11 September 2019

September honey Harvest

Play Jazz if you like - Or skip on down:

I know it is late in the season to be taking honey from thhttps://youtu.be/Ik5UIcY5IQw?t=15e hive but I have been slow to harvest much at all any earlier. Due to wet and windy weather and projects elsewhere, the opportunities simply were not there.
A hindrance to harvesting this year was a degree of cross combing that needed sorting out, with most of the honey stores being spread out amongst the horizontal log shape of the colonies. Harvesting was tricky to do without blundering down into the brood nest.
My attempts at queen breeding have been postponed till next year.
However, my inspection yesterday went well. Smoker lit and fuelled with oak havings which I light up with the help of a few capfuls of methylated spirits. Despite this and being wrapped up well under my smock and veil, I was stung lightly through my sock and again on the lower right leg from a bee that ventured up my trousers!
Three of the colonies are doing quite well with no depletion in numbers as yet.
The fourth colony have not recovered in number after being shaken down from an old hive into my own Cathedral top-bar hive. The idea is to enable interchangeable bars and easier manipulation.
I shall feed from now on, till Christmas or they may not overwinter.

I prefer to use the honey without extracting from the comb and managed to gather 10lbs in all.


10 September 2019

Wear out a Morgan gracefully

Preferring not to allow the Morgan to gather dust in the garage. Weather permitting, it's driven with enthusiasm at every opportunity, and with the hood down.

From acquisition day with less than 7,000 miles on the clock in 2011, it is now approaching 70,000 miles, but with little or no change to good performance or cosmetic good looks.

The bodywork and underlying mechanics are sound and the M.O.T. regularly passed with hardly a comment. The majority of maintenance is done by myself and I have only once suffered a breakdown when the radiator failed. The common weakness here was rectified later by fitting an all aluminium radiator.  All the fluids are regularly monitored and changed.

Particularly impressive is the way the ECU keeps the engine in tune. Starting is instantaneous and the engine has always run perfectly. This includes several trips abroad using all kinds of terrain and types of road. To get a flavour of these ventures, see elsewhere on this Blog.
As well as the radiator change I have renewed the rear brake shoes, replaced disk pads, replaced sliding pillars with hard chromed ones, sheathed the pillars in leather to keep out dirt/grit. Replaced a master cylinder, added spotlights, added triple horns, replaced washer fluid tube, added a clock and voltmeter, renewed the auxiliary ribbed belt (very simple to do), adjusted tracking, tied down all loose wiring, renewed perished parts of the cooling tubing. adjusted the handbrake cable, greased the spider universal joints to the transmission and steering. Oiled the leaf springs and hangers from time to time. Bled the brake system several times. Made a dashboard of wood and more recently a wood steering wheel and matching gear knob. Kept a log of all work carried out, together with mileage and dates on which this was done.


I have a decent hydraulic jack and axle stands for getting safely underneath.

In the garage, I normally drape a softcover dust sheet over the top.

A planned trip to Cadiz had to be postponed this year  (2019) because of a minor medical issue and lack of free time through childminding duties. However, there have been some lovely ventures and newly discovered venues closer to home in the south-west UK, including Newton Ferrers and Noss Mayo.

5 September 2019

Woodcarving of Swifts

When my daughter asked me to make her a trophy for her keep fit gymnasium, I came up with the idea of this pair of swifts in flight over the rooftop. Each swift comprises of nine separate pieces of Kuruma wood glued together in such a way that the distinctive wood grain shows up a little like feathers, and, renders the sculpture less liable to split. Kuruma is an African hardwood not previously used by me. It tends to blunt tools quickly but finishes well and is quite durable. Used in furniture, flooring boat building and sometimes in sculpture.
I finished by applying my own blend of beeswax and flax oil and mounting the pair onto a base of English Oak and Red Oak.







11 August 2019




Making a steering wheel.

