The Exile Files

Raging Against the Outrageous. Laughter and Insanity Abound.

Hunting for Trolls..

Posted by Exile on November 20, 2017

This is not an internet exercise.

It was my first archery event. The Troll Hunt.

About 50 of us were entered and the competition was held indoors on a variable range. The targets were a mixture of animal figures and “trolls”. The trolls have to be either hit or avoided according to the rules and restrictions that are placed on the range. Distances to targets vary considerably from around ten to thirty five meters. There are ten targets per round and one shoots three rounds. Two arrows per target. Sixty six arrows in total including six for bonus targets. Targets are repositioned after each round. One target did not move. At the extreme end of the hall at maximum range, a bear figure and a troll bearing three post-it stickers. The idea was to put two arrows into the bear and then hit a yellow post-it on the troll. A post-it sticker measures about six by six centimeters. At thirty odd metres there is not much to aim at. I did hit one… for a bonus of 25 points.
Lucky punch? I don’t know. I took aim and hoped for the best.
Scoring is easy. There is a “kill zone” marked on the animal figures. Hit the heart area, 10 points. There is a very small inner ring in this area. Hit that and you get 11 points. Outside the heart area is the lung area. Hit that for 8 points. Hitting the animal outside that brings 5 points. Hitting a troll gives either plus or minus as designated by the range officer.
Obstacles included christmas trees, hanging camouflage nets and animal figures and other devices that simply get in the way of a clean shot at a designated target. Hitting an obstacle is akin to a miss. I hit one of them and it broke one of my arrows. Double punishment.

One is thrown in with a mixed group of combatants. Different ages, class of contestant, nationalities and, obviously, both sexes. I was entered in the mens senior longbow class. This was a mistake. I should have been in the mens longbow master bracket because of my advancing years. Had I been in that class, I would have come home with a first place.
There are also classes for bare bow and compound bows.

Note: Bare bows are anything but bare as they have all sorts of sighting arrangements, balancing bars and other crap attached to the bow. Compound bows are a work of engineering akin to a crane with a spring and telescopic sights. Hard to miss with such a contraption.

Despite the fact that one is in competition with everybody else, there was no lack of support or encourgement from others in my group. A very gentlemanly affair. Sympathy for the inevitable miss, congratulations on a well placed arrow.

For the sake of brevity I will cut to the chase concerning my final placement in all of this. I scored a very respectable 430 points on the day. I recieved no prizes but I was definitely in the good end of the rankings. Not as good as some, but better than most. At the time of writing, the full results have not yet been published but of the five contestants from our club I came bang in the middle with a third place behind two of the club stars. I am well pleased with myself.

I will mention my friend, Ove. Of all the people in the competition, he was the only man to turn up with a home made longbow and shot his own home made arrows. I tip my hat to the man. He gave a good account of himself.

I will be doing this again next year. In the correct class, with a more powerful,  better built bow and a further year in which to practice, I’ll be hunting medals…


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You Are What You Eat

Posted by Exile on October 17, 2017

I do so hope that isn’t true.

Generally, I enjoy my wife’s cooking. She is good at it. Better than me. Occasionally though, she decides to test my palate with some strange or exotic concoction drawn from the pages of unknown gastronomy and the book of kitchen fantasy. I don’t know why I have to be subjected to this but I do know when these seldom occasions are iminent because experience has taught me to recognise the signs of the oncoming assault on my digestion.
I get two or three days of really good old-fashioned man food with all the trimmings. No expense spared, no lack of effort, all lovingly prepared and presented. Steaks, chops, mashed spuds, brown gravy. You know. All the good stuff.

And then it happens.

Today was the day. Something ‘different’ arrived on the dinner table. I call this the strange food. Something conjured up in a moments madness. Probably because she read something in a magazine or had one of those conversations with her mates about food or found some wierd new sauce in the local supermarket.
I have no idea what I have eaten today.
It was wrapped in an egg based pancake decorated with what appeared to be grass cuttings. There was some sort of marinade on the meat. Which could have been ferret or weasel for all I know. There was some potato and I think I saw bits of onion in there too. The whole thing was covered in grated cheese. There was salad. I avoided that.

