Today I mostly .....

Any topics of general interest (not lada related), post them here.
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Re: Today I mostly .....

Post by Zelandeth » Wed May 04, 2022 8:10 pm

We all knew I wouldn't be able to leave this alone didn't we?

Wanted to double check the rotor arm, mainly because I couldn't actually remember which one we had ended up with on the car out of the three in play.

The answer was the first new one. I wanted to compare it more carefully with the old one as I've started to develop an inherent distrust for "equivalent" parts listed in catalogues these days, especially for somewhat oddball cars like these.

The original rotor arm is a Bosch 1234 332 215.

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A part that I couldn't immediately find in stock anywhere, and the alternative suggested by the usual suspects was the one on the car.

Comparison of the distance between the centre of the rotor and the contact tip however shows them to be rather less identical than the catalogue would have you believe. The Bosch one has at least a millimetre longer reach. The tip of the cable tie here represents how long the Bosch rotor arm is.

I did use rather more sophisticated methods to take the measurement by the way, this was just a nice easy way to show the difference on camera.

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Which probably explains why the replacements appear to be burning up at the tip. It's hard to see in the photo, but this one shows evidence of charring of the plastic near the tip just like the black one.

Sure enough, fitting the old old one back to the car improved running still further...so that equivilant rotor arm clearly isn't equivilant.

I then got a surprise when the HT system belted me several times in very quick succession. This puzzled me given that nothing wasn't securely connected up and the HT leads were all brand new...so the leakage of electrons was rather a shock. Pun entirely intended.

Yeah...about those brand new HT leads.



I guess the Lucas branding on the box should have been a warning...

Turns out that the terminal at the coil end of the king lead wasn't actually crimped onto the conductor, rather just the outer insulator. A few of the strands of the core were poking out round the edge of the rubber boot, and that's what zapped me.

On the plus side, we can see that there's no shortage of spark from the coil now! Originally it was struggling to jump 1/8", that first belt got me from the best part of an inch away.

I swapped this lead out for a nice good quality Bougecord one from my spares stash.

Why is it so hard to get good spares these days?
LOZ: Oddball cars, lighting information, and anything else I remember to upload!
Current fleet: 02 VW Caddy 1.9SDI, 90 Mercedes 208D Autotrail Navajo, 85 Sinclair C5, 73 AC Model-70.

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Re: Today I mostly .....

Post by Zelandeth » Thu May 12, 2022 12:00 am

Been a while since I've had a chance to update here so have a couple rolled into one.

Have been doing a bit more of a detailed look at the rotor arm on the Trevi because it seems like there's some incorrect data out there in the catalogues.

Here are the three rotor arms we currently have.

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The top one is what we believe to be the correct one. The lower two are more recent replacements. Part numbers below.

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The black one appears to match the current Intermotor listing at least visually.

The difference in contact profile is quite visible.

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That started to break down to the point that we completely lost spark within ten minutes of installation.

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The Vemo one lasted better, and it's hard to see in the photos but it's burning around the tip too.

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The one which is resulting in the best running is the ancient and probably badly worn Bosch one.

Here appears to be why.

Dimensions of the Bosch one:

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That's from the centre of the mark made by the centre contact post to the outer edge of the contact tip. Wouldn't surprise me if that was a round 1" when made given it's a whole five and a half thou out.

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If this is as old as the distributor cap which came off, it's probably very worn. Remember we had lost about a millimetre of the posts in the cap this is likely as old as.

Both of the new ones are noticeably shorter. I could see this with my eyes, but having instrumentation confirming it is nice.

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This will have been more than doubling the effective plug gap so no wonder it wouldn't run right. We really need to find the correct rotor.

I had pretty much decided to leave that slightly dodgy connector between the distributor and vehicle loom alone as it didn't seem to be causing any issues when poked, shaken, wiggled, flexed etc...however I've changed that decision today on seeing the insulation is worn through on the underside of one of the wires and that bare conductor is visible at the entry point to the connector block.

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Will get that connector deleted... it's only two wires to remake connections between if the distributor has to come out in future. Hardly the end of the world.

Oh...forgot to include the post oil-change photo a couple of days ago. This looks better I think.

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There was a local classic car meet a week or so back which I wanted to make an effort to get to. This was a good catalyst for me actually tidying up the front half of the garage. The work that's been going on with the Trevi this last week or two had resulted in TPA getting a bit buried.

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This is why the garage being so narrow is such a pain... it's so much of a faff to get around the car to get at things that stuff inevitably just ends up getting piled up on top of the car.

It's a good thing I'm not bothered about the finish on the paintwork.

I had a bit of a dig around too regarding the slight running issue we'd had. Decided to clean and gap the points simply because it's been quite a while since they were last done. No horror stories there, and the distributor cap posts were given a gentle clean too to scrape off the oxide layer that inevitably builds up.

A bit of investigation I think has tracked down the issue. I think we've got an intake vacuum leak! It's only a little one, but carb cleaner sprayed around the nearside base of the carb results in a drop in engine speed. It's not worked itself loose of the manifold (again), so I'm not sure whether the base gasket has issues or if it's an issue with the throttle spindle. It has always seeped fuel from somewhere in that vicinity, so might be connected.

It's not bad, and I feel I can rest a bit easier knowing the occasional carburetion hiccup is because of a small vacuum leak rather than something which is likely to suddenly degenerate and leave me stranded. I'll have a closer look soon to see if I can confirm exactly where the leak is.

Had a bit of a run round the car as well, making sure the wheel nuts/bolts were all still tight, greased up the front end checked tyre pressures etc.

All seemed fine, so off we went to the get together. I think the driveshaft coupling bolts being properly tightened has reduced the vibration at speed and seems to have reduced the driveline shunt when taking up drive a bit, though the nature of the system means there's always a bit of slop in there.

Some nice motors there, though car of the day for me was probably this little Micra.

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So nice to see one (a really early one at that) in such original condition.

Speaking of things which are rarely seen as the factory originally intended...

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Rather at the other end of the scale, this was also truly splendid.

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Sounded every bit as good as it looked too.

The US in general was pretty well represented.

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I wasn't in the only two cylinder air cooled car there either.

