A Special Builder's Notes


The Special Builder's Breakfast Club

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18 March 2023

The Analogy...

... is that of the Piper L4 in which I used to float around the skies, and the Piper Archer. The former had only an oil pressure gauge (if the needle moved you had an engine) and an airspeed indicator with similar properties. If both moved together, you had an aeroplane. When I went to re-validate my PPL, I was presented with a Piper Archer, whose cockpit was awash with instruments, radio's and nav aids, most of which I saw as adding unnecessary complication to the simple business of flying. Too many needles.

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And that's how I'm beginning to feel about the wiring of the Special. Having gone down the road of electronic ignition, electronically controlled water pump, and electric assist steering, these three items alone have enough wire between them to recreate the Apollo moon landing mission, and I keep finding other bits and pieces needing power - the washer bottle being the latest addition to the list.

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To get some idea of what was involved, I assembled the dashboard. In the glove compartment to the right of the steering column, are the water pump and steering control boxes - the lid will hide these most of the time as they're pretty well set-and-forget items. There's a tiny LED with each unit which I shall mount discreetly, and these will alert me to malfunctions and busted never-exceed parameters.

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Occasionally, I get work commissioned by local clergy. Where I live in East Anglia, the countryside is awash with medieval churches. Varying in size from minute chapel-like buildings to huge structures that you might expect to see in a flourishing market town, they are often in strangely remote locations, disconnected from any village or hamlet. In the past, this isolation allowed the theft of ornaments and valuables from the churches to proliferate. One such local church had a number of poppy heads removed from the ends of the pews. They turned up 5 years later on eBay in America. A sharp-eyed parishioner got onto the authorities and they were eventually returned. I was tasked with reinstating them. That was a fun job as they'd been damaged substantially both in their removal and in their subsequent travels. Additional oak had to be matched for figure, then carved and coloured to blend in. More recently, another Church needed a handrail for its steps. Happily, once I'd drawn up the work at full size, a visit to the local forge relieved me of the problems of bending 10 x 20mm flat bar into scrolls. The design reflected the tracery in the rood screen which traditionally separates the chancel from the nave. Anyway, I'm not looking forward to making the holes for the uprights in the stone steps - one false move and a stone could split, perhaps inviting divine retribution.

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In other news, knowing I had some mechanical abilities, young Michaela turned up with her art school project. Brought up in the wilds of Wales and used to privations probably considered unspeakable amongst her peers, Michaela is keen on sustainability and has come up with the idea of generating power whilst she spins yarn for socks, scarves, and whatnot.

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Armed with her detailed technical drawings, we've constructed a generator that's mounted on an extension of the bobbin fandango. Michaela has wound coils on sleeves which slip over the bolts. A disc attached to the main wheel is studded with magnets and whirls around to generate electricity as she spins furiously into the night. Though Michaela's expectations are enthusiastically measured in kW's, I'm guessing the device might produce only enough to light an LED lamp to work by. Even so, the miller's daughter might still have given her firstborn for such a device.

previous post Framing.
next post The Six 'P's.


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