The Morgan 4/4 already had a wood steering wheel the Mota Lita but it is really substantially aluminium alloy with only the rim made of wood and that is plywood with little intrinsic strength, having laminations that are radial and so adding no rigidity.
A recent wandering through a classic car show sparked the idea, seeing a 1914 Hupmobile with its wooden spoked wheels and a crude wooden steering wheel that has stood the test of time.
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Having already made a few wheels for toys for my young grandchildren I knew it could be done for the Morgan and set about the job with a wooden mould onto which the timber would be built up in laminations approximately 1/16th in thick. Cascamite resin glue was used for the outer rim and its a sticky job requiring glove protection for my hands.
Firstly the laminations are cut and planed to size and steam softened over boiling water in a pan. Allowed to cool and held to the mould with crocodile clamps. The tricky bit is ensuring full contact between the layers. There are probably better methods than mine such as vacuum bagging or wrapping with string to exert sufficient pressure. But this was to be a prototype and seems to have succeeded but admittedly, could be bettered.

Spokes most of which were rejects. Note the sharpened one drove through the redwood plank.


Hub and rim moulds



The outer rim is easier to fabricate than the inner hub because the clamping has more space to fix the clips. For the hub I resorted to laminating the outer layer free of the mould; after setting, the inner laminations were inserted and clamped from the inside as they naturally expanded to meet the surface of the outer layer. The ends of all the layers were feathered at both ends and tapered so that there were no but-ends or gaps. Once completed the two rings were lined up and marked out for drilling. Holes go into the outer rim from the inside approximately ⅓ in deep so as not to penetrate through to the outside. The inner hub was drilled to the full depth so that the spokes could be inserted from the centre of the circle and out through to the rim.
Spokes were cut from mature bamboo and approximately 3/32 in diameter. Each one drove through a suitably drilled hole in a piece of steel bar to ensure they were of a similar size.
Finally, the whole thing was sanded smooth and a coat of linseed oil applied. If you are not sure of the strength of bamboo to make spokes I can confirm that it is more than adequate, having driven a sharpened test spoke through a 1 ¼” plank without any harm to the wooden “nail”. 

With the steering wheel now in place, I am delighted with the result and tested with a drive out to Bristol. Further drives around Devonshire including Dartmoor and the narrow lanes have confirmed the wheel to be a success. Lighter in weight and more sensitive to the way a Morgan gives back road surface feeling. 

Also fabricated is a new gear stick knob to match the wooden dash, replacing the alloy one that was cold to the touch.

For previous attempts at wheel building, see earlier post: Balance Bike


29 July 2019

A punt gun goes Bang

My father was a wildfowler outside office hours. That is to say at weekends, some weekdays and many a night, alone or in the company of like-minded souls of a sporting nature. His father and two of his brothers would often accompany him and many, many hours would be spent in pursuit of wildfowl on the Exe Estuary.
This was not a sport with rigid rules but more of hunting instincts, stalking a living prey for reward,
the meat, the kudos, cash and accolade amongst his friends over a pint or two.
My early childhood saw some of the drama of this almost obsessive pursuit of pleasure. Not always a happy experience and one or two occasions quite frightening.
What brings me to tell this brief true story of misfortune or blessing is the recent interest shown by a new generation of wildfowlers that somehow seem to have awareness of the prowess of my father's skill in the field and I have had cause to delve a little deeper into some old notes he kept on the flyleaves of an old book on the subject.

On the 23rd of February 1940 he records at 2.30pm off Exminster he shot 7 Brent Geese, but at 4.30 his punt gun exploded at Greenland, a large mudflat off Exminster in the middle of the Exe Estuary.
He records that his father Lionel came to his rescue and towed him ashore to Woodbury Station -actually, it was the Exton Railway station which is right on the opposite Estuary side to the Turf Locks Hotel. From there he would have accompanied him to RD&E Hospital. (His father would presumably have been waiting at the Turf to drive him home or possible he had been alerted by a shout from there and rowed out to the rescue ).
A month later father records that he was discharged from the Royal Devon and Exeter Hospital and retrieved the punt, but the now damaged punt gun was "chucked overboard"; exactly where is not revealed, but my memory seems to tell me of having read somewhere that it was off Lympstone.
The punt was holed but would have been repairable and presumably, he was headed back to the Dawlish Warren creek where the punt was normally hauled out onto the mud beside the railway line at Cockwood.
Today the scene is quiet, pictured here in high summer from Exton Station.

Looking south-west


Under the rail viaduct


Looking towards Exmouth from the station


Looking towards Topsham


Turf Hotel in the middle distance


Father's notes record the accident

A similar punt with breach loader gun. Father's gun was an older type of muzzleloader