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A peaceful Friday

Well, the plan was to go into Châteaubriant around lunchtime. But, you know, best made plans and all...

A few days ago, I did a check of Felicity (oil, water, blah blah) and decided to check the variateur, the springy metal disc thing that transmits power from the engine to the gearbox in a variable manner.

That's when I found this:

There's a sort of insulating shoe that is supposed to be on the metal protrusions, pretty much to stop that scraping from happening. Still, I've done just under 3,000km with it like that. But, I guess, that's why the guy gave me a three month guarantee, not a six month one. I trust him about as far as I could throw this piece, which given I'm a wimp is likely less than ten metres. Actually, on reflection, that's more than I trust the salesman.

I found a replacement part on a site called Nessycar that deals in sans permis parts. I ordered it Wednesday evening and, astonishingly, it was "sent" ten minutes later. TNT picked it up from them a little after that, and it arrived here at half one in the afternoon. It's not an exact part (you can see the insulating shoe is different) though I'm not surprised given mine may date from 1997. It's possible that clone parts are to be expected these days. Whatever, so long as it works.

It cost €138 with postage. I would imagine it'd be €60-70 for mechanic time. It doesn't actually look like a complicated thing to do, unbolt the old one and bolt on the new. Seems fairly accessible too, and it is keyed, so really shouldn't be a problem. You might be asking why, if I'm handy with a wrench, I don't just do it myself. Easy answer - the spring. It's damned tight (well, it needs to be) and somehow I'd have to open it up a little to fit the drive belt into it. I figure it's better to pay somebody (who may even have some sort of tool for doing this?) than balls it up myself.
Unfortunately, the mechanic I trust is booked up (probably because everybody else trusts him too), so I have a rendezvous for 2pm on Friday 27th.
Yes, another Friday. I have the remaining Fridays in March as holiday days. My outstanding holiday time has to be used up by the end of March (tax year or something).


Yeah, it's a bit annoying to have to spend ~€200 on something that shouldn't have happened, but I'll make this back since I'm no longer going to McDonald's or to vide greniers (too much risk of catching The Dreaded Plague). Hell, let's be honest, I've probably saved a third of that cost by not going to Châteaubriant today!
There is, of course, a reason why I didn't get in touch with the salesman...


So in the morning, to pass the time, I took the mower out for a spin on East Lawn (aka Picnic Lawn). Literally fifteen minutes and it was done. I listened to something by Xandria that was about four minutes long, and then The Holographic Principle by Epica that's a little over eleven minutes, so, yeah, a quarter hour.

Later in the day, after washing Felicity with a rag and some washing up liquid (!), when the taller grass was not drenched in dew, I tried mowing the West Lawn (aka Western Wilderness). It only reached a rather chilly 12.2°C, but with blazing sunshine it felt in the 20s. I shed my coat pretty quickly and was down to shirt and jumper by the time I finished.

The Western Weirdness was when I discovered that the highest setting of the mower is about a middle-setting of the old walk-behind, which makes it... challenging... to cut taller grass. To be honest, I'm not entirely sure how useful it would be here. Maybe once it's down, a few quicker passes will keep it in order? I wonder if there's anything I could adjust to raise it up... uh... about two inches! Probably not. It's a shame as I whipped through the other side in no time at all this morning. Some of it was cut with the other mower before passing over with the ride-on.
That said, the EDF make a right balls-up of the land when they brought a tractor down to savage some of the willow trees because they might have been a danger to the electric line. They have the right to maintain the line. They came out in, what was it, February? Left huge ruts everywhere, some parts are still unmowable even with the walk-behind. And a few months later? The line was ripped out and replaced with one from the other direction, rendering the entire exercise somewhat pointless. The ground needs to be rolled, but I don't happen to know anybody with a road roller.

I noted (the same when I mowed the driveway the other day) that sometimes the mower would lose power and start revving up and down, quite sharply. If this happened when the engine was heated up and under load, and typically resulted in numerous backfires. For this, I need to thank Mr. Carn, my motor mechanics teacher. An engine I was playing with in class had a similar problem, and he adjusted a spring on the... governor? I think that's what it was called. Forgive a lapse in memory, this event took place in 1988!
Anyway, looked for similar, adjusted it one notch (as things wear with age) and the engine ran more tranquilly.

Speaking of wearing with age... I kind of expected this:

Oh well, good excuse to come in and make lunch (at 6pm!).

