Archive for category other

Something different – WWII Canadian Civil Defense helmet

Over the last winter I picked up some stuff. One interesting thing was this Brodie helmet, WWII vintage ( 1941) , Canadian civil defence warden. Sorry but I lost the internet link to more info. But according to the stamping it was made by the Canadian Lamp Company.

Yeah, I’m on holiday and sitting with a nice drink digging up these pics from last winter.

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Other vehicles – new shoes for the Howard 350

It was a barn find over a year ago. Original tractor tread type tires were flat and badly cracked. They pumped up ok and used the tiller for a season with those ancient Avons. Best substitute at a reasonable price (42 bucks a piece) were snowblower tires.

It’s a Howard 350, English made, with a Canadian made Kohler K141T engine. Apart from new tires I’ve:

– took apart carb and and fuel filter and ultrasonically cleaned

– took apart conical clutch and skimmed surface on lathe, trimmed friction band to fit better

– new oil in gearbox

– removed the spring loaded recoil start. It was breaking ropes and I just gave up after numerous attempts to fix. Simple rope start around crank now. Usually cold starts on about 2-3 pulls. Sometimes even one!

– cleaned and checked points

What’s needed:

– fix a brake shoe to clutch actuating lever to stop clutch freewheeling when clutch engaged ( still very usable without this)

– tear open gearbox to see why second gear ( highway gear ) , won’t stay engaged

– new clutch and throttle cables ( they work but ratty)

It’s a great, bit of a beast, rotovater.

Some clutch pics .

Pdf of manual


Pdf of parts list


Kohler engine manual


Oh and why not show the fekkin annoying recoil start assembly


Identification help

Are these a pair of “cut and hold” flower scissors? 

Only mark is in the hinge


Tent pegs – German WWII era, really?

Back in the 90’s I bought some tent pegs at a surplus store, it might have been Herbie’s Surplus in Williams Lake B.C. I thought they looked good and the particular design and overall shape blinded me to the fact that they were obviously cast. That’s cast aluminum, perhaps not the best material choice for tent pegs.

Right enough, I broke three of them in short order. Still have two undamaged examples but I never use them. Found them again when sorting out the (again army surplus) stuff sack I keep for cord, rope, clothes pegs, etc in the van. Still love the shape and thought that maybe I should cut up some 6061 aluminum angle to make rough copies.

Here is what I have left.

And the maker’s mark.

Not finished the copies yet, but I did do a search for the name “APAG” which was cast on the pegs. Try that yourself, the name plus tent peg. I got a few eBay listings, for example this one:

Of course i could be wrong, but the maker’s mark typeface sure doesn’t look like WWII era German. And if it was, would they be using precious aluminum for tent pegs?

Addendum: summer solstice 2017

Made my own two versions of the dubious German pegs. They might bend but I don’t think they will break quite as easily as the originals. 

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Sidewinder logdozer

Those who know, know.

(And if you don’t, scroll down on this page)


Another site announcement 

Maybe you’ve noticed, the blog has a new and shorter URL;

The old URL ( still works.

Modern Times image from

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Jake 2005-2016

Truly was a friend.


Site announcement

Yeah, I’ve been quiet for a while and I’m very much behind in answering comments. I’ll be dealing with that very soon, thanks for your patience.

Main announcement though is that for a few months I’ve been hitting the 3Gb limit of the free wordpress blog plan. I’ve used some very simple jiggery pockery to post pics in the last few blog entries. To be quite honest I baulked at the cost of the upgrade to boost storage to 13Gb ( US$100 per year). 

But I broke down and have just now ponied up for the upgrade. One obvious change you’ll notice is no more ads. Well no more ads placed in the blog without my consent. 

Well that’s that. Back to regularly scheduled programming soon.



Trailer – Parker helps Rose dispose of a body

Parker Helps Rose Dispose of a Body Trailer from Grey Eighteen Media on Vimeo.


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Admin – sorry about blog glitches 

The picture scaling issues and inability to to get full sized image when image clicked are my fault. I’m working on fixing it.

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Interesting little film trailer

yeah, I’ve got good reason to post this here 🙂



Sorry for the dearth of postings

apologies for the silence over the last few months, I’m getting back on it. I have a few vanagon modification postings in the chamber, will be posting them in the next couple of days.


i also have to catch up on comments.


Lily 2005-2014

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Ecoque portable grill

Quick review of a Christmas present.

Over the years I have tried making various portable grills to use on van camping trips. I wanted to have something that would burn both wood and charcoal briquets. The dual fuel requirement is for the times when there is a campfire ban or when there ain’t any wood around to burn. The gizmos I made did work, more or less, but there was a lot of room for improvement. Mind you, I never found a commercially made grill that I thought would work any better. But there was a charcoal only grill that really intrigued me, the Pyromid grill.