I know better than to complain. To do that would be ungrateful. But, for the love of god, when she can turn out the greatest meals a man ever had the good fortune to eat, why should this be necessary?

Some questions, it appears, are not to be asked. Hopefully, we’ll be back to normal service tomorrow.

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Robin Who?

Posted by Exile on September 2, 2017

Inspiration can hit you when you least expect it. It did earlier on this year while camping with my grandson. He was thoroughly bored on the campsite as we were there in the early part of the season and there simply weren’t that many kids of his age to play with. Taking a walk in the woods with him. I found a hazel tree and thought it might be an idea to cut a stick and make a crude longbow and arrows for him to play with as I did as a child in rural South West England. It was a great success. It got me thinking. This could be a new hobby.

I haven’t used a bow since I was about twelve or thirteen. That’s a half century ago. Not sure how to start, I contacted a local archery club and went to try it out. Not as easy as I remembered it was, I had a bit of a hard time hitting a target but decided to give it a try. Some equipment is necessary. A bow, arrows, a quiver to hold said arrows, a wrist protector and a leather finger guard to prevent ones finger tips from being torn off by the bow string. I found all these things locally, close to the club, and so it was, that I enrolled in the club as a beginner.

Not being the fit young man I once was, I elected to buy a longbow with a 30 pound draw. That’s about one fifth of an English warbow, but back in the days of longbow fame, i.e. the medieval era, men trained with the longbow from the age of seven years. They developed all the muscles necessary to use such a weapon. It even changed their skeletons. I don’t have those advantages. For now, my bow is powerful enough but I will need a more powerful bow at some later date as my muscles develop and my technique improves. The principles involved are, however, the same. Draw, aim, release.

With regard to improvement; this is a game one cannot win. Like golf. One can only improve. There is no ‘winning’ involved, unless one competes at tournament level against fellow archers. One strives to beat ones own high score at ever increasing distances from the target.
An old soldier, I am used to firing a rifle, wrapping my shoulders around it and holding it firmly into my right shoulder and leaning slightly forward to fire it accurately. The longbow is a different weapon. One stands erect, bow thrust forward and the right arm drawn back pulling on a string. Back straight and feet planted about a eighteen inches apart in the direction of fire. Weight evenly distributed. My ‘stance’ needed work from day one. It still isn’t perfect, but it is improving and with every arrow I send off I am becoming more adept and accurate.

I realise, at this stage, that I would not have been of much use at Crecy or Agincourt, but I find great inspiriation in history. Every time I hit the bullseye I count another dead Frenchie.

God for Harry, England and St. George….

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Things Have Not Changed…

Posted by Exile on May 15, 2016

Despite the passing of 36 years…

It was my pleasure to join a bunch of old soldier friends from 2 Div HQ & Sig. Regt. (1980’s crew) at our annual reunion this past weekend. I was especially looking forward to it because a good old mate from bygone days would be there. We’d been in a few scrapes together in our day and I haven’t seen Jim for 36 years. I finally found him in the bar at the pub where this reunion caper gets done. Joy! Hearty greetings. We had a lot of catching up to do. And we did get a lot of catching up done and we downed a few pints of the jolly juice along the way.. Perhaps a few too many.

The entire plan was simple enough. I had booked digs in a B&B very close to said pub. It was a double room, as these things so often are, and Jim and I would share the room for that one night. I got there first and had the keys to the house and Jim would join me at some point during the evening and I’d give him his set. At least, that was the deal with the landlady. And it worked. So far so good.

