Friday, 1 February 2013

Summer Song's engine

Dave with his mate 'Quad' Dave had Summer Song’s old engine out on Tuesday and were starting to tailor the engine bed for its reconditioned replacement on Wednesday...

...more powerful and in far better condition than the engine it replaces, it’s also smaller and lighter.
“The engine bed will have to be adjusted. A cross piece welded on the engine so it can sit on new blocks on your hull” said Dave "There'll be some tailoring, lifting the engine in and out. Then there's the propeller"
I'm grateful to Dave for suggesting, before Christmas, that given the complications that might arise it'd be better to lift Summer Song from the water and rest her on the shore nearby instead of paying to have her hauled out at Vangelis at Potamos and having the engine changed there. I'd have been building up a hefty bill just for keeping her in his yard. The shore at Ipsos is free and closer to home.
Summer Song ashore at Ipsos


"The plate that lies next to the flywheel on the new engine had been attached the wrong way round. Luckily I found it before we started it or there'd have been a mess" Dave told  me "and your new control panel. It's fine but the loom's wrong" I could see the connections were incompatible "Don't worry I'll dig out another"
"What about the prop?"
"You've got a more powerful engine. It may mean a new propeller, Try to apply that extra power to the existing prop..."
"There'll be cavitation?"
The old engine was 9hp. This one is about 16hp.
"You can't fit a larger propeller. There's no room for it between the blades and the hull"
"So you might need one with the same diameter but a different pitch?"
"I know a few people"
"And what about the gear lever in the cockpit?"
"That'll need rejigging"
I'd anticipated these fine details. I can't imagine a better team of helpers - Mark who found us the reconditioned engine and stored it for us and Dave and his mate who are installing it, and the various people they know - part of the island's year round yachting economy. It was on a day in May 2011 we first set about working on getting a replacement engine. I never expected it'd be straightforward to get this problem solved while avoiding spending a lot. That's why this is taking so long; waiting for the right opportunities; being helped by friends when they have time.
*** ***
An exchange with my friend Jan Didrichsen in York:
Dear Jan. Yes indeed. Name some dates for a day trip to York.
We stopped in Naples on the way to Corfu. What a lesson in consequences of cutting public services and occluding the public domain, so that local government of a highly calculative kind has ended up being provided to its followers by organised crime - the Camorrah.
I note the strengthening link in UK between local deprivation and the scale of central government funding reductions - poor areas in the north, midlands, and inner London getting the greatest cuts despite Whitehall rhetoric to the contrary. Things fall apart but nastier forms of 'service' thrive amid what is blighted.
Yes I'd like to read more about the deteriorating relationship between the Civil Service and Government. Can you send it to me as a link or attachment?
There are so many resonances from Naples with our experiences of the inner suburb of Handsworth in Birmingham, though at the moment our gangs – Johnson Crew and Burger Bar Boys - aren't yet as far as I know offering alternative public services. My nightmare is when I first hear that some intelligent local criminals have taken up providing social care for vulnerable people and collecting rubbish. Then we are in trouble. All the best, Simon 
Simon. Send me an e-mail when you are back. I'll keep the articles from the Times for you. I am not as computer savvy as you! Have read your blog on your visit to Naples. Fascinating and frightening and regrettably not impossible even in parts of Britain if we take our eye off the ball. I agree Once 'intelligent' criminals start to offer alternative services to fill the gap left by diminishing public services we are on a hiding to nowhere. In fact it is happening on a small scale in some communities. Then it is only a small step before these 'new' criminal  organisations start to field candidates in elections. In my worst nightmare I can see alliances between 'intelligent' criminals and the top 1% wealthiest people who, as we know, are both criminal and corrupt already, as we have seen in media empires, the banks, chemical firms, police etc. This is not a happy prospect. I am beginning to think we are creating a new form of feudalism where democracy is shrinking, even disappearing, and most if not all activities will be beyond democratic control or influence and run by a new and small feudal clique Transparency will then will be non-existent. This is a gloomy forecast I know and I 'd like to think there is still time for a more positive future but the dismantling of the public sector is progressing at a frightening speed, and where there is vacuum it will be filled by something. The growth of moneylending to the most vulnerable people at exorbitant interest rates is a good example. They even advertise on TV and openly, almost proudly, charge the equivalent of between 1500 and 2000% per annum interest rates, and this is perfectly legal!  I hear that pawnbroking is one the few growth industries at the moment. Looking at developments in the NHS it is difficult not be gloomy and frightened about the future, especially our own old age. I cannot see the NHS surviving in any meaningful way once the current changes have been fully implemented. The NHS is one of the greatest creations of this country and it is disappearing quickly. It is easy to be sentimental about it I know, and there is considerable scope for improvement and change but this is not it. The only light on the horizon is that Labour's shadow minister said that they would give all health responsibilities except specialist nationwide services to local authorities. Don't know the details or how real this is, but at least it sounds promising, but by 2015 it may be difficult to reverse or overturn the current changes. At least it offers some alternative, if it is serious and not just a political stunt. We will no doubt have a lot to chew over when we meet. Enjoy Greece, did you hear Cameron's speech on the EU ?  Best, Jan D
