A Bike Rack

I needed to make a support plate for my youngest son. This was to hold supports for four bikes that were to be held vertically against a plasterboard wall.

The support plate was a piece of oak that I had spare, 115mm x 20mm, that was to be cut to length on site. This had a 60 degree french cleat cut along the top and. was then sanded and waxed.

While I was making this I looked at bike supports that were available. The best ones seemed to use a ‘U’ shaped pivoting bracket with a backing plate.

I decided to make four of these ‘just in case’, so I sorted out some 5mm diameter rod and some 30mm square oak to hold them.

Using a piece of 25mm square tube as a jig the rods were bent into the ‘U’ shape at one end for the bike wheel and the other end formed into a smaller square ‘U’ shape using an old circular wood blank mounted on my portable work bench to form the pivot.



The pivoting brackets were cut to length and taped into two pairs. The centre of the joined faces was drilled through 7mm and then counterbored 30mm x 10mm deep to form the pivot and clearance for the retaining end. Both ends of the central holes were slightly countersunk.
The pairs of brackets were split and the central holes deepened slightly with a file to fully accommodate the steel rods.

The front faces were marked for securing screws, drilled 5mm and countersunk.


The pivoting brackets were screwed to a test support with the rods in place to check for correct movement.

The pivoting brackets were fully sanded and waxed.

The rods were cut to the finished sizes, filed and had clear plastic pipe added as protection.


On site the support plate was cut to length, sanded and waxed.

Three screwholes were marked and drilled into the support plate, the support plate was located on the wall and the holes transferred through.

The plasterboard supports were installed into the wall, the support plate was then secured to the wall with the french cleat uppermost.


A french cleat is a tapered groove along the top of a piece of wood mounted on a wall. The groove can have matching pieces of wood placed into it to mount shelves,hangers etc., that need to be removable.

The bracket positions were marked, the brackets positioned, along with the steel rods, and screwed into place.

The bikes were installed onto the support hooks.


Rack clamps using Unistrut 41 / 41

Uni strut used is 41mm square x 2.5mm wall ‘U’ section galvanised steel fabrication with 25 x 14 slots 50mm apart along the strut length and is in 3 metre lengths as standard. The lengths can be cut to any required finished size.

The clamp ends are made of steel tubes 45mm x 45mm x 1.5mm or 2.0mm wall thickness.

The steel tubes are sized to move along the Unistrut without excessive movement, but depending on the actual sizes obtained, can have plastic or hardwood shims fitted to stop any excessive movement.

The fixed end clamps through one of the Unistrut slots with an M12 screw into a clamp block. The clamp block locks onto the underside of the Unistrut. The vertical part of this end has a large flat piece of steel attached as a clamping face. This clamping face has a large diameter adjusting screw in the centre, for fine adjustment.

The moving clamp comprises two pieces of steel tube welded at right angles. The vertical piece has a spring loaded pivoting lever system to raise or lower a pin that engages into one of the Unistrut slots to lock the clamp in position. This pivots on the side of the vertical tube away from the load.
The other side of the vertical tube is the clamping face, this clamping face has a plastic or hardwood pad screwed on to prevent damage.

The Waste Oil Stove

A few years ago I read an article by an American guy about building a stove to use old waste engine oil.

At the time I was saving old oil to use with a chainsaw that I used to cut firewood and had rather a lot so I decided to build one of my own to use up some of this oil.

After re-reading the article I set about determining the requirements for the stove and acquiring bits.


I decided to make the body of the stove from an old propane tank. This would need a tank to hold the oil, a chimney and a blower fan to make starting easier and combustion more complete, although this is by no means essential.

The Build

The oil tank was connected by a pipe and valve into the top of the stove. The oil dripped out of the pipe and down onto a tray arrangement mounted at the bottom of the propane tank.

The tray arrangement had a small grid on top of a saucer shaped dish.

I cut an access door into the side of the propane tank.

The chimney was mounted near the top of the propane tan, using an elbow. This chimney was about 80mm diameter because that was the tube I had.

On the top of the propane tank I mounted a short duct to hold the fan. The fan was a single speed so I added a moveable restrictor to throttle airflow if needed.


I placed a small piece of combustible material onto the grid and added a small amount of spirit. I lit this and left it to burn for a few minutes.

When the grid and tray was warm enough to ignite the oil ( a matter of trial and error) I turned on the oil valve slightly ( fast drip). The oil ignited and burned. I switched on the fan with the restriction in place to give a bigger flame.

Once the flame was well established I removed the restrictor and re- adjusted the amount of oil dripping into the stove.

Oil usage was about half a ( UK) gallon per hour when fully firing, but no attempt at fine regulation was made.


This  was only ever a test stove but was a huge success and produced loads of heat.

