b3ta.com user Greenbat
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Currently a machinist in Derby, making jet engine bits.
Big fan of Seth Lakeman
Hobbies include tinkering with any mechanical implement, and reading sci-fi. Have really crap internet access most of the time, which blocks most of the good bits. Arses.

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Best answers to questions:

» Grandparents

See if I've beat little sister to this...
Both our Grandads died within 6 weeks of each other last year. As with any death/funeral, it is amazing how much of the deceaseds life turns out to be any mix of awesome, frightening and fascinating.

First to go was Grandad on Dads side. Used to visit maybe an afternoon every year (lived 200 miles north, bit of a trek). When I was little we usually went to see his allotment, until he got too old for it. Used to keep chickens too. Me being a Derbyshire lad and him an Ashington coal miner meant we could barely understand each other, so often Dad had to translate. Just another old coal miner it seemed...

He started down one of the pits round Ashington aged 14. I forget which one. At 18 he joined the Northumberland Hussars, he was one of the last mounted cavalrymen. When horses were withdrawn from combat he retrained in the artillery. During WW2 he served in India on the northwwest frontier, and learned to ride camels in the maldives. He narrowly avoided being sent to Burma, just as his unit was moving someone realised that, because he'd volunteered before the war, he should have gone home months ago! Anyone who knows of what happened in Burma will appreciate what a lucky escape he had.
After the war, he was involved in cleaning up the concentration camps. This only came out when little sister went to Auschwitz as part of an A level history trip (the name of the one grandad helped clean up escapes me, began with a B I think). He told us how the Jewish woman were asked what things they needed. As well as food and medicine, they asked for lipstick. After years of being sub-human, being able to start looking nice for the allied soldiers was a huge help in getting back to a normal life.

Another tale comes second hand from Dad. When he (Dad) was little, the family went out for one of these newfangled Indian meals (this would have been sixties I think). So there they were, happily demolishing a curry, whilst an Indian family sat next to them were talking in their own tongue. Grandad was looking at them a bit odd, and kept doing so. Eventually he butted into their conversation, in the same language. Turned out they were discussing a battle that he had fought at. When he had explained all that they invited Grandad to join them, and were very pleased to meet someone who had fought for them, and remembered the language.

And finally...Grandad always loved horses. A few months before he died, his retirement home took him to a disabled riding school to have one last ride. There's an article here: www.journallive.co.uk/north-east-news/todays-news/2010/02/26/cavalryman-george-spowart-92-rides-for-last-time-61634-25917972/

If anyone involved is reading-thankyou. I just wish I'd got to know him better.
(Fri 3rd Jun 2011, 13:44, More)

» Protest!

Fuck the students, fund apprenticeships!
Little sister is at UCL, starting medicine. she was at those student demos, and watched as masked chaps from the socialist workers party turned up and proceeded to cause violence at Millbank.
It once again made me think of one of my pet annoyances, at which point I may sound a bit old and crusty. I'm actually 21.

I'm just coming to the end of a machinist apprenticeship. I've always loved engineering, so after doing A levels I decided I'd rather do this than go to uni. I was utterly fed up of learning, and didn't fancy the debts. Probably the best decision I ever made-I have a tidy sum saved up, a few old bikes to play with and regularly sit on my balcony eating a croissant.

Being in employment, I see a fair chunk of my salary disappear in tax. When you see it on your payslip, you tend to take more interest in how it is spent. Which is where the students come in...
Our education system is geared toward putting people through uni. Problem is, a lot of people aren't really uni material. They might not know what they want to do yet, or not have the academic ability. (The latter is by no means an insult, I work with loads of people who could never learn advanced maths/another language/ancient history, but give them some metal and a lathe, a file, a welder-practical ability like you wouldn't believe). Anyway, there are now a massive amount of former polytechnics catering for such people-courses with laughably low entry requirements, silly subjects or poor job prospects (I believe media studies graduates have a dreadful time getting a job, even with a decent degree). Added to this, uni is often seen as one massive party, learning being a minor inconvenience. Such as the girl I knew from school I met a few months back. "I'm going to study blah blah blah, whatever that is!"
Do I want to fund those students? Do I fuck! I don't mind funding engineers, doctors and people who, whatever their subject, have a genuine ability and love of it. I understand that helping such people means they get better jobs, and hence pay more tax etc, which is great. Unfortunately they seem to be treated the same as those who just want 3 years of alcohol and little to worry about. Don't even try and tell me a minimum pass in english studies will help anyone do anything.
(Thu 11th Nov 2010, 13:43, More)

