in which I make a grave error of judgement

Posted 24 March, 2015 by perigrine
Categories: miscellaneous

Tags: , , , , ,

I was at Autobarn today in search of a single spark plug lead for the car, my #1 having split somehow. A single lead was $6, but it didn’t look like the ‘about right’ one would reach, due to the configuration of the pokery bits. I’m sure they have names. The guy who was serving me calls Repco and they don’t have anything. So he checks their Top Gun brand (ebay, 24ish), I’m not sure if they will fit, coz the engine end is wider. The guy calls Bursons. Their set is 78$. So the fella LEAVES THE STORE and comes to my car, parked across the road and checks the fit with me. It fits, then we go back to the store leaving the lead on the car! I mention the oil on the thingy, and he says its the gasket. I ask if they have one…yep, they do. The work experience guy gets to look up the gasket and find it..coz I encouraged it (wasn’t in a hurry)..its 17$ or so (better than the 45 + I was expecting). I then got him to check out the availability and price of the cv boot kit and the entire joint.

I ended up getting a full set, and the valve cover gasket.

After watching this video in YouTube, I determined that changing the valve cover gasket was well within my capabilities. I even had the right tools to do it. Yay!

I got the bits together and went to try it.

Turns out that the screwy thing on the back of the cover needed a 14mm spanner. But I couldn;t move that at all, so I tried the pliers on the clip and that worked. But the pliers were too small to span the other clip.

I tried the small ratchet and the socket, ‘to see’ if 10mm, as per the film, was right, and it was. Except…I needed an extension for it. I didn’t have enough room to swing the ratchet. I was about to pack up when I remembered the actual gizmo that was in my tool lot for the sockets. That gave me enough height to use properly, but being cheap shit, the post spun in the handle, so no go there either.

Ok..foiled at every turn there, so I decide to switch over the spark plug leads. #1 lead was in the right place, having been put there by the guy from Autobarn. (I really ought to write to head office and let them know he was great.)

Problem is…the OLD leads were numbered. Great! The new ones aren’t, and I made a stupid stupid error of yanking the remaining 3 off, without marking the leads, OR where they went on the blocky thing, which is called a coil pack.

The book says the firing order is 1-3-4-2. Great. *I* know that the engine side #1 is the far left, and the coil pack #1 is the top. After that? No clue.

Lots of Gooling later and I determine that the engine spark plugs are 1-2-3 4 across the front. Great! But the coil pack? was it 1-2-3-4 up and down? This link, for an Accent, says no.

We looked at a lot of pictures, and determined that #3 will NEVER be on the bottom – er…for an Excel.

A page for a Tiburon shows my firing order, and the coil pack being different.

More Googling, and it seems that the actual coil pack numbering is 1-4-3-2 – on my 1996 Hyundai Excel anyway. As per this picture.

I rearranged the leads, and put them on in the correct configuration.

I started it. It worked and sounded normal. Whether it drives is another matter. But I will have to put it in the car port later, so we will see. If it doesn’t, then I know I have to switch #3 and #4

For the record, I called Hyundai in town. They were less than helpful, saying they couldn’t tell me that information (coil pack numbering) over the phone – but I could take it down and they will look at it!

I need better tools to do the gasket.

If you ever try this at home, number your coil pack…or change the leads one at a time, then number them.

In which I kit out my car

Posted 23 March, 2015 by perigrine
Categories: ideas


There is a thing on this weekend I would like to attend at a distant pub. Not being a fan of driving in the dark, or late at night, and being too stingy to fork out for a room – not to mention too nervous to muck around sleeping in my tent alone, I decided to see if I could make the old foam mattress in the shed fit in my car so I can sleep in it with a modicum of comfort. I got the idea from this inflatable car mattress. Erk! it is $109 on Amazon (save 190). Or 89 from Ebay.

The mattress wasn’t the size of a single bed, having come from an old style modular couch. I had thought it might just squish in behind the seats nicely, but it was too big.

Very roughly I marked where I wanted to cut it, using a knife from the kitchen. Then just hacked away until the top part was free. With that bit looking ‘about the right size’ [to fit on the floor] I cut it in half, again, roughly and plonked them on the floor behind the seats. I had thought the foam was thick enough to just fit, but alas, it wasn’t. After that I gauged just how wide the remaining bit of foam needed to be and set about slicing that off as well. I erred on the side of caution and made everything just a fraction wider to fit snugly. The last thing I want to be doing is slipping down a gap at 2am.

I tested that out and found it quite amenable. It is a bit pongy though. Years of sitting in the shed haven’t done it any good.

There was a bit left over and I have cut that to fit to use it as a pillow.

Whether I will ever use this to sleep in the car over night is another matter. I certainly wont be if the smell doesn’t dissipate. Either way, the mattress is now out of the shed!

I’m tempted to test this out tonight, but I can’t think of where to go.

Sewing new seat covers has also been in my mind lately. The price of ready made ones it stupid. I had thought to use the backed curtains I have, but enough research says that stretch fabric will be better in the long run.

