Sunday 19 May 2019

Mr Sparky saves the day

It's a pain when you round an Allen screw as I did today. I was removing the rear disc from my old FJ1200 "donor bike". Luckily I have a foolproof (so far) way of getting it out. I MIG welded on a key and the screw came out with little effort. I think that the shock of the heat loosens things.   

Saturday 18 May 2019

Heated Grips Cheap Fix

When I bought my Suzuki SV650 I was determined not to fit heated grips. The bike was intended for summer fun and thus they were not needed. Well…. the best laid plans and all that. The SV was pressed into service in January last year when my CBF wasn't on the road (I didn't MOT it, I can't remember why) Anyway after a short time I realised I needed some heat. I searched the garage and found a pair of Honda heated grips that my brother had given me. I didn't have the controller so just fitted a switch that means the grips were on full power when they were on.  
This worked fine for the winter. But, this being Scotland, a little heat is welcome at just about any time of the year. If it's cool but not cold I like to have the grips on low for a little background heat. So I needed some way of regulating the power to the grips.

I could look for a Honda controller - I don't know if this is sold separately. If so it would be expensive. Oxford controllers are available and I could try to get this to work with the Honda grips. But in the interest of trying something different (and saving a few quid!) I bought a cheap DC motor controller. And when I say "cheap" I mean £2.28 cheap! 

This unit works on 5 to 35 volts at up to 5 amps. The grips draw 2.4 amps so this should be within its capabilities. It claims to work in the range of 1%-100%. The unit uses pulse width modulation. What it does is switch the power on and off very fast (10kHz) and varies the "off" time to control the output. 
The first thing I did when the unit arrived was to test it. I mean, this was something all the way from China for less than the price of a cup of coffee. I wired it up to a fan and it worked fine.

I thought about how to fit it to the bike. It's just a circuit board with no enclosure. I used a length of plastic pipe and used heat glue to attach ends. I wired it all up this afternoon and it's working well.

My controller looks unobtrusive on the bike


Wednesday 15 May 2019

The Fortingall Yew

On my travels yesterday I stopped at the Yew tree in Fortingall, Perthshire. The tree's claim to fame is its great age. There is no method of establishing this exactly but it is thought to be 2-3,000 years old (5,000 years is also quoted) It may be the oldest living organism in Europe.

The wall around the tree was built in 1785 to protect it from people removing bits and setting fires in the trunk.

The Yew is in the grounds of the local church. The church dates to the early 1900's but there has been a place of worship on the site since the 7th century. Early Christians were likely attracted to the tree because it symbolised eternal life.

Legend has it that Pontius Pilate played in the shade of the tree as a child (to escape the fierce Scottish sun, I suppose) There is no evidence for this but the tree likely existed at the time the Romans were here.

Some years ago botanists discovered that the tree was undergoing a sex change. It was male but started to sprout berries that only female plants do.

The tree looks in good condition and is expected to live for many more centuries. 

Tuesday 14 May 2019

Brewery Murals

I do like a nice mural.

I noticed that the Tennent's brewery in Glasgow's east end had its walls decorated with them.



A comment on the Scottish climate

This mural depicts the "Lager Lovelies" - models featured on the beer cans until the late '80's - a bit un-PC by today's standards.

This one has the statue of the Duke of Wellington in the city centre with a traffic cone on his head - something of a symbol of the city.

I'm in no way endorsing Tennent's beer - it's horrible stuff. But those of my generation started drinking it in our youth when there wasn't much of a choice.

Saturday 4 May 2019

The Southern Upland Way Part #5

The concluding part of my journey.  

Harbourmaster's Office. In interesting bit of art deco architecture.

Memorial to those lost on MV Princess Victoria that sank on its way to Ireland in 1953.

Agnew Monument - built in 1850 by public subscription as a token of esteem to the local MP. Not something that people are likely to do these days.

I've now reached the coast. Killantringan Lighthouse.

Old farm machinery

Killantringan Bay

Portamaggie Cottage. Below the lighthouse is this tiny cottage in an impressive location. It sits in a little bay with its own private beach. The cottage was originally a telephone exchange and is available for rent.

Journey's end is at the charming town of Portpatrick.

Wednesday 1 May 2019

The Southern Upland Way Part #4

St John's Town of Dalry

The path takes this interestingly bouncy suspension bridge over the River Nith

The church dates from 1831….

…but there are some older stones including the table shaped martyrs' grave.                        
The martyrs were two local covenanters executed in 1684. I think that the religious conflicts of the 17th century are not well known by Scots (well, not by me anyway) The covenanters opposed the King's imposition of Episcopalianism on the Presbyterian Scots. A pretty obscure concept from today's perspective.

Heather on fire at Carphairn

Clattingshaws Loch

Bruce's Stone, Glen Trool. This granite block commemorates Robert the Bruce's victory in the Battle of Glen Trool in 1307 which started the Scottish War of Independence.

The Water of Minnoch

Loch Ochiltree

Dappled clouds

Tree-lined road