Saturday, January 30, 2010


Now for the science bit...
Aliasing is a term taken from signal processing. It describes the situation when the sampling rate has a similar frequency to the frequency of the thing being sampled. If you are really keen, then you can read up on the Nyquist frequency here. Imagine sitting on a beach watching the waves crash on the shore. If they come in every second (for example) and you also blink your eyes so you only look every second, as you open your eyes, a wave might be breaking, you close them again, open them again and another wave is breaking. If you do this for a little while, the waves will look as though they are stationary. The same effect can be seen when a strobe lamp is shone in a night club and it makes wagon wheels appear stationary or go backwards on old cowboy films. It is better explained here, and its a phenomenon I quite like. Not much application to classic cars but I just thought I'd share...

I'm afraid I have a habit of trying to explain things to people - whether they like it or not. Now its your turn, dear reader. My long suffering kids get it quite a lot too. Megan (7) was learning about radiators today.

Molly is now out any about again. The snow is long gone, and we've got the permafrost back (which I like). Apart from the care needed on icy patches, winter driving is fine so far. I'm a bit paranoid about the road salt, but with fibreglass wings and underseal (and a MIG welder) things should be fine.

Yesterday the cover came off the van and the front trim was re-fitted. The painting is a bit of a mess, but it is all white(ish) and (largely) rust free. I'm having a bit of a dilemma about the front number plate. Firstly its a nasty plastic modern one (no dilemma there...) so I want to get rid of it. Unfortunately she's too young to have black and white ones, but the plate is screwed to the front panel which kind of messes up the cars lines so I'd like to put it somewhere else. I might hang it off the bumper or think of something else. Answers on a postcard please...

Saturday, January 23, 2010

Back in Brown

Scruffiness is my middle name (actually its not but you know what I mean). I have a slightly shambolic air about me. I don't dress very well (not for long anyway), most of my ties now have soup on them. I like to see the big picture rather than the details. I'm not sure if this is a character flaw or my flawed character. Or, to put it another way - Should I try to fix it?

Many years ago whilst finishing my Ph.D. I was sent on a course in Sheffield where we learned about team building, project management and team theory. One of the areas we learned about was the work of Meredith Belbin. She formed a theory of the key types of people which can be found in teams and how to form an effective one. I don't remember where I came on the scale, however I do remember that I am not a Completer-Finisher. Basically I don't like finishing things. I like getting them to a state where they can be useful, and ready for the finishing off process. Which I don't like.

Why all this introspection? Well there are two reasons. Firstly my cars. As you can probably tell by now, I don't really do finished. I like to get things up and running, ready for the next stage. I get all excited when I can put things together again and go for a drive (after all that's the point of a car isn't it?) I don't think I really want to be able to do a proper top coat of paint. I'll do some preparation so someone else can do that. One example of this is the work I've been doing on Jessica's passenger door. The paint is pretty bad, but the door is back on. I've also prepared a new door card (we're going for a brown theme now...) and to me it looks brilliant (finished even?!) but I know where I don't want you to look!

The other reason is that this excited puppy approach to the things I do also applies (despite my attempts to the contrary) to my job. I write software for a living and get the same little boy excitement when I get something to work, then I like to move on to the next thing. This approach means that the new stuff gets done quickly and effectively. There is however, a tendency to incorporate bugs. Now, that is a very bad thing. I can't ask someone to go over everything I do, so I'm left with a bit of a problem. Get better at completing and finishing, find a wing-man to follow on behind and polish the corners, or go off and start a rather rubbish classic car restoration business.

So, apologies for the speeling mistooks, dodgy paintwork and bugs. I think its time to take a long hard look at the beginning, the middle and the end.

Sunday, January 17, 2010


Its amazing what you find when the snow melts. Random carrots on the lawn, muddy puddles (I'm sure they weren't there before the snow fell) and I even found a couple of classic cars! Today the sun shone and I had an opportunity to move on with the master plan.

It goes a little something like this: I took the passenger side door off the van last year. I've been busily welding and painting it to make it look a little less rusty and a bit more respectable. It is finally in a state where it can be finished off in situ. So that left me with a little problem. The hole where the van door should be was against the wall - so she had to be moved.

