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Fareham Men's Shed Menu 2020 Projects

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I didn't know that we had Booker prize entrant

Unbeknownst to many of us, our social secretary, Tony, has actually had a book published (something tells me that he might have financed the publication himself). Be that as it may, he has offered us the chance to read of his mis-doings and I must admit that it makes for good reading. I am not too sure whether he should enter it for the Booker, the Theakston's Old Peculier Crime Novel of the Year Award, The Bollinger Everyman Wodehouse Prize or the Walter Scott Prize. Have a read and let us know what you think.

So here is episode 1 (keep a look out for the next episode:)

Chapter 1 – Sandgrown

On the north-west coast of England overlooking the Irish Sea lies the holiday resort of Blackpool, famed for its seven golden miles of beach, 3 piers and the Blackpool Tower. In 1879, it became the world’s first municipality to install electric street lighting and in 1885 opened its famous tramway which still runs on 11 miles of track from South Shore (Starr Gate) to Fleetwood.

Among its other attractions are the Pleasure Beach, the Sandcastle indoor water park, (at the time of writing, the largest in the U.K.) and, of course, the world famous Blackpool Illuminations. As far as I am aware, there is only one Blackpool in the world (other than Blackpool Sands in south Devon) although Dublin, (Dubh Linn), just across the Irish Sea, is derived from the Irish for black pool.

Being born in Blackpool qualifies for the soubriquet “Sandgrown”: Frank Swift, England goalkeeper who died in the Munich air disaster, George Carman Q.C., TV presenter Zoe Ball, journalist Alistair Cooke, Graham Nash from The Hollies, Chris Lowe from the Pet Shop boys and the politician, Chris Patten are all “Sandgrown” and somewhat lower down the celebrity scale, well, not actually registering at all … so am I!

On the 20th February, 1950, my mother was taken from Glenroyd Maternity Hospital, Whitegate Drive, Blackpool, to Victoria Hospital where I was delivered by caesarean section before we were both returned to Glenroyd.

A week later I was taken home to 41, Fir Grove, Blackpool, about 1 mile from the hospital and in March that year I was christened James Anthony Crane at St. John Vianney Church where my parents James William Crane and Audrey Beryl Moffatt had been married in 1949.

My parents Wedding Day 1949 with Dad’s brother, Tom and Mum’s sister, Muriel.
> My parents Wedding Day 1949 with Dad’s brother, Tom and Mum’s sister, Muriel.

Fir Grove, a small terraced property about 3 miles from Blackpool town centre was shared with my paternal grandparents, James & Doris Crane (shown below on their wedding day in 1926), as well as Dads younger brother, Tom, so things must have been pretty cramped when I arrived. I was known as Anthony as three James’ in the house would have proved too confusing.
My grandparents Wedding Day in 1926.
My grandparents Wedding Day in 1926.

My earliest recollection is of being held in my grandfather’s arms in a small rear bedroom with deep red curtains which, when the sun was shining, filled the room with a rosy glow. My Grandad was wearing a green & white striped dressing gown and “shushing” me to sleep.

People tell me that I couldn’t possibly remember this as he died in 1951 but I know what I know, and I vividly remember the scene.

I also remember crawling under the bed in my infancy and discovering an accordion although I don’t know who it belonged to and don’t recall it ever being played.

I vaguely recall though, trapping my fingers in it and, according to my mother, “screaming the house down”.

Dad rode in a Cycle Speedway team whose cinder racetrack was on wasteland just off Waterloo Road. He also played football for St. John Vianney Church Team on a Saturday afternoon and in winter my Mum would get the tin bath from the outhouse, place it in front of the fire and fill it with steaming water for when he arrived home still in his football kit and covered in mud.

I was allowed to play in the bath once he had finished with it, (probably ending up dirtier than when I got in) and then Mum would make his evening meal which, on Saturdays, was always egg, bacon and fried bread accompanied by a mug of steaming tea as they listened to Sports Report at 5:00 pm with its distinctive opening music, (still played today by the way) for the football results read by Raymond Glendenning.

