Your lockdown projects

What are your projects this time round? I've finally committed to a vehicle restoration. Done the stripdown, ordered the parts, am about a third of the way through the jobs and the tricky ones that remain will use up the December hours. I plan to have it in the bag by mid Jan.  It is a good antidote to the zoomania.

The only jobs I am not doing is getting to grips with a mainseal leak (dry as a bone when depressurized, widdles oil out on my garage floor when under pressure, but the leak helps lubricate the universal joint so, hey) and the aircon condenser which sits outside the radiator and has caught a lot of stones.  Neither are within my range of tools / machinery / materials.

In the summer it was all gardening and building and art/music. Now I am spread across my workshop and my garage. Workshop for parts recon on the bench, garage for fitting. 


But I must remember to buy some Christmas prezzies.  Rimmer Brothers is getting a lot of credit card attention at the moment but I cannot see the rest of my family being happy with the gear they are sending daily.  So will have to do some Amazon action for them too.

painting Judy? Oils, wcolor or acrylic? Charcoal/pencil? Photo?

I am impressed, if only because motivation and, in particular, attention span, has collapsed in the last couple of months.  

In lockdown 1 we completely reorganised various rooms and cupboards in the house and changed ur sons' bedrooms from little kids' rooms to teenaged dens.

This time around we are doing nothing.

Time to buy an ac TIG set Mutters. Welding condensers looks easy enough on youtube laugh

I have done two car restos before. One was a huge job - pretty much a 2 year job - and one more of a tart-up. The current one is interior refit, exterior tidy, some mechanical items and a real "do all the little jobs for once and for all" exercise.  The way I approach these is to list out everything that must be done, what must be bought and in what order, then what must be fitted new or repaired/reconditioned. Once you have - in the style of the air crash investigator - labelled everything as a single item and task then you just embark on that list and do a little bit here and a little bit there. THe planning is everything.  If you just dived in then the whole project would seem utterly terrifying and would never be finished (and you'd never know if it was finished or not).  This way it's just something I slip into my schedule. Spare hour? Walk the dog and fit a new footwell carpet or respray a headlight surround.  Then return to work and repeat the rhythm. This would never be achieved if we weren't enjoying covid nonsense.  Swings and roundabouts eh.  

It's the filaments in the condenser that is all shot up and that makes it less efficient. I don't fancy taking the condenser out and gassing up. I don't have the pressure testing equipment.  Fortunately on the vehicle in question the condenser sits at the front behind the grille (radiator and intercoller in line behind that). So it is cheap in terms of garage labour to whip out, but it is something only an AC expert should do as you want the right kit for that. The condenser itself is only about £130.


George was our cat.

It's actually a paint by numbers thing that I had made. It's incredibly relaxing

Currently supervising having my pool tiled and just a few other bits of tidying up around the place like fixing some cracked concrete on the drive.

I built my PC on the last lockdown.  Now want to build a better one, or at least substantially juice this one up. However seems like every other nerd in the country has the same idea so can't get the parts I want for love nor money (or rather without paying twice the RRP for them).

To ask the obvious question, what are you restoring?

Heff, it's my short wheel base Defender. It was a limited edition vehicle in 2002 (one of 100) and is one of those nice ones which has the inward facing foldable seats in the rear (so when tied back the loadspace is full size) and a galvanized chassis. The seat config became illegal quite quickly after that.  Also it's black stitched leather inside which is hard to come by in that era.

The other two were Triumphs. A GT6 and a TR6.

I like curves more than blocks so the Defender is not doing anything for my aesthetic hunger, but it's been nagging me for years to do things to make it worth keeping.  Now they are gone this one is worth more than the amount I paid for it a decade ago. And considerably more when done.

Same age and edition to this one but with a few more options that were packaged in the limited edition.

no. Well, all roof parts can be removed with a judiciously used angle grinder, but it's not that version.  This is what they brought out under the "black" edition badge and then refined further and, embarrassingly, called it the "Tomb Raider" edition when they got a big lift from the role of the vehicle in the film.


there's a lot that can go wrong with these things. But putting those things right is pretty straight forward. I can unscrew the cubby box, unscrew a floor plate and access the prop shaft while sitting in the driver's seat and listening to the radio.

I'm doing a lot of after market improvements - LEDs in the lights, int and ext, a crystal set of headlamps, satin painting and rebadging the grille, satin painting the headlamp surrounds, replacing steering and suspension bushes with non LR silicone ones, a lot of better protection than LR offered (In terms of engine protection on the underside). I will post a pic when it's done.

The thing is I do actually use this off road.  It needs to be in good nick, and it is quite nice that when yo do that bits don't fall off into the fields etc.

the thing I can't make my mind up about is that faux roll bar. It's actually not a roll bar but it is not just a bit of aesthetic fakery. It is a screen pillar/cab moose catcher thing. It came standard and silver powder coated.  It would look better in satin black against a black gloss vehicle, but the original is silver as per that pic. I think I am probably best just recoating it in silver. It looks a bit wanky but it is a trademark of the limited edtion marque itself.


