Welcome to Old Ireland.   My initial idea for this site was to cover only classic vehicles, but since was already taken and the best alternative I could find was this one, my thoughts for the site began to broaden.   A lot of the inspiration for this comes from the few magazines for which I have written articles.   Let’s get these mentioned early, because you should not be surprised to see a little of their influence here.   Real Classic is subscription only in print, but also has an excellent site at , where Frank, Rowena and a host of writers entertain and inspire.   Then there is Minnesota Motorcycle Monthly, formerly in print monthly, but now only on line at /.   MMM’s archives could keep you reading happily for months, and the like it or not truths told by Thomas Day (Geezer with a grudge: see his own site at ), should make everyone on two wheels pause for thought

Christmas Jokes 2021 - My apologies in advance for these :-)

  What’s an Elf’s favourite type of music at Christmas?    Wrap. What do you call an obnoxious reindeer?  Rude-olph. What’s the difference between the Christmas alphabet and the ordinary alphabet?  The Christmas alphabet has Noel. Why does Santa go down the chimney?  Because it soots him. What do you call a broke Santa?  Saint Nickle-less How do you get your Christmas tree ready for a house party?   You spruce it up. Why are Christmas trees so fond of the past?  Because the presents beneath them. Why can’t Christmas trees knit?  They have too many needles. What music should you play to your Christmas tree to keep it healthy?  Spruce Springsteen. Knock, knock.  Who’s there?  Mary.  Mary who?  Mary Christmas. Knock, knock.  Who’s there?  Olive.  Olive who?  Olive Christmastime, don’t you? Knock, knock.  Who’s there?  Honda.  Honda who?  Honda the first day of Christmas my true love gave to me…….. Knock, knock.  Who’s there?  Dexter.  Dexter who?  Dexter halls with

And then what?

 If you have been reading these ramblings for a while, you may have read here:  The Burning Question of Our Times. ( , that my conscience is giving me grief for my many years of burning petrol for fun.  you may even have seen this,  posted way back in September 2019:  Old Ireland, new technology. The search for reliable solar water heating. ( , where I was looking for a good alternative for a solar thermal  system that we had fitted on our roof. The tubes for it were made by a local company called Thermomax, and supposedly had a twenty year guarantee when we bought them.  They broke repeatedly and eventually catastrophically which meant that they were never likely to pay for themselves, and the guarantee turned out to be worth nothing because Thermomax went bankrupt.  Great. Because of my experience with those thermal tubes, there was no way that I was going to fit anything similar any time soon.  Still, I needed something to assuage

Happy Birthday Rock and Roll

 There are many candidates that might be considered as the very first rock 'n' roll record.  One of the most promising ones is Rocket 88 (watch it on Youtube here: ).  This birthday really happened in April of this year since the record was released then.  I am surprised that the 70th anniversary of its release (April 1951) didn't get more headlines. It is credited to Jackie Brenston and his Delta Cats, but in fact this was an alias for Ike Turner and his Kings of Rhythm.  A damn fine record that spawned a whole genre.  What's not to like?  It is certainly worth celebrating.  :-)

A Sad Milestone

 I occasionally look at the worldwide Corona statistics online, because coverage of what is going on with this virus globally is so little covered on our national TV stations.  It is about a week since I last looked and somewhere in that week we have crossed the five million deaths marker.  The stats came from here:  COVID Live Update: 247,557,359 Cases and 5,016,966 Deaths from the Coronavirus - Worldometer (    If you say that quickly it doesn't sound like much, so lets put it in perspective. The population of the troublesome little province that I live in was about 1.9 million at the 2021 census, so you could wipe every single living being in this whole place off the map and still not even be half way towards that total! The population in the republic was 4.995 million in 2020.  Yet again, if Dublin, Cork, Sligo, Galway, Limerick, etc. etc suddenly ceased to be, we would still not cover the carnage caused by Covid! You could wipe Los Angeles (3.967 million) and

The Burning Question of Our Times.

 For some time now I have been having real doubts about my own behaviour over the years.  I've been a petrol head for most of my life, and so involved with motorcycles for both transport and leisure that they are ingrained in my character. Yet as I watch the news of environmental disasters unfold on the telly virtually every evening, I have to wonder how much my own behaviour has contributed to this mess, and what I can do to help our planet. While it is obvious that my own individual environmental sins are an infinitesimally small part of the problem, that is no excuse for claiming that the problem is not mine.  According to the ONS (Office for National Statistics), there are almost 67 million people here in the UK.  As well as heating our homes, which is a major source of our pollution, a huge number of us have vehicles.  According to the RAC (,  " In Great Britain, there were  31.7 million cars  (82.1 per cent), 4.26 million LGVs (11 per cent), 0.48 mi

Not good enough.

 Just short of three years years ago, on the 21st August 2018, we bought a replacement lawnmower.  I know this, because for years I have been stuffing the receipts for anything that should have a guarantee into a desk drawer, but have rarely, if ever cleared them out again.  We bought a Flymo UltraGlide because our old Flymo, which was about 20 years old but still worked was so worn that there were numerous holes in its base as a result of which it wasn't hovering as well as it should.  It's reliability was what pushed us towards buying another Flymo. Flymo Ultra Glide Three years later, and on a dry Tuesday evening I got the 'new' Flymo out, but immediately something felt wrong.  The mower was running roughly.  Worse still was the pungent burning smell that quickly developed.  Needless to say I stopped the grass cutting and an investigation ensued. Taking the mower apart was time consuming since the majority of its fastenings are well hidden, especially after a few yea

MOT prep for modern cars.