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Couple of MGBs, not seen many actually in red. Does suit them I think.

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I know a lot of people seem to hate the MGB because they're so ubiquitous, but I still really like them. Kind of surprised I've not owned one yet.

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The vast majority of my photos from this meet up are on film though so it will be a couple of weeks before I get that film finished and off for processing.

I completely forgot to actually take any photos on my phone of my own car there. Derp.


After a search covering approximately 80% of the far end of the garage I finally managed to locate this nondescript black plastic case.

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Plan being to let me see better what's going on with the AC on the Caddy.

Reading with the system fully equalised, having sat overnight.

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Then with the engine running and AC turned on.

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Yeah...the reading on the blue gauge should have dropped, target being the 30-40psi range, and the reading in the red gauge should have gone up, probably to 130-150psi.

They should absolutely *not* stay exactly where they were. What this means is that the compressor isn't pumping. Either one of the valves isn't seating properly or something has failed mechanically in the compressor. It does drop the low side a fraction when the clutch first pulls in, but by like 1 or 2 psi, and creeps back up over the course of the next few seconds.

So basically we need a new compressor.

Really glad I've found my gauge manifold though. Not knowing where that was was really annoying me. Obviously I don't have access to refrigerant so I can't charge it myself and I don't have access to a recovery machine any more, but being able to properly see what's going on is really useful.

These are only cheap gauges and would fall apart in a couple of days in a commercial setting I'm sure, but for occasional use they're just fine. We compared the readings to a set of decent quality (Fieldpiece I think) gauges back when I got them and the accuracy was spot on at least.

Will need to get the system evacuated so we can get a new compressor fitted...hopefully that (and getting it recharged for the *third* time) will finally get the air con working again.

As the Trevi is still here waiting on the arrival of the correct rotor arm that the owner has now tracked down a source of I figured it was a good time to get a couple of other minor niggles sorted.

The reason it was here last time was to resolve the almost completely dead dash lighting. Which was successful, though we had issues with quite a few scratchy contacts.

Since then while the illumination still seems fine, we were missing several warning lights.

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There should be lights showing there next to the fuel and temperature gauges.

A scan over the rest of the dash showed we were also missing the indicators for the handbrake and rear fog lights.

Strip down time.

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However further investigation shows the issue there to be other than in the dash. The rear fogs work, just no light on the dash.

There was an issue with the little lamp failure display too which was convinced there was always a lamp out in the offside rear cluster.

Further strip down needed to get to that.

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There were a couple of spare PCBs in the boot and sure enough swapping it out for one of those (getting the ribbon cable back in was an absolute pig) got rid of the spurious lamp failure warning.

I re-replaced any lamps I put in last time given I've had horrendous reliability issues with that batch. These will hopefully prove more reliable.

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We now have a full compliment of the four main warning lights on the dash during the self test.

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We still have a red warning light (the big circle below the side/main beam indicator had a red and green LED in, it shows green now with the ignition on as the dash lights are all OK, and lights red to draw attention to a fault) when the headlights are turned on - though there *is* a lamp out in the front fog lights, so that may actually be telling the truth.

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So I'll get that changed and see where we are then.

I may end up with the dash apart again as I'd like to beef up the ground(s) for the panel. Currently turning the headlights on raises the reading on the fuel and temperature gauges by about an eighth...to me that just smells like a grounding issue. Especially with prior experience on Fiats (and relatives) where they have almost invariably had issues with grounding in or around the instrument panel. Easy enough thing to improve though. Have to admit I'm tempted for the sake of less than £10 to add a known good engine to body and body to battery ground strap for future proofing...

It looks wacky and you'd think it was a nightmare to work on, but the dash is actually really easy to get apart. Stripping it down as you see above, changing a bunch of lamps, voltage testing to see what was and wasn't working, replacing the lamp failure module and putting it all back together took me less well less than an hour.

Finally got around to investigation of where the little bit of free play in the steering on the Caddy is. It is only a tiny bit but is really noticeable if I've not driven it for a few days.

I had a suspicion that the culprit was this universal joint at the base of the steering column.

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Having an assistant wobble the steering wheel for me (requiring a helper was one reason I'd not done this yet) revealed that I was correct. There is definitely some free play between the two halves.

Wonder how much of a pain that will be to change...

Something else which had been on my to do list for a while was installation of a bit of easily removable equipment in the back.

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Big plastic bin with a non-slip mat in the bottom of it. This is now basically the boot, saves stuff sliding around all over the place. It's tethered in place by the straps there for hooking the dog's travel harnesses to which wrap around the front of it and hook to each other.

Bigger than it looks, can get a week's shopping for us in there with a bit of Tetris action. Can just unhook the straps and lift it out to stow in the garage or stuff in the passenger seat when I want to take the dogs out.
LOZ: Oddball cars, lighting information, and anything else I remember to upload!
Current fleet: 02 VW Caddy 1.9SDI, 90 Mercedes 208D Autotrail Navajo, 85 Sinclair C5, 73 AC Model-70.

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Re: Today I mostly .....

Post by Zelandeth » Sat May 21, 2022 1:06 am

TPA was out and about a few days ago and following on from the recent trend something else fell off.

Albeit rather less important than the last couple of things.

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Just a bit of trim. Only myself to blame, don't think I used anywhere near enough glue when putting those panels in (I think about half of the ones in the door cavities have fallen off at some point now). This was then absolutely slathered in adhesive then wedged in place overnight.

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Sorted.

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Don't really have anything visible to show for it, but I've adjusted how the engine cover is sitting to try to reduce the tendency for it to rattle quite so much. It is now actually sitting on the latch pin rather than the bodywork. Only real visible difference is that there's now clearance where it used to rub.

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At least the witness marks made spotting the contact points easy!

Has definitely reduced the tendency for there to be a godawful crash from the back end on bumps now. Has meant I can get rid of the horrible strip of weatherstripping which was across the bottom of the closure too (an earlier - and *briefly* successful - attempt to shut it up).

I do need to touch up a couple of bits of the glass fibre work on that nearside corner though.

-- -- --

I sense that the Caddy will be making another trip to a garage shortly. It's wearing the outside shoulder on both front tyres.