I remember climbing into bed with my Grandma in the mornings whilst negotiating the obstacle that was the “chamber pot”. She would turn the “wireless” on and we would listen to the BBC Light Programme. My favourite tune was “I Do Like to be Beside the Seaside” played by Reginald Dixon on the massive Wurlitzer organ from the Blackpool Tower Ballroom and Grandma would sing along to it.

Behind Fir Grove on Dover Road was Seddons Ice Cream factory and I soon learned that if I sat on the kerb next to the factory doors, I would be given an ice cream cone by the friendly workers taking a cigarette break in the sunshine.

Other suppliers of treats for my consumption were provided by next door neighbours, Etty Liversidge, (sounds like a character from a Les Dawson sketch doesn’t it?) at number 39 and Mr & Mrs Way at number 43. In the days before instant coffee, Mrs Way would make it in a pan on the stove using milk and “Camp Coffee” which, if I remember correctly was chicory essence and she was still using it when I called in to see her one day in my early teens.

Whilst my Uncle Tom was doing National Service, (Dad had already done his stint in the Fleet Air Arm, based at RAF Lossiemouth in Scotland), Grandma found his precious record collection of 78’s hidden under his bed featuring artistes such as Johnnie Ray, Nat “King” Cole and Frank Sinatra. She then proceeded to put them in the oven until they were pliable and fashion them into plant pots to sell at jumble sales. (Those of you old enough may remember them).

She didn’t even have to drill a drain hole in them as they already had one right in the middle! Fortunately, I don’t recall his reaction when he arrived home on leave!

A more practical use for a Frank Sinatra record!
A more practical use for a Frank Sinatra record!

My brother, Andrew arrived in April 1951 and on my second birthday, Mum and Dad bought me a small red and yellow “Triang” tricycle which I immediately “bent” by riding down the alley between the houses and straight into a brick wall This was mainly due to the fact that my Dad neglected to tell me how to use the brakes!

Mum would often take me by bus to visit my Nan at Layton and I would spend hours standing on the footbridge at Layton Station as the trains passed underneath enveloping me in a cloud of steam from their funnels.

In 1953, my parents took me on holiday leaving Andrew with Grandma while we went to Middleton Towers Holiday Camp near Morecambe for a week. Mum and I travelled in the sidecar of his 1000cc Vincent motorbike and I remember a wasp entering its confined space as we drove over a bridge at Garstang en route and my Mum trying to grab Dad’s attention to tell him to pull over.

Sadly, my Dad couldn’t hear a thing through his crash helmet and blithely carried on regardless. The wasp ended up splattered against the window of the sidecar after a deft blow from Mum with a rolled up newspaper.

My only memory of the holiday itself was of me cutting my leg open on a slide and having iodine and plasters applied.
Middleton Towers Holiday Camp. 1953
Middleton Towers Holiday Camp. 1953

In that same year, my Uncle Tom took me to nearby Spen Corner at Marton, and sitting on his shoulders, we cheered the victorious Blackpool football team who, that weekend, had beaten Bolton Wanderers 4-3 in that memorable ’53 Cup Final, with Stanley Matthews and Stan Mortensen holding aloft the F.A. Cup as they passed down Waterloo Road in an open top bus.

As well as the F.A. Cup, my sister, Judith also arrived in 1953 and shortly after, we left Fir Grove for a council house on the newly built Mereside Estate on the outskirts of Blackpool.

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My first tool restorations (5 images)

The rust bucket
The rust bucket

After watching an article on The Repair Shop where they used electricity to de-rust an extremely rusty set of hinges I thought that it might be worth a try so I purloined a couple of tools from the rusty collection of donated tools.

Started by trying the plane but it wasn't really rusty ENOUGH to work very well so a quick bounce onto You Tube to find out how to renovate one. About 3 hours later the thing was transformed. All that was needed was a bit of sandpaper, a spot of black Hammerite silk smooth finish, a touch of teak oil and it was totally transformed. All I need to do now is to get Alan or Chris to sharpen and adjust the blade.

