Monthly Archives: November 2013

Chicks away

7:30 am this morning I spotted two Brush Turkey chicks around the nest established in the backyard during our UK absence. Finally, the daily visits from Poppa, or Mr Brush Turkey, may be at an end? No more tending the nest, checking the temperature, redistributing leaf litter, twigs, branches, rocks & whatever his claws would flick up, no more attacks on the remaining garden to refresh the material over this last 2 months?

Hoping to capture some pics I headed out with the camera, just in time to see them break cover one by one & scamper towards the local bush.


Next minute, there was Poppa strutting up to inspect the nest! Over the next hour or so, he dug into the nest at particular points, & dug & dug! At times, so far in that only his tail showed. (Our assumption was that he was checking for any remaining eggs?) Eventually he was done & gone; would he return?


Having sighted more than one hen visiting the nest, we had wondered over what period of time chicks may be hatching? Now it seems that all the activity is over & we’ve inherited a demolished nest & considerably more compost material than we started with! Looks like we can reclaim the compost heap & rebuild the garden & lawns? Well, some day soon?



Minimalist multi-roles

Well, here we go again; another trip coming up in the Tardis , our VW T5 Campervan. This time however, the Tardis will be more of a T5 Transporter than Campervan, as we’ll have an extra passenger in Mrs Aussie’s Mum.

The trip with “the Mum” has highlighted what we seem to take for granted; that the step into the Tardis is a fairly tall one. Perhaps it was time to get ourselves a little portable step? Looking around I couldn’t see anything that fills our usual criteria of items readily integrating into the van & ideally having dual roles? (Our Tardis is deceptively spacious but can’t match its namesake!)

Another thing I’ve been meaning to do, is setup a support frame or such for when carrying a Brompton in the passenger area. Robinson fits neatly under the bed in the rear but Ralph usually just lays on the floor in the rear passenger area with some packing under the Alfine rear hub to avoid the pointy acorn axle nut digging into the floor. (Robinson is a rack model Brompton & when laid on the side, the rack/Ezi wheels & the MKS removable pedal adapter (with pedal removed) become three points of contact with the floor & makes for a stable package. Ralph has no rack & the wider rear frame with Alfine hub becomes one contact point, along with the MKS pedal adapter & Ezi wheel.)

After pondering the separate issues of T5 step & Ralph’s support system, I realised I could combine everything. I found that my wooden work stand was a good size for a step (albeit not really stable enough) & that the handle bar support legs where ideally placed for supporting a Brompton frame. Turning to my stock of timber off-cuts I then constructed some “support boxes” that would become leg supports for the step, supports for keeping Ralph’s acorn axle nut off the floor & also a seat protection pad for when using the work stand in its original role.

Enough of trying to explain all this in words, let’s see some piccies of the work stand in a multi-use way – step, mobile stand & support cradle (& when not in use can be stacked on the side door sill beside the sliding door).





Hopefully that’s all made sense, although perhaps I should clarify:
The work stand fits any of my bikes & usually sits in the garage but I’ve often missed it while on a trip. Now, with the recent Aldi purchase of a work stand, my mobile work stand may stay in the Tardis?
I don’t expect to carry both “the Mum” & Ralph on the next trip (Ralph will stay home & other bikes will be on our rear bike carrier).

Up-market servicing

It was meant to be, it was fate! After many years making do with cobbled bike work stands & support systems, it was pointed out to me (while in the shopping centre) that Aldi was having one of their bike stuff sales – & that a work stand was included! I’d never been enthused to spend lots of money on a super-duper work stand but maybe this one would do? Finished my coffee & trotted along & sure enough; a cheap work stand & probably good enough? After all, it did say, “Fits all bikes” on the box?

Back home & assembling it but noticed that the in-box instructions now said, “Fits bike tubes from 25 to 40mm”!? Oh well, maybe ok for the other bikes, if not the Bromptons? Here’s a pic of the assembled unit (with some irrelevant extra bits):


Trying the stand with Ralph highlighted a few things. The bike tube clamp was just big enough for a Brompton, although it would have better that the hinge have a cantilever arrangement in order that the clamp jaws were centred on the tube (ie the shape of the jaws ideally suit the smallest tube size but when the clamp is opened fully, the jaws give the impression of “fingers squeezing a lemon pip”?) I will probably fabricate something to get the clamp hinge further apart? Soon…


The alarming thing I found with using the stand with a Brompton, is that the clamping area on the mainframe tube is not the balance point. With more weight to the rear, you have to have all clamps done up tight to avoid the Brompton rotating! I pondered this for a while & then rummaged around the garage, resurrected my first version of a luggage block adapter, bolted a bidon cage to it, popped in a large sized tool container & filled it with garden pebbles. Hey presto! – a counter weight.