Driving the 90 swb model is a lot of fun. It is lighter and the 2.5TDi is sufficient to make it a little bull of a car.

portrait of my mother with George

Which one is she?

for various complicated reasons I once found myself driving a Defender between Islington and Surbiton on 3 days running i.e. through the hellhole that is Putney and the A3. They really aren't much fun in heavy traffic.

Judy C - where did you order the paint by numbers set from?  I have bought an off the shelf one of 5 cats to do and was going to make it personal by using colours of my cats but this sounds so much better.  And what a lovely present to receive:)

Heff - No, they aren't easy. But they are derivative of a 1947 design.  They are esp painful with original clutch system. Left leg nearly snaps and left buttock spasms for the days that follow a long drive. They are also surprisingly thin.  Humans have changed shape since the early post war period.  The window is very close to the seat. Your elbow fights the door. They are easier to drive in the summer for that reason.  Seats are also old technology and leave you very uncomfortable. Your left knee hurts after doing the clutch for a while.  The sense of where your front corners are is slightly limited.

Garage -> Home Gym got done during Lockdown MkI

Minor office refurb, minor bedroom refurbs and Massive TV in the shed got done in between

I think I'm now left with fannying around with Home Automation stuff.  I really need to sort out the kitchen lights as turning them on currently involves:

1. Press a battery powered LightwaveRF button;

2. That sends a 433 MHz signal to a USB dongle which is attached to a decade or so old MacMini;

3. The MacMini is running a commercial home automation programme, but it activates a python script I wrote;

4. The python script then sends out two requests back to the home automation programme, one which sends out a 433 MHz signal to a Rako dimmer in the ceiling of the kitchen, one which send out a Z-Wave signal (via another USB dongle) to the backbox in the Breakfast Room where the light switch used to be.

I'm not sure I actually know how to access the MacMini any more let alone deal with anything if it goes wrong.  Plus I think the wires for the kitchen switch are currently dead so if anything were to break I couldn't even stick in a manual switch to get things working again.  Also I hate the light fitting in the Breakfast Room so that needs to go as part of this.

I then need to bling the bejeezus out of the house and shed with Christmas lights.  I have a QuinLED-Dig-Uno on its way from China which will let me start playing around with addressable LED strips, but I think its mostly icicle lights and rope light reindeer again this year.

30 day yoga challenge - boring af tbh

proper clean out of the house - bags and bags and BAGS of stuff to go to charity/eBay/tip

Some non profit work I’ve been procrastinating about for months 

finally cracking the backlog of admin 

so really nothing interesting at all

that reads like my worst nightmare.

we all have our limits. Wiring mains electricity items and the inside bits of computers are mine. I rerouted a light supply in my garage and out round the yard and gate entrance, and was utterly elated and relieved when it all worked and was nervous of death throughout.

was nervous of death throughout

Vital IMHO.  If you aren't doing the whole thing with an awareness of your own potentially imminent mortality you aren't thinking about it clearly enough.

when it comes to lecky, I am less worried about death, more the insurance when the house catches fire

It will, unless u convert it to battery power, be turbo illegal in less than 10 years.  

But I agree with the fight the power nature of your crusade

It will, unless u convert it to battery power, be turbo illegal in less than 10 years.  

But I agree with the fight the power nature of your crusade

I restored a series 2b in the early nineties during my university holidays, I spent months on man-hours on it, ground up restoration, scouring local rags and LRO magazine and local scrappies for parts, spent fooking hours trying to anneal the panels, welded the bulkhead, got a full tilt for it, the full monty.  Sold it in 91, for about a grand. The fooking things are about 15k nowadays.  

The 90s and early noughties were pretty poor times for selling classics but really very good times indeed for buying them. I did a full chassis up rebuild of a Spitfire body with a GT6 2l engine   - new or recon everything on the rolling chassis, full body rebuild and new paintjob, new interior, new wiring loom, and it was a beaut with the finest sounding twin / twin stainless steel exhaust and colour matched rocker cover. Sold it for £5k in 2002. Someone got a bargain. I was sad to see it was no longer registered on DVLA site. 

I've done b*gger all apart from the plot. I am now i/c lawnmowers for the allotments.

The immense satisfaction of getting one running and just sitting watching it run. When I retire I am going to be one of those old blokes at rural shows etc that sits behind an old diesel engine and smoking a pipe.

I need to find my bikes again.

Editing a movie I made in the summer. Takes f*cking ages.

I should pick up couch to 5k again, I got up to week 7 in the summer when I could run in the woods but stopped when I got back to the UK