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Old Nov 15 2019, 07:40 PM   #5121
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Well performed live music never gets old, especially when it's by an artist you've followed for years.



Have followed these guys since well before they even were a group, the composer (on the piano above) was a very skilled soloist before picking up the rest of the group.

Have several albums now, including two signed on vinyl from backing their funding projects on Kickstarter, but this is the first time I've been lucky enough to see them live.

Moment of the week so far is getting the whole room full of people singing along with the chorus on a couple of the songs. That's one of those things which really don't get old to be part of and still makes my hair stand on end when it happens.

Hats off to the tech crew as well for getting the audio halfway listenable...the room is an absolute swine to mic up. It's really long, narrow and has a low ceiling...so to get anything resembling a useful level of audio at the back of the room basically means you've got to have the drivers at the back of the room...facing the mics. Not ideal. They tried having things rear facing set back a ways from the stage but that used to result in a horrendous resonance at one couple of square foot spot in the room which kept trying to turn the audience inside out, which while sometimes hilarious is generally frowned upon.

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Old Nov 16 2019, 12:16 AM   #5122
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Zelendeth, out of curiosity who is the group and will American's have heard of them yet?
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Old Nov 16 2019, 05:07 AM   #5123
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Zelendeth, out of curiosity who is the group and will American's have heard of them yet?
...That would have been smart stuff to include wouldn't it...

The gentleman on the piano above goes by the name Fox Amoore (I've not the foggiest of what their legal name is...though this is how most of their material can be found so it works anyhow) who has a SoundCloud page with a decent cross section of their material over here.

Since they have formed more of an organised band with Pepper Coyote to become Foxes & Peppers they have released a couple of actual albums, at least a couple of which are on Spotify over here

Not sure how well they're actually known outside the Furry Fandom, though I know Fox has done some work on some bigger projects in the past.
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Old Nov 16 2019, 12:00 PM   #5124
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So my husband made the mistake while out in suit earlier of standing still for too long.

The nose horn is just begging to have things hung on it...like my conbadge.



Such antics are par for the course. I'm sure I've the same sort of nonsense awaiting me in future when my suit is finished, albeit more in the form of him trying to balance things on my head as the species my suit is based on are known for having very flat, wedge shaped heads...cue other jokes like this one I came across yesterday evening by someone who had been left on door duty at one of the larger events.



Poor door wedge...

Actually pretty sure that's one of the very earliest suits based on the same base hardware that I'm using, back in the days when Dream Vision Creations actually still did full suit commission's rather than exclusively making components.
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Old Nov 17 2019, 12:07 AM   #5125
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Thank you I'll have to look them up online. Something about the name Fox Amoore rings a bell somewhere in my subconscious but I can't place where.



Quote:
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...That would have been smart stuff to include wouldn't it...

The gentleman on the piano above goes by the name Fox Amoore (I've not the foggiest of what their legal name is...though this is how most of their material can be found so it works anyhow) who has a SoundCloud page with a decent cross section of their material over here.

Since they have formed more of an organised band with Pepper Coyote to become Foxes & Peppers they have released a couple of actual albums, at least a couple of which are on Spotify over here

Not sure how well they're actually known outside the Furry Fandom, though I know Fox has done some work on some bigger projects in the past.
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Old Nov 17 2019, 09:55 AM   #5126
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So my husband made the mistake while out in suit earlier of standing still for too long.

The nose horn is just begging to have things hung on it...like my conbadge

Such antics are par for the course. I'm sure I've the same sort of nonsense awaiting me in future when my suit is finished, albeit more in the form of him trying to balance things on my head as the species my suit is based on are known for having very flat, wedge shaped heads...cue other jokes like this one I came across yesterday evening by someone who had been left on door duty at one of the larger events.


Poor door wedge...

Actually pretty sure that's one of the very earliest suits based on the same base hardware that I'm using, back in the days when Dream Vision Creations actually still did full suit commission's rather than exclusively making components.

Wonderful pictures Zelandeth! Keep us posted about your costume!
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Old Nov 17 2019, 05:00 PM   #5127
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Well that's big news for our little convention.

This year is the last year we'll be in the Livingston Mercure Hotel.

Photo snapped by me last year.



There also will be no convention in 2020...But we will intact return in early 2021, moving to the Crowne Plaza in Glasgow.

Um...this one (image from Wikipedia).


That's a bit of a jump!

With a confirmed 482 attendees this year though, the Mercure was just bursting at the seams...a move was going to have to happen. Wasn't quite expecting quite *that* a huge jump though.

Will be bitter sweet. Yes it's good news for the event, availability of local accomodation has really been the constraining factor on growth the last couple of years. This will be a huge step forward for us...in that the smallest function space we'll have in the new venue will be larger than the main stage in our current one.

However we've been here since 2014...and have a fantastic relationship with the hotel staff. They basically hand us the keys on a silver platter on the Thursday evening and tell us to do whatever the heck we want and just have fun. It feels like home...even if a very full one this year!

Still, be interesting to see how it unfolds...

Last edited by Zelandeth; Nov 19 2019 at 11:24 AM. Reason: Replaced the photo of our old venue with one of my own that's a more sensible size.
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Old Nov 17 2019, 07:38 PM   #5128
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Well that just broke me, in a good way.

Just in a room with probably a hundred people belting out Country Roads.

Not sure why, but that's a song which has a huge emotional impact on me whenever I hear it live...at least in that many people nobody can hear how tone deaf I am!
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Old Nov 18 2019, 03:55 AM   #5129
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Of course, if the songwriter had stuck to the Highways he would probably have got home in time.
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Old Nov 20 2019, 09:16 PM   #5130
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Having decided that I'd had utterly enough of the outside world by about midday and having a complete failure to summon enthusiasm regarding doing anything actually useful...I spent a couple more hours fiddling around with the Sun.

Task number one was dealing with the vacuum hoses in the machine. I knew these had taken on the consistency of dried pasta and would disintegrate the moment I touched them. I wanted them changed before I started poking around as they were mostly still where they were meant to be...and I'd rather not play guessing games as to where they go.



By the time I was done, this is what was left. Plus a bunch of bits buried in the bottom of the case I'll need to get out with the vacuum cleaner.



Much better...



I discovered the hard way that that solenoid valve on the water purge line has mains on the (unsleeved) terminals even when the machine is off when it gave me a good old belt. Absolutely stupid not having the plug pulled before I did that.

Fiddly bit under the gas analyser done too. I'd missed the line heading off to the pressure transducer (far right out of frame) when taking this photo, it was sorted later.



With that sorted out I felt I could turn my attention to sorting the stuff which wasn't working. Two nuts removed allowed the whole front bezel to be removed...this vastly improved access.



This solves the problem of not being able to get to the computer.



This let me take a closer look at things. Not least figuring out what CPU the thing was running. I was expecting something 8-bit, maybe Z80 (half hoping actually as I've messed with them before and might have some hope of making heads or tails of the software) or 6000 series...Finding this however was rather a surprise.