I've ordered a replacement from Amazon, should be here Monday. Hope it fits!
That said, it was quite easy to dismount the mower attachment for cleaning. Five or six split pins and it can just be pulled (mostly) free - I didn't disconnect the drive cable because that looks a bit of a bugger to get back into place. At least it can swing out for cleaning and for threading on a new drive belt. I'll need to rebalance it, it's lower on the right than the left. That's a job for another day.
I believe the guy who used to own it would try to tip the entire thing up to clean the blades. Surely that's got to be more effort than pushing out some split pins?

So the sky is darkening as night approaches and I wonder what I did today. Then I remember, a bit of this:

And a bit of this:

However the ride-on behaves, it gave me the impetus to go and make a start on the grass and it has already quite literally saved hours if not potentially days. What you see above I got licked into shape last summer when mom was in hospital. It took a big chunk of my summer holiday. I've done around half of it in a matter of hours. Damn.


SARS-CoV-2 redux

Somebody please tell me that the UK's "solution" isn't have everybody catch it then it'll go away. Because that's fine if you have good health support, can pull strings to get into hospital while the plebs die, and are generally pretty fit.
What about everybody else? The ones who are old, already unwell, or with other health complications that mean they're pretty concerned how their body will cope?

At work yesterday, some of the girls were getting a bit freaked. Nine cases have just been declared in Bruz. That's near Rennes. Which is literally a stone's throw up the road. Cases in the Morbihan are not big worry, that's another département, might as well be another country given how insular some of the people around here can be (I once heard St. Malo, the other end of the same département, described as "pays étrangere" - the same freakin' département!). But Bruz? Whoa, too close!

Honestly, we're all going to get it. It's not an "if", it's a "when". I just hope I have the mild version, I really don't want to feel like I felt three months ago.


Well, Split and All The Bright Places are on Netflix, so that's the rest of my peaceful Friday sorted.


One final thing

The other day I saw this:
How is that possible on a line as long as mine? The connection is usually around 3.6 to 4 megabit. I've never seen it at 4.6 before, and this was during miserable weather!
It's nice to have connectivity - not just for Netflix, but also for my NetRadio. I'm happy that I persisted with the horrible build environment to make software for it, because it is quite often on, tuned to either Eagle 80s (sounds of the eighties from Guildford, UK) or PPN Radio (symphonic metal from Sacramento, USA). Right now I'm listening to PPNR.


Just been out to shut the shutters. It's getting dark earlier than expected because of some heavy clouds that have come in. I know if mom was alive, we'd absolutely have Gone South (Clisson) today. But for me that's a five hour drive so... Still, it was sunny, nice, warm, and I'm really glad I stayed home and didn't waste the day doing something stupid like going shopping.
I hope you had a good Friday too.



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David Pilling, 14th March 2020, 19:30
Impressive that you can mow grass - here it needs cutting but is far too wet.
Rick, 14th March 2020, 20:19
That's probably half my problem, but seeing as the grass was so high last week (holds fingers apart) and is this high this week (holds hands apart), if it gets left any longer it'll be...a big problem. 
It needs cut when it needs cut and the weather is obliging it to grow, not me to cut it. Grrr...
Steve Drain, 15th March 2020, 16:42
The UK's solution isn't have everybody catch it and then it will go away. 
Better now? ;-) 
I would not expect to say this of Johnson, but am rather impressed by the way things are being done at this point. 
Gavin Wraith, 15th March 2020, 18:45
From all I read in the papers coronavirus looks pretty mild compared to Yersinia Pestis (the plague of Justinian, 541AD, and the Black Death, 1348AD). As to self-isolation, what else have I been doing this last decade? In the past plagues were invariably explained as divine wrath - see the opening of the Iliad. Thunder in the mountains was the sound of the plague-arrows rattling in the quiver on Apollo's shoulders. We do not have to look far today for far worse sins than refusing a ransom for Chryseis.
Rick, 22nd March 2020, 19:46
Unfortunately, looking at how the engine is mounted in my car, there's a piece of plastic (the bit between the engine and the cabin) right beside the variateur. It looks like in order to change this thing, the engine may need to be moved a little to the left to make room. Well, that's way beyond something I can do. And probably a good 2 hours work for a competent mechanic. Still, better them than me! 
(only, with this virus lockdown, I have no idea when I'll be able to get it seen to - thank god I got the oil change done beforehand)

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