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I did have the alignment checked not all that long ago. However it has always felt somewhat fidgety to me. I know the one lower control arm was changed shortly before I got the car and I have a feeling that its partner may also now be in need of attention. I don't do suspension work, that's getting attention from a garage...sadly it will be a few weeks before it can be fitted in because of how busy my garage are.

A detail which has been driving me somewhat round the bend is the gear change. The bush between the gear lever and the gear linkage itself is worn out to the point of basically being missing. This resulted in about 1 1/2" slop in all directions, to the extent that the lever flopped from side to side when turning corners - which around here means it did that a lot.

A proper replacement bush will be ordered when I next get a shipment of things from Autodoc or similar, but it would be daft to just order the bush. The postage would be probably three times the cost of the part. In the meantime though it was *really* bugging me...so time for some improvisation.

My original plan was to see if I could sleeve the offending bush out with a bit of heater hose or something, but that turned out to be too thick. Some further head scratching and rummaging through the garage was needed.

I am simultaneously both utterly ashamed and somewhat proud of the resulting bodge.

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Yes, that's about two dozen cable ties wrapped around the outer ring which is the bit actually attached to the linkage to the gearbox. Obviously the ends were trimmed before the gaiter was put back on. This is purely to help preserve my sanity until I can get a new bush.

It may be an utter lash up, but it's worked...the gear change is utterly transformed. There is still a little bit of play in the linkages, but the sort of play that you'd have expected from the factory rather than feeling worn out. Has made the vehicle a whole lot nicer to drive.

My feeling pleased with myself was short lived however. Just as I pulled out of my driveway a few day ago it started beeping (loudly, seriously it scared the living daylights out of me) and flashing this angry red light at me.

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Well that's not good...thankfully it was a simple "turn engine off and roll back onto drive" job.

Turns out the oil was indeed very low, barely reading on the bottom of the dipstick. I had checked it a few days (and admittedly about 400 miles) previously and it looked fine. Not having used a drop in the preceding 4000 miles or so. Wondered if I had just mis-read it as our drive is on a slope in not one but two directions. Topped it up and off we went.

Then it did the same again this morning. Oil again was very low. That's the best part of a litre that's vanished in less than 200 miles this time. That's a lot of oil to just vanish.

Given I'd not noticed any smoke - and at a pint per 100 miles I would have expected stone cold Deltic levels of clag - first thought was a leak. Though again I'd kind of expected to have noticed it. The underside would be soaked in it and I'd have smelled it burning off the exhaust. Nothing visible on the rear of the body either where I'd have expected oil mist to be sucked up onto aerodynamically. Anyhow... let's have a look.

Cover off the engine and see if we can see anything.

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Nothing there.

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Bit damp on the offside around the timing cover, but I think that's more just 20 years worth of spillage from the filler rather than an actual leak.

Underside of the engine also supports the theory that it's not leaking externally.

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Which is bad news as that would have been by far the easiest fix...

It's not ending up in the coolant either. That's lovely and clean.

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Which means I guess that it *must* be burning it. Though the lack of smoke if that's the case is a real surprise.



Little puff of black initially when you blip the throttle, but nothing major. I'd be expecting a cloud you could see from low earth orbit with the rate of usage if I'm not totally misreading that.

This weekend I will do an oil and filter change (due in about two weeks anyway) so we can start from a known correct level and then check it daily to get a read on how fast it's really using it.

As a starting point I did clean out the PCV vapor separator in case that was clogged. A little bit of gunk in, but really not bad at all for a 20 year old 100K mile engine.

Really odd how it's just gone from using none to using a lot seemingly overnight.

Answers on a postcard please?
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Re: Today I mostly .....

Post by Zelandeth » Sat May 21, 2022 9:08 pm

Am I seriously going to end up with two vehicles in succession with reputedly highly reliable engines with severe mechanical maladies?

A couple of minutes into driving this morning I had another oil pressure warning ping up - which vanished about five seconds later. I knew the level was fine this time as I checked it prior to setting out. It hasn't done it again for the rest of the day.

Dodgy sensor? Actually low oil pressure? I've got a test gauge on the way now so I can confirm what the oil pressure is actually doing.

Annoyingly the oil pressure light on this is ECU controlled, so you don't have any real indication of how quickly it builds (or being able to do the old trick of seeing how long it takes to come back on when cold). The light comes on for a self test when you turn the ignition on, but then goes out along with the temperature/coolant level light and the service indicator. I think it then needs to see a low pressure for a period of time plus the engine speed above a set level before it will show the warning light. Even when there's the delay in the pressure coming up following an oil change where it has to prime the filter housing the light never appears.

I've done an oil and filter change this evening so we're back on a known level with good, clean oil of the right grade, a clean filter etc. I'll disect the filter element tomorrow to make sure there aren't any signs of impending doom in it.

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No obvious glitter in the oil that was drained (once I got the sump plug out, which had been done up biblically tight - I drained it with the Pela last time) didn't have any obvious glitter in - but being the black ink that comes out of a diesel it would be hard to tell I imagine. Not like when I had the S123 though which left metal particles in the drain pan though...

Hopefully this will turn out to be something relatively benign... though I'm not counting on it. I'm not going to drive it again if I can avoid it until we've had the opportunity to prove the oil pressure at least.

Looks like TPA might be on front line duty this week...when I was meant to be prepping her for a trip at the end of the week. The van is out of MOT and I can't get it in until the middle of next month because of availability of test slots (and it was last week I booked it in)...This is all going perfectly to plan. Great!

Oh, and the mission to try to find the correct rotor arm for the Trevi continues. We're really, really struggling to find one. Which is really annoying as I reckon that's the last bit preventing it from being sorted and handed back to the owner.
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Re: Today I mostly .....

Post by Zelandeth » Thu May 26, 2022 12:42 am

Not had a great couple of days.

First bombshell was finally getting a roofer in to try to track down the one intermittent water ingress issue we've had. I have been trying to get someone to look at this since we moved in in 2014. Turns out that we need the entire roof replaced...aside from the tiles everything is basically scrap. We've had a ridge tile completely missing for a long time. Like "since the 90s" sort of a long time, so water has been getting into the structure forever.

