July 31, 2019

Great news!

My Kia Sportage broke down in June 2018 and was recovered here to the Dordogne almost exactly a year ago. Since then I have obtained a replacement lower mileage engine for it from San Sebastian in Spain which a local mechanic has fitted together with a host of new parts including three sets of remanufactured fuel injectors after the first two sets from a German supplier (they ‘replaced’ the first faulty set) were found to be total rubbish with false paperwork.

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It has been a tortuous (and expensive) process which came to a head a few weeks ago when the third good set of fuel injectors, which I sourced from Korea, were fitted and the engine was found to be still suffering from a smoking problem which my mechanic couldn’t fathom.

The original engine was destroyed when its Bosch high pressure fuel pump failed and flooded the engine with diesel fuel that entered the lubrication system, which was why the engine’s bearings ran, together with the fuel inlet and engine exhaust systems. I’m from the twin SU carburettor era so am far from knowledgeable on fuel injected engines but I suggested from what I’ve gleaned over the years that maybe the problem was to do with the engine’s diesel particulate filter (DPF).

This extracts most of the harmful particulates from the exhaust gases before the latter pass through the catalytic converter and are released into the atmosphere. Fuel is then fed into the DPF and when the exhaust gets hot enough, this ignites and burns at a high enough temperature to destroy the captured particulates.

What was happening was when the engine was started from cold and even run for a few minutes, the exhaust would be smoke free. However, if the car was then taken onto the road, after a few minutes driving it would start to emit increasing clouds of smoke which would then gradually disappear if the car was brought back to the workshop and allowed to stand idling for a few minutes.

My reasoning was that this could be explained as follows. I suggested that following the original incident, the DPF, which has a ceramic inner, still contained a certain volume of unburnt fuel residue. When the engine and exhaust were cool, the temperature was not high enough to start burning this off, but became high enough as the car was being driven, which is why the clouds of smoke began to be emitted. On returning to the workshop and allowing the engine to idle, the temperature then fell back to a level too low to burn the fuel off so the smoke clouds then gradually disappeared.

I’d been wanting to test this out for a week or so but was unable to do so because of other matters that I needed to attend to, up until today when I was able to initially take the car for a more extended drive on local country roads and subsequently on a longer high speed drive on the péage to Brive. It soon became evident while driving locally that the main smoking problem had disappeared after a few minutes of driving. However, it was still present when the engine was ‘gunned’, for hard acceleration for example, and when kicking down the auto gearbox, and also especially when climbing hills.

That’s when I decided to do the extended high speed drive to Brive, as I’d read that that’s how to ‘reset’ DPF filters. And I’m delighted to say that it worked. Initially the problem persisted but only for a very short while. After I’d managed to get the car up to 130/140 kmh for a few kilometres it had disappeared completely, so as far as I’m concerned, my Kia is back in action and not before time.

My mechanic will be giving everything a final once over during the next few days, and he’ll be delighted to see the back of the car after all this time. Once I get it back, probably early next week, I’ll have several things to deal with (the driver’s seatbelt has been nicked somehow so will have to be changed plus the engine bay will have to be thoroughly cleaned down just for starters) and then I’ll have to start thinking about car choices as I won’t really be able to justify keeping both the Kia and the C-Max. Pity really as both have their strong points, but such is life I suppose.

July 26, 2019

Floral finale

The additional moss that I ordered from the UK to finish off my new hanging baskets arrived a few days ago but as we were still in the middle of a run of 40 degrees Celsius hot days, I put it to one side until the temperature moderated a bit.

The days have been so hot that it’s been almost impossible to do anything and even though it’s been around 10 degrees cooler today with some thunderstorms and rain, the inside of my house is still like an oven. This is the problem at this time of year of having 50 cm thick stone walls.

I still didn’t manage to get much done again, but this time because of the rain, and it wasn’t until early evening that I decided that I might as well finish putting together the final three floral baskets and hanging them up. Chantal, my neighbour, planted all the flowers up to now but as she’s away for a few days, it was up to me to complete the job. I hope that she’ll approve when she gets back 😉

It didn’t take long to finish the three baskets off and although I took a few shots of them afterwards, it was a bit too late and the evening was a bit dull. But anyway, here are a couple showing the two I’ve hung on the south-facing bedroom end and the one on the north-east corner.

