It never ends

End or Limit switch on canal lock Deutsch: Sic...
End or Limit switch on canal lock (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

I have learned over the years that life is a constant battle with things going wrong. I am referring to material things here. We do our best to stay ahead and if we make provisions we get by. I know people who don’t bother to save much for emergencies and end up getting into debt when something they need suddenly fails. I have always been a saver. I don’t like the idea of having unexpected problems happening that cannot be resolved due to a lack of funds and that is one reason I put aside funds. Whilst I have been able to lay money aside I have done so. It is annoying though to have saved money for a specific reason and suddenly having to divert those funds or part of them when some unforseen calamity rears its head. Such is life I say. I had a busy day on Thursday and in the afternoon I went to install a couple of replacement lighting fittings in a house a few miles away. Normally quite a simple job but problems can make it less so. I had been told that one of the original fittings hadn’t worked for some time and when I checked it out I discovered there was no live supply when the switch was on. That meant removing the switch to see if there was a supply to it. There wasn’t. It had been difficult removing the switch because the fixing screws had seized up but I finally managed it. I had therefore to find out why there was no supply. The lady of the house was beginning to think that the price was going to rise but I soon discovered the problem and carried on with the work. The job had taken me longer than I had expected and it was late in the afternoon by the time I could return home. I was feeling tired. When I arrived home I operated the remote control to open the garage door and as it was by now dark I expected the internal garage light to come on as the door opened fully but it didn’t switch on. It is wired in such a way that in hours of darkness the light will automatically switch on whenever the main door is opened but not do so if it is still daylight. I thought perhaps that the limit switch had not been pressed as the top of the door reached it and indeed that was the case. The reason it hadn’t had been due to the fact that the tensioning spring on that side of the door had failed. The steel connecting cable had snapped. At first I thought it had simply come off the guide pulley but it hadn’t. It is an easy job to replace the cable but the one on the other side of the door would have to be done too. I knew at that point that my labours for the day would now all be spent on repairing the door! I called the door specialist and made arrangements for its repair. Before the door was converted to automatic operation I used to do all the mechanical repairs on it but unless it is something menial I now leave it to others.

Shirley Anne

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Stop-start

Unsettled
Unsettled (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Yesterday I wrote about things grinding to a halt or at least slowing right down but today was another day. It is Thursday afternoon as I write this and the sun is shining once again. If you remember it had been rather a dull day yesterday. The month of June should be more settled than it has become for we are not promised wall-to-wall sunshine in the next few days and it has been that way for much of  the months so far. It was however quite warm and sunny last week. No point in complaining about something over which we have no control now is there? My work pattern is pretty much the same, unsettled. On Sunday E told me about the trouble she was having in opening and closing the roller door on the garage she uses. I managed to get it working again but I needed more information regarding the control circuit if I was to make an adjustment myself. I decided to call the guy who installed the door and who carries out repairs but he wasn’t available on Sunday. I didn’t expect him to be but I just wanted to leave him a message, which I did do. Unfortunately he hadn’t responded by Thursday (today as I write) morning so I called him again. He apologised for forgetting about the message I’d left and we made arrangements for him to call sometime in the afternoon. It meant I would have to remain at home during the afternoon, something I wanted to do anyway so that I could receive instructions on which adjustments I needed to do if the problem arose again. E would be out shopping with her mom in the afternoon. I decided to take the small step-ladder from my van parked in the other garage and place it in the garage ready for use later but just as I was about to do that I received a call from someone asking me to do a small job for them. I agreed to go as I wouldn’t be away from home more than an hour and I would be back at noon. The lady wanted a light replacing and when I arrived she looked surprised as I was dressed in some nice and bright summer clothes. She asked how long I had been an electrician and when I told her she couldn’t believe it. As I mentioned I had been in the business for 53 years to the month it followed that I must be around 70 years old. Now she really was amazed for I do not look as old as my years. I told her I was 69 and that ‘my secret’ is that I plug myself into the mains every night to recharge my batteries! She couldn’t stop laughing. She left me to finish the job as she was about to go to work but her teenaged son was at home. Five minutes later I was leaving the house myself. So everything changes and now I am waiting for the next request and at this very moment the guy to attend on the garage door.