We’d both been shown how to come and go at the boarding house but that bit of the proceedings somehow got lost in the fog of war that followed a heavy night of beer and banter in the pub. After finally leaving the pub well after midnight we returned to the B&B. Keys out then, we went to the first door we saw and tried to let ourselves in. I say ‘tried’…

There was no way we could get the bloody key in the door. The keyhole simply would not accept the key. Any key. All the keys. We began to investigate closer. We looked at the keys, the door and the keyhole. We could not find any reason as to why the damn keys wouldn’t work. Never being the one to be beaten Jim suggested he drive home. No, I said, we’re in no condition to drive anywhere. Sleep in the car? No. We paid for a bed and we’re going to sleep in a bed. I was adamant about that bit.

I noticed a light on in the upper regions of the house. ‘I’ll knock on the window.’ I said. Easier said than done, the light was on the second floor. We found an old wooden folding garden chair and with Jim holding it steady I climbed up on to it and then on to a large container-like dustbin and could just about reach the window sill. I knocked. Several times. No joy. Bugger. I climbed down again. Later, we realised it was our window I was knocking on and we weren’t at home that night..

Jim figured there must be a key in the keyhole on the other side of the door blocking the keyhole and then he had a brilliant idea. You shine a light into the keyhole and I’ll try to see what’s going on, he said. Shine a light? What light? I haven’t got a light.. Your camera, said Jim. Use the camera.
Oh, right. So.. Jim gets his eye right up to the keyhole with his key at the ready and I fired up the Canon.. Ready? I asked. Yep, said Jim. Fire away. A brilliant flash of light right in his eyes. Jim staggered off, now blind as a bat from the effect of having a flash fired off right in his face at a range of approximately two inches… “That didn’t really help me.” he said. I caught him and steered the poor blind bugger back to the door and tried to suppress the laughter.

Then I had a brilliant idea. You have a phone Jim, ring the house up..  He did. I could hear the phone ringing inside the house. It went to voice mail. More bugger.. and a bit of damn too..

The Doorbell! Try the doorbell..!! We did. Several times. Still no joy.

We were at the point of giving up now when suddenly a light came on inside the house.. Our landlady appeared. We must have looked like two naughty little kids caught in the act of doing something awful.
We can’t get in, we said, we’ve tried everything. “Oh,” said our landlady in her dressing gown, “I’ll go round and let you in.”


And then we both realised, we’d been trying for half a drunken hour to get in through the wrong bloody door….

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In the Doghouse

Posted by Exile on August 3, 2015

Well, not really. But dogs in the house.. again.

It’s been about three months since our little dog died. She was the last of two that we adopted some seven years ago and both dogs had heart problems. Sadly, they died too young but had a great life here with us. Grieving over, we have decided to take two more on board. That wasn’t the plan, but it is how it worked out. We intended to adopt only one, a dachshund again, but according to the rescue kennel, the chihuahua next door was her best friend. So we took him too. She’s 10½ years old. He is 6.  Fie and Zimba. An unlikely couple. They ain’t big, but they are cute. OK, the chihuahua thinks he’s big. Unfortunately, he has been badly fed in the past and has lost half his teeth, so he’s handicapped in a fight but definitely not afraid of bigger dogs. I have to clean his teeth for him too. That’s gonna be fun… She’s a miniature long haired dachshund and, apart from her age, there are no issues and she is very lively.

They sleep in our bed. We don’t notice them. They are small. Tiny in fact.

Early days yet, but they seem to be settling in well and we each have our own dog. Fie sticks to my wife like glue and the little Mexican fella is always at my heels. We’ll see how this develops.

IMG_0300 IMG_0299

Welcome home you two. Live long and well.

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Ask a Silly Question…

Posted by Exile on July 17, 2015

I was out for a day with my 4 year old grandson. We went swimming at the local pool. Well, local for him, a 40 mile drive for me. It’s been a while since I was there last. About 13 years when his mother was 12.

It was good seeing the old pool again. It hasn’t changed much. We splashed about for an hour or so in the warm pool, which is quite deep for him, he can’t touch the bottom and he spent most of the time swimming with his inflatable ‘wings’ on. All great fun, we played with every floatation toy we could find and I must have covered miles of swimming.
Finally, we were all wrinkly and had had enough water sport for one day.

