Dyson DC14

With an impending first home on the horizon, the marriage of interests between all things tech/elec and housey has come about. What could be more iconic an item then than a vacuum cleaner, the home owners equivalent of a Jedi knight’s lightsaber. Not content with buying one, I wanted to build my own so-to-speak.

Dyson is quality, at it’s core is the commercial realisation of heavily designed/re-engineered everyday products. The Dyson DC14 is a much loved long standing model, and unlike most companies, Dyson refuse to integrate deprecation features that mean the unit becomes junk in a couple of years. Not only will the original product last for many years (our family vacuum is a DC14, 11 years old and still going strong), the spares market is huge. Unlike a product which has reached the point of ‘tack-on’ improvements, making the item very difficult to work on (common in all arenas: computing, cars, etc.), the Dyson is designed from the ground up. This might sound like an ethereal pointless concept, but it translates into the very real practicality of a machine that fits together like Duplo Lego bricks.

Along with the excellent availability of parts from the internet (Ebay & Amazon) second hand units can be found in abundance ‘he just said they are great, why people selling em cheap?’ They get sold for various reasons, the most common being that people decide they don’t work well any more or they know something is broken, due to the initial high price, the ‘broken’ item still seems to have some worth. Also there’s a sizeable industry of people buying units and turning them around with varying amounts of work. Enterprising souls will hoover up anything and re-sell jay-cloth wiped units and job-lot anything more problematic to more experienced traders.

When buying a second hand unit to repair as per this blog post, look for the following in order:

  1. Good plastics – the overall body isn’t as easy or cheap to replace, so you want a sound unit, this is the bit hiding between the bin and the cable loop – analogous to a spine.
  2. Decide if you want clutched (all floors) or un-clutched (original). The difference being that the brush bar will always rotate, potentially scratching hard floors, the clutched model is slightly harder to work on, but a better unit. If the listing is unclear, look for the control foot knob as shown in orange on the base of the unit.
  3. Preferably find a unit with a good brush bar housing (the bit with Dyson written on it), it’s the more expensive of the easily replaced items.
  4. Look for rusting and signs of workshop use, it’s a stalwart but not a wet/dry or hard debris machine.
  5. Make sure they’ll post it, a tank or two of petrol negates the exercise, most are collection only. That said, if there’s one local to you bonus!
  6. Don’t worry about filters, attachments (a common non-genuine part being a straight crevice tool, doesn’t fit flush to the body), hoses, brushes, electrical cord, switch as they can be bought easily.

The best (cost/condition) unit I found was £50 + £8 courier. Was looking at spending ~£80 for a new basic model from another manufacturer. The seller on eBay listed the item as cleaned/serviced with cleaned filters… Complete bollocks, the bin came with a free inch of dirt, the cyclone had matted hair and fluff one of the brush-bar rollers wasn’t, the whole thing was unloved and filthy. Starting it up, was ok when upright, awful sound and smell when used for carpet cleaning. The eBay purchase can be seen here (until it’s removed).

dc14_dirty_1

dc14_dirty_2

dc14_dirty_3 dc14_dirty_4

So full strip to clean & check everything, knowledge on how to disassemble the less obvious parts can be found on YouTube. T10 and T15 long-handled drivers are required to remove screws set deep within the body (eBay/Amazon few quid each). If removing the brush-bar, please get a Dyson belt change tool, it costs about £5 and you’ll be happy to pay twice that if you try levering off with a screwdriver (this is pretty dangerous). Success the first time round using a bit of string to manoeuvre the belt, and while no blood or tears, I did level-up patience. Picture taken after starting rebuild, the motor is back in housing and base fixed to spine. The Cyclone is reassembled into the bin along with gasket, cyclone plate and lid separate.

dc14_Rebuild

I’ve not gone into much detail, as the videos found on YouTube are great. In addition to basic cleaning, the plastic responds well to light use of wet&dry paper on any heavily scratched areas and rubbing compound (automotive paint prep, think toothpaste++) for persistent marks. As shown in the final pictures the unit is vastly improved.

dc14_clean

Learn from my mistake: Dyson don’t support the idea of opening the clutch to change belts, so they don’t sell clutch belts. If you see belts for sale, they’re main belts for non-clutched units. As it is, a new genuine Dyson clutch with belts already fitted costs £15, not much more than the belts, so while bonus points can be earned (if you have c-clip pliers, ball-bearings, washers, seals and three hands), it’s just not worth the hassle.

