One of the side effects of any festival is that I come home with a pocketbook (moleskine of course) filled with names of tunes that people have played in sessions – and these become my to-do list for the next several weeks, as I struggle to learn a few of the more memorable ones.
One such tune is Frankies Reel, or Frank’s Reel, which I heard played really well by Tony Pyrzakowski of Mothers of Intention. It started when my ears cringed at what what seemed to be the start of some hillbilly type tune – then the second part arrived, with all those syncopations and I was hooked. It’s a great tune, written by John McCusker. Another one – that Frankie Gavin plays really nicely – is ‘Man o’ the House‘ – a simple but really lyrical reel.
We got Tony up on stage with us during the festival, and we had a great old go – like a couple of dueling fiddlers!
I use a PDA instead of a laptop when travelling – it makes my passage through airport security much faster – but I can’t seem to get the hang of writing with a stylus. Answer? a folding keyboard! I did have a folding keyboard – it lasted two trips away before the hinge broke. I was on a trip when this happened, so I looked around for a replacement.
I chose the iPaq bluetooth folding keyboard as I figured it would connect easily with my iPaq PDA, and it seemed a bit more robust than the other keyboard.
iPaq 2750 with iPaq bluetooth foldable keyboard – at Hotel Berlin, Berlin, Germany
It connects easily with the iPaq PDA; the keyboard has a good strong feel to it – like a real keyboard – a good size for real typing; good battery life; and it folds up just a little larger than the PDA so it travels well in a small bag.
The pullout holder works only in portrait mode – in landscape the angle is almost vertical. The solution I used was to trim the holder’s ‘fingers’ back with nail clippers – now the angle is great for landscape mode. Second weakness is that it feels only a little stronger than my previous keyboard, but so far so good.
This is a great portable keyboard. It is truly possible to leave the laptop at home on business trips and work comfortably on planes or in coffee shops or hotels. Yes you can use bluetooth devices on planes – after 20 minutes from takeoff and up to 20 minutes before landing. The keyboard is comfortable and responsive, and connects easily and reliably. It feels like a decent laptop keyboard on hard flat surfaces (use a book if on your lap). It is light and compact – easily fitting into a small bag, although it’s too big for most clothing pockets. Battery life is good – I used one set on a two-week trip, including flights from London to Australia, and the batteries were still good two weeks later.
What a wonderful festival! The valley backdrop to the festival was spectacular, and despite the weather (there was lots of it) the Kangaroo Valley Folk Festival in New South Wales, Australia, debuted with a great line-up of artists, including Full Circle, Kate Fagan, Wheeze and Suck Band, Mothers of Intention, Craig and Simone, the Shiny Bum Singers and many more.
The place had a great atmosphere and did itself proud to the extent that the whole community came together to support this festival – their first in this town.
This bridge is the oldest suspension bridge in Australia! It’s amazing 🙂
You can see some photos from the festival on the Full Circle Band website here. Tony, the fiddle player from Mothers of Intention, and Rick Saur – one of the festival organisers came onstage and jammed with us – and that’s what a festival is all about!
We started off with a session in the aptly named Friendly Inn pub on Friday evening, then it was off to the Festival ground to catch a couple of concert spots, then back to the accommodation – which although a little out of town, was very comfortable.
Saturday saw us again sessioning in the session tent, the pub, then the session tent again, and then we played our first concert spot in the early evening to a great audience – who were quickly up and dancing, despite the muddy conditions. Then a quick drive to the Bowling Club for our good friends Mothers of Intention’s Karifolkie (karioke with live music). And so to bed…
Sunday saw me pull out the fiddle in front of the pizzeria, where we got a warm reception, and I was soon joined by other members of the band, plus various ring-ins from Mothers of Intention, and legendary fiddler Bob McInnes. This was a great way to warm up cold fingers before another concert spot in the main venue where we played to another wonderful audience, and it was clear that by this time word had spread about Full Circle and we had another enthusiastic audience which really rounded off the festival. This was the first for this town, and I certainly hope there will be many more to come!
And as you can see, festivals are good for fitness too!
Well the concept is to walk ten thousand steps a day so that when we travel we wil be able to experience each place to the fullest.
This last week I found myself still below the coveted 70,000 for the week, but I suspect the folk festival next weekend will provide plaenty of opportunity to lift my aerobic fitness. In any event, by publicly displaying the weekly results I have certainly increased my awareness of how much activity I undertake throughout the week.
So here it is – this week:
Yup – nearly made 60,000, so not too bad 🙂
Inspired by McCabe’s runners I decided to have a go at adapting one of McCabe’s designs using standard plumbing hardware and a few basic tools. I bought an ‘L’- join from a hardware store, and a brass screw cap for the valve chest. The one I modelled mine on was the ‘Paul-Zee’ design.
I smoothed the bore as McCabe suggests – using a dowel in a drill with some sandpaper wrapped round. With the bore smooth, I took a three-eighth inch bolt and mounted it in a portable drill and spun it against a grinder wheel – with the grinder going in opposite directions – that gave me a nice rounded bolt head ground to just fit the bore of the plumbing pipe. I then found a washer and ground it to fit inside the plumbing sleeve on the end of the joiner.
I cut off the threaded portion of the bolt and drilled a small hole near the end – this would take the connecting rod.
I then took a small bolt, cut off the head and drilled down through the centre to make a small tube with a thread. I then drilled a hole in the plug cap just big enough for the bolt and cut a thread into it using a tap and die, and screwed it in place, held by a lock nut to keep it in place. This is the steam inlet pipe.
Then I drilled a transverse hole through the plug in line with the body to take the slide valve. The valve is made from small diameter steel rod, with a hole drilled near one end for the valve connecting rod, and another hole drilled to line up with the steam inlet hole when the piston is about halfway along the cylinder.
I filed the valve flat about half a centimetre from the steam inlet hole so it would line up with the edge of the valve chest internal wall – as I hadn’t used a solid plug as recommended.
Then I made a wooden base for the engine
Then after scraping off the flux from a steel welding rod I then cleaned the rod and cut it to be a good length to make the crankshaft. I carefully bent it to make two cranks 90 degrees out of phase, then made short connecting rods from wire to connect the crankshaft to the piston and the valve. With lots of spray grease the whole lot rotated quite smoothly, and when spun in the chuck of my drill it made a very satisfactory engine sound.
Tomorrow I shall make a flywheel, and then hopefully I will know if I have made a fatal error in construction. Here is the current state of the engine, and an animation based on rotating the crankshaft.
Anyhow – it’s a fun weekend project 🙂