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One thing I have to give Reeds Rains Property Management is their persistence.

Whilst I have not really had cause to comment on them for sometime, they do still raise their head above the parapet at least once a year.
Some years ago I agreed with my tenants that we would just have a rolling contract, under the same terms as the existing contract.
I January every year Reeds Rains Property Management send me an email asking me how I wish to proceed with the extension, as it is up for renewal.
Every year I reply to them telling them that they do not manage the tenancy any more.

Today I got my annual tenancy renewal email from Reeds Rains Property Management.

Maybe we should start exchanging Christmas cards?

Read the series of blogs about Reeds Rains.

Another Facebook Rant

Sometime ago I wrote an item about Groups on Facebook and how it would seem that liking something would save the world.

It would appear that there is now a new fad, though this one is religion related.
The plan is to show some sad photo, for example of a child playing next to a grave, or sitting in hospital, and then inform us all that we should like the post and a comment with the words “Amen”

Why?? What possible difference is it going to make?
Get 1 million likes and the equivalent “Amens” and all will be put right? Will it involve a clap of thunder, ‘cos that is about as much of a cliché as the idea that posting something on Facebook is going to make things better.

One example I saw recently involved a child with Leukaemia.
This reminded me of an interview that Stephen Fry was a part of, where he was asked what he would say to God if he was to meet him (or Her for the sexists out there) at the Pearly Gates.
His response to the question is very unique. At the beginning he even questioned why God would allow bone cancer in children, which you have to agree is an question that bears a lot of weight.
The interview in question can be found on YouTube

When you join up to the Institute of Advanced Motorists you will be given a copy of a book.

In the instance of a motorcyclist, you will receive “How to be a Better Rider”, which contains all the principles upon what constitutes advanced riding, in the context of the IAM.

There is also a publication called “Roadcraft” that the Police use as the basis for their advanced
training. This is a much heavier read, also well worth a read, but probably better suited to add to the “toilet library”.

The IAM seem to have made “How to be a Better Rider” available in an on line version, as a free publication.

I would strongly suggest that you have a read.

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I have often looked at the approach to the Hindhead Tunnel and thought that it looks a bit like Telly Tubby Hill, especially before shrubs had started maturing.
This, of course, now causes a problem in that I seem to have admitted that I know what Telly Tubby Hill looks like. I blame that on my daughter watching it when she was younger.
To be honest, I am still traumatised by the memories of Telly Tubby Custard. If you ever think that you are really bored, just watch the Youtube vid on Telly Tubby Custard and your life will become full again.

Anyway, for ages I been meaning to take the trike into the Hindhead Tunnel and enjoy the acoustics.
The Hindhead Tunnel is 1.14 miles long and is usually set to the National Speed limit, which is a mighty fine 70mph (113kph).
There are also average speed cameras at either end of the tunnel. So as long as you average speed is not over 70mph, all is good. 🙂

I entered the tunnel at a relatively respectable speed, but then slowed it down to just under 40 mph.
This allowed me to trigger the kick down on the auto gearbox. You can hear this from about the 28 second mark.
To be honest, the sound from the camera does not really do it justice. OMG!
Some of the best sound actually comes from when I slow the trike right down, and just let it burble, but the tunnel was a bit to busy to take it down into the 30 mph range.

Here’s the vid.

The vid going northbound is a bit slower so does give a better indication of V8 noise.
I also think this one is more mesmerising.

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Dandy Strip Down

DSC_0838The first thing to undertake with Project Dandy was to try and strip as much excess off the trailer as possible, allowing room to get at everything.
It would also make is much easier to turn the trailer upside down so that I could get at the frame, underneath, plus all the trailer panels will be replaced too.

Tip:  It is better to use screwdriver, so as not to wreck the head of the screw. If you do use an electric screw driver, ensure that it is set to a low speed/torque minimising the chance of it destroying the head as it keenly accelerates.
I would also strongly advise that you have a second set of hands available because at times it can be a bit of a balancing act, especially when it comes to removing the door and back panels.

There is a slideshow of few photos I took.

Removing the canvas:
There are 5 pieces of PVC canvas; the top and the 4 sides.

The top is fixed at the left hand end, as you look at the Dandy.  There is a baton, inside the canvas, that is screwed to the bed-frame.
Just unscrew the seven screws and ensure they are free from the frame.  The white strip, that hangs down, should remain attached to the frame.
Continue Reading »

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Introducing Project Dandy

dandyAs a family, we have been thinking about entering in to the sport of camping.  We have often looked at tents, and even brought one once, but have never actually gone camping.
Having a 9 year old doesn’t really help as it is a double edged sword.  She really wants to go camping, but …….  Maybe a stiff drink or two would help.