Filters as mentioned are readily available and cheap, for £5 a set of pre and post filters are available. Look for a pre-filter, blue one in the top lid, with the yellow plastic housing, because this also has an integral mesh filter. The white pad is the post motor filter it hides in the less accessible lug-clipped housing under the bin.

dc14_rusty_rollbar

The previous owner had left/used the unit in wet conditions, evidenced by a couple of rusted roller pins. The main problem was a rusted spindle and bushes in the brush-bar. Fitted to the unit the brush should roll by the force of your thumb, out of the unit it should freely rotate. As pictured the brush had seized up due to corrosion, fortunately a replacement can be had for £10. The sized bar caused the motor to strain and the clutch to burn out, damaging the belts, if left running for long it would likely have damaged the motor. Though a new motor can be had for around £35, it was nice to avoid the spend. Shown rebuilt with clean carpet post test.

dc14_tested

DC14 + P&P: £58
Tools & spares: £35
Total project cost £93

Could have bought a brand new inferior vacuum complete with 2 year warranty, instead have a tried and tested unit that I fully understand and can repair. Housekeeper rank already at Jedi Knight, and don’t even have a house.

Peugeot 306 Spark Plugs

Due to a feeling of poor performance, skipping a beat and just feeling like it wasn’t firing on all cylinders – actually – thought I’d change the plugs. For some reason it’s one of the things I should have at least looked at, but never bothered with.

At £16 for a set of originals, it’s cheap worthwhile maintenance. The only annoyance is that an extra long spark socket had to be purchased as the two I had from sets were the wrong size, still just a couple of quid extra. Fortunately the HT leads were all in good condition, just a quick clean with a wire brush, some WD-40 and ready to be refitted. In all the job took about 30mins and the car is running much smoother and has more power.

Taking a look at the old plugs is important as it yields useful info about what’s happening in the engine. These plugs, laid out in the order they were removed, show cylinder 3 was suffering from a bad connection to the HT lead. The rusting of the protruding connector likely happened due to water getting behind the HT lead/engine block seal and resultant arcing. Unfortunately the design on the engine block funnels water to cylinder 2 & 3 when the engine is being cleaned. The NGK plugs here are performance, not going by the ‘R’ which might furtively suggest ‘race’ but that there are two electrodes to the side. The standard is one over the top, this alternative configuration can be better for increasing life of the plug by providing more ignition surface. I consider it pointless, as there are other things that’ll kill the spark plugs, and the diagnostic info from checking them is more useful for addressing other issues (oil burning, fuel mixture, etc.).

spark_plugs

Anywhere from £60 to over £100 done at a garage, sorted at home for £16.

Peugeot 306 Air Bag Warning Light

A few weeks ago the airbag light in my trusty 306 decided to stay on after after ignition. Oh no, MOT test due soon!

As of ~2012 the airbag system became a testable item, the internet has plenty of tales of botchers tricking the airbag ECU with resistors over the pre-tensioners or removing the bulb from the dash. This kind of botch job saves you a few quid, but endangers the life of anyone driving your car – and I bet they don’t own up when selling. DVLA likely got wind of this scheme and a couple of years later introduced the clarification that SRS indicators had to be lit when the key is at ignition and go out when the engine is running. This too lead to new fiddling, wire the bulb to the alternator lamp, or connect up a simple timer circuit (chip or capacitor). Again a botch job that’ll see your eyeballs in the foot-well.

