Life in a Dol house
2018  -  Week 28

Counting teeth

It's an exciting week here because of the football world cup. 

Croatia won their match against England on Wednesday and the partying went on well into the early hours. 

The Croatian national team has a number of top international players and over the last 20 years the team has averaged around 20th place in the FIFA international rankings. 

The modern team was only formed in 1990, after the Yugoslavian war of independence. There was a previous Croatian national team during the Banovina of Croatia, but the team was disbanded when Yugoslavia came into existence. 

There was a definite "hung-over" feeling on Thursday morning with a lot of the shops in Stari Grad opening late. 

The next match - the final against France - is on Sunday. 

If Croatia wins, Monday will be a public holiday. 

Football has a huge following here and this is the first time they have reached the final of the World Cup, so there will be partying well into the night, whatever the result on Sunday.

I'm still irrigating everything twice a day and I noticed last weekend that I had a leak in the underground system I had installed in the citrus orchard. 

Leaks are not difficult to spot, because the ground is so dry, even a small leak soon reaches the surface, even though the underground pipe is 30cm deep. 

The moisture from the leak creates a clay plug around the area and the water forces its way up to the surface - the line of least resistance - leaving a tell tale hole and damp patch. 

It didn't take long to dig down and to discover the pipe had split. 

As I cut the pipe back to put a joint in, it split more and I realised that this piece of pipe had failed in use. 

This is when I was pleased that I keep comprehensive records and photographs of all the work I do. I had only to look in my archive to find the plan I had drawn of the pipework when i installed it. 

I vaguely remembered that there was a T junction near the split and I soon excavated back to it, and a sufficient distance the other way to solid pipe. 

I could then install the replacement length. With all this done, I did a pressure test and everything worked without leaking. 

I think the mains water pressure is part of the problem.

The water out of the tap flows at between 7 and 8 BAR, so the pressure is high. The underground irrigation I have installed is all on a loop system, so that the water at each emitter is constant, but even with the tap turned on just a quarter, I think the pressure has been too high. 

On Friday I found another leak in a different orchard, when the small diameter feed pipe to an emitter had become disconnected from the main feedwater pipe, something which has happened before. 

With hindsight, I should have wired all the joints to stop them popping out when under pressure, but when I was doing the installation, I didn't think it was necessary!.. 

Digging down to repair it, I think I probably just nicked the pipe when I was digging deep rooted weeds with a bedding fork and over the summer the leak has grown bigger. 

The Lucerne which I planted in the orchard is almost double the size and much greener around the leak than elsewhere. 

One the underground supply pipe as exposed, the repair did not take long.

I've picked a few apples and pears this week, but also my Rhubarb was ready for harvesting. 

This is another experiment, with two varieties planted under a mature Mandarin tree. 

I remember when I was growing up that there was Rhubarb planted under a Bramley Apple tree, a location which it seemed to enjoy, so I did the same here, but I have provided an irrigation emitter over each crown. 

This is a vegetable that is not native to the Mediterranean, so I am trying to make it feel at home, keeping it in the shade and its underground rhizome moist all the time. 

It originates in Siberia where it enjoys cold, wet winters. There is an area of West Yorkshire called the Rhubarb Triangle, where the crop is "forced" in complete darkness in sheds to produce the early, tender and sweet stalks of rhubarb seen in UK supermarkets early every year. 

In Slavonia, where the winters are also cold and wet, Rhubarb is grown but some locals where I live have never seen it growing or tasted it before. 

The result of my careful planting is that there have been a couple of kilos of tender stalks ready for harvesting. 

Rhubard is low in calories, high in fibre and a source of minerals and vitamins C and K, so an all round healthy crop. 

My neighbours are always very generous with the produce they share, so I made some Mille-feuille, filled with home made English custard, piped onto the base and topped with stewed rhubarb under the top layer of pastry. 

These were then delivered and the feedback is that they were enjoyed by all.

With the temperature being in the low 30's every day, no rain and just a little harvesting to do, I've been concentrating on the bike this week. 

I've drained the oils, except for the main crank case because when I opened the drain, there was no oil inside. 

Removing the cover, I found that it has been refitted whilst it was out of my control, without a gasket and where there should have been a half litre of oil, there was just a dirty stain.

Amongst the pile of stock parts I have are a couple of full gasket sets, so that was not a problem. 

Triumph motorcycles have the reputation of leaking oil from engine seams - all engine seams. They are not as bad as the Norton bikes from the same era, but part of the problem was that the Triumph factory in the 1960's at Meriden was on piece work, so when the two halves of a casing were machined, rather than spend a little time and get the faces perfectly smooth, they were "more or less" faced and so long as they met the "near enough" standard, any gaps would be filled with the gasket. 

All this was to ensure that the maximum number of pieces could be milled during a shift. 

So I was hardly surprised to find striation machining marks on the faces. 

I spent quite some time making a series of polishing mops for my SKIL reciprocating tool, and then using Solvol Autosol to clean and polish the faces.

And while I was making the pattern, I made several copies.

The result is two very shiny surfaces, even through the machine marks are still visible.

But with a good quality gasket and following the workshop manual advice of coating both side of the gasket with Castrol LM grease, I expect that there will be no more leaks.

While I had the primary chain case open, I checked everything, including getting the part numbers for the various components.

Although the Triumph factory records exists for the 1960's and my bike is shown as having been built in October 1966, the available records do not record the exact specification, so being able to read and record the serial numbers of things like the alternator meant I could identify it as an RM20 15amp high output alternator, only fitted to police machines, to power radios, lights, horns etc.

I could also check the teeth on the various drives for wear and the tension of the chain.  This chain transfers all the power from the engine to the clutch and thence to the road wheels.  Damaged teeth very quickly lead to a worn chain.

It would be nice to have somewhere to take the casing pieces to be properly machined smooth, but it is beyond anything here on the island, so cleaning everything, then polishing it to a smooth finish is as much as I can do.

Few people will inspect the inside of the engine to check anyway!

I also fitted new copper and fibre gaskets, as required, around the various plugs and drains, but needed to get some SAE 50 oil for the gearbox, before running the bike. 

After visiting the various suppliers of oil locally, no one has anything approaching the gearbox oil requirements and it will have to come from Zagreb next week.

The damaged oil filter (on the right) has been replaced with a new one.  

This is 1960's technology, so I have also installed an external in-line cartridge oil filter system, hidden neatly out of sight behind the electrics cover.

With four different sets of spanners, because of all the odd thread and bolt sizes, I need a lot of space to do maintenance, without being driven completely spare because I can't find the tool I need. 

So this week while my car has been away for its annual service and MoT, I've had the bike up on the ramp I made, in the courtyard.

It's been pleasant working outside and just getting things done, with space to work and being able to leave everything out overnight saves time. 

I've been able to complete several jobs, but as always, I end the week with more tasks to complete next week. 

However, at least I am seeing progress... 

Now, I need to go and irrigate everything again, but the system is fully working this evening.