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Friday, 18 August 2017

SIA R8 - 70cm gas hob with five burners

Not a fix but something I've been busy with. A year ago I started my kitchen project. The kitchen, then, was tired and old, and needed updating. So last year I bought some new cupboard units and doors and arranged things such that when funds would allow, I could install a new hob with five burners. This meant losing a bit of wall-cupboard space as I needed at least 70cm of open space above the hob which, due to it having five burners, was 10cm wider than the hob that was already in there. Anyway, I got as far as I got with that but due to lack of time and funds I never got to install a new hob. So, for the last year I've been coping with a half done kitchen that had some nice bits in it and some grotty and/or unfinished bits. This included my old 60cm hob (which, to be fair, was fully functional but looked well past its best).

So, this past week I've been busy completing the project and that brings me to my new hob. I also bought a new worktop for it to go into (and so that side of the kitchen now matches the other side that got its new worktop (and sink) last year...).

The hob is the SIA (Ship It Appliances) "R8".

Features courtesy of SIA's ebay advert:

Front controls

Black glass easy clean surface

Cast iron pan stands

Wok burner

Flame failure safety device

Heavy duty burner caps

LPG kit included


Front left semi rapid burner / 1.75 kW

Rear left semi rapid burner / 1.75kW

Rear right rapid burner / 3kW

Front auxiliary burner 1kW

Centre wok burner 3.8kW


Nominal rating 11.3kW

Appliance power supply 220-240V 50Hz

Max electrical power 2W

Fuse rating 3A

Weight 14.7kg


Product dimensions L 700mm x W 510mm x H 90mm

Cut out dimensions 477mm x 557mm

I settled on the R8 because I wanted separate pan supports on each burner and those on the R8 looked really chunky. I thought that that would reduce the chance of pans toppling over. In real life, I was pleased to see that the pan supports are very substantial. But before I get to that, I will say something about actually installing the hob. Even though it is 70cm wide, the worktop cut out is 57.7cm which means that the hob can be installed over a standard 60cm carcass. Also, the depth (under the glass hob top) is only 4cm which, once the foam underseal is in place, means it sits perfectly in the B&Q "Arlington" worktop I'd chosen. I cut the new worktop myself after lots of very careful measuring and marking. Here are some pics:

And now some close-ups of the hob. First, the gas connection. My installer told me that this was 1/2 inch BSP. There was no other fitting supplied but my installer had the right bit to hand so I presume it is fairly common:

 Here is one of the burners without the bits on it:

The knobs (which I think are plastic with a metalised coating on top):

Electrical connection:

And here is the hob on the worktop (dry fit because I didn't know whether the installer would need to do anything to the hob before it was fastened into place on the worktop):

So, that's about it, really. The pictures below show the hob as fitted and fully operational. They do give a proper sense of scale. The fact that the hob is flat rather than indented, combined with the big chunky pan supports, means that pans sit quite high. I was also concerned about "room" for big pans but a quick test shows that the space between the four burners around the outside is enough for my full size frying pan, large steamer and stock-pot. Obviously, the middle burner is for a wok and I think it might be a struggle to fit anything else on the hob whilst cooking in a wok (but then again, why would anyone need to use more than one pan in a wok-cooking scenario?). Finally, one more thought occurs now that everything is fitted: if a pan boils over it will go everywhere. So, I will have to keep an eye on things...

Incidentally, that grey stuff on the walls is laminate floor. If you like the look of that I can do no better than point you in the direction of Katie Bower's blog. The only thing I did differently was using "no nails" in place of silicone sealant and brads. Also note the clear glass splash-back behind the hob...

More soon, no doubt....


Saturday, 6 May 2017

Mondeo ST24: water pump replacement

My car has now hit 157,000 miles. It's also 19 years old and the bodywork has seen better days. The car still goes well but from time to time certain age/wear related problems arise. Last week I returned to my car to discover a puddle of water on the floor under the front bumper. Last time I had something like that, the bottom connector on the radiator had cracked. That was last summer and the remedy was to fit a new radiator, which I did, last October. Seeing this puddle reminded me of that, and filled me with dread; could my new radiator have sprung a leak?

