Posts

Welcome

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Welcome to Old Ireland.   My initial idea for this site was to cover only classic vehicles, but since classicireland.ie 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 https://www.real-classic.co.uk/ , 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 http://mnmotorcycle.com / (unfortunately now obsolete.  You will need to use the Wayback machine to find it).   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 http://geez

Witches and Other Strange Tales.

 I'm sure you will have heard of the witch trials that proliferated through Europe and America from medieval time onwards.  Perhaps the two most famous one were from Pendle (Yorkshire, 1612), and Salem ( Massachusetts, 1692/93).  Here in Northern Ireland we came late to all this persecution, our one trial starting from incidents in 1711.  I had heard of this trial, but not of the twist on it put on it in the story below.  This comes from  an old guide book to Northern Ireland called "Thank You Now", written by someone called Oswell Blakeston that I read recently.  I have already mentioned one other fact that I learned from it in a previous post about the First Car.  It seems to have been very well researched and written, but being from 1960 it is a little dated in places. Anyway, back to the witches.  Given some of the incidents being used as evidence against these women, the twist sounds very plausible to me.  The text starts part way through a chapter, so there are some

Bye, Bye Burgman

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 Well, that's it, the Burgman is gone.  Some new owner will hopefully now get some enjoyment out of it.  Since I am now officially ancient, and have a 'Smart Pass' that gets me free travel on both the buses, trains and even some ferries throughout Northern Ireland, I will do the environmentally friendly thing and use this for my commute to work.  This will be good, especially since it looks like I will always retain some degree of home working, so the Burgman would never have been putting in the mileage that it used to.  When/ if I make it to be 65, our government hands out a better version of this pass that gives free travel throughout the entire Island of Ireland, so by that age there may be a few more adventures opening up.  :-)  So I now have two bikes remaining, and I have to admit that the winds of change may still be sweeping through my garage.  The two bikes are my 1974 R75/6, and my 1961 Triumph 5TA.  The R75 goes Ok, but is a little rough around the edges since pr

The first Car?

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 You learn something every day.....hopefully.  I've been reading an old guide book to Northern Ireland called "Thank You Now", written by someone called Oswell Blakeston.  It was published in 1960. Towards the end of the book, one small sentence caught my eye, "Lisburn can claim another first for Ulster: a man called Rowan built the very first car to be put on the road in 1836".  Remember, the date for Stephenson's Rocket was 1829, so that would make this a very early attempt at a car. This warranted a quick Google search, but only one decent lead comes up:   Did Doagh man John beat Karl Benz by creating world's first car? - BelfastTelegraph.co.uk The basics of the story are that John Rowan built a steam powered vehicle 50 years before Benz and drove it around the streets of Belfast to show it working and to entice potential investors, but they could not see the potential.  Have a look at the Belfast Telegraph Article link above.  If true, this could be

Another Dirty Little Secret.

If you are really desperate, you can find the first of these undiscussed secrets here:    A Dirty Little Secret? (oldandireland.blogspot.com) .  There must be hundreds such undiscussed details that could effect our society. ____________________ OK, it's summer here in the northern hemisphere and it's hot out there.  So hot that wild fires have been breaking out all over the place.  A carelessly discarded ciggy butt caused a fire yesterday that burned down 10 houses!  Temperature records are being broken yet again, and the TV news channels would have you believe that venturing outside for more than a nanosecond at mid day will instantly vaporise you.  As someone who once (many years ago), worked in a desert where temperatures in the mid 40's centigrade were normal, and where you were expected to work in those temperatures, I find this hard to believe.  Granted it took a week or two to acclimatise to the desert, and unlike the humid conditions here the air was so dry that swe

Money for Nothing

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 It is difficult to avoid all the hype about crypto-currencies these days, even here in backwaters of the world like Northern Ireland.  My cynical nature means that I am never really likely to be a fan of these, but I'm not particularly knowledgeable about them, and a recent TV program both astounded me and piqued my interest into finding out just how flimsy their value really is.  So here's the disclaimer; this is all my opinion.  Feel free to have your own, and better yet if you disagree,  reply to this piece and show me where I am wrong.  I am not particularly against the companies mentioned here; I personally just choose to avoid them like the plague. The best known crypto is obviously Bitcoin, so I have restricted my scant research to it.  Life is too short to start trying to find differences between them. We all know how the real world economy works.  People make things, grow crops, write music or books, make movies, mine commodities like copper from the ground, or any on

The Generation Game.

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  Part of our solar Panels.  There are another 5 panels on the next section of the roof. Our solar panels have been in for a year now, so it's time for a quick review.  The table below shows some figures for the year. Some of these need a little explanation.  For example why we both export and import electricity it is easily explained.  Since the solar obviously does not generate after the sun goes down, but we still want to boil kettles and watch TV after dark, we still import electric.  Similarly, there are days of bloody awful weather, and the short winter days in this part of the world, which all lead to consumption without much generation.  Yet there are also good days where the amount we generate exceeds what we can consume. The total consumption figure is made up of the total generated plus the electricity we imported from the grid, less the amount we exported.  It is high because we are trying to use as much of the electric we generate as possible.  We do this because of th

Six Degrees of Separation - An Easter Story.....Sort of.

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  I love the contradictions in Irish/ Northern Irish history, and the way that these things twist and conjoin on occasion.   Try this one. Just before WW1, on Friday the 24 th , and Saturday the 25 th April 1914, the protestant (and supposedly loyalist) Ulster Volunteer Force smuggled an entire boat load of arms and ammunition into Larne.   Their goal was to fight against any attempt by the British government to force home rule (based in Dublin) on the province of Ulster.   Smaller boats distributed the arms to Donaghadee, and after this initial unloading the ship crossed Belfast Lough to Bangor to unload more weaponry.   The ships correct name was the Clyde Valley, and some enterprising soul bought it as a hollow wreck in the late 1960’s or early 1970’s and brought it to Carrickfergus where it remained tied up for years while funds were sought to restore it.   The fundraising failed and it was eventually scrapped.   I remember as a child being at a funfair on the waterfront in Carr

Replacing your car isn't easy these days.

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 My apologies for not posting anything new here for a while.  Retirements and Covid infections in work have made work crazy for the last month or two.  I have written this over the last 4 or 5 weeks every time that I had five minutes to spare so hopefully it will not read like some disjointed series of random thoughts. ____________________________________________________________ I mentioned here months ago that I had been forced to get rid of my old Vauxhall Astra.   I had started early on prepping it for it’s MOT, but discovered a few good sized rust patches.   One, for example was just beside the suspension mount under the front passenger wing.   Looking at this area I noticed a loose piece of the sealant used at the joint between the different panels there, but when I went to peel the loose sealant away, a large piece of the inner wing came away with it!   This and a few other patches made it seem unviable for a fix, so only one month before its 20 th anniversary, it went for scrap

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. (oldandireland.blogspot.com , 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. (oldandireland.blogspot.com) , 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

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 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:  https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Gbfnh1oVTk0 ).  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

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 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 (worldometers.info)    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 (www.racfoundation.org),  " 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.

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 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.

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  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?

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 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.

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 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 (oldandireland.blogspot.com)  in a story first published in Real Classic magazine.  Eventually. a few