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I did mention that I was going to start an advanced level of IAM in a previous blog post
Well, a couple of weeks I got to go out on the first observed ride.
There was to be two of us, plus my previous Observer. He had paired us together as he though we would compliment each other’s riding styles.

The meet up was after a SAM slow riding morning.
The rules for the day were to ride as we normally would, applying IPSGA.
Posted speed limits were to be adhered to, but national speed limits could be stretched subject to a maximum speed, and always maintaining safety.
The whole point was to push what we had already learnt undertaking the “vanilla” IAM course.
One of the reasons to push national speed limits was that if you could not read the road at an enhanced speed, how could be expected to do it at the national speed limit.

To be honest it was very rare that we did exceed the speed limit.
This is because we did not spend much time on major routes, be they A or B classified. We spent most of our time om the back roads where even reaching national speed limits was challenging.
It provided an excellent opportunity for me to find out how much my standard has slipped in the previous year.
Saying that, everyday during my commute I consciously practice all the aspects of IPSGA. I tend to concentrate on a different aspect each day, trying to improve on its implementation.

I had also been reading “Full Control”, written by “The Federation of European Motorcyclists’ Associations” (FEMA), and was taking the opportunity to use some of the points I had read in there.

What can I say, I had one of the best rides that I have ever had.
At no time did I feel I was out of my depth, plus I was riding with like minded riders.
I was out on my commuter, the ex Police ST1100, the other guy was on a TDM900 and the Observer was on a BMW S1000RR.
My best memory was a back road through fields and hedgerows, the sun was warm on my back, we were going through a tight right hander with the Pan laid over. I took the opportunity to check the positioning of the two behind me, looking down at the right mirror, just to see the observer tucked in behind with his arse hanging off the seat.
Pure magic!! ๐Ÿ˜€

At the end of the day we were told had we taken the test we would have been in the high 80s. A very good pass is 92%, though I am aiming for something higher than that.
The feedback, for me, was overtaking could do with a little work to make it a bit smoother, plus I missed taking a couple of, technically difficult, overtakes.
When turning left I need to stay closer to the left side (nearside) of the road.
I also need to make sure that I use all four fingers when braking.

All in all is was a brilliant ride and I now know what I need to work on.

Two more observed rides are on the cards, usually a month apart, and then onto the test.
This course requires that I put a lot of time into practice, which means at least 60 miles a day and preferably not commuting miles. My commute is 60 miles.
At the end of the day, it is for me to decide when I am ready for the test. But, what with the number of miles to cover, the cost of petrol and the blinking weather, I am not sure when that will be.

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I am a very tolerant person, well I think I am. Anyways, if anyone disagrees they can bugger off ๐Ÿ˜‰

I started work on the the third engine for the trike and almost immediately it started to fight back.
The first job was to remove the exhaust manifolds, to get it ready for swapping out with the existing engine.
That would be a total of 26 bolts, and as anyone knows at least one of the m is going to put up a fight.
Well, in my case the vast majority of them put up a fight and required a great deal of undoing slightly, doing it back up a bit, spraying with WD40, repeat, repeat, repeat, repeat, and so on.
Unfortunately, that only worked for 10 of them; six of them sheared.

I then spent a few days, on and off, trying to find ways to get them out.
I tried spraying them with penetrating fluid
I tried applying heat, though all I had was plumbers blow torch.
I then tried welding a nut on the end to the sheared bolt.
Finally, I drilled a hole down through the centre of the sheared bolt and sprayed penetration fluid in being the bolt.
Then, yep there was no finally as I hate to give up, I tried various combinations of all the above. I even tried the recommended combination of Acetone and ATF (Automatic Transmission Fluid) – read about it here

I could not use a stud extractor as the protruding studs were no more than 10mm.
I also did not try a a reverse screw thingy, as I have used them in the past and they invariably shear off. You then have to go and buy a cobalt drill bit so you can drill the *&%$&!ยฃ thing out.

I did finally, well there had to be one, decide that I was wasting my time, and also did not want to get too carried away and mess it all up.
So, I rang the crew down at Banda Engineering bemoaning my studs.
As usual, no job is too much and they told me that there was no need to remove the heads, and to just bring the whole engine down and they would deal with it.
Nigel did have a couple of choice words about the extractions when I asked him why the estimated price had gone up ๐Ÿ™‚ However all were drilled out and heli-coiled, leaving a nice clean fix.
They then delivered the lump back to me for an extra ยฃ10.

