Tuesday, February 14, 2023

Rezin Rockit- Service made a difference. But will it last?

 So having bought the bits to service the motor, I was going to wait till I felt better and the coughing stopped or reduced significantly.

Typically, by just after lunch time on Sunday, now having spent pretty much 8 days indoors, sitting in a chair, and a very small amount of laying down till 8.30am on a couple of days, I was feeling a bit cooped in.

So I headed to the garage to see what my body would let me do. 

Video here: 

https://youtu.be/Ofbc92AfoDg

So I proceeded to change the airfilter, easy job, unclip cover, remove dirty old unit, replace with new, close airbox. 


Following this, I prayed to the gods of frustration, pain and mechanical catastrophic failure that undoing the small, hidden oil filter would be as easy….. as years ago, I was forced to smash a screwdriver though an oil filter that had been fitted by a gorilla with a bionic arm, the screwdriver cut and sheared through the metal canister of the filter, but eventually came unstuck. This trauma has always hidden in the recesses of my mind, and I really did not want a repeat. 

Working carefully to thread the removal tool around the filter, in the very limited space, I managed to undo the filter and then unscrew it by hand. 


Sump plug and draining the very black, dirty oil next.

Much easier done.



After using Google to establish the volume of oil needed, was 3.7 litres, I marked the side of the oil can/container with a sharpie where it needed to be emptied to into the engine.

Filled the oil, closed everything up.

Checked the brake lines and fuel lines and general underside of the car once more, before dropping it back to the floor. 



Back on the ground, the last job was the spark plugs that needed to be replaced with new items.

Interestingly, the plug wire boots that go deep into the centre of the head, put up more if a fight at no 2, 3 but eventually they were all changed around and tightened.

I must be honest, my untrained eye cannot see much difference, but at around £3.50 per plug, it seems a cheap price to pay for added peace of mind and smooth running.


So at that point, the basic service had been done.

Timing belt and other bigger items will be done at a later stage, probably after it goes for and hopefully passes an MOT successfully.

So I tried starting it, fingers crossed.

Video, linked above, shows the result.

Happy so far.


For anyone wanting to read the whole story of the Rezin Rockit build:

Click link: https://forum.retro-rides.org/thread/215488/grizz-purgatory-rezin-rockit-spluttering


Thanks for checking in, subscribe to themYouTube channel if it is your thing, and share this if you think a friend will get a chuckle out of it. 

Signing out…… Rian. 


Monday, February 13, 2023

Rezin Rockit Running like Poo - What to do about the Kitcar in the room.

 This is a quick drop of a couple of videos of a bit of problem finding and partial solving, there are loads more videos of parts of this build on the channel and a complete build thread on Retro Rides. Link at the bottom.

So in preparation for the final trouble shooting and fine tuning for it’s MOT test, this kit car that I have been building the last year or so, needed a few runs up to the farm on their private road to see if everything works as it should.

Video shows clearly that is does not. 

https://youtu.be/Qta7tc2krjA

But a few hours of chatting with various friends on forums, and Nick Wheeler popping over unexpectedly, saw me buy in some parts for a basic service. 

So lifted it to see where the oil filter lives as I could not find it with the significantly lowered car on the ground, small, tucked away and a possible challenge, YouTube also suggested I need a special chan tool on a ratchet extension to get it undone, and small hands. Digging around in my SnapOn toolbox, bought cheaply, used, from a friend years ago, I found not one but two oil filter tools, including the right one as seen below. This was great news, as years ago, I had an oil filter crisis when an oil filter ended up having to be skewered with a large screwdriver, which then managed to tear through the wall. Poop. Ultimately I won that fight, but with a ton of swearing and stress, as the truck had to be driven the same day.

While I had it up, I looked at the air filter, which had clearly seen  better days, and the oil on the dipstick was very black. 




So once a short shopping list was made up I headed for Euro Carparts and spent £63.00 on service items. 

Remember, these are the most basic bits. Cam belt and other bits will be changed later, right now the issue was to get the motor running better than in the video.

