Friday, January 22, 2010


A kind of temporary forge area. I heat metal on the bricks and work at it on the anvil next door. The cup in the water has holes drilled in the bottom. I can scoop water on to the end of the work to keep it cool enough to hold while I heat the other end with the torch. Just tipping water on doesn't work as well as it skids off too quick. One handle is about done here, the other is yet to be twisted and bent.

Thursday, January 21, 2010

Magic Pie

Christmas present perhaps. I bought a bicycle conversion kit from Golden Motor, a Chinese company. That consisted of the back wheel with motor (no tire or freewheel). The rack and battery and various controls for the handlebars, throttle brakes, cruise control, battey indicators etc. I was going to fit this on to an old bike, but on checking the price of new tires and disk brakes I found that the parts would cost more than a new bike, so I bid on the unit pictured here on an internet auction. It was pretty easy to put all together, the only tricky part was getting the freewheel off of the wheel that came with the bike. I had to get a special tool for that. I have yet to get all the wiring trimmed down so that it is not hanging about. I have taken the thing on a couple of spins and it works very well indeed. We live in a mountainous area so not fun for little jaunts to the shops and whatnot. The laws of Japan do not allow a bike to run straight, but require it to be limited to pedal assist. This is set up to do that, but it also has a throttle. I suppose I must put in a disabling mechanism just in case I run into trouble with the police. The pedal assist works fine as well, so no problem with riding on normal roads.
I wanted to run the battery out, so took it on a straight run up the mountain, but I made the mistake of taking the dog with me and his battery ran out first, so I have yet to drain the thing dry. The thing also regenerates electricity as the brakes are applied, so I was hoping to drain it going up and charge it back a bit coming down. One day.
If you have a modicum of DIY in you I would recommend this MagicPie kit from golden motor.

Tuesday, January 19, 2010


So, tubby the boiler. I first spotted him standing in the yard of the local LPG supplier. A wood fired boiler as I could tell by the belly on the front as I drove by on the way back from one of the many thousands of trips to the local train station. I spent a few hours putting him back together having found no fatal flaws, then more hours welding up a chimney cowl for the top (one of the non fatal flaws, this had rusted clean away). Then more hours making a hole in the cast iron door and making a bezel to hold in a window.
I had no idea how well the thing would work, but imagined it heating water to cycle naturally through the twin of the big stainless steal solar heater panel on the left here. That twin was the casualty of my first fire up. The mite of wood I put in brought the thing to a boil and it wanted to make steam rather than cycle water, so it did that and began spouting all the water out of the panel through convenient holes it made as it forced the pressure up. It also found it amusing to force water up out of the reservoir at the head of the system. I was forced to add to the confusion by stuffing a hose up into the firebox and quenching the inner fires, made wonderful billows of steam.
In version two I added a circulator pump visible on the floor to the left of tubby. I also added another coils of copper pipe from the back of a fridge I think. Up high on the right. This worked much better, but the boiler still managed to get up to 90 degrees in no time at all.
Version three saw the addition of yet another coil of pipe added to the system, this time housed over the front of an old kitchen stove hood extractor fan. This has three level settings and sucks the heat out of the vaned coil to blow it back into the room.
That got me to a much better place with the return temperature down at a level near the 50 degrees C that it is rated for, and I am a lot happier in the shop doing tasks that require little physical exertion now that it is a little more cozy.

Monday, January 18, 2010


Another long break missing out Christmas and whatnot. Surprising how easy it is not to bother.
Meanwhile I have been busy with all sorts. This last weekend I finally fired up the wood burning boiler I picked up some months ago. That was something of a smile provoking experience as my plan failed dramatically in torrents of water and steam. However I will leave that for tomorrow.
Today was a proper day of work, I went along to help out at a local house raising. It is a while since I have been involved with work on a proper building site. Interesting to see how these things are done by the proffesionals.
It is also quite a while since I have worked in high places. I don't mind at all when there are hand holds, but when these structures go up there is a point where the flat tops of the beams is all there is to walk about on. This too is fine as long as there are lots of corners to triangulate on, but where there are long stretches with nothing but the beam one does get a bit jippy and one has to get up a bit of momentum to keep upright more easily, like riding a bicycle. One of the professionals took a tumble at the early stages, which was not particularly heartening. He was going along one of these stretches and suddenly lost his momentum. He sprang downward and hugged the beam with arms and legs, so did not fall, but his tool bag vomited out its contents as he spun down and we were showered with chisels and whatnot. Fortunately all fell harmlessly among us. The picture shows things just about where we all left off, plus a few little touches on the roof. Not a bad days work. The chap on the roof is the carpenter who made all the framework. On the mobile phone as usual.