That's a National INS8900D. For those not familiar with it, that's a 2MHz 16-bit processor... really wasn't expecting this to be a 16-bit machine... especially given it has its roots back in 1979...overkill?

The memory board. Yes, getting these EPROMs read and backed up is high on the priority list.



Not totally sure how, but I managed to forget to get photos of the MUX and I/O boards. I'll fix that later.

The board I was most interested in today however was this one.



The edge connectors actually looked pretty clean, though I gave it a scrub up anyhow. Based on prior experience though I figured the most sensible thing to do was to remove (carefully, using the right tool) each of the socketed chips and reseat them. Somewhat surprised to see a humble 555 timer in a socket. Have to wonder if they've had reliability issues with that IC.

With that done, slotted the card back in, powered on, and...



Rock steady display... I'll take that as a win. Having a display which would stay running for more than five seconds at a time I could let it complete the warm up process and run through the self test (having taken the opportunity to clean the CRT faces while it was in warm up as they were filthy).





Still surprised how sharp this display is... especially now there's not 1/8" of grime on it.

The faceplate was similarly filthy.



I wasn't surprised by the "service required" messages at the calibration screen. If I'd been abandoned in a cold damp shed since 2005 I'd be in need of a bit of TLC just the same.

I did a quick check on the gas analyser first to see if it would respond to a clean. First check though was of course to make sure that the IR source was "lit" correctly. The source here takes the form of a carbon rod, heated to the point where it just about glowing a really dim red (camera makes it look a little brighter than it is).



This is then focused via two parabolic mirrors onto a pair of sensors at the far end.







The spinning shutter at the source end allows the reading to be sampled from free air and the gas under test alternately.

It was given a really good clean (carefully...the mirrors are surface silvered) as the whole lot were filthy.

Sadly it didn't just miraculously come back to life...so further digging will be needed. Despite the errors,it was quite happy to continue into running mode.

First page you get is to enter the vehicle details - Number of cylinders, 2/4 stroke, and the timing offset. Once that is entered it presents you with the following screen.



The *** entries show where readings are missing due to the calibration issues. It will blank things out rather than potentially show erroneous data. This allows you to check things like the starter motor current, battery voltage during cranking. It also allows you to compare the current draw during each cylinder compression stroke to give a rough relative compression test to show if one pot is far lower than the rest.

Once that is completed, the engine running test page is presented.



I like the "bar graphs" drawn using the text...sneaky ways to do stuff like this without the overheads of bitmap graphics is half the fun of old kit from this sort of age.

Looks really the part with the front panel back in place.





So issues we need to look into:

[] Gas analyser inoperative.

[] Volt/ohm meter inoperative.

[] Temperature probe reading nonsense (see 160C reading above).

[] Suspicious of the vacuum reading.

[] Possible cap issues in the power supply as it shows a low line voltage warning at the calibration screen despite our line voltage being anything but low.

First port of call is going to be going over the machine end to end and reseating every socketed chip as I did on the CRT board, then see where we are. Will also make a point of checking for any signs of damage to the wiring where it enters the boom as it could be prone to chafing there.

Oh...and sort the dent in the power supply fan grill so it stops rattling before it drives me mad.



Interesting to see that the fans are actually 115V units...have to assume they're running from a step down transformer buried in that brick of a power supply.

Definitely making progress though.

Last random photo for the old tech enthusiasts...old computer equipment like this often displays interesting or odd artefacts on screen when rebooted. This is what the display shows on this for about a second when powered up.



Thought it might just be random nonsense in the RAM, but it seems to show the same every time.
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Old Nov 22 2019, 05:24 AM   #5131
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So, Zelandeth, you've been fiddling around on the dark side of the Sun :-)
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Old Nov 22 2019, 08:54 PM   #5132
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So, Zelandeth, you've been fiddling around on the dark side of the Sun :-)
Aye! Spent a couple of hours with my head buried inside it!

-- -- --

Today I picked up a couple of the correct F30WT12 tubes for the lit sign on the Sun 1215.

While T8 tubes physically fit and will work, the electrical specs are quite different. The T12 3' tube dates back to the original set of designs from the earliest days of fluorescent tech, whereas the T8 is a far later design which operates at a far higher voltage but lower current. As such an F30WT8 in this application would be overdriven, running at around 45W rather than the correct 30W, so wouldn't last long.

These however will be perfect. They're hard to find here as this size were never popular in the UK. These are new old stock circa 1993, so goodness knows where they've been hiding since then.



Replacement took all of about 30 seconds.



I remembered to check and clean both the reflector and inside of the diffuser this time. They were distinctly grubby.



Everything back together. You really can't see any difference externally to be honest.



As it's not the sort of equipment a lot of people will have used and it seems to have generated quite a bit of interest I thought I'd try to write up a bit of a guide to the basic startup and configuration of the machine. Figured some of you might find it interesting.

This isn't a full user guide...just a quick run through of the real basics from what I remember of using the one a mate had about 20 years ago and what I've seen messing around with this one.

Hopefully this will demystify all those buttons a bit.

When first powered on the machine shows a message informing you that it has started its warmup phase and gives a countdown (starting from fifteen minutes) to when it will be ready to use.



You can bypass this delay at any point by pressing #, but there's obviously a greater chance of the accuracy of the machine may drift as it warms up. The fifteen minute delay helps ensure that everything is stable before you put it into use.

The # button basically functions as the "next page" control throughout.



At the completion of the countdown, the machine waits for you to press # to continue before it will move on to the self test/calibration screen.



This takes a minute or so to run through...and obviously has a few errors reported in the case of my machine... hopefully these will disappear as time goes on and I work through things.



Next page is the program setup screen where things start to get a little more interesting.



The "set ignition selector" relates to two modes that the ignition side of things can run in. There's a table in the operator's manual telling you which cars which setting should be used with.

This is selected using this button.



Shown above in mode 1, and below in mode 2. Yes, this is a bit of an excuse to show off the flipdot indicators...even if they are a bit grubby at this stage.



"Set 2 or 4 cycle" is asking you to select whether the engine is a two or four stroke. There's a dedicated button for this, which like the ignition selector has an indicator built into the button itself.



Self explanatory really...4 for a four stroke and 2 for a two stroke.



The number of cylinders is then set using the left of the three buttons below. These have different functions in different program modes hence having several legends, it's less confusing than it initially looks.



The selection starts at 0 by default, and pressing the button cycles through 2, 3, 4, 5, 6, 8, 10, 12 then loops back to 2.

The last thing on this section is the timing offset. This is only needed I believe where the car uses a magnetic pickup to fire the ignition, this is usually offset a few degrees before or after TDC. You need to dial this in here.

Pressing "number select" initially changes the sign to + or - to reflect whether the offset is before or after TDC, then "cursor advance" moves to the first digit, with "number select" used to advance the number. This process is repeated until you've dialled in the correct offset.

The screen below is an example which would have been used on my old Saab from memory, you can see the cursor showing which digit is being entered.



Once you have advanced to the last digit it will tell you to press # to the next page. It won't let you proceed if there are things you've missed.