Getting back to the changing rooms we got under the shower to get the chlorinated smell off. My grandson announced that he needed to pee and I went off to get dried and dressed. Nearly dressed, I realised that I hadn’t seen the lad for some time. It doesn’t take that long to pee, I thought, so where the hell is he and just what is he doing?
A quick search of the showers and toilet drew a blank. The only place he could be was in the sauna.

I opened the door to the said sauna. There were a lot of men in there. It’s a popular place for us old ‘uns. Sure enough, sitting right on the end of the lowest bench was the lad himself.

”What are you doing in here, young man?” I asked.

“Sweating.” came the prompt and succinct reply.

Every man in the sauna broke out in gales of laughter. I left him to it. Obviously the lad knows what he’s doing, even if I don’t.

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Oh Nuts…

Posted by Exile on July 14, 2015

I had a bit of a shock a couple of weeks ago. I woke up with a real sense of discomfort emanating from my right testicle. Which was disconcerting, to say the least, as the right one is my favourite. Under the shower I had a good feel around and discovered a lump below and behind the ball. That’s not good, I thought. A lump and pain. I rang the doctor and made an appointment to get my nuts looked at by a professional.
He took a peek and squeezed the offending nut. Pronouncing a verdict of ‘not sure’, he sent me to a clinic specialising in ultrasound examination. I had to wait for the exam as we were off on the cruise in two days. Cruise over, I met up at the clinic yesterday and had my balls looked at again. Scanning was quick and painless and, according to the pictures they received on the high definition screen, there is no tumor to be seen.

No tumor. Woohoo..

However, the extra little bit that grows beside the actual nut may be a little inflamed. That bit has a weird name. It’s called the epididymis. And it isn’t too serious. Just annoying and at times, painful. Like you’ve been kicked ever so gently in the nuts.

This, then, is treatable. I have to go back to my doctor and we’ll figure it out. It may have to be removed, but that isn’t serious either. One can live quite happily without one’s epididymis.

So, I’m a little bit wiser now. A little more aware of my body and its functions. And wiser in more ways than just that one.

I also know now, that is quite difficult to remain objective about anything when your balls are being fondled by a pretty young nurse…!!

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The Cruise

Posted by Exile on July 13, 2015

clip_image002My wife’s idea. She thought we needed a break and booked a trip round the Baltic Sea. With all the trimmings and a get-anything-you-like-on-board-for-free card, we paid a bargain price because the ship had cabins left unbooked. Always had an eye for a bargain my missus, which is why I married her and she married me.

We packed all our best gear and duly boarded the MSC Sinfonia at 14.00 hrs. on a sunny Saturday afternoon in Copenhagen. We got aboard early to avoid the hordes and spent the afternoon exploring the floating hotel. I decided to avail myself of the freebie card in one of the bars. It worked. All the booze I can swallow for zero money. And food. Cakes. Ice cream. You name it. Whip out the card and sign a receipt for 0.00. Brilliant.

We had booked our evening meal for as late as possible, which was a good thing as we had to practice emergency mustering at the lifeboats at 19.15. We had to grab our lifejackets and muster at muster point G. Here, you put your lifejacket on and practice standing around under the lifeboat for a half hour.
I got bored by the standing around and thought I’d cheer the mustering guy up. ‘’My wife wants to know if these life jackets come in any other colours as this one doesn’t match her shoes.’’ He didn’t seem to find that funny. Nor did he seem to appreciate my running round the muster station shouting ‘’We’re doomed, we’re doomed. We’re all going to die.’’ One or two of the others at muster station G did though and conversation was attempted. No sooner started than finished, we had all passed the mustering test and we were dismissed to return to normal cruising activities. This meant dinner and more free booze. Surprisingly, after all the free food and beer I had consumed during my afternoon recce, I wasn’t too hungry but once I got started on the soup I decided to do my very best and ate a hearty four course dinner just to please the missus. Dinner done, we went off to try the cocktail bar and casino. Many free cocktails later, we called it a night and went off to bed.