Quick web search reveals a common problem with pugs in the mid/late 90’s, pre-tensioner harness (cable running from under the seat to the air bag ECU) connection directly under seat would become faulty, possibly from objects moving under the seat or arses flexing the connectors (the seats are soft and socket/plug assembly is attached to the springs of the seat. The official fix is to cut the connectors and solder the wires. This should be done as the first remedy and is said to sort 80% of cases. Of course I was in the special 20%. Not content with a bodge job and pressed for time, I performed the airbag ECU change along with squib ring, having tried and tested the seat fix.

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Notes on jobs done
Job: Pre-tensioner harness wiring connection fix
Start by parking the car so you can open the driver door fully. Central lock the car, disconnect the battery. Now go away for at least 10mins, make some tea, prep your tools – whatever, just don’t fiddle with an armed airbag system – this includes the seats, pre-tensioners are basically fireworks attached to the side of the seat, they suck the seat belt socket down which tightens the belt holding you in place and also engages the locking mechanism. Additionally the airbag ECU will know the pre-tensioner has deployed and may decide to blow the bag too! The seats must be removed to get access, simple task with a torx driver, four torx screws hold the two rails of each seat to the floor of the car, start up front where the position is really awkward, then the back which is pretty easy. Disconnect the pre-tensioner cable and harness so the seat can be removed (or just snip the cable near the socket/plug to leave the most cable to reconnect. Solder wires (same colours together) when ready to refit.

Job: Rotary Coupling / Clock Spring / Squib Ring replace
Same deal with battery, ensure it’s been disconnected at least 10min. Remove the steering column shroud, for me three screws underside of shroud. From behind the wheel remove the (torx) two screws holding the airbag into the wheel, carefully pull the bag away from the wheel, a cable connector sits just behind the airbag, remove this pulling gently on the plug body. With the wheels straight ahead, put the wheel in lock and mark the relative position of wheel and dashboard to assist refitting. Using a long-armed wrench (the wheel removing one) loosen the nut but leave it attached (to avoid hitting yourself in the face with the wheel) Tap the centre boss of the steering wheel with a hammer and wiggle the wheel from sides (wherever it’s strongest) in short alternating push pull motions until the wheel can be lifted free of the steering shaft. The rotary coupling sits inside a plastic frame that holds the switching levers, first remove the two torx screws holding the light stalk body to the shaft, slide out by an inch or so to clear the auto-cancelling for the direction indicators. The squib ring has two connectors, the one going to the airbag, the other attached to the shaft is terminated with a socket. So in addition to unplugging, the slightly fiddly task of removing the socket is achieved by sliding a very slim object (blade/sheet metal, etc.) between the socket and the plastic mounting body from underneath, this disengages a plastic latch allowing the socket to be slid down and off. Replacement of new unit is the reverse process, ensure the wheel nut is tightened to the torq specified for your car. Haynes manual is pretty useless in this area, showing images of a hot of the production line phase 1 (mines the later phase 1) a confusing difference.

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Job: Airbag ECU replace
Disconnect battery and wait as previously mentioned. This job looks impressive, but is really pretty easy. The airbag ECU is located at the base of the centre console, for me, just underneath the immobiliser. To get to this requires removal of the centre console, see Haynes manual. The airbag ECU is bolted to the floor and easily removed by lifting the black latch on the plug body then removing the orange plug. It’s good practice to reconnect the three other plugs in the area having sprayed with WD40. The brown socket in the picture where the grey bit is the plug, and two orange sockets sitting on spurs just below the photo hidden by a bit of carpet).

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Friendly garage will charge £50 to try the pre-tensioner soldering fix, same again to replace the rotary connector. Though not quoted, wouldn’t be surprised to hear another £50 for replacing the ECU. So in excess of £150 saved by DIY. Parts which I’d have to locate anyway, or pay the premium, came to about £30.