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The two on the bedroom end will get more sun so the plants we selected for them are more sun-resistant eg geraniums than those on the north-east corner, which include the last of the three fuschias we bought. I’ve just been over to feed Chantal’s cat and let her in for the night (she stayed out last night as it was still very warm) and as I returned light rain began to fall.

It’s been a problem keeping all my plants alive and watered during the punishing heat of the past days and I hope I won’t now face the problem of them all being washed away…

July 23, 2019

Just my luck

I’m trying to sort out all of the outstanding items on my ‘to-do’ list so I can get away to the UK in my Savannah and know that I don’t have any unwelcome surprises waiting for me when I return home again. At the top of the list was moving my washing machine from the kitchen into the bathroom. This became more urgent after I installed a new dishwasher in the place where the washing machine had been leaving the latter standing afterwards in the middle of the room and my having to walk around it the whole time.

Basically, the plumbing involved was quite simple. I installed a ‘stéatite’ hot water tank in the bathroom when I came to France. It has worked very well over the past seven years and I would only replace it if, for example, I installed a new central heating system in my house. The system has a cold water inlet and a hot water outlet and as I wanted to place the washing machine under the hot water tank, all I needed to do was break into the cold water supply and fit a washing machine valve and then break into the bathroom waste system to allow the washing machine to pump out its used water.

The latter, though fiddly, wasn’t as difficult as it might be because of a special unit that’s attached to the underside of the hot water tank, as shown in the following two pictures.

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It’s called a ‘Groupe de Sécurité’ and it has several functions. The first, and probably the most important, is that it acts as a pressure relief valve should the thermostat malfunction and the water in the tank start to boil. The second is to act as a drain-off valve should it be necessary to evacuate the whole system and the third is to act as an expansion relief valve because when the water in the tank is heated, it expands.

If all of the hot taps are closed, the extra volume needs somewhere to go, and the answer is out through this valve. What you then need is a method of disposing of the excess water and this is done by incorporating a ‘syphon-type’ arrangement in the system that’s connected into the bathroom’s waste outlet. So, although a bit fiddly as I said above, tapping into this gives a way of connecting the washing machine outlet to the waste system.

Now I’ve said many times on My Trike that French plumbing supplies are appallingly bad and I stick to that assertion. Every plumbing job that I’ve done in France, and without being immodest as I’ve got quite a lot of experience that goes back to when I was at school and university and I’m pretty good, has taken at least twice as long as it need have and required at least twice the effort compared to a similar job in the UK. The reason is that French plumbing fittings leak.

I’ve got several brass stop cocks that I’ve fitted over time to my toilet inlet all of which have given up turning off after a couple of years. I’ve had many cone-type fittings that have leaked after being properly installed and threaded ones that would not, just not, give a seal. As I’ll go on to mention, this happened yet again with this job.

And due to the lousy standard design, all of the toilets that I’ve come across in France, including the brand new ones that I saw in Périgueux hospital, leak. Not over the floor, but because the flushing system uses a bell-type arrangement that is lifted to allow water into the flush pipe, and because that system soon becomes affected by hard water deposits, water starts to flow by into the toilet bowl eventually leaving unsightly, thick yellow lines of lime scale all around it. And yes, I’ve got that problem too.

But the first thing I found when I went to weigh this job up was that my old ‘Groupe de Sécurité’ that I installed seven years ago had developed a fault. Yes, you’ve guessed it, it was leaking. It wasn’t stopping the ‘excess’ water which was flowing constantly into the waste system. The leak was only a trickle but it was noticeable and as all water here is metered, it plus the leaking toilet (which I have to turn off every time at the stop cock until I can deal with it) soon add up to a sizeable unnecessary extra on your water bill.

So as well as making the mods for the washing machine I first had to replace the old ‘Groupe de Sécurité’. I bought a new one yesterday from Brico Depot so that was the first job this morning. I wondered if I’d be able to do the swap without draining the hot water system and decided that so long as I shut off all of the valves associated with it, I’d probably be able to make the switch without losing much water. I allowed the water to cool overnight just in case I got sprayed in the process, but as I’d anticipated, the switch to the new ‘Groupe de Sécurité’ pretty much went without a hitch.

