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Posts Tagged ‘Landrover’

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Yes, the polelathe has been out and about. I know there is a lot of catching up to do since I last posted. It’s been a busy summer seasons of shows, demonstrations, courses and competitions and with plenty of work on the commons to fit in.

As if that wasn’t enough there have been additional projects, some planned and some unplanned. I won’t bore you with the details (not right now anyway) but I’ve also been emptying my parents old house in Somerset as my Dad has Alzheimer’s and we recently managed to get him into to a specialist nursing home near Taunton.

Verging on too much information I know, but it’s not left a lot of mental effort for posting articles and I am still finding more forms to fill in and letters to write  – never my strong point! But here is a flavour of some of the antics this summer that I need to catch on……

DSCF9522Unplanned project no1 – my trusty old 1960 brown landrover – aka ‘The Beast’ – started making unfamiliar noises, as opposed to the cacphony of familiar noises so comforting to old landrover owners. To cut a long story short ’twas the 54year old water pump and with this old engine sourcing the parts and repairing the old pump took the best part of a couple of weeks right in the middle of the season. Just when you don’t have a couple of weeks!

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I do like a Green Man. I’d almost forgotten passing some green Birch rounds onto Tony but when he came up to Lynchmere for a Scythe (Oh, oh the S-word is creeping in again already) training course he brought up one of his carvings and I really like it.

DSCF9586One of the big projects I set myself this year has been to learn to make and steam bend traditional English Scythe handles 0r Snathes as they are called around here. First get yourself a nice long straight Ash log and then cleave it.

DSCF9551I’ve been planning to rebuild the garden shed for some years now – I’m embarrassed to work out just how long it’s been waiting – but this is not the garden shed. It’s a shed for a new project – Project Pig Palace.  We could have gone and bought a conventional ark – but no! I knew of some convenient larch logs and it seemed a shame to waste them!

DSCF9893-001All you need for a new Pig Palace is …….Pigs. These two young Oxford Sandy and Blacks flew in from Wildcroft Rare Breeds  just south of the aptly named Hog’s Back  on the North Downs about 10miles north of us.

DSCF9718I seem to be running more courses each year and they are proving very popular, though I do find teaching is hard work and quite stressful. At this year’s polelathe improvers course Dave came with the objective of turning a bowl – and after plenty of hard work he succeeded in making a lovely little bowl.

DSCF9112Back on the commons the bracken just would not stop growing. I drafted in help from Lowell and Christopher (my nephew) here towing the bracken roller with Peter my old Massey Ferguson 135.

DSCF8193All of a sudden the season is marching onwards and it’s never too early to start splitting and stacking the firewood. This year I started around May so the firewood is better than ever – and this winter I shall be splitting and stacking for next winter, which is the way it should be. Famous last words!

DSCF9910We did make hay whilst the sun shone. This photo might surprise those of you who expected to see a team of mowers with scythes but we did the 10acre meadow with modern tractors. Besides I’ve posted on not much but scythes this year so on this post I’m trying to redress the balance a bit.

We had a lot of sunny days in July and August this year – but also lots of rainy ones and never enough sun so we made hay in September. A very different experience to be sitting in a modern tractor and rowing up the whole field in a couple of hours – I felt very lazy!

DSCF9986And then the apples arrived! Early this year, with one of my trees, the Tom Putt, almost bare by the end of August. In September I only managed to press a few gallons of juice from my apples and friends contributions – just as well as time was severely limited. But I have a cunning plan for a late pressing in the next couple of weeks.

DSCF9509Last time I posted on Puff the magic landrover it was just a chassis even if a very shiny one. Living up to his ‘now you see it – now you don’t reputation’.  This falls into the category of Project forced by necessity.  With no space and no time having a landrover in pieces to jam up the yard is not healthy and after a frantic burst of activity Puff was back on the road.  Puff passed the MOT with flying colours and was promptly put to work clearing more of the fallen trees.

DSCF0838Turned out to be Just in Time. As one landrover leaves intensive care the next one enters. Having been put to work on the commons whilst Puff was being ‘Puffed-Up’,  Georgina the green landrover (surely all your cars have names don’t they? I find it so much more satisfactory swearing at and occasionally kicking a car with a name rather than ‘it’) suffered a badly cracked chassis – probably caused by a tree stump hidden in the mud. With Puff back on the road and little time to spare Georgina has taken a bit of a back seat this summer, but she is recovering slowly but surely.