ALS Ice Bucket Challenge & Stem Cell Research

Drenching each other in ice-cold water, great laugh, why not. But what good is that doing, is there something more important than recognising a condition exists?

ALS awareness

ALS or Amyotrophic lateral sclerosis belongs to the broader set of neurone degenerative conditions known as MND. Other more known forms include MS, Parkinson’s, Alzheimer’s to name a few. Not heard of ALS until the Ice Bucket Challenge came along? Everyone knows Stephen Hawking, ALS’s most well known sufferer non-typical in that he’s still alive.

Most people with ALS die from respiratory failure, usually within three to five years from the onset of symptoms. The median survival time from onset to death is around 39 months, and only 4% survive longer than 10 years. Guitarist Jason Becker has lived since 1989 with the disease, while physicist Stephen Hawking has survived for more than 50 years, but they’re considered unusual cases. – Wikipedia

Simply put, neurones are electrical wires that carry signals between our brain to muscles and sensors in the body. ALS involves the wires that connect to the muscles, resulting in either no signal, constant signal or unpredictable firing. Taking the metaform as far as I can before killing it; The issue is similar to complex electrical systems such as cars. Quite often you can have what appears to be a simple problem such as a light that comes on unexpectedly or window that fails to operate reliably (upcoming post about Airbag light….). Much diagnostic work is done, sensors or lengths of cable are replaced and still the problem persists. The human body is far more complicated, and whilst we can understand much about why a problem occurs, actually fixing it is another matter.

Diagram of Motor Neuron

A working motor neuron, in MND many different mechanisms exist for attack on the system, just like the electrical wire metaphor this can include stripping of the protective cable (Myelin) as in MS.

For all the marvellous vital work our medical professions do to keep us alive, they really aren’t much more than the Sunday DIYer working on a car. Even at the limits of medicine – brain surgery – more closely akin to bashing a deformed wheel into something with many flat sides that it’s almost circular, than having the ability to replace the wheel. The equivalent level of knowledge to a professional garage mechanic doesn’t exist and the tools, schematics and replacements of the production line are a sci-fi fantasy away. Our best hope is finding other recently broken cars and taking the bits of them to keep on rolling.

Sir Patrick Stewart doing it with maximum style, I must admit after seeing so many celebs doing ever more crazy amounts of dousing, I did fear whisky wastage. Fortunately he gave a spin on the challenge that will probably become one of the most popular done.

Is the challenge really the answer? check out some professional media musings

Stem Cell Research

Stem Cells and MND, wealth of articles showing the potential.
Stem cell research doesn’t exclusively mean embryonic matter, Pluripotent – the potential of stem cells to form other unrelated cells by resetting the initial state meaning use of stem cells from blood are just as important. But while people equate the field with the notion of babies in lab jars, support for funding just isn’t available. We are at real risk of (deliberately unhelpful pun alert) flushing the baby out with the bath water in regard to perusing research.

The Real Solution – Action you can take

#1 Donate – These are the guys I support

#2 Donate – But not money (special eligibility requirements)
Until writing this post, I’d never heard of the NHS Cord Blood Bank; or the idea that the umbilical cord could be so important in saving peoples lives and a fantastic free way to aid research.

#3 Donate – But not money (more flexible eligibility) If you’re aged between 16 and 30, you can potentially save peoples lives and aid research.

#4 Educate – Take the time to explain MND in general to your kids, don’t let someone struggling to walk be made fun of or shunned. Knowing what ALS is means jack-shit if it’s not applied to how you treat people, be compassionate, seek to make people feel both accepted and alive.

#5 Support – Vote for politicians with the strength to support social change and get funding to research projects. Supporting research from the coffee table is very effective long term, sure your mate might not be involved, but your mate’s mate might be on a funding council or a tired researcher considering switching projects.

#6 Strive – Ply your trade or put your mind to advancing humanity. Think about the problems and explore novel solutions. You’ll probably not come out with the medical remedy, but theirs a lot of engineering around the problem that’ll make lives easier, more productive and enjoyable meanwhile.