Good show, you’re probably thinking, that’s another chore off the list. Ah, no. This is France don’t forget. What did I say about the quality of French plumbing supplies? Yup, you’ve guessed it, the new unit leaks more than the old one that I took off so it’ll have to come off again and be taken back for either replacement or refund. You can imagine that after my recent experiences with my mower belt saga, I’m furious about this.

I’m getting so fed up with always having to do a job two or three times before it’s right solely because of the lousy quality of the products that you buy over here. I can never remember having this problem in the UK – quite the reverse actually.

I eventually got the job done, but not before having to throw away the first washing machine valve that I bought because (a) it leaked and (b) I couldn’t get a seal on the thread that screwed it into the ‘T’ that I’d painstakingly inserted into the cold feed, and bought another better one that, thanks goodness, I managed to find locally. Here’s a shot of the washing machine in its new position.

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It’s only ‘temporary’ as the bathroom will be completely revamped with a walk-in shower etc as part of my redevelopment plans, but it’ll do for now. Tomorrow it’ll all become totally disorganised again when I take out the faulty new ‘Groupe de Sécurité’ but at least the washing machine is now where I wanted it to be even if I have to keep turning off the cold feed to the hot water system to stop the ruddy constant trickle of clean, fresh water down into the waste pipe 😐

July 17, 2019

Operation Flowerpower – phase 2

Like all well-planned campaigns, Operation Flowerpower has now moved from ground to aerial operations. We’ve had to call up some reinforcements to replace the handful of troops who have been lost along the way (three plants have succumbed during phase 1) but nevertheless have been able to move on swiftly to the planned next phase. Which is hanging baskets.

I had to source some from the UK because I wanted metal ones that seem to be impossible to obtain here in France. I also sourced some live Welsh moss to line them with as the only ‘moss’ you can get over here is that nasty plastic artificial stuff, proving the old saw once again that when it comes to gardening, the Brits leave the French streets behind.

I put the hanging baskets up yesterday, once again in scorching hot sunshine, so this morning Chantal, my next door neighbour, and I were up and out with the lark to yet again head for the local nursery. We had to go early because she has a busy day today and as before, she wants to be the one to place the plants into position 🙂

Unfortunately, because we’re late in the season, our choice of plants was rather limited. Usually in the UK, we used to make our hanging baskets right at the beginning of the spring and now in mid-July, plants like Fuschias are all a bit ‘leggy’. But never mind, better late than never.

I ordered six hanging baskets but decided to put up only five (two on the front of the house, two on the south side where the bedrooms are and one on the corner of the north end) and the first thing we found is that I ordered much too little moss. I’ve already ordered some more, which will take about a week to arrive, so today we only managed to finish off two hanging baskets and for now I’ve had to put the plants that are waiting in reserve somewhere safe so they’ll be ready to go in as soon as the moss arrives.

In the meantime here are a few shots showing the result with the two new hanging baskets on the front of my house.

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I love them. They’re every bit is nice as I hoped they would be and now I’ll have to work hard to keep them in tip-top shape while it’s so hot. The problems will, of course, mainly arise when I eventually manage to get away to the UK, but Chantal has already said that she’ll look after them for me while I’m gone. And I’m sure she will because she’s already put so much effort into getting the whole display looking so gorgeous, bless her.

July 15, 2019

Got cracking with racking

I’ve missed my final preferred window to fly to the UK but if I’m ever going to be able to, I’ve still got to get a few things organised before I can go. After being delayed for several weeks waiting for a new cutting belt that actually fitted my mower and having got my plant pots sorted out, I’ve at last got my garden back into some kind of shape. Better than it’s ever been actually, although that’s not saying a lot!

I’ve now got to plumb in my washing machine that used to be where my new dishwasher now is, but is still standing in the middle of my kitchen. It has to be moved into my bathroom and until that’s done I can’t do any ‘big’ washes. That isn’t too much of a drawback while it’s so hot and not many clothes are needed but it will become increasingly so once the weather begins to cool.

