Archive for December, 2009

As well as lots of wood the Weald Woodfair always has a lot of the latest forestry gear, and for petrol heads there is no shortage of the latest forestry processors, woodmizers, forwarders and gratuituously big tractors.

But there is one small defiant island of old landrovers, yes you guessed it – the coppice group. After all if we didn’t have old landrovers we’d have one less thing to moan about.

Unfortunately Graham’s magnificent 80 inch series one was challenging for most unreliable vehicle, having broken down at least three times on the way to the show. But he made it without a relay truck (having an equally magical ability to fix itself ). I forget what the problem was but we found it, at least we think we did, and without the use of any computer diagnostic equipment.

John’s Series 3 rarely has a polite word spoken about it, even in public. But it’s still there and on this occasion going strong as it also doubled as the bar, at least the cider bar.

My old X-Beeb LWB always attracts attention at this show, sometimes more attention than my turning does. I claim to have paid £800 for the winch and the landrover came free. This year the stylish addition of the jack led many to believe it was also challenging for most unreliable vehicle, but no it’s simply to level my accommodation as I don’t much like sleeping with my head downhill. Also kept the breakfast bar level and at the right height.

Although technically not a series landrover Alan Sage’s X utility 110 does count as its quite an early one. Besides it comes in a striking 2 tone paint job and with it’s own onboard compressor.

Saving the best til last, the man whose landrover is a different colour each season – Mick Stanton. This year a fetching Masai Red. though anorak’s will know that Masai Red was only officially on Series III stage-1’s and not ordinary Series III’s. it does look the part. Apparently the shiny finish is achieved by the use of a paint roller rather than a brush! Thanks for the tip Mick, but my landrovers don’t get washed every year let alone repainted!

What a sad subject for a post. Glad I got it off my chest before the new year starts! A happy new year to one and all.


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Weald Woodfair 2009

In the run up to the New Year it’s traditional to look back at the year. Looking through some photos I noticed that I failed to post on the Weald woodfair in October, largely because of the number of other shows right at the end of the season. So, for my friends in the Sussex and Surrey Coppice Group here are some photos from the event.

The Weald Woodfair is the Southeast’s largest annual woody event and takes place at the Bentley wildfowl trust near Lewes. The coppice group has an area right out at the back of the woods, which I think is thoroughly fitting. Fittin in with other shows can be difficult in this busy period but I try to support the coppice group and the show.

Our pitches are arranged through the area to provide visitors with plenty of opportunities to stop and talk. Here the erstwhile chair of the group, John Sinclair, is hard at work turning out tent pegs, a rare photo indeed.

Equally rare, according to some, is this photo of me working on my stand. The show was very busy this year and I found many interested visitors, and a lot of old friends who popped by as well. Mainly due to the heavy schedule of other shows I did not choose my products very well and so my sales were fairly poor. It can be a problem with a big show to choose your products to match the event and to differentiate yourself from many other similar stands. But this show is at least as much about the networking as it is about the sales, at least for me.

In for a penny, in for a pound, here is another one , this time demonstrating bowl turning on my very lightweight demonstration lathe.

Andew King put on his customary fine demonstration of hurdle making

An entirely normal reaction to my attempts to take photographs here from Alan Sage and Jo Walters. Not hard to write a caption for this one. I do have some more photos of Alan basketmaking with a little more enthusiasm and these will feature shortly on another post, together with some photos of Alan Walters and his pimps.

We also had some ‘drop in’ demonstrations, and I was particularly pleased to see this excellent demo of spoon and ladle carving with very simple tools.

Mick Stanton our group blacksmith and edge tool maker was busy going at it hammer and tongs, though only once breakfast was served…..

and yes that is a bread roll toasting on the forge.

Mick’s impressive array of edge tools seemed popular with the public, and as usual the massive selection of froes melted away – it continues to be a mystery to me how and why so many froes are sold? But if you are going to buy one, or any other greenwood tools you should have a look at Mick’s. Catch him at a show or you can find him on the web here fraught wrought

Just down the path from the coppice group Richard Ede had an excellent display of furniture and turned work.

On the friday evening we have a group meal in the woods and this year it was certainly enlivened by a visit from a fire-eater

and during the day from the green man.

Though Frankie Woodgate’s heavy horses demonstrating horse logging on the pitch next to us didn’t seem overly impressed.