I now need to make sure a clean out the remaining threads to insure to more problems.
The easiest way to do this is either to run a corer back down them, though I am just going to run an existing pristine bolt, covered in copper grease, up and down the threads.

As an aside, I also managed to pick a 1/2 ton engine hoist up off ebay for ยฃ56.
All in all, it looks like things may be back on track. I don’t want to sound to positive, because I would like to at least get the lumps swapped out before the next issue raises its ugly head.

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Pop goes the rear tyre

I have never had a blow out before and I have to confess that it is quite an exciting experience.

I had just left work, in Farnham, and was heading down the A31.
As I was passing Bentley I began to overtake a car, at a spirited pace. As I moved out the backend had a little bit of a vibration. With a couple of seconds that back end began to weave, it began to feel like a bearing had collapsed and the whole wheel was oscillating.
I was no stuck between completing the overtake or bleeding off the speed and falling back behind the car so I could pull over.

What ever I decided to do, it had to ensure that there were no rapid speed changes, in case I worsened the weave, whilst at the same time being very conscious that with each second that passed I was on borrowed time.
The best option was to accelerate a bit more, and complete the overtake, and then start the controlled rapid deceleration. The car driver could see what was happening and immediately indicated right and cleared me.

The “scariest” moment was I was accelerating past the car and had the sneaking suspicion that I could lose the whole rear wheel from under me.
It was only as I came down to around 30mph I could feel the lazy wobble of a flat tyre, so knew what had happened.

1hr 45mins later the bike was in the back of a recovery van and I was off home.

Before anyone asks, I do not think that IAM training had anything to do with my reactions, but rather a good few years of dirt riding and a cool head.

It was definitely an experience, and a pleasant change from the usual daily commute.
I was just lucky that it happened on a straight open road, and not in the corner of a back road.

As an aside, the tyre was legal though there was probably only around 500 miles left on the tyre before I reached the minimum tread markers.
The surrounding area showed some small holes, and the actual blowout hole was about 1.5″ long, with the metal mesh all blown outwards.

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Third Engine Lucky

I now have a third engine for the trike. This one came from ebay, and included a video of it running in a landrover chassis.
The deal was done and it was off down to Swindon to pick it up.

Today’s task was to get the replacement lump off the trailer and into the garage.
I then set about getting the front off the trike off. I have to admit that I have had a fair bit of practice doing it ๐Ÿ™‚

The plan is to get the current one out, and get the replacement on to the chassis and plumbed in.
I should then be able to run it up and see what is what.

Once that is done, a couple of bits will need swapping out (clutch/torque converter, carbs and water pump), and a couple of trike related mods, like locating the kick down cable on the throttle linkages.
I will also need to give a few of the bits a polish, and/or a lick of paint.

The next job is to drain the water from the current lump, and the transmission fluid from the autobox.
I should then be in a position to swap the lumps out.

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Following on from the last post about my V8 trike, I decided to take the risk on a break in the rain and booked an MOT for today.

The MOT was quite an experience. It was an old bloke who looked like he would have been more at home out on a farm in a cow shed.
He was complete with overalls, a battered old sports jacket and a greasy flat cap.
More oddly, next to the MOT bay was a bale of hay and a couple of logs!!
I wasn’t sure if I was supposed to sit on it and wait for the sheep dog trials to start.

Anyways, I digress.
He put his knee pads on and started crawling around looking at everything.
We then did the lights test.
Finally, to test the brakes. He got me to set the trike up on one side of the workshop. He climbed aboard then rode it across the workshop and hit the brakes. They passed.

Ticket written and off I went.

The trike had been popping and decaling a bit, so I knew the timing would need a bit of a fiddle.
When I reversed back up the drive the engine cut out. Then I noticed the oil over the back end of the valley gasket.
I finally got it started again, and it started chucking white smoke out of the left pipe.
The valley gasket was also bulging upwards, rather than being valley shaped. Looks like it had blown out.