The outside glowed nearly white after about an hour, indicating that either the heat needed to be less or the propane tank needed internal insulation. The above two photos show just after lighting and again after half an hour.

The stove was outside a 20 foot square garage, but the heat could be felt near the back when fully firing.

Future Mods

I would fit a smaller fan and add electronic speed control instead of the restriction.

The oil being dirty, tended to clog the valve so I would ad a filter, or pre- filter the oil.

The oil tank would be better with an oil level indicator.

The chimney was fine for testing but was only short. A longer chimney would probably need to be about 100mm diameter.

The access door was crude and had gaps, this could be a better fit.

The grid that the oil dripped onto could be smaller diameter bars, I used about 6mm.

De Kart…or I thought, therefore I did

Long, long, time ago I made a kart for my eldest son.

The Idea

It all started because of his love for Lego, he was given a set of plans for different items, among which was a go- kart. He built this and played with it for sometime until other things came along.

Thoughts about bits

The idea stayed in the back of my mind until a guy I worked with said he had a 100cc motorbike engine spare and did I want it.
Of course I said yes, even though at the time I had no clear plans for it.
When he found the engine in the garage my son said “Dad…”
Bowing to the inevitable I said “OK you can have it”

One of his friends at the time had a father with a proper kart, so one day my son came home with a set of old kart wheels and tyres and so planning started that day.
Luckily I worked in engineering so bits and facilities were easy to obtain.
One of the prime requirements were that this kart had to have as near zero cost as possible so thinking cap on I gathered needed bits and made sketches.

Working out the design

To determine the overall sizes required he sat on the garage floor in an old plastic canteen seat with the engine located in roughly the right relative position. This seat was subsequently padded and used.

I marked out the positions of his feet (allowing for a bit of growth) on the floor and then the positions of the wheels. The chassis was marked around those items.

At no time had I found out any information about karts, it was intended to be a plaything and not to be raced, this was also pre-internet days as well.

After measuring the steering wheel position using an old wheel I still had from my Terrapin hill climber days, and also the gear-lever position, I converted these into proper dimensions.

The Build

The rear axle was a 25mm steel shaft with flanges for the wheels, Plummer block bearings for support and a sprocket for the drive.
The drive was a simple bike chain and the tension was adjusted by sliding the axle bearings rearwards.

The steering column was a 20mm steel shaft in bronze bearings with a short link at the bottom to move the front wheels.
The front wheels were mounted on simple flanges with pivots on the hubs and chassis to allow steering movement and a link system to connect them to the steering

The braking was a disc on the rear axle operated by a hydraulic cylinder on the chassis.
The clutch was operated by a similar cylinder system.

The gear-lever was mounted in the pre-determined position and connected to the gearbox by a simple link bar.

The chassis was fabricated from some 30mm tube I had spare and bent using a borrowed tube bender. We drew the chassis dimensions on the garage floor and bent the tube to suit.
This was welded up and the various mounting brackets added until all the components were in place.

A car silencer was mounted at the rear and connected to the bike exhaust.

When the kart was finished we decided to add a smaller extra sprocket to the rear axle to give a slower top speed when using the kart in more confined spaces.

Performance was surprisingly good for such a clapped out old engine (even with me on board, the extra pedal space really worked).

The Mods

Some time later I had some plastic slat chain from a trial under my desk and instead of binning it I brought some home to use with the kart (as seen on the rear wheels). The slat chain was 7 1/2″ wide with connecting links underneath and a smooth top. This was used for the transfer of bakery goods.
We measured the circumference of the rear tyres and made up two complete chain circles just slightly smaller than the tyres.
After locating the slat chain circles on the tyres we pumped them up again to hold the slat chains in place.

Driving with these on was pure fun! It was like driving on ice! It was possible to completely spin the kart in the width of my drive – great fun for all.

The kart served my son and friends well for some years, having to put up with being driven along farm tracks, and into a farm gate post on one occasion until inevitably other things took over and the kart was sold on to another youngster.

The Dashcam tale

I had a dashcam on my previous car (Freelander 2), so when we changed it for a Discovery Sport I decided to move the camera into the new car.

The camera is a Nextbase 512, but the process would apply to most similar cameras.

The equipment used was the camera, a Nextbase hardwiring kit and an adhesive mount instead of the normally supplied suction version.

Notes: the adhesive mount uses 3 M VHB double sided tape. The suction version did not like warm weather at all, the adhesive version has been fine. The hardwire kit is mainly a piggyback fuseholder and length of wire, usually also available from EBay etc.

The fuse to use was found using the handbook and Discovery Sport forums.

The Requirements:

To mount the camera near the rear view mirror.

To hide the wiring.

To have the camera turn on with the ignition.