I happened to have a two litre bottle of water in the car. I used that to brim the expansion tank and then drove home. Once I'd pulled up, I jumped out and look underneath at the front. I could see a trickle of water dropping down from behind the engine under-guard. This was a relief because it meant the leak could not possibly be coming from the radiator. On the other hand, what was leaking? I popped the bonnet and had a look around. I could see drips on the bottom edge of the water pump. This was interesting because I had fitted that water pump as a precautionary measure when I first bought the car about 5 years ago. As the car has done about 55,000 miles since then, I was planning on replacing the pump and already had a shiny new one in my spares pile. That night I swapped the pump for the new one and started the car up, hopeful that the leak would be sorted. Here are some pics I took:

Alas, it was not to be - the leak was still there but I could now see, with the aid of a torch in the dark, that the leak was coming from the water pump housing. And that revelation led me to this discussion on the TalkFord website:

V6 Water Pumps

I therefore reviewed the pictures I had taken. The first one, which appears above and which I took by holding my phone down into the space next to the pump, shows clear damage in the housing. I could have saved myself some time by actually having a look at the pictures I had taken...

So, the next day I removed the (new) water pump together with the housing, and split them apart. Now, removing the pump/housing from the car is technically straightforward. I removed the air filter box and the battery to make some room, and the belt, and that just left three 8mm bolts and three spring clips (on the hoses attached to the housing) to remove. The bolts were easy enough (they have to come out when replacing the water pump, anyway). The hoses and clips on my car are, I think, original. They were a total bastard to remove and it took me about an hour to do all three. My hands are still sore from the experience. Anyway, with the housing off the car and the pump removed, I was presented with this:

I'd noticed that shiny disc was in the wrong place when I changed the pump the night before but I didn't think it was significant. But having since seen the posts on TalkFord, I now knew that the disc was in the wrong place and was likely to be the cause of the leak in the housing. I removed the disc and turned the housing over, looking for some sort of hole. This is what I found:

So, the shiny disc had worn a tiny hole in the housing. The next question was what to do about it? A bit of research showed that some manufacturers sell new pumps that are supplied with new housings. The most frequent "hit" in my searches was the Dolz F149CT for £60 - £100 depending on the seller. I also found the the complete unit could still be bought from Ford. To be honest though, I wanted to sort this for zero expense. I don't know how much longer the car is going to last and I don't want to be spending money on it. So, I cracked open a tube of JB Weld High Heat Epoxy Putty that I happened to just have. The packet says that it is good for cracked engine blocks so I figured it could handle a bit of hot water, like that which would be found in a water pump housing. This is my repair:

I used the putty to re-fix the shiny disc to the housing, and also fill the groove made by the disc when it was loose. For good measure, I put a big dollop on the outside of the housing. I waited a few hours before reassembling everything (the putty hardens in less than an hour but needs 8 hours to fully cure). I refilled the system on my car and then ran the engine up to temperature. No leak ;). I've done about 150 miles since then and all seems well.

More soon, no doubt...


Monday, 26 December 2016

i5 gaming PC with RX470 graphics

Not a repair but a build.

It's about 10 years since I last built a PC from scratch so when I was commissioned to build this PC, I had a lot of developments to catch up on. No doubt spending the maximum amount possible on components would have yielded an impressive machine but there was also a tight budget to stick to, and a monitor, keyboard and mouse, were also required. The remit included some future proofing so the core components were selected to last. Moreover, the PC was intended to be a surprise Christmas present so eliciting information about its intended use without raising suspicions from the eventual recipient was a further challenge, especially when it came to the GPU. I'm (now) aware (from all my reading) that when it comes to GPUs, the choice between AMD and Nvidea is hotly contested and there seem to be pros and cons in each respect. However (again from all my reading and knowing what I know about the machine's intended use), my choice of an AMD card was carefully considered and deliberate.

Finally, I should also add that several Black Friday bargains helped me out a lot....

All things considered, I think I've hit the spot with this machine.Once it was all built and running, I couldn't help but wish that I was keeping it for myself.