» The best thing I've built

Pearoast with an update...
In 2007 I bought this ruin:



It's about half a 1970 BSA bantam. The only bits not in the picture are a knackerd chain and the logbook, the bodywork and engine having been stolen. Not a particularly inspiring bike, and not the best start for a first restoration-but I wanted a classic, and this was it.
There then followed 2 years of spannering, painting, fettling, buying bits, refettling, unspannering, buying more bits...pictures here: @N03/sets/72157614315853615/
"www.flickr.com/photos/[email protected]/sets/72157614315853615/

I decided to do it as a mini cafe racer, being as the engine is still quite popular for tuning and racing. This caused many headaches. Most of the modifications were done at least 3 times. The mudgaurd had to be redone when I realised the original held the forks stiff-after I tried replacing the bushes. The rearset footpegs were a huge headache too, it wasn't until I came to fit the chain I realised they were in the way. The seat took 3 months, made from some scrap steel, a camping roll mat, a tarts leather skirt and a load of fibreglass-man, the fumes! I carefully smoothed the ports in the engine, had the crank rebuilt and the engine bored to a whole 185cc (that and the tyres are the only bits I didn't do myself), rewired it...I shudder to think what it cost, if I try totting it up I give up after a grand.
I rebuilt the engine in January, and after fitting it into the frame it fired up pretty eagerly: www.flickr.com/photos/35741071@N03/4281076209/

By March I'd built this:



The second ride (once I'd found the knackered ignition coil) was incredible. The engine was incredibly wheezy and slow at first, but as it warmed up it woke up. Almost as though it was remembering what roads are for after 14 years sat in a shed. It is a great feeling to ride something you've built, nut and bolt upwards.

Since I posted this in Beautiful moments part 2, the bike has continued to evolve. Nice new halogen headlamp, and a couple of exhausts to make it less gobby, smoother and quicker. I've moved to Derby now, so straight throughs are a bit anti social. Sadly this year it's got a bit sidelined as I've been building a workshop, like a twit I insured it then havn't MOT'd it since June, so it's not ran for a bit. Just before laying it up I fitted a new mikuni carburettor, which made it much smoother. The tale will continue...
(Thu 11th Oct 2012, 13:22, More)

» Cars

My first bike, the mighty CG125
I got my first motorbike a couple of years back. I had began an apprenticeship in Derby, and found that a 3-4 hour commute (depending if central trains could be arsed to run trains) by bicycle and train was as expensive as it was painful. Seriously, its no wonder no-one uses public transport. Anyway, due to my youthful age and being the possessor of a penis, a car was waaay out the question insurance wise. So Dad very kindly loaned me 700 for a fairly tidy example of hondas finest L plater. One CBT course later, another loan from Dad for the 400 insurance bill and I picked it up from the garage. Just like my CBT-lights on dip beam, shoulder check, indicate, pull away, clutch in and lift the gear lever up to go into second, clutch out...WEEEEEERRIINGbrr said the engine as it drove absolutely nothing. So, first problem-the gearbox is different to the one I did CBT on.
Got home to find the documents I'd tucked under my jacket had fallen out, so hopped on my bicycle to find them, lying in the leaves on the pavement. Phew! Right, lets go have a play.
And what a wonderful ride it was. The little bike pulled like a tractor, propelling us to insanly high speeds-35, 40, 45...ooh, think I'll slow down there! There is nothing to match the terrified enjoyment of a first bike.
Think I'll have a rest now. Ah, a layby.
Brakes, down the gears, pull in, pull the front brake on to stop, oh bollocks I'm on my side. Turns out the front wheel locks up on gravel if you apply that brake. No damage to me or bike, so I eventually carried on.
Later that evening, Mum was looking at it and remembering her bikes. Then she stopped remembering her bikes, and started wondering why the tax was dated June 2007. Ooops! So, back in the shed it went until I had 15 for Mr Darling et al.

The next few months formed winter, which is a great introduction to bikes. Every morning I shivered my way to work in the dark, and every evening I shivered my way home in the dark, due to my working hours. When I saw the sun at weekends I feared I may turn to dust. One of the joys of L plating is you don't think about plod with ray guns, meaning the little CG got nailed everywhere, once my nerve could match the phenomenal power (ha ha).