Of course they have then failed to forward all the details they were going to...so I'm going to have to start chasing them. I'm betting they've seen how much work is involved, and will not disappear never to be seen again.

A padded envelope arrived a little while back which contained a single roll of film. Turns out when that left the processors it contained an additional film...and two envelopes of developed film. That's vanished in the post. There's absolutely no mechanism in place to attempt to recover any loose lost items, so they'll wind up in a bin at a Royal Mail processing centre.


Final annoyance was the arrival of a parcel of bits for the Invacar. This should have contained a full new set of window latches and replacements for the felt strips that should be fitted between the two sliding window sections.

This parcel contained *one* window latch. Three plus all the mounting hardware haven't been sent. Of course the one I've been sent is the one that isn't in some way falling to bits on the car!

The weather stripping was also a fail. I was sure I'd read that this was a Mini parts bin item.

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About 2" too short. Fine...I'll just have to measure it up and order some from somewhere that sells it cut to length for you. In the meantime I guess having a slightly short strip on that side is better than having it completely missing.

I have made a bit of bodywork progress that nobody will ever see though, rebuilding the missing bit of the offside wheel tub.

Before:

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After:

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Never going to get it as tidy as the factory.

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Pretty it ain't...but once it's got another couple of layers of mat and some paint on both sides it won't be noticeable. It's already vastly improved the rigidity of that corner. Main reason I wanted to get it done though was to stop the coil from getting drowned every time I drive on a vaguely wet road. How it's not complained at me yet I've no idea. It is literally right in the spray fan from the tyre.
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Re: Today I mostly .....

Post by Zelandeth » Fri May 27, 2022 12:48 am

The oil pressure test gauge turned up this morning.

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Time to (hopefully!) confirm that the oil pressure light in the Caddy is telling lies.

Cold startup suggests yes.

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Shot up to about 80psi before settling down to a smidge under 60.

While out and about driving it seems to sit right around 70psi which seems to be where the pressure relief valve is set.

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Hot idle is about 19psi - though there doesn't look to an actual idle pressure listed - minimum quoted allowed pressure is 30psi at 2000rpm - at which point we have around 60psi. The oil pressure light will actually never be triggered below 2000rpm...which seems like a really strange arrangement to me...but apparently VW thought it was a good idea.

Long story short - there's nothing wrong with the oil pressure. I'll get a new pressure switch ordered and hopefully that will put a stop to it scaring the living daylights out of me.

-- -- --

Got a little more glass fibre laid down on the repair on the Invacar then attacked the corner with some paint. It's astonishing what sins you can hide in shadows with a bit of matt black paint!

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Fluids etc have all been checked. Tomorrow I'll give the car a quick clean, remove anything that doesn't absolutely need to be onboard (as the car park I'll be in doesn't have the best reputation for security and we all know how secure the cabin is), then be on my way.

My brain is making this seem a far longer trip than it is...it's like an hour, and I've regularly been out bumbling around for entire afternoons. Nevertheless, it's the furthest I've ever gone in one direction so feels like quite a big milestone.

Really hoping it's less windy tomorrow as it has been quite breezy today and if that continues it'll be a very wobbly journey...
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Re: Today I mostly .....

Post by Zelandeth » Sat May 28, 2022 12:17 am

As usual my plans to have everything ready yesterday never worked out. So this morning TPA was treated to what absolutely definitely wasn't the first wash she's had since returning to the road two years ago.

Yes I do feel guilty. The amount of grime that came off was horrific. The engine cover regularly being used as a workbench probably didn't help.

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I ordered a set of new window latches last week...and received a package containing *one* window latch on Monday. Of course the one in the package was the only one on the car which worked properly!

Thankfully the rest of them arrived today, about 10 minutes before I originally intended to leave...so I delayed myself a few minutes to fit them.

You'll understand why I wasn't too enthusiastic about parking this overnight somewhere public with latches in this state securing three out of the four sliding window sections.

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This one actually fell off on a regular basis.

Much better with a full new set.

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Then it was time to hit the road. An hour and a half later Birmingham was achieved.

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Was a pretty relaxed drive to be honest. We had a HGV in front of us for most of the drive, and I was quite content to bumble along at their pace. I did note that she started to miss occasionally on light throttle towards the end of the journey, but nothing bad. I've noted this to be an intermittent issue for a while, and it always seems to be towards the end of trips, so I wonder if there's something suffering heat soak problems - coil would probably be my first suspect (it's never been touched) as it does run quite warm. It's also an easy thing to test by substitution.

Parked a couple of spaces away from some rather nice motors. Couldn't help but be drawn to this!

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Not a bad view from my hotel window really compared to a lot.

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Though it improved after dark.

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So the car show part of our event runs from 1200 to 1500 tomorrow, and if the car park is anything to go by there's going to be quite an interesting variety there. I'll obviously share the highlights here.

Better remember to get a couple of my own car there...I always forget that!

Another big milestone passed today - about halfway through the trip over here TPA ticked over 3,000 miles since revival. Hard to believe really when you look back to June 2018.

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Re: Today I mostly .....

Post by Zelandeth » Mon May 30, 2022 10:16 pm

A whole bunch of programming was going on through the weekend, but the main thing I'd been looking forward to was getting TPA along to our little car show. Well, show is maybe overselling it. Basically the hotel staff give us the staff car park to ourselves for a few hours where anyone with an interest in motoring get together and have a good old natter.

This is great I think, because you get a bit of everything. Some classic classics, some more modern things, ever popular tuner material, some cars with fancy audio installs, and some very ordinary cars which are just very much loved by their owners.

Now, before I set off to ConFuzzled I had the presence of mind to write up a sign giving a brief description of what the heck TPA is and a*very* brief intro to the history of the Model 70.

However did I have the presence of mind to actually TAKE it with me? Uuuh...not so much. Left it sitting on the desk next to my keyboard. Idiot. Well at least it's there for next time she goes to a show.

The sheer number and intensity of exclamations of complete befuddlement when people found TPA was highly amusing. Definitely got a lot of interest though. My immediate neighbour to the right was a bit of a contrast!

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Quite a variety there as I've said, though this must be a pretty rare bird these days.