Recovering from a Covid infection meant that all I did was drive down, collect the parts, come home, put them down and relax.



Saturday night was spent doing nothing, just resting, because the virus said so, though my mind was not impressed.


If you want to read the whole saga of how to polish a turd, or make a silk purse from a sows ear……

Click the link to see more. 



From this…….





To this.





Saturday, February 11, 2023

Biltong - Making it in the United Kingdom. Yes you can. A retrospective report.

This is another space filler while Covid is being a šŸ“¦ and slowing me right down and stopping me playing in my workshop.

For many expatriates various things can weigh heavily on their minds.

Family back home ( I had some) , the weather where you came from (Africa is hot) , familiar sounds (gunshots, murder, police sirens, the wind in the woods and more) familiar smells (forest fires, food cooking, Braai Or BBQ for the uninformed) textures ( freshly cut grass underfoot or golden sand between your toes) and all of this is made stronger by it being removed or unattainable in one or another form in your new country. 

Growing up in South Africa/Africa, Beef Biltong (not quite Beef Jerky like in America) is one of many presentations of preserving various types of meat, and fish. Game is seen as more luxurious, expensive and coveted, fish, chicken and other types of meat are often seen as exotic or even a “no go” area. For me, anything is acceptable as long as it does not taste crap. So, while I would rather eat Kudu or Ostrich biltong, they are pretty much only accessible over here in England if you stick your fingers deeper in your wallet than the current 2023 beef biltong price around £35.00 to £55.00 per kilogram for beef biltong. And this blog entry is just about making up a drying box, well two different types and making basic biltong.

DISCLAIMER: I am neither a butcher, nor a pro. Everything I share here was done by me, for me, for my pleasure. I make stuff, including recipes, tools and techniques up as I go, using the long lost skill of common sense.

So back in 2002 when I moved to England, one of the things I realised I would be paying a premium for, was Biltong and DroĆ«wors (a dried beef sausage) 

Defined by Wikipedia

Droƫwors is a popular South African snack food, based on the traditional, coriander-seed spiced boerewors sausage. It is usually made from dun wors (Afr. "thin sausage") rather than dik wors ("thick sausage"), as the thinner sausage dries more quickly and is thus less likely to spoil before it can be preserved. If dikwors is to be used, it is usually flattened to provide a larger surface area for drying.

The recipe used for these dried sausages is similar to that for boerewors, though pork and veal are usually replaced by beef, as the former can go rancid when dried, mutton fat replaces the pork fat used in boerewors. Drying makes the sausage ideal for unrefrigerated storage.

Droƫwors is unusual among dried meats in being dried quickly in warm, dry conditions, unlike traditional Italian cured salumi, which are dried slowly in relatively cold and humid conditions. A further difference is that droƫwors does not contain curing agent as found in a traditional cured sausage. A direct result of this is that droƫwors should not be kept in moist conditions as mold can begin to form more easily than would happen with a cured sausage.

This product is related both in name and in nature to the Dutch droge worst.

I know that making the dried sausage take a bit more effort and resources, needing minced beef, mixing, spicing to flavour and then finding catgut to stuff, plus the stuffing process, followed by drying. So I chose never to make my own wors as it can be bought at a price commensurate with its value to me.

Biltong on the other hand, I was going to give a go, and did so successfully many times in my garage to the amusement and amazement of may friends who thought it was all alchemy and magic. Which it is not.  

In 2010 I had gotten married to an English girl who hated biltong and never developed an exotic palate (more for me I hear you say) But she never interfered in any of the crazy stunts I got involved, choosing to motivate and encourage stuff like buying an R1200GS BMW, building the Braai, buying and riding a trials motorbike, my 1966 C10 Chevy truck and a multitude of other sins. She was great as a partner in crime, but has long since moved on to husband no 4 or no 5 not sure if she counts or cares. It was a great time for us both, and no regrets. One of the things we used to do through summer was visit bootfairs (like a fleamarket in a farmers field, where anything and everything was sold, it included a mobile butcher who sold various meats and cuts in a hugely entertaining way. I had started to talk to him and he agreed to bring me complete silverside and top rump sides of beef to use for making my own biltong. 