Then in February, I was happily trundling along a dead straight bit of road in broad daylight, headlamp on and a hi vis I borrowed off Dad making me look like Jordans fake tan. Noticed a car coming towards me, indicating to his right. Saw him stop to let me past. Got within about 10 feet of him, and saw him begin to pull across my path. Then I saw the road about 10 inches from my face.

_19_00020

The bloke was very lucky to be old and frail, otherwise I'd have beaten him senseless. After the usual ambulance/plod etc, Dad trailered us home. I then had to pay 500 excess to get the bloody bike fixed, because I'd been foolish enough to get fully comp insurance. I'd only just paid Dad the previous loans too. Still, the scar on my elbow was worth 600, which went on my gorgeous Honda CB400/4 after I passed my test.
The 125 wasn't finished though. It emerged from the garage looking a bit scraped, but still had the familiar growl. I was over the moon, I had my bike back!
Not long after I passed my test, but kept the 125 whilst I saved up for a bigger bike. My girlfriend at the time wound up working in Bristol, after 6 weeks of which I began to miss her. The solution? Ride a severely battered 125 from Derbyshire, a good 350 mile round trip. Cost about 15 of petrol and the bike didn't miss a beat, despite being thrashed back.
The bike still refuses to die. I now use it as a winter hack, when salt and ice threaten to damage my lovely 400. I've doubled the mileage since I bought it, meaning it rattles and clatters like the tin man falling down the stairs. I got my Mum, Dad and little sister back on bikes with it too, which goes some way to excuse filling the yard with 3 more bikes...
(Sun 25th Apr 2010, 19:31, More)

» Beautiful Moments, Part Two

Well, I'll bore you with a classic motorcycle tale
In 2007 I bought this ruin:

farm4.static.flickr.com/3497/3307639822_a5b3f5cf82.jpg

It's about half a 1970 BSA bantam. The only bits not in the picture are a knackerd chain and the logbook, the bodywork and engine having been stolen. Not a particularly inspiring bike, and not the best start for a firtst restoration-but I wanted a classic, and this was it.
There then followed 2 years of spannering, painting, fettling, buying bits, refettling, unspannering, buying more bits...pictures here: www.flickr.com/photos/[email protected]/sets/72157614315853615/

I decided to do it as a mini cafe racer, being as the engine is still quite popular for tuning and racing. This caused many headaches. Most of the modifications were done at least 3 times. The mudgaurd had to be redone when I realised the original held the forks stiff-after I tried replacing the bushes. The rearset footpegs were a huge headache too, it wasn't until I came to fit the chain I realised they were in the way. The seat took 3 months, made from some scrap steel, a camping roll mat, a tarts leather skirt and a load of fibreglass-man, the fumes! I carefully smoothed the ports in the engine, had the crank rebuilt and the engine bored to a whole 185cc (that and the tyres are the only bits I didn't do myself), rewired it...I shudder to think what it cost, if I try totting it up I give up after a grand.
I rebuilt the engine in January, and after fitting it into the frame had beautiful moment No.1: www.flickr.com/photos/[email protected]/4281076209/

By March I'd built this:

farm5.static.flickr.com/4062/4448874226_96904b6288.jpg

The second ride (once I'd found the knackered ignition coil) was incredible. The engine was incredibly wheezy and slow at first, but as it warmed up it woke up. almost as though it was remembering what roads are for after 14 years sat in a shed. It is a great feeling to ride something you've built, nut and bolt upwards. So, the second beautiful moment.
The third came recently, on saturday in fact. I've had all manner of problems running it in, including seizures, bits falling off, random electrical problems and the carburation going far too rich overnight (lierally). Eventually I plucked up the courage to knock up an expansion chamber exhaust ( en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Expansion_chamber ), and after aquiring the necessary carburetor bits I got it set up. Beautiful moment 3 was getting this right, after lots of faffing about draining petrol out the carb, followed by short runs up and down the road. Suddenly, the bike goes like a stabbed rat! Purely by bodging up a new pipe from bits of scaffold tube machined down, I've got a brilliant balance of light weight and power. If I can persuade the electrics to work properly I might take it into work...
(Fri 6th Aug 2010, 0:23, More)
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