Yes, I’m still here…but you’ll be sorry you asked…

It’s been a difficult couple of months one way or another and besides there not being much to blog about I haven’t actually been in the mood. I suppose we all get that way every now and then.

Things are still quiet and this had a knock on effect in a number of areas, not least of which is the necessity to accept jobs that I’d otherwise turn away or refer elsewhere. Needs must being the internal mantra.

What should have been an interesting job came in a while ago, but there were problems from the start. A “template” that proved not to be a template at all. And this only discovered after a whole day wasted trying to replicate it!

The job was to turn two caulking mallets in the Trafalgar style for a boat supplies company. They supplied the Lignum billets and the bronze sleeves, and the template that wasn’t a template after all. The turning is straight forward enough, but the marking out and pre-drilling for a tapered haft, and stress release slots was a tricky operation to get right. But after some trial and error I got them right in the end, and two are now being used on HMS Bounty in the USA.

The bronze sleeves were a nightmare to get on. The tenon has to be turned to a size appropriate for a heat-expanded sleeve to be fitted, but not so tight as to cause the sleeve to split. Without an accurate way of gauging the expansion of the sleeve this was a nightmare to get right, and a couple were ruined in the process. Oh well.

I also had to turn a small version and a presentation version in Ebony.

I’ve also had a few transport problems AGAIN! Returning home from an AGWB committee meeting on the 25th I was confronted with a closed A14 at Huntingdon. The SATNAV insisted I return to the A14 and for some reason refused to calculate an alternate route. I stopped at a Tesco garage to get an atlas and on returning to the van and starting it I was startled by a horrendous noise. Not being certain what is was I pulled out of the parking bay to find the engine was producing very little power. The noise on driving was horrible, and worrying, but I managed to drive the last 80 miles or so at 40mph.

The next day my fears were confirmed; a disintegrated catalytic converter! Less than happy. Even less so when the rear silencer also proved about to disintegrate during removal of CAT section of exhaust.  So I ended up fitting a complete new exhaust front to back. A day wasted and a day under the van which did my shoulder no good at all. All seemed to go well enough until the test drive. There was an improvement but not 100% right. I was flummoxed. And not a little annoyed.

I took it round to a friendly mechanic who tinkered and listened, prodded and poked, and then uttered the dreadful words…”the back pressure caused by the blocked CAT has damaged the turbo. You need a new one.”

I won’t type my response. Nor the response when I got a quote for a new one.

The day after I was advised to do a “complete” service before committing to a turbo. Apparently dirty oil, blocked fuel/air filters, leaking pipes Etc., can all produce failed turbo symptoms, including the noise. So the van went back on the ramps, and every filter was changed, oil changed, gaskets renewed and seals checked. No change. I suppose they needed changing, but it’s hardly the point.

So for a week I’ve been driving with a failing turbo whilst trying to sort a solution.  Hopefully it will hold up until I find one. An annoying consequence of all this was that I had to cancel a demonstration at the last minute, leaving a club in the lurch, which I hate to have had to do.

So in less than a year this van will have had, a new starter motor, an EDU, four new tyres and a coil spring, a complete exhaust, and a turbo, and a very complete service. Not a good hit rate really for a van that does about 70 miles on an average week. And if one more person says to me, “Great vans. They’ve got the Isuzu engine. Bullet proof.” I may kill them. What’s the point of a bullet proof engine when the rest of it falls apart on any journey over five miles?

So that’s been the last two weeks. The joys of the self employed.

So what about turning? Well not much really, certainly no play time. Today I started a short run of spindles which are a favour for a friend. He’s a chainsaw carver and arborist, and wants them for his converted Bedford “home”. Being a woody he wants them in some burr oak he has supplied! Burr Oak for spindles! No! But, yes…that’s what he wants. And they are far from fun to turn. I’ve had to turn them at far too low a speed for spindles due to the possibility of them breaking, and I’ve had to use a skew for most of them to reduce the stresses. I’ve only done three so far and they’ve taken so long it’s not true. I’ll soldier on as there’s a promise of some firewood in return and it’s been bitterly cold down by the marsh and I’ve gone through about a year’s worth of firewood in three months.

So…there you go. Wasn’t really worth prompting me to post was it?