This was his truck, and they would sell from the side, adding various cuts to a tray for £5.00, £10.00, £20.00 and more. You certainly got value for money and entertained at the same time. 



So on a Sunday I would come home with a load of beef and proceed to process it, removing the sinew that may sheath the muscle, cutting it all into strips the way I wanted it to be.

You need to mix your spices according to taste and I created my own “Grizz-Mix” which included garlic pepper, ground coriander, ground chillis, pepper and a few other spices





Once the meat is cut to size, it is laid in a bowl/tray on top of coarse salt traditionally, I used cheap fine, table salt, as it was bout 50p per kilo or something like that, and to me the fine salt covered more surface area. The salt primarily is left there for up to an hour (methods do vary) in which time it tends to draw a lot of moisture from the meat. After this, I used a few litres of brown vinegar to wash the salt off the strips of meat, one at a time, laying them out on a clean cloth to absorb more of the liquid and vinegar. 




After the drying, you start by sprinkling mixed spices on your working surface/tray and then lay the strips down, followed by generously covering layer after layer of beef in the mix, ultimately I used to also massage the spices in a bit to ensure adhesion, I guess. 

Once covered it was time for the pre-prepared drying hooks. Initially I would make them from thing, disposable wire, but later I made up sharpened hooks that were washed and dried between batches. 


My first drying cabinet at the new house in 2010-ish was a used kitchen cabinet, doors de-hinged and screwed up to open differently, I also created a false floor with two lightbulbs in the floor to create the slow, rising heat needed to heat the air, in order to create a draught to effectively draw the moisture off the strips that were hung off rails inside the sealed cabinet, escaping out some vents in the top edge. I hope that makes sense. 


This may not look like much……..
But this was where the MAGIC HAPPENS.
Drying cabinet. 


After 4-5 days I am usually in there, trying the thin tips, or even some purpose made scraps to see if the flavour meets my standards, not that I am much of a judge of character or quality, it always tasted heavenly to me, especially the initial scraps. 



Despite living in the UK, and not having Africa under your feet…… 

You had Europe at your doorstep. 

So many weekends, sometimes just a day, were spent jumping impulsively onto a ferry to Calais and going shopping in France, returning with French cheeses, bread (only good for a day or two, but still great to have) french meat product and fruit. I remember discovering flat peaches in a small fruit market in calais, buying a few and eating them in the street while walking around, then going back and buying a whole bag full to continue snacking on the next few days.

Also available would be Paris, Germany, Belgium, the Netherlands etc, cheap tickets on Eurostar and two hours later you got off in Paris Gare du Nord and took the very efficient underground to central Paris, a short walk to the hotel and be out mingling with tourists by 11.00 on a Saturday or Friday morning. 

The food and atmosphere soon had you forget about Biltong and Sunny South African skies. 


Paris can make the most incompetent picture taker look like a competent photographer.


At some point I gave my recycled wooden kitchen cabinet to someone who needed it more than me. 
And then typically a special deal on beef came on the market, at £4.99/kg it was so cheap, I needed make a few batches. Of course I needed to build a new cabinet.
I always wanted to build a disposable cabinet. So now was the time.


So I found a large cardboard box and proceeded to convert it into a drier.


Possibly the best drying unit I have yet built, including three wooden units of which one is untested and inaccessible in one of my sheds. 
 I made a removable and redeploy-able light/heating unit, including a cover to keep drops of saltpetre and blood juices from killing the lightbulb or fitting. 




 
Meat processed, and I also tried a new cut, known as batwings….. spicy hot, thin sheets of beef to try make into something you can tear and eat, but across the meat grain.