The other outstanding job is to sort out my ‘atelier’. When I first came here just over seven years ago I brought with me several boxes of tools and other things from my garage back in England which I just dumped on the floor of my ‘atelier’ or ‘cave’. And that’s where most of them have stayed. Over time more stuff has been added until I reached the point a short while ago where I could hardly get in there, let alone move around without climbing and tripping over things.

So I had to do something. The problem was that I’ve never had any storage in there so putting in some racking would go a long way towards helping to solve the problem. And that’s why I placed an order for some on the internet a couple of weeks or so ago. The system that I went for was manufactured by Deuba in Germany and although ‘on sale’, seemed to be remarkably cheap for what it was.

My father wasn’t the wisest man in the world but during his lifetime, he passed a lot of useful advice on to me. One of these was that ‘things are cheap for a reason’ and on this occasion he couldn’t have been proven more right.

Two boxes containing the racking kits that I’d ordered arrived at the end of last week and I’d been waiting for an opportunity to start putting them together, which came yesterday. Here are some shots of what they contained.

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The parts of the racks are made out of very flimsy metal that slot together. The second shot above shows how the horizontal rails have two tabs on each end that slot into two corresponding loops on the vertical pieces.

In theory this should be a very straightforward process and it would be if the metal parts were up to the job. However, they’ve been manufactured from metal of the absolute minimum thickness for the finished racks to take the advertised weight (45kg per hardboard shelf) without collapsing and that means that the tabs are very flimsy and can be easily bent just by finger pressure.

So you can imagine that the stresses involved in lining up some quite long pieces of metal, holding them at right-angles to each other and then inserting the tabs end up causing the tabs to bend really easily, with the result that although you can get the tabs to enter the loops, it’s the Devil’s own job to get them to pass right through them cleanly.

Almost every time the tabs enter the loops on the ‘inside’ of the vertical pieces, as shown in the second shot above, but when you apply pressure to them, they bend so the leading edges of the tabs end up on the ‘outside’. You don’t want that, of course, because it would mean that the tabs aren’t properly locked in place.

Yesterday was another very hot day and as there wasn’t enough space to work inside my atelier anyway, I ended up doing the assembly of the first rack in my living room. It took an absolute age of sweat and tears plus a little blood but to be fair, the end result wasn’t that bad, especially for the money.

As the following picture shows, just having the one rack in place has already yielded the results that I’m looking for, namely that the floor is becoming clear so I can move around and stuff is going onto the shelves in some kind of order.

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I ordered two twin-packs so I’ll end up with four shelving racks like the one shown above. I think that that’ll solve my problem, especially if I load up my car with items that are rubbish, broken or just that I don’t need anymore (like some old MYRO stuff) and take them to the ‘déchetterie’. All I have to do is steel myself to put the final three together, so I’d better get a move on, have a quick bite to eat and get cracking again.

July 13, 2019

A pretty good week

Taken all round, a very satisfactory one. One of the main things was that I at last got my mower working again after a break of several weeks. Things can get pretty much out of hand down here at this time of year, which is what had happened after my mower cutter belt snapped and I had problems getting a replacement of the right length. The grass and weeds were knee-high by the time I managed to get hold of one yesterday and apart from making the place look a mess, the state of the garden also detracted mightily from the plants that my neighbour, Chantal, had helped me to fill the plant pots with that I’d brought with me from England.

Thankfully and to my great relief, that situation was resolved yesterday. It was hot, sweaty work running the mower all round cutting the grass and the weeds back to ground level. I had to go over some of the really tough weeds several times before they gave in but eventually got the job done by the early evening after several hours work. It was too late to take any shots of the results by then but here are some that I took this morning as the sun was climbing higher.

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It was a huge relief getting the place back into some kind of shape and it was also great to see the full effect of the newly-filled plant pots at last.

But I also had other reasons to be pleased. After updating my Savannah’s avionics, I put the items that I no longer required up for sale on Le Bon Coin. France doesn’t officially change over to 8.33 kHz radios until January 1st 2021 so there’s still some time left during which the old radios and the gear associated with them will retain some value. ‘Old’ radios can’t be used in new installations but they are, of course, still of interest to anyone whose radio has gone on the blink, for example. After that date they will be worthless in Western Europe so I wanted to rid myself of the old kit ASAP.