This brings you up to the "Cranking/Pinpoint Tests" page.



This gives you quite a bit of information on what's going on. However this is only half the information it can show you. An additional page is accessible using the "short" button on the control panel. This appears to indicate "short-cut" rather than that it shorts anything out to kill the ignition system or anything.

Here it's shown activated, hence the vivid orange indicator shown.



All of the buttons - even those which are purely momentary - have the indicators in them. Utterly unnecessary, but a nice touch.

This screen gives you some really quite clever diagnostic information.



This shows you the difference in engine speed, starter motor current draw as the engine spins over each cylinder. This can be helpful in showing if one or more cylinders has a significantly lower compression ratio than the others.

You might need to actually stop the engine from starting to get solid data from this test, and there's a control to disable the ignition system labelled as "engine kill."



Pressing this toggles the kill, and when it's enabled a flashing "engine kill" warning is shown on the display to warn the user. Having this feature on hand is obviously useful from a safety perspective as well.

The "Short" button latches, so pressing it again will drop you back to the Cranking/pinpoint Tests page.

Once you're done with that, pressing # will advance you to the main running test page.



This shows you pretty much everything you need to know. The displays look to update pretty rapidly, at least a few times a second. If wanted, you can pause the data on screen with the "Display Hold" button. This is directly below the # button.



When this is enabled a "hold" message flashes at the upper right of the screen to warn the user that live data isn't being shown.

A useful feature of this as well is that in the main screen above, when the display hold control is released, the original data is left in the screen with a new column being put up for the live data. This allows you two "old" readings to be shown along with the live data. This could be really useful if you're making small tweaks and wanting to double check what effect it's had.

The below display shows a "full" page with two columns of held data shown.



The live data is always shown on the leftmost column.

That's as far into the running of this unit as I've gone...but it gives you a basic rundown of how the computer works. Shows how it does a pretty good job of guiding you through everything...which in the mid 80s really wasn't a given!

Probably the most daunting looking controls relate to the scope...though I've never really done enough work with that to be able to talk through it from memory.



The Short button being grouped here rather than with the computer controls is just to keep you on your toes.

I'll try someday to write a bit of a how to for this too...I'll need to learn to drive it a bit better first though.

Likewise some of the advanced features of the computer...there's a whole additional layer in there I think.

For the sake of convenience there's a remote control which duplicates a number of buttons from the front panel to make life easier for the technician. #, Display Hold, Short and Engine Kill being those controls.



The "Print" button would trigger the optional printer. No timestamps or anything, it would just literally print a copy of what's shown on the screen. Sadly I don't have the printer, though I do have the interface card (found in the base cabinet) should I ever come across one.

This has been probably horribly tedious to most of you, but hopefully it's vaguely interesting to you if you're into old tech and want to see what would be happening when you're blindly mashing buttons to see what makes it tick.

If you have any questions please feel free to ask.
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Old Nov 23 2019, 08:12 PM   #5133
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Because I'm me and find them far more interesting than I probably should, here are a couple of additional photos of the ridiculously overcomplicated status indicators built into the buttons.

It surprises me that they went to the lengths of building them into even just the momentary controls. You never actually *see* this one as the control is actually latched on software...the orange announciator in the button is normally hidden by your finger.



The actual indicator that this is active is a message that flashes at the lower right hand corner of the screen.



There is apparently a volts/ohms measurement capacity in there somewhere (which I've yet to figure out how to access), which is switched between the two modes using this control. Here it is in volts mode...



...and ohms mode.



Just surprises me this wasn't just done either on screen or using a status LED next to the control. I remember looking at this sort of control when I was building a power supply a few years back, and these things were *expensive* - even basic ones without legends like this. "We spared no expense" seems to be a running theme with this machine.

I've got a slightly more sane (though still offset) temperature reading now I've actually got the thermocouple plugged into it rather than a hall effect sensor!

I wanted to have a look at all the analogue cards to check for any additional socketed components, dirty contacts or dry joints.

Started out with the volts/ohms board as I know there are issues with that subsystem.



Had a brief "Ah ha!" moment when I spotted that toasty looking resistor...but checking it shows it to measure precisely the value that's stamped on the side of it. Nothing else obviously amiss.

The next board is the trigger control board.



This is quite important in that what it does is essentially listen for the ignition pulse firing on cylinder number 1, as that is the timing reference to which everything on the machine is slaved. Nothing amiss here that I can see.

Unsurprisingly, the next board along from that is the main timing board - this basically keeps everything in sync with the signal tracked by the trigger control board.



One of the more densely packed boards.

I initially thought that the next board (labelled "AMP" on the card cage) was going to handle a lot of signal amplification...but it actually appears to be the signal processing for the amps and temperature sensors.



This board does have a couple of dry joints that I'll give a tickle with the soldering iron tomorrow.

"CAL" is the next one, which I'm assuming given the precense of several relays, physically connects loads of known values across the inputs to undertake the calibration self test.



Again some of the soldering isn't great looking, but I couldn't actually see any dry joints...I may well reflow some of the heavier connections though as they could be better.

The fact that the only systems which are consistently failing the self calibration are the HC and CO meters is one of the reasons I want to have a really good look at the wiring from the I/O backplane to the sockets at the end of the boom.

Speaking of I/O, that's what the next board is tasked with dealing with.



Nothing wrong with this one that I could see.

Next up is the vertical pre-amplifier board, I believe this relates to the scope.



Quite obvious from the lovely old school hand routed traces that this one and the trigger control board are quite a bit older in design to the majority, though the date codes show they were actually made at the same time as the others.

"Logic Board No. 2" is next...though I don't recall seeing a number 1 anywhere!



I'm guessing a bit, but based on the hardware present that this is just handling some low level buffering or such like they didn't have room for in the main computer cage.

No signs of trouble anyway.

Finally we have an identical pair of cards containing quite beefy deflection amplifiers to drive the CRT (one card handles horizontal, the other vertical).



All of these boards could do with a good clean, as do the digital boards (which I'll grab proper photos of soon too) due to the close proximity of the cooling fan. Shame Sun didn't feel it worthwhile to fit a filter to it.

So nothing nothing obviously amiss there, aside from one resistor which has got a bit warm at some point and one capacitor on the amp/temp board that's got dry joints. I really did want to get them all out for a proper check over though. No socketed ICs or anything like that (which was responsible for the original display issue) in need of attention, but it was worth checking.

Looks like I might actually get a few hours free tomorrow afternoon, if so I'll hopefully get a bit more stuck into trying to work out what's going on with the faults.

The biggest irritation there really is that there don't seem to be many labelled test points, which would make checking to see if all the power supply rails are present and correct (there are a load of them!) a lot easier. Obviously given the card based construction it's a bit tricky to probe a lot of the machine when it's running as the cards are quite tightly packed together.

The other thing I wanted to check these cards for was whether they were hiding any more tantalum capacitors like I've seen on at least one or two of the digital boards, as once I've ascertained how many of them there are they will be getting replaced on mass. Wouldn't surprise me if that alone sorted a lot of the issues based on prior experience.
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Old Nov 24 2019, 06:34 PM   #5134
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Today was the day to get all the digital cards out for a check over and to get everything reseated.