This lot of biltong turned into a real win for me as I had discovered a South African family 15 miles or 20km from me who made biltong and wors on a commercial scale in small batches. They made a great product, and I became friends with them, taking some of my own spiced up “Grizz-Mix” for them to try, it kinda blew them away, and in the most decent way, they asked me if they could use my recipe to create another flavour to add to their traditional, and chilli flavours. Of course I agreed as it was nothing special, though in the end it seemed to be as they did not have the intuition I have always worked with, struggling to get a matching and consistent flavour. I offered to premix their spices for them.

My batches were coming out really well, and at the base price my beef started at, I was making a load of biltong, and stashing it in the freezer. 
Super dry “Snap Stix” are still one of my favourites too.
And the one time I will fight you for a bit of fat, is on a good piece of prime silverside biltong.




I realised that the freezer was a good place for the biltong once produced, keep in mind, this was for personal use and to share with worthy friends and colleagues. 
So I asked my producer friends if they would be prepared to slice and vacuum seal my biltong for me.
To which they agreed.
I did the slicing and my friend operated the vacuum sealer.
Perfect.

Proud moment, my own biltong looking all pro and commercial in its sealed packs. 


So in closing, I guess we lose some of our home culture when we relocate to a better/different life.

Not everyone has the balls to take on a new life in a strange country and culture, and it can be tough for various reasons. But little things like making your own produce, products, building, teaching, learning and sharing are all ways to enrich yourself and possibly your host country.

It will never be your home country, but that should not stop you from making it your home.

I have met a few African here, not just from South Africa, but Southern Africa and they all want to make it a better place, wherever they go to in the world and settle, Africa in your blood means working hard for what you want and need, and often the hands dealt seem unfair, biased, nepotistic, but you know that if the effort you put in is more than the average, you have a better than average chance of success. 

For my 60th birthday, my buddy Craig, from whose dad I used to buy car spares as a student in Port Elizabeth, sent be a Biltong and droewors “cake” made up and supplied by Mark linked below to his Facebook marketplace shop. 

Situated in Shropshire, Mark will package and post your biltong anywhere you specify, at your cost. Postage or couriers are a fixed tariff. 

http://www.markstastytong.com/



Original detailed Biltong making here: https://forum.retro-rides.org/thread/106492/carnivores-congregate-biltong-seasons-chilli


LIFE IS GOOD.


Thanks for reading and sharing. 









Thursday, February 9, 2023

Building a BRAAI or call it a BBQ if you want Grizzmakes style.

 So in 2010 I was very recently married, to an English girl.

We sold two homes and bought a rural property.

It ticked most of the boxes we both needed when combining two lives, safe place for the three cats she brought, enough bedrooms for her two kids and an office for me, to work from for my day job. Also a rather large garage for the junk I already had and would collect over time.

We both, along with friends, liked cooking on fire, and I had a large “Webber” style BBQ that served us and visiting friends well.

But, being a South African, I knew the way a Braai should be built, and a “small” portable steel thing was not big enough.

So I started off by corrupting my then wife’s thinking and soon had her telling me that we needed a decent Braai if our group of friends were to come visiting.

I selected the place for it to go, between the existing deck and one of the new raised flower beds I had created before. 






Once agreed, I did a photograph with a drawn overlay and offered it to Mrs Boss and she approved it.
So excavating started.




With the groundbreaking done, the next step was clearing, and laying out the footprint, as well as trimming back the hedge between me and neighbour Mickey quite a bit. 
I have to say, since moving here in 2010 and actually having “owned” the house since 2009 when we agreed to buying it, Mickey has been pretty much the perfect neighbour. Helpful and always ready to advise and guide in various ways. 


Mickey at the time ran his own small transport company and had a long, high roof Mercedes Benz Sprinter van. So we had the sand and stone loaded directly into the rear of it at the builders merchants and mixed and cast concrete from the van, on my back driveway, as we had done another future proofing job at the same time. We each gave about a meter of our boundaries to make a shared walkway and concreted storage space down the side wall of my existing garage. 12 years later, it is still one of the best things we ever did, including a gate between our properties down in the bottom of the garden. 

