Friday, 18 January 2008

More Brickbats and Bouquets

This follows on from

I'm surprised there has been so long between posting on this topic: I must be getting mellow (or less discerning). However this month there have been a few incidents worthy of recording and donation of awards.

Yer stove

The first brickbat (in fact brickPRAT would be a better word) goes to M A Butterfield. It starts when I went to Leeton on a birding trip in November.

As I was camping I took along our high-tech Mountain Safety Research (MSR) cooking stove, primarily to brew myself some coffee in the morning. We hadn't used this while in the States but my memory was that it was great. So when I got to Leeton I got it out of the bag and it didn't look right. As can be seen in the image to the right there is a rather large wick evident, which didn't used to be there. It looked as though something had fallen off.

The immediate problem - caffeine shortage the next morning - was remedied by a long black and a read of the local rag in a cafe in one of the main streets of Leeton. It was however a puzzle how I could have lost a substantial part of the stove without, as far as I could recall, opening the bag it was in for about 2 years. Perhaps I had got the optional Houdini add-on?
So anyway after a few weeks prevarication we were going to be near a camping gear shop so I thought I would take it in there and see what they could do for me. The first place I went to - Camping World in Philip - earnt itself a small hod when the fat boy (why are nearly all incompetent people overweight?) who came to attend to me didn't recognise it as an MSR stove and basically could do zip.
So off we go to Jurkewitz in Fyshwick (where we had bought the beast). Initially I thought I was destined to be handled on this day by gooses, because the person there looked young and blond (and male). However he did at least know to head for a MSR display and was able to work out which model I'd got. While trying to work out which bit was missing he tugged on the yellow tube emerging from the stove.

He then said "I don't think you're missing anything" since after the tug it looked like the image to the left. Talk about embarrassment. We awarded them a bouquet, bought some fly-veils for Ingrid and slunk out.


I have for many years had a cheap and nasty whipper-snipper for trimming grass and such like things. However I was using it recently and the motor suddenly revved like a winner at SummerNats while the cord stopped rotating. On applying various spanners and screwdrivers it turned out the drive mechanism was a twisted wire rope and had been asked to do more than it could handle. A new device was needed.
My first port of call was the Stihl dealer in Queanbeyan. They had some good stuff but it all seemed to get a bit expensive so I went to the Husqvarna dealer down the street. He offered me a deal for similar things, but about $100 cheaper: since I really like Huskie products - my chainsaw is still going strong after 25 years - I did the business including a weedwakka attachment which I was assured was easy to to fit.
When it came time to fit the wakka it didn't fit - quite clearly. Back to the shop to explain this. Oh dear he would speak to the manufacturer (a local company), who said he would drop by and check it out. He did this and the salesprat was able to show how me to get it to fit. Unfortunately the required retaining nut etc was not available. It turned out that had to ordered separately from Husqvarna as did the guard. I was not happy and muttered (OK, said loudly) a word that sounded a bit like "Duck": several times. Order the bits I said. OK they said.

About a week later got a call to say the bits had arrived and would cost $12.38, which sounded cheap. In fact that was the price of the nut and washer: they had not ordered the guard. Duck, duck, duck. One huge brickbat to Landmark Queanbeyan

So off to Bungendore Rural Services (BRS) - part of the same chain - to get it ordered again. This actually happened and BRS were staring at a large bunch of flowers: then it turned out they added on $10 for freight so got some attitude (which they handled pretty well - cut the order back to 6 roses).

Mower tales
As I have got back into mowing the lawn I have found that the mower was running slower and rougher (OK down the lawn but a real struggle to get back up). This seemed to indicate that a service was needed which required that the mower visit BRS. A first issue was how to get it over there. It turned out that an old metal gate was just what was needed as a ramp. (One of the joys of rural living is all the crap that previous owners/tenants have left around the place. It is quite astonishing how many problems can be resolved by remembering where one saw a convenient length of polypipe or a length of cyclone fencing.)
Here is the mower on the trailer. (I must point out that my shirt is VERY blousy: that is not me filling it out.)
It emerged that the main problem was a wasp's nest in the muffler, but the guy at BRS did a lot of other stuff so it now runs really nicely. Another bouquet for them.

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