So here are the digital boards, from left to right.

"CRT" - This is responsible for taking the data from the computer and converting it into a composite video signal which is fed to the monitor.



"MUX" - Handles all the analogue to digital conversion, signal processing and such like. Initially I thought "oh my god bodge wires" when I saw this, before realising those wires are all shielded coax, so they have just decided it's a more reliable way of getting a clean signal across the board than using PCB traces. Even if it does look a bit shonky.



The whole machine is astonishingly free of bodge wires actually...especially for a design from the late 70s where they usually would find *something* after the board's had gone to be made...

Lovely white ceramic package on the ADC.

"I/O" - No great surprise, does most of the heavy lifting with regards to the actual I/O side of things.



"CPU" - Unsurprisingly, contains the CPU and the 64kB of RAM it makes use of.



"MEM1" - Basically all the ROM. Interesting to see that while these initially all look to be EPROMS, they're not. While there are some, there are also a shedload of character generators. My guess is they're using this to give greater control over the display without going to the lengths of full bitmap control.



"PP" - Pre-Processor. Not actually entirely sure what this does, though I have to assume basically just does some general housekeeping which we would normally expect to be handled directly by the CPU these days... purely a guess though.



The EPROM here was losing its label, so a bit of black tape was applied to help keep the data safe.

Probably the main reason I would love to find an actual service manual for this (VERY unlikely as Sun kept really quite tight control over) is that it would probably give me a really good breakdown of the actual system architecture - sadly there's a lot of hardware in here I've never worked with before, so there's a learning process involved.

All of the socketed components on these boards were reseated while I had them out, as I knew this had already sorted one problem.

Turns out that while it's not fixed everything (the gas analyser is still failing the self test), it has definitely helped. Previously we had complete nonsense shown on the voltage readout. Now however we seem to have sensible data shown.



The column on the right is showing the data from when I had a car battery connected to the voltage measurement lead, the one on the left is with the leads shorted together. Had to do that as it's smart enough to know when there's nothing connected and will just blank the display for that measurement. Helpful in the real world...but slightly awkward during testing!

Not worrying too much about a 0.2V offset at zero for an instrument of this type, the reading with a load connected was spot on...multimeter was showing 12.23V.

Worth noting that we appear to have more sane readings on the vacuum gauge as well now, that was tending to wander around quite a bit at rest too.

Definitely progress.

Know this is repeating myself to some folks I've spoken to about this, but I figure it's worth mentioning one of my plans for this thing long term to the world at large. One of the useful things about the monitor the computer is that it's simply a self-contained composite unit. The signal from the computer to it is simply carried by a twisted pair of wires. So it would be a truly trivial task to cut into that and introduce a switchable video source.

My intention here is to fit a small self contained computer (probably a Raspberry Pi because I know I can just throw Debian at it rather than having to muck around with it) somewhere in the case. This would then allow me to use the monitor there to view manuals, data sheets, instructional videos etc in the garage on something a bit more user friendly than a tiny phone screen. It's a really nice sharp screen so should do just fine.

I'll do doing nothing which cannot be reversed easily. The only thing I'll need to fit to the outside of the case will be a switch to change video sources. Luckily I won't even need to drill a hole for that as there's a convenient rubber bung by the remote control input for an option port...so I can just put a hole into that rubber bung rather than drilling a hole in the actual case.



Just seems a really nice way to bring it functionally into the 21st century somewhat to help it perform the sort of tasks it was originally designed for. Quite often I find myself in the garage with a wiring diagram of something open on my phone and getting really fed up with the screen turning off every five seconds...so having a fixed screen which I can't drop under the car will be most appreciated.

So that's what will be getting done to improve it in addition to the actual service and repair work.
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Old Nov 25 2019, 09:35 PM   #5135
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Is this the point where I should cue the classic mad scientist manic laughter?



The display is actually a lot sharper than it looks there, my camera is unsurprisingly not too keen of taking photos of an interlaced CRT display. While it's not exactly a 1080p TFT screen, it's perfectly usable and will be more than good enough for looking up the odd bit of information or watching instructional videos on.

There is a little screen burn, but it's really not noticeable in person unless you were actually looking for it. The camera makes it look far worse than it really is.

Test video to see how that looked was of course Aussie50's infamous washing machine destruction video where there really did look to be - as he himself put it, "a real life physics engine malfunction" at one point.



If you want to see what happens when you throw a few kilograms of unbalanced weight into a washing machine which has has the counterweights removed and had the motor hard wired to the mains, the video is over here on YouTube.

Definitely shows that the idea to use the display for dual purposes isn't a bad one. Sure there will be more to follow on that project at a later date.

Edit: Earlier in the evening I was out in the garage executing boring household tasks, namely extracting some stuff from the chest freezer that's been in there for years and is obviously never going to be used. Once I was done with that I figured it was really about time that I gave TPA at least a brief run as I don't think she's been started since I had the wheel stud snap. Decided that while I was at it, I may as well stick the camera recording...the result was a 15 minute or so ramble about the fleet in general and my tip of a garage with some Invacar noises in the middle.

Video is over here on YouTube if anyone wants to watch.

Apologies for the portrait format. I realised I'd made that mistake about five minutes in but really didn't want to start over or have to mess around editing two videos together for what was meant to be a really quick job. Will try to do better next time.

Last edited by Zelandeth; Nov 26 2019 at 02:32 AM. Reason: Added additional video link
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Old Nov 27 2019, 12:11 PM   #5136
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Well that's maddeningly unhelpful.



Car was last running a few days ago. Battery is less than a year old. That isn't just low, that's utterly and completely flat and then some.



Currently on the charger, though then I need to find out why it's flat. Really hoping the alternator isn't having issues, as having to replace that in addition to all the other work that's coming up really might be the straw that broke the camel's back. Especially as it looks like it will be a royal pain to change due to poor access.
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Old Nov 30 2019, 08:18 PM   #5137
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This afternoon an envelope containing four 3/8" BSF bolts dropped through my door.

The big question of course was whether they would fit the hub of the Invacar, given the hassle we've had on that count so far.



Yaaaaaay!

I can now confirm that the threads in the hub are 3/8" BSF.

With a little fermangling the old wheel nuts (which mostly had somewhat mangled threads) were drilled out to act as conical washers for the time being.



These were destined only for the bin so I had no worries about messing with them.

This meant that for the first time since September I was able to attach the wheel to the car again.



...Which meant the car is actually sitting on its wheels again rather than axle stands.



Obviously won't be getting driven on the road like this, especially with the remains of the original stud still being in there. However it will mean that I can at least move the car in and out of the garage until such time as the replacement hub turns up. Given that I need to shift it to get the Crypton machine out of there...that was getting kind of important.

While I was in the garage I figured it was time to have a better look at the booster fan for the heater.

Bit of experimentation was needed, but eventually found somewhere to put it where it was out of the way.