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Likewise I can't remember the last time I saw a Vitara. Looks like this one is properly enjoyed.

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One of the prettier convertible conversions done.

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With some interior trim which is an absolute late 90s throwback.

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A very, very, very festive Cube.

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Unsurprisingly the Buick I had parked just across from also made an appearance. Sounded lovely too.

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Seeing this very much reminded me of how much I still want one.

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Though admittedly the early airbag wheel is pretty hideous.

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On the general subject of Americana...

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Several Volvos, only two of which I apparently photographed.

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I wasn't the only person with a rear engined air cooled car there...not even the only pale blue one.

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The Japanese were pretty well represented too.

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If these came in estate form I would seriously consider one.

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At the other end of the scale...

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Variety is always good to see.

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Was interesting to get to have a proper nosey under the bonnet of a Leaf too to see how the traction unit is packaged.

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This apparently is quite properly rapid.

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One very pretty little sports car.

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When these came out I really wasn't big on the styling...time has been kind to them I think.

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Spent a lot of time explaining to clusters of people what TPA was. Really need to remember the blasted window sign next time. I know they have been extinct for going on 20 years but it really surprised me how many people had no idea they had ever existed.

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Parked up next to a nice motor for the night after the show was done.

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The golden spanner I was handed along with a few other folks suggests TPA made a good impression with the organisers of our little shindig.

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Knowing we had had some security issues in the hotel car park in previous years I made a point of taking a few precautions to immobilise TPA overnight. Among those was one straight out of the history books, having this live in my hotel room.

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This wasn't by means the only thing I did, but was probably the most traditional.

Headed back home today around lunchtime, another 70-ish miles and she didn't miss a beat. Bit less breezy today so was a more relaxed run.

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Safely tucked away again.

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My figures show we made 40.8MPG on the way there, which is more akin to what I'd have expected to see without the huge penalty you pay driving around MK. For a CVT driven car from the early 70s that seems pretty reasonable to me.

Window latches. Dear god I should have replaced those sooner. It's so nice having windows which actually stay where you put them - I also had totally failed to realise how many rattles in the cabin came from the windows. Between the new latches and the zip tie stopping the fire extinguisher handle from rattling (it doesn't interfere with operation) it's made the cabin a lot nicer. Not having a continual draught from the offside window blowing right in my ear is nice too.

It's been nice to see how TPA handles a slightly longer run. Was good to see that the temperature did stay in the 150-170C range even when staying at speed for quite a while. I know this car wasn't really designed with high speed cruising in mind so whether the cooling system was up to it was always a question in my mind. I do want to have a closer look at the CVT belt just to see how it's holding up after this - no noticeable change in behaviour, but it must have north of 2000 miles on now, so worth checking properly.

Is she an ideal long distance cruiser? Absolutely not! Wobbly, incredibly noisy and the ventilation is hilariously awful on a warm day. However she's perfectly capable of it - which is good to know given the big show I've got in mind is about twice as far away from home for me as this was I think.

Absolutely knackered now though, not so much by the drive but it's been a busy few days.
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Re: Today I mostly .....

Post by Zelandeth » Wed Jun 01, 2022 6:08 pm

A very well packaged parcel arrived a couple of days ago containing a replacement air conditioning compressor for the Caddy.

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I just need to find someone to recover the charge now who's not going to charge me through the nose for the privilege. If I can find a garage who also do AC work may just get them to sort the whole lot together. Only place I've tried so far didn't want the work because they're too busy.

This morning I had to do something that I despise and which always gives me massive anxiety: Leave a vehicle unattended at a garage for an MOT. I hate not being present for the test, but wasn't given any choice in the matter unless I wanted to stand around for about six hours.

Then had to get the bus back home...a trip of around five miles. It takes well over an hour by bus, and I would have just walked if it wasn't raining. Would have been about 20 minutes quicker.

Last stretch (as the nearest bus stop is a 20 minute walk past home) was done by e-scooter. First time I've used one of the new Lime ones, they've really upped the game with them. Bigger wheels, better suspension and better brakes. All round just far nicer to ride than the old ones.

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I hate leaving cars to be tested, never mind a 32 year old camper van of a model reputed for its ability to turn from solid metal to iron oxide faster than you can blink. Nevertheless the end result:

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Nice. Something else I don't need to worry about until next year.

Advisories have all been there forever aside from the one about a power steering pipe...it doesn't *have* power steering. I'm assuming they're just meaning the steering box is weeping oil a bit, which it does and has done as long as I've had the van. Not worried about it.

Quite surprised the tyres didn't get a mention as the perishing is quite visible on a couple of them. I'll probably get them changed in the next couple of months just for peace of mind. Shame as the tread is still basically unworn (probably because they're commercial rated so the rubber compound is harder than concrete).

Had a rather special visitor today. Wonder when the last photo of these two models side by side was taken.

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Fascinating car to have a look at. Really had never had a chance to look at one up close before. Really quite comfy, though oddly short geared. I do wonder if that is something that is quite common to PSA vehicles as I remember my 306 Sedan feeling way under geared too - on a dual carriageway I repeatedly found myself second guessing if I had actually changed up out of fourth.

They very kindly gave me a lift to go collect the van from the MOT too saving me another hour on the bus which was most appreciated.

I was really happy to find this on the shelf in my local motor factor again.

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It's easily the best fluid of its type I've used and I've been lamenting not being able to find it for ages, until today. Suffice to say I bought several cans!
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Re: Today I mostly .....

Post by Zelandeth » Wed Jun 08, 2022 11:21 pm

"Occasional Distraction" time!

A friend was kind enough to drop this box of goodies off a couple of days ago.

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This is well timed as me (and the entire family) have come down with COVID, and I have about as much available energy as a 97 year old who's just run a marathon - so a distraction I could pick away at on and off requiring relatively little physical effort was very welcome.

Inside that box there is a Commodore 64, matching data cassette deck, power supply, couple of games, two joysticks, an original 48K Spectrum and a bunch of cables plus two microphones that are nothing to do with the computers.

I've had a Spectrum for going on 30 years, however it's one that was upgraded with an aftermarket case (and more importantly a real keyboard!) back early in its lifetime. So it doesn't look like a Spectrum. So a factory original one has been on my list for a while.