Dear Jan. A date's is in my diary and barring blizzards and strikes I’ll see you around 11.00 at York station. I’ll let you know train times closer to that date.
Thanks for your thoughts and for that news item on Burnham’s plans for local council’s to have health service responsibilities.
I recall colleagues writing in the mid 1990s ago about ’the new magistracy’ as non-governmental agencies proliferated. I like your image of a new feudalism - which for many provided both a prison but also a sense of place and security (as indeed is the case with what we call ‘organised crime’)
For so many years we have heard talk of people - some people - becoming over dependent on the state. In that light the move towards greater voluntarism and self-help can be seen as positive. As I get peripherally involved in local voluntary activity I become aware of how complex and time consuming is such activity.
Care, street cleaning, grounds maintenance - just to select a few examples are covered by volumes of legislation, technologies requiring training and retraining and qualifications, and commensurate wages for practitioners. A watershed for me was when I first got a glimpse, some 15 years ago now, of the 600 pages grounds maintenance contract for our local park. The idea that we - the local friends of the park - might take over responsibility for overseeing and implementing this was unrealistic - 26 different ways to mow grass of different kinds at different times of the year in varying weathers!
Seeing the professional care received by my mother - which was wonderful, and which was private as she was well off, I got an inkling of what level of training and competence is required to enable a frail older person remain - as my mother did - lucid and pretty comfortable in her own bed (specially adapted) in her own home until her death.
Linda and I and several neighbours long involved in community activity took over a moribund and grant-aided handyperson service two years ago. It hired two full time workers on the grant money then available at ward level and had three vans and loads of power tools but by the time we were approached via a local councillor to help it was £20K in debt as a result of drastic grant cutbacks and accumulated overheads. We sold off two of the vehicles, a very expensive chipper and allowed the employees - who’d seen the writing on the wall and had already been making up unpaid wages by doing grey jobs for unreceipted cash - to go their way. We now have secure parking for one vehicle in the Handsworth Park compound courtesy of my long association with the city’s Park’s Service and storage for our power tools. The debt is cleared and we have, as a result of successful sales of the two other vehicles and chipper, got a healthy balance in the bank, augmented by a small local community chest grant. We - the running committee - are doing street clean-ups and a variety of local jobs for vulnerable people in our area. But Jan, we are all over 60 and I’m nearly 71. This work is rewarding but it’s tiring. We do it, of course, for free but claim expenses for fuel and so on and we still have a free charity pass to the local tip, and now and then we work with the local refuse manager who, while we pick up lighter litter, sends a truck round to collect fly-tipped furniture and mattresses. And here’s an additional problem. None of us is accredited to use our cache of power tools (mowers, strimmers, drills, angle grinder, chain-saws). If any of us even pick up a chain saw for an 'official' job, we are in breach of health and safety and uninsured. Training is very costly and time consuming. The previous workers just broke the law; didn’t have ear muffs, gloves, boots etc. That might be OK but if anyone has an injury or worse the uninsured liabilities are horrendous - financial and legal. We also have a to have a vulnerable persons policy with proof of how we and anyone employed by us will observe this when inside the homes or in the gardens of the people we are tasked with assisting. On top of that we must also have CRB (now the DBS) checks on ourselves and anyone we employ. All this makes sense but it is also something of an obstacle to getting stuck in to local voluntary work along the lines the government is encouraging as a substitute for public services. We are in part middle class professionals and so can weave our way through all the paper work required; in fact feel quite a sense of achievement at where we have arrived, but I see this sort of thing presenting big problems as larger agencies who used to pay our group to do various maintenance jobs for their social housing customers tighten up to EU standards on their procurement and commissioning of handyperson services. Bluntly we are put right out of the running by sets of rules that are more suitable for commissioning work over £100,000. OK so we find a niche being sub-contracted by the larger contractors. Feudalism? Best Simon 
*** ***
Our work continues on the upstairs bedroom floor. We ought to have the whole lot up and replaced with floor-grade chipboard at least but we'll compromise by removing the worst unevenesses and creaks.
"If this was an old beamed hardwood floor" said Lin "we'd probably quite enjoy the squeaks and bumps. It's the shoddy workmanship that gets to you."
We plan to recover pine strips from various palettes in our apothiki and top them with beading to give the room decent skirting. Then we can start to build a wardrobe with shelves from recovered wood.
"It'll start to look quite good"
*** ***
Stamatis' new café Piazza - converted from his shop - is coming along a treat, with a chandelier from Christopher Wray installed and lots of good quality fittings - workmanship courtesy of Dimitri...