The order of the cars on the drive is, Skoda - in pole for regular winter use, Molly in second - ready to spring in to action when the sun shines (and I'm not paranoid about road salt) however the battery died and she nicked the one out of the van. Oh and the heater hose sprung a leak. Finally there is Jessica languishing under her cover in a terrible state of disrepair. The door (as we know) has been in the garage for the last 3 months. The heater is also getting a re-working and the interior is suffering from being abused all winter.

The plan therefore was to turn Jessica round so I could fit the door at a later stage. I've had to get everything in a row. Move the Skoda (easy), start Molly (tricky - needed to fix the leak and organise a battery) and finally start Jessica. This was something I was very nervous about for a couple of reasons. Firstly I had no idea how much antifreeze was in the radiator so we could have a catastrophe on our hands. And secondly she has never been a reliable starter. This morning I swapped over the batteries and had a go. It proved to be a bit of a pain and I had forgotten the technique. Once I had drained the battery, re-charged it and allowed the flooded engine to dry out, I had another go and off she went like a dream!

Once the big switch-a-roo had been done and Jessica was at the front of the drive, the sun was still shining so I had a crack at sticking the door on, and to my amazement it went on first time. I'm sure its down to having the right tools, the right fasteners and taking your time (being 6'2" tall helps too).

In all its been a bit hectic, but now I have a van which I know works, has 4 doors and can reinvigorate my enthusiasm. I just need to get out there and finish off all those jobs I've started and get her back on the road again.

Thursday, January 07, 2010


The welds on the heater box got ground down tonight and it was all prepared for paint (with Hydrate80 from BiltHamber) but the paint was frozen.

I'm not going to start banging on about the snow. We have some snow, we live in Scotland and I really like snow so its not a problem. The thing is though, I want to be good at dealing with snow, I want to enjoy it when it comes (rather than panicking). Meg has a good attitude to the subject. Sometimes I think it would be cool to move to a Nordic country, saying that I don't speak nordish... (or whatever it is).

My eBay "buy it now" finger has been hovering over snow chains and studded tyres, and I have to admit to practicing my sliding on a quiet local road which was rather good fun. Fortunately the car still has both bumpers attached - which is nice.

So its time to get used to the cold weather, to enjoy it, if not revel in it.

Wednesday, January 06, 2010

Presents presence

I'm finally getting into gear again after Christmas (and the pre-Christmas flu) so I popped out into the freezing garage for an hour or so tonight. Before Christmas I took the heater out of the van. The heater is attached to a metal box with is in turn screwed to the inside of the front panel (behind the air intake). Unfortunately it was kinda crusty because it had got full of water over the years and had rusted. Tonight I welded in a new flange around the inside and some captive nuts so it can be re-attached in the future. Doesn't look too shabby and no one is going to see it anyway!

I was lucky enough to receive some ace gifts for Christmas. One of one was a torch strong enough to dazzle astronauts on the international space station.

Oh yeah it's a beast! This is what it looks like when it's not in burn mode. Rechargeable, easy to hold and a must-have accessory for any classic car owner I think!

Super Power Ray Gun - for melting faces etc.

I think I forgot to mention that I got myself a little prezzie before Christmas. Every morning on my way to work, I walk past an old Mitsubishi colt with a nice old roof rack on. Last year I put a note on it asking if I could buy it. Just before Christmas I manged to get in touch with the guy (who turns out to be one of the nicest, most interesting people I have ever met!) and he sold me this -

It's a large Desmo roof rack which is fully adjustable and looks very cool. I'm hoping to fit it on to the top of the van cab but it may be a little wide - I'll keep you posted (when the snow melts). Finally I stuck a coat of paint on the inside of the door. It doesn't look that bad at the moment, but I'm sure that will change!

Saturday, January 02, 2010

Happy New Year

Happy new year everyone. The Christmas excess is now over and the fiscal and physical repairs can begin. Our Christmas break this year was superb. We had a trip to Yorkshire to be with the family and more snow than you could ever want (or need). My brother's Series I lannie was doing excellent service lugging things to the recycling and ferrying Christmas trees. That is until the points decided to close up. Ah well its all part of the fun of owning a classic.

Unfortunately there has been very little work in the garage what with it being so cold and both vehicles being snow bound. In fact the only use the garage has seen was the manufacture of a snow scraper - you can't buy them for love nor money round here. Oh and raiding the parts boxes for some retro bird feeders.

I managed to get out to the garage tonight for a bit of a tidy up, but at -2c I didn't really fancy staying there for long.