lundi 30 mars 2020

Snow overnight and today, too little too late but nice to see after a dry warm winter.

The old workshop has now been vacated (home office here we come) and the newly converted woodshed moved into - lighting, power sockets and external cladding still to do. 

Susie's been using her time to master spinning on the new wheel, first bobbin full!

samedi 28 mars 2020

First morels...just within our permitted 1 km radius of exercise.

mardi 24 mars 2020

Been a while!

Not many posts recently because we've been rushed off our and had visitors (Jen, Susie's sister). Jen came just as the coronovirus was coming to a head and she was lucky to get one of the last flights back to the UK before the lockdown here in France. I celebrated my birthday just after she left and Susie and I lunched on the terrace with a fantastic chocolate cake Susie baked with sugared violets from the chemin.

With the good weather I've been cracking on with converting the woodshed into a workshop and 5 tonnes of concrete later, some timber framing and reuse of old windows, its beginning to take shape. 

The mammoth task of clearing and fencing the Pla d'Artigue is finally over and the sheep are enjoying the new field. Alas Hopi's baby died at 3 days old despite our best efforts to save her...our only loss in this year's lambing. I'll have to check Hopi for mastitis.

lundi 17 février 2020

Pic de Cabanatous

Susie was leading a group choreography workshop today, so Jasper, Ruby and I made the most of the lovely weather and their last day to get a day in the mountains. The circuit of Coumebiere, Pic de Cabanatous, Etang d'Alate, Port de Saleix, filled the time perfectly.

 first snow

 about 1m deep

 Etang Bassies frozen

 Steep descent from the summit but soft snow


 Snow a little harder in the shade

 Etang d'Alate frozen and snow covered

 Last snow of the day

Return to vegetation

mercredi 12 février 2020

Pumpkin after a piggy back ride from Al

Mum not interested either

Jasper and Ruby are here for a week, time for a rest for them and a catch up for us. Nice to see them both at the same time!

samedi 8 février 2020

First lambs of 2020

Clearly William's apron didn't work, first lambs born this morning to Apache. A pair of twins, one of each.

lundi 3 février 2020

Tuc de l'Adosse and Le Picou

 A spell of warm weather after some rain has saturated the snow and increased the avalanche risk so we opted for a walk with sun and views of the the mountains rather than being in them. Tuc de l'Adosse from near the Col de le Trappe fitted the bill!

We took a slightly different route from the last time we did this peak, contouring below Quer Martit and continuing until just before the col on the main ridge west of Tuc de l'Adosse, where we struck straight up an open rocky ridge to land on the summit.

Lunch on the summit in the sun, with spectacular views.

We followed the ridge eastwards to Le Picou before descending to the Quer Martit and regaining the path of ascent.

 Descending the craggy Quer de Martit 

mercredi 29 janvier 2020

Tractor day 9

Another long day but at the first attempt the tractor started....stopping it was another matter! I'd fitted the shut off lever slightly wrong, so had to block the air intake to stop it. Quickly and easily fixed all is now running smoothly. Tomorrow half an hours fine tuning of the throttle and clutch and all is done. The tractor starts in a second and there's no smoke!

mardi 28 janvier 2020

Tractor day 8

Fitted the engine to the tractor today, see-sawing the engine on an ever increasing pile of wood off cuts worked, so there was no need for a hoist. Next all the controls, electrics, hydraulic pump, fuel tank, battery and starting motor had be connected.

I discovered on reassembly that the accelerator mechanism had been badly repaired/bodged with some bits of misaligned plate welded on the old OEM part. The cable snagged on the oil filter and there was a lot of friction and play. An hour of work put it right.

The electrics are a bit of nightmare, the cables are old and brittle and the most the connectors are hanging off. It's a long job trying to sort them out.

The starting motor was a sod to reconnect, I should have done it much earlier as the bolted connections were now virtually impossible to get to but somehow I managed without taking too much skin off my knuckles!

New dust boots for the steering ball joints arrived which I fitted, only the retaining wires were left but with some re-greasing the ball joints seem fine.

My neighbour Nanou re-welded a broken hinge pin for the bonnet, which he dropped off this evening.


Connect horn, bumper and bonnet, re-organise cables to starter, re-connect exhaust, fill up gearbox oil, fill up engine oil, re-fuel.....try to start!

dimanche 26 janvier 2020

Tractor day 7

After a day and a bit of further cleaning, lubrication and re-assembly the engine is more a less ready. The clutch should arrive sometime tomorrow and once I've re-borrowed the 46mm socket and breaker to reassemble it, I can reattach it to the tractor, fill up with oil and fuel and see if she starts and runs!

vendredi 17 janvier 2020

Tractor day 5/6

Works were delayed by the need to remove the clutch plate and housing which required a 46mm socket and breaker bar. The local tractor dealer "Dijeau" kindly lent me one overnight and the following day I was finally able to remove the engine from the tractor, move it into the shed and open the crankcase.

On inspecting the crankshaft, the damage doesn't seem as bad as I had at first feared, with only one of the connecting rod journals affected. The inner lining of the shell had melted over it and a few lumps were stuck to it. The material is much softer than the crankshaft and once the lumps had been removed I was able to re-polish the journal back to the original metal by using some 400 grit emery cloth, a flat shoelace wrapped around that to even the pressure and plenty of WD40. A bit of 600 cloth and it has a mirror finish.

Asvarta in Spain hold all the spares for ruggerini engines so I've been able to get a full gasket and seals set, filters, shell bearings, oil pressure sensor, injector seat washers and crank shaft seals (the one facing the clutch had failed). All for under 200 euros, so I'm feeling more hopeful of a positive outcome.

Spent the morning cleaning everything, so now I must wait for the parts before reassembling and calibrating the engine.

The clutch disc central friction plate is partially broken, I found parts of it in the bottom of the clutch housing, which explains the vicious clutch and stiff gears I've always had on the tractor. Valeo no longer make the clutch disc (the tractor is 34 years old) but amazingly I just found one on ebay still in its vacuum sealed wrapper!