I put my old monojack headsets up for sale together with my old Icom A3E radio and the Alphatec intercom that interfaced with it and here are the pictures of them that I posted on the internet.

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The headsets and intercom were snapped up by a single buyer within minutes of my posting the ads and I sent those off to the buyer, who said he was delighted with them when he received them, several days ago.

That left just my old Icom radio and I was pleased when an interested potential buyer came back yesterday evening and confirmed that he’d like to buy it. He paid by Paypal and I got that off to him today, so that was all my old kit cleared.

I spoke to my good friend in England this morning, on whose field I want to land when I next fly to the UK in my Savannah. This week end was the final window for me to be there before he leaves to spend the rest of the summer in his house in Cyprus and I had to confirm that I won’t be able to make it until after he and his wife have left. That was sad as I haven’t seen them since my illness and I really wanted to meet up before they left as they were both so supportive at that time.

But never mind, there are some things that are beyond our control and hopefully we’ll be able to get together when they return in early September. I still plan to fly to the UK though, but it’ll probably be in August as it was the last time I did so, in 2016. I might also be able to land on his field as his brother should still be around, but that’ll depend on the state of the grass and whether it’s been cut for hay. I guess, as usual, we’ll have to wait and see 😉

July 12, 2019

More French bizarreness

I didn’t have a ride-on mower in the UK. I didn’t need one – all of the lawns on our estate except for private back garden ones were managed and I only needed a Flymo to keep my back lawn in trim – so I don’t know if what I’m about to talk about also applies in the UK. Somehow I doubt it.

The cutting belt on my Jonsered mower, which is made by Husqvarna, snapped several weeks ago and it’s been the Devil’s only job to get hold of a replacement. The belts for sale on the internet with the part reference shown in my mower’s user manual are all, without exception, of totally the wrong length so I don’t know what’s going on there. The trouble is that that leaves you in the tricky position of having to order the belt just by length alone which then opens up all sorts of cans of worms, as I’ve found.

The problem wasn’t helped by my making a mistake when I measured the length of the old one. I did a quick measuring job and wrote the external length down as 2255mm. The trouble was that when I placed my initial internet orders I misread this as 2235mm.

This meant that when the first order arrived the belts were bound to be too short. However, it was even worse than that because when I measured them they were a further 20mm or so shorter than what I’d ordered. This came to light after I’d fitted one which I thought was very tight to get on and which burnt out and snapped in a cloud of smoke within minutes.

Unfortunately, what I hadn’t realised was that when I’d been forcing the belt over the pulleys, it had also bent a tag of metal that keeps the belt aligned with the tensioning pulley when it’s slack and this, of course, damaged the next belt that I fitted and would have done the same with all subsequent belts until I removed the cutting deck, found the problem and corrected it.

By now I was getting wiser. I remeasured the old belt and found that actually it was 2260mm long and so I began to proceed on the path of redemption, or so I thought. Not a bit of it, as I’ll explain. A more careful internet search revealed that what I was looking for was a 4L890, as the following picture shows.

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What could be easier, you ask, than to find a supplier selling such a belt, place an order, wait for it to arrive, fit it and get mowing. I thought the same but it was then that my problems really began to start.

All of the 4L890 belts that I’ve ordered from several suppliers have been too short in the order of 3cm or so and I’ve ended up having to pay for them to go back for refund. Why this should be so I do not know, but the difference between the length shown on their web sites and the actual lengths has been pretty consistent from all of them.

There was one exception that arrived last Friday and my hopes rose, only to be dashed again after it too self-destructed after a few minutes’ use, probably because after waiting so long to receive it, as deliveries here take at least 2-4 days from date of order, my grass/weeds were so long and the quality of the belt was so poor, that it just wasn’t up to the job.

I complained vociferously to one supplier from whom I’d ordered two belts that were supposed to be of the right length but in fact were too short and they sent me a replacement of the right length off their own bat. Unfortunately, when I received it I hadn’t discovered the bent metal tag so it also only lasted a few minutes before being destroyed.

