Wednesday 18 January 2023

The tub

I was looking around for a big water tub that I could use to quickly fill watering cans.  The current method of using a hose pipe from one of my big metre-cubed containers takes too long.   The sort of thing I had in mind was a big circular one holding 700 litres or so, called here (since intended for water for animals) an abreuvoir.   I looked at the price - of the order of €150 or so.  Not doing that.

So I enquired through the village self-help Watsapp group, and it turns out the Pierrick has something that might be suitable; a bit more than half of a metre-cubed container, the other part of which he is using to hold water for his goats.   It's perfect, and he gave it to me.

So I have been making a concrete hard standing for it, next to one of the existing containers, from which I can fill it up.   I'm in the process of digging up the stones from the veg patch so I'm using them as a base for the concrete.

I always manage to underestimate the amount of concrete I will need.   I bought ten 30 Kg bags, I used six for the rough first coat over the stones, and the remaining four got me about 40% along the top.   I'll need six more bags.

This is how it will finish.   I turned the original vat through 90° and put the new one alongside it.   Since they're deeper than they are wide they take up less length of the concrete base than I had planned, so there is room left for something else, such as a tool chest for example.   Maybe I will get one; it would be useful.   Meanwhile, we have frosty nights this week so I will finish the concreting when they are over.

Tuesday 10 January 2023

New lamps for old

We have two outside lights on our house, and one went out a while back, the most likely cause being a dead bulb.  We didn't have any replacements of the right size so it stayed dead for a while.   A couple of weeks later, it came back on without my having done anything.   It was one of the compact fluorescent ones, so perhaps the starter was becoming unreliable.  It failed again after a couple of weeks.   Time to get a replacement bulb.

I got the new bulb, took out the ladder, changed the bulb and.... the new one flickers.  Damn, duff bulb, I'll have to take it back.   But just to check it, I plugged it in to a different socket indoors, where it worked fine.   So, dodgy wiring.   This is probably a problem in the light fitting.  I seriously hope that it is, since fixing a problem somewhere along the cable as it weaves its sinuous path from the distribution box to the outside world would be difficult or impossible.

Since unreliable wiring is a fire risk, the first thing to do is disconnect the light.   That done, I brought it indoors, took it to bits, and verified that it was, in fact, a corroded connection inside the fitting.   The insulation showed all the signs of having been overheated, so it was good to have prevented a possible fire.   But the fitting was unserviceable. 

These outside lights have been in place for over 40 years, and the paint is flaking off.   But they are well made, solidly built and the electrical safety precautions are in place and trustworthy.  It would be hard to find something of equivalent quality today.   So it's worthwhile trying to fix it.

I went to our local hardware shop in search of some kind of connector that might do the trick, and found one for €3.50 that, with careful modification, made the fitting work correctly.    Careful testing indicates that it is reliable.

This is a great opportunity to renew the paint, and Anita has been doing this over the last few days, carefully sanding off the old paint and replacing it with Hammerite.   The finished item looks pretty good.   I just need to wait for the rain to stop and I'll put it back up.

P.S.   Now of course, it looks odd to have one lamp freshly painted and the other all corroded and flakey so now I get to do the second one as well.

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