Shirley Anne

Even on a Sunday once again

New garage doorOn Saturday evening E went off somewhere all dressed up, not that she ever dresses in finery but she was dressed for socialising and not in her everyday clothes. She arrived back home around eleven-thirty and I was in bed. I didn’t see her on Sunday morning as it was around ten-thirty by the time I got downstairs. I found the note she had left on the kitchen table telling me that she hadn’t been able to close down the garage door after putting the car away. The door is a roller-shutter type, shown on the right. She wasn’t around for she had gone out again and for the day I was to learn later. I knew immediately what had happened with the garage door. It had become jammed when it was opened and then unwound itself as she attempted to close it. Well thanks very much I thought. She gone off somewhere gallivanting whilst I had to attend to the garage door. I didn’t mind really, after all she wouldn’t have a clue how to fix it whereas I might be able to. I skipped having anything to eat, got the ladder and toolbox from my van and set about attempting to repair the door. First of all I isolated the electrical supply then pulled out the lever which mechanically disconnects the motor from the door mechanism, something akin to using the clutch to disconnect a car’s engine from the drive wheels but in this case it is permanent as long as the lever remains fixed in position. This enabled me to pull down the door until it reached the floor which was surprisingly easy once it had been unstuck. I was then able to re-engage the motor by operating the mechanical lever and test it electrically once the power had been switched on. I found that the door rolled up but wouldn’t stop at its predetermined position and then jammed itself in place. If I set it to close it would simply unwind but not drop down. The solution was to reset the limit of upward travel and therein lay the problem, for me at least. I removed the cover on the control panel to see if there was a way to make an adjustment but nothing was obvious even though there are adjustment screws on the electronic panel. Without the electrical diagram I would be groping in the dark so I was forced to leave it and call out the guy who installed and looks after our garage doors. If I am at home when he calls I shall be able to ask how the adjustment is made and will then be able to do it myself if I am that way inclined. Getting him to call is the problem as he is usually very busy. In the meantime I have instructed E to stand with the door as she opens it and to interrupt its travel as it reaches a certain point so that it won’t over-travel and jam up again. Closing the door presents no problem. So for a few days she will have to put up with the inconvenience of getting out of the car if she’s been away from home so that she can watch the door and stop it. So that was my Sunday morning, my day off, my rest day. It is just as well that the Sabbath was made for man and not man for the Sabbath as it says in Scripture. I did nothing else all day but remained at home. I was experiencing some aches and pains in my back again though nothing like those I had been suffering with a couple of weeks ago. Just as I was about to have something to eat the front door bell rang and it was my eldest son. He doesn’t have a set of keys to the house and though we offered to give him some he refused. His younger brother has no such qualms, he has a set of keys. He had driven over in the hope that he could store some more of his belongings in our house. More than two of the rooms in our house are filled with his and his wife’s belongings whilst they are looking toward getting their own house. They presently live with their daughter at her parents house about three miles away. He didn’t stop long, he never does. As he left my eyes filled up and I felt so alone and lonely…………but that is another story for another day.

Shirley Anne

A ‘orrible kind of day!

King Midas In Reverse
King Midas In Reverse (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

