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Dennis Country

Welcome to my blog ...

Please send me an email if you wish to leave a comment. My website includes sections on the environment, green woodworking and some industrial history photos from Gwent, UK.

Hogweed Variations?

Wildlife Posted on Tue, September 01, 2020 09:15PM

A small-white butterfly feeding on Hogweed flowers recently. This was the usual form of the plant, but there are others in the area (Pontypool, south Wales) which could be a narrow-leaved type or hybrid, or not hogweed at all. Sample photo below:

“normal” and narrow-leaved hogweed together

There is a photo of three potential variations here, and an album of photos here. I’m informed the narrow-leaved type is widespread in the area, but not mentioned in the books I have.



Some Fairly Useless Signs …

Miscellaneous Posted on Mon, August 24, 2020 10:59AM

Maybe there’s a “most useless sign” competition this could be entered into. In recent years many of these “Community Links” signs have appeared in town, but I wonder why. Perhaps it’s a requirement of a funding body. Whatever the reason it seems a waste of money, environmental resources, and space. If the signs gave some idea of where you were or where they were pointing to it would be useful, they don’t. They merely point in the direction of where a road and/or path goes; we can see that surely. In most cases the road or path has been present for 50+ years. I wonder if there’ll be a phase 2 in which links to non-community places will be have unnecessary signs installed, payed for by …?



Can TV etc. Remote Controls Be Repaired?

Miscellaneous Posted on Mon, May 18, 2020 10:23PM

From my experience faulty remote controls for TVs etc. can often be made to work again, especially if just some buttons don’t work. Firstly, it’s worth checking that the batteries are OK, and also that the terminals and compartment connections are clean. If they are dirty or corroded cleaning with contact cleaner fluid might work. If batteries are OK it’s necessary to dismantle the remote, however there is some risk of damaging it in the process. Accepting that risk I usually check if there are any fixing screws, but on more modern remotes two halves of the case have to be prised gently apart.

dismantled Sharp TV remote control

In this case the inside of the keypad and the circuit board required cleaning with tissue paper, nothing abrasive of course. I also used contact cleaner spray with no ill effects, but it’s not essential. On re-assembly it worked as new, although I didn’t get the positioning of the round pad correct at first. I’ve done this several times on some remotes, but with a lot of use the contacts may wear away. Apart from saving money by buying a new one, it’s one less thing to be discarded / recycled for about 20 minutes effort.



Replacement Carburettor for Leaf Blower Stihl BG86

Tools Posted on Sun, September 01, 2019 10:36PM

The 2009 model machine needed a new carb., but the original type (ZAMA C1M-S141C) wasn’t available. A replacement carb. (ZAMA C1M-S261B, on left in photo) had an extra pipe to direct vented fumes into the air filter. This required a modification to the air filter housing, which was already marked-up with hole position. See video on Vimeo for more details. This is likely to be the case on other Stihl machines, as a result of  tighter emission control laws.

This is the modified air filter housing which accommodates the extra pipe (top left).



Mid May Sightings

Wildlife Posted on Sun, May 19, 2019 09:40PM

A couple of welcome recent sightings in Torfaen, south east Wales:

Firstly a Green Hairstreak butterfly, difficult to see when static amongst leaves, bilberry in this case. The only UK butterfly which is nearly all green (on underside of wings), mainly dark brown on top of wings. This one has some wear to the scales.

I was alerted by snorting noises near a garden shed which turned out to be two hedgehogs having a “stand-off”, possible arguing over hunting rights under the shed floor!

A fair sized, young Elm tree, around 35 feet (10m) tall. I was advised it was a Wych Elm species.

… and nearby male and female Brimstone butterflies, may be a courtship …
Please click for video (low resolution)



Pontypool Park

Conservation Posted on Fri, March 08, 2019 09:53PM

There were lots of fallen leaves in the park today, but this one stood out for marking the progress of a leaf miner. According to Wikipedia the larva responsible could be that of a moth, sawfly, fly, or beetle. Photo of leaf underside here.


I also found a stone arbour, which has been reconstructed about a mile away from its original position. It has good views to the south towards the Bristol Channel.



Hair Ice, South Wales, Jan 2019

Conservation Posted on Sun, January 06, 2019 11:00PM

I was lucky to find some “hair ice” formations in near-freezing conditions in south Wales UK on 4 & 5 Jan 2019. These looked like snow from a distance, but it hadn’t snowed, just cold nights down to about -2C.

It’s also known as “cotton candy” or “candy-floss” ice, and according to reports on the internet require certain fungi to form. Growing on dead beech tree logs in this case.

Play my video

Another person’s video of hair ice forming



Decarbonising a Small 2-Stroke Engine (Decoke)

Tools Posted on Sat, January 06, 2018 02:50PM

An old brushcutter engine had carbon deposits in the top of the cylinder and piston, and in the exhaust port. It was decided to try to remove this because any dislodged pieces might damage the engine. For this I used some carburettor cleaner which slightly softened the carbon, a perspex scraper and fibreglass tip “pen”. Of course it’s essential not to damage the cylinder or piston, so using any tools harder than the cylinder/piston metal isn’t recommended. The perspex is quite hard, part of an off-cut, and can be cut to shape with a hacksaw. The fibreglass “pen” is usually used to clean circuit boards etc., but worked well as a second stage tool here (the fibres are a health hazard to skin, eyes).

After a couple of hours most of the carbon was removed, except for some very hard material at the top of the cylinder, some of which was embedded in pit-damaged areas which will have to stay as it is. Some 1200 grade emery paper was used to lightly polish the piston (after photo was taken).

Of course this is also a good time to check the condition of the crankshaft, bearings, and wear on the cylinder, piston and rings, also that the ring(s) can move freely in their groove(s).

The engine seemed to run more smoothly after doing this, but it could be my imagination … at least it ran.

The main tools used, plus carburettor cleaner



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