Thursday 31 March 2016

Back Roads and Big Skies

A run today on the back roads of Ayrshire and Dumfries & Galloway.
South Ayrshire countryside
The forest road to Newton Stewart
The estuary of the River Cree
In Scotland granite means Aberdeen, but it is also quarried in Creetown. This hotel is made from granite….
….as is the clock tower….
….and this spherical sculpture by the Japanese sculptor Hideo Furuta who lived in this area.
Near Creetown is this impressive railway viaduct. It is called the Big Water of Fleet Viaduct. (the Big Water of Fleet is not, in fact, big, but presumable bigger than the nearby Little Water of Fleet) It carried the Castle Douglas to Portpartick railway. From 1861 until 1965 it served communities in this sparsely populated area and trade from Ireland. The bridge has been extensively strengthened over the years. The spandral walls are tied together with bars and rods and the granite piers have been widened in brick.

On the way to New Galloway
When I saw this I thought I was back in Creetown, but New Galloway also has a granite clock tower

Loch Ken
Near Moniaive
One of the hazards of riding the back roads is gravel - none worst than this junction near Penpont
Nearly home - the windfarm in the Eaglesham moor.

The CBF is about to undergo a "spring clean" - so look out for some "Tales from the Shed".

Sunday 27 March 2016

Featured Bike - Suzuki XN85

I snapped this bike at the Children's Hospital Easter Egg charity run today.

It was Suzuki's offering in the 1980's Japanese turbo craze. The "85" refers to its claimed horsepower. This is a nice, original example of a rare bike.

A quirky styling feature is the word "OBRUT" over the headlamp - for the benefit of drivers seeing the bike in their rear view mirrors.

Tuesday 22 March 2016

Chain Time

It's time (yet again) to change the chain on my Honda CBF250. This happens with boring regularity. Why does the CBF consume way more chains than my FJ1200 that has 5 times the power output? Well the CBF is used through the winter and in all weathers and water is the killer of chains. Singles might also be harder on chains because of the power pulses but the CBF is hardly a big thumper. 

O-ring chains don't wear much but eventually water gets past the O-rings and seizes the odd link. The chain then starts making a crunching sound. There is no way (I know) of fixing this.

These last a lot longer than non O-ring chains but cost more. Another advantage of O-ring chains is that they use a rivet link rather than spring link. This means that it's pretty much impossible for the chain to split in use. A riveting tool can be used to fit them but I just make then endless off the bike. This means having to remove the swing arm to fit but this is fairly simple and gives me a chance to clean the arm and lubricate the bearings.

Extreme de-greasing! I used a paraffin gun to clean the swing arm. Not having any paraffin (kerosene) handy I used petrol (gasoline) This effectively removed the built-up grease and muck. Obviously do this outdoors.

Nice and clean!
This is an opportunity to grease the shock end bearing....
....and the swing arm bearings.....
...but something's not right. The collar is badly pitted.
The gearbox sprocket is worn pointed and hooked
The rear isn't so bad, but still a bit worn
New chain

Comes with both rivet & spring links
I'll use the rivet link
The outer plate is a tight fit. I tap it on using a small socket
Once the plate is in place.....
...I use a ball pien hammer to spread the soft metal head
Put it all back together and it's job done (until next time) The swing arm bearing & collar are on the way but I'll fit them later.

Monday 21 March 2016

In the News - Never Trust the Public

from the Guardian, 20th March 2016

RRS Boaty McBoatface leads in poll to name polar research vessel

The good news for the Natural Environment Research Council’s decision to crowd-search a name for its latest polar research vessel is unprecedented public engagement in a sometimes niche area of scientific study. The bad news? Sailing due south in a vessel that sounds like it was christened by a five-year-old who has drunk three cartons of Capri-Sun.

Just a day after the NERC launched its poll to name the £200m vessel – which will first head to Antarctica in 2019 – the clear favourite was RRS Boaty McBoatface, with well over 18,000 votes. The RRS stands for royal research ship. Coming a distant second was the considerably more serious-minded suggestion of naming the vessel after Henry Worsley, the British explorer who died in January near the end of his attempt to become the first person to cross the Antarctic unaided.

The government-funded ship will be built at the Cammell Laird shipyard on Merseyside and will carry out a variety of research trips to both Antarctica and the Arctic. The NERC – which was wise enough to ask that people “suggest” names, giving it future wriggle room – asked for ideas to be inspirational. Some undoubtedly were, with its website, which kept crashing on Sunday under the weight of traffic, showing dozens of serious suggestions connected to inspiring figures such as Sir David Attenborough, or names such as Polar Dream. But the bulk of entries were distinctly less sober. Aside from the leading contender, ideas included Its Bloody Cold Here, What Iceberg, Captain Haddock, Big Shipinnit, Science!!! and Big Metal Floaty Thingy-thing. A slightly more personal suggestion came from one Sandeep Korotana, who modestly put forward the idea of RRS Sandeep Korotana.

When the web traffic dies down, other suggestions can be made by 16 April at Alison Robinson of the NERC said the organisation was thrilled at the “enthusiasm and creativity” of the naming process, while declining to offer an opinion on the merits of Boaty McBoatface. She added: “We’ve had thousands of suggestions made on the website since we officially launched. Many of them reflect the importance of the ship’s scientific role by celebrating great British explorers and scientists. Others are more unusual but we’re pleased that people are embracing the idea in a spirit of fun.”

The final decision, she said, would be made by a panel later this year.

Friday 18 March 2016

Glasgow Murals

I've recently toured the city centre (and beyond) to photograph murals. Check them out at my other blog "Buildings by Bike" over here --->


Tuesday 8 March 2016

In Search of the Snow-Capped Mountains

The weather recently has been cool but sunny and I've noticed that the mountains to the north of Glasgow are beautifully snow-capped against the blue sky. So on Monday I went in search of these mountains and got as far as Glencoe.

North of Tyndrum there are three mountains that I've photographed many times over the years.     

Beinn Dorian
Beinn a Chaisteil
Beinn Odhar
Panorama of the three mountains
From the viewpoint you can see Beinn Achaladair, Beinn an Dothaidh  and Loch Tulla
Loch Tulla
A favourite view of mine and particularly good at this time of year - Lochan na h-Achlaise and the Black Mount (white today) in Rannoch Moor

Rannoch Moor heading to Glencoe
Buachaille Etive Mor
The big country - looking south from Glencoe to Rannoch Moor
Entering Glencoe
Loch Achtriochtan in Glencoe
It was a nice day but it was cool - there was still a dusting of snow in the shade.