The renovated spokeshave

The renovated spokeshave

The more interesting one was the spokeshave - now this was really in a mess, in fact it took a reasonable amount of effort just to dismantle it. I really must take notice of what I tell everybody when starting a project - TAKE PICTURES - I forgot so can't show the start of the clean.

The electrolytic bath components
The electrolytic bath components (3 images)

Spoke with Rod and it turned out that he had some stainless steel strips left over from when we refurbished the Shed. Mike and Colin set to and made the wooden former to mount the electronics and the Boss gave me an old washing up bowl and a packet of washing soda (sodium carbonate). Luckily I had a spare battery charger at home.

Started by putting a few long screws through the former to stop it falling off of the bowl, mounted the stainless strips (I used half a dozen of them because they were there and it would give a more even distribution of the current) wired them all together with one screw sticking out to clip the positive lead to (my wires came out of an old mains cable so I used brown in place of red and blue in place of black). Ran an uninsulated piece of wire across the middle to hang the parts from and connected that to the negative terminal. Filled the bowl with about 2 litres of water and about 2 tablespoonsful of washing soda. Plugged the lot in and watched the bubbles.

About an hour later, as if by magic the rust had virtually disappeared. A quick dry and rub with some fairly coarse wirewool and all was looking good but how to protect the parts?

I made sure that all of the parts were clean and really well degreased, I made sure NOT to touch anything with bare pinkys and then into riflemakers blue for about 10 minutes, dropped into an oil bath to cancel the reaction and it left a nice even shean. The hadle was a bit more of a problem so a spot of the good old cast iron black polish and voila.

It was really worth doing - I felt that I had achieved something new and shall now pass the items to Richard to see if I have enhanced their worth. Don't really care if I haven't - I think that they are worth keeping in the Shed now even if they aren't worth putting on eBay.

If anybody else fancies having a go there are plenty of tools that would benefit from a bit of tlc and it can be done in the garage at real minimal cost.

Chris Nixon

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A token gesture (5 images)

It's a drawer - nicely made but for what?
It's a drawer - nicely made but for what?

Asda asked us to make this wierd box with the wire netting on the top. Now we know why, I think that the real idea is to use money not tokens, a 50p or £2 coin would work very nicely.

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Things to do during the shutdown - 2 (7 images)

Remembrance Day plaque.

Well I have been hard at it all week, but finally finished 78 crosses to be placed on riflemen's graves in Normandy next week, A few of us got the job, mine was the crosses and one plaque, another was to do the large plaque, mine is going to be put in a café close to Pegasus bridge. The large plaque will be put on the bridge. The list of the graves the crosses will go on. I can't tell you how proud and honoured I am to be part of this. Lest we forget.

Well done John Camfield. We can but hope that there is NEVER a similar event that needs to be remembered in this way.

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Plinky-plonks mounted on sales board

Finally managed to grab this video. Posted on You Tube

Do you remember those plinky-plonks that Oliver was making? Well I have finally managed to get around to grabbing this one that was posted on our Facebook page last year about the young lady with learning difficulties.

I called in there earlier this year with some more magazines for her as she devours them at an alarming rate of knots, and had a few words with her Mum. They have been completely socially isolating since the start of the pandemic and she was so appreciative of the marvelous little music maker. Apparently it has been something of a lifeline to her.

Let us just hope that we can get back to making some more soon.

The few that we had remaining will be in the Autism Hampshire shop - Serendipity - in the immediate future so if you know anybody in need of one they will be there. Just ask for Wanda.

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Wallington Village seat - conclusion (2 images)

Those seats look really swish now

This is the conclusion to the Wallington Seat project. When the seat was re-installed it needed to be finished with a protective coat but something seemed to get in the way and it was impossible to add the finish until lockdown was relaxed a bit. When it was allowable to leave the safety of our own homes Mick and Colin returned with pots of whatever was needed and finished the job. It now really does looks the part. Presumably everybody needs their own seats at the current time because of social distancing.