#7 Umm…

I would like to point out, that for those that perform the challenge (and donate) I do think it’s a positive step and certainly not suggesting it’s not a worthy contribution, just looking to add something different and stir a little thought. Maximum respect to my friends who found inventive ways to take on the challenge, especially the guy who jumped into a stream-rapid/waterfall for the ultimate super cold plunge.

So like Patrick Stewart, I’ll be avoiding buckets of warm water with ice cubes added (ahh yes, how many people thought of that one…), donating an undisclosed amount to an actual charity that supports research into ALS/MND and enjoying a scotch.

SCD: Reboot 2014

17th December was my last day of SCD, until 2nd February, over the last 35 days I’ve eaten anything and everything.

I hadn’t fallen off the wagon, or gone tobogganing down the slippery slope of carbohydrate happiness. The accepted reality of a month in America, would make eating really difficult and remove the fun of experiencing the diversity in fast-food the primary cuisine.

Unhealthy-Carbohydrates

Returning from travels mid January, I didn’t want to go from the XXXL diet to SCD as this would surely feel like starvation. Picked February to restart, the 1st conveniently being a Saturday – cheat day!

December 74.5Kg
January 81.0Kg

Planned for ~4Kg, 6.5 was unexpected. Can’t blame it all on America, on return to England, I was suffering terribly from jet-lag. The sticky plaster for which, multiple cans of energy drink – some days a litre or more. Unabated through January, consumption sits around the 8L mark. Resultant spike and drain of blood sugar levels caused frequent snacking on carbs. To make matters worse lunch was unplanned, going from Chef Michael’s 30p Soup to ~£5 fish & chips, sandwiches, rolls, etc. hurting both my mid-line and bottom line.

Looking back through the posts, I’m the same weight as a year ago. Interestingly this is pretty much all spare tyre (above the waist), not effecting trouser size, it’s also the most unhealthy place to carry fat. Armed with a deliberate focused plan and the knowledge gained throughout 2013, I should get back to pre-Christmas weight much faster – maybe before spring ends.

Off to a good start, didn’t have much on cheat day, today IF (intermediate fasting) until dinner – Cup of Jo and couple glasses of water. The pain starts tomorrow at work, when my brain holds me to ransom for a can of Red Bull.

Holiday: America 2013/14

Three months planning, not nearly enough, for a multi-part holiday in America.  As I write this post, quite a few things outstanding: itinerary not fixed, haven’t done any packing and watching the weather.

This trip consists of three parts, due to the previous Trek America outing leaving the feeling I’d not made full use of the airfare.  Additionally the trek advertised as New York to Los Angeles, is actually New Jersey to Los Angeles, with no time spent in either location!

  1. New York City – 1 week
  2. Trek America Southerner Winter – 3 weeks
  3. Los Angeles – 3 days
A week in NYC really is the minimum to get a decent experience without being insanely rushed.  Trek America tour covers a few miles, so 21 days will still be fast paced. The trek starts on Christmas day heading to Washington D.C., whilst New Year is seen in at New Orleans.
Planned highlights NYC:
  • Stay mid-town Manhattan, 1 block from Times Square.
  • Explore Central Park
  • Visit Aircraft Carrier Intrepid inc. Space Shuttle Enterprise and Submarine Growler
  • Sopranos Tour – See the sights from the TV show
  • Top of the Rock
  • Ice Skating under the Christmas tree at Rockefeller Center
  • Ice Skating on the Wollman rink
  • Lots of Eating!
  • Many other tours and activities for experiencing NYC
Planned highlights LA
  • Rent an american sports/muscle car – Chevrolet Camaro!
  • Visit Battleship IOWA
  • Vist the auto-mobile museum round the corner from the Hacienda (missed last visit)
Yet more items off the bucket list, the rusty bucket with a hole in, yet to be posted.
NY’s recent storms & snow not mirroring our too agreeable +7 Celsius seasonal average is cause for concern.  Looks like I’ll get to land to cold but clear skies, Wednesday is esp. important with a visit to Top of the Rock.
Having pulled an all-nighter and still not ready – next task: intersection list and map traces in my Moleskin City Guide.  Then… when everything is packed, time to thing about Christmas presents, exhausted!  Really should fit in one or two episodes of The Sopranos and just in case I get hi-jacked and need to rely on counter-terrorism skillz – at least one episode of 24!
The fun starts this Wednesday at 1am…

