll post them their missing beach shoes.
 
And - um - you never know when you might need a plastic VW wheel hub.

Rainbows 

Wednesday, May 26, 2010 2:26:58 AM Categories: bike clothing cycle path tandem
You think your family is gifted. Huh. We are much better than you will ever be. We have just won the world sock-washing championship.
 
It rained and rained last week and the valleys filled and emptied into their rivulets and streams and eventually the Wangapeka overflowed its banks and the citizens of the Baton, where they say gold is still to be panned, were helicoptered to the Tapawera School and popped into sleeping bags for the deluge, and the Motueka River swelled and rose and by watching the downswept logs steadily overtake me as I cycled alongside I could tell how fast the water was flowing and by joining the sightseers clogging the cyclepath that abuts it I could see how close the water was to the undersurface of the bridge. (Very close.)
 
And delightfully it's now been raining again, with the start of some morning sunshine to amuse me with the curious observation, wot I have never before noticed, that the lower of a double rainbow has the blue on the inside and the red on the outside, while the faint upper rainbow has the red inside and the blue out. So the reds, with a gap between them, are adjacent. I never knew that before. I was never a student of double rainbows.
 
Anyway the scullery steadily filled with washing but now with blue skies peeping in the east I have first thing this morning pegged up ninety million socks to dry.
 
The mystery is this.
 
There were no laundry baskets.
 
If you own a teenage daughter then one of the things you do each week is buy a new laundry basket because however frequently you assure her that such are not part of her bedroom furniture, a teenage daughter's bedroom door is a laundry basket valve. They only go one way. In. And this morning looking for something to carry a great mountain of damp socks outside I peeped into a certain bedroom and was mystified and stumped, because though the floor besported piles of clothes tumbling out of open cupboards, there were no laundry baskets. That certain bedroom floor, with some effort, held up the following:
 
1 camera
1 computer
Approx 200 miles of wires and cables attached to approx 2 million electronic gadgets that I didn't even know she had
Assorted
 
The last is a sort of dustbin category and includes more stuff than I care or have time to list but it's an essential taxonomic box (just wait - if you don't believe me - until you own a teenage daughter. Then you'll see. Then you'll jolly see) but the salient point is that there were no laundry baskets whatever. None.
 
It was as if there'd been a sudden laundry basket famine, as if a laundry-basket-vacuum passed over the house in the night and sucked all of them up and they all disappeared into the ether. I was completely mystified and stumped and am even more mystified and stumped now because somehow all those socks got pegged up, yet I have no idea how they managed the semicircular, rainbow-shaped trip round the outside of the house from scullery to clothesline. My brain is defective. It has a gap the shape of a rainbow in it, and somewhere within that gap lurks the fascinating information as to where I found all the laundry baskets.
 
The Human Power bit of this post being a bit thin, and my notebook (an envelope) revealing only the enigmatic information '3 lbs 2 ¼ oz' with nothing to tell me what possessed that weight and why I needed to know it, I shall justify my web existence by stating that a black tandem tyre lasts just 2,735.4 kilometres and then has to be replaced. The tyre was black and the mudguard was black but on inspection identical adjacent colours was all they had in common with a double rainbow. Unlike my morning rainbows, there was no gap whatever between them. They had, in fact, been rubbing all the while. As I say, my brain is defective. (The mudguard is now zip-tied to the rear rack for a bit of clearance.)

Dung cart 

Thursday, May 13, 2010 11:29:00 AM Categories: wagon
The building of a perfectly good gentleman's mountain bicycle being of No Interest Whatever to members of the BHPC who are only int'rested in recumbents, I shall generously dispense with further details. What is of vast int'rest is of course what happened to the sacrificial trailer after the wagon got finished, and what happened was this: it got turned into a dung cart. Now do not wince, oh denizen of Surrey. Dung carts have a long and respectable history. And I think they will have a long and respectable future as well, because sooner or later trekking up and down to Dr Brewer's paddock without using 38 mpg to gather fertiliser could have more merit than my wife imagines, she deriding my utterly brilliant and highly informed world economic environmental collapsnik diagnosis with the remark that I am an obsessive nut job.
'You wouldn't have me any other way' is what I plead, complacently.
'Except with a bit more hair.' Cruel she is, and heartless.