I hadn't been successful in tracking down the correct reducer to attach the ducting straight to the fan housing...so out with the duct tape. Not pretty but it's air tight.



The messy assembly was stuffed back in the corner.



It will be bolted onto the top of that rear wheel tub. Currently it sticks out like a sore thumb. It will however be getting painted in hammered black before I'm done which should make it blend in and look like it's meant to be there.

The airflow isn't fantastic, but is far better than the original setup was unless you were going flat out. Plus you can switch it off...which couldn't reliably be said originally.
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Old Dec 2 2019, 03:15 PM   #5138
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Xantia is now wearing a nice new set of Uniroyal RainExpert 3 tyres.



Tell you what I wasn't expecting...that changing the tyres has reduced road noise by what feels like about 70%. It's not something I was expecting at all, so took me a good few seconds to figure out what had changed.

I'm glad to be back on these tyres to be honest. Have been on others for a few years now down to availability and what cars came with...but the RainExpert has been my tyre of choice going back pretty much to the start of me driving back in 2003.

Annoyingly she will definitely be wanting rear discs for the MOT as they've only been working on a small portion of the rear of the disc - quite likely due to the usual Xantia issue of the caliper alignment being screwed up by dissimilar metal corrosion between the axle and caliper.

Deceptive this problem as the rear brakes don't do much in the Xantia unless you've a lot of weight onboard - the brakes in this one feel quite capable of stopping the rotation of the planet itself as they are.

Front discs will do a bit yet, but the pads are definitely getting towards due for a change.



Couple of weeks over two years and ~20K miles.

The exhaust has also decided to be annoying, having somehow managed to part company with the rearmost hanger.



Still not quite sure how it's managed this...though the whole system appears to have managed to get twisted somehow and this is the first day it's not rattled in several months. Will see if I can convince it to behave tomorrow.

If I can get this exhaust through the MOT I'll be happy...as I'd really rather not have to add another hundred or two onto the bill (and finding systems that actually fit well for the Xantia is a pain at the best of the time, irrespective of price). I'd like to get a stainless system made...but I could do with a chance to recover from the work about to be done before having to pay for that too!
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Old Dec 5 2019, 08:05 PM   #5139
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Well that was a waste of a morning.

Turns out the last email I sent to BL Autos never got through, vanishing into the aether somewhere...so they weren't expecting me to appear this morning as they'd never had the message from me saying I'd be there today. This meant that they had nowhere to put the car and their courtesy car was unavailable. So I was left with no option other than to drive back home and book it back in for the tenth.

Not their fault by any means...just annoying. Could have proven really awkward if I'd got pulled over on the way there for driving with no MOT too as the garage wouldn't have had any idea I was on the way. Luckily that didn't happen.

On the plus side it gives me the opportunity to clean the car up a bit before it goes in. I've removed a load of detritus from the door pockets and boot, and will be able to give it a wash to get the moss out of the window rubbers.

The exhaust was reattached to the rearmost hanger (again) and removed the demountable tow bar having smacked my shins on it for about the 78274638th time.



Just a bit of salt on the roads today...



Turning my attention to the van briefly I wanted to address one of the biggest shortcomings of the saloon heater. Most notably that this is it notionally "off."



The controller stays on so long as there's power. This is hooked directly into the leisure battery so doesn't shut off when the DC stuff in the back is turned off at the control panel. This won't be a huge issue long term as a proper controller will be replacing this piece of tat at some point (the controller is where they skimped most on the production costs), but for now I'd like to be able to turn it off.

Half an hour later this was sorted.





So it's now possible to turn it properly off without having to stand on my head in the side locker to remove the fuse every time.

Obviously you need to wait for the heat exchanger to cool and the fan to stop before you can power it down though or you'll damage it.

Yes it does mean the clock resets to 00:00 every time you turn things back on...but as the clock keeps laughably poor time (loses about five minutes a day!) that's not really an issue.

... I'm trying to resist the very strong urge to reposition the controller so it's level given it will be getting replaced and be returned to the original location on the wall...but it's really bugging me.
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Old Dec 8 2019, 07:00 PM   #5140
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Well that was unexpected. Someone has just made me a distinctly left field potential swap offer for the Lada.

My initial reaction is an equal mix of the following:

"Hell yes! Not going to get another shot at that! You only live once."

Plus...

"Oh my god...what are you thinking...run for the hills!"

Not going to drop any more details yet as nothing has been agreed yet...but definitely considering the offer.
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Old Dec 10 2019, 06:55 AM   #5141
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Someone on the New Kitchen Table just inquired whether I was anywhere near the volcanic island which erupted yesterday, killing at least 14 people so far. So here is my reply.
https://www.google.com/maps/dir/Welling ... -37.522567
I live in Wellington which is at the bottom of the North Island. Here the danger is earthquakes, not volcanoes. That's 466 kilometres or 289 and a half miles from that particular volcano. But I grew up with White Island on my horison, living on the coast in Tauranga, only 91 K or 56 1/2 miles from it, and where the cruise ship was berthed. It's in constant eruption and you can usually see a plume of steam from the coast. Frankly, I'm surprised that tourists were allowed on the island, leave alone inside the crater. It's not the first time that the island has killed people and it's too far offshore to be easily accessible in an emergency.
So far there are six dead on the mainland and almost certainly another eight dead on the island. All the burns units in New Zealand are full and they are talking about flying some of the wounded to Australian hospitals - most of the tourists are Australian. Given the nature of the injuries that have been reported, I'm sure there'll be more deaths. We also have stories of the most amazing heroism being reported. Today they couldn't even get a drone over the island, leave alone get onto it to see what the damage is.
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Old Dec 10 2019, 07:06 AM   #5142
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OK, so "edit post" just gives my computer a hissy fit. I'm not in "Welling UK" I'm in Wellington New Zealand and hopefully this is the correct map.
https://www.google.com/maps/dir/Well...3!2d-37.522567
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Old Dec 10 2019, 05:37 PM   #5143
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That's quite terrifying...glad you're okay though!

We used to live pretty much at the foot of a long extinct volcano when I was a kid, and it scared the pants off me when I learned what volcanoes were and how they worked...took my parents months to convince me that Bennachie was indeed thoroughly extinct.

-- -- --

Well that visit to the garage could have gone better.



They reckoned somewhere in the region of £1500 worth...even taking into account that I had some of the required parts already in the car.

I already knew about the stuffed lower control arm bush (that's the main thing it was in there to sort), the rear brakes were spotted at the end of last week when the tyres were changed, and I knew the exhaust was ropey but was kind of hoping we could scrape a couple months more out of it as I've been hoping to get a stainless system fitted, and there's always been a creak in the front end, so I was expecting a bush or two to need attention. The rest however was a complete bolt from the blue.

I'm a bit of two minds about the reported LHM leaks...those areas have been slightly damp with fluid for the two and a half years I've had the car...but in those two and a bit years and 20+K miles she's never used a drop of fluid...so it can't be leaking that much!