So, the Parts List:


Motherboard: MSI Z170A TOMAHAWK
CPU: Intel Core i5 6600K
CPU Cooler: Arctic Freezer 11i
Memory: Corsair Vengeance LPX XMP 16 GB (2 x 8 GB) DDR4 3000 MHz




Monitor: Asus VS248HR
Keyboard: Roccat Ryos MK Pro
Mouse: ASUS Gladius


Windows 10 Pro

And now the build. I took photos of most of the build but I got a bit carried away when installing the CPU, etc, and forgot to take any pictures of that.

Here's all the bits, ready to go:

Now some photos of the case. They've certainly moved on since my last build. This case has two 120mm fans built-in. The one at the front sucks in, the one at the rear blows out. That fact determines the CPU fan arrangement (more of which in a moment). The case itself is lined with sound deadening material. Lots of space inside, with plenty of slots and openings in the back panel for cable management, and more fans if required. The hard drive caddies simply clip in which makes installing the drives (2.5 or 3.5) a breeze - simply screw the drive into the removed caddy, and then refit..

And here the hard drives are going in. They mount sideways which helps with cable management.

And now we fast forward to the assembled motherboard, ahem. I hadn't noticed the opening in the back panel which would have allowed me to fit the CPU cooler with the motherboard in place. Still, no harm done doing it all on the kitchen table. The picture below shows the RAM in place, and the PSU mounted in the bottom of the case. The PSU contains a large fan which draws air in from underneath. There is a corresponding opening in the bottom of the case to facilitate that, along with a removeable dust filter.

As for the actual fan and cooler, according to the blurb it comes ready smeared with MX4 paste so I installed it as is. The fan and cooler can mount in any direction (blowing up, down, or to the front or back). Bearing in mind the fan arrangement in the case, I've set it so that it is drawing cool air from the front, through the cooler, to be collected by the exhaust fan on the back of the case.

Whilst I'm on about the PSU and its fan, I should mention a small problem I discovered once I'd put everything together and switched the PC on for the first time. This was a distinct rattling from the PSU fan. On closer inspection, I could see that some of the PSU's internal wiring had moved (in transit?) and was just fouling the fan blades. With the PSU removed and unplugged, I used a thin plastic drift through the grill to gently poke the wiring down, back into place. On the final fit, the PSU fan was totally silent. The wires in question can be seen in the photo below.

So now the PC is sufficiently built to run. I switched it on and checked the BIOS was happy. It was. Very nice BIOS, by the way... Here's some photos of it running. The third photo I took without a flash. The motherboard has some red LEDs on the back which cast a nice glow...

And now the graphics card goes in. It covers two slots on the motherboard. The fan and cooler arrangement is very nice and it exhausts out of the back of the case.The word "Sapphire" also lights up in blue. Note that the case still is still covered in its transit material which is why the view through the window in the side panel looks a bit wonky.

The build, including messing around with the rattling PSU, took about 90 minutes. Most of that time was required once assembly and initial testing was complete, and I was trying different configurations of cable management. I'm probably not going to win any awards for my efforts but its a tidy enough job.

I then installed the OS from USB. The SSD inside made short work of that, then some Windows updates and then installing and updating all the drivers for the motherboard and GPU which took a good while. Finally, over  the next couple of days I ran some burn tests to check that all was in order. Since I'm not a gamer I didn't have any actual games to try, I used a couple of different benchmarking programs. There were no issues with any of that and temperatures remained exactly where they ought to have been. I then did a mild overclock from within Windows using MSI's motherboard utility tool. I wish I'd taken some pictures of that, and the results in general, because it was all very exciting. No doubt the PC's new owner will want to have a play with all of that one day, and do a proper job from within the BIOS, but I was happy to see the PC stable, quiet, and cool, running at 4.2Ghz. That was enough for me.

More soon, no doubt....


Wednesday, 26 October 2016

HP Digital Sender (Scanner) 9100C - hard drive failure: repaired

We have an HP Digital Sender 9100C which we use frequently. It's an awesome scanner with a built-in document feeder and various network capabilities. We've had it from new, back in 2003/4 and although its had the occasional hiccup, it has never had any serious issues.