Anyways, I got offered a trailer tent for a very reasonable price, and not only that but I got a chance to spend two nights in it before I paid the money 🙂

So, we are now the owners of a 1960’s Dandy Trailer tent.

It is in need of some tender loving care, but then it is around 50 years old.
You can find more images in the a slideshow of its current state.

The two nights that I spent in it were extremely comfortable, which is saying something, as I was just using a leather bike jacket and a fleece as a pillow.
Continue Reading »

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I was out riding last weekend and inadvertently got to find out what the maximum lean angle is on a BMW R1200 GSA.

I habitually have the camera on the bike, as I use it when commuting “just in case” I am part of a SMIDSY moment.
It is mounted on the right hand crash bar, tucked right up next to the indicator.

We were just about to part company, with me turning South back home, and my mates heading East and homewards.
It was going to be my last good corner of the day, so I thought that I would make the most of it.
As I passed the first bike, a waved a good long goodbye and tipped in to the corner of the roundabout, and kept tipping.
When I got to the position in the photo, two things happened at the same time. The edge of my boot made contact with the tarmac (I am a toes turned in rider), and the back end started to slip out from under me.

The immediate reaction was to turn the bars into the slide, having the effect of making the bike start to stand backup. You can see this in the vid at about the 27 second mark.
The back tyre then re-gained grip and all continued as normal.

When I got home, I took a look at the rear tyre and could see that for at least half the tyre the dark black colouring suggested that I had slipped on to the wall.

I just wish I had a photo from behind, as a mate said it looked pretty mad, as a “huge” BMW R1200 GS Adventure bike leaned over to an impossible angle.
I think it is time that I learnt to hang my arse of the seat and keep the bike more upright.
But, at the end of the day, for me, it is not about the speed the corner is taken, but how low you can go 🙂

At some stage, I may try leaning the bike over to see what sort of angle it was, though I won’t be able to simulate the the down force being applied to the suspension.
In the meantime, just imagine how far you will need to lean the bike over to get the side of your boot to touch the ground.

The vid below shows how it all transpired.

One of the big issues with the trike, when I first got it, was the lack of dampening on the steering.
With both hands on the bars, all was good and there was no noticeable wobble.
However, as soon as I took one hand off things would start getting tricky. Under 30 mph the wobble was there, but not too bad. Over 30 mph, when you dropped the revs, the wobble would start and was pretty much self powering until the bar would nearly be ripped out of your hand.
Going over about 3 mph in reverse was what can only be described as dangerous. Again, keeping two hands on and all was pretty good, but use only one hand then within a few feet the bar would be ripped out of my hand, and the steering go on full lock.
This only happened once!

I soon realised that I needed to fit a damper, and I needed to fit one soon The last thing I want was a speed wobble at silly miles per hour.

VW_DamperI have a mate who has a similar trike, and I have seen his damper. It was like a black tube, with a bulbous bit at one end and a rod at the other.
I then searched though loads of listings on ebay to try and fine a similar unit. I soon found that it was a steering damper off of an old style VW Beetle.



Drop_LinkI then wanted a ball joint on the end to make a more flexible connection, allowing for a nice clean and versatile fixing on the front forks.
The guys at Pro Parts in Waterlooville allowed me to rifle though all their suspension parts, in the store room, until I found the ideal part. A “Vauxhall Vectra Anti Roll Bar Stabiliser Drop Link” not only had two ball joints, but the link bar was the same width as the bar in the end of the damper.

So, the plan was to cut off the hooked part from the VW Damper, and cut one of the ball joints off, and then weld the two together.
I did a mock line up on the trike, allowing for a full extension with the steering on full lock in one direction, and a full contraction with the steering locked the other way. From this I worked out that I needed about 3 inches of the rod left on the ball joint.

I tapered the edges of the two ends of the rods, at about a 45 degree angle.
This meant that I had a nice valley to fill once I started welding. This should lead to a nice strong weld, not that one is really required, and one that would not need to much tidying up.
The weld was a little proud, which was a good thing because after cleaning it up on the bench grinder the weld was hardly noticeable.