During the night, the ship moved and we woke up in Germany.


clip_image004Having arrived in Northern Germany we disembarked into a popular seaside resort and glorious sunshine. In fact it got to be very hot and sticky so we didn’t stay ashore for more than a couple of hours. It was the local town festival week so the whole affair looked as if a circus had invaded and occupied the town. Being a Sunday, the local shops were mostly closed and those that had opened were tourist traps.
It was hot. We took a liquid lunch.

Back on board ship we took a tour round the bars and ended up in the pub. One can smoke in the pub. Only one minor incident to report. As I was explaining to the barman where we would be sitting, I stretched my arm out to my side and pointing with one finger, I accidentally poked a passing waitress right in the eye. She took it all with a teary smile and I was hard pressed to apologise enough to the poor girl. We drank our drinks and beat a hasty retreat to our cabin.

From there on, it was dinner and cocktails all evening and finally off to the land of Nod. As we sailed we encountered the worst thunder storm I have ever witnessed at sea and the good ship Sinfonia was hit by lightening at least 3 times during the night. The noise was ear shattering and the lightening was absolutely spectacular.

Day three is a sea day

 We are heading North towards Stockholm. I am presently trapped in a bar with free booze.. The weather is not good so the day gets broken up by breakfast, shopping, bar, lunch, bar, bar, nap, dinner and bar.


clip_image006All ashore and walk round in a gale punctuated by rain and sunshine. I’m sure Stockholm is a pleasant place to be in the summer sunshine but we didn’t experience that. My eyes were sandblasted and I found the wind cold and unpleasant. My dearest had to buy a jacket to keep warm. We shortened our shore leave and returned early to the boat and visited the bar.






On then, to Tallin.

clip_image008Again, the weather wasn’t good. The old town is beautiful and is the tourist trap one expects it to be. My watch strap broke and I found a watchmaker who effected repairs. Some of us went shopping again and I didn’t. I did enjoy being in Tallin though and may be tempted to return at some later date. 

Back on the boat, we went for dinner at eight p.m. I am not impressed by the Italian kitchen. I ordered the beef and expected a nice piece of meat, well cooked and with some trimmings. What I got amounted to three pieces of undercooked dead cow and some fancy vinegary, oily sauce lovingly prepared by a chimp.

While I’m on the subject of food, breakfast leaves a lot to be desired. The continental is easy enough being a bun with meat, cheese, cereal and so on. The English breakfast is virtually unrecognisable. How hard can it be to open a can of beans and make some toast? There are beans. Not baked as we know them. No. These are some delicate foreign exotic beans, plucked from beneath the hooves of stampeding llamas and lovingly soaked in olive oil and prepared by an overpaid egoist chef who believes he is the world authority on beans. I have news. Heinz nailed it years ago. Give up and accept it. I am also convinced the sausages are made of goat meat and the bacon leaves a lot to be desired. An egg is, thankfully, still an egg. Hard to mess that up but that doesn’t stop them trying. The eggs get fried in olive oil.

This ship is populated by Italians. They are noisy in the extreme and equally as impolite. At the buffet, they behaved like pigs at a trough, pushing others away and snatching food from the plates as opposed to simply taking what ever one wants in a reasonable and orderly fashion. Their children display a complete lack of discipline and are given to loud violent tantrums.

‘’Hamburger Paradise’’ isn’t. It is purgatory. The buffet is free for all and is a ‘free for all’. Beware stampeding Italians.

I have checked my personal indexes. Beer down, cocktails up. Tea down. Chocolate and cake both critically low.

St. Petersburg. Or Leningrad, as I like to call it.

clip_image010I never thought I would set foot in Russia. The old adversary. I spent eleven years ready to visit violence upon this country. Today, I came in peace. Lucky for them.
Just to prove it, here I am outside the Winter Palace unarmed and not being extremely dangerous.