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A few weeks ago I visited my parents house in Wells, Somerset for the last time. Over the summer we’ve been emptying the house and finding new homes for the stuff accumulated over 35 years – on a rainy day we took out the very last loads leaving the house empty. It felt strange to be leaving the keys in the house and locking myself out, not just from the house, but from the last tangible link with a county thats been a part of my life since I was born. As if to say ‘Au Revoir’ the clouds parted to give one last typical sunset across the Somerset levels to Glastonbury Tor.

Thats just a small taste of things to catch up on – there will be plenty of work over the winter to post articles  and I will catch up in more detail soon.

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One thing that I like about working in the woods is that it does take me to some interesting places, many of which are just around the corner but otherwise you wouldn’t have a reason to go there. I had the usual busy day planned yesterday until Frank rang and my plans changed. He needed a hand, or more accurately a landrover,  hauling some long chestnut poles from a coppice on the side of the Devil’s Punchbowl over a mile from the nearest access point to the waiting truck.

Chestnut coppice is cut on a long cycle, typically between 12 and 20years and the regrowth shoots from the stumps, known as stools, so that the cycle can begin again. This coppice is ready to be cut again though only a small area has been cleared so far.  This cycle of clearing, removing and allowing wildflowers to pop up whilst the regrowth starts again is important in managing the woods, not just for providing sustainable timber products but also in providing an excellent habitat in the woods for plenty of wildlife.

It’s the first time I’ve been in the punchbowl since the A3 was rerouted and it has changed enormously since the tunnel opened last year. You can still see the route of the old road on the other side of the valley but the matting it’s clad in to prevent erosion will soon disappear under new growth and it will be hard to remember what it used to be like. Strange to be there without the ever present drone of traffic in the background, it makes the birdsong seem unnaturally load.


The Devil’s Punchbowl is an amazing local feature, a steep sided natural amphitheature which cuts into the side of the adjoining Hindhead common. Easy to forget you are still on the borders of Surrey when you are lost in the bottom of the valley and more understandable when you learn that Hindhead common reaches 900feet in altitude. If you do get lost you’ll be in good company as William Cobbett hired a guide and still managed to get lost in the Punchbowl.

On the steep sides of the Punchbowl the Bell Heather is starting to flower and there will be a continuous display on the local heaths through to mid September another reminder that the seasons are changing relentlessly even if the weather we are experiencing this week makes it hard to rememeber just where we are. Only a week ago it was still pouring with rain and now we have a mini-heatwave.

The main poles Frank was extracting are for a roundwood workshop build he is planning – I think they’ll be just the job and I look forward to seeing how he gets on with the build. Not huge loads, more of a challenge to balance the 16ft lengths for the haul up the track to the top of the Punchbowl.

Puff the Magic Landrover coped well with the +30 degrees C temperatures and the long climb, and after a bigger load of shorted poles we’d filled the truck and finished the job. Great to be able to visit the punchbowl again and a pleasure to help out. Frank has given me some ideas for working with roundwood chestnut on my own shedbuild which is only 3 years behind schedule now.

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Over recent years we’ve become accustomed to blistering heat and endless sunshine at the Sussex and Surrey Coppice Group open weekend, our annual get together where members and guests have a chance to try different skills and swap ideas for new products and generally chat, not to mention buy something you really didn’t know you needed at the Tool Auction.

As for the last 3  years the event was held in Fernhurst at the site of the old Fernhurst Iron Furnace and hosted by Robin Barnes. The weather forecast for this year predicted it would be different this time so we turned up prepared for bad weather – and we weren’t disappointed! I was reminded of Dwayne, one of the cutters on the TV show Ax-men, who in an Oregon downpour in which he just about disappeared he pronounced it ‘A DandyDay!’ and got on with felling the trees. I tend to use the phrase to describe drenched days working in the woods.

To start off the going on the field was fairly firm, but as the downpours continued  eventually there was as much water on the surface as grass, walking on water definitely an advantage and we did give up on the open campfire  – but did that put us off?

Not much, though it was a more select gathering than usually attends and thats not a huge surprise under the circumstances. The rubbish in the foreground is not flood debris it’s the annual attempt to pass off unwanted items to other members loosely known as an auction.

The point of the day is not just for members to demonstrate their skills – we do that at shows throughout the season – but for members to join in and try out some new crafts. Ian Swain was putting new handles on old tools – something that lots of us do on occasion but it’s good to watch a master at work and there is always more to learn and I was keen to have a go but unfortunately too busy setting up for the auction. Next time Ian!

Tony Lucas was a welcome new face at the gathering this year coming over from near Lewes with his fine Landrover 110 – oh and some fine chairs as well. The steam chamber on the table was powered by a small boiler over an open fire, a neat little setup for demonstrating steam bending in the middle of a wet field.