The Process:

Remove the passenger side end cap from the dashboard, this is just clipped into place and gives access to theamera wire from the fuse board.

Lower the glovebox and remove the panel at the rear of the glovebox, this gives access to the fuses.

Remove fuse 50 and place the fuse in the piggyback fuseholder. Push the fuse holder blades into the removed fuse position.

Plug the long camera wire into the piggyback fuse connector and feed the camera wire diagonally upwards past the end of the dashboard until all the wire is visible.

Grasp the door seal trim at the passenger side above the dashboard area and pull clear until there is room for the wire to be fed behind.

Mount the camera on the windscreen, I have mine on the dotted part of the screen to the passenger side of the ear view mirror.

Push the camera connector on the wire into the socket on the camera.

Pull the roof lining above the windscreen on the passenger side of the car slightly and feed the wire behind the lining.

When the top wire is in place, run the wire along the gap between the roof lining and the vertical trim on the front pillar, to behind the door seal.

Run the wire down the door seal area and into the fuse box area.

Coil up and secure any excess wire.

Connect the earth wire to a suitable clean earth point on the car.

Switch on the ignition and test the camera.

Replace the dashboard end cap and door seal.

The Drive

This could be a long post…

We resurfaced our drive at home in 2009 because the old one was crumbling. Having investigated the various options available we decided on a block paving one. The main advantage to us was that we could do it in sections because we had to leave the drive useable as much as possible for the bungalow behind us. We talked to the owners of the bungalow and they agreed that a joint resurface would be a good idea.

Our part of the drive was 3 metres by 30 metres, with a  section off one end about 10 metres by 10 metres. In addition to that we had a path at the front, a side access to the garage and path edgings at the rear.

Just to complicate things the drive was slightly curved along its length, had a downwards pitch near one end and the 10 x 10 part was sloping upwards from the rest of the drive to the garage.

We finished up with two lorry loads of blocks stored on our front lawn, several one tonne bags of sand and two wackers  to flatten the sand.

Equipment Preparations:

We bought the wackers from a friend because  it was better than renting them. We also had a cement mixer to use, I repaired a bearing in exchange for Using it.

I used string lines and levels for layout but also a laser level to be accurate.

Having researched drive construction courtesy of a superb site called ‘The Brew Cabin’ I knew that the drive under the blocks would need the sand to be really compacted and very flat. The thing I needed was a big scraper capable of removing sand to a pre- determined level below the finished block top surface so I made one –

On the smaller areas of block I made wooden scrapers shaped to the correct profile, these ran on temporary rails set into the sand.

In addition to the above we had a solid wood four wheel trolley to move the blocks, and a big grinder to cut the new blocks and also to cut away part of the old concrete drive in front of my garage to blend the new blocks to the l requirementlevel of the entrance.

Layout Preparations:

I needed to lay parallel lines of blocks along the drive to establish the finished width and height.

I needed to separate the sloping part from the main drive and also retain the blocks on the slope.

I needed to remove most of the downward pitch on the main drive.

I needed to provide drainage where the drive met the road -a legal requirement.

I needed to leave access into a manhole on the drive.

I wanted to use an ‘offset herringbone’ pattern where one block ran along the drive and the next block was at 90 degrees to the first. This minimised the cutting required and meant that most of the blocks only had to be cut in half.

The Build:

After deciding not to use the builder who was constructing the rest of the drive on the next door bungalow, my wife and myself decided to do it ourself with the aid of a friend. Bear in mind that we were in our early sixties at this time, I was still working and none of us had ever done this sort of thing on that scale!

The first part was to establish the width of the drive along the whole length and layout the lines and levels accordingly.

Having established the drive lines I established the same for the square section up to the garage. This included marking and cutting out about a metre of the old drive in front of the garage. This part was ten metres long and steel reinforced!

The drain position and level was established and set.

The downward pitch required either lots of cement or some other way of lifting the drive at that point. I decided to make an angle iron iron frame to accommodate the blocks. This frame was made to fit a line of different coloured blocks and used to mark the end of our part of the drive. The frame was securely bolted to the original drive.

The next step was to lay a long piece of steel angle along the base of the square section to retain the blocks on the slope. This was drilled and bolted to the original drive.’

Lines of blocks were laid lengthways in cement along the drive to give the correct width and height. I had originally measured the required width and translated this into the nearest whole number of blocks. This measurement was used to lay out the side blocks.

The sides of the square section were laid next in the same manner as for the main drive. While I was working in this area I laid a new row of blocks under the garage door to minimise draughts inside.

While the sides were setting I drew out and fabricated the scraper for the sand. This had to scrape the sand down enough so that the top of the blocks were 2 – 3mm above the side block levels, the blocks were later consolidated using the wacker. Pins and rollers at the sides were used to run the scraper along the side blocks. A handle and side guides were used to keep the scraper straight.