The rear arm bearing has me slightly puzzled... usually those failing give a load of warning years before they actually become an issue, with creaking, groaning etc...but aside from a rattle from the exhaust recently, the rear end has been totally silent...and I've never noticed it graunching or anything when dropping or raising the suspension. No abnormal tyre wear or anything like that either. Just slightly surprised that I've not seen that one coming...

Will need to do a bit of a part sourcing binge and see what I can get ticked off on my own driveway to see if I can get that bottom line down to a slightly less painful figure.

The work will be done though... despite the fact that it's probably going to still wind up exceeding the value of the car...because let's face it, what on earth would I replace it with?
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Old Dec 11 2019, 08:03 PM   #5144
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So the Xantia is likely to be in "dry dock" until after the Festive period...This combined with a taker being pretty much lined up for the Lada means I've given myself a metaphorical kick up the back side to get it back on the road.

Currently awaiting the arrival of a brake caliper overhaul kit (the offside front one weeps slightly), but nevertheless I've got it booked in for an MOT on Friday. Hopefully nothing else will drop up, if so I've no worries about popping back next week when the brake parts arrive. The garage I use is less than ten minutes from my door, so it's not a huge chore to get there and back.

Much as I enjoy it, I'll be quite happy to see it moved on. Not to mention being excited to get to know the car replacing it...
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Old Dec 12 2019, 01:02 AM   #5145
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Here in the States, it's quite common for a complete caliper to be cheaper than a rebuild kit. I don't know why.
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Old Dec 13 2019, 12:06 PM   #5146
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Allen View Post
Here in the States, it's quite common for a complete caliper to be cheaper than a rebuild kit. I don't know why.
Often is here too, sadly not in this case though as that would have been a far quicker solution than having to strip the whole thing down...though depending how it looks (of course it's apparently stopped weeping now) and what the cause of the leak looks to be I may just re-seal the offending piston rather than both in the caliper... it's quite unusual for seals to fail on these calipers actually so I'm somewhat hoping it's just a fluke failure due to a defect in the seal itself.

-- -- --

The Lada was unceremoniously dragged out of hibernation this morning and thrown at my local garage for an MOT without so much as a lighting check. Was expecting a list of minor stuff just due to having sat around for a month or two plus a year's use (albeit covering only a couple of thousand miles, mostly in fair weather).



Unexpected, but not going to complain!

The advisory for some underbody corrosion has been there as long as I've had the car, there's quite a bit of surface rust that could do with a scrub down and attacking with some Vactan and Dinitrol. She's never done any winter service in my ownership and I've generally tried to avoid wet weather driving where possible, so it's never got any worse. Has always been on the to do list, sadly has just never got to the top.

The steering idler mentioned has a (nylon?) bush in it, and they're prone to wear - replacement inserts are less than a tenner...and I've got one in stock already. Though it's nowhere near bad enough to worry us just now.

Having this car roadworthy again is going to make the logistics of this weekend where we need to get to a charity event with the dogs this weekend immeasurably easier.

Last year when she was in for the test I was still trying to get to the bottom of a small vacuum leak which meant the fuelling wasn't quite spot on so the emissions test was a rather mediocre pass. Having finally sorted that leak, I was curious to see what she would show today.



Much better!

Ignore the fail on the first test. The cat on this car is miles from the front of the car and takes an age to get up to temperature when you're standing still.

Lambda is still showing slightly high, though both me and the tester agree that that's probably entirely down to there being a couple of small leaks in the exhaust.

Last test we did with the carb in place we eventually managed to squeak through at 0.297% CO (limit is 0.300%)...so fair to say she's running quite a bit cleaner now I think. I reckon 0.093% is a decent figure for any engine...much less one from behind the Iron Curtain fro. The early 70s essentially with what many consider to be a very crude injection system grafted onto it. The cat is the original one from 1993 too.

Seeing those numbers makes it seem a lot more worthwhile having done the work (plus the car being way nicer to drive!).

One definite symptom of an old car that's not been used for a while was found though...I don't need to actually be able to *read* the instruments do I?



Think the first few runs out will be done with the heater on full blast and the rear windows open to try to encourage the moisture out of the car a bit.

-- -- --

Hmm...what's that hiding in the van...?



Yet more ex-garage diagnostic equipment. This time in the form of a diesel smoke opacity meter.

This control panel has a very late 80s/early 90s look to it under the grime I reckon...





These things are pretty simple, so no reason it shouldn't work. Pulled one apart a few years ago and it was basically just a high intensity light source (halogen MR16 lamp in that case) in one side of the case and a detector at the other side plus some hardware to draw the air through.

Can't see it getting a huge amount of use - especially given the van basically doesn't smoke at all once started - but could be handy checking stuff for others and it's nice to know I've got the bases covered... slowly but surely getting my garage kitted out.

Last edited by Zelandeth; Dec 13 2019 at 03:06 PM. Reason: Additional same-day update
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Old Dec 21 2019, 07:57 PM   #5147
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Given the Lada is going to a friend I'm trying to deal with a few of the items on the to do list before handing it over.

The exhaust has been a mess since before I got the car. The front section is fine, the cat is fine (and healthy judging from the MOT emission test result), the tailpipe is a bit last it's best but gas tight, the intermediate section however is utterly knackered. This section however is unique to the cat equipped Riva - which only existed for a couple of years, and as such have always been hard to find. The one supplier which did carry them.however has ceased to exist in the last couple of years, and even a thorough dig around on eBay etc couldn't find one anywhere.

Cue a trip round to a local stainless specialist. They're quite happy to make me up a replacement in stainless steel for around £150, but requested that I provide a fresh tailpipe as they didn't want to mess around with crusty looking slip joints. They're only £30, so I'm fine with that...and fair enough. I hate dealing with crusty exhausts too. Especially if you're trying to reuse stuff.

One bonus was that at least judging from the diagram in the listing, it does in fact look to be the correct one for the estate.



The saloon one just comes straight out the back of the silencer, the estate one however is cranked towards the offside. This is because the bumper on the estate is slightly lower, so the saloon exhaust sits really close to the towing eye (which is attached to the bumper mount), and quite often will clonk against it when the engine stops. The estate ones are harder to find and most people don't know there are two types, so most have incorrect one fitted. Once that arrives I'll get that booked in to be properly sorted. Will be the first time the exhaust will have been properly gas tight in my ownership of the car.

The heater in the van had finally drained the five litre can I had been feeding it from, giving me a good opportunity to swap it out for a proper fuel supply. Eventually this will be spliced into the feed from the vehicle tank...however the plumbing I want to get at is hidden above the fuel tank. I do want to drop the tank at some point both to rust proof above it and to hopefully clear the vent line out properly so it takes less than a week and a half to fill. For now though we're going to use the ten litre one the heater was supplied with. I've stuffed this in the area the gas locker will surround once I finish rebuilding it. It's out of the way and nowhere near anything that gets hot, so I'm not bothered about it being in the cabin...diesel isn't exactly the greatest fire hazard in the world.

The fuel line has been clipped to the wall since the photo was taken.



