Archive for the “random” Category

So thanks to Lorraine Pascale everyone enjoyed mini toad in the hole with Basil and Sage batter.



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OK so for a good while now my 2002 Clio 1.2 16v has been having trouble starting, it turns over fine but doesn’t always fire and start up. Also to get it to start you normally needed a bit of gentle gas on the accelerator. Idle was a bit rough, but I wasn’t too worried about that. Anyway last night it finally refused to start. I’d been putting off dealing with it as there was no rhyme or reason to when it started and when it didn’t, but I had convinced my self it was worse when it had been in the sun all day. I also knew of many notorious Clio immobiliser issues, which if you need a new key will cost £160 per key – not good.

Lots of searching on forums led me to the following probably issues:
1) Keys, immobiliser, ignition socket, etc.
2) Fuel pump
3) Coils
4) Shorts in the wiring loom
5) TDC (top dead centre) or Crank Arm sensor (this is a hall effect sensor that tells the engine when to spark)

The Diagnosis
1) Immobiliser – spoke to a service guy at Renault (S J Cook & Sons in Bristol). He said if you put your keys, get to ignition 2 the red light should go out. If when you turn the engine over the red light flashes at twice the rate it flashes when the cars is locked and immobilised then it is an immobiliser/key fault. If that doesn’t happen it isn’t. So far so good – no flashing light
2) Fuel pump – logic would say if the pump had gone it wouldn’t intermittently start. I can also hear the relay click when the pump is primed at ignition 2.
3) Coils – these were replaced last year, shouldn’t have gone again so soon.
4) Shorts – visual inspection of everything I could see looked fine.
5) So that leaves the TDC sensor. Turns out it is a £28 part from Eurocarparts and fairly easy to change. Given all of the above this has to be the best place to start before you start racking up a big bill at the garage. Also if the sensor is dodgy it can be worse when the engine is warm, which may support my hot day theory.

The Fix
1x 10mm ring spanner
1x 10mm socket & ratchet
1x small flathead screwdriver (for releasing the sensor from the harness)
1x TDC sensor. Depending on the age of your Clio Renault changed the part which means if you buy a genuine part you have to splice the cables from the harness as the new sensor doesn’t fit the old harness. If you buy from Eurocarparts or GSF it will go straight on.
1x torch
1x large piece of cardboard or hardboard

0) Place the hardboard on the floor under the engine – if you drop anything it will be much easier to find.
1) Unclip the coolant overflow pipe from the air filter unit
2) Release the air hose from the air filter unit
3) Using the 10mm socket remove the 2 bolts from the top of the air filter housing and remove the air filter & casing. This frees up space to work.
4) The sensor is located where the engine meets the gearbox on the passenger side of the car. It sits just above the flywheel. It is a black cylinder on a steel curved bar held on with 2 10mm bolts. Take a picture of it so you can be sure you put the new one in the right way round
WARNING: Do not remove the hoses just above the sensor to make more space – you will empty the engine coolant over your feet!
5) There are two wiring loops that run across the from of the sensor. Unclip the securing clip of the large one to give a little slack. There should be some slack in the thinner one.
6) Using a combination of a 10mm socket on the front bolt and a 10mm ring spanner on the rear bolt release the TDC sensor
7) The bolts have long shanks and are not threaded all the way so they should not fall out once fully undone
8. Carefully move the sensor out from between the harnesses and hoses
9) Using a small flathead screwdriver one the the precision ones) release the sensor from the harness
A quick comparison with the new part and you will see the little magnetic tip will look very tired compared to the gleaming new one.
10) Connect the harness to the new sensor making sure it is pushed all the way home
11) Making sure you have the correct orientation manoeuvre the sensor into place#
12) Starting with the rear bolt using your fingers locate the bolt and get its thread started
13) Do the same on the front
14) Use your spanners and socket to tighten it all up
15) Reconnect the harness into its securing clip
16) Replace the air fliter unit, its 2 bolts and air hose.
17) Replace the coolant overflow pipe into its holder on the air filter housing
18) Visually check you have not forgotten anything and have nothing left over
19) Start the engine

Mine started first time and idled better than ever.

Hope this helps someone.

Thanks to the following websites for all the tips and good advice:

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For the past 5 days or so Great Britain has been gripped with the story of the century. It isn’t the Credit crunch, American election or fuel prices, it is in fact the resignation of John Sergeant from the BBC’s Strictly Come Dancing Show.

My new favourite comedy show the News Quiz had a good pop at it on Friday and put forward who they think should be in next years show to keep the ratings up. They suggested:

Professor Stephen Hawking
John Prescott

I’d also add to the list:

Stevie Wonder
‘Blade Runner’ Oscar Pistorius
Heather Mills
Axl Rose

Let me know who else the researchers should be booking up…

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Thanks to the wonders of public service broadcasting BBC Radio 4 today brought me the Vienna Vegetable Orchestra.

These guys are totally hatstand, they turn perfectly good produce into musical instruments and then turn all the bits they cut off, scoop out, etc into a soup for the audience to enjoy after the concert.

In the words of one of the performers “The radish flutes can burn your lips a bit”. I particularly like the trumpet made out of a carrot, a cucumber and half a pepper.

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Well I’ve just thrown caution to the wind, discarded the clipper guard and gone for it. I now have a 12 o’clock shadow and I love it. I can confirm you can remove the guard from a set of clippers and attack your head with it with turning into a bloody pulp.

My head now has a coefficient of friction of a sheet of P60 sandpaper and the bathroom resembles a scene from a sheep sheering competition.

Still the experiment worked and my hair will stay short for at least 2 weeks.

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My fantastic wife got me a Nintendo DS for Christmas to ensure I can game, home or away. Having seen my Brother’s I bought a copy of 42 All-Time Classics, as the name suggests a collection of 42, er, classic games.

To keep things interesting there are a number of missions you have to complete, but here in lies the rub: The computer cheats on the backgammon mission. Just when you think you can win it always seems to roll exactly what it needs to wriggle out of a tight spot.

Well last night after about 90 minutes of trying I finally did it and beat the computer, so for those of you out there trying to find the answer on the web, take heart it can be done.

My advice is this:

When the game opens keeps your 2 pieces in the computers area as long as possible and don’t leave single pieces. The only exception to this is to take any opportunity you can to land on the computers pieces, even if it means taking silly risks. You need to get about 5 or 6 of his pieces into your area to have any chance of getting a backgammon. Once you have started offloading your own pieces and the computer is trying to escape your area (thus failing the mission) leave a few singles to encourage him to land on you. That way your piece goes back to his area and you can have another go at landing on his pieces as they make their way round the board.

Other than that lots of trying and luck is what is needed.

Field Tactics next.

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Being folliclly challenged like my father, about 2 years ago I took the decision to have a grade 1 and go bold gracefully. The problem is I have to cut what is left of my hair every week to keep up. This April I am going on my first 2 week holiday for years and don’t want to take the clippers with me, but vanity is telling me that I’ll need to.

I my quest for ever shorter hair I’m considering casting aside the guard and going for an US Military style ‘Induction Cut’ (please don’t crucify me Rob’s friends that get funny about using quotes). I’m feeling rather nervous about the whole thing as I don’t want to turn my head into some sort of hammer horror inspired bloody pulp.

So if anybody has any advice or words of wisdom for such an undertaking I’d love to hear them.

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