Maybe hard to see, but this is all covered over and closed in, allowing a huge 30 foot or 10 meter long dry storage space for wood, steel, concrete mixers, and a dry, outside workbench.




So carrying on with the mixing and casting for the foundation of the new Braai, we worked from the rear of the Sprinter. I really wanted to protect my lawn and garden as you can see.




Allowing the concrete to dry and cure fully allowed me some time to make up some steel parts and an oven and the chimney support, which was made from an old coal bunker I got from Mickey and cut open to suit.
Gas bottle became a successful baking oven.


Hinge, handle, latch all fitted.


Mickey holding a 1944 vintage ball pein hammer Imhad scavenged from the local council tip when one could still remove stuff from there. 


Always ready to help. 
Mickey
Those who know, will also note the changes down at the garage since then.




So once the concrete settled and the steelwork was prepared, I was on my own.
Mixing a load of mortar at a time and laying blocks, bricks and whatever fell to hand.

Even back then, Harley was always hanging around me when I worked. 
She became one of the greatest companion cats ever, and I have had a few. 
Always watching and in later years, just grabbing the bunch of keys, saw her racing out back, waiting for me to get down to the garage to open up and start working. She was a weird cat, never fearful of machines, noise etc, and would even jump up onto jobs where I was welding and grinding to tuck up and snooze. Weird creature. 



I found some very thick, possibly 2mm, corrugated iron while clearing up and cleaning out down the side of the garage alley and out back in the farmers fields. I  decided to make a frame around some of it after welding two lengths together, and then casting a reinforced floor onto it, on which to continue the build.




Little by little it all came together, and started to look a bit bigger than Nicola had thought. 







Looking back at the photos, I realise this was a very cool job, and doing it in summer, while unemployed, looking for a new job, was one of the most therapeutic things I could have done. At the time I was still taking on day jobs on building sites, a few weeks in a factory, packing pallets for the Eastern,Bloc countries etc, so making enough in a month to keep all the bills paid and save a bit, without touching my redundancy pay out. 

Using kitchen cling film, I wrapped all the timbers before building them in, and the original street signpost that had laid in a ditch for years, yielded a lovely length of oak that worked perfectly as a feature piece above the fireplace.



Chimney on, in retrospect, not having known what I was doing, the ratio should be 4:1 for front vs chimney, so really needed another chimney pot, or a larger brick built structure. 
Still, it has delivered umpteen great gatherings and meals, just need to manage it right.

As you can see, Harley was again all over it, ensuring specifications were correct.




Looking at the whole thing at this point certainly filled me with African pride, it was a job done well, and a result well beyond my expectations. Looking at it now, the garden has matured and I restored it all again after 10 years. Still a great investment for this place. 






First fire was a great thing to do. 
I also made a savoury cheese bread to test the baking oven.










Result.



Over the years I have had all sorts of groups of friends here, including mates like Thƶrsten, Michael, Ralf  and others over here in their classic cars, on bikes etc and this BBQ or Braai has proven itself to be the most awesome place to socialise and make food. The Germans always bring me bags of pretty high grade BBQ Coal as “payment” for their stay. 





And so in closing, I would say that if you can, build a Braai, small, medium or “Oh My Word” sized.

The only materials I paid for was sand, cement, maybe the facebricks, and chimney pot. A load of the materials were found, scavenged, recycled, donated etc. 

It was not an expensive exercise, but certainly a worthwhile one. 

Please comment if you found this amusing or helpful, also any tips for any other builders. 

In the mean time, I need to get on and create new content for the YouTube channel. 



Three years ago when I refurbished the 9 year old structure, this was the result.






Full build link: 

https://forum.retro-rides.org/thread/102679/bun-oven-industries-build-kent


Adios. 

 


Rezin Rockit- Service made a difference. But will it last?

 So having bought the bits to service the motor, I was going to wait till I felt better and the coughing stopped or reduced significantly. T...