Steering DamperFor mounting, I welded a bolt onto the cross member, at a point that I determined by extending the damper so half the rod was showing. I then lined the ball joint up to a point where I would mount it on the forks.
Next, I made up a U shaped mount, with a hole drilled into it to take the ball joint mounting. This was then welded to the forks.
I did have a lot of trouble trying to do up the nut on the ball joint, due to lack of space in side the mount I made. I then noticed that you can get a 17mm on the bottom of the ball joint thread, and turn that, instead of the nut. Saying that, I did have to grind the spanner down so it was only about 2mm thick 🙂

So, after testing it there was a definite improvement. I could now take a hand off at over 30mph and there was only the slightest of wobble.
I then decided to err on the side of caution, plus I had a spare ball joint, so I made up another damper and mounted that on the other side of the cross member.
I can now happily take both hands off the bars, though I only did it the once for testing. No point in testing fate, is there?

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speed_cameraPretty much every motorist hates the speed camera, they are seen as methods of “screwing” another couple of quid out of the motorist who is already paying through the nose for “Road Tax” and the fuel to run their vehicle(s).
They were always meant as safety devices, to help keep down road casualties, to be placed in locations that statistically had more accidents than other places. The plan was that the presence of the camera would make people slow down and there would less accidents at that location. Once the motorist had been educated, the camera could be moved to another location.
The last major uproar, by the motorist, meant that any Council that was taking a percentage of the revenue generated by fines would have to make the cameras nice and visible by painting them bright reflective yellow and certainly not hide them behind street furniture (signs, etc), so as not to be “sneaky”.
Speed cameras are still made highly-visible, despite the demise of the camera partnerships.

In the past there have been speed cameras trialled that looked like road cats eyes, and there were even rumours of speed cameras mounted in crash barriers.
As an aside, I understand that the cats eye idea was ultimately scrapped as there was a high probability that they would be stolen for the very high quality miniature cameras in them 🙂

It would seem that there is now a new plan afoot.
The current economic climate seems to have caused speed cameras to proliferate, again leading to claims that they are being used as money making devices.
It has also been noticed that more and more speed cameras are being destroyed, the preferred method being to hang a car tyre around it and set fire to the tyre.

I understand that speed cameras disguised as if they have been burnt are now being trialled!
Technically they are still highly visible, but now there is the doubt as to whether the camera is really burnt or not.

The burnt out cameras that I have seen usually still have the two metal hoops from the burnt out tyre hanging around them. This could be a good indicator of its true state, but you would already have been done by the time you see them.

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The demise of the Tax Disc

tax-discThe charging relating to vehicles has been around for many centuries, starting out as a simple road/bridge toll.
The direct form of vehicle taxation first appeared in 1637, with the licencing of Hackney carriages. It then progressed from there, including other vehicle classes.
It was not until 1921 that the circular piece of paper, implemented by the Roads and Finance Act 1920, appeared pretty much in the form that we still use today.

So, now we have the announcement that they have become surplus to requirements and will no longer be required from October 2014.
For me this was good and bad news.
As may be apparent if you have read any of my ramblings, I ride a motorbike. The tax disc has to be attached to the bike, on the left hand side, and clearly visible for inspection.
The problem with this is that it is clearly visible for all to see, and steal!
I guess I “lose” a tax disc about every two years, which I guess is not that bad. For the last couple of years I have been using a heavy duty holder, with the tax disc sealed behind a cover screwed in with bolts requiring an Allen Key.
In October, all I was left with was about 1/2 inch of the tab, still screwed on to one of the engine bars.

The current offence is for not displaying a tax disc. It does not matter that your vehicle is currently taxed.
So, I needed to get a duplicate tax disc.
For some odd reason, you can not order the tax disc on line. Also, there are only a small number of Post Offices that can issue duplicates, regardless of the fact that the may be many Post Offices that can issue tax discs in your near vicinity.
You need to complete a form, mostly by copying information off of the vehicle registration document (V5), and go armed the form, the V5 and £7 to the Post Office that you finally found that would be open at a time that you would be able to get to it.
The form is then compared to the V5 and given back to you.
Now call me a cynic, but why the hell did I just fill a form out when all the info was on the V5 and I got the form back?

I now had my replacement tax disk. Now to go and buy a new tax holder, for £10.
The bike is now all legal again, and I have no worry that a “Super Hero” will jump out from behind a car and slap with a £30 fixed penalty fine. Phew!

Needless to say I am looking forward to the demise of the tax disc, and its potential hidden costs for motorcyclists.
Saying that, I am still going to need to buy one more tax disc before then.

I have heard people bemoan the fact that they will not be able to check if their neighbour has tax.
I only have two things to say to that. First, get a life, and second you can check the status of a vehicles licensing on the DVLA website –

If you would like to immerse yourself in the history of the tax disc, which oddly I must confess is quite interesting, please click your way to http://www.britishtaxdiscs.co.uk/tax-disc-history.php

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