Back in the late 1980’s and early 1990’s I used to do all of the servicing and maintenance on the vehicles I owned. Generally the cars were old, and the technology was pretty simple. The things started, went, and stopped – most of the time. Back in those days I owned a 1982 Suzuki Jimny 1 Litre (61 cubic inch engine), 4 speed manual, four wheel drive. It was unstoppable, and needed to be, because you were never going anywhere fast. The car had a vinyl soft top which made the radio very easy to steal – which happened a number of times, until the thieves were confronted by a radio that was so rubbish it was a waste of time to steal.
There was a camping trip in those early days when I’d headed bush to get some alone time for a bit. My grandfather and his WWII drinking buddies had long established an illegal camp in a remote location on a bucolic bend of the Jamieson River deep in the state forest. The camp site was way out in the middle of nowhere, and was left alone by the authorities. You should have heard their talk, it wouldn’t have ended well, for the authorities. After a few quiet days of relaxation, I’d decided to head home again. That was a fortuitous choice.
Into the camp site arrived another vehicle. They were a young couple, and seemed nice enough. We had a good chat, and I told them I was just leaving. The car didn’t start though. Fortunately the young couple had some jumper leads, which they hooked up to the battery on the Suzuki. We got the engine of the ancient chariot started, and I headed home again. After a long slow noisy drive home, the car was parked in its usual spot.
The next day I went to start the car, and heard a weird clunk sound emanating from within the engine bay. A sound which kind of suggests that bad things have just occurred inside the engine. Being not entirely sure what had just taken place, I contacted the state car club (members enjoyed free towing), and got them to tow the car to a mechanic.
The mechanic rang me later that day to inform me that the camshaft had seized and that the timing belt had broken. That’s an expensive fix possibly demanding a new engine. Ordinarily, I’m guessing that the mechanic was probably used to speaking with idiots. Internally, my mind was wailing klaxon sirens, but as cool as a cucumber, I asked him to stop work and I’ll come down and have a look later.
Knowing that it was unlikely a camshaft would seize in a cold engine, I arrived at the mechanics with a car trailer. A quick check with a socket set confirmed what I already knew, the camshaft had not seized and could be easily turned, and smoothly. The little Suzuki was hauled onto the trailer and taken away. Confronted with the hard to disprove socket-set-on-camshaft-test, the mechanic feigned ignorance, and we parted company.
The replacement timing belt may have been around $50, add on a couple of hours work, and the Suzuki was back up and running again. Fast forward to today, and the Suzuki’s we now own do similar tasks, but better. Unfortunately, they’re way more complicated, so I leave their maintenance to mechanics who have proven their trust.
When the farm machine repair dude was alive, we took all of the agricultural machines down to his business to get them repaired. After he died, well, we constructed a service pit, and I faced up to the realities of repairing all of the machines used here. Earlier in the year during a particularly busy time, I took the Silver power wheelbarrow in for repairs to the business. In some ways, it was kind of a test to see how things were going there after losing the boss. The transmission had been making some strange sounds, and very little power was getting to the wheels. The Silver wheelbarrow just wouldn’t haul much weight.
After a few days, a phone call suggested that the transmission was faulty and in need of replacement. I was not cool about replacing the most expensive part on the machine as the cost was around $1,500. And the machine was less than two years old! After a bit of research into the issue and some further phone discussions, I suggested the drive belt may have been in need of tightening. That was done, and the silver wheelbarrow was brought back home. Curiously, I was also told that the belt drive tension was self adjusting.
In the many months since then, we’ve been using the silver machine carefully and not over loading it, because it was still not working well. That outcome defeats the entire purpose of the machine, because it is constructed to carry very heavy loads – and yet couldn’t do so.
Last weekend, with a few free spare hours, I dismantled a much older (the original machine) yellow power wheelbarrow. I wanted to see for myself how the things worked. We’d kept the machine for spare parts after it stopped working properly about two years ago. However, given the motor hadn’t been started in half a year, last weekend the thing kicked off first pull of the starter cord. The old yellow machine was begging to be restored to full working condition.
