I thought it was time to give an update on how things are progressing. Although I haven’t published much, plenty has been going on behind the scenes and endless photographs of bits of plywood aren’t exactly interesting reading.
So as things stand, the task of cutting out the plywood parts is complete. This involved sticking the full size patterns onto the sheets and cutting around them. This was easy work and all down to the thorough job John Cowperthwaite did in producing them.
(Apologies for the poor photographs in part due to the Severn Trent Van blocking access to my garage preventing me from getting the panels outside)
On Monday, Connor and I drove to Newport Pagnell to collect the donor vehicle for the project. A very reasonably priced Suzuki SJ413. It has spent the last 11 years on a farm being used as a “learn to drive” vehicle for the Farmer’s daughters. It has amassed a whopping 150 miles since 2003. The body gently succumbed to rust over the last decade but mechanically it is a low mileage, unmolested example of the marque. It was happy to start, go into gear and the chassis is pretty much perfect. I don’t think I could have found a better starting point for the Midge.
(pictures courtesy of Connor)
I have just completed the first bit of real construction. The transmission tunnel comprises of 9 pieces of plywood and it went together pretty well but I think I will dry build the other panels onto the chassis before skinning them with aluminium so that I can get the fit just how I want it before committing myself to destroying £150 of aluminium.
(the glued transmission tunnel drying out in the warmth of the hallway allowed by the generosity of @no1LindaMason)
As I want two clear days to take the body off the SJ and I am going to need the help of Connor for the heavy work, this will have to wait until I can commandeer him away from college, however the progress won’t be stalled as I have the powder coating oven to build, at the moment it is cunningly disguised as a filing cabinet and a double oven. Time to get the angle grinder out me thinks
Keep posted by subscribing to my blog for the continuing adventures of me and my Midge (MkII)
Can I just point out powder coating is unnecessary and just something I fancied doing
All to often these days we see You Tube videos of reckless and dangerous driving affecting the lives of cyclists. After my accident I have tried to raise awareness of the need for greater tolerance by all road users to allow us all to get to where we intend to be in a safe manner.
Yesterday I sent an email to a road haulier regarding a you tube video of a reckless pass by a lorry on a cyclist. I received a reply from the company’s Operations Manager and I am impressed by the manner in which he responded. I have copied it out below in full.
I often criticise, so it is only right I praise.
Perhaps there is a chance for us after all.
Thank you for your email regarding the YouTube video.
Fagan & Whalley Ltd take driver training and road safety in general very seriously and have invested much time recently in promoting cycle safety, both from the point of view of the HGV driver and indeed from the view of the cyclists.
As recently as this Monday we provided a HGV and our Training Coordinator to Greater Manchester Police as part of their on-going campaign for education of road safety.
In this instance it would appear the driver has misjudged the oncoming traffic island and had to cut-in sharply, and thankfully a collision was narrowly avoided.
The driver has been reprimanded for his actions and will attend our safety course in the very near future.
Thank you again for contacting us and be rest assured we take these instances very seriously
Midge MkII Build Diary part 1 (of many)
I guess this is part one of the Mighty Midge (MkII) build story. The plans arrived today. As you can see, they are very comprehensive. How it goes, only time will tell.
A fair portion of my monthly budget went on buying the plans from John Cowperthwaite at Lightning Cars and sorting out the security for garage the car will be stored in so it will be a fairly quiet month on the build. As a number of the patterns are simply reversed for each side I bought a sheet of 12mm MDF and I will cut out a templates in that and make any mistakes on the cheaper material. From there I will use a template cutter on my router table to make the identical panels in a fuss free manner.
I am currently away in Glasgow at my union conference representing the interests of some 500 souls. I doubt that many are awaiting with baited breath to discover the decisions I made on their behalf, I doubt many are aware of the uncertain future threatening the TSSA or that there is an alternative to the madness that presents itself as a government of the people for the people.
In the light of the saddening news with the first of no doubt many similar episodes, of someone deciding their own life is worthless in the face of austerity, I am at a loss why we aren’t on the streets to demand an end to the evil this government produces. What does it take for Britain 2013 to stand up and say no?
Social conscious is pilloried, the weak are castigated and portrayed as an undeserving underclass and no matter how bad the situation is, it can be exploited for profit, Lord Young was only just saying how good austerity was for business by keeping labour costs down. Here is chap who knows stuff, two years ago he told us we had never had it so good, compared to 2013 he was probably right.
We often look to the past for lessons to shape the future and the ruling classes are no different, they have learned from their losses and put plans, laws and procedures in place to keep the lower classes in place. One such lesson was given to us tonight by Eileen Turnbull who travelled from Liverpool to talk on the campaign for justice for the Shrewsbury 24. Ricky Tomlinson had been expected to talk to us but apparently he would rather have root canal work done than talk to a conference of transport workers. I wish him speedy recovery and advise him that Eileen was an inspired and captivating replacement.
