You can’t always get what you want

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Wrightbus

I have worked for Wrights for over nine years now and the company is now battling for survival. In a well documented “leak” to Sky News, the company have now appointed Deloitte to find them an investor who is willing to put 30 million pound into the business to allow it to continue trading. Things are going to get very interesting over the next month and certainly a local DUP politician claims that there are only two weeks left to save the company. I have read some of the stuff on social media, which from what I can see are unsubstantiated, and it all looks like it’s going to get very messy. So I sit here contemplating my next adventure, at almost 59 I am probably well past my sell by date. I am going to have to look at my options. I would love to share more about the situation at Wrights but they are currently my employer so I would be foolish to publish anything, but I think it may be cathartic once this chapter comes to a conclusion. Watch this space!

The Boat

After an extended absence from Norfolk, this month I made my return. I was disappointed to see Martha in such bad shape but to be honest I had neglected her. So I have spent most of the month cleaning her up and bringing her back up to standard

A nice beer after working in temperatures exceeding 35c

I have now got her more or less ready for the boat safety certificate, which is like a MOT test, except that it lasts three years and is nowhere near as stringent. The BSC is to be carried out in a fortnights time and I apart for a little bit of fettling it should be about ready after one more visit next week. I am looking forward to spending more time on the broads again.

Orient

Our season tickets have arrived and our first game on the 3rd of August, roll on!

Here’s hoping that my next blog isn’t a view of the demise of Wrightbus from a London perspective

Message ends————————————————————————–va

Afloat at last!

Boat, Radio

As said last time Martha finally passed her Boat Safety Test, so last weekend me and Lesley went off to Stalham to do so finishing touches and take the boat out. We spent the day on the moorings and decided to go out on the Sunday, it was Alfs first time out the boat so we didn’t want to go too far. Sunday morning we set of for Barton about half an hours run, we needed to fill the water tank and there is a hose at Barton Turf, the boat went off without a problem, and we moored at Barton Turf for a little while and watched the world go by. Then we set off for Gays Staithe which is on the other side of Barton Broad, we got to Gays Staithe and found it full so we decided to go back to the moorings. As we were entering Barton Broad I noticed the engine change pitch and could smell burning, not a good thing when you are afloat. I quickly got the boat out of the main channel and put the mudweight down. The engine temperature was at 110c and boiling. On closer inspection we had blown a hose, after letting it all cool down I saw that the hose on the thermostat housing had split. I managed to cut off the split part of the hose and get it to fit back on, all in all I made a very good temporary repair and we managed to get back to Broadsedge in one piece.

We spent the rest of the weekend up there and came back early on Monday morning.

The morse is coming on in leaps and bounds, the more you do it the easier it gets. I have now had 110 CW contacts since January. I am enjoying the Morse mode, you tend to exchange much more information than on phone/ssb and people will answer you when you call CQ, which I find rarely happens on SSB.

I now have all the pieces I need to get the Mag Loop working and I aim to concentrate on this next week, I just have to modify the mast a little, hopefully I should have it working by the weekend.

I’ll update this next week.

Message ends————————————————————va

CQ 2 metres

Alf, Boat, Radio

After a number of failed attempts to use the radio clubs excellent antenna array for the RSGB’s UKAC tuesda evening contests I managed to get my radio to tune on the 2 metre beam on Tuesday night. My son came along on Tuesday night to assist me and to rescue me in the event that I end up electrocuting myself. It’s handy having young blood about, I got Pat to wind up the mast, good lad.

We kicked off at 8pm sharp and got stuck in straight away working a few of the regulars including a local ham who was portable in Kent (M0DXR). As time went on the contacts started drying up and with hindsight I think my strategy was wrong. When the next one comes up I will stake out on a frequency and just call, and then with about an hour to go I will move around an pounce on a few, last Tuesday I did it the opposite way around and while I made 31 contacts, I know I could have done better. I am still happy with my results, I managed three stations more than 400 miles away with Germany the best at 483 miles.

2014-04-01 23.58.52

 

Left: a map of my result showing Isle of Man, Scotland and Germany all over 400 miles.