SCD Update – Month 11

Eight months have passed since my last SCD update. Initially the lack of updates was intentional, I was stuck at 75.5Kg around the summer time. Nothing I did seemed to put me back into weight loss mode, in fact I gained over a Kilo.

Getting back on track was going to be trickier this time, as I needed to ensure strength training goals weren’t completely destroyed. Previously I’ve commented how the diet impacted willpower in the gym, any worse and I’d be dusting the equipment!

Decided to leave breakfast and evening meals alone, as they’re too important in providing a basis for good sleep and an effective day at work. Leaving lunch and the cheat day open to optimization. Cheating the cheat day, restricting the quaffing, is a big mistake as it leads to mid-week cheating backed by the fallacious logic that you deserve the tiny treat because you did so well on cheat day. Analysed without the help of a rumbling tummy, multiple mid-week cheats halt weight loss whilst leaving you with the same desire to nibble.

Feeding the simple carb/sugar monster midweek makes him stronger and your willpower weaker. It’s a lot harder to diet messing about, hunger + guilt/disapointment = random munchies.

Workday Lunch

  • Sainsbury’s Tomato Cup-a-soup
  • 10 Sainsbury’s Sea Salt & Pepper Croutons
  • Sainsbury’s Tomato Puree (1/10th tube)
  • Sprinkle Dried Basil

As well as knocking weight loss into gear, it’s super cheap! Each meal costing 30p.

Looking at the previously posted menu, I see ‘afternoon snacks’, was accidentally dropped. Always been bit of a snob regarding chocolate, but money saving goals resulted in Sainsbury’s equivalent of Mars bars (N.B. don’t consider Mars to be good quality…) for the afternoon snack. The less confectionery you eat, the more you care about it being decent when you have some. For the cost, the supermarket version is unbeatable and pretty good, however the taste got worse as the cheaper ingredients became more noticeable (cheap chocolate relies very heavily on vegetable oil in place of cocoa solids). The more effort put into kicking the sugar habit the better the food you eat is as you desire better and can afford it.

April → Dec Weight Kg Notes
Before 77.4 34″ trouser waist
After 74.0 Shorten watch bracelet

The end result isn’t impressive, due to the increase and stagnation, but still a solid maintainable reduction averaging ~100g per week. On that basis I could reach 70Kg by the summer.

Peugeot 306 Turn Signal Relay Clicking Sound

Within the last month my car started making a frantic clicking sound, for a few seconds after a turn signal was cancelled.  This progressed to occasionally clicking for no apparent reason.  This week it’s developed into an almost constant click sound, double or triple the frequency of a normal turning signal feedback.

Two weeks ago I’d read on the web about contacts and using a bit of air and un/plugging the stalks, tried this but no cigar.  The advice was, either as mentioned or buy a new stalk assembly – internal sealed unit not serviceable…

Well, telling me the black box contains magic and secrets I can’t possibly fiddle with, it’s an open invitation to pull it apart and level-up my skills.

To anyone looking to do likewise (the reason I post this), be assured most of the steps are stupidly easy.  First up – break something it’s your fault, die by doing something stupid or even clever – your fault not mine.  The starting point for any fiddling/hacking in unknown territory, is to reconcile yourself to the idea you might need to buy a replacement; And that your car might not be roadworthy (no indicators!) until you make good a botched fix.  ‘Should I try this?’  If you’ve got basic car and electronics smarts, you shouldn’t have any problems with this job.