The time investigating the machine was well spent, because the thing was much simpler and far hardier than I’d imagined. So I took an inventory of all the parts which were in need of repair and replacement. The parts arrived in the mail during the week. In the meantime, with my new knowledge of these machines, on Tuesday (having taken the day off from paid work) I decided to take a closer look at the much newer silver power wheelbarrow, you know the one for which I was told so many things were wrong with.
Turns out all the silver machine needed was a lot of adjustment to the various chains, belts and cables. And no, the belt tightening process was not self adjusting. The thing is working perfectly now. There is no inexplicable whining sound and heavy loads are pulled back up the hill with a careless arrogance that only fossil fuelled powered machines can deliver. And honestly, I have no idea what to make of the experience. Was it dishonest, careless, or incompetent? Beats me, but I’m going to think long and hard before I take any machine back there for repairs. And the person at the business who told me such stories, no longer works there. Hmm.
The replacement parts for the old yellow power wheelbarrow were pretty cheap, and this is a job I probably should have done a few years ago. What can I say other than: I’ve been busy! The machine looks beaten around with a few notable dents, but now works perfectly. Over the past year, all issues with the various farm machines have now been attended too by us (with only one exception). It’s not bad given we’ve had only a year to accommodate ourselves to this unexpected necessity.
It’s been something of a week for repairing things. Long term readers will recall the 7×5 foot yellow trailer which had served us well for over two decades. That thing was like the proverbial grandfathers axe in that there had so many repairs over the decades, that there weren’t many original bits left. Unfortunately, the important under-bits of the trailer had succumbed to the steel worm – rust. Without us being aware of it, bits of the frame had disappeared, and sunlight could be seen through steel channels were that should not be. A decision was made to scrap the trailer. That thing was no longer safe to use.
Being steel, what was left of the trailer was recycled. And we were even were paid $90 for the weight of steel at the scrap yard. Not a bad outcome.
A new 7×4 foot (slightly narrower) trailer was purchased. With the deprivations of the steel worm very much in our minds, we paid a bit extra for a trailer that was galvanised. It’ll be interesting to see how long this one lasts. The narrower trailer weighs a bit less too, which is a good thing.
The steep garden bed in the above image has a really lovely Japanese maple. Those trees grow really well here, and I even found one in a vegetable bed.
Speaking of fixing things, the toilet cistern had begun leaking water. Water is a very precious resource here, and so there is zero tolerance for leaking toilet cisterns. The cistern was dismantled and the flush parts were replaced. You’d think that job would be simple, but no. It was a real pain of a job, and I believe the plumbers cut the pipes slightly too short. The pipe had to be replaced too.
And to add insult to injury, the passenger side speaker in Sandra’s Dirt Mouse Suzuki had failed. It’s quite headache inducing listening to music originating from only one side of the car, whilst the subwoofer happily doofs away on the other side. It’s not natural! And just doesn’t sound right. We pulled the door trim off today only to discover a speaker that shows far more wear than it should, especially when nothing else around it did. Hmm. We’d paid for the upgraded speaker pack at the dealer, and I’m guessing someone at the dealer swapped their old speakers for our new speakers. Easily fixed, but cynicism and a distinct lack of trust is starting to become the norm. It’s not paranoid if it’s true!
Oh well. At least the weather was nice, when it wasn’t cold and rainy.
The thirteen year old Silkie chicken is giving it her all. She produced an egg this week.
The combination of regular rain and warmer spring days is getting the garden growing. The Radishes are almost ready to harvest. Few plants produce a harvest as quickly as those.
Earlier in the week the temperatures dropped to 1’C / 34’F and candidly I fear for our Apricot crop. The stone fruits are showing signs of cold damage, but we’ll see how they go.
At this time of year, there is a lot of work to do clearing the weeds (unwanted plants) from all of the various garden beds. When the weeds are edible they are fed to the chickens. This week the Asparagus raised beds were cleaned up.
The Tree Fern planted earlier in the year in the drainage basin is beginning to recover from all of the Wallaby vandalism. Several cages of strong chicken wire protect the base of the fern.
Onto the flowers:
The temperature outside now at about 10am is 14’C (57’F). So far this year there has been 751.4mm (29.6 inches) which is up from last weeks total of 747.2mm (29.4 inches)