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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.

DECEMBER  2021  -  "Slimline Santa" !.

Well December has come around again with the festivities just a few weeks away. Santa is probably getting his sleigh fetteled ready for the big night and making sure the reindeer have the best fodder to sustain them on their journey.

This reminded me of a December back in the late 1980's when I was working at the college and put on a Christmas party for a group of NCH students. I used to teach machinery to a variety of different courses including the National Certificate in Horticulture course. This particular year the students were a good group who all gelled together well, just like a big family really and a real pleasure to teach. So when December arrived I felt a party on a Saturday night would be a fun event to do and since some mature students had young children Santa would have to attend too.

Now Santa by tradition is a rather rotund jolly gentleman with a white beard. Yours truely is reasonably jolly most of the time but rotund he is not, when the Good Lord was giving out the insulation I was at the back of the line !. The local plant hire shop were hiring out Santa costumes so it seemed only right to become "Santa". 

The next problem was Santa's transport, well being an agriculture college it had to be a tractor but a normal sized tractor could not acess the gravel terrace outside the room to be used for the party. The answer had to be a compact tractor, there was a choice between a Ford 1210, an old battered Kobuta or a shiney Massey Ferguson 1020, yes it had to be the red Massey 1020 !.

I arrived mid afternoon on the Saturday to prepare the tractor, final polish, attach antlers to the front and ballons to the roll bar. The antlers came from a neighbours dustbin and were sticking out as the lid would not go on, I asked permission from the neighbour and paid her £10, she was a pensioner and it was Christmas time !.

The party started and was in full swing with staff and students  when I slipped out to walk the short distance to the workshop. The evening had turned foggy so rather atmospheric, after a quick "gear charge" for me I was ready to roll with the Massey 1020. With present sack tied on the back I set of, flights all on to the back gravel terrace, on arrival a few blasks of the horn and circles outside the room had folks peering out of the windows into the mist outside ........ "Santa has arrived" .......if nothing else had given it away the "Santa 4 U" number plate would have done !. Bring the tractor to a halt I could hop off, untie the sack and enter the room through a side enterance. Yes that was a good evening and enjoyed by all.

After Santa had delivered presents he had to set off into the murky mist once again on the Massey 1020. Eventually I was able to return to the party amid some "Ho Ho Ho" jokes, I remember the Head of Horticulture's wife having a quiet word with me, "Mike I thought Santa used to be a rather rotund gentleman", "yes" I replied "but that was before he went on a diet ..... all those mince pies !", "Ah I see ..... a slimline Santa" she replied.

So if you can't get to sleep on the night of the 24th and look out of your bedroom window you might just see Santa driving a 4WD Massey Ferguson 1020 compact tractor as he goes about delivering presents to those folk in rural areas where sleighs can't reach !.


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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Santa's transport a Massey Ferguson 1020 compact tractor with antlers and private number plate waiting in workshop.