The Spectrum came up fine with just a wipe down. It's pictured here next to my original one. This wasn't an uncommon retrofit case back in the day, though I can't remember the name of the company that made them right now to save my life.

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I always forget when it's been a while since I saw one is how tiny the Spectrum is. The fact that they managed to cram as much capability into such a small unit priced as it was really was quite an achievement at the time I reckon. My original one has a larger case both because it was designed to also house the power supply.

Internally it's a very clean machine. No signs of previous hackery or damage.

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Based on the latest date code I can find on anything it looks like this is a machine from the late end of 1984, quite possibly bought as a Christmas gift or in the Boxing day sales.

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There are a few scratches on the case but it's perfectly presentable. I like to see all of my machines actually used so I'd rather have one that's presentable but not immaculate to that end. Still an iconic looking thing.

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It's the first time I've had a look at a stock machine in forever...I'd not realised that there are several key items on the upgraded keyboard (aside from not feeling as though you're typing on a cheap TV remote) to make your life easier.

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First up are dedicated delete, period and comma keys. Those all require shift combinations on the stock one. Likewise dedicated arrow keys, which similarly require a shkft combination normally. Having the symbol shift key duplicated on both sides of the keyboard is useful too. Oh...and an actual space bar, where your brain expects it to be. Still, could be worse - see also ZX80/81 or the sea to TicTacs on the Oric-1.

I've not had a chance to test the Spectrum yet as it didn't come with a power supply and my bench top one currently needs repair due to a duff power switch. I don't have the energy just now to go spelunking in the Box o' Cables (TM) to try to find an alternative 9V DC supply. Will make sure to get it tested soon though.

While the Spectrum was just a little dusty and responded fine to just a good wipe down the C64 was a different story. It was both filthy in general and covered in pen marks. So it was almost immediately pulled apart for cleaning.

Internally it looks to be fine, dusty and there's a little surface rust on the RF modulator case but nothing that concerns me.

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Sorry, I totally forgot to get a proper "before" photo so you'll have to make do with ones from just after I'd emptied the case.

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The case was then treated to a run though the specialised "parts washer" to get rid of that grime.

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Results speak for themselves really. I haven't been able to (even after attacking it with IPA) completely remove the permanent marker line from around the keyboard but it's vastly improved.

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A replacement for the missing badge on the case is already on the way.

I would have quite liked to give the key caps the same treatment, however haven't done that for two reasons. Firstly is that they really don't seem inclined to come off. Secondly is that I'm not entirely sure that the silk screened legends for the graphics symbols on the front of the key caps would survive that. So I've just hoovered all the dust out and given it an external scrub down as best I could.

My attention then turned to the cassette recorder. While not as bad as the computer itself it was still pretty grubby.

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Especially if you looked closely around the tape counter and the control keys.

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The mechanism was a bit dusty and the heads needed a clean but I couldn't see anything wrong. Belts even seem to be absolutely fine. Quite a substantial one compared to anything you'll find these days.

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Heads, capstan and pinch roller were given a clean while the case took its turn in the wash.

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The grease still seemed to be of the correct consistency so I chose to leave it well alone, just removing any excess lint build up that was stuck to it here and there.

Reassembly was slightly more tricky as it required three tiny little springs and an equally tiny circlip to be put back into their homes, but nothing too drastic.

Cleaned up pretty well.

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This is why I tend towards this method for cleaning things where it's viable. There's no way I could ever have got the little recesses like this as clean as this by hand.

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The power supply brick will just have to make do with a wipe down as due to the way it's constructed there's no way to disassemble it for a wet clean. A test confirmed that the right voltages were present so we were good to do a test of the system.

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Good start. I'm pretty convinced now that there's something amiss with the tuner in this TV as this is the third thing I've fed it an RF signal from in the last few weeks and been rewarded with very poor reception. I'll need to investigate that at a later date. Switching to the composite output run into a monitor via a converter showed a far better image.

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Though obviously this is never going to look right on an LCD, it's better than the snowy mess I had before.

Two problems became very quickly apparent. One was that you could crash the system pretty much by breathing anywhere near the power input socket, leading me to believe we had a dry joint on the PCB where the socket attaches. The second problem was that sever keys required several attempts to get to register, the space bar being totally inoperable.

With the symbol shift switch desoldered and around 7500 tiny screws removed it was possible to get into the back of the keyboard. I was quite surprised to find a setup using contact pads on the PCB and conductive rubber pads on the keys rather than a more conventional membrane setup. Not going to complain though as it is a far easier arrangement to clean.

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The contacts for the space bar were definitely filthy. No surprise this wasn't working.

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Half an hour or so of carefully cleaning the PCB and contact pads with IPA followed.

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My suspicion of there being dry solder joints on the power connector was correct. Hard to tell, but there are no less than five in this photo, so they were all reflowed.

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I had the sense to test to see if the keyboard was working properly before screwing the case back together.

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Success! A fully working keyboard and a system which no longer prone to falling over if you walk across the floor too quickly.

I don't have any C64 software floating around here but there were helpfully two tapes in the box, which both loaded up just fine... though I think I'm going to need something more my speed to do some soak testing.

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However I think in the mean time I can declare this system now to be fully working.

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My plan is to run a vintage and retro computing panel at an event next year, and thanks to the arrival of these and the BBC Micro a few weeks ago I'm getting pretty close to having most of the machines I'd want to take along in my possession.  Some of the calculators and some of the other gear would probably come along too...but the main exhibits will be (Production introduction year in brackets - I can't remember exactly when all mine date from off the top of my head):

[] Apple II (1977).

[] Apple Macintosh SE (1987).

[] BBC Micro (1981).

[] Acorn Electron (1983).

[] Acorn Archimedes A5000 or 7000 - A3000 instead if I can revive it (1991, 1995, 1987).

[] Sinclair ZX Spectrum 48K (1982).

[] Commodore 64 (1982).

[] Amiga A1200 (1992).

[] Toshiba T1200 (1987).

[] Toshiba T3200 (1987).