E was going to be out all day in Manchester with a friend and she was up and almost ready to go when I went downstairs just a little after 8 o’clock. She asked why I was up so early and I didn’t know why she asked that question as I am almost always up early but she said she thought I might be having a lie-in as it was a Saturday. Well yes, sometimes I do have a lie-in but not often. I was keen to get breakfast and begin doing a little work in the bathroom. Our youngest son, CD, had spent the night here after getting in at about 01.30. He sometimes does this if he is visiting friends in town. That meant I would not be able to use the hammer lest I woke him up but in actual fact the job has reached that stage where no hammering is required, nevertheless I needed to be quiet going about my business upstairs. As I was eating breakfast E said goodbye and off she went. As it happened and for no apparent reason I later glanced at the garage door where she keeps her car and found it half-way open so I went outside to see what the problem was. Maybe E hadn’t made sure it was fully closed or had inadvertently stopped it in mid-operation without realising it. I pushed the manual button but the door was hesitant and in fact wasn’t moving smoothly, if at all. Drat! I had to put off working in the bathroom to investigate the problem. Out came my tools from inside my van in the other garage and off came one of the ladders on the roof and into the other garage I went. I discovered that a locking mechanism was not in place which meant the motor wasn’t being held fast. The motor needs to be stationary so that the door will unwind as the door is connected directly to the extended rotor shaft that runs through the stator of the motor. It looked a simple job to repair but it meant loosening the rotor shaft to enable me to reposition the locking mechanism. Unfortunately doing that released the tension on the system and it unwound! Now I am not a garage door repair specialist so I was unaware this would happen. I couldn’t rewind the system single-handed and I had to admit defeat on this occasion. I will always attempt a repair if it is electrical or electro-mechanical or even just mechanical as I have worked in these fields throughout my working life. Often I have saved a lot of money by doing things myself. This time though I had to call in the services of the guy who had installed both our garage doors. I had to leave a message on his phone as he was unavailable at the time. Then I discovered that my mobile phone couldn’t connect to the network! I later found out what the problem was when I had time to sit down and relax. It was simply the Sim-card requiring a quick clean. I packed everything away and returned indoors. I wanted to check the glass panels for the shower to see how they would fit. If my readers will remember, my eldest son SJ had moved it indoors a week ago after it had been stored in the garage since last November. We have only just reached the stage whereby we need to check how to fit it. According to our plans the shower tray would be surrounded by two solid walls (tiled) and two glass ones. I found on opening the package that it contained only one with another small panel to be fitted with it in an ‘L’ shape. The end panel hadn’t been supplied. I phoned the company and they checked their records at my request to see if we had in fact ordered the end panel. We hadn’t! How that happened is anyone’s guess. I asked if I could order the panel over the phone giving them my credit card details and they duly arranged for it to be included on the outstanding order we had with them for the delivery of the wall and floor tiles and towel/radiator unit that was scheduled the next day, Sunday. That cost me an extra £113. Unfortunately because of my request they had to defer delivery of all items until this coming Sunday. I got on with painting the ceiling and part of the wall immediately surrounding the large mirror with an undercoat of paint, later to be painted over in white. The reason for this is that we are fitting edging tiles around the mirror some of which are not opaque and we don’t want the bare surface of the wall to be seen through them, particularly as the wall isn’t exactly the one colour at the moment! Nothing seemed to go according to plan on Saturday and even after painting the ceiling again I am still not satisfied with the result. I somehow felt like King Midas in reverse (a Hollies song from years ago if you remember) whereby everything I touched didn’t turn to gold but just fell apart instead! What a ‘orrible day…………..LOL

Shirley Anne

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The other garage and its door