But aha, I thought, at least I’ve now got a supplier who knows what length belt I need. But I was being too hasty. I ordered two more from them, which arrived today, and surprise surprise, they were also too short.

I sent them an email earlier as nobody ever, or hardly ever, answers phone numbers given on internet sites here, telling them how they’d cocked up yet again, that I wasn’t prepared to return the belts at my expense but that I wanted the problem resolved. They replied saying that they will do so and I now wait yet again to see what action they will take.

But in the meantime I had to do something as my garden was getting into a worse and worse state. I went down to my local garden products man in Thonac last week in the hope of getting a belt locally that I could check before I paid for it, knowing that I’d end up paying through the nose but being prepared to pay anything by that time. However, he was closed as his wife had just had a baby so that’s when I placed my last internet order that arrived today. But I knew he’d be open today so went back and explained my problem to him.

He blithely said that sure, he had a 4L890 in stock and voilà, here it is. I said whoa, slow down, let me measure it, and he gave me his steel rule. And guess what… the label said that it was 2260mm long, but in fact to his surprise (but not mine) it was only 2240mm, so also too short!

He scratched his head and said that all he could do was offer me a 4L900 which would be too long, but I said OK, let’s have a look at it. Here’s the label on the packaging showing quite clearly that it should be 2286mm long, so too long by 26mm making it totally unsuitable for my machine.

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But when I measured it, again guess what… it was actually 2260mm long, just the length that I was looking for, so I bought it. It cost three times what I’d been paying for belts on the internet but if I’d got it originally, I’d not be anything like out of pocket to the extent that I am having paid to send so many back. He was sceptical that it would work on my machine and kindly offered to take it back so long as after fitting it I didn’t start the machine up.

But he needn’t have worried. It went straight on and this afternoon I’ve got my whole garden back into shape using it totally without incident, so that was a relief. But how bizarre that all of these so-called specialist internet suppliers (and even my local man) apparently have no idea that what they are selling in no way conforms to the descriptions that they are providing to their customers.

My concern now is that I’m going to end up with a whole lot of belts all of the correct dimensions that I’ll end up storing for years in my garden shed as from my experience to date with my machine, the one I’ve now fitted will last for years so long as I don’t abuse it. Probably longer, in fact, than I’ll be around to do so 😉

July 12, 2019

More lighting stuff

My next door neighbour has, or rather had, a motion detecting security light over her patio outside her door. It had stopped working so she asked me if I’d take a look at it.

Well, it seems whoever had fitted it had left the wires coming out of the wall exposed and going downwards as they entered the side of the light. The result was that on some rainy night, water had run down the wires into the light itself so when the passive detected movement on the patio and the light came on, it self destructed.

I gave her the bad news the other day and she said (very optimistically) that if she popped down to les Briconautes and bought another one for 10€ or so, would I put it up for her? I said that of course I would but that she shouldn’t be too hasty.

Her old light was one of those awful square ones on a thin metal bracket with a motion detector below the light itself the bulb of which was one of those thin tubular very high wattage ones. So not only did it look as though it should be outside some factory somewhere, but it was also very much old technology.

I said that things have moved on a bit and she now had two alternatives. She could either go for a solar powered light that would have the advantage of coming on every night at low intensity but then switching to high intensity if it detected movement, or she could stay with a mains operated one which would be LED and consume much less power than her old one.

I also said that although I hadn’t tried them myself, I’d heard of LED bulbs that contain movement detectors and that maybe we should look at those together before making too quick a decision.

OK, so that’s what I did a few days ago. I found that there are indeed such bulbs so you can in theory turn any light into a security light at not a very great cost. But what caught my eye was one I found on Amazon that is even more sophisticated in a way that particularly appealed to me.

The bulb is sold under the name ‘Sengled’ and it’s special characteristic is that not only does it detect movement and switch itself on if left in passive mode, but it can also be used as a normal bulb if you switch it on twice.

I loved this idea because my lights have always had ‘ordinary’ bulbs in them so unless I switch them on before I go out, if I arrive home late I have to find my way to my door in the dark and then fumble to unlock it.

