Thursday, 23 October 2014


As some of those of you who follow this may know, I took up gliding last year...
I am currently taking a week of holiday in Scotland on a gliding expedition with a group from the Aston Down club at  a gliding centre called Portmoak, where there is a lot of 'ridge' and 'wave' soaring - whereas at the club's home it is almost entirely thermal soaring.
This looked like being a great chance to gain some new skills. I was very hopeful of getting a fair bit of time actually in the air, as most of the group had brought their own gliders, so after checking that they were OK with the local site the instructor would be 'largely at my disposal for the rest of the week'. Well, that was the theory...
Most of us drove up on Saturday, and the club's 2-seater glider (a DG500) was 'rigged' that afternoon - i e taken out of the trailer and the wings and tail-plane fitted to the fuselage.
Day 1(Sunday) was a bit blustery, but most of the group got cleared.
Day 2 the rest of them got cleared and I got my first flight ~ 1½ hrs
Day 3 was VERY strong winds so it was only OK for either quite experienced pilots on their own or less experienced ones with instructors - so again I only got one flight of ~ 1½ hrs
Day 4 was a washout after the very first flights (of which I was not one)
Day 5 (today) is a total washout
Day 6 (Friday) looks hopeful...
Day 7 (Saturday) everything will be being packed up and we drive home.

You really do need to be quite an optimist in this game!  Thank you hurricane Gonzalo... :-(

The one consolation is that it has not cost much - ~ £230 so far for the week in self catering chalets, my part of the week's hire of one of the club's 2-seater gliders & launch fees (but excluding my fuel cost getting to & from here).

Next Friday/Saturday will be spent on a narrow boat so I hope the weather will be a bit better by then!

Speaking of fuel costs, please can I ask anyone who does any sort of high mileage to consider having an LPG system fitted to their vehicle? Not only is it about half the price of petrol, it is also far better for the environment...
Yes, it does cost a bit to get it fitted, and the tank takes up a bit of space (generally the spare wheel well), but I reckon with my car's MPG (5.5 m/l on petrol, ~ 4.1 on LPG) and the distance I travel each year (20,000 miles +) it will pay for itself in about 9 months, and there are plenty of places to fill up these days. With a full tank of both petrol and LPG I can go for 650 miles without filling up!

On the work front, I have just completed my first overhaul of a 'Congreve' clock - great fun, especially since the table had not been properly balanced and was not flat, it had the wrong mainspring, and there was no stop-work for the fusee - to name but a few of the faults...

Next up, an 'elephant' version of the swinging mystery clocks. This one starts to trip as the amplitude decays... The pivots are all good, and I have bushed the worn holes. I can't fit a weaker one to prevent it tripping at the reduced amplitude as they don't make one, so hopefully a stronger mainspring will prevent it decaying to this extent!

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