 

 

 

 

In other news I picked up my new company car on Thursday, it is a Volkswagen Passat estate. In all the cars I’ve had over the years I’ve never had a VW, so we’ll see how it works out.

2014-04-03 15.14.51

 

 

Left: my new motor

 

 

 

After three weeks of trying to sort out a fuel leak on the boat I took a run up to Norfolk today to try and get to the bottom of it. As you may remember I fitted a new sedimenter a few weeks ago and have suffered leaks ever since. After changing fuel lines, lift pump unions etc etc I still had a leak. This morning I climbed into the engine bay and removed the sedimenter, I then stripped it down and noticed that I had twisted one of the main seals on the the original installation. I was quite chuffed as I was adamant that this was the cause of the leak. I fitted it all back together, bled the system, ran the boat up and went off to play ball with Alf. I came back 30 minutes later and I could smell diesel again, on inspection it was leaking again. By now I was getting angry, I then removed the sedimenter with the fuel lines attached and watched to see if I could see where the leak was coming from, lo and behold I was rewarded pretty sharpish as I saw a stream running down the body, looking very closely I could see a hairline crack. So there it is, the brand new part was faulty, I will get this one replaced and we’ll be back on track again.

2014-04-05 13.26.38

 

Left: the offending sedimenter

 

 

 

 

 

 

Till next time—————————————————————–va

Spring is here at last

Boat, Radio

I’m pretty upbeat as I write this, it is amazing what a slight change in the weather can do.

I managed to get a fair bit of radio in this week and even broke my record for number of CW QSO’s in one day, this is now eight. For the last couple of months I have set myself a target to push my use of morse, and that is to have an average of one qso per day for the whole month. I have failed miserably over the past couple of months, however for March I am bang smack on target. I am also setting myself a target of 100 different countries, although I feel this will take forever, presently I have worked 13 different countries on the key.

I have decided to give the CW classes a miss now after thinking long and hard about it. Its not that I think I’m above the lessons, I just find that I’m picking up more by being on the radio, and at 13-15 wpm I can hold my own by being selective with my qso’s. All this means is that I only call people if I am comfortable with their sending speed on their CQ call or previous over, so far I haven’t had a problem.

I have also got back into the UKAC VHF contests, I worked the 432mhz contest last Tuesday, and while my qso’s were in single figures (9), I did manage two 200 mile + contacts on 70cms, this is quite an achievement for my set up. I aim to improve my previous best standing (2012) of 170th.

A trip to the boat this weekend saw me finally complete my fuel line repairs and apart from a minor fuel leak on the fuel sedimenter she is just about ready for the boat safety certificate.

Onwards and upwards!

Message ends———————————————————-va

 

First Transatlantic CW QSO

Alf, Boat, Radio

Another week flies by with not too much going on. However, on Thursday I returned to morse classes, the main reason for this was to return the trophy I won last year. My badge will stay on there but this year it will be passed on to another newcomer to morse. I enjoyed the class to a certain extent but felt a bit of frostiness, I’m not sure if it was because I haven’t been for a while, or whether it is because I am now on the air, but that said there was a certain amount of stand offishness. I would add though this was not from the chief instructor Andy who has helped me immensely over the past year or so. I am in two minds whether or not to continue with the classes, I will probably go this week and see how the land lies but I have never seen the point in putting up this sort of thing. I do benefit from the classes and could always do with constructive criticism.

Friday night I went to Harlow radio club, it was pretty full and very lively, about ten o’clock I sat with Bob G0AGO while he worked a couple of US stations on the key, I was writing down what was being recieved. Bob worked a couple of stations and then disappeared to get a cup of coffee. I sat at the radio, mainly to block anyone taking over the set to work SSB :). I was havingf a listen either side of the QRP calling frequency on 20 metres and heard an american station calling (K2JT), I decided I’d go back to him, but wasn’t expecting much as the rig was only set to 2 watts max output. This is very low power for those not familiar with radio. Sure enough the chap came straight back to me, I was amazed as the radio was set so low, the power needle hardly moved on the ATU when transmitting. We had a QSO, the guy was called Joe and he was a Viet Nam veteran living outside New York. To say I was chuffed would be an understatement, 5500kms on 2 watts! the only downside was that this was on the club callsign (G6UT).