Here is a video of someone's 9100C in action:

And then last week it packed up. I found the self-test function and the results indicated a failed hard drive. I decided to fix it. My first thought was to simply stick a new (IDE) hard drive in there. However, after a bit of research I realised that it was a bit more complicated than that. This is because the 9100C has its own operating system which lives on the hard drive. Since the old hard drive was basically ruined, there was no prospect of recovering any data or an image from it. A bit more research lead me to the Pariswells website and a blog post on replacing the hard drive in the 9100C. Perhaps more helpfully, there is also a link to an "img" file which contains the operating system needed. I think its fair to say that but for that blog post, our scanner would be in bits right now, being sold for spares.

So, why this post? Well, having now fixed our 9100C, I thought I'd update the instructions for doing the repair as the information on the Pariswells website isn't quite complete (or, at least, doesn't cover the setup I was using to write the HP image to the replacement drive).

1. Download the HP image file using the link on the Pariswells website. Extract the image into a folder on your PC.

** if the links on Pariswells ever stop working, drop me a line and I'll sort something out for you **

2. Attach the replacement IDE hard drive to your PC or laptop. Since I was using a laptop, I used a IDE to USB converter which worked, but the result was that the hard drive was represented as a USB drive rather than a component of my system. This was an arrangement that the "SelfImage" software from the Pariswells site did not like at all.

3. Wipe the replacement hard drive (if its not new), and delete all partitions on it. Make a new 40GB partition formatted as NTFS. I used Aomei Partition Assistant for this.

4. Download and install USB Image Tool. This is a little program that would normally be used to backup an image from a USB stick. It can also write an image to a USB stick using its restore function.

5. Run USB Image Tool, In "Options" check the "Show non-removable devices (USB hard disk drives)" option. The hard drive's 40GB partition should appear on the left hand side. Select it, then click "Restore". Find the HP image file and select it.

6. Sit back and wait for the image to be written (my set-up took about 45 minutes).

7. Once done, go into File Explorer on your computer. There should be three extra partitions. There will be a few folders in each one, if you fancy having a nosy. The new partitions are small and are now in FAT format (rather than NTFS).

8. "Eject" the drive and then install it in the 9100C. Refit all the cables and wires, etc.

At this stage, I actually didn't have to do anything beyond switching the 9100C on. No initial configuration was needed to get it on my network. I used the HP web based interface (just type the IP address of the 9100C into a browser) to fine tune the settings. First access requires a login and password. The login is "Administrator". The password field should be left blank. Remake your address book if, like me, you haven't kept a backup of it...

Easy :)

More soon, no doubt....


Tuesday, 16 August 2016

EXakt Saw EC310N - Gear fault repair - put it back together

Righty. The new parts arrived today. The gear was £7.99 and the brushes were £3.99. I should say at this point that having since checked the existing brushes, I decided to leave them in a bit longer (to get my money's worth and all that). So, this post is just about replacing the brass gear.

First, some pictures of the new bits:

Now I'm going to swap the brass gear. The gear assembly is held together with a circlip. Remove the circlip, then remove the bearing and finally the gear itself:

I did contemplate simply putting everything back together at this point but, really, there was a lot of swarf in the gearbox grease. So I decided to clean things up a bit. This was quite messy and I didn't take any pictures. What I'm left with in the next picture is a cleaned up gearbox with everything re-assembled:

Looking good. Here's the other part of the drive gear. I've also cleaned that side of things out. I added some fresh grease (in the end and after a great deal of deliberation, I added a bit more than what can be seen in the picture):

So now its time to re-assemble the device. Before attaching the gearbox plate, replace the spring and end-stop assembly in its channel. There's a small metal bush which goes in there as well. I've highlighted it in the picture:

At this point the two halves of the device can be put back together. However, I found that the easiest way of getting that rogue nut to stay in place was to attach it to the depth-stop screw first. Then put the two halves back together and screw them up. Finally remove the depth-stop screw, replace the collar and rubber seal, and re-fit the depth-stop screw:

That's it. All being well, you'll now have a fully working Exakt saw. I do :)

More soon, no doubt...