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Car woes

Monday morning it was zero. Give or take a degree. I decided to start my car a little early and let it run while I was making tea and such for work to let things warm up a little.

The little engine doesn't like the cold, so I give it some extra time to preheat. I decided that forty seconds ought to be enough for freezing.

So some more warming up.

Some more warming up.

The battery was flat. And the car wasn't running.

A quick run around to the cow shed to grab the charger and the extension lead.

Dumping some juice into the battery
Dumping some juice into the battery.

I made tea and got my meal ready. After about ten minutes, not only was I ready to go to work but it was time to go to work.

I put the key in the ignition, gave it forty seconds of preheat, turned the key...

...and it started right away.


I put the charger in the boot and went to work. I said to Caoimhe that if she starts without problems at work to get me home, I'll leave her on charge until nightfall.

With eighteen minutes of driving under my belt, I had some charge in the battery so that afternoon I gave it thirty seconds of preheat (it was about 9°C) and turned the key.

Just as I was about to say something rather impolite, the engine started. I got home, and put the battery on charge. After about ten minutes the charger said "FUL" (it only has three segments), but as I measured the terminals at 13.8V rather than the 12.4V of the battery, I left it hooked up until... 11pm (I got sidetracked with something).

She's started every time since. Not without difficulties in the cold, but not as bad as that. I think I need new glow plugs. I'll get that seen to when I'm on holiday (at the end of the month).

I think I had the glow plugs changed last year for this exact same reason. Is this an issue with these small engines or something? Maybe I'll see how much they cost and get two extra so if the car starts to act up in the cold I can swap in replacements myself.


Speaking of failing engines

Marte, the big mower, is kaput. I am quite used to it being hard to start. I usually hook up the battery charger and just crank until the battery is expired to try to get it started.

Only... it wasn't going to do that.

So as a last-ditch attempt to get some extra life out of Marte, I ordered this from Amazon.

Replacement carburettor kit
Replacement carburettor kit.

It's a cheap, probably Chinese, carburettor. A length of fuel pipe, fuel filter, fuel valve, and replacement air filter. Since it came with four crappy clips (count them - fuel tank, valve in, valve out, filter in, filter out, carb in - that's six!), I also bought a pack of tiny jubilee clips.

Here, look at the difference.

The two ways of holding the pipe secure
The two ways of holding the pipe secure.

The jubilee clips will hold it much better than those odd tension clips.


And the pièce de la résistance...

A 40Ah car battery
A 40Ah 340A car battery.

This battery was shockingly expensive - a smidgen under €80 - and it weighs rather more than one might expect given its size. I can hook it to the mower with jump leads to dump some decent current into the starter if the mower's little battery isn't up to cranking the engine properly any more.
It may also be suitable for my car should I need some power if engine problems recur. If it doesn't fit, no big, I can pop it into the boot and just bang on the starter using jump leads.

Actually, the battery was essentially free even though it cost €80.
Simple. I had planned to go to Châteaubriant today to get a battery (for car/mower) but since I found one in the local supermarket, not only have I saved the fuel of going to Big Town, I've probably also saved its cost in buying a bunch of stuff that's not strictly necessary (you know I'd go to Action, to the Vide Grenier place, and to Picard as well as Leclerc).

Yeah, I know. It's torturous logic, but it always used to work for mom so I'm going to make it work for me. ☺

And, no, they're not cheaper on Amazon, and frankly I'm not sure I'd trust ordering something like that from Amazon. It might be a generic own-brand battery from the Super U but it is made in the EU so there's that going for it.


Danew's crappy customer service

I paid €20 to send my Android portable to Danew a month ago, the 10th of February. I heard nothing. Last Sunday evening I checked their website to see if anything had advanced.

On Monday, they sent me a message to say that yes, my device had a malfunction and they would be sending me a dBook 110 as a replacement.

Chronopost left it on the doorstep (!) the next day.

And, yes, it was a dBook 110, not a 111 like I had.

110 spec111 spec
OSAndroid 9Android 12

In other words, "this machine is faulty so just send whatever is lying around".

Android 9? In 2024? It's something like five plus years old. To send out something with such an ancient version is irresponsible. The phone that I take to work with me runs Android 9 and one banking app has already abandoned it, the other has said an update available "soon" will no longer work on it.
(I take an old phone with me as it's not exactly nickable when it's that old)

When I pressed the power button, it come right up with the Android homescreen. No booting or anything.

Given this was clearly already 'set up', I checked for previous owner files and didn't see anything. In order to check that there were no oddities with restarting (like wanting some sort of unlocking), I powered down properly and restarted.
At which point I saw this.

Oh, no.
I interpret this as "your data is hosed".

There is only one possible option, to perform a full factory reset.

Which I do, because there's nothing else and anyway maybe I can get it to start up in English so these messages make sense?

It reboots, wipes data, reboots, and... basically freezes at the logo part. I had thought that it might have been corrupt flash, but a look at the last boot log (which took forever to step through) suggests that the recovery itself is broken. I mean, this isn't right, surely?

Lots of fail here.
Lots of fail here.

So, let's see if I have this right:

  • They sent me something rather inferior to what I had...
  • ...that managed to screw itself up on the first reboot...
  • ...and is screwed up enough that it can't even factory-reset itself.
Marvellous. What a complete shit-show.

I'm not going to spend another twenty euros to send this back. I think it's suitable only for the recycling bin.
I'll write a pointed email to Danew. I'll let you know if they bother to reply.


Bye-bye dam

The farmer neighbour had a guy with a backhoe digger clean out the drainage ditch along the fields. As usual, only as far as the pond. He seems to feel that it is completely okay to dump run-off from his field into what's left of the pond since the last time he did that in a thunderstorm (so the pond is more a swamp now, but there's wildlife enjoying it so...).
A part of the work, the guy cleared right up to the driveway. He probably thought he was doing me a favour, and he kind of was, but a casualty of this work was that the dam was grubbed up and removed.

