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Technical Tips & Tales

Antifreeze is cheap compared to .................?

With the colder weather and shorter days now is the time to put antifreeze in the cooling system or at the very least check the strength of the old solution and top up its concentration if necessary. Antifreeze does not last forever and should be renewed at the recommended intervals, if not then the engine may suffer from internal corrosion - modern antifreeze does not just prevent freezing but helps to fight corrosion as well. In the UK you are best to have a 50% solution of antifreeze to be on the safe side.  Another tip is to use distilled water if you can when making up an antifreeze solution as this will reduce limescale deposits in the engines water passageways - if you live in a hard water area just look in the kettle next time you make a cuppa to see what I mean !.
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To check the strength of antifreeze  the specific gravity can be measured with a antifreeze hydrometer ( not a battery one !!), this will determine if the solution has been diluted in the summer months by topping up the cooling system with just water and not a 50% antifreze / water mixture. If this is the case boost the concentration back up to the correct strength with concentrated antifreeze after draining some old coolant off. Don't forget old coolant is dangerous to the environment so must be disposed of legally.

When talking about antifreeze I am reminded of a colleague who back in the mid 1970's drove a Hillman Avenger. Now for those of you who don't know the Avenger was a car made by Hillman or Rootes Group as it was then and launched with much acclaim in 1970. Now my colleague had a maroon red Avenger of 1975 vintage and knocked up a fair few miles between business and pleasure. He maintained it himself (being an engineer) and fastidiously changed the engine oil, coolant and the other maintenance tasks as regularly as clockwork. The car was nearing the 100,000 mile mark when he broke down, the coolant was lost and so the engine overheated. Now the cause of the breakdown was actually the antifreeze. The Avenger had a cast iron engine and a cast iron cylinder head so my colleague had used an antifreeze suitable for cast iron. Unfortunately he failed to appreciate that the thermostat housing was made of aluminium and over the years had been corroding away from the inside due to the incorrect antifreeze being used until one day it became so weak and thin a hole appeared. So make sure you are using an antifreeze that is suitable for the materials your engine and cooling system is made from !.

If you neglect the antifreeze and the engine freezes you might be lucky and get away with just a core plug being pushed out (don't forget some core plugs are only accessible once the engine is removed) or more than likely on some engines the block ends up split - and so a few litres of antifreeze is cheap compared to .............

the expense of sorting out a cracked engine block !


Video Tip - getting the best from your tractor battery

Mike's Blog  

This is where I have a monthly rant, rave, reccomendation, reminiscence or simply just a report of whats been happening in my neck of the woods, what might be called the "Five R's" !. Its a monthly blog I'am afraid as when the sun shines I much prefer being outside doing things rather than sitting in front of a computer.

JULY  2021  -  "Dutch Doors!.

As I write this the UK seems in a fairly positive position regarding covid as we head into the summer months, My son (nearly 20) has had his first covid jab at the local NHS hub staffed mainly by volunteers who did a fabulous job !. The new Indian variant seems to be spreading fast in the UK, so full easing of restrictions planned for the 19th July may be adjusted to suit the situation !.  Until all countries have adequate vaccine stocks to administer to populations the world cannot really move forward - this global pandemic needs a global responce before a dangerous new variant can mutate.

My wife has often wished we had a stable door in our kitchen, with the top half open it would enable a view of the back garden and would be useful in keeping the dogs inside the house. I had looked into getting a stable door but they are not cheap and not much of a choice either. Due to the pandemic building supplies especially timber is in short supply here in the UK and naturally prices rise.

My family motto as some of you know is to approach all problems with "an open mind and a closed wallet", so bearing this in mind I set about looking into turning our existing kitchen door into a stable door - well it is a perfectly good door and original to when the house was built in 1947. Stable doors are sometimes called "Dutch doors" in some countries while in the UK they are used on horse stables hence the term stable door !. Looking on YouTube I found lots of information and inspiration, particularly an american guy who turned a cheap hollow door into a stable door.

Since I had all the kit like wood router, saw and chisels I set about the transformation. The guy on YouTube incorporated a narrow wooden shelf into the bottom half of the door, yes, what a good idea I will do the same. This shelf was made from a piece of an old oak dining table which was my folks and I had known all my life, I think "up-cycling" is the term used.

Well the end result has proved very practical, we can get a view of the garden with the top half open, the dogs are kept in, and with the back exterior door open too we get an air flow through the house in hot weather. The total cost of this transformation was £33 and £15 of that was for the new brass door handle, the rest was on the extra hindges and brass bolts. So all in all a good result and once again the family motto was put into practice !. 

Enough of my ramblings I hear you say, yes, OK I can take a hint, so until next month folks thats all for now, take care, stay safe, we can all do our bit to help and see you soon.



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Work in progress ...  the original door cut in half  ...........................  the completed Dutch Door or Stable Door with shelf