Thursday, 7 February 2019

Featured Bike - Royal Enfield Interceptor 650 (2018)

I've been watching some YouTube reviews of the new Royal Enfield Interceptor 650 and am pleased that they have been generally favourable.   

Firstly a bit of history. Royal Enfield were a British bike company that went bust in 1971. In 1955 the Indian government ordered a large number of Bullet 350cc singles for use by the police and army. This was beyond the capability of the company so they sold the design to a subsidiary, Enfield India, to be manufactured there.

The Bullet, in 350 & 500cc capacity, has been built in Indian ever since. In about 1990 they started to be imported to the UK. Not my cup of tea but I guess if you want a new 1950's Brit bike…..   

I first saw the Interceptor at the Scottish bike show in 2017. It was quite impressive being a neatly styled bike closely resembling a classic '60's Brit twin. With retro styled bikes very popular (Bonneville, Guzzi V7, CB1100, etc) it seems reasonable that Enfield would want a bigger bike to compete in this sector.

The Interceptor has a new 650cc air-cooled parallel twin with eight valves and a single overhead camshaft. The firing interval is 270 degrees so it had the feel of a V twin. Reviewers praise the smoothness of the engine (it has balance shafts), its grunty power delivery and the simple "back to basics" philosophy. I think the bike will be easy to maintain and repair and it will give plenty of scope for customisation.   

Another strong point is the price - £5,500 in the UK. That's less than a Honda CRF250 Rally.

As well as the Interceptor Enfield have revived another name - Continental GT for a café racer version of the bike with a sporty seat and longer tank.   

Please note that I started biking with Japanese two stokes in the mid-'70's and Royal Enfield were a mystery to me. I researched the history and it might not be completely accurate. 

The original Interceptor - a 1960 700cc. You have to admit there is a similarity.

Wednesday, 6 February 2019

More Seville

Such a great city it's worth another post.   

Marathon runners at the Plaza de España

In the Plaza de España there are tiled alcoves depicting the history of Spain's provinces.

The sun over the river

Painter Diego Velázquez was a local boy

Memorial to Christopher Columbus. He's buried in the cathedral.

Near our hotel were these Roman relics. The columns date from the 2nd century.

Seville is known for oranges and they are on trees everywhere.
Plaza de Toros - Bullfighting is still a thing down here sadly.

Folk dancing

Period tiled advert

One of the many great old shop fronts

Ceramics are a local industry

Impressive building

Saturday, 2 February 2019

Snow Run

We had a little snow recently and today it was bright & sunny so I went for a short run locally and took some snaps. It was just above freezing so not too cold and the council had done a good job of keeping the roads free from ice & snow. My CBF250 is ideal for this time of year being very light & manageable. 


Wednesday, 30 January 2019


Gwen suggested a winter city break. I agreed but said that I didn't want to go anywhere cold. "What about Seville?" she said. This seemed a good idea. Seville (Sevilla) is known as one of the warmest cities in Europe. 

The temperature was 18C/64F with clear blue skies so Seville in mid-winter compares with Scotland in mid-summer (except it's sunnier) A fine city with great sights and a lively nightlife. Although a large city it's easy to get round on foot. Gwen's brother & sister-in-law joined us.      

Mid-winter in Seville

La Giralda is the bell tower of the cathedral. Originally the minaret of the mosque (completed 1198) it was incorporated into the cathedral that was built after the Christian re-conquest in 1248.

The Giralda influenced the design of many buildings in the USA and elsewhere - like the Wrigley Building in Chicago.

The cathedral

The Torre del Oro (Tower of Gold) in another Moorish building (1221)

You can't come to Spain and not eat paella!

Our evening tipple was Tio Pepe fino (dry white sherry) a fortified wine from this area. It was mild enough to sit outside in the evenings.

A great city needs a great river. The Rio Guadalquivir
The Metropol Parasol, locally Las Setas (the Mushrooms) It claims to be the largest timber structure in the world.

A walkway gives good views of the city.

A bottle of orange-flavoured gin seemed a good (if temporary) memento of our trip.

Seville  is a fantastic city that I'd highly recommend. It was a welcome sunny break from our gloomy northern winter.  

(Maybe) more Seville on the way…..

Thursday, 24 January 2019

MIG Welder Upgrade

I've owned a SIP MIG welder for some years. It's a handy tool that allows me to carry out repairs and make things. Being MIG (metal inert gas) it uses wire allowing it to weld thin metal, exhaust pipes etc, without blow through.

The machine was not without its issues. I had to modify it a bit just to get it to run correctly. I replaced the plastic wire feed tube with a metal one. I also spent a lot of time modifying the wire feed roller arrangement to get it to work. Basically it was a piece of crap when new but now works pretty well.

I then decided to add a cooling fan. Most welders have one but mine does not. In fact there is a circular vent in the case for a fan but none fitted. Using full power the duty cycle is only 15%. That means that can operate for one minute then require a seven minute cool down. In practice this isn't a problem. I don't weld for long periods and the machine has never cut out due to overheating. I hope that the welder has thermal protection but maybe not.

Anyway, it not being broken don't mean I'm not going to fix it anyway!     

It looks like there should be a fan here.

To that end I bought a 240V, 120mm diameter cooling fan and a switch.

There is an unused switch hole in the casing

I fitted the switch here

The fan fitted and wired into the main off/on switch. The fan switch allows the fan to be switch off when the welder is working. But it's pretty quiet so I might as well leave it on.



Monday, 21 January 2019

Some Local Buildings

Winter, thus far, has been reasonably kind. It's dull & cool but fairly dry and with only a little ice. So it's possible to ride but you wouldn't want to go far. Today I took a spin to some local buildings of interest. 
Near me is Broom Mansion House. This built in the early 18th century as part of an estate. Like many such grand homes by the 20th century even the rich could not afford the upkeep. The land was sold of for housing in the 1930's and the mansion was turned into a private school.

This is a photograph from 1889. Note the horse and carriage at the front door.

(photo from Historic Environment Scotland)

This is where the horses lived. The nearby stable and carriage block now converted into apartments.
Estate entrance.
In the grounds there was a large curling pond. Maybe this is a sign of global warming but the pond is completely ice free even in mid winter. It will occasionally freeze over but I doubt you'd ever dare walk on it.
Nearby there is another grand house, Greenbank. Robert Allason had it built in 1760 on the profits of importing tobacco from, and exporting slaves to colonial America.

Closer to the city, in Shawlands, is the Langside Hall. I lived close to here on two occasions but only recently found out that the building was originally build as a bank in the city centre in 1849 and dismantled and re-erected in its current position in 1901.

The interior when a bank

I have a family connection with the building. An ancestor, John MacLean was arrested outside the hall for making speeches opposing the First World War. He was jailed for sedition in 1918.  

John MacLean on Soviet stamp
Camphill House in nearby Queen's Park.

Finally my favourite (I can see it from my front room), Mearns Castle. Built c1450.

In the late '60's Maxwell Church was demolished to build the motorway through Glasgow. Services were then held in the castle. In 1970 they built an extension tacked onto the castle. The extension could most kindly be described as "of its time" but to me it clashes horribly with the stark appearance of the castle.
Aerial view