Clever design that folds up into a small package, made of stainless steel, used little charcoal. But production ended some years ago. Then last year I noticed that Mountain Equipment Coop were selling something that looked exactly like the Pyromid called the “Ecoque stainless steel 12″ portable grill“. Turns out it is exactly like the Pyromid, the patent had been sold and the grill is reborn. I wasn’t subtle in my hints and my wife gave me one for Xmas.

A couple of days ago I gave it a try out, a dry run so to speak, no food cooked.

Bag containing grill and a package of foil liners (more about those liners later). Bag is about 12″ square, 2” thick (just spit balling those numbers).


Out of the bag.



Everything nests into the base nicely.


Base with legs unfolded.


Bottom section unfolded and positioned on base.


Next section unfolded and positioned. Note: this section should have been placed 90 degrees (rotation) from how I have shown it. More on that later.


Lower grate dropped in. The instructions say you can place briquets here for a low heat setting. Otherwise this is where you put the firestarter cubes/sticks. Yes, you need to use some sort of firestarter.


And here is the main briquet grate.


Then the cooking grill.


And finally, a hood. Makes it into a little oven, the top is made up from two hinged parts, can be closed or open.


Lifter fits the hood and the internal grates and grill.



A package of foil liners. Just made from heavy gauge alluvium foil, you don’t have to use them it just makes clean up easier.


I’m going to try the high heat set up. Nine briquets set on edge in slots on the grate.


I didn’t have any starter sticks/cubes so I used a small bit of Varsol soaked paper towel on the lower grate, then the charcoal grate put back into place. After about 5 minutes the briquets looked like this.


And after 15 minutes.


I mentioned back at the start that I had the 2 main sections placed incorrectly. This picture shows how the hinge on the upper part is now correctly aligned with a notch in the lower section.


Around 25-30 minutes after lighting.


I can hold my hand 1″ above the grill for about 2-3 seconds before I yelp.


Hood on with one door open.



I stopped the experiment at this point, grabbed the briquets with tongs and doused them in water. I’ll probably with until we go on a camping trip before I cook anything on it. So far I like it, very well made and it gets hot the way I like it. I suppose I am not 100% pleased just because you need to use some sort of firestarter to get the coals going. Not a big issue, I’ll make some fire cubes.

Oh one other thing, I have heard (Al K.) that the original Pyromid could be modified to burn small bits of wood. I’ll be looking into that.


2013 in review (WordPress production)

The stats helper monkeys prepared a 2013 annual report for this blog.

Here’s an excerpt:

The Louvre Museum has 8.5 million visitors per year. This blog was viewed about 82,000 times in 2013. If it were an exhibit at the Louvre Museum, it would take about 4 days for that many people to see it.

Click here to see the complete report.

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Felder Industries – lighter, lantern, canoe motor mount, ’37 Evinrude

J. Felder sent me some pictures. First up is a lighter made from a shell casing.

“WWI era trench lighter lost its flint wheel axle screw back when it was in heavy use (I’ll say no more about that) in the early 80s. It sat in a parts bin until last weekend when I finally admitted to myself that locating a replacement wasn’t going to happen in the time I have left, either, so I used some alien hardware for the job. It now is the official lighter of my Westy parcel shelf.

Very we’ll made, I’m sure it’s a reproduction, though. Nice the way you slide the outer case up which pulls the cap back and aligns the flint with the wick while recessing the wick into the windscreen.”

photo 1

photo 2

Collapsable candle lantern.

“The one on the right is my old late 60s camping lantern. The one on the left is my late-70s replacement, which has never seen much use as flashlights were invented by then. The second picture shows how they fold out from flat. Reconditioning the old lantern which was curved in a way that Steve Jobs should have lived to see too a lot of hinge straightening and gentle bending. It’s burned candles for so many hours that the springs have lost temper so it doesn’t pop open by itself. New mica windows for the old one should arrive Monday.

Both take standard “pink lady” candles.”

(note: I have an Indian reproduction of this  kind of lantern, bought from Lee Valley. I just checked their website and it doesn’t seem to be listed anymore)

photo 1

photo 2

Canoe motor mount and vintage outboard.

“Top you see the mount with the Maple pad for the motor clamp. The bracket is magnesium and is drilled for the heavy gunwales which are tapped for the thumbscrews you see. The are in their storage holes, not where they will be used. The drilled center hole is used to secure a toolkit for complete disassembly and rebuild and for spare brass shear pins and cotters, stored in a Volvo 940 tool bag

the Elton (evinrude light twin outboard) motor weighs 13 pounds and makes 1 hp. It is serial number
30 and thus was likely made before lunch on day 1.

Once primed it starts on the first pull.

the cable lanyard connects boat, motor and bracket so that nothing can end up at the bottom of the river.”

photo 1

photo 2

A video of the motor running.


