Thanksgiving week so a break from School Bus driving although that having been said I had my first taste of
horrendous winter driving last weekend with a 240 mile drive up to Grand Junction with the Cheerleaders
and Dance Teams. The forecast was rain for Cortez but snow in Monticello and then more rain from Moab
to Grand Junction.

The timing for departure was 1700 which in my opinion was a bit late as its a 4.5 hour drive with the stop in
Moab. Eventually it gets changed to 1530 and we make the first portion of 40 miles quickly on wet roads…….
but then it changes to heavy snow and finally to roads covered and wipers clogging up on the flat fronted
bus as we come into Monticello. The roads have not been plowed and there are cars off the side of the road
and some upside down. Big rigs are slipping and sliding and stopping to chain up. I have 4 cars in front of
me all tailgating each other and a whole load of nervous tapping of brakes making matters worse for all of
us followers…… and now the impatient dumbarse team arrive and rocket past us at ridiculous speeds…….
and they are all driving jacked up Dodge’s ?

The windscreen mists up continually with all the passenger’s heavy breathing and on any selection of full
beam its like looking at the Star Trek asteroids coming straight at you !   Finally we pull into the hotel at
2130 after a 6 hour drive that normally takes 4.5……… it snows ALL night and 3-4 inches greets me as I do
my pre trip on Saturday morning.

Pressing on through the Asteroid belt …..”make it so”

So now its Thanksgiving Week and time to start thinking Christmas decorations as everybody seems to
be jumping ahead this year with all the local towns having already got their street lighting up and running.
The town of Dolores has the “Lighting Competition” and our track record is 3 wins and a second so now I
need to make those “Stars” that you can’t buy from Wallmart .

The 2012 MkI model

The operation requires metal coathangers, zip ties and 550 lights per star.  The name of the game is to
make a 5 pointed star using 6 hangers per unit. Phase 1, assemble 3 two foot long sides using 2 hangers
and 3 zip ties.

All the required parts

First side complete, 8 more to go  ….. and egg nog too

Phase 2 is to join two of the sides at the top and spread the legs a little to give the first 3 points. Now add
the third side and we have our basic star.

3 points

First of the MKII’s ready for lights

Phase 3 is the lighting and remember that this will be arse backwards as eventually you have to plug into
a source so first attach the socket and run the 50 string of the brighter LED lights around the frame. With
these on add 2 sets of 150 plains which will be the tail of the star with another 50 off the first string going
around the frame. With those on a further star tail streamer of 200 lights and the job should be done.

Ready for the big outside

Thanksgiving morning and as I’m not on any cooking duties ( I do Christmas) it will be hanging of stars
after refilling all the log baskets and then … enjoy! Tomorrow will be a different story as Brenda is mustard
keen to get on with the decorations.

A morning of logs & dogs and too many Christmas/Thanksgiving cocktails so work up a ladder was out
as it was deemed way too dangerous. Save it for Friday ! Back to Ebay for some ugly Christmas sweaters
while the Hallmark seasonal films play on.





An evening at the Castle

Here we are again in November, Halloween has come and gone, Guy Fawkes Night too, and now its time for Remembrance Sunday. Always used to enjoy our annual RAF trials trip to Jersey for their epic 2 Day
being the only place in the UK that held a trial that weekend. The horrendous crossing of the English
Channel in rough conditions at night on the British Rail ferry out of Weymouth but it was worth it for the
hospitality and a cracking good trial.

The RAF Team at Jersey 1972

This weekend I should have been in Roswell NM for the last 2 rounds of our ITSA Championship but with
the RV already winterized against the Colorado cold, and its been down to 14F already, I’m afraid I’ll be
missing it again this year. I had mentally planned on going, the bike is prepped, I’m ready but the idea of a
1000 mile round trip in the Cadi and a night on the bouncy castle somehow has lost its youthful appeal. At
67 I think I like my creature comforts too much ! The thought of 7.5 hours of school bus driving followed by
another 8 in the car does not compute.

A little venture to the local town ski & swap mart, but nothing worth looking at twice and on to another pool
session at the Hollywood. Today Brenda gets a “bye” in round one and I lose my first round which I should
have won. Never mind I set off up the losers side and finish in 5th place. Meanwhile Brenda wins again but
loses her next frame but rallies to win the next which puts her in the final! Now she is up against the lady
she lost to earlier and must now win both frames which indeed she does in fine form. First time win for
her in these competitions and the first time we have had two ladies in the final. Gentlemen beware!!

If the weather stays user friendly Casey and I might be out Thanksgiving week cutting some new trails on
his land to get at some good virgin trials land which we should be able to see without all the vegetation
and leaves. I also have a Jury summons to deal with that same week!

With trials sadly done for the year time to turn my attention to Thanksgiving and the run up to Christmas.
The track record for Xmas lights stands at 3 wins and a second, so to win the coveted prize what can we
do to impress the judges this year? Seems the townsfolk all like the “shooting star” which I made and of
course isn’t available from Walmart  so has a novelty factor to it. 3 more of these are now in the planning

Christmas goodies have been ordered and I seem to be getting in the mood….. hope its not too early.
Might even try to make a Christmas cake this year just like me dear old mother used to make. Hers was
always started way back in September and then fed all manner of alcohol leading up to the icing ritual
sometime in mid December…… every year she would ask about the marzipan which I hated and every
year the emphatic “NO” was the reply. It really was (like Mr Kipling) an exceedingly good cake and I would
cart large lumps of this treasure around with me at Christmas and New Year shoots. Bought ones I’m
afraid are a little bland for my taste!