Your standard dung cart is pulled by a horse but I do not like horses. The only horse I ever rode regularly had a habit of walking as close as it could to the house knowing it would thereby grind my leg off from the knee down, and it did so deliberately on every occasion I clambered unwillingly into the saddle, and I knew for a fact that it knew for a fact that I knew it was doing it on purpose. Moreover there is something worrying about a vehicle that actually does have a mind of its own. And lest you imagine these concerns are misplaced, the British Medical Journal once published the statistic that horse riding is a staggering 20 times more dangerous, statistically, than motorbike riding. I once didn't meet Prince Charles when he was having his arm set in the university hospital in Nottingham after tumbling off his horse while a-hunting. I twenty times didn't meet him falling off his motorbike. So that proves it. - In any case, if I owned a horse the logical thing would be to bring horse to garden and dispense with both paddock and dung cart. I do not own a horse; Dr Brewer does, or at least his daughter does, and I am invited to partake of its ploppings and given that the stuff sells for two dollars a bag and I am a cheapskate beyond compare, a dung cart had to be adventured.

So, hacksaw and welder out, quick spray with blue paint so that Bob Knight thinks I've turned over a new leaf, and 406 wheels fitted to the old trailer which had been reduced to a stem. Plywood sheet from junk in the shed, scraps of willow from the wagon remnants, screws, glue, and a wooden boxy thing to fit two plastic dustbins. Leg to stop it falling forward, and small jockey wheel for no good reason that I can now think of. And came to regret. Because I kept thinking it would snag on road bumps. And therefore I fixed the hitch as high as I could to maximise ground clearance.

The trailer hitch is a bit of hydraulic tube. It was dreamt up and patented by K-k-k Wossname who built the first Bluebell but I blithely nick patented trailer hitches certain that he will never find out on the other side of the world. (Derek Henden. Bike Hod. I knew it began with K. http://www.freepatentsonline.com/4371184.html and it's a dashed fine hitch too, the best I've ever nicked except for a bit we'll come to in a minute.)

So, off to the paddock and when 150kg of substance was gathered, a slightly self-conscious 7 miles an hour home past all the workmen who are needed to wreck a state highway. At one point the cycle path dips down for the convenience of a house driveway, and when I popped up on the slope opposite, I found the back of the bike lurching all over the place and peeping over my shoulder found the workmen chuckling as, with weight on, the trailer hopped from side to side, lifting each wheel in turn. And this is the deficiency of the high hitch. Any slight swaying of the bike gives vertical nudges to the trailer. When I got home I found the draw bar had been rubbing against the back tyre too, so I adjusted it lower and ignoring the possible grounding of the jockey wheel surprised my wife by going out again without unloading; it behaved a good deal better this time.



So we now possess a dung cart, two wagons, a perfectly good gentleman's mountain bicycle and a large heap of horse manure. It escapes me why anyone might wish to know these things and so I shall spare you how many grapefruit fell off the tree last night in the rainstorm. (Twenty-six.)


Installing handlebar grips 

Tuesday, May 4, 2010 11:19:53 PM Categories: compressed air

As is well known - because I keep telling everyone - there being no other evidence - I am a Genius. And therefore I am going to grace this Blog with a Fantastic Tip.

The hardest things in bicycle maintenance are always the smallest. There are no exceptions to this rule. And the hardest thing of all is to install foam handlebar grips, which we elderly folk like because we are not interested in impressing eager young athletes but are interested in not having tingling fingers.

The Instructions on foam handlebar grips are these:

Velo Grips are made to the highest standards and feature a wide assortment of quality, race-proven materials.

(This is bollocks of course, and we both know it.)

Due to the importance of proper installation and setting, and for your safety, Velo recommends having the product installed by a professional bicycle dealer.

Not all that helpful, but passing the buck to a professional bicycle dealer is I suppose a step forward because in the Olden Days we were told to apply soap or meths as a lubricant, and the grip rotated thereafter or fell apart. A professional bicycle dealer - Jim or Lenny - is no doubt expected to have an airline these days, and will blast compressed air under the foam while sliding it in place, but neither you nor I have access to airlines so we have to Make Do. And since I have an Evil History and invented a great many very naughty things to do with compressed air, my natural instinct is to apply Evilness to foam grips. You attach a length of inner tube to the handlebar with a binding of rubber cut from the remainder of the inner tube. You seal the other end of the inner tube with two blocks of wood and a clamp. You attach pump to valve, daughter to pump, and get her to gently pump air into the handlebar while you apply the other foam grip. Air seeping past allows everything to go on smoothly. The plug-bar-end of the grip is removed, and half an inch of handlebar under the foam exposed; inner-tube re-applied to t'other end; and the second grip goes on smoothly too.