DIY car maintenance

Posted 22 March, 2015 by perigrine
Categories: miscellaneous

Tags: , ,

So, the other day my little car was serviced ‘at home’ – rather than at ‘the mechanics’. The back of the Kmart docket said their service was $159, and well..I dont trust other people to work on my car. Being female and all, I often wonder whether the mechanics actually do change bits. My old mechanic used to give me a check list of what he looked at, and changed, and what needed attention ‘soon.’ The people that took over that service station didn’t do that.

Knowing the car was [over]due for a service I had a look on ebay and found all the main bits I needed. Oil, air and fuel filters. These were packaged together and cost just $36. These same parts from Sparespro and Supercheap are

Ryco Oil filter Sparespro = 7.65, Supercheap = 13.50

Ryco Air filter Sparespro = 16.27, Supercheap = 31.50!!

Ryco Fuel filter Sparespro= 39.19, Supercheap = 41.95

The parts I got weren’t Ryco, but I still saved a hell of a lot.

I got spark plugs from Autobarn, which were about 2.50 each x 4, and ‘proper’ Castrol oil. Total there was a bit over $40 I think.

Coolant for the engine was from Coles. That was under $10, and probably not usually included in a service anyway. Oh look, whats involved in a car service.

I got someone else to drive the car over the pit (not sure if that has a proper name), because I didn’t feel confident that my little Excel would fit over something that is used for tractors and other assorted work vehicles.  If it fell in, it wasn’t going to be my fault.

Before we did anything, and yes, I was there and going to be involved, I checked the transmission. It being an automatic and all, needed to be warm to check. I do this anyway as routine, but checking while everything else was being done just sounded sensible.

Next was the oil which was first drained from the sump plug, and then the oil filter. This was more than ‘hand tight’ and needed a bit of persuasion by way of a screwdriver put through it to help twist off. I quite liked the feeling of the warm oil running over my hand. The almost 2 year old oil was dark, but not too bad, in my estimation anyway. The edges were a nice coffee brown. Had it been a latte color things would have been bad.

The new filter was installed and the sump plug was replaced. The nice clean and clear oil was emptied into the engine. My car is meant to have 3.3 litres of oil, so the 5 litre bottle was oodles. You know the service stickers you get on the car? well, the oil bottle had one! I had thought they were fancy, specially bought things.

The fuel filter was not towards the back of the car, like the Holden ones have been. It was bolted to the back of the engine bay and a prick to undo and get off. It was an original Hyundai one, so it could well have been 19 years old. Thankfully my smaller hands could access it, but brute strength was needed to undo the bolts. I thought a couple of times that it would get pulled off the wall.

Getting to the air filter was as much fun with the hosey thing on it and a number of screws that were tucked *just* out of the way. That was an easy changeover. The crap in the housing was blown out with the compressor.

The spark plugs were also fairly tight, but easily replaced with the shiny clean new ones. While doing this the #1 lead was found to have a split in it..and I have just remembered I was meant to get a new one.

The radiator was drained and new coolant put in. The book says it should have taken 5.5 litres (but only comes in a 5 litre bottle – go figure), but mine only took about 4 litres. Apparently there is some around the engine somewhere.

After engine things we had a gander underneath the car. My car doesn’t have any grease nipples it seems. The brake pads were inspected, and I was told I could get new ones, but it wasn’t overly important to get *now.* I’m not sure what was looked at to say that, but I trust that the person telling me wasn’t wasting my money.

It turns out the cv boots should be replaced, one sooner than the other since it is spitting grease out. CV boots are fairly cheap, at around $15 each. For a bit more money I can have the entire cv joint (think of it like a shoulder socket), the boots, clamps and the grease for $40 each side. I am the sort of person who would do it all at the same time, rather than do the boots and find while doing them that the joint should be replaced ‘soon.’ It needs a bit more thinking about before committing to $80.

I’m not sure where the exhaust rattle originates, but an entire exhaust looks to be just over $200.

While doing car things I checked the lights. They all seem to work, except for the number plate lights. Since not having any is a bookable offence they needed seeing to asap. Today I went down the road and bought some. I find it highly amusing to walk into a ‘boys store’ looking like a girl. I wore a skirt and knee high boots today (and a thermal top to be perverse). I was attended to before I even got to the shelves and told the guy I wanted fuel injector stuff and light globes for the number plate. He queried what sort of car/globes, so I showed him the old one. The new ones were 3.99, and the injector fluid was $13.

So far the total for the service is just under $100, minus labor. I’m not sure if the light globes would be included in the price of a standard mechanic one, but wiper blades are (or were at the old place – they would only ever replace the front ones, and not the back though. They could have easily put an old front on the back. The back one at the time was growing moss!) The best part of all this is seeing how to do it, and knowing that next time I could probably do it all by myself. I would have liked to do more of the one we did myself (spark plugs are well within my capabilities), but anyway.