As promised here is the update. I had been let down on Friday expecting to see the guy come to install the motor drive for the old garage door but he didn’t arrive. I made arrangements for him to come on Monday, yesterday, at nine in the morning. I got up early enough to have breakfast long before he was due to arrive and I waited, and waited and waited some more but he hadn’t arrived by ten after ten. My mobile phone rang and it was the boss of the company letting me know that the guy would arrive at my house in twenty minutes. No apology for him being a little late. He arrived almost forty minutes later! I said nothing to him regarding the time-keeping but simply talked to him about the job in hand and a couple of minor concerns that I had with positioning and such. I made him a cup of coffee and left him to get on with it. I had supplied an extension lead as a temporary supply as I didn’t know the exact position where the motor drive would be. About two and a half hours later the job was completed and he run through the controls with me and explained what I was not to do by way of maintenance, like oiling or greasing the chain drive for instance, something many would just do as a matter of course. Evidently it doesn’t require much maintenance which is good for me. The existing springs and cabling remain though and the cables do require a watchful eye as they tend to rust or break unexpectedly if not checked occasionally. I paid the guy and gave him a little extra for himself. That was it! I reversed my vehicle back into the garage and found that the headroom issues I thought I might have had just weren’t there. There was plenty of headroom even if I parked the van directly beneath the motor and even with the ladders on top! Whereas before I had only an inch or two spare clearance between the ladders and the door edge when it was fully raised manually now there is extra clearance because I’d asked him to adjust the motor to pull the door that little bit more. I have about a four-inch clearance now. This is at the entrance only where the floor is slightly raised to prevent rainwater from flooding the garage which is at the bottom of a slope. See picture below. Once inside there is even more headroom. I spent a half-hour fitting a permanent supply close to the motor and removing the temporary extension lead. It will be great to be able to drive directly (I reverse in) into the garage without having to get out to open the door. Another job well done!

Shirley Anne

What is it with tradespeople?

Illustration of a garage door.
Illustration of a garage door. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

About five weeks ago we finally got somebody to fit the roller-shutter doorto the newest of the two garages we have and they did a really good job. At that time I made enquiries to have the existing panel-door on the other garage motorised. That door has hinged panels which allow it to be pulled to the ceiling as it rides inside two channels, one either side. The garage isn’t as tall as the new one so there is insufficient headroom for a roller door to be fitted. There is nothing wrong with the existing door so the cost of replacing it doesn’t come into the equation. It is similar to the door in the picture on the right but it is constructed of fibre-glass on an aluminium frame. This gives it strength whilst still allowing natural light to flood the garage when it is closed whereas the roller door is made entirely of metal and lets no light through. That is why I built a window in the rear wall of that garage. Presently the door in the old garage is lifted manually with the aid of two large springs, again, one either side. I was told that it was possible to install a motor and be able to operate the door by remote control and was quoted an approximate price for doing it. I accepted but was informed that it may take a few weeks to source some of the parts necessary for the conversion. Earlier this week I received a phone call by the installer who said that he now had the parts and would like to do the job on Friday. I accepted that date and made sure I was free in case I was needed. I got up early, had my breakfast and then removed my van from the garage ready for his arrival. By lunch time nobody had arrived so I made the call to see what was wrong. I was given the excuse that they were short-staffed and one of the jobs for that day required both of the only two fitters available. Now as I understand it there are only two fitters in the company but I may be wrong! It didn’t matter and the guy apologised for not having telephoned to let me know earlier. Apologies accepted but the annoying thing about it is that I could have made alternative plans had I known they weren’t coming or I could have scheduled work for the day. As it happened I had neither but that wasn’t the point, I could have! I don’t like blowing my own trumpet but whenever I make appointments I keep them! Only extenuating circumstances would prevent me from keeping an appointment but I would make sure that I let my customers know out of courtesy. I have only let a customer down once and that was through illness but I telephoned them to let them know and we set another appointment a few days later. As of this moment, Sunday morning, I am expecting the fitters to arrive tomorrow morning as promised to do the job. I will let you know if they keep that appointment.