No need to disconnect the battery, but you are fiddling under the steering column shroud, so there is the danger of setting off an airbag, just don’t go yanking or shorting anything!

Ok, so if you want to break out the Haynes manual, it’ll guide you through the process of using a coin to open the cockpit fuse cover, then unscrewing the shroud from the underneath the steering column, followed by lifting the top shroud off.  Now you can put the manual away, it’s not much use.

Peugeot spoil us with ISO sockets and plugs attached to a yoke (frame thingy) around the steering column, it’s really simple to press the side button on the socket and lift the plug free, they are keyed – meaning it’s impossible to re-connect the wrong plug or the wrong orientation.  The turn stalk body has two T10 screws (torx/star bit) holding it in place, remove these and slide the stalk left off the mount, these internal rails in the body make it super easy to refit later.

At this point you can stop reading and refit an eBay/breakers yard replacement in the same way.  Hopefully you’re up for discovering the elves that sit inside the box, waiting for you to signal & phoning the elves in the signal bulbs to turn the light on and off.

The body of the indicator has 6 plastic lugs for a snap-fit assembly, opening is always awkward with these.  Proceed carefully, but some grr is required or you’ll just mash and stress the plastic.  Place a tiny flat-head screwdriver into the clip recess to depress the thick part of the latch, with strong hands just prize the lid off (else use a 2nd flat blade under the lid rim to lever it out).  As the lid is removed be careful not to lose the bit of plastic suspended on posts at the back of the unit by springs, this is the switch mechanism for automatic cancelling of the signal by returning the steering wheel.

The stalk and body can now be separated.  The stalk controls a myriad of functions and so is quite complex in design.  The stalk consists of four collections of switches:

  1. Signalling is handled by the tip of the stalk moving from a central point in either direction where contracts are made within a trough by a rocking-point assembly.  This is the bit we are interested in.
  2. Sidelights/Headlamps(partial/full beam) controlled by a radial switch causing a gear to move a flat switch between several positions (the bit closest the stalk casing), I found assembly was easiest with the switch for headlights dimmed (middle position).
  3. Flash main beam, the stalk causes a small rod to push a button (about middle of the body).
  4. The horn activated by a push button on the end of the stalk, makes a connection in the body, between #2 and #3 using a thin strip of wire functioning as both a spring and connection

Nothing lasts forever, with repeated use, the plastic return position had gradually worn away.  This creates a slightly pronounced dip causing the edges of the rails to be grated by the tip of the turn arm.  Over time these bits of shaved metal suspended in grease built up and compacted enough to form a much weaker electrical contact in the rest position.  Using carburetor cleaner (great for removing everything, wear goggles…) and a rag, clean the track.  Wipe up any gunk and give the unit a moment to evaporate any left over highly flammable cleaner.

Reassembly is straightforward, angle the pivot point of the signal arm (the movement that would control the main beam flash) so the ball part of the arm can be slid into place and the gear teeth engage the switch.  Next press the horn button, if the assembly is correct the strip will contact a metal post (like a Morse key).  The tip should slide easily into position, refit the lid by holding the external part of the arm such that is forces the two parts together, if you didn’t mangle the lid too badly it should click into place.  Return to the instructions of removal for reassembly, then test with the car stationary.

This was another successful fix, but still no elves or magic :( oh well, maybe next time.  2nd hand signal stalk (make sure you find the right one) can be acquired for about £20, I’d expect 30min labor charge at a garage, so ~£70 saved, ~£150 @ Peugeot with OEM part.

Korfball

Yet another tick for the bucket-list, which I’ve yet to publish!  On a night out, a friend introduced her Korfball friends, a group of socialites and miscreants, fit-bods and the more casual athletic form.  Pretty much my age, having a good time, players of an obscure sport that sounded either foreign or public school.