Changing the number plate lights was tricky. ‘Everyone’ told me they just pull out from the inside, but I couldn’t manage to do that. A friend got them out yesterday and that was a great help. Since I don’t like playing with electricity, I was having kittens at the prospect of putting the new globes in. I was reassured by plenty of people that it would be fine and there would be no sparks. ‘Iif the lights aren’t on there’s no power’ – even if the boot light comes on. But still. I eventually disconnected the battery. Holding the tiny globe and having it spark |–| far away from my fingers, and above my head was too scary to contemplate.

The new globes needed a bit of a push to get in the housing – more than I thought they would need, but they went in. I reconnected the battery and turned the lights on with no sparky noises. Yay! they worked! I turned the lights off and disconnected the battery again, before reseating the holders in the car. After that I sorted the battery and checked the lights again. Still working. Tightened up the battery cable and finished up.

I still think the car will blow up as a result of playing with the lights, but at least I wont get a fine any more. I am also a bit more self assured about what I can fix myself if something untoward happens since I don’t appear to be able to get RACT Roadside assistance, OR insurance.


Curly polar fleece

Posted 16 March, 2015 by perigrine
Categories: craft, scraps, sewing, thrifting

Tags: , , , , , ,


I made a few more to test out another way of making them. They look a bit neater, but not great. For some reason the polar fleece seems to curve. I’m thinking this is because it is a stretch fabric, which is why I tried sewing them with the fleece on top this time. It doesn’t seem to have made much difference.

Counting them up last night, I now have 17. This rather surprised me, coz I thought I had only made ‘a few.’

TMI below regarding use:
Read the rest of this post »

Saved Page: Tiny Bird Organics – Cloth Pads

Posted 15 March, 2015 by perigrine
Categories: archiving, craft, scraps, sewing, thrifting

Tags: , , , ,

This is NOT MY PAGE: I have collected it from the Web Archive before it disappears forever.


Tiny Birds Organics...offering organic and fair trade alternatives

Make your own Cloth Pads – Sewing Instructions with standard sewing machine
I designed these cloth pads for custom absorbency and there is no need to have a serger machine to make them.  These are turned and topstitched pads with custom absorbency sewn in, and you also have the ability to add in extra inserts for heavy days.  Of all of the pads I’ve made, these are the ones I reach for first so I wanted to share the instructions with other moms.
How do I use/wash cloth pads?
Here’s what I do, but everyone is different!  I made about 30 pads (over the years) so I only have to wash them once per month.  As I use the pads, I put the used ones into a large diaper bag next to the toilet.  Usually by the end of my period, I wash them (if I remember right away).  Definitely I wash before my next cycle!  I put the pads (without bothering to pull out inserts, presoak, or anything) into the washing machine along with the diaper bag, and wash with cold water and detergent.  Then I do a second wash with hot water and no detergent (this is the same way I wash our diapers).  Then the pads go in the dryer and right back into the diaper bag to carry to the bathroom.  Easy? Yip!  You couldn’t pay me to use a disposable pad.  I always had leakage problems with disposables, and they made me itch.  I also made some nice big hourglass shaped pads for night time that I wear underneath of these, so my underwear don’t get stained any more.  If someone like me can use cloth, anyone can.  I have a super heavy flow and I’m also super lazy.  Cloth is what works best for me and I bet it would for you too!
What about going to work, dinner, etc?
Yes I remember the first time I worried about that too.  It turns out to be really easy.  I didn’t have a big purse, so when I used to go to the office, I bought one of the Glad-Rags black zipper bags that looks like a backpack type material.  No one would ever know what it was (probably people would think it was a make-up container).  I took that to work and would carry it to the bathroom each time.  There’s another bag inside to put the used pads in, so the clean pads stay separate inside.  Now that I have a baby I just throw the pads in our diaper bag.  Pretty simple.

Materials Needed:  organic cotton terry/towel insert (2 layers) shown upper left in photo (hemp fleece or organic cotton fleece can be substituted, anything cotton or hemp is fine), and 4 pieces of flannel cut as shown in curved shapes (I’ll try to scan my patterns soon, but you can fake it by just copying the shapes and making them the length/width desired, leaving enough extra all the way around for the seams)

First lay the terry (1-2 layers as desired) on top of one of the full pieces shown below, and use a zigzag stitch to attach it:

Next lay the other full-size flannel piece on top, print side up:

Next double-fold and hem the edges of the two partial pieces:

Lay one of the pieces (print side down) on top of the layers you created earlier (the partial piece just added is at the bottom of the photo, print side down):

Then lay on the 2nd piece (also print side down) as shown, overlapping the first one on top:

Now if you look at your pieces, you will see this layering:

Make sure the prints are all facing each other inside:

Then sew around the outside of the whole thing:

This is what it looks like on the bottom now:

Turn it inside out:

Not done yet!  Look at how the seams show on the inside, and this would fray terribly in the wash:

So topstitch now and then the edges will all be enclosed:

No edges showing any more:

Add a snap and you’re finished!  These wash beautifully and last for many years.  There is a pocket so you can add inserts too for heavy days (even a wool-backed insert for extra leak protection).  Most days the pad alone should be enough though.

Northern Caverneers

Caving club webpage


my (sometimes) crazy explorations of Tassie wilderness and mountains


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