Me and the wife went to the boat on Saturday for the weekend. The aim was to prep the boat for the boat safety check she now needs. Once again the boat gods were against me. First off I fitted the new fuel sedimenter and fuel lines bled the system up and started the boat. I left her running and went off to play ball with Alf, after a few minutes I could hear Martha’s engine hunting and and racing and knew that the fuel system had some air in it, sure enough she eventually cut out and died. So it was a case of climbing back down into the engine bay to bleed the air out of the system. After some time I realised that the air was not coming out and air must be entering the system through a pipe or connection. Eventually I found that the pipe I made to the lift pump was letting air in and try as I may I couldn’t rectify this, so this would have to be a job for next week after I get some more parts.

In the afternoon in between covering myself in Diesel, we took Alf to the beach, I was wondering what he would make of it as the last time I took him he was unimpressed and also afraid of water. He was great this time and had a splash while playing ball.

The next job was to get the heating working, yeah you guessed it, this also would not play ball. I ended up stripping the heating down to try to get it to fire, but alas all I got was smoke and cold air. This dampened my spirits as the predicted temperature for Saturday night was -2C. After a chat we made the decision to stay and would probably get some heat from the oven once Lesley puts the dinner on. Well we managed to warm the boat a little but the oven was no replacement for the diesel heater. I turned in about 10pm with the dog and had one of the worst nights I’ve ever had on the boat. Firstly there was a fair amount of diesel fumes laying around since my problems earlier in the day, this played havoc with my throat and left me with coughing bouts. Then there was the cold, I tried to open the cabin window to let some fresh air in about 2 am and it was frozen shut with ice on the inside of the windows. And finally, this was Alf’s first time overnight on the boaty and he would not settle which of course disturbed me and Lesley.

I didn’t want to get up Sunday morning, not because I was comfortable as I wasn’t, but because it was bleeding cold. Luckily Lesley got up and braved the cold and put the kettle on. I got up after and cooked us both cheese on toast, this is proper boat food!

I decided to set the radio up (FT-897) and see if I could work anything, while setting the radio up I accidentally knocked the heater on and believe or not it fired first time. At least we had some heat for the morning. I stayed on the radio for an hour and managed to work a few stations including an american station on 15 metres SSB. I do like my FT-897.

Alf is now languishing upstairs as I type this totally dead to the world, he won’t return to normal till Tuesday, poor sods knackered.

Message ends——————————————————————–va

Life’s good

Boat, Buses, Work

Things are starting to settle down now with the 32 new Borisbuses, there are still a few teething problems to sort out but it is certainly going the right way. The lost mileage has been decreasing all week and the amount of defects being reported to us overnight is also going down. I reckon another week or so and it will be business as usual, then we just have to wait for the next 32 in September. I have to visit Holloway tomorrow to meet some Dutchmen and get one of the last niggling problems sorted out.

LT39 at North Wembley

LT39 at North Wembley

 

LT39 having its battery pack repaired at North Wembley

 

 

 

 

 

 

In other news things are looking good, the missus responded to one of those ads on the telly for claiming back miss sold PPI. She had a real result, a five figure settlement. This has meant that she is now able to reduce her weekly working hours by 2 days which will mean a massive change for her and, to a certain extent, me.

For the first time in a little while there has been a noticeable change in the recovery of my broken leg and I actually feel that it is getting better.

I have a couple of challenges over the next month:

Firstly I am going to build a new radio shack, I moved out of my shed to the loft about 5 years ago, but after my accident it has dawned on me how how far out of reach my radios can be. My current shed was built by me and my son about 12 years ago, its build from breeze blocks and unfortunately I never made the foundations deep enough so its starting to lean.

The new shed/shack will have nice deep footings but will be timber built, which will make it easier for me to make the finish look good

Secondly my Boat Martha needs a boat safety certificate, a sort of MOT for boats. I wont have too much to get her through this year, its still pretty nerveracking all the same.