I had planned to go out today and see what, if any, of the rocks that I collected remained. But... it rained yesterday evening. And all night. And all morning.

Some water
Some water.

Just a spot of water there. That torrent would likely have wiped out the dam anyway. And that's before had had built any land drains. Everything is so wet right now. The corner where the access lane bends around the field is underwater, it's pouring from the higher field to the lower one.

I'm not the lowest thing around here, despite what idiot neighbour might claim and this wasn't a flash flood, just a long rain, so everything is saturated but nothing is in flood state. Well, not here, at least.

Maybe later in the year I'll get a few breezeblocks and make a slightly more solid dam?


Anna's time has come

I went to the local vet today armed with a picture of Anna that I took this morning (in the rain, poor furball).
Anna and the rain
Anna and the Apocalypse Rain.

She's... what, nearly four now? The first mention of her on this blog is the 15th of August 2020, so back in the Covid year. I think it's well time to let her explore a little bit more of her world than walking around with me, or wandering off when I'm gardening and ending up on the roof...

In order to do this, she'll need vaccinations for lurgies the wild cats may have, plus her reproductive bits whipped out because, well, I don't want to deal with an endless supply of kittens. She'll also need to be chipped, though I'm not sure why as cats don't respect the sorts of controls that one can apply to dogs (plus they don't tend to have a history of trying to attack those noisy bipeds that wander around this planet sullying everything as they pass).
The date is the 26th of March. The time is 9am. And I'm supposed to bring her in with an empty stomach. So... yeah... exactly how am I supposed to round up a cat that does things strictly on her terms? (I don't hold Anna, if she decides she's had enough of that (after about two seconds), out come the claws)

My plan is to throw some crunchies into the cat box and let her find them in there.


Thankfully it seems that she doesn't remember being brought to me in a similar box.
So far so good. She is cautious and keeps grabbing a crunchy and coming out, to which I stroke her head and talk to her in my best attempt at a reassuring way. Eventually she went all the way in and stayed to finish up.

So I'll just keep giving her some crunchies in the box to try to get her set with the idea of crunchies in the box. On the day of her op, I'll see if she'll go in with only a couple of crunchies (sorry vet, she's too smart to go in for nothing at all) and when she does I'll slam the door shut, yell "Psych!" and she'll never trust me again.

Actually, she'll either mew pathetically, or turn into a possessed demon and try to bust her way out. Ellie was the mewing type, while Nou damn near broke his box apart until I carried him on my lap at which point he just sat and gave me the most perfect death glare I've ever received. But Anna won't be able to sit on my lap, I need to drive.
I will also need to wear my chainsaw gloves when handling cat.

Afterwards, it's the vet's problem if she busts out by going through the window.


This will cost €200 (exactly). This isn't a bad deal really, as sterlisation along is €180, the first round of vaccination is €62, and the chipping is €40... but an all in one deal offers it all for €200. For the extra twenty euros, it would be daft to say no (plus, having cats and dogs chipped is a legal obligation).
According to the internet, the price of having a female cat fixed is between €110 and €250, chipping is €65-75, and €75-80 for an all-round vaccination - so while the sterilisation is on the higher side, the rest isn't, and the all-in-one deal is better. Adding up the individual average costs gets €250-405.
So, €200 is okay.

Maybe afterwards she'll be a more human-friendly cat (that is to say, one that will tolerate stroking). Assuming, of course, she doesn't say "screw you" and leave at the first opportunity...


My gamble is working so far

In January last year, the company I work for gave me some PEE. No, not the yellow liquid, this is a profit participation thing. Through some weird calculation (status in company, time of presence), they allocated different amounts to everybody. I got about €250, but with a catch. I could take it right away and pay tax on it, or I could leave it in an account for five years and get my cash tax-free at the end.

I'm just going to guess that PEE means something like Employee Savings Portfolio? Whatever, there were various types of investment option ranging from the safe (offering something like 0.05% interest) which would literally make less than a euro over five years.

I took the highest risk option with estimated gains of around 30% and losses of around 20%. Which means I could make some money, or lose it all. The markets are always rather volatile.

Well, my current savings are €302 (which is €294 net). In other words, I've gained fifty on two hundred and fifty, or about twenty percent.
Not bad. ☺
Let's hope it keeps going in an upwardly mobile direction.

That's going the right direction
That's going the right direction.



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jgh, 9th March 2024, 21:55
I was watching Dr Who: The Pirate Planet a couple of days ago. And there's a hilarious scene paraphrased as: oo! a piece of candy. oo! a piece of candy. oo! a piece of candy. TRAP! 
Not once, but twice. The second guard, though, was genre wise, and doubled back and turned the tables. 
C Ferris, 10th March 2024, 18:53
You could ask your car repairer what the ohm resistance of your glow plugs should be.
David Pilling, 11th March 2024, 16:17
Battery anxiety without an electric car. Back in the dark ages on cold mornings our neighbour would put his spark plugs on the coal fire and then dash outside with them on a shovel. 
As you reach the target voltage the charge current drops means it takes a long time to fully charge. 
Rick, 11th March 2024, 19:42
Batteries only hold so much charge in them, and cranking a car (or mower...) takes a hell of a lot of current. 
There's a reason car batteries give their normal capacity (like 40Ah) and also say something like 300A. 
So one can dump massive amounts of current into the starter to crank the engine... 
...just don't expect to be able to do so for very long. 
Add to that, maybe the battery is getting on a bit, plus it was freezing... 

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