Monday, April 30, 2007

First review of 'Flames'

Just had my first review of 'Flames' and boy oh boy was it a great one! And I need to thank Garry Charles for his kind words. The full review can be read on the Whispers of Wickedness site.

Friday, April 27, 2007

Flames of Herakleitos eligible for Welsh Book Of The Year 2008

I'm not going to get my hopes up but can't help but feel a little excited to see that 'Flames' is eligible for The Welsh Book Of The Year 2008 and is listed on Acamedi's site : Academi

I'm in the March list and numbered four. It's early days yet, probably many more books to be added and already there are some tough books to beat and some pretty big names in there.

How it all works is a mystery to me, I don't know if it works on sales or if there is a voting system. Unfortunately, if it is sales-based I think 'Flames' will struggle as it will be difficult to get it stocked in bricks and mortar shops due to publishing costs and the discounts that the big shops expect. However, it seems to be moving quite well on Amazon, so who knows?

Friday, April 20, 2007

The continuing story of Swallow Doretti – STT 24

It didn’t take me very long to realise that perhaps I had bitten off more than I could chew with this endeavour. I’ve always tinkered with cars (old ones – new ones are best left to robots and computers) and had got my TR4 back on the road after buying it with a seized engine, so thought, ‘what the heck? It’s not all that bad… hmm’
First thing to do was power wash the whole thing to try and get rid of the dog poo smell. It didn’t work; the bloody thing seemed to be ingrained into the metal. I tried to leave most of the car outside on nice days, just to air it. Even took the partially stripped chassis to Singleton Park in Swansea where they have a Classic Car Show in May. It brought many enquiring people to its side, mostly asking what the smell was…

With the car dismantled and the engine sent off to be stripped down and examined by a professional -- I know my limits-- I began to do what I could in my single garage. The chassis was in very good condition, due to the aforementioned chrome-molybdenum steel which doesn’t rust. Superficial dirt and detritus was wire-brushed off and soon bright metal showed underneath. This was rust-proofed (just in case) and then the chassis was painted with black Hammerite (great stuff). The chassis out-riggers were mild steel and they had to be cut off and new ones made up and welded on. I treated myself to a MIG welder and found out the hard way never to weld lying down with the weld seam dropping bits of red hot metal down your neck. The inner body shell was also mild steel and so were the floors which had rotted away completely. Fortunately enough, TR2 floors were very similar in shape and were available as new parts. Two were ordered and fitted, with some adjustments made. Other pieces were cut back to sound metal and new panels and pieces were let in. Steering was TR2 so all those parts were renewed as was suspension. The petrol tank was mild steel and was like a sieve, however it was used as a template and I had an engineering company make me a new one in stainless steel, you can see my old Jack Russell guarding it in one of the photos (gone now btw, great dog he was). Ohh! The red car on the cover of the magazine near the tank is… yes, a Doretti.

The doors were pretty sound, but the skins were in bad shape, so I chiselled them off and once again used them as templates for new ones. They were made in mild steel, even though all other outer panels were aluminium, because of the possibility of them taking knocks during their lifetime, aluminium although being light and rust-proof is very easy to dent. Ahh, I said rust-proof, well actually is does rust but in its own way. I think perhaps it’s some kind of oxidisation, or whatever the term is, because where the panels fitted to the mild steel body there was a weakening and even holing of the metal. I was told this is due to some sort of electric charge that happens between the two metals; perhaps it’s true, too technical for me. Where necessary this was patched and strengthened by a professional aluminium welder, again something that a specialist needed to do.

At last the car began to take shape. The mild steel inner body had been bead-blasted and primed, pieces added and primed and finally offered up to the chassis and it all fitted very well indeed.
The inner bodywork I painted myself in my garage as much of it wouldn’t be seen anyway. Then the outer skin went on. Once again it went together much better than I imagined. By now I had received the re-built engine (crank reground, new bearings, four new piston liners, four new pistons, new valves, head skimmed etc etc) so I had fitted it in place before putting the body on, however the body slotted over with no problem. It was only later that I realised the engine couldn’t stay in situ because the bloody engine bay was going to be sprayed with the rest of the car… everyone say d’oh!

And so STT 24 began looking like a car again, petrol tank went in, I started trying to find a source for a new windscreen (old one was cracked) and took the seats to an old guy in Swansea who did car re-upholstery, also took him the old hood which was so moth-eaten it had begun to look worse than my bank balance…
Next instalment will be added sometime soon. How will the re-spray turn out? Where will I get a wiring loom from? How the hell am I going to get the engine back into the engine bay without a crane? Why does my bank manager want to see me?

Wednesday, April 11, 2007

Why isn't stuff researched a little more, or am I too fussy?

I enjoy watching SF stuff (films, series etc etc) and also reading the same. As you probably know I enjoy writing it too. Although I haven't an academic or scientific background I try my best to be accurate with what I write and usually research the subject. Therefore, when I see(and it's mostly through that medium and not books that I spot the flaws) things like in the last Doctor Who, where the hospital is transported to the moon, the Doctor explains that they are within a protective force-field and that's how they can breath, how come he didn't explain why the gravity seemed to still be Earth-standard? How when the alien space-craft landed and the aliens marched across the moon's surface you could hear their stomping boots? Okay, you might say, well Doctor Who is aimed at kids, point taken. But what about last night's Battlestar Galactica (spoiler here) 'A day in the life' where we see Cally and Tyrol working in a damaged airlock only to find out that it's still leaking atmosphere and it automatically shuts them in to protect the rest of the ship. So how can they escape? By blowing out the main airlock doors and getting shot out into space and then captured by a shuttle holding position outside. Their protection? Little face masks like the ones that drop out of airplane ceilings just before you kiss your arse goodbye. From how the episode ends it looks as though they survive with nothing more than a couple of burst blood vessels in their eyes. Now, I thought, but I admit I'm no expert, but shouldn't rapid decompression affect you a lot more than that? Doesn't even being in space for a few seconds mean that because of your internal body pressure you suffer ruptured organs, boiled blood, frozen extremities? Oh well, perhaps I am being too picky...

But I certainly would have wanted to wear a space-suit

Sunday, April 08, 2007

First Swallow of the summer

This time of year always makes me think of my old Swallow Doretti which I discovered tucked in the back of a garage in Swansea in 1989. It was in a very poor condition and served as the sleeping place for a Doberman (and also it's toilet) At the time I owned and drove a Triumph TR4 (will do a story on that in the future) which I had to sell to make room for the Doretti as I only have a single garage. My wife thought I was mad when I got the car (if it could be classed as one at that time) home. It was stinking of dog poo, old oil and quietly rusting metal. However, I knew it was a rarity and well worth the trouble of restoring, six years later I was finally proved right, but it was a long, hard six years. The Swallow Doretti was designed back in the 1950s by an engineer named Frank Rainbow for The Swallow Sidecar Company, which evolved into Jaguar.

Only about 290 were made and many of those went abroad, mine was chassis number 1181. Dorettis have an aluminium skin over steel frame and a chrome-molybdenum chassis which was very, very strong. The running gear and engine was TR2 1998 cc straight four. If I've imbedded a flash slideshow correctly you should see some photos of the car before restoration work took place. Over the next few days I'll update the blog with more photos of how the restoration went and how the car finally turned out. As you can see, when I started the work I still had my hair...

Thursday, April 05, 2007

Poetry site updated

Somehow my poetry site got deleted this week (someone trying to tell me something?) However, I think I've got it sorted now and the link should be working again. Here it is, and if you don't like it just say so, don't go deleting it again!