Category Archives: landrover

Fixing it.

During the mad Winter festivities I had a semi-serious line: “If it’s broke, don’t fix it.”  Well that can only apply in limited ways and I really spend a lot of time fixing things.  I find this really satisfying.  Take this morning, the fire bricks lining our No. 1 wood-burner are getting way past their best.  A couple are broken in two, one side cheek has a bit missing, the top section that gets hit when fuelling logs is rather worn.  I considered buying a whole set and just replacing the lot.  Until I saw the price £272!  No.2 wood-burner entire cost less than that.  I had always thought about cutting new bricks and I’ve found I can get a sheet that will more than do the job for £60 delivered.  It’s mainly vermiculite so isn’t going to present immense difficulties cutting to shape and the odd holes to be drilled here and there.  I’m going to improve the cheek pieces so they are less likely to break again.  So that’s on the stocks, ordering the sheet today.

On a woody theme, I fixed a couple of parts of the elf making process recently.  I’ve made over a thousand of these little chaps, which sell all the year round – even in early January – first sale of the year!

SAMSUNG CSC The paint doesn’t dry when the temperatures get low, so I put them in their rack in the fire box (once it’s extinguished for the night, obviously).  That works fine, unless it rains, when, despite having a good cowl over the chimney end, water gets down and mars the paint work.  But not with the umbrella I added to the rack quite some time ago now:

SAMSUNG CSCI can cut these elves in about 19 cuts with a following wind.  Just before the Misrule Season I found I could reduce the cuts to about 13 by taking two initial cuts with the axe, makes a smarter job of the hats too.  I’ve made over a thousand of these elves over the past few years (I analise my sales as I prepare my tax return).  This all started from a great Swedish site showing how to make them step by step.

My friend David made me some V-blocks for general holding of round objects and one of them has become an essential part of the production line.  I use them when I saw off the carved elf from the stick.  In the bad old days the elf fell on the floor about 50% of the time.  Now they stay in the V-block 99%.

SAMSUNG CSCI ride my shave-horse side-saddle when carving elves, which used to make it tricky to put my foot on the treadle to nip the V-block.  Now I have improved, self-closing dumb-head:

SAMSUNG CSCGrossly ugly, but works, and is easily removed for conventional horse-work.

Then, there’s the Landy, oh no not the Land Rover!

SAMSUNG CSCUntil its last visit to Railside Garage & MOT test, the faults were: fuel gauge not working; windscreen washers u/s; dodgy hand brake; end of exhaust pipe missing; two front tyres tired out and  a broken rear work light.  All but the last item were fixed and it seemed like a new vehicle!

That work light … essential these dark evenings when I’m packing tools etc into the Landy.  The LR version cost £70 and they’d changed the fixings, so a bit of a non-starter.  Well, I found an £18 LED version that would mount properly.  Hey Presto!


Let there be light.

What a difference.

SAMSUNG CSCLeveled up the chopping block that has had a jaunty lean on it for about a year, at the same time discovered that the shavings had crept up a few inches, much better working height now.  The shavings went into the newly instituted additional storage area.


Hum, the bubble was in the middle before I put that heavy cup of tea on it. (Wouldn’t that have made the bubble run the other way? Ed.)

I’m doing some paid fixing too, this National Trust bench will be getting a little TLC

SAMSUNG CSC SAMSUNG CSC SAMSUNG CSC SAMSUNG CSCTo sort some of the problems out I’m replacing three of the boards, so I need some inch oak boards.  Chainsaw mill at the ready!  Slight problem fixing the wooden frame for the mill to run on for the first cut.  I either use 4″ coach screws into the log – but these would definitely have fouled the chain,  or use log dogs.  My two big ‘uns are already fastening the log to the milling ramp. And the beautiful little ones didn’t seem to be in any of the 4 places I searched for them. Here’s my fix, again rather ugly, but worked a treat.

SAMSUNG CSCIn festive mood I’ve also discovered the wonders of Sugru – putty that cures to a rubber-like compound in 24 hours and sticks to many things.  Won a few Brownie points fixing kitchen stuff.





SAMSUNG CSCI’m not in the woods tomorrow, I’ll be in a massive tithe barn at East Riddlesden Hall learning how to make straw bee skeps (retro hives, now mainly used for gathering swarms). I prepared the long straw earlier.


Working so fast you can’t see me hand moving.