There! Now I'm going to write to Blue Peter to see if they'll give me a job as a Presenter, which they might well do unless they happen to google to find out what else I get up to with compressed air.
 

 

A perfectly good gentleman's mountain bicycle 

Friday, April 30, 2010 10:49:11 AM Categories: brass cartridges maintenance mountain bike
 TransportNZ has decided to maintain State Highway 60, not one lane at a time but the entire section. And to everyone's surprise they have taken it away. The whole highway. For the last month a mile of road between here and Motueka has had no tarmac at all and is a sandy muddy swamp and accordingly Mr Knight, who knows about these things, has instructed me to acquire a perfectly good gentleman's mountain bicycle. Nobody in their right mind builds such a thing but unf. I have a crippled neck and mountain bicycles suitable for perfectly good gentlemen have the handlebars about a mile too low and make my arm all numb and tingly. (Attentive doctors of medicine will immediately diagnose C7.)
 
Besides I already had the makings of a perfectly good gentleman's mountain bicycle. I had some Marzocchi forks. These cost but little because a previous owner - a moron, if we're being straightforward - had attended to the stem with a hacksaw. (I offer up to the world Middleton's Second Law, which is this: 'Things are seldom improved with a hacksaw.') Fortunately I am a genius and promptly extended the stem with a one-inch tube which inserts tightly and when plug-welded to another stem lies perfectly straight.

 
A plug-welded stem extension

Moreover 'arry, who ran the bike shop in Loughborough (no-one pronounced the 'H') once gave me the back of a bent GT LTS. - This is a GT LTS which had a bend in it, not a recumbent form of a GT LTS, which clarification I make because there are all too many philistines who following a very doubtful and frankly rebellious parish in our noble British colonies - America - erroneously fancy that 'bent' is an acceptable abbreviation of 'recumbent.'  Which it is not. Bent is a word with negative connotations into which I shall not go. Recumbents on the other hand are a glorious invention of magnificent god-like creatures, viz., us lot.

And having a vast Bike Heap I have decided to weld all this together and I can assure you that this will necessitate my using the *uck word quite a lot because it always does. I will also waste most time on the tiniest little bit, and the smaller and less significant it is, the more time and the more *ucks will be spent on it. In fact I just spent two and a quarter hours attaching one of those plastic cable-guiding thingies to the bottom of the BB shell of the donor frame, because a previous owner - a moron and probably the same one - had removed the original and it wasn't a standard size and to make another one fit I had to use a hammer a screwdriver a hacksaw a punch two rivets the small end of a .223 brass rifle cartridge a 7mm spanner a 13mm spanner the hacksaw again an 8mm tap and some meths to wash the reaming tapping and cutting fluid off my best trousers in which I had rather foolishly entered the workshop. As there may well be a vicar reading this I shan't tell you how many times I said *uck but it was fewer than this morning when I found that my bloody wife had constructed one of her amusing Art Installations with all the crockery on the draining rack. We have this rule - call it My Wife's Second Law - that when she cooks I wash up, and when I cook I wash up. And should I demand my yuman rights and go On Strike of an evening she punishes me by playing that bloody Jenga game with the plates and coffee mugs and glasses and carrot-grater and lemon squeezer and anything else possessed of an outlandish and unstackable shape, and behold! at 7.55 am there on the draining board is a reproduction of Mount Everest in bone china.

Horse apples 

Tuesday, April 27, 2010 6:34:14 AM Categories: wagon
With fifty litre bins aboard

A telephone call advising us of the availability of horse apples in a paddock 2.4 miles away. Hah! - an opportunity to test and report on the efficacy of my wagon.

Into the van with wagon and all our plastic dustbins. The van manages 38 mpg and accommodates several common bicycles and the pile of junk essential to hols in Golden Bay; or two recumbents essential to riding round and round Trafalgar Park cycle track; or a wagon and seven dustbins essential to gathering Amber's droppings. (Amber is a chestnut and so, pretty much, are her droppings.)