[] Toshiba T5200 - probably take the T3100e too as the plasma machines always seem to draw a crowd (1991, 1988).

[] Atari ST...there are some numbers there but they could be anything. (Early 90s).

[] Amstrad PPC-512.  Because it's just such a bonkers design (1988).

[] Amstrad NC-100 (1992).

[] Psion Series-5 (1997).

[] IBM PS/ValuePoint 433DX/Si - if I rebuild it in time (????).

[] Compaq Deskpro 386S (I think, reading a very fuzzy photo - haven't collected it yet).

[] Compaq Deskpro P100 - which will likely be hooked up to a mid 90s era projector running a computing history slideshow made in the earliest usable version of PowerPoint I can find.  Or I may use the IBM for that - though I'd quite like to have that running OS/2.

There are a couple I'd really like to add to that list that I don't currently own.  

[] Sinclair ZX81 - because I sure ain't paying the going rate for a ZX80 these days.

[] Sinclair QL.  I've never actually even seen one in person and I doubt I'm the only one.  So likely to draw interest.  It would be nice to have Sinclair Computers more or less spanning their home computer timeline.  Yes I know the QL was more market at businesses, but ya get the idea.

[] Commodore PET.  Never going to happen given what they usually go for unless I'm *seriously* lucky.  The Apple II is only coming on the scene because a friend has been incredibly generous.

From the calculator side I'd probably bring:

[] CompuCorp 324G Scientist.  Sadly non-working, but it's still a real talking point and bloody rare so not many people have seen one (1971).

[] Sharp EL-805 (1973).

[] Sinclair Sovereign (1976).

[] HP 11C and 12C (1981).

[] Texas Instruments TI-66 (1983).

[] Casio PF-3000 (1983).

[] Texas Instruments TI-30 (1976).

[] Sharp EL-8130A (1977).

May just grab a handful more at the time - they at least don't take up too much room.
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Re: Today I mostly .....

Post by Zelandeth » Fri Jun 10, 2022 12:57 am

Continuing the "Zel has COVID and feels too awful to do anything involving more than 30 seconds of physical effort, today was the turn of the Spectrum to be tested. Though before I could do that I needed to either dig out a 9V power supply (remembering of course that Sinclair used a centre negative connector just to make it more likely to get blown up) or sort my bench top supply.

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I decided dealing with that was easier than going digging through the Box o' Cables for a suitable adaptor.

I also switched out display devices. Knowing the TV I had been using had something amiss with the tuner I swapped it for another portable. This one thankfully has a properly working RF stage.

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It also includes a cassette deck...which would potentially be really handy for program loading. If the belt hadn't long since given up the ghost anyway. I did pull the cover off to see how difficult to change it would be.

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The answer appears to be "very."

This is precisely all I can see of the back of the cassette mech.

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I think replacement of the belt would require me to dismantle approximately 98% of the unit, and it's not the sort of thing that was ever designed to be dismantled. It would have been nice to sort it but that's not happening.

Unsurprisingly the Spectrum worked just fine.

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That display is an absolute pain to photograph. It's really not the best for this sort of things as with many small colour displays from back then as the phosphor stripes (so essentially the "pixel" size) is just the same as on a normally sized screen, so the definition really isn't great. Just fine for this sort of testing though.

Long term I'll need to find a power supply that cost less than the computer when it was new.

This corner is very much evidence of what I've been up to this week.

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Something I had never tried before was loading software onto a Spectrum from another computer. This turned out to be a massive faff and took hours to get to work...eventually involving cables stretching the whole way across the room. At least I seem to have a solution that works reliably now... I'll need to do a bit of experimentation to see if I can get a portable device to do the job as that would be a real bonus.

Had to boot up the game which on the Spectrum which wasted the largest number of hours when I was messing about with my original one.

This actually looked far better in person - it's really hard to photograph this screen.

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Our of curiousity I pulled the cover off my original one as I had a vague memory of it having a slightly earlier board revision.

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I had actually done a bit of work in there today too. This machine has always been very unstable, and last time I had it out the transformer was getting really hot. The smoothing capacitor doing a good impression of a 30 ohm resistor seemed to have a lot to do with that.

Definitely an earlier board, Issue 2 it looks like, so definitely earlier than the Issue 4S in the other one.

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I'll probably do a bit of poking about with it tomorrow. I'd like to get a program loading solution that works without me needing to use 96 feet of cable. Given I'm still feeling absolutely awful I can't see me doing much more physical than that.
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Re: Today I mostly .....

Post by Zelandeth » Wed Jun 15, 2022 12:55 am

Hey look a package! That was quick.

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Oh why can't all sellers on eBay package things this well? This was after I'd taken the bundle filling the void in the box out.

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Everything nicely individually wrapped inside a sturdy box with a decent amount of padding round the outside (keeping in mind that the contents aren't exactly heavy).

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They had even put a bit of bubble wrap *inside* the tape boxes to make sure they couldn't rattle around too much.

Sure you recognise through the bubble wrap what's in there.

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Perfect companion for the Spectrum that arrived last week.

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Only done a very quick bit of testing, but it does indeed work.

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I had only used one of these once before and it was a long time ago. The keyboard however is precisely as awful as I remembered. It's like trying to type on the control panel of our microwave.

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In fact it's worse than the microwave...the microwave beeps when you press a key, so you have some feedback to confirm that it has registered the key press. This thing on the other have provides no feedback. Nothing, none, zip. There is no physical give in the key, nor anything from the machine. The Spectrum has a pretty awful keyboard in terms of tactile feedback, but it does at least provide an audible "click" through the speaker to let you know it's registered the keystroke.

This thing though is just an absolute abomination of a user input device. You can't type without looking at the keyboard as it is completely flat. There's no way to position your fingers by touch. However you need to watch the screen to confirm it's registered the key stroke because it's like typing on a sheet of solid plastic.

Speaking of questionable design decisions...the power supply connector on the ZX81 is 3.5mm jack, exactly the sort used for the ear and mic connections...note also *where* the power socket is.

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Now remember that this thing has no power switch nor means to reboot it without removing and reapplying power. There is no switch on the power supply itself either. 99.9% of the time I reckon it will have been done by physically pulling out the power supply plug in the side of the machine.

