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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.

MAY  2021  -  "David Brown magic (part one)!.

As I write this the UK seems in a positive position regarding covid as we head towards the summer months, by the end of June most restrictions will hopefully have gone although travelling abroad may still be restricted depending on the destination. All this depends on everything going to plan and no new variants of concern which are possible !. The situation in India is dire, lockdowns were needed to halt the spread but leaders put the economy first and the population is paying such a heavy price. The UK is amoung the countries sending medical equipment and supplies, but 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.

Looking through some photographs taken several years ago at steam rallies it reminded me of how I miss those events, none were in 2020 and very few if any will be held in 2021 it seems. One photo that caught my eye was of a David Brown 780 tractor just like the one I drove while working on a farm after leaving school and before going to college. The farm in question (Frilford Farms Ltd) produced a lot of vegtables and was home to the Wiseacre herd of pedigree Welsh pigs, my job was pigman making  up a team of 4. 

Most of the time I worked on the farrowing side with Tommy, a Scotsman with a wicked sence of humour. One day Tommy and I were working in the farrowing house teeth clipping piglets, the owner of the farm suddenly appeared as the piglet Tommy was holding was "smoking a cigarette", place there by Tommy just for a second, "whats that Tommy" the owner exclaimed ......."smoky bacon sir" came Tommy's reply !.

The David Brown tractor we had was well used and sported an Lanbourn cab but minus the doors or windscreen, and was used to feed the outdoor sows in the pig paddocks and hauling feed from the mill. The farm had a private tarmac road running through it and was used by the tractors and minibuses to ferry workers and produce from the fields back to the farm sheds. The land was flat so tractors could be driven in top gear on the internal road.

Tommy and I used to work a weekend shit together, we both liked to start early and then finish early once the work had been done. On one Sunday we had just completed the very last task of feeding the outdoor sows at 8.00am in the morning and was heading back to the farm along the internal road. Tommy was driving the David Brown while I was standing on the pallet of the forklift attachment on the rear. Tommy wanted to finish extra early for some reason so was driving "pedal to the metal" and singing Viva Espania at the top of his voice (Scottish accent to boot), while trying to keep the well worn DB on the straight and narrow.

All seemed to be OK but I noticed the vertical exhaust silencer starting to slowly rise with the back pressure building up by the fast flowing exhaust gases being restricted the the loose fitting silencer. Before I could alert Tommy the silencer had raised further to clear the bonnet, at which point the forward motion of the tractor forced the hot exhaust silencer torpedo style into the cab (remember there was no windscreen). Tommy was now fending off the hot silencer with one hand with the tractor weeving as he steered with the other hand, squeeling brakes bringing the tractor to a halt as Tommy's singing merged to more agricultural language !. Tommy did not waste time fitting the silencer back on but tossed it to me at the rear. The villagers were most probably woken by the sound of a David Brown 780 on full chat with no silencer that Sunday morning !.

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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David Brown 780 tractor similar to the one used on the outdoor pigs at Frilford Frams Ltd ........ happy days !