Gathering horse apples (Squeamish of London does not yet need to know this but soon will, what with Sir David http://www.off-grid.net/2010/03/22/peak-oil-back-in-the-news/ informing the Internet that peak oil has been rescheduled from 2030 to 2014) is best accomplished with rubber gloves. A shovel is all very well for stables I daresay, but paddocks have lots of holes of exactly the same size and shape as a horse's hoof and they also grow all the rough weedy twigs that Amber won't eat and the sweeping action of a shovel is much impaired by this terrain. And horse apples are discrete - I said Squeamish of London wouldn't want to know this - and sufficiently robust to be gathered in handfuls. Your farmer's daughter uses a huge nylon bag designed for builders' gravel but we find that plastic dustbins have the advantage of lids, for lids prevent the van interior from reeking of horse produce. Moreover you cannot pick up a gravel bag containing 400kg of fresh compost. You can pick up a 50 litre plastic dustbin when you have filled it, but you cannot pick up a 50 litre dustbin when your wife has filled it because she shoves as much in as she can and compresses the load.
'But I get more in that way.'
Idiot.
You definitely can't pick up a full 75 litre bin if of middle years and if you want walk upright again.

Three dustbins fit into a four foot wagon though it doesn't need to be 17 inches wide. Ten inch sides are just about high enough to stop dustbins falling out provided the paddock's level, and the wagon definitely needs to have a back. - But it has to be able to drop down. If you've been lazy and lashed a beam across the back with strips of innertube then you're lifting bins over an unnecessary 10 inch hurdle to get them out of the wagon and into the van. - A twenty inch bed height is about right for transfer from wagon to van. Twenty inch wheels manage horse-hoof-holes in paddocks, while 16 inch wheels bounce and jostle quite a bit, though the advantage of full lock is a worthwhile compromise and you're dead glad you fitted the front axle with springs. Small front wheels just mean you have to pull the wagon slowly over a paddock.

Either the rubber gloves have to be large enough to slip off and on easily, or you bind the wagon's handle with a strip of inner tube beforehand. Unless, of course, you're content to accept a subsequent veneer of horse manure. A rubber strip to hold the unsupported handle upright and prevent it falling into what you're about to collect, is a great boon.

So if horse apples are to become more prominent in our garden's life then the new wagon is a vast success. But Juno Watt? Certain obstinate people prefer to drag the dustbins across the paddock. Use of the wagon would constitute tacit praise. - A prophet is not without honour, 'cept in his own house etc.

Grapefruits 

Tuesday, April 13, 2010 4:07:01 AM Categories: solar drier wagon
  
1. It takes approx eleven shakes of the tree (1 per branch) to down approx 180 grapefruit.
2. 180 grapefruits completely fill a wagon approx 3 foot by 1 foot by piled high.
3. I had to use the children's wagon cos the new one doesn't have a back on it. Yet. A wagon without a back is useless for grapefruits. In fact it isn't a wagon at all. It's a dray.
4. 120 grapefruits take approx 50 minutes to squeeze by hand.
5. 120 grapefruits yield 3 litres of juice and forty litres of compost. (The compost bucket formerly contained 10 litres of paint.)
6. Approx 0 members of the BHPC are in a position to challenge these claims.
7. Approx 0 members of the BHPC want to.
8. I have a sore shoulder.
9. And the kitchen floor's all sticky.
10. And I've still got sixty to do.
11. And the tree's still got hundreds and hundreds on it.
12. Whinge whinge whinge etc. for quite a long time.

Wagons v. carts 

Saturday, April 10, 2010 9:01:14 AM Categories: engineering problems wagon



Here is a picture of a house that didn't quite make it up a tree though it did give us a happy weekend a few years ago when raised aloft in the manner I imagine archaeologists think Stonehenge was probably raised. The treehouse is small; it is made out of an apple crate rescued from the orchard dump where it would otherwise have been burnt. The windows - since children require complication to their treehouses - are of plastic drinks bottles and the frames nail 'em all together.
 