Shirley Anne

Not much doing

Yesterday I decided to buy a protective cover for my new mobile phone and E told me of a place to get one so she came with me. Unfortunately the store was out of stock on a suitable cover. We drove into town to buy fuel for the van and then I parked it and walked to another store whilst E remained in the van. As the distance to the store was around a half mile or so she decided to stay put because of her disability and wait for my return. Although the store didn’t have a cover specific for my phone they did have a rather nice alternative which on reflection is probably better so I bought it at £17.99. Now the area where the store is located is that where I normally do my shopping for toiletries, clothes and such but this time I couldn’t indulge as E was waiting for my return so reluctantly I shelved the idea. I don’t go shopping very often as I tend to buy things in quantity but in a couple of weeks time I will be returning. We returned home to do all the little daily tasks that occupy our lives like bringing in the washing (it was actually hung in the boiler room in the cellar), taking out rubbish and other general tasks before lunch. After lunch I set about familiarizing myself with the mobile phone so that I will know how to use it! I arranged and installed some security software on the phone should it ever be needed. The software was free and because I use the same software protection on my computer the two can be linked to the same account. Is is such a shame that we need to do things like that, it was never a problem with a simple telephone was it? Progress? Yeah, sure! I had expected a call from a client but it didn’t materialise so I spent the rest of the day at home. So far this week I have had one job but it is enough to satisfy my average expected income for the week. I may yet receive requests before the week is out, that’s the way it is in my business. I did make a call to the guy who fitted the roller door to my garage to ask what progress he had made in gathering the equipment he will need to automate the other garage door. He tells me he has most of it but is waiting on one or two items. He said he will ring back early next week. I shall be very happy to see that work completed so that I too can enjoy the privilege of driving directly into the garage without having to manually open the door. E uses the other garage although my van would better be parked in it as it is a higher vehicle with only an inch or two of headroom when the ladders are on the roof-rack, which is all of the time! As long as I can get the van inside it doesn’t matter. The guy doing the job is aware of the limited headroom so it should work out.

Shirley Anne

Busy week

English: A remote control for an automatic gar...
English: A remote control for an automatic garage door opener – showing the outer case and inner circuit. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Last week saw me gainfully employed doing something every day, work, rest and play! I was kept rather busy at work especially which has come at just the right time, not that I am desperate for money, I am not but rather than having to dip into my savings I found myself with the cash to fund the various projects I had planned at home. Those things are now catered for as well as getting E’s car back on the road. E and I actually dined out together for the first time in six months on Wednesday and had a thoroughly good time. We are now closer than we’ve been during the last six months. Some things need to change yet though before I can say we are back totally to where we were six months ago. It is good however that we are talking once again.
Two weeks ago tomorrow we had the roller door fitted to the new garage and E has enjoyed the fact that her car can rest securely overnight and out of the weather too. A thought came into her mind regarding the use of the garage when it is dark. There is a floodlight over the garage that is controlled by a motion detector but it doesn’t illuminate the inside of the garage which remains pitch-black unless the internal light is switched on and therein lies the problem. She can operate the roller door by remote control from her car but would have to get out of the car to switch on the light. I needed to come up with a system that switches on the internal light when the door is opened but only during the hours of darkness. I had the necessary components to construct a control box. I bought a proximity switch for the door and a photo cell detector to monitor the ambient light conditions and I constructed the control box on Friday morning. I plan to complete the installation today, Sunday. As the door reaches it’s fully open position it will operate a switch which in turn operates a relay. A switch on the relay is wired in series with the photo cell switch and on to the fluorescent light inside the garage. Both switches must be closed for the light to work so although the door may be fully open and operating the relay the light will remain off if it is still daylight. The light naturally has a manually operated wall switch too for use when the door is closed. This is a two-way switch that enables the supply to the light to come from a manual operation or the automatic operation but only one or the other. This is to prevent the light being accidentally left on manually. It all sounds complicated but in real terms it is quite simple. Well it will keep me out of mischief for a few hours whilst I am installing it all! Here endeth the electrical lesson for today… LOL.
I spent a few hours in the pub on Friday afternoon and evening and met up with quite a few people, some new to me and some well-known. I didn’t much feel like going to bed early and ended up staying up far too long consequently I didn’t get out of bed until a little later than I would normally do on a Saturday morning so I decided to forego my early morning session on the treadmill. I decided to take that exercise later in the evening last night instead. Now am I fit for work or fit to drop? Well after that exercise I had a good night’s sleep and am rearing to go as they say.

