Sunday, 29 November 2009

Signs of Absolution....

... or "Diminished Responsibilities". We are blessed in this quiet corner of County Diplo with a generous smattering of fine churches and it seems that local pressure for the introduction of yet another rash of ill-conceived signage is endangering our enjoyment of one more. The approach over the causeway across the flood plane to the South of the village of Fotheringhay offers what has long been at the top of my list of the best church-scapes in the country - somewhat blighted now as can be seen here. The bridge we are being warned about is indeed narrow but by no means invisible so I simply do not appreciate the need for the sign. Over the years there have been accidents here but surely the bridge was not at fault, some people simply can't drive properly, have no concept of speed, no spacial awareness or have failed to think about what they are doing. Quite apart from aesthetic and environmental concerns over road signage I have another, far more serious beef - I believe we have an ever increasing bulk of the population who can't think for themselves and in producing all this guidance we are only encouraging them to switch off. There is an argument that we need to point out hazards to idiots but conversely it has to be said that the more we direct, the more we diminish responsibility. At the West end of Diploville there is a quiet primary school, just inside the 30mph speed limit, it goes without saying that when some half-sharp double glazing rep flattens a five year old who carelessly steps between parked cars at school-out time, his defence will be that he was "only doing 30 - that's the speed thing in'it ...". No comfort really to those scraping bits of bloodied grey flannel shorts and satchel off the tarmac. Quite obviously the driver's at fault even if " ..he just came from nowhere, jumped out he did..." - however the local authority have absolved him of all responsibility by telling him it's ok to drive at thirty.
I was interested to hear the discussions taking place on the wireless over the weekend around the decision to require parents accompanying children from a Cambridgeshire school on a short walk to some event to be CRB checked ! A few things'll result from this - volunteers with a criminal record may be deterred from helping, child molestators and other unsavories who've been clever enough not to have been caught will be happy, the school will be absolved of all responsibility because they've done their bit and the children will be at no more or less risk than they were visiting the un-CRB checked priest for tea and cakes after mass - marvelous. To go back to the narrow bridge - not many people have ever had a head-on collision with a closing speed of 60mph, many of those that have will not have survived, many that survived will have expressed surprise that their obligatory seat belt didn't stop them getting a bloodied nose, some will have sued the car manufacturer and no doubt some will have sued the local authority for not telling them that a 10ft wide bridge is not wide enough for two cars to pass. None of the above should concern us in the least - remove those who can't drive, read a map, change a wheel etc etc from the road, we could then get rid of all the signs, there'd be more pleasure in driving for those of us that can and we'd be able to enjoy some of our splendid countryside without bright red and yellow aluminium scars. MORE ACCOUNTABILITY !

Thursday, 26 November 2009


Not Alan Whicker's jet set, but that from an 18mm Kehin carb. Where to start ? Induction issues with the CB Special are well documented on these pages, and as part of the earlier attempts to get the creature to run properly a matching pair of carb refurb kits was ordered from the great David Silver Spares. The refurb kit includes a bundle of gaskets, o rings, float jet and needle, pilot jet, emulsion tube, main jet, jet needle, mixture screws etc etc - what it doesn't include is a needle jet for the jet needle to run in. What I have discovered is that the OEM Needle Jet Set from Honda (part no 16012-354-004) comprises both, crucial, matching parts - tolerances here are down to 1/100th mm so size matters. Needless to say the kit pictured above appears to be the only OEM part in the world and I need a pair !! I can think of a bunch of goodies that come in pairs and that's great but in the case of carbs for my project I'd be happier to run a single. In the same way that I really need two eyes to fully appreciate distance, scale, perspective and allow my brain to perform lightening quick calculations of on-coming vehicle speeds, my little twin needs two very clever, minutely detailed, perfectly machined, finely balanced, infinitely variable fuel metering and delivery instruments to enable it to run properly. It's not. MORE JET SETS !

Monday, 2 November 2009

IKB Top Up

It seems years since I've had a close brush with IKB, one is usually left heartened and impressed by the experience and of course it was only a few months ago that I trundled over the Firth of Forth and enjoyed a good deep metaphorical lung-full of his genius in the shape of the Forth Rail Bridge. A recent visit to Bristol demanded a couple of hours therapy in the old Great Western dry dock, drooling over the SS Great Britain. Couldn't resist this shot of a pair of 8" nuts retaining one of the main bearing journals of the gargantuan inverted V4 1000HP low pressure steam engine. The ship has just had a pile of money spent on her in an effort to halt corrosion - a false water level has been built in glass with a couple of inches of water slopping around on top giving the impression that the ship is afloat. A staircase takes you down "underwater" where a massive de-humidifying plant keeps the atmospheric humidity below 20% - in these dry conditions the salts absorbed into the old iron plates and ribs are prevented from causing any more damage - very trick and worthwhile.
This shot of the single screw merits inclusion as its design came about, like so many wonders, via the IKB Trial&Error department. Apparently the first design failed to cope with the power and staggering torque of the engine and had to be re-developed. Brunel's approach to problem solving was incredibly brave, confident, considered and ingenious but it's the sheer forcefulness of his efforts, his ability to actually get these projects off the ground, raise finance, cope with sceptics and just keep going in the face of immense problems that impress me most. I've bought a ticket for the SS GB and sent it to No 10 in the hope that Gordon might learn something about what we need to be doing in this country. MORE ENGINEERING !