In front of the treehouse are grapefruits. We have an orange tree too but it's rubbish whereas the grapefruit tree blooms and produces abundantly, more's the damned pity. We also have a quince tree and this afternoon it yielded ten boxes of quinces. If you don't know what to do with ten boxes of quinces you look up Jane Grigson and find that she doesn't either, so you bag them up to give to anyone foolish enough to accept them. Quinces are almost as horrible as grapefruits. They're a sort of combination of a pear and a turnip, and the tree knows you're going to hate them so it is just fantastically prolific though since I've never found a seed in a quince I don't know why it bothers. The only consolation is that a quince has a beautiful smell and may be kept for a few weeks on all your bookshelves, provoking animated discussion among your daughter's schoolfriends about your sanity which discussion you encourage because it affords them a brief respite from talking about sex.
 
Between treehouse and grapefruit stands the most exquisitely formed wagon and the only thing I ought to have done differently, apart from provide it with brakes, is modify the handle so you can tow it. A spade handle is easily made but insists on being held at ninety degrees to your body, which is not tremendously comfortable when rescuing apple crates from orchard dumps. Heavy thing, an old wet apple crate.
 
Sometimes it's necessary to rescue trees, not crates, from the orchard dump, for when y'raverage well-dressed Tesco buyer decides we've all lost interest in Braeburns they're all ripped out and Jazz or Fuji are planted in their place. Commercial orcharding is brutal, and vast bonfires smoke the valley out, but we have a wood stove and keep half an eye on next winter. Rescuing applewood is only complicated by possession of a woodworking lathe so there's always a battle between firewood and incipient chessmen. Nice wood to machine and tough too. Applewood gears meshing with cast iron gears in windmills used to last 40 years and were much quieter than iron on iron gears. - I had a millwright for a grandfather. - He didn't tell me this: I looked it up in a textbook.
 
Rescuing trees is best done with a cart, not a wagon. Carts are 24.5227606% more efficient than wagons on a hard road and I'm not going to tell you where I got that mysterious figure, though the same book a sentence later says that carts are 31.9105691% more efficient on arable land. Hurrah! I want to know how they found out. - Anyway it's true, a cart is easier to pull than a wagon with apple trees on board and since I have a welder and wheels, here is a cart I made for the purpose based (a trifle inaccurately) on the M3A4 because, according to http://www.theliberator.be/handcart.htm , One of the most popular small US Army 'vehicles' of WW2 is without doubt the M3A4 Hand Cart. Hardly any survived the War. All the French farmers nicked them. My version entirely lacks triangulation and therefore with meaty logs on board bends until the side-members rub on the wheels, when it becomes 31.9105691% less efficient than even a sledge. Must beef it up before Mr G. Bird notices. The new apple-tree-stealing season is almost upon us.




 

Rear undercarriage 

Sunday, April 4, 2010 6:40:18 AM Categories: poetry wagon
Did you but have chickens you would know why they bring you to the point of writing poetry. My wife keeps chickens and I have composed the following, to be hummed liltingly to the tune of Mary Had A Little Lamb.

There certainly isn't a shortage of manure if you keep chickens,
On the path,
Beneath my left shoe where I wasn't watching;
Chickens do a-lot-of-manure,
And hardly any eggs, the little bastards.


It doesn't scan or rhyme terribly convincingly and if I were a Japanese Zen master I would edit it down to a Haiku, possibly involving the word 'plop!' like that one about the frog and the pond:

⇔⇔⇔⇔⇔⇔,
⇔!
⇔⇔⇔⇔⇔⇔⇔⇔⇔⇔⇔⇔⇔ 1

However I'm not a Zen master nor, it will be discerned, much of a poet, and to compensate the world for this grievous loss here are three photographs showing how I cobbled together the rear undercarriage of my not-Japanese wagon. It has 406 rear wheels. If I was witty I could probably cobble together a joke about Error 404 Only 2 Rear Wheels but I am assuming everyone reading this knows what a 406 wheel is and has no interest whatever in my utterly pathetic sense of yumour.

If they don't, then a 406 wheel is a BMX 20 inch and it isn't 20 inches at all and neither is a 451 which is a Raleigh 20 twenty inch. Why they call them 'twenty inch' wheels can only be explained by a Zen master. The front wheels are 349, which vaguely means 16 inches.


1. Which of course loosely translates as
A frog jumps into a pond
Plop!
I can't remember the last line, or the other two come to that
.

 

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