Shirley Anne

Going batty

Last Monday saw the installation of my roller-shutter door to the new garage and after we had cleared out the accumulated rubbish E finally got to put her car in there. Her car had broken down last week and had to be taken to a repair depot if you remember but it wasn’t until Tuesday that she was able to collect it. I had taken my bicycle to the place where I had bought it about six weeks ago as it was due for a free service and check-up. Under normal circumstances I might have ridden it there but E wanted to see if they had finished checking her car as they hadn’t checked it by Monday evening and it was now approaching the afternoon on Tuesday but they hadn’t phoned her to let her know what was happening. I had been working during the morning so was unable to take my bike for its service earlier. As it happened I was back home before noon so took the bike then. E came with me and I was told I would have to leave the bike there because they were short-staffed and it couldn’t be seen to immediately. We returned home via the repair depot and E saw that her car had been moved which meant they had checked it out so I waited there whilst she went inside to collect it. They told her that it needed a replacement part costing £800 but that the fault may or may not manifest itself again for weeks, months or even a year. In other words they were not sure! E laughed and said to me that her car wasn’t even worth £800. It is ten years old though and really wants replacing I suppose. Anyway she drove it home and I followed immediately behind all the way. It was when we returned home that she put her car in the garage for the first time. When she first bought it she used to park it in the old garage alongside my van but over the years that changed and she just left it on the driveway in front of the house. Later in the afternoon she accompanied me when I went to collect my bike. On Monday evening after dark, our youngest son paid a visit and E showed him the new garage door. When they were inside they switched on the light and in the process disturbed a bat which flew about and disappeared out of their sight. It wasn’t the same bat as pictured below. I am not sure of the name for the one they had discovered but it is one of the smaller and more common species here in the UK.When she came indoors to tell me about it I wasn’t surprised for the garage has been left open to the elements for so long and we have always known there were bats about in the evenings as we have seen them regularly. Now an open garage to a bat is just the same to it as a cave so it is hardly surprising that we have one or two using it as their home. I don’t mind that in the least, they are harmless but we may have to seek them out after I have completed sealing off the building for there is a space between the door and the roof which needs blocking off. That couldn’t be done prior to the door being fitted as I couldn’t tell how much work was involved. So I may have some fun in the not too distant future trying to evict a couple of bats. I would rather catch them and release them somewhere safe but as the colder months are approaching they may go into hibernation in which case I would have to leave them alone.

Shirley Anne

And finally? Well not quite!

Yesterday I waited eagerly for the guys to turn up and install my roller-shutter door to my garage and they did not let me down. They arrived around 8.15 but they had to wait for the delivery of the lifting machine before they could commence work. They didn’t have to wait long and soon they got stuck in. I had given them the box of ‘goodies’ that had originally been supplied with the door but evidently one part was missing. I had no idea where it could be so he made a phone call and said he could get one delivered. In the meantime E mentioned that the part might be in a certain box downstairs in the cellar so I went to investigate. I found something there but it really didn’t fit the description the guy had told me was missing. However I took it to him and lo and behold it was the missing part! He cancelled the delivery of a replacement and continued with the work. I went back indoors to prepare and cook a Chilli and then came outside to help E clear up her handiwork after she had pruned some bushes we have in the front garden. I left the guys to do their work but popped in occasionally to see if they would like a drink. They declined the offer several times saying that they simply didn’t drink much whilst at work. Strange people! I like to be offered a drink when at work but there you go, not everyone is the same. They had the job completed by 1.30 and after payment (with an extra bonus) off they went to look at another job but before they did I asked them about motorising the door to the other garage. I was told that yes, it could be done and he explained what was involved and how much it would cost. I agreed the price and offered them the job. It should cost no more than £400 to do it. He is going to order the necessary equipment and will give me a call when he is ready to do it, which be in the near future. I was charged £260 for the work they had done today but they received £300 for a job well done. Now the pics………The new door fitted on the left and the older door to be motorised, on the right.

Later E and I cleared out the new garage of all the accumulated junk except for a few items that we haven’t yet decided what to do with. So finally, well not quite yet, we’ve got to where we should have been ages ago!

Shirley Anne