Surprisingly, a pleasant place to be. I saw the Winter Palace and took a lot of pictures. The place reminded me of Budapest or Prague. People looked well fed, affluent and well dressed for the most part. Gasprom owns the town and has seriously polluted the river Neva. Have I seen the cultural high point of Russia? No shopping here as we had no visa and were reliant on the pre-arranged ship tour. We were driven round the city and herded like sheep through a souvenir emporium. Free vodka. The sun shone briefly. One of the forty days of Sunshine this city gets each year..

Dinner on board with a nice German couple, Dieter and Christine. We’d met them in the cocktail bar earlier and had a bit of a cocktail and whisky party with them. Great fun.





Last day.

A day aboard as we sail, homeward bound, to Copenhagen. We are due to get there at about midday tomorrow but are not to be disembarked until about quarter past one tomorrow afternoon. The weather is awful. Cold and windy. Spent most of the day relaxing in our cabin. Packed most of our gear. Gala night in the restaurant tonight. I wonder how many tee-shirts I’ll see there. There is always a dress code. I have tried to respect it. Not all of my fellow travellers do. Uncouth commoners, they should be sent from the restaurant and told to dress accordingly.
Dinner was followed by more free cocktails and a late night. Which may have been a wrong move as we had to get up early the next day.

We slept soundly.

Finally, as we arrived in Danish waters the following morning, the sun came out. Welcome home.


So, what did we learn?

Apart from the uncontrollable weather, which wasn’t good to us, the whole experience was rather good. Most of what the restaurant dished up was very good and the wine selection was great. The crew and cabin staff, bar staff and everyone that ran about fulfilling our needs were cheerful and well trained. The restaurant service was tip-top.

Days on board ship can be a bit boring but if you can find a watering hole and a little entertainment for the afternoon, you’ll be OK.

Get a balcony cabin. Living in the belly of the ship would be claustrophobic after a few days.

Would I do it again? Yes. I might choose a different company to sail with but the whole idea of cruising is to travel to as many lands as is possible in the run of a comparatively short time with as little effort as possible. Travelling while you sleep is an excellent way to do just that. We may not have seen much of the countries we visited but one can get the idea that one isn’t done with the place. For example, I may just have to go back to Russia and Estonia at a later date. There is more to see.

If you like being pampered to any degree, then try a cruise.

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Old Father Time..

Posted by Exile on September 28, 2014

I recently bought a watch. Not just any old watch, although it is just that. Old.

I spotted it on Ebay, which is not my favorite place to do my shopping but once in a while, I go and see what’s on offer. I do have a pocket watch and a chain. My wife bought the watch and very nice it is too. I bought an antique silver chain to hang it on and a couple of antique fobs for decoration. That is when I got the antique silver bug. Antique chain? Needs an antique watch. So the hunt was on. Looking for a working, large, solid silver watch took me to Ebay. I looked for a week.

Finally I found this Waltham in a silver Dennison case. All hallmarked and working, purportedly keeping good time.
I looked at the pictures for an age. I read the description several times.
Eventually, I hit the “buy it now” button and promptly paid the bill. £175.00. Turns out, I got a bargain.

I inspected The watch as soon as I had it in my hand. I disagreed with the seller’s description. He said it was hallmarked for London 1908. Wrong. It’s Birmingham 1912.
He said it weighed 125 grams. Wrong. It’s 136 grams.

The case is made by A.L.Dennison in Birmingham, England. The movement is from the Waltham American Watch company in Massachusetts.
According to the serial number on the movement, it was produced in 1909. I cleaned the case with a silver polishing cloth. It came up a treat.

The watch is key wound and the hands are set by opening the glass and gently turning the minute hand in the required direction until the right time is set. It keeps perfect time. I’ve had it running now for 36 hours and it hasn’t missed a beat. The sound of that old movement is wonderful.

I’ve married the watch to my double Albert chain. The watch at one end, the key at the other. The whole set up weighs a half pound.