So, I now have to take the front of the trike and inlet manifold off again.
Hopefully it is just the displacement of the valley gasket that is the issue, and the oil was coming in though one of the inlet bores.
I also need to sort why there was a critical pressure build up.

Updates to follow.

IAM – Advanced Plus

Last year I completed my IAM Advanced Riding course.
Actually, strictly speaking it is not a course, but a series of observer rides where an experienced IAM observer comments on your riding style and makes suggestions on how you can improve. They also introduce you to the principles of IPSGA
I was lucky and was assigned a serving Class 1 Police rider.

For the past year I have been keeping up with the principles and putting them into practice.
I have also changed bike, moving from a TDM850, which I have ridden for many years for an ST1100.
I am still trying to learn all its nuances, to perfect corners and gear changes, making the ride as smooth as silk.

Last month I was offered to join an intensive training course to become an Observer myself.
Initially I accepted, but decided that I am not 100% happy with my “oneness” with the ST, so subsequently declined the offer.
If I am going to teach someone else, I want to make sure that I am as smooth as I can be, even if I am fairly confident that I could pass the IAM test if I had to take it tomorrow.

So, I have decided to undertake the IAM Advanced Plus course, and I have been assigned my same Observer as before, which is great news.
This time there are less observed rides, but you are expected to put in at least 60 miles practice each day. This time, commuting miles definitely do not count so that means I will have to put an additional 60 miles on top of my 60 mile commute.
The miles should cover all road types, though I am going to concentrate on small roads as my commute is mainly dual carriageway and A roads.

This has also meant that I have started cramming the books again.
Resultantly, I have also started to update my Advanced Riding series, the latest being to add the section on Positioning

As before, I will provide regular updates about my trials and tribulations.
The first ride is this Saturday afternoon, and the weather is looking good ๐Ÿ™‚

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Life without Wi-Fi

Last week I had the distinct displeasure of getting a taste of what it would be like if there was no WiFi in the house. I also had to go through the most obscure fault finding regime I have ever done, with some confounding results, leading to desperate measures.

In the house we have 2 laptops, 2 Android phones, 1 Android tablet, 1 iPhone4S, and a colour scanner/printer, all attached to the WiFi.
There are 2 WiFi routers, one in the living room and one in my “office”, with one of them serving DHCP requests and acting as the cable modem/gateway to the Internet.
For 3 years everything has worked fine.

The first thing to change tox the infrastructure was the introduction of a “HP ProLiant MicroServer” running Microsoft Windows Home Server 2011. Needless to say there is no way that this could have any bearing on the status of the wireless connections, but was worth mentioning as I will do a review of it at a later date.

It all started when the Android devices stopped connecting to the unit in the Living Room. I checked the settings and nothing seemed to have changed.
The Samsung Galaxy S2 had had a recent firmware update, but that would not explain why the others would not connect.
A few days of playing with the settings had various results. The worst being nothing in the house could connect and the most frustrating that everything would connect, but the Android devices would not go out on to the Internet.
They all had a valid IP address, issued via DHCP, from the router downstream on the router in the Living Room. Not only could I not get out to the Internet, I could not ping either of the routers!! I could ping the device’s own interfaces.
By now, the GF was beginning to complain about the up and down of her Internet connection, and the effect it was having on the Facebook games she was trying to play ;-).
Finally, the router in the office was allowing everything to connect to it, but signal strength is very weak in the living room.

It was time for a serious plan B, and a bit of desperation, so I decided to buy a new router. Well, to me it was about the only logical thing left.
I settled for a “Belkin F7D1301uk SURF N150 Wireless Cable Router
We were now running three wireless routers whilst I tried to sort security settings that would allow all the devices to connect.
To cut a long story short I ended up with the Belkin in the office, as the only device in the house, providing the connection to all the devices.

I let that run for a few days, and then decided that whilst the signal in the Living Room was pretty good, I would really like a dedicated router in there.
So, I set about reconfiguring the Living Room one. I finally cracked it by enabling “WPS”.

I can honestly say there is nothing more frustrating than having a wireless tablet with no wireless to connect to.
It becomes a rather expensive book reader ๐Ÿ™‚

Life is now good again, and I will never take the wireless for granted again.