It's not mounted off level, the drive I'm parked on is on a slope.

Of course having fitted a new fuel line I had to prime the system again - cue truly comical clouds of smoke when the burner finally did fire up again. This blanketed half the drive before eventually clearing its throat.



Talking of smoke... let's take a bit of a closer look at that Lucas diesel smoke opacity tester shall we? The progress to date had been to get the computer element (which turned out to be a Psion Organizer II - much to the glee of the retro technology geek in me) up and running...even if I was still unsure how to actually use it. The machine itself though is designed to run off vehicle power, so I'd been waiting until I could shuffle the passenger seat forward and work on it at a sensible enough time of the evening so I could have the van running (as it pulls a couple of hundred watts).

There are only two buttons on the machine aside from the computer itself. One on the "remote" which also has a four digit seven segment LCD display and one on the "console" for want of a better term. Oh, and a knob which appears to be the on/off switch.

Pushing the one on the console initially scared the living daylights out of me as the printer chattered into life.

YouTube Link

Astonishingly despite sitting idle for goodness knows how long, the printer ribbon still had a enough ink on to just about produce a ledgible printout.



The ribbon clearly needs replacing though. Tiny little thing.



Helpfully unlike some I've come across it does have a number marked on the back.



A quick poke around on Google shows this to be used by a plethora of printing calculators and receipt printers, so they're readily available for less than £2. I'll get a new one ordered in soon. However I wanted to try an old trick. Back when dot matrix printers were the norm it was normal to get a bit more mileage out of a ribbon by giving it a scoosh of WD40 into the casing. I still have the Panasonic KX-P2624 I used to use that trick on! Wonder if that would work on this one too.



That will be a yes then! Looks like the new ribbon can wait a bit. They're so cheap though I'll get one ordered in anyway as the existing one is a bit frayed in a few places.

I wanted to take a closer look at the light source to see if it was anything special.



Not really from the looks of it. The metal rim is a little unusual on a lamp like this in recent years, but not so much back when this thing was made. Haven't seen any markings on it from a quick glance, beam doesn't look to be anything particularly unusual either...so I suspect it is indeed a pretty normal MR16 dichroic halogen lamp. Pretty narrow beam, but nothing too special.



Hopefully the manual will tell me more when I eventually find one. Those of you with better search skills than me, feel free to go digging. I'm sure there is an electronic version out there somewhere.

This is one of the reasons I could do with a manual.

The user interface isn't exactly...intuitive. Here are a few examples of what it throws at you.







Those "floating" segments move up and down too, so definitely indicate something!

Pressing the button cycles through each of the functions.

Forgot to get a photo of them but I think I've figured out two of them - one suffixed with L I think shows the air flow rate through the machine (presumably in litres/minute) and the other suffixed with the letter C, which shows the airflow temperature. The rest however I need some help with!

This message at least makes some sense!



I'm assuming this is showing "line voltage low" as it was shown when I had it hooked up without the van engine running. As soon as the engine was started it went back to showing the usual nonsense...which I'm sure isn't nonsense, I just don't know how to interpret it yet.

Would also be nice to know the intended use for these connections. They sprout out of another box on a massively long lead which hooks up to the unit itself with those lovely horrifically expensive twist lock connectors.



Guessing battery ground and alternator W terminal so the machine can estimate the engine speed?

No idea whether the computer is used for anything yet either...though given it's specifically user accessible I'm guessing it's meant to be used for something. Possibly just entering the reg number and tester name or something like that I reckon...but it's not immediately apparent how.

Yeah...a manual would be useful.
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Old Dec 23 2019, 12:17 PM   #5148
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Haven't been able to get on in awhile. Phone broke, had to send to back. Lost all my pics & everything else on the phone. Unfortunately I didn't save anything.

Found out the floor in front of front door is soft from termites. My niece pulled the flooring up, getting ready to put subfloor down & closed the front door. Small dog, Jazzy, ran through the pet door, as usual, & fell straight threw the floor to the crawl space. Luckily she wasn't hurt. Just startled.

Washing machine broke, got a new one. It's nice, just an unwanted expense.
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Old Dec 23 2019, 12:37 PM   #5149
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Kibby, a friend & I went to a German Christmas market in Baltimore Md. We had a great time & got to met Cheryl in person for the first time.
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Old Dec 24 2019, 06:13 AM   #5150
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Merry Christmas and Happy Holidays everyone.
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Old Dec 24 2019, 09:02 PM   #5151
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Hope everyone has a wonder filled holiday and a great new year
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Old Dec 26 2019, 09:09 AM   #5152
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Kibby, a friend & I went to a German Christmas market in Baltimore Md. We had a great time & got to met Cheryl in person for the first time.



Oh wow! That must have been great Any photographs?
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Old Dec 26 2019, 09:11 AM   #5153
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Last August I finally had the chance to viist Anne's grave and have some kind of closure. Her daughter Gigi drove us there; my wife and friends author Elizabeth Kerner Ewing and Anne's 'Astronomer Royal' Dr. Steven Beard, with whom we rented a house in Dublin for Worldcon 2019 which took place in Dublin. Afterwards we had a great dinner at a place Anne's took Cheryl, Anneli and me way back in 2002, when we were staying atDragonhold and were able to reminische to our heart's desire... Many a fan thing and fans came up on conversation, I assure you.


I thank all those die hards still attending this board and also those with whom I still have contact using the Bulletin Board of the 21st century called facebook THANKS for years of friendship and shared love for a favourite author!



Merry Xmas to all of you!




Visiting Anne's grave by Hans van der Boom, on Flickr
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Old Dec 26 2019, 09:04 PM   #5154
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I thank all those die hards still attending this board and also those with whom I still have contact using the Bulletin Board of the 21st century called facebook THANKS for years of friendship and shared love for a favourite author!
Likewise thanks for still sharing with us Hans, it's astonishing how the time flies by.

Picture from yesterday which seemed worth sharing.

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Old Dec 27 2019, 04:45 AM   #5155
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A very happy and healty 2020 to everyone who is still visiting this site. I don't come one very often but I will continue for as long as I am able to
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Old Dec 27 2019, 08:02 AM   #5156
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Oh wow! That must have been great Any photographs?
I took a few of the buildings around the inner harbor is about all. Kibby & Betsy LOVED the 4 floor Barns & Noble. The aquarium building is beautiful.
I'll see if I can some some photo up when I can get some loaded on to photobucket.
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Old Dec 27 2019, 11:27 AM   #5157
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Likewise thanks for still sharing with us Hans, it's astonishing how the time flies by.

Picture from yesterday which seemed worth sharing.

Oh yes, time is indeed really flying by! The picture certiany is worth sharing!
That's you in your costume, right? Just kidding, beautiful animal, great picture, much better than all those cars although we enjoy thosevery much too!


Best wishes to you and your loved ones Zelandeth, be they two or four legged.
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Old Dec 28 2019, 11:21 AM   #5158
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I'm still here, almost daily. I'm too old to change my habits easily, so I don't give up on the past without a fight. I know I don't post much, because I don't have that much to say.