Until recently I was pretty unaware of the Building Workers Strike of 1972. I was 10 years old at the time and my childhood memories are of power cuts and the four minute warning but I have learned of the injustice and the damned lies that transformed a demand for fair pay and safe working conditions into a conspiracy that led to imprisonment and blacklisting. I was privileged to attend a talk by Gerry Kelly at a trades council meeting where he outlined how he is still blacklisted from the construction industry 40 years after the dispute. I was disturbed to discover that in the 21st Century blacklisting is still determining who works and who doesn’t and that safety is being blamed for the lack of an upturn in the economy.
Hearing the plight of the Shrewsbury 24 demonstrated the lengths the fat cats are prepared to go to to get even and the lengths forty years later they are still prepared to go to to bury the truth. I am confused how a 12 week strike, four decades ago can be classed as a matter of national security and yet Chris Grayling refuses to release documents on those grounds.
The campaign and the E-petition have been well publicised, well you can’t lock up Jim Royale without it going unnoticed but it appears even now, despite the overwhelming evidence of injustice, someone isn’t playing fair and questions have been raised in Parliament over tampering with the petition. To this end the Shrewsbury 24 campaign is seeking to get the 100000 signatures the old fashioned way, on paper and I should imagine the image of a red faced Ricky Tomlinson carrying a huge box of signatures up Downing Street will be a whole lot more unpleasant than a foul mouthed toff on a push bike.
The petition can be downloaded from WWW.Shrewsbury24campaign.org.UK/
It has been a busy couple of days with regard to Consultant appointments. The claim is at the stage where solicitors on both sides are requiring medical reports from experts in broken bones and broken minds. Yesterday we visited a clinic is the posh end of Birmingham to have my arm pulled about for the defence’s benefit. The Mister, as they are way better than Doctors, gave me a thorough test which resulted in a pulled muscle and a lot of residual pain. The end result was the conclusion that the injuries could not have been caused by anything other than the accident. Whilst this was a relief, I couldn’t help thinking these people get paid a lot of money for stating the bleeding obvious.
Today we visited a less posh location in the south of Birmingham to a Mister who was checking my head for the benefit of the defence. In many ways, the ordeal of having the trauma dragged up is worse than having my battered body pulled about. The truth is my head wasn’t in the best shape before the accident and so the damage is less clear cut. My bike was my thinking space that made many other things bearable, to prove that I am more of a nut than I was is difficult and to relate to issues that are now thirteen months hence is difficult to recall and relate.
I wasn’t expecting a pleasant experience, I certainly wasn’t expecting the Mister to give a heartfelt plea to reconsider how my PTSD will be treated and for this Mister to basically call my Mister an unqualified charlatan, whose testimony has been called into doubt in a court of law. He called his report nothing much more than a speculative tender to provide treatment and if he had provided a medical report and a quote to carry out the work, he would expect to be struck off the register. This leaves me in a situation, there is no doubt I need treatment and funds have been set aside with my Solicitors to provide payment for the treatment, so treatment isn’t in doubt here but blimey I am in turmoil as to whether I should be going next week and see his bank account swell by £1500 for the delivery of snake oil.
The other issue is why my Solicitors have chosen an expert with no recognised qualification to act on my behalf and why they have allowed an unethical tender to go ahead. I only want the best for me but I now have serious doubts if my cure really is around the corner. I have waited so long for this to happen, with a dim hope that it may lead to me getting back in the saddle I don’t want it messed up.
Based on some kind of stubborn defence mechanism I realised that there is no point waiting for my head to be fixed and took the bull by the horns. I removed Linda’s bike from the shed and did a few circuits around the block and my arm didn’t drop off, my head didn’t explode and it felt good. So good that all I want to do is get back on and go for a proper ride and see how a few miles feel. Of course this meant finding something with wheels attached to test myself with and this call for help has been answered by a very good friend who has kindly agreed to lend Aldridge’s most prolific cycle crasher a steed to have a go on for which I am extremely grateful. Well I am off to polish my SPD’s in readiness wearing a great big smiley face beaming out from under my flat cap.
We decided to take advantage of the seasonably normal weather and our recently purchased membership to the West Midlands Bird Club and took a drive over to Ladywalk Nature Reserve in the heart of the Hams Hall distribution centre in the outskirts of Birmingham.
Now a bigger than huge industrial area in close proximity to the urban sprawl seems an unlikely location for much in the way of wildlife but it turned out to be a real gem with a number of well situated hides, pleasant paths and varied environment. The car park leads you along the river, through woodland, and into wetland and lakes. The margins were a flurry of activity and the sight of Cormorants nesting in the trees was more akin to a Attenborough documentary for far flung shores than the West Midlands.
In all we saw 37 species of birds, 3 Muntjac deer and a number of bees and butterflies. Of highlight for me was a first ever sighting of Little Grebe, Redshank, Redpoll and Dunlin. The slightly unusual sighting of Little Egret, Common Sandpiper, Oystercatchers and Grey Wagtail were amongst those recorded and just this one trip was worth the joining fee alone.
Linda managed to get quite a few shots of the sightings as I elected to carry my spotting scope rather than the camera on this occasion which usually ensures we get a host of unusual sightings.
Without doubt, with the compact nature of the location and the short distance from our house Ladywalk has just topped my list of favourite birding spots.