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2056

Some of you may remember a year or so ago I brought a trike.
It is based on a 3.5l Rover V8 with a Borg and Warner 3 speed automatic gearbox, fitted to a XJS rear axle. It also happens to be dual fuel.

I did run it for a few months, but the engine leaked oil all over the place and was gutless. I then managed to get another engine, off of ebay, but when I put that one in it leaked water into one of the cylinders, so I gave up and walked away from the trike, leaving it in the back of the garage.

For the past few weeks I have been busy working on getting it back on the road.
The first job was to get the heads skimmed. I used Banda Engineering, at a cost of ยฃ22 each side.
I then changed the routing of the water, so that it by passed the frame that goes over the top of the engine. This meant that I could run the engine up to temperature without having to put the front of the trike back on. It also means that I can easily remove it again without having to drain any fluids.
The engine test went well, with no leaks, and it running on both petrol and LPG.

Next, was to sort out the electrics. When I put it all back together, nothing seemed to work.
Tracing the wiring is not easy, as whoever wired it used green cable for everything :O
It took me a good 2 hours to get it all up and running. I still need to replace 3 fuses!!
Whilst all the electrics are now working, I am still convinced that I have some leakage to earth, so I may need to check that out, and ensure that the charging circuit is working.
Ultimately, the aim is to totally rewire the trike. I am planning to do it myself, but I have found that Taff, at the Bike Shed, is a dab hand at re-wiring things so I may palm the work off to him, especially as he already has a selection of cable.

I am gonna bite the bullet and book the trike in for an MOT on Saturday, again at the Bike Shed.

All I need to do now is get the old V8 engine, and an ST1100 (Pan European) engine out of the way so that I can get the trike out of the garage ๐Ÿ™‚

Read the previous instalments

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It is with regret that I have to report that I gave up with Reeds Rains Property Management.
They did reply to me, again just quoting the contract saying that they did not have to pay me any advanced rent, and so any rent that had been paid had been paid in accordance with the terms of the contract.

In my last email to them I had pointed out that the obviously could not read their own contract and stated the points that they were in error with.
My comments had been ignored, giving the same response that they had given me before.
I could escalate my claim again, this time to the Managing Director, but to be honest I just can not be bothered.

The thing that really annoyed me was the fact at that no time during this entire process did anyone for Reeds Rains Property Management pick up a phone and endeavour to speak to me.
This beggars belief. I can not understand how a complaints procedure can progress, with a company that is offering a service, and at no time did the person looking my complaint not consider that it would be appropriate to call the client and try and get to the bottom of the issue(s).

This does nothing but leave me with the impression that they just buried their heads in the sand and blindly kept ignoring the the points of my complaint, and just pick up on the point of late rent.
Any potential loss that I had made , which I had worked out to be ยฃ24, was never an issue. The whole point of the complaint was to highlight the inadequacies of Reeds Rains Property Management and hopefully prompt a change in the procedures and internal communication. Clearly that has not happened.

I can only recommend that you do not touch Reeds Rains Property Management with a barge pole, unless you are sure that you will never actually have to engage them to do something.
The are very good at getting the contract in place, but a little problematic at releasing funds, or providing consistent information.

Read Part 1
Read Part 2
Read Part 3
Read Part 4

Ok, so it isn’t officially the new national speed limit, but I am beginning to think that it is the speed limit adopted by the public for this year.

There are a couple of routes that I can take to work, and they are some of the few roads left where there are nice long stretches of B road that still have the national speed limit (60mph) posted.
They are the type of road that offers various challenges, enough to keep you on your toes and make you work at making progress.
This year, I have noticed that the general speed seems to be 40mph. The problem with that, on these types of road, is that all the traffic bunches up. When they bunch up, it is not possible to safely progress through the traffic, so I too end up doing 40mph.

It may sound childish, but I can not help thinking “it is not fair!”.
I love my commute, regardless of the time of year or the weather, but after a Winter of cold weather and damp salty roads, I really look forward to the sun and dry roads.
I make the effort to observe the highway code, leaving 2 second gaps, doing the speed limit, etc. Why the hell can’t the other people on the road.

I guess I’m gonna have to start a search on Google Maps for a new route, one that the “great unwashed” do not use.

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