Inside the Felder Industries Estate

Exclusive spy shot of the private service station in the beleaguered Felder Industries estate.

checkthetiresMegalomaniac industrialist J. “Feltzy” Felder  having tire pressure checked by child attendant

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You never know what will be next

Pulling stuff out of my workshop, left right and centre. And now, may I present my Onager. I made it one afternoon, oh must heave been 10  8 years or so ago. Throws a golf ball a fair distance, but crikey it is a little nerve wracking to cock. Maybe someday I’ll take a vid of it in action.



More finds during my hunt

Still looking for the car amp and canoe motor mount, uncovering more forgotten things. This time, would you believe, Polish theatre and opera posters from the ’70s. I had to take some quick pics of some of them.


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Surprising toolbox find

Found this little bugger in a toolbox. I won’t bore you with where I got the toolbox but it did take me aback when I saw this under some other stuff. I’m guessing it is from a 20mm Oerlikon cannon round. It is 20mm in diameter and the copper band near the base is, I think, characteristic of the type.

I was worried that it might be live. You know, tracer, incendiary, or high explosive. The insert in the base and the brass tip made me think it was not a solid ball round.  But as i was handling it I felt the brass nose piece move and so I unscrewed it. It was empty. The stamping on the nose reads “6-1 Y.A.”

I’m not 100% certain it is an Oerlikon 20mm bullet, anyone tell me for sure?

Addendum: found this page on 20mm round identification. BTW, what I have is 82mm long.






That Face

Proud father post,  my son is playing Henry in Langham Court production of “That Face”.  Until I saw this promo shot, I did not know he got to wear a dress.

Review here.


2012 in review

The stats helper monkeys prepared a 2012 annual report for this blog.

Here’s an excerpt:

19,000 people fit into the new Barclays Center to see Jay-Z perform. This blog was viewed about 79,000 times in 2012. If it were a concert at the Barclays Center, it would take about 4 sold-out performances for that many people to see it.

Click here to see the complete report.

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Happy Christmas

I don’t have a suitably themed photograph, so how about this famous duet?

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Jerry can

Last week or thereabouts, I went to the local metal re-cycling yard to drop off some scrap and I came away with two finds. A nice section of 6″ stainless pipe (will be body of homemade muffler project) and this kinda cool jerry can. At first, and this is an excusable mistake as I am not a jerry can expert :), I thought it was a fuel container. But the internet came to my rescue and I identified it as a water can. Lots of info on jerry can can be found here. As far as I can tell, it is a water can, designed by Cavalier and made by McCord (the McCord part is a guess of sorts). I think 44 refers to the date, 1944. Anyhoo, the can is in pretty good shape and I wonder if I can’t use it for fuel (and use funnel). But I wonder if the inner coating will be affected by gasoline. Anyone know?


Victoria Fringe Festival – “Alone”

I have to plug the Fringe play my son Michael is acting in, Alone. Here is a link to a review, and another.

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Workshop find – Pug with a Pipe

Another discovery made whilst cleaning up my stepfather’s workshop, a pug with a pipe! Both my mother and my stepfather did not want it, so I snagged it before they changed their minds. Some folk have no taste eh?

It’s hard to get a good shot of it, size and glass working against me, but here is one attempt.

Interesting stuff on the back, label indicating it was purchased in England?

But the paper glued down to seal backing to frame appears to be from an American newspaper, fashion and automotive sections!

My prime evidence of it being at least a North American newspaper.


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Workshop finds

I’ve been cleaning up my stepfather’s workshop and have come across a few interesting artifacts, here are two three to begin with. First is a keg of nails, flooring nails to be specific. Probably from the 40’s.

The other, a British pattern 1876 “Martini-Henry” socket bayonet. Story is that when my stepfather and his family moved into a larger house back in the ’20’s, his father (who was not at all a fan of militaria) threw out all the stuff the previous owner (and army colonel) had left in the attic. All that is except this bayonet which was used a a ground spike for the house electrics.

And finally, something a little younger. Over in one corner of the workshop was a wooden crate with a Woodwards (department store in BC and Alberta until early ’90’s) price tag of $129 . Turns out is was purchased in the ’70’s and had been sitting in the workshop, untouched, since then. We broke open the crate, and removed the rust preventing paper wrap and exposed a very nice vice. Paint job and machining on this vice is first class. We’re going to mount it up on the bench and my stepdad can finally have fun with it.

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Stage prop – “The Master’s Laser Screwdriver”

I was asked to make a copy of  “The Master’s Laser Screwdriver” for a Dr. Who parody. Here it is, a pretty crude and liberal interpretation. BTW, the lights do come on when the front section extends (spring loaded).

And a very, very amateurish vid showing the spring action.


Novel fishing lure

Found amongst a large collection of fishing gear. The directions sure reflect the attitudes of the time it was made, guessing the ’70’s?

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Fife 8 metre

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