Mungo tweaks

Pre-Brompton came Mungo, a Dahon Vector 27-speed 20″ wheel size folding bike. With thoughts of traveling & not wanting to go through the difficulties of transporting a full-sized bike via airlines & rental vehicles, Mungo gave me a near-road bike feel & with a good range of gears. However, Mungo also showed that it was still going to be a case of disassembly if I hoped to travel with an airlines-compatible single case or soft bag & avoid needing a larger-sized rental car. Fortunately, 2 Bromptons unexpectedly/miraculously came along via eBay “Buy now” purchases & Mungo lost out on seeing the world? (As has Daisy, a Dahon Vitesse 18-speed flat-bar model that Mrs Aussie also found via eBay.)

Another purchase for local travels & trips has been the Tardis, our VW T5 Campervan. While our T5 has a good spot for one Brompton in the rear compartment under the bed, a rear bike carrier is necessary for whichever of our bikes go with us on multi-day trips. Mungo & Daisy fit well with the Tardis trips; all-purpose bikes with mudguards, side-stands & nice rides but with the added benefit of foldability for storage when we don’t want to lock them (unfolded) on the bike rack.

Warning: some paragraphs follow that involve mathematics. Perhaps you may have a need to scroll/swipe to the last paragraph & pic?

What an all-purpose bike also needs, is a range of gears that will suit most terrains that our trips take us to. Rather than just test riding a bike up every hill you can find, to see if the gear ratios are suitable, a means of comparing gear ratios is to obtain/calculate the “Gear Inches” (GI) by multiplying the gear ratios for bottom & top gears by the diameter of the wheel. For some people this may be somewhat difficult but for me I’ve already dug out the hub gear info (eg via Hub Gear Calculators on the Internet), I can count the teeth on the rear cogs & chainrings, & I can measure the wheel diameter. Actually, this last item is usually very difficult if you’re resorting to a tape measure so the best way is to calculate the diameter from the ETRTO size on the tyre. The ETRTO size for a Brompton Kojak is 32-349 & the formula for calculating wheel diameter in inches is (2×32+349)/25.4 (ie 413/25.4 = 16.25). An additional tip if you want to set your bike computer wheel size, is that the wheel diameter of 413mm can be multiplied by Pi to give the wheel rollout distance of 1297mm. How’s that? & all without needing a tape measure!

Getting back to the GI calculation & using Ralph, my Alfine 11-speed Brompton, as an example, the low speed GI is 50/18×0.53×16.25 which equals 24 (ie chainring teeth divided by rear cog teeth times hub low ratio times wheel diameter). The top speed GI is 50/18×2.15×16.25 = 97 & therefore the GI range can be expressed as 24-97. Once we get the GI for other bikes you can start to compare how the bikes would cope with hills (or even how they might compare for top gear speed?)

Before I eventually resume my tale about Mungo, let’s compare some GIs. A typical road/race bike that uses 53 & 39 teeth chain rings & an 11-25 teeth cassette has a GI of 41-126. A mountain bike could be about 17-105, while Robinson, my 6-speed “reduced gearing” Brompton is 29-88 & a 3-speed Brompton would be about 44-79, depending on options. As you may see, nothing beats an MTB on being able to climb hills – just as long as you can keep the front wheel on the ground? Also, if you want to go fast on your Brompton on the flat then you’ll have to pedal like crazy to be ahead of the race bike.

The beauty of Mungo is the feel of riding a road/race bike with similar gear shifters & fairly light weight, as well as a GI of 28-123. This comes from the small wheel size, a 53 teeth chain ring, an 11-26 teeth cassette & 9-speed rear derailleur but also with a 3-speed SRAM dual-drive rear hub (similar to the 6-speed Brompton with a 2-speed derailleur setup & a 3-speed hub?). A scan of the above GI figures should show that Mungo is ably suited to getting up hills, as well as being pedaled fast.

Unfortunately for me, my heart-related limited blood/oxygen capacity (refer earlier blog post Hill performance for info) still puts Mungo (& me) at a disadvantage when I compare it to Ralph’s low speed gear climbing ratio. Having resolved Mungo’s original tendency to drop the chain when in top gear (by fitting a fixed front derailleur to contain the chain onto the front chainring) & considering that Mungo’s missed out on any overseas trips, it seemed a shame that Ralph could be preferred for climbing hills reached while on Tardis trips? No, Mungo wasn’t going to lie down & its standard crankset size suggested to me that a 39 teeth chainring from my box of bike bits was going to be a good swap with the usual 53 teeth item? So, here’s a pic of Mungo now equipped with the smaller front chainring (which provides a GI of 21-90, seems to escape the MTB tendency to wave the front wheel on steep hills & still gives a top gear “adequate” for my current capabilities?). Mungo rides again?!


Nest status

Following on from my earlier post “Back to the nest”, our visiting anti-gardener, Mr Brush Turkey, continues to pop in to checkout his nest & can be seen every day testing the nest temperature & topping up or adjusting the mound to suit. At times there are also female visitors to assist the work but we’re unaware of how many females have laid eggs & when that’s taken place. It seems the chicks will dig themselves out eventually & make their own way in the world; we’re just hoping there’s a clear sign as to when we can reclaim our compost heap & start work on building a new garden?