Sunday, 27 February 2011
That's another week slipped by with no progress on the BMW. Part of the problem is that what I really ought to be doing is pulling the engine apart and sorting that out, but I've got in such a mess that I don't have enough clear bench space to work on it. Not in itself a major problem, except that I still seem to be rushed off my feet with other things that need to be done and can't find the time to tidy up benches..
Monday, 14 February 2011
"Events conspire against...". Three words that you hear a lot, and like many turns of phrase it trips lightly over the cognitive faculties without attracting much in the way of attention. Once you start to think about it though, it's a little odd, subscribing to the theory that motorcycles are animistic is in some way that's difficult to define, actually quite rational. I suppose that, if you have any experience of motorcycles then it's easy to see how the conclusion can be reached, even if you don't agree with the conclusion. To imply that events are capable of getting together and plotting against you requires that you believe that events are possessed of consciousness and capable of rational thought. Or even irrational thought.
After reading that, it probably won't come as a great surprise to you that I've once again done bugger all of a BMW related nature, and that I was going to open this by complaining that "events had conspired..." , and so on. Then I gave it a little thought, and realised that events are not actually capable of conspiring, and given that, just why do we have that expression?
A conspiracy of events seems to get the blame in one of two situations, if you'll allow a sweeping generalisation. Firstly, there's what I'd call the football match scenario, "Events conspired to deny Wigan Town (or who ever) a victory". Well, as far as I can see, that's not a conspiracy, because the event that resulted in losing, was playing a team that were better prepared than them, and a single event, endowed with malign sentience or not, isn't a conspiracy. Essentially, that's a euphemism for "They were crap".
You might feel that's a bit harsh, but it's a professional football match, these people are paid to train for the eventuality of having to play a football match. Another cliche, "You make your own luck" which seems to be used when "analysing" the outcome of football matches, would seem to imply, that where "events conspired" to cause a team to lose, the event in question was failing to make enough luck, or train adequately as it's sometimes referred to.
Then again., I know nothing, and care less, about football, so I may be wildly wrong about that, but I suspect the analogy holds up.
The second situation where events are likely to be ascribed the ability to gang up on a person, is where a plan has been made, but matters requiring immediate attention crop up and deny the opportunity to carry out the carefully laid plan. I frequently mention the things that I have to do and the things that I want to do, but this week, I felt the need to invent a new, and as yet un-named, category of "things". I've yet to whittle the description down to something pithy, so for now the tentative title of this category of things is "crap that has no immediate bearing on what goes on in the workshop, but requires the use of the workshop to sort out". As I said, somewhat lacking in pith.
While I was in the middle of some "things I have to do" stuff, and being vaguely aware that there was another batch of the same lurking off to stage left, I was informed that I'd need to have two of those done in fairly short order due to various people leaving the country for a while. that news meant that I was going to be in a low level panic for quite a while longer than I had imagined I would. So, you can imagine that the surprising news that Torquemada (my Volvo) was in rather urgent need of an MOT came as bit of a shock. Not quite as much of a shock as when it returned from failing the test due to three things. Firstly my inability to sort out whatever the hell it was that was wrong with the washers, secondly the MOT tester's inability to push a horn button, and finally, that same inept twat's having ripped the hand brake lever off.
Seriously. I've driven the car for two years now and I'm not adverse to using the handbrake to slide the back of the car around in limited spaces, and being somewhat reluctant to spend money, I never hold the car on a hill by slipping the clutch, I always use the hand brake. So how come I've never managed to rip it off?
Having welded that back up, and refitted all the trim, established that the horn does work, I spent some time digging around the screen washer system to discover that what Volvo fondly imagine to be a filter in the filler neck of the washer bottle is in fact some sort of 5 star hotel for algae. The bottle looked full, because the algae was blocking the screen, allowing a dribble through into the bottle so the washers worked for about two squirts, once a month.
As you can imagine, that ate into the time I was supposed to be using to do "things that I have to do", but at the same time, in some sort of mental equivalent of Newton's Cradle, it triggered the thought in Mr's Bridges head that the Go Kart of Spinal Destruction was probably due for an MOT too, and indeed, it wasn't that far off. Which is when the subject of brakes got mentioned.
So, I duly purchased a set of pads for the bolide, and took it to the workshop on Saturday, having got myself moving the half hour earlier that changing the pads would take, leaving me time to box off one of the "things I have to do" and make the box for the fuses and relays for the BMW.
As you might imagine, it didn't work out that way. The Go Kart turned out to be in need of some discs as well, and instead of flinging my arms in the air, leaving it alone and getting some new discs, I set about skimming the existing ones. Which took far too long and consumed most of the day.
The hour or so that I had left after reassembling the Go Kart, ended up being consumed by dragging out my Reliant axle so that Dave could fit it in his trike, because his is making strange noises and no longer seems willing to rotate as freely as it once did. Dave's trike being his sole means of transport, and him having a job where his presence of a Monday morning seemed advisable.
Which was about where the phrase "events conspired against..." started to spring to mind.
With a little space between me and the events in question, I've had time to reflect on it and when you think it through, it's not so much a case of events huddling over a bottle of cheap red wine in a smoke filled room and plotting my downfall, as it's a case of my being incapable of organising a drinking party in a beer factory with a cash budget of ten thousand pounds.
That probably goes some way towards explaining my dislike of notional deadlines too....
Sunday, 6 February 2011
While this week has been an entirely progress free one as far as the BMW is concerned, that's only because I've been slaving over a hot frame in an effort to render it fit for powder coating. Basically, the frame has been the subject of a degree of attention, and had a few brackets modified here and there. Since the thing is due to be powder coated ivory through the good offices of Reality Motorworks and it had, and indeed still has, a few places that would let the side down badly, I've spent most of the week shaping metal.
Mostly that's consisted of making welds that are in places that aren't supposed to look welded sit flush with the surrounding material, and removing the last part of some of the headstock bracing that needed replacing. Since the yokes are also due to visit Reality, I also gave the lower one a bit of a seeing to, smoothing out the casting marks and relieving the welds on the head light mounting bracket. I was struck by the thought that the first time I'd done something like that, I was probably 14 years old and I, and indeed quite a lot of the rest of the world, had yet to make the acquaintance of the 4" angle grinder.
All of that sort of work used to be done with files and emery cloth. Unlike some of the people I know, I possess a reasonable selection of files and don't mind using them, but I still came to realisation that I was struggling to do some areas of the job with a grinder, that would be much easier to do with the more traditional manually operated tools. Somewhere down the line, we seem to have lost sight of the fact that power tools are only there to make some aspects of the job easier. There is a tendency to assume that a simple hand tool is simple to operate effectively, but that's a lot like assuming that a simple baseball bat must be simple to operate properly. It's fairly obvious that despite the simplicity of the tools the job requires, being a competent baseball player is a lot more complex than just buying those simple tools.
If there was such a thing as a power operated base ball bat, it wouldn't make us all into Joe DiMaggio over night, as all "power operated" means is that it takes the effort out, the operator is still required to judge the path of the ball and position the bat accordingly. In other words provide the talent and skill.
Without wanting to go and wade through several dictionaries to check, I've always rather assumed that a talent was something you were born with, but that a skill was something you learnt. We speak of people being "naturally talented" and if you serve an apprenticeship and learn a trade, you become a skilled workman, so in this context the assumption is at least logical. The reason for labouring that particular point is that there is a distinction between being talented and being skilled, and something like using a file or a hacksaw is a skill and not a talent.