Apparently when the picture of the pair of them was taken they both held their breath while somebody pressed the shutter.

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Things to do during the shutdown - 1

While we're closed, I thought it might be a good idea for us to write about projects we have done at the Shed, so I'll start with a piece about Shedric. He's a bit lonely at the moment, but setting a good example by avoiding social contact. Unfortunately that also means that we can't get a video or picture of him at the moment either.

The idea was to have a mascot to attract attention at fairs and in window displays. The torso came from M and S when they closed, and it was just an afternoon's work to make his head and limbs, using saw handles for the ears and folding rulers for the arms.

I had always wanted to animate him and thought maybe a windscreen wiper motor could wave his arm back and forth, but then Chris Nixon found me a Raspberry Pi computer and introduced me to a whole new world.

There's any amount of stuff on the web about using the Pi to control robots and wacky vehicles, and a lot of it is aimed at ten year-olds. But that's OK. We're all ten-year-olds at heart, just with a bit more pocket money. And the pocket money goes a long way. I've been amazed at how cheap the components are. The simplest Pi is under £30, servos and sensors only about £2 or £3 each.

Milton and I have fitted a servo to pull the arm down, and a spring to pull it back up again.It took a while to get to grips with new concepts and terminology, but it is very easy to write programs to control a servo. In a language called Python you just tell it how many degrees to move, and how long to wait before doing something else. That was stage 1. I've now added a movement detector so that the servo program only operates when someone walks past.

At the time of writing (March 2020) Shedric just needs to be plugged in and he will wave his arm whenever he detects movement. It's all still very crude, but it's been fun to do.

During our lockdown I can't make any progress, but I'm thinking about what to do next. Maybe some LEDs to make his eyes flash. Any suggestions?

Article written by Richard Bunce.

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Wallington Village seat (10 images)

Well, where do we start this one?

John Perry was a UK citizen who emigrated to Canada. He eventually joined the Canadian Army and fought in the Second World War.

Some years after the war he returned to the UK and moved into Waterside Gardens which was a new development in Wallington. John planted a Canadian Maple tree in the small green at the end of the cul-de-sac.

Wallington Village Community Association was formed in the late 1970's and John was one of the founding members. Over the years John and his wife Margaret worked hard with others to save the “Wallington Bridge” which at the time was seen to be the cause of the local flooding.

John later became the chairman of the association for many years and was very instrumental in getting the Wallington village Hall built.

His son Michael who had stayed in Canada regularly holidayed in the U.K. to see his parents. Sadly John passed away in 2013 and his son Michael donated a sum of money so that a circular seat could be erected around the tree. This has now become a focal point of the cul-de-sac where his parents had lived happily for so long.

Over the years the weather has taken its toll and a lack of maintenance saw two of the six sections fall apart. The company that made the seat was contacted to see if they could repair it and they collected the 2 sections. After some 3 or 4 months the chairs had not been repaired so it was requested that they be returned.

We were then contacted to see if we could help in the restoration. The two seats were taken away and repaired. The seats were returned and in the process of trying to level the whole six part circular seat another two sections fell apart! These like the first two were repaired and now the seat is complete and levelled. A new brass plaque has been added to the chair in memory of John and Margaret.

In the spring when there has been a dry spell we shall return and treat the seat with teak oil.

Click here for the conclusion to the project.

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We have received correspondence from the UK Men's Shed Association to the following effect:

Our membership currently entitles us to a 49% discount on hand tools and a 29% discount on power tools from Triton Tools - We will need to set up a Shed account with them before this can be used, once we have done this then members will be able to order through us.

10% off of all items through Lumberjack Tools (same system as Triton Tools).


5% off all orders in excess of £200 with Shedstore. Just use the discount code of MENSSHEDS.

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