Feeding the cake Sep-Nov

Icing and decorating mid December

Boxing Day delight !

The list of replenishments included, PAXO stuffing, BISTO gravy, ROSES chocolates as well as one of
my favorites QUALITY STREET, Xmas puddings up the wazoo, and some new Christmas crackers with
all their silly hats. On the regular food what expat can be without BRANSTON, a few tins of HEINZ BAKED
BEANS, AMBROSSIA DEVON CUSTARD and their RICE PUDDING…… and then time for my selection
of HAYWARDS……..and I can eat PICKLED ONIONS like others would eat M & M’s. I have found some
other sweets I remember from my childhood in the form of MELTIS NEWBERRY FRUITS which are on
ebay ?  The last items I’m still toying with are perhaps some PORK PIES and the good old British PORK
BANGERS. It does seem the brand names I loved of WALLS and BOWYERS can’t be sourced but the
search continues. My dear old mother always “smuggled” some out here when she came for Christmas
and had them in her lap when she got pushed through customs in her wheelchair.

The “one” I miss the most…….. The Pork Pie

First batch of goodies arrived yesterday along with a new tree to replace our 8 year old fiber optic one that
gets more problematic with every year. Does seem that everybody has Christmas fever very early this year
with Hallmark starting all its Christmas films in early November and now both Cortez and Dolores are fully
into getting their lights up and working!! ……. hang on boys, we haven’t even got to Thanksgiving and my
favorite mindblower of them all Black Friday !

Well my designs are complete for the new Mkll shooting stars and I might be buying the lights for them this





Well, clutching anyway and this time literally time to get to grips with the new all singing and dancing lever
from Mister Moose. Now as a dedicated NON clutch user this is going to be DIFFICULT. Yes, the new lever
does make the pull softer and after a little practice I can see some advantages to it if I can remember to get
my fingers on it in a timely manner. I’m guessing the way to go is to ride with the digit permanently glued to
it which seems somewhat alien at this stage.

The new Moose unit with the monster adjuster

Today’s mission was to change the cover to something that would fit the entire unit and this was achieved
using an old lever cover by Arriette which covers the monster adjuster …. well that turned out well in my
opinion and then it was off the stand, set the tire pressure and have a gentle toodle outside. So far, as I’m
a two finger braker I’m trying to get some finesse using two digits on this contraption and trying to get a
smooth feel as I go through “the friction zone”. Biggest fear is that I’ll start using it when its not required and
get in all sorts of muddles I would normally avoid.

Yesterday’s attempt but needed something to cover that adjuster ?

That will do nicely !

There are plenty of choices it would seem for these levers with various adaptations but I haven’t seen any
side by side comparisons to determine which works best.

Cheaper version of the Moose

This one looks more expensive

A Moose version as fitted to my Cub

Of course there are a multitude of other actions that will improve clutch action including  a new cable with
a smooth run and the clutch itself although I can’t see any benefits to removing springs as some would

Any pulling mechanism will be improved with lengthening the clutch arm. All a matter of fulcrum and the old
leverage principles. The following diagram shows the idea and could be tried using a few nuts and bolts with
no cutting or welding.

I have a few old clutch arms so I’ll give this idea a try and extend the arm by about 1.5″ and then using the
cable hole stop on the engine bolt an extender there to keep the line of pull smooth. Just need to remove the
bash plate and the rest should be pretty easy.

Fabrication Friday and with the aid of an old engine case two clutch arms are converted to one and cable
mount gets an extension. On first look it seems like it should work so now time to swap it over to the SG
motor. Drop the bash plate, remove flywheel cover and shifter and complete the exchange.

First look at the MK1 clutch mod

If it works as planned I’ll remove the nut and bolt and have it welded

As we move into November the weather has changed dramatically this week with overnights down to -7C
or 19F in old money. Not exactly workshop temps for geriatric engineers so I’ll wait until we get the other
side of freezing. Yes, we had our first taste of snow this week as well and more to come at the beginning
of next week. The wood pile portfolio is nearly back up to its Wall Street high, just 3 more loads to acquire
before Thanksgiving and we will be set for winter.

A head start in the Shade Garden with all the cushions in storage

The 2013 wood gathering with one more load required

Currently burning the nice dry 2012 aspen reserve

 Sunday November 3rd and with the clocks back “today” has been officially designated “Gazebo Day” and
will mark a significant first as it will be dismantled and put away until spring and save me going through all
the bending exercises of the past to remedy the damage of falling snow and ice.

Gazebo removed

Yesterday it was time to venture back to the NEW Hollywood Bar for the winter series of pool competitions
and after losing the first frame, although I was first to the black, I did manage to fight my way all the way
back up the losers side to end up in the final and even won the first of the two frames. Second frame not so
good and once John got to the table he cleaned up for the overall win but it was close! A bit like trials, so
pretty pleased with a second place and I’m now qualified for the big one at the beginning of January.

Back to the clutch thingey now the Gazebo has been put into hibernation and avoid the ravages of falling
snow and ice that killed the last one! Side plate, shifter and bashplate removed and ready to change the old
clutch arm for the lengthened model.

Ready for the clutchadectomy

New system fitted and all looks good and yes, it truly is NOW a one finger unit! Don’t know whether I’ll use
it but at least I’m on a level playing field with everybody else.

Surgery complete

Well it works, it is a one finger job now but will require a fair bit of practice to fine tune the operator handling
as the old dog isn’t into new tricks.