Given Sinclair's approach to cost saving I rather doubt they included the necessary protection to ensure that blasting 9V into the ear or mic socket won't nuke the heck out of the ULA...

Also from the desire to cut costs the ZX81 has very limited onboard memory, making the 16K RAM expansion pack basically necessary hardware. This little pack was a lot heavier than I had expected so I had to investigate what was inside it.

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Given I was expecting a single PCB, a handful of memory ICs and possibly a bit of buffering this was quite a bit busier than I'd expected.

I've confirmed that software loads correctly but that's all I've had the opportunity to ascertain so far. Will have to have a play around with it later in the week...given we're seeing 33C forecast on the weather for Friday I'm going to be hiding in here with the air conditioner, so it's going to be a good opportunity for it.

It sounds like someone on another forum *may* have a QL gathering dust in their loft...if that does turn out to be true that would be great as that would be a really nice one to tick off...plus having done some reading on them lately I'm really wanting to have a shot at using one now.

In the interests of completeness I'd *like* a ZX80 so we could have a complete lineup of the in house Sinclair machines prior to the Amstrad takeover...but I'm sure as heck not paying £400+ for one! So unless one turns up in someone's loft who's more interested in making a collector happy than making a quick buck that's not happening.

Kind of under the same heading as basically anything with an Amiga badge on that I don't already own nowadays. Prices for what they are are just daft. Especially as the ZX80 really is just a curiosity...it's really not something you're going to do anything useful with. Would just be nice to have the original range all together. That's on the "keep an eye open" list though, not something I'm actively going looking for.
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Re: Today I mostly .....

Post by Zelandeth » Tue Jun 21, 2022 5:54 pm

Been a while since I've had to wave any tools at the van.

Starting to get back into a functional state for my part again I figured that starting to tick off a few things on the to do list on it wasn't a bad idea. One of these has been changing the thermostat. Pretty certain it's never fully closed as long as I've had the vehicle.

I've generally found the van bits of this vehicle to be very easy to work on, though the coach built bits have tended to make up for it.

It appears that the thermostat however is the exception that proves the rule and is going to be a bit of a faff to change. Was a bit of a faff to *find* never mind change!

Conventional wisdom places it where the top radiator hose emerges from the head. That's not even visible from under the bonnet, so passenger seat and the engine cover were removed.

The top hose is just about visible buried under the fuel system here, though anything that looks removable that's big enough to contain the thermostat is conspicuously absent.

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A bit of head scratching and standing on my head appears to have located it, rather oddly kit seems to be at the engine end of the *bottom* radiator hose.

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Odd setup...and not exactly easy to get to. It's sandwiched between the exhaust manifold and offside engine mount, tucked behind the alternator which precludes any thoughts of access from the front.

Near as makes no odds the lowest point in the system too so definitely be a coolant drain as step one... inevitably I'm going to end up with several litres of coolant in the face doing this job though. The coolant is due a change anyway so I don't mind having to drain it...just don't particularly want to wear it.

May end up being a case of "screw this, a garage can do it!" depending on how awkward access ends up really being when I try to get tools onto it.

Need to clean the whole area up too as the timing cover gasket appears to be leaking to no small amount...again.

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Will probably blast this area down with degreaser then hit it with the pressure washer first though as I'd like to confirm if this is coming from the timing cover or oil filler neck extension (bolted to the timing chain cover as in the van application the normal filler is inaccessible) before I go blowing £30 on another gasket for the timing cover.

That combined with running several errands however has consumed my available energy reserves (and patience with being eaten alive by ants), so back hiding in the air conditioning for now.
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Re: Today I mostly .....

Post by Zelandeth » Mon Jun 27, 2022 9:38 pm

Tiny, tiny but satisfying job done on the Caddy today.

These absolutely sun-baked stickers on the front windows were annoying me no end.

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Especially on the passenger's door which was obviously massively off-level even when it was applied 20 years ago. Who in their right might would have looked at that and thought "Yeah, that's fine..."

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The one on the passenger side had started to peel off at one corner and was causing the window to bind up when closing, so it was time to get rid of it.

These were for the chopping block too.

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I hate stickers like this on my cars so I'm surprised it took me this long.

Much better.

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I can't remember who it was that suggested using WD40 to remove sticky residue from things like these stickers, but I'm really glad it was suggested to me. Just wiped the glue residue right off, and normal glass cleaner easily got rid of the WD40 residue.

Speaking of stickers, one I had been waiting for for non car related stuff turned up. The C64 that arrived a few weeks ago looks rather less scruffy now it has the missing one replaced. It's not metal backed like the original, but for the sake of a couple of quid I'll take it. Looks way nicer than a missing badge.

Before:

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After:

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Doesn't affect the usability obviously, but having details like that sorted out makes me happier.
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Re: Today I mostly .....

Post by Zelandeth » Wed Jun 29, 2022 11:01 pm

Removing those stickers from the Caddy earlier in the week reminded me that this one on the van had been bugging me for a while. "A while" in this case meaning around three years.

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It's not bugging me any more.

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Much better. Though the grubby hand print really is a reminder that I really, really, really need to give the poor thing a proper exterior clean. It's filthy, growing moss everywhere and needs a polish as badly as it needs a wash. That's several day's worth of work though!

The Caddy is being dropped off tomorrow morning to have the shoulder wear on the front tyres investigated. Hopefully it just needs the tracking set by someone who actually knows what they're doing. I figured though that it would be polite to hand it over in a condition where the interior isn't 50% dog hair by volume so gave it a quick clean.

The interior really doesn't scrub up half bad for a 20 year old car.

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While I already had the vacuum cleaner out I figured I may as well treat the van to the same treatment, especially as the Caddy being on fleet now means it's no longer the main dog carrier so will likely stay fluff free for a bit longer this time.

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Really need to get a wet vac in to clean that staining out of the carpet a bit - or more likely get some proper automotive carpet in and just re-lay it given that it's coming unthreaded in a bunch of places and disintegrates a little bit further every time I touch it. Plus pale beige carpet in the cab of a vehicle just isn't smart! It'll never stay looking clean. A neutral mid grey or blue to match the living area would make far more sense.
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