I felt thrown back a couple of hundred years to the time when straw plaiting was a good means to boost the family income of agricultural labourers.  The ladies (OK women and girls really) earned more than the head of household in that way.  It must have been pretty monotonous work.

read more here.

Coppicing – not always what it’s cracked up to be.

Lack of photos warning.

Unfortunately coppicing is not always simply laying into grotty old coppice stools with a Stihl, slipping around, getting the saw stuck, hauling logs and covering levelled stools with hazel brash against deer.  Oh no my children, sometimes it gets dirty.

It hadn’t rained for quite some time and the ground has been drying up nicely.  Then today, coppice Tuesday, the heavens let down their gentle balm in bucketfuls.  Just coinciding with my having brought the trailer home ready to take out that hazel I cut last week.  Well crash on, I thought, not been raining so long yet.

The terrain in Wood Nook coppice is shallowly buried limestone.  Limestone has two properties, when it gets wet it gets slippery in spades.  I think this maybe because it dissolves in rain and becomes very smooth, must also absorb rain a bit I reckon.  Probably because it absorbs water so well, the quality of the soil on limestone, certainly in The Dales, at least, is pretty poor, that is thin.  Water drains away quickly, often into subterranean rivers and caves (good for the tourists and cave rescue folk).  So Wood Nook track up to the top of the coppice is short, steep, curving, littered with outcrop limestone boulders, narrow and in places has a thin layer of soil, read mud.

Went for it, got up last week with just the Land Rover.  Engaged low box and diff lock, crawled up the first section, then took a run at the curve leading onto the top. Nah!  Not going up.  Put the handbrake on – slid back down! Hum, nowhere to turn round, and can’t go forwards.  Got out, had a look, got back in, backed back (as we say around here).  My backing is still pretty bad, but I always get there in the end.  The trouble here was, if I started getting the line wrong I couldn’t go forwards to correct it and try again.  Inevitably I ended up with the trailer pointing into the coppice I cut three years ago, at rather a jaunty angle.  Got out, took a look.  Hah I could cut that corner.  Just kick that old rotten brash out of the way.  Damn, there’s a badly cut stool about a foot high in the middle of it, right in line for catching the underneath of the trailer.  Saw out, rev, rev, rev.  Bit slow, thought I always sharpened the saw ready for next time, not this time – idiot.  So got the stool lowered eventually and shifted all the brash, plus an uninvited stump ball that had turned up on its own.  Ready to run further back, and either turn or abandon the trailer, must at least get the Land Rover out to get home.

Dear Reader, do you remember it’s raining?  By now it is soaking through my chainsaw trousers, my mac, my waistcoat and shirt.  Feet feel dry though, and forgot to put gloves on so they are still dry.  Hands are getting a little muddy though.

Climb back in, try to reverse with the hand brake on. (Really – Ed)  Back, back, back.  Trailer folds into an elegant jack knife, still can’t go forwards, despite laying little sticks horizontal (You’re too optimistic – Ed).  Get shut of the trailer, it’s far enough out of the way now to get away in the LR.  Unhitch, feels a bit light  with no load on, I wonder.  Pulls a bit on the jockey wheel (weighs about a ton though).  Back in the cab.  Forward, no, check hand brake off, yes, no go, line up wheels in a straight line, oh yes!  Escape in sight, at least in the motorised section of the train.  Pity to have to leave the trailer though, don’t really need it immediately, plenty of logs at home.  Hang on though, did I put those straps back in yet?  Out, round to the passenger side, flip the seat forwards, nah, just the blue ratchet strap, hum, might work.  Fastened the strap round the trailer hitch and onto the ball of the LR (sounds quick, took two goes to get in the right position).  Now this did seem optimistic to me.  The trailer was pointing away from the back of LR by about 120 degrees. maybe more.  Could I pull it round.  Have a go.  Worked like a dream.  Get out, duh, need to back up to get the strap off, Back up, park right on the strap.  Back in , back up, back out.  Strap off.  Back in. Back back.  Back out. Hole in one – ball right under the hitch.  Down the rest of the slippery slidey track – forwards, luxury.  Loaded up with some easier logs, and back to base.

More water.  Moved the grind stone to The Bodgery a couple of days ago and installed a water dripping tin.



It is really cool to have fresh water running over the stone rather than the mud from the bath.  Try it!  I always thought it looked a bit silly.  I even have an easy drip control – a tack sitting in the hole that I can wiggle about.

Much drier at the bench.

bench work