*** ***
...and some elaboration from Jan D:
Jan 29/1/13: Simon…I am wary of becoming, as you say, a grumpy ol' git. I have become aware that the journey from being a ‘Young Turk’ to ‘An Old Fart’ is very short indeed. However, I can't help having a sense of foreboding and dread about the future which is not entirely due to my advanced age (I think!).
If the first casualty  of war is the truth, then the casualties  of current policy directions will be altruism and idealism. A great loss I think but not very fashionable at the moment and very difficult to quantify on a balance sheet. I am mindful of Oscar Wilde's saying that they "they know the price of everything and the value of nothing." I remain fearful that a new feudal class is quickly being established; this ‘economic aristocracy" which will be financially hereditary, will increasingly operate outside civic and democratic spheres. It will make no difference to them who is in power. They will see themselves as having more in common with their equivalents in other parts of the world than their fellow citizens where they reside. They may also become very nomadic and hence have no loyalty, or sense of belonging, to any society or community.
I think we can already see plenty of evidence that government is trying to bend the nation to the interests  of the few rather than promoting the overall national interest. The current economic policy of the madhouse is a good example. The significant transfer of resources from the poorest section to the richest (accompanied by cheering backbenchers) is a sorry sight and I fear will reap a terrible price at some future date.
Those who govern, certainly at national level, are so closely integrated with the top 1% that they are totally disconnected from the day to day life of most ordinary people and try to persuade us that the interest of the 1%  is the equal to the national interest. We have a situation where those who earn over £1 mill per year receive an additional £50000, for each million, in tax benefits, whereas those on benefits will now have a real reduction in their income and we talking about some very vulnerable people. They are not all skivers and shirkers (although I am prepared to accept some are) which is what politicians and tabloids would have us believe. You will know that a new system for assessing disabled people's ability to work has been introduced and contracted out. We now learn that a few thousand disabled people died within weeks of being declared fit for work (it beggars belief).
Figures were released recently which showed that in Sheffield people's income in real terms had reduced by almost 20% but strangely (or perhaps not!) unemployment has dropped. The starting pay for new police officers has dropped by £4000 and there has in effect been a pay freeze for almost everyone since 2008, so no wonder we are heading for a triple recession.
I never understood the logic of getting growth by reducing the economy. You will laugh at the fact that the small consultancy run by my wife and me paid more in corporation tax than Starbucks who paid nothing!! Alongside this I have seen some extraordinary facts and figures, for example the 20 richest people in the world are now worth £750 billion which would almost entirely wipe out the EU debt. The top 40 companies in the world are worth more than all governments in the world put together (that is staggering). British companies have £750 billion on their balance sheets which they are not investing (so much for being hard up) and it is almost impossible to trace where ‘quantitative easing’ monies have gone. Seems they are stuck in banks rather than invested in the real economy. To top it all we discover that despite Leveson and the reprehensible conduct of Murdoch’s media empire, the Chancellor of the Exchequer (yes, that’s right George Osborne) attended a private party at the Murdoch's last week. Is the this the right way to behave in public office? Can you imagine what the outcry would have been if it had been a civil servant or, worse still, a local government officer or member.
Incidentally I read today that two thirds of top civil servants have expressed a wish to leave the service. In the midst of all of this Local Authorities are doing everything to balance the books and cope with the dramatic changes - almost too compliant and loyal - they are taking the biggest proportion of cut backs in the public sector whilst at the same time suffering constant abuse from Eric Pickles. I am amazed and quite proud of the good will and commitment displayed by local authorities but can't help feeling we are heading for the minimalist state and only residual local authorities which I fear will only be a last resort for the poorest section of society - in effect a new form of the ‘poor laws’; a breeding ground for ‘intelligent’ and entrepreneurial criminals to flourish. I would like to think that none of this will happen and I think there are realistic alternatives but it would be foolish to think that the unthinkable can't happen. Tomorrow it is 80 years to the day – 30 January 1933 - since Hitler became Chancellor of Germany through democratic elections; not that long ago in historical terms. The unthinkable can happen but is not inevitable.
On a happier note you will be pleased to learn that the government has approved a new high speed rail link between London, Birmingham and Manchester and second one to Leeds and Newcastle. I can at least agree with them on this one! Sorry to rant on. Too much time on my hands....Jan

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