As you’d expect with the Coppice Group there were a fair few old landrovers around and John Sinclair demonstrates a surprisingly deft touch with his Series III. Will he convert Stuart’s Golf to a rear engine model, or gently assist him to leave the field?

Piping hot food (and more than a little local beer and cider) always helps to keep out the rain and The Men in Hats aka Dave and Ritchie did a great job in cooking up the venison – I’ve left out the photos of the butchery you’ll be pleased to hear – and the rest of the local meat feast.

Fresh from his success with his magic goblet machine Roger’s been working on a setup for shaping spoons and utensils on a repeatable basis. It’s based upon a small stock knife (similar to a drawknife in size) which is anchored at one end on a modified bench with a series of steps in it to assist the cuts with the knife on the blank.

Unlike a normal spoon making process the bowl is carved first using a large gouge and then the form is cut swiftly and accurately around it with the stocknife.

Very interesting approach to making utensils. As you can see it knocks out butter knives/letter openers very easily just using the stocknife. Roger’s aim was to investigate a simple and consistent approach to making utensils which increases speed whilst retaining acceptable quality, allowing a lower cost item made from sustainable products. I think he’s got something here and I’m tempted to try something similar for making spatulas.

Though I was busy around the site the polelathe proved popular with people trying it out through the day. Here Rick gives it a go for the first time and as he’s soon to be on his way back to New Zealand – perhaps there’ll be an NZ branch of the APT before too long.

The auction was big hit and with a massive 70 lots to get through Peter Jameson excelled himself and just about managed to keep his voice. The porters were the stars of the show and Roger prooved to be quite a performer as he gave us the background to each of the chainsaw sculptures he’d entered into the auction. I think both buyers and sellers seemed happy with the event and by something approaching a miracle the rain just about held off for the time it took to flog the lot.

I fully intended to buy nothing and one again I failed miserably and returned home with the usual assortment of odds and sods, but more sods than odds I suspect. I was tempted by this intriguing tool, but as Dave seemed keen on it I thought it would have a fine home and resisted the temptation to bid it up. Can you see what it is yet? And why does it have two hooks on it?

Ritchie’s roundhouse become the centre of activities and allowed us to keep the fire on once we’d abandoned the campfire outside. But even inside  it turned in a sea of mud but at least we stayed afloat in the roundhouse just.

As I’ve had a few complaints about the lack of Landrover content recently, here is a gratuitous photo from the weekend where Landrovers outnumbered other vehicles to the extent that you could be forgiven for thinking it was actually a Landrover rally!

The water pouring through the grate and into the spillway of the old furnace in the woods below the fields gives you some idea of the amount of water trying to leave the site. Never mind – I think a good time was had by all.  Back to the usual heatwave for next year?

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I am certainly not a fungi expert but I can’t resist taking a good look and at this time of year there are loads of fungi to choose from. So if anyone has any identifications to offer please feel free to comment.  But yes,  you are right this is just an excuse to post some colourful pictures of the Lynchmere Commons.

Here a Fly Agaric has just appeared from it’s bed of moss. At least I think it’s a Fly Agaric as they are common in the birch woods, but there is no sign of a veil on this one, so I may be leading you astray already. Just shows how difficult it is to follow the identification books.

Very few of the woodland fungi are edible and you really do need to know what you are doing to pick them as a mistake can be highly dangerous. The Fly Agaric is well known for it’s toxic and hallucinogenic properties. It’s one of the Amanita family which include our most toxic fungi so one to beware of.

With a heavy dew the cobwebs glisten in the low angle sun light which seems to give everything deeper colour at this time of year.

These fungi were nestled on the old stump of a birch tree. They look quite similar to Honey Fungus, but then again…maybe not quite.

This one is suspiciously white and clean. I have to say that I don’t know what it is, but as the most toxic fungi in the UK, the Destroying Angel, is also white and clean I tend to leave anything similar well alone even though it’s very likely an innocent pretender (it’s deadly cousin the Death Cap is also similar in appearance though with a greenish tinge to the cap).

The Birch trees are now in their winter plummage and it’s already time to be thinking about harvesting the next crop of bean poles, pea sticks and broom heads.

No idea what these are and even after a quick look through a book I am non the wiser.