It’s hard to capture the full insanity of the band ‘Tongue and Groove’ who were back by popular demand to play in the beertent on the Saturday Night and marking a fitting end to a hard but successful show season in 2009l at least for me. I wish the coppice group and everyone else an even more successful season in 2010.

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Season’s Greetings

Season’s greetings to all and I hope that you have a very happy and successful new year!

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The christmas ale is bottled and just about ready to drink. I reuse old beer bottles time and again, it’s such a shame that we don’t have a deposit and return system on these bottles (like we did with corona bottles when I was young) but I do my best to help out, and these bottles seem to be reusable almost indefinately. Unfortunately I didn’t come up with a better name than winter brew. Any suggestions?

Once bottled I add a half teaspoon of sugar to prime (soft dark brown sugar for this batch) and then leave by the stove for a couple of days before storing in the cool (outside the back door). My experience is that the beer improves as it conditions and in the cool weather this can take a few weeks, so I shall be sampling the progress. Normally it’s just about perfect by the time I get around to the last bottle.

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In old landrover land nothing is ever quite as simple as you’d hope. The suspension swap on Georgina my SWB series IIA landrover went very well at the back. Too well really. Things took a turn for the worse at the front. I knew that there were some welds to check but I wasn’t expecting to find a cracked chassis. Oooops.

You can see the crack running across the bottom of the chassis leg and then straight up the box section almost to the top. Pretty soon it would just have been the spring holding it together, just as well I retired her from hard work on the commons when I bought Peter the tractor earlier this year (yes all my vehicles do have names).

I managed to fill and weld the crack up the side of the box section but the crack across the bottom of the leg stubbornly refused to go away. After a few hours of futile attempts I began to realise that I would not be happy with the repair even if I succeeded in patching it up.

So time for plan B. Giving up isn’t an option as Georgina is almost a part of the family. There was talk of a replacement chassis, but I’d prefer to keep as much of her as I can, so the other possibility is to put her on the transplant list and look for a donor vehicle with a sound leg to cut off. By next week! As luck would have it, I just happen to know where there might be one, very close to home. Just outside the front door in fact……don’t miss the next exciting episode of ‘Zen and the art of Landrover Maintenance’…….

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It’s been all go on the car front for the last couple of weeks. John and Richard have made a lot of progress with Brenda the mini. The mechanical work around the engine is now finished and John drove her out of the shed.

Before putting her back into her slot in the corner of the yard John offered up the replacement wing and front panel to check the fit which looked pretty good to me – but then just about anything looks a good fit from a landrover perspective.

Since John can’t work on the mini over Christmas we decided to move my short wheelbase soft top landrover into the shed. She (we call her Georgina) has worked hard for the last couple of years on the commons and I decided to reward her with a new set of parabolic springs and gas shocks before putting here in for the MOT.

We got her in to the shed just in time for the snow to start falling.

Luckily, Vickie the range rover passed her test on the second attempt (after some frantic work on the emissions and the rear seat belts) just in the nick of time with the current big freeze, though paying for the road tax was almost as big a shock as filling the tank with petrol!

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It’s getting colder

It’s been getting ever colder down South in West Sussex. The thermometer in the shed stayed resolutely at -1 degrees today and made it difficult to do any turning. After chopping some firewood I took my hooks and retired to in front of the stove to sharpen them. Very unusually for down here the snow is still lying. The short track on the other side of our road I use to get to the workshop at the bottom of the neighbours garden has become an ice rink. A very pretty one mind you.

Up on the commons the snow is still crisp, if not deep and even.

The low sun angle through the tangle of trees makes for a very eerie light.

Even the Robins are feeling the cold. Today we were almost mobbed by Robin’s and I suspect that they are staying close to see what food we turn up as we walk through the snow and ice. Very sensible too.

One of the reasons for being up on the commons in the snow was to help friends cut Scots Pine trees to use as christmas trees. A rare occasion when you can cut down a tree and help save the environment. This part of Stanley common is permanently growing pine trees which need to be cut to keep them from smothering the heathland. Trees store carbon while they are alive, but release it swiftly when they fall or are felled. The heathland lays down peat which helps to lock carbon into the soil, storing it not just for decades, but potentially for thousands of years.

The birch, the Commons and the Winter Solstice. Enough said I think.

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