In better news, I found out my niece has a love of dragons, but never heard of Anne. I'm going to work on that. Bet I get her hooked, partly because she listens to me and partly because of her own tastes.
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Old Dec 28 2019, 07:02 PM   #5159
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Allen, I'm much the same. I check in here daily as it's part of my routine and because I like you guys...so I'm unlikely to stop as long as the forum is still here!

I discovered Anne's worlds through a general interest in dragons too. Found Dragondrums in the bookcase (my parents had very good taste in literature) and picked it up because I liked the cover. This was in 1998 when I was 13. The rest as they say is history.

-- -- --

intended task list for this weekend:

[] Re-seal the tail lights on the Lada to hopefully put a proper stop to water getting into the boot (they all do that).

[] Oil & filter change on both Lada and van.

[] Wash both of the above and the Citroen. It's not going to be moving till spring, but I'd still rather get the salt it's already caked on it off.

[] Empty the Lada's boot of all the bits of Citroen and goodness only knows how many bottles of LHM are in there. If anyone needs any I have way more than I'll ever need...

[] Dig out and reinstate the Lada's glove box.

Didn't have a huge amount otherwise planned for the weekend so had hoped to get started on that list today...life of course decided to intervene today.

Our boiler has been kettling badly for last few days. It's always done it to some extent, but has been a lot more noticeable in the last few days. My intention (having recently managed to actually find the very well hidden drain down valve) was to drain, flush and freshly treat the system in the spring. Not really wanting to knock heating and hot water out for a full day in December.

Said detective work was made easier by having things like this to hand.



This one just shows the supply side, I've got another one showing the feeds from the various tanks - yes there are four.

I have been trying to get a professional in to do it since we moved in. In 2014. However suffered a critical lack of interest from tradesmen usually getting the "it's not worth my getting out the van for..." Or "you need a new boiler, mate" without them having been given any information from me beyond that I want the system flushed, treated and the boiler checked and serviced.

I really don't get the "it must be replaced because it's old" mentality.



Yes it's been here since 1981. However it has barely any moving parts, zero electronics and has a record of perfect combustion test results on every documented service. I agree, once something on it beyond the pilot light thermocouple fails it will not be worth repairing...but until that point I intend to keep it going. Our gas bill is hardly anything so I can't see a replacement paying for itself quickly...

Anyhow...back on topic. Having given up getting the system serviced, I figured I'd do it in the spring. However as it had been sounding distinctly unhappy in the last couple of days I figured there was little to lose by sticking a dose of silencer in there. If it calmed things down for a month or two, excellent. If not I'll just have to do it properly anyhow. I'd had the bottle of silencer solution floating around for years, may as well use it!

Before I could add it though I needed to drain a bit of water from the system so it wouldn't just pool uselessly in the expansion tank. Sounds simple enough.

Whereabouts does the drain down valve live? Oh...yeah...here.



Which looks like this if you're not wedged against the underneath of the utility room sink.



The valve is roughly where the arrow points.



Not great forward planning. Cue ten minutes of work with the jigsaw.



Mmm...crusty. Get the feeling this hasn't seen use in a few years.



Sure enough it required a not insignificant amount of persuasion to open...but we got there in the end.



Barfed a huge lump of crud when we first opened it, and then proceeded to leak like a sieve like virtually every one of these things things I've seen.



Stopped when we'd drained ten litres or so off (and the water was stone cold so obviously being drawn from the tank rather than the circuit) and went and dumped the additive in the expansion tank.

This has definitely helped, restoring the kettling issue to a distant "grumble" which I'll call progress. Radiators are very noticeably warmer too so it's definitely improved something.

Unfortunately as is traditional with this house, in sorting (albeit temporarily bodging in this case) one problem always generates at least one additional piece of work. The drain down valve now won't seal fully. Dripping persistently once every few seconds. Not trying tightening it any further than I already have for fear of totally shredding the sealing disc.

So tomorrow I will instead of working on the cars, have to drain the entire heating system down and replace the drain down valve.

Obviously I may as well get the appropriate treatments dumped into and flushed through the system if I've got to drain it anyway.

The drain valve will not be replaced like for like. For a start compression fittings will be the order of the day, secondly I'll be fitting a good quality lever operated ball valve and terminate it in a hose barb...will make future drains of the system far less hassle.

Simple enough...just a bit awkward standing on my head under the sink (I can see that whole wall in the cupboard being removed to improve access) and annoying as I can think of a load of things I'd rather be doing.

Of course once I fix that something else will no doubt go wrong...that's how repair work in this house works!

Maybe I'll get to servicing the cars on Monday?

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Old Dec 29 2019, 06:51 PM   #5160
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I went into today's job with a couple of avenues open to me.

Firstly was as suggested elsewhere, I could try to change the washer in the offending valve. This would obviously save me a bit of time - though I still would need to drain the system fully which was of course going to be the biggest time waster.

I made a point of getting the necessary fittings for replacing the valve entirely, ideally as insurance that the simple option would work. I'd really rather get a ball valve in there long term anyway so I can drain the system without it leaking everywhere.

First contact with the enemy.



Drain hose was hooked up again. Conveniently we've got ground level drains in our conservatory below the solar panel drain valves...



Which meant that I could just dump the water into there rather than having to leave an actual outside door open to let all the heat out.



Before I actually set about draining anything I obviously wanted to make sure the boiler didn't fire and the pump wouldn't start. Simple enough here as the main switch on the control panel knocks everything out.



That panel is a bit of a blast from the past...no titchy little PCB mount relays here!



While there were a few chunks of crud washed out what drained was nowhere near as disgusting as I honestly expected given it's been in there since at least 2006.



I had half hoped I could just ship the core out the old valve and swap it with the new one. Sadly the new one was quite a bit smaller - though the washer was virtually identical so I was able to grab that and transfer it over. The cause of my having to go through this nonsense?



Guess it's allowed to be a bit crispy after 38 years.

I have a sneaking suspicion from the look of the surrounding woodwork that it's been weeping at some point in the past, probably stopping when the sediment clogged the cracks up.

Once that was reassembled with the new washer it was time to dump a fresh dose of corrosion inhibitor into the expansion tank and start refilling the system. Thankfully the valve has indeed been repaired it appears.



Then there was lots and lots and lots of this.



A.k.a. "How many times in one day can Zel lose the radiator key?"

The answer is "always at least once more" it seems.

Then stuck the necessary details on the label and put it on the boiler...last one dated from 2006...so this was massively overdue.



The system could really do with a proper flush I imagine, and I'll get to that in the spring...I need to drain it down again anyway as of course an additional problem surfaced...this crusty looking vent of course decided to weep once the system was bled up.



If I'd seen it was this manky before I started I would have changed it before I refilled things. See also my earlier comment though about any job on this house generating at least one more item of work though...it's like a perpetual expense engine...

In this case though it can wait. It's barely even weeping and probably has been for years from the look of it. For now though the boiler is now running silently again, so I'll call that a win.

So much for my plan to get the cars serviced this weekend though!
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