Having movement detecting bulbs would be a godsend! So I told Chantal, my neighbour to hold on while I bought three bulbs to replace the ‘ordinary’ ones in the outside lights on the front of my house and then saw how they performed. Here are a couple of shots of the bulbs that I’m talking about.

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Well, I’m sad to say that my initial findings were disappointing. My outside lights, front and rear, are of a lantern design with thick glass. The glass evidently prevented the motion detectors built into the bulbs from functioning so I had no ‘security light’ feature, just the ‘normal bulb’ operating mode.

I found this out after we’d returned from our restaurant night-out yesterday but before calling it a night I had to look into things a little bit more. This I did by removing the glass from the forward and side-facing sections of one of the lights at which time the bulb functioned perfectly.

The last thing I did was to grab some left-over ULM windscreen plastic that I have in my atelier and quickly make up some replacement plastic panels for the glass that I’d removed and guess what. Even placing a 1mm thick transparent plastic barrier around the bulb that I’d chosen to experiment with prevented it from detecting any movement.

I continued with my experiments today. I was able to because I found that unlike ‘real’ security lights, these bulbs detect movement and keep functioning during daylight. I suppose that it is a bit too much to expect them to work in a fully sophisticated way for what they cost (approx 7€ each inc delivery) and it’s no big deal really as even if they do switch on during the day, being LED they burn very little electricity during the 90seconds that they remain on. And you don’t keep marching up and down making them do so anyway, do you.

My idea was that if you take into account the ‘detection angle’ of the detector built into the head of the bulb, you needn’t remove the whole plastic sections in the forward and side-facing elements of the light if you could drill a suitable size hole of the right diameter in exactly the right place in each face. And sure enough, it worked. Here are some shots of the finished articles.

First, a couple of shots with all three lights switched on. The lights aren’t quite as bright in reality as the photographs appear to show them to be, but the level of illumination is ample for my purposes.

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Now a couple of shots of one of the lights showing the holes that I drilled in the forward and side-facing plastic panels that I replaced the glass with. I left the glass in the two rear ones, by the way.

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I’m very pleased with the results that more than meet my expectations. The motion detection feature works just as I wanted it to and it’ll be a boon in the future when I get out of my car and make my way to my door with the lights switching on in turn as I do.

The only downside is the holes in the panels. The lights are under the eaves of my house so water ingress shouldn’t be a problem and even if any does get in, there are drain holes in the bottoms of the lights to let it out.

Insects may be more of a problem because we have a heck of a lot of them down here and they all love (a) light and (b) holes. But when I took the lights apart the bottoms were full of dead insects anyway, so I doubt that they’ll pose too much of a problem. But I’ll just have to wait and see 😉

July 5, 2019

Another job off the list

Shortly after I got here, in October 2012 actually, I installed some outside lights on the front of my house. As well as making it easier to find my way to the door when I arrive home in darkness, they also considerably enhanced its appearance.

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As there was a light bulb in a bare fitting hanging down outside the door on the back of my house, I thought that it would be a good idea to put lights up there as well and bought two more of the same design with that in mind. Well, I have to confess to my deep shame that they have never been put up and the pair of them have remained on the floor of my ‘atelier’ ever since – nearly seven years.

As I recently ordered some racking to go in there, I thought that I’d better make some sort of effort to get what I could off the floor and these two lights were therefore leading candidates. So today I took on the job of putting them up.

Quite honestly, I couldn’t really have chosen a worse day. The temperature here reached around 36 degrees Celsius this afternoon and although I started before it began to get really hot (OK, as usual I started late…) I was still working outside in the peak sun between 4.00 and 5.00 pm.

It was scorching and I was dripping, and although the job itself was slow, as most are in an old house like mine with walls not being flat etc, it became even slower because of my need to keep stopping and taking on water. But I got the job done in the end and here are a few shots after I’d finished.

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I’d forgotten that these lights have screw-in bulb fittings and I only had one spare such bulb. I’ll buy some more tomorrow and with both bulbs in, I’ll take some more shots in the evening as dusk approaches.

I like them a lot and I’m glad that I at last got around to doing the job after all this time. I’ve got some more house-appearance enhancements up my sleeve that I’ll be getting onto very shortly, but for now I’ll keep those under wraps 😉