Likewise these very small, almost blue ones were just by a beech tree. Even though I couldn’t identify them I did find a Bay Boletus which we took home for tea, but forgot to photograph! Very similar to the Cep or Penny Bun which are also in the Boletus family the Bay Boletus has yellow pores instead of gills which stain blue when touched

Must be about time for a gratuitous Landrover photograph. Surely that’s far too shiny to be one of my Landrovers? Yes we took Puff out for a leisurely Sunday afternoon run as a part of the running in the new engine. The aim is to treat the engine very gently until all of the moving parts have had time to wear in.

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Do you like the view from my new office?  It was nice and quiet until someone opened the lid and let me out. If I’ve been a bit quiet recently it’s not for lack of things to post on, more a lack of time to post. The restoration of my 1961 SII landrover Puff hit a milestone earlier this year when he passed the MOT Test with flying colours but it soon became obvious, to anyone following at least, by the smelly pall of blue smoke that the engine needed some serious work.

But one thing leads to another and a quick swap of heads was always a bit optimistic and an afternoon job stetched out for weeks and then months as a replacement engine was found (about 20feet in front of our door, strange that!) which then also turned out to need reconditioning. Ho hum. But the engine is rebuilt and ready to go in so time to paint the office ready for it’s new occupant.

So after having the cylinders bored out, the crank ground and the block skimmed and all new parts fitted the engine really is as good as new. Better than new probably. No the experience hasn’t turned my hair white, this is my friend and landrover guru Richard fitting the new engine.

Today we finally managed to find the time to fire it up. Once we managed to connect everything up the right way around that is. The pistons were a tight fit into their cylinders and it takes a bit of turning over but after quite a lot of turning over to move the oil around it fired up straight away and ran smoothly and amazingly quietly for a landrover engine.

Now we know it works we can finish the the rebuild and prepare it for running in. It’s very rare these days to see a vehicle with a sign saying  ‘Running in – Please Pass’  and I think I shall make one up just for fun.

I shall post a more detailed look at the rebuild in a post soon but this has been a red letter day. I went off to split some fire wood just to celebrate. Many thanks to Richard and Gary without whom I’d still be scatching my head and wondering where to start.

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It’s not unusual for the old cartshed I use as a workshop to get in a state over the summer. A growing layer of discarded shavings, part finished and abandoned projects as much of my work is outside or between shows. This year has been worse than most and I’m having trouble even getting to the lathe in the corner. So there is nothing for it, a rainy but warm sunday is dedicated to providing an environment I can actually get to under the debris.

Eight hours of hard labour later and there is something of a transformation. Up a couple of notches from dire to just messy I think.

As a bonus I’ve also generated several large bags of  designer firewood and kindling from abandoned lumps of wood now too dry to continue. But nowhere to store it – a tarp will have to suffice.

And yes lurking on the bench on the left is an engine. Just one of the many projects keeping me busy at the moment.

Partway through my first total rebuild of a landrover petrol engine. I’d like to claim the credit for all of the work but I can’t and I have to thank Gary and Richard for Boring, Grinding, Skimming, Stripping and Rebuilding! Should be finished in the next few days (famous last words) as I’m looking forward to using the landrover over the winter though progress will be balanced with woody work.

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Working with a scythe is an enjoyable experience in its own right, but there are fringe benefits as well. One of these is that you tend to end in special places with a scythe, whereas with a strimmer you’ll be stuck on a verge somewhere.

The recent scything course I gave to the South Downs National Park Volunteer Ranger Service (bit of a mouthful that) was no exception. We started off in the workshop but soon adjourned to practice on some thistles in a nearby meadow, part of the Woolbeding estate.

The meadow is right by the river Rother near Midhurst. Looks more like a peaceful stream at this time of year, though the 10 foot drop from the meadow to the water level gives some idea of how it can flow during the winter.

I should have been taking lots of photos of the mowing, but on this improvers course the team had got the hang of it quite well in the main and I was captivated by the ancient parkland oak trees in the meadows. Large trees with the fabulous gnarly shapes and wide spreading canopies that come with growing out in the open.

Back to the mowing. With this many thistles the job should really be more topping than mowing as cutting the thistles is more important than cutting the grass. That’s normally the case with using scythes in conservation work. I started using a scythe on bracken (when I was 16) and I get to use them on bracken, brambles and weeds far more often than I get to mow a meadow for haymaking so it’s useful to look at different ways of working.

Oooh, now this will be the gratuitous Landrover photo then, dressed up to look like a serious comment on scything technique. Now how does that song go? After me…

….One man went to mow, went to mow a meadow, one man and his Land Rover went to mow a meadow.  Two men went to mow, went to mow a meadow, two men, one man, and his Land Rover, and his other Land Rover…went to mow a meadow…..got the picture yet?


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