Although it’s definitely outside my comfort zone, the appeal of accomplishing several goals in one painful dive into the deep-end was too much to resist.   It’s on my bucket-list, is a fitness activity, potential to make new friends and learn something completely different.

So when the offer to try it out came up, I was ready to kneel down and place head on chopping block.  “Sure I’ll give it a go” I heard myself say, followed up with the confident debonair internal voice reassuring me it fitted perfectly with my plans and it would be a great experience.  I risk sounding mental divulging this, as it’s such a surprise.  Usually I’ll be saying “Hm, ha, maybe another time” whilst the internal dialog runs ‘yeah right mate, your joking, no way in hell you can do that’.

This Thursday I had my first practice session, no idea what to expect I take along an old pair of cotton outdoor shorts, cotton vest and trainers (replete with dust in footwell).  Entering the training room in newbie uniform, I’m filled with excitement that the first task is to run… run around the hall with the added bonus that the person at the back is cycled around to the front frequently, ensuring it’s not possible to be suffering and lagging behind.  Fortunately this wasn’t too big an ask of 75Kg me, 91Kg tub ‘o lard me wouldn’t have completed a lap.

The training session didn’t impress, I really feel that basic skills have to be built up. With any situation the problem needs to be modeled and broken down, each part perfected and pieced together for appreciation / application.  It did however offer a pretty good introduction to the style of the game.  The challenges are numerous and I doubt participation in any sport gives much of benefit aside fitness for Korfball.  The ball is smaller & lighter than a basketball, the goal lacks a backboard forcing a precise high-arc shot.  The initial routine consisted of footwork exercise of running in, catching the ball and making a shot, simply too much to take in.  Add in a line-dancing style demonstration of a pivoting move and I was ready to scream/cry/break-down, fortunately went with comedy bemusement and struggled on.  The session ended with a practice game, I’d just about picked up enough and the group is both friendly and helpful so it wasn’t too painful an experience.  Just had to contend with a few new rules, most interesting were:

  • Reverse court every two? goals
  • Reverse position/activity between defense/attack as above
  • Mark/escape a player of the same sex
  • Pass to a player of the opposite sex

The last two rules get more interesting with gender realignment due to available players “No, I’m a girl” from a 6ft tall guy with beard… overload!  Fortunately I was able to score during the game, unfortunately I was too excited and completely missed the opportunity for cool and relaxed, springing into the air with satisfaction appropriate to Sebastian Vettel after winning a F1 race.

Next time I’ll be wearing wicking clothing and have a water bottle, and remember that there is no expectation of new players other than to join in as best they can.

This is my local group http://www.tauntonsoul.co.uk/index.php

Need lullabies, play Lullabies to Paralyze

Trying to get back, no, trying to start blogging on a consistent basis. But everything has to have a beginning, and although I’m overflowing with ideas that need a place, the task is insurmountable. So I’ll get into the rhythm with something short.

I write this whilst coming down with Bonobo, seriously Spotify should have a night time lockout feature for my electronic, dub, bass playlists. 2AM and bouncing to beats feels great, but tomorrow… blurgh

Casually writing, without the need to focus on what I need for the future, what might sound interesting if anyone stumbles upon the post, is refreshing and easy! It also allows me to shift focus to the music, instead of catching bits between pauses. I love Black Sands but have only just identified the clarinet. This surprised me as I used to p̶l̶a̶y̶ torture myself and anyone in earshot! The clarinet isn’t as sexy as the sax, more a refined somber almost stuck-up tonality, to my ear it’s a lovely sound but feels like it trips over itself awkwardly the restricted throat resulting in an almost whiny voice.

Oh no, Teardrop – Massive Attack, oodles of bass coming through my cans and I’m itching to turn up and bask in the aural sunshine of the bass line…

Okay, this isn’t working, must stop and sort out a playlist for pre-bed; Otherwise the next track will be Insomnia – Faithless!