Apparently, to keep the watch working well, one cannot simply put it away and leave it. This would actually damage the watch. The oil dries and gums up and stops the working parts from moving as they should. One should keep the watch running at all times, winding it once a day, every day.

It needs servicing too. There are various suggestions as to when or how often. Some say yearly, others say as long as two or three years between services. Servicing involves stripping the watch to pieces and washing all the individual parts in soapy water, then a cyanide solution and then alcohol. Then reassemble and oil all the moving parts. I won’t be doing that myself then, but I’ll find someone who can.

I find it fascinating that something so old can still function so well. I wonder how many watches that are bought today will still keep time in 100 years from now. With the right care, this watch may still be working then too. Which speaks volumes for the skill and method of our forefathers and their manufacturing abilities.

We live in throw away times. Buy something now and toss it away within ten years to replace it with the new version. Or even shorter when it comes to our electronics. I suppose that is what draws me to these old things. They have stood the test of time. They are still attractive by default and valuable beyond monetary value.

When I’m a thing of the past, this watch will be in my grandson’s possession. If he takes good care of it and appreciates it, it will probably outlast him too. I’ll take my time and tell him what he’s getting.

Hopefully, he will appreciate the history lesson.

N.B. Pictures nicked form Ebay…

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Pimping my Lawnmower

Posted by Exile on May 18, 2014

If there is one job I detest, it’s mowing the bloody lawn. If I had my way, I’d cover the garden with asphalt, but the missus thinks that grass is nice so I’m not allowed to do that. Something else I don’t like is the lawnmower. It’s been a good piece of kit but it has seen better days and frankly, it should be put out to grass. Pardon the pun. However, looking at it from a purely mechanical point of view, the motor is good, starts relatively easily and has been a good runner. The chassis and wheels though, are another kettle of fish. The rear wheels are wobbly to the extreme and the chassis is getting old and rusty. The choke lever went years ago and, to start the machine, I have to hold the choke open with a length of string.

I should replace it, but I’m a stubborn old git at the best of times so I decided to fix her up. The main problem was the wheels. They are mounted on stub axles and the chassis has weakened to the point where it can’t hold the wheels upright any more, causing them to rub on the frame and impede my forward momentum when mowing the bloody lawn. I decided to strengthen the mounting point by placing some big washers at either side of the frame where the axles fit and tighten up the locking nuts to squeeze the assembly together. Brilliant.
Well, it would have been brilliant, but the axles and retaining nuts were so rusty that in my attempt to loosen them, they both snapped. Cheap chinese bolts. Shite.

This forced me into the iShed to find replacement bolts, which I don’t have. I do have some ten millimeter stud though and some lightweight tubing that fitted through the wheels and would accommodate said studding. Hacksaw at the ready, then, I cut both tube and studding and fashioned new axles. Joy of joys, they fitted and the job was a good ‘un. The lawnmower travels easily now and with no more rubbing of wheels on chassis.

The blade wasn’t looking too good either so I removed it, since I was under the machine anyway, and took it to the iShed to grind a new edge on both ends of the blade. That went well and soon I had refitted it and bolted it neatly onto the drive shaft.

Having the thing the right way up now on the new wheels, I looked at the engine. The motor. Call it what you like. Very little oil on the dipstick. I have lawn mower oil somewhere. SAE30, if I remember rightly. I found it and topped up the crankcase. I fueled the thing while I was at it and filled her up with 95 octane.

I can’t really do anything about the choke yet. I need to design and build a lever affair that will allow me to connect a wire to both lever and choke lever on the carburettor, so my string will have to do for now.
I cleared up all my tools and put them away. I cleared up in the iShed. All I needed to do for my own satisfaction was to mow the lawn after all my efforts fixing up the mower.
I went back to said mower, adjusted my string choke, grabbed the throttle control and pulled on the starter cord.

It fired up immediately.  Success.

And just as I was ready to go… it started to rain.

I hate mowing the bloody lawn.

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