A manhole cover designed to hold blocks was cemented in the correct position on the drive and levelled across.

Between the drive sides was filled with sand and scraped roughly level by hand. The sand was compacted using eight passes of the wacker and then scraped level. Sand was used to fill any low parts, compacted again and scraped again.

When the sand had weathered for a few days I sprayed the top lightly with water and then we started laying blocks. This was a very easy although tedious job. We laid the whole of the drive first apart from any blocks needing cutting. These were cut and assembled in position as a separate operation.

The square area was laid in a similar manner, apart from using temporary sides because of the width.

The different coloured blocks were laid in the frame. The frame area had also been filled with sand, compacted and levelled.

After all the blocks had been laid we went over the whole area several times with the wacker using a rubber mat to prevent damage until the drive was level with the edges.

We left this for a few days until we had a spell of settled warm weather then filled the gaps in between the blocks with dried fine sand, this held the blocks together better and helped prevent weeds.

The Drain:

We were required to have a drain between our drive and the road so we laid a line of covered plastic drain channel in place. In the garden next to the drive we dug a soak away and filled it with gravel. These were connected by pipe and the soak away covered over.

The Result:

After eight years constant use the drive remains level with only a couple of slight ‘dips’ that are so small as not to be worth re-doing yet. The worst area of settlement appears to be at the entrance to the garage and even that is minor. The top sand needs to be topped up but that needs a spell of fine dry weather. There appears to be more than normal amounts of growth in some joints, but that is in the more sheltered areas and is not a problem in summer.


The Downsides:

We laid this drive in a long hot summer and moved a total of 140 Tonnes of blocks, sand etc because of logistical requirements. Unfortunately this only resulted in us losing approximately 1 Kg of weight, although we did at least feel lots fitter!


A repair along the way…

This post is by way of a small diversion.

We have a Vax upright vacuum cleaner that has done sterling duty for a while until recently when it developed an intermittent fault, it would stop and then start again, clearly a broken contact or wire.

Having looked at the makers information and generally on the internet there was no repair details available. Not willing to pay the cost of a new vacuum for somebody to look at it I decided to open it up and see whatI could do.

Having no information at all meant that I had to take small steps and remove screws and other fixings to see how it was held together. I had previous experience of repairing Dyson vacuums so knew that unorthodox “shortcut/cheap” methods of holding bits in place would be used.

The Stripdown:

Remove the long flexible hose (squeeze the tabs on the fixed end), the dirt tank/ filter assembly and the felt filter underneath.

With the vacuum face down remove the lower curved hose support for the long flexible hose – one short screw and two long ones.


Remove the short flexible hose support – one short screw.

Pull the handle assembly clear of the base part and remove.

Remove the  upper part of the base assembly, turn the base upside down and remove two short screws, one at each front corner near the brush ends. Remove one short screw near one of the rear wheels. The upper part can now be gently prised clear of the base unit.


Remove the red rubber front bumper, this just pushes into place on the cover.

Remove the brush roller by gently prising the roller upwards and forwards on the belt side. The roller is held in a short diagonal slot here. Remove the belt from the roller and motor shaft.

Turn the base unit the right way up and remove two short screws from metal clips at each side of the motor. One of the clips can be removed, the other clip by the red handle retaining “button” can be moved sideways enough to remove the motor assembly.

On the top of the motor assembly is a rubber sealing ring, remove this.

The motor covers are held together by six short screws. One of these is a T20 Torx screw and one is hidden under the red stop/ start switch actuator 

To remove the switch actuator prise gently at the side of the uppermost part of the switch actuator, this pivots at the top end. Remove the actuator and spring underneath.

Remove the six screws holding the two motor halves together and pull one half away from the other. The motor can now be lifted clear of both cover halves if required.

The motor position should be noted before removal. There is a mesh filter and sponge protecting strip with the motor assembly. Note the positions of these before removal.

The mains cable is held in one half by a short screw and plastic retainer.

The motor is connected to the mains cable by crimped connectors and also small spade connectors to the switch. There is a capacitor across the wires.

The switch is held in place by a short screw.

My problem was an intermittent connection I replaced the mains cable. This involved removing a crimped connector and pulling off a spade connector from the switch. The new cable was connected using a new crimped connector and spade connector.

I wired up the motor and then tested it befor Reassembly.

The Reassembly:

Reassembly is essentially the reversal of the above procedure. The switch actuator is placed in position along with it’s spring and the pivot end sharply (not heavily) tapped into position, I used my screwdriver handle.

Remember to replace the short screw under the switch actuator before replacing the actuator.

Align the motor before replacing the clips and securing.