  My wife's car (MX5) was up for MOT  recently so, well  in advance,  I checked it over.  The only usual wear and tear mechanical items that needed replaced were the rear brake pads.  There is nothing unusual in this, and it is an easy job but from previous experience it tends to have side effects in these cars (see later).  At the front there was a problem that I was not expecting. These cars come with Bilstein suspension as standard.  The rubber boots on the front ones had broken up, exposing the damper shafts to all the vile salt and corrosion that our winter roads provide.  In my humble opinion this should not happen on a ten year old car.  For example, the boots protecting the front suspension on my 47 year old BMW bike are still the original parts, and are still fine.  It is all down to the specification of the rubber in these parts as set by the factory.  But the boots had to be changed, especially given the price of replacement Bilstein suspension! This is not a particularl

German Engineering?

 As mentioned last time, when rebuilding the top end of my R75/6 the replacement heads that I had for it had a few problems. The heads are from an R75/7, so are a straight fit onto my bike because I already have modified the  valve gear to a later specification than that originally fitted to my series 6 bike.  I have no idea of the mileage these heads have covered, so they were stripped for inspection and cleaned before anything was done with them.  I have a small lever type clock gauge which I used to check the valve guides for wear.  These at least were well within tolerance, so we had a good start. Next the valves.  Both inlet valves looked good and a light lap in with fine paste produced a good seating surface.  The exhaust valves were a different story.  They appeared to have been seating on a knife edge thin ring around the valve (see the before and after picture below).  When running my finger nail across this, the nail actually clicked into a thin groove worn into the seat.  Wh

An old mistake.

 I have owned my BMW R75/6 for many, many years now and have always had something of a love/ hate relationship with it.  Get it going well on a long run and all is right with the world, but despite the image that BMW are keen to portray, it has been less than reliable over the years.  I must point out that not all of this unreliability has been BMW's fault.  For example, I have been through two Boyer electronic ignitions over the years, and as mentioned in the story link below, had an oiling fault caused a previous owners attempt to fit an oil pressure gauge (more on this particular fault shortly).  There has been one nagging issue that has been in this bike throughout though, and it bugs the hell out of me. The bike's engine has always made more noise than a bucket load of angry rattle snakes!   I have written about this elsewhere, including here:  Living with a 1974 BMW R75/6 (  in a story first published in Real Classic magazine.  Eventually. a few

Neighbours can be such an unthinking pain in the you know what!!

  I have recently had to spend a time and money to fix a really crap bit of work by my next door neighbour. Considering he is a qualified tradesman, who has worked in the building trade all his life, I really would have expected a better, neater job.  You could always see through the hedge between us, which wasn't a issue until they built an extension with great big bloody windows pointing straight at the boundary hedge.  Then a week or so ago, he removed a Berberis plant that was part of the hedge and put up a bit more trellis  and this really crap green stuff that looks like green tinsel to block the hole he had created in the hedge.  Incidentally, n otice the top piece of trellis in one of the pictures.  I had to make enough of this to go all round the garden to stop Tilly jumping the fences when she was younger, and the part he put up is identical to a piece that went missing a few years ago.  That in itself is interesting!   When putting up the trellis, he initially put the wo

Happy 125th Birthday...or perhaps not?

 I saw this link on the VMCC site but thought it was worth passing on.  The very first UK speeding ticket was handed out 125 years ago yesterday, (28th January).  The reckless driver who received it was breaking the 2mph speed limit!! Enjoy.

Donald J - A complete explanation of Trumpism in only 5 seconds


One thing leads to another.

Last summer, that wonderful locked down one, my wife parked her car in the road in front of our house while I was cutting the grass close by. Our neighbour across the street then clipped it while reversing out of her driveway leaving a small crease in the door of our MX5. Damn! Still, these things happen and the crease was neither very big or very deep. Yet when we got a few quotes some, from the bigger body shops that handle only insurance claims, were astronomical (over £1000 for that little ding!!), and they wanted to replace the whole door rather than to simply fix it. Fortunately, there is a local business that specialises in MX5’s (East Engineering) located further down the Ards Paninsula in a small industrial complex beside the Kirkistown race track, so we went to him. If you want to see his work, check out some of the videos on his Facebook page. East Engineering Mazda MX5 Parts - Home | Facebook If you look hard enough, you should still find one showing chassis repai

Bloody Amazon

Bloody Hell!! We have just had yet another delivery from Amazon for Rebecca at an address about 2 miles from here. There have been loads of them since just before Christmas. I have had 3 long, long talks to Amazon's customer services, we have personally delivered two parcels, and we have caught a load of their drivers before they left the scene, but this is the last time we are going to even try to set things right. From now on, if Amazon care to leave stuff on our doorstep that is not for us, we are going to keep it, as per their customer services instructions. The driver today said that the sat nav leads them here, and they deliver, despite neither the road name or the post code being correct. Amazon are obviously incapable of learning, and I am sick of trying to teach them.


Because the race was a victim of the current epidemic, the local BBC showed, Road, the documentary about Joey and Robert Dunlop and Robert’s sons in place of their North West 200 coverage.   You can see it on Iplayer for a few more days at: Having never been involved in racing, I did not know either of them, although I have met Joey on a few occasions.   The image of Joey as a quietly spoken, modest gentleman is exactly how he came across to me.   Back in the 80’s and early 90’s, we had a reasonably active motorcycle club.   For a few years during the off season for motorcycle racing, we organised a bus from Bangor to take us to Joey’s Bar in Ballymoney for the night.   By phoning in advance, we were able to arrange an evening when Joey could be there.   The first round of drink, for the whole busload of us was always on the house, and during the evening, the bar also provided a supper of sandwiches, cocktail sausages and all the usual