Zel's Fleet Blog - BX, Jag XJ-S, Sinclair C5, Mercedes 208D & 230TE, AC Model 70.

Tell us your ongoing tales and experiences with your French car here. Post pictures of your car here as well.

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Zelandeth
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Re: Zel's Fleet Blog - BX, Jag XJ-S, Sinclair C5, Mercedes 208D & 230TE, AC Model 70.

Post by Zelandeth »

Assuming what turns up bears any resemblance to what was in the auction and the postal service doesn't manage to destroy it, looks like a ZX81 has been sourced.

Sounds like someone one another forum may have a QL gathering dust in their loft too...so progress.
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Zelandeth
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Re: Zel's Fleet Blog - BX, Jag XJ-S, Sinclair C5, Mercedes 208D & 230TE, AC Model 70.

Post by Zelandeth »

Hey look a package! That was quick.

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Oh why can't all sellers on eBay package things this well? This was after I'd taken the bundle filling the void in the box out.

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Everything nicely individually wrapped inside a sturdy box with a decent amount of padding round the outside (keeping in mind that the contents aren't exactly heavy).

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They had even put a bit of bubble wrap *inside* the tape boxes to make sure they couldn't rattle around too much.

Sure you recognise through the bubble wrap what's in there.

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Perfect companion for the Spectrum that arrived last week.

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Only done a very quick bit of testing, but it does indeed work.

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I had only used one of these once before and it was a long time ago. The keyboard however is precisely as awful as I remembered. It's like trying to type on the control panel of our microwave.

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In fact it's worse than the microwave...the microwave beeps when you press a key, so you have some feedback to confirm that it has registered the key press. This thing on the other have provides no feedback. Nothing, none, zip. There is no physical give in the key, nor anything from the machine. The Spectrum has a pretty awful keyboard in terms of tactile feedback, but it does at least provide an audible "click" through the speaker to let you know it's registered the keystroke.

This thing though is just an absolute abomination of a user input device. You can't type without looking at the keyboard as it is completely flat. There's no way to position your fingers by touch. However you need to watch the screen to confirm it's registered the key stroke because it's like typing on a sheet of solid plastic.

Speaking of questionable design decisions...the power supply connector on the ZX81 is 3.5mm jack, exactly the sort used for the ear and mic connections...note also *where* the power socket is.

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Now remember that this thing has no power switch nor means to reboot it without removing and reapplying power. There is no switch on the power supply itself either. 99.9% of the time I reckon it will have been done by physically pulling out the power supply plug in the side of the machine.

Given Sinclair's approach to cost saving I rather doubt they included the necessary protection to ensure that blasting 9V into the ear or mic socket won't nuke the heck out of the ULA...

Also from the desire to cut costs the ZX81 has very limited onboard memory, making the 16K RAM expansion pack basically necessary hardware. This little pack was a lot heavier than I had expected so I had to investigate what was inside it.

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Given I was expecting a single PCB, a handful of memory ICs and possibly a bit of buffering this was quite a bit busier than I'd expected.

I've confirmed that software loads correctly but that's all I've had the opportunity to ascertain so far. Will have to have a play around with it later in the week...given we're seeing 33C forecast on the weather for Friday I'm going to be hiding in here with the air conditioner, so it's going to be a good opportunity for it.

It sounds like someone on another forum *may* have a QL gathering dust in their loft...if that does turn out to be true that would be great as that would be a really nice one to tick off...plus having done some reading on them lately I'm really wanting to have a shot at using one now.

In the interests of completeness I'd *like* a ZX80 so we could have a complete lineup of the in house Sinclair machines prior to the Amstrad takeover...but I'm sure as heck not paying £400+ for one! So unless one turns up in someone's loft who's more interested in making a collector happy than making a quick buck that's not happening.

Kind of under the same heading as basically anything with an Amiga badge on that I don't already own nowadays. Prices for what they are are just daft. Especially as the ZX80 really is just a curiosity...it's really not something you're going to do anything useful with. Would just be nice to have the original range all together. That's on the "keep an eye open" list though, not something I'm actively going looking for.
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Zelandeth
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Re: Zel's Fleet Blog - BX, Jag XJ-S, Sinclair C5, Mercedes 208D & 230TE, AC Model 70.

Post by Zelandeth »

Been a while since I've had to wave any tools at the van.

Starting to get back into a functional state for my part again I figured that starting to tick off a few things on the to do list on it wasn't a bad idea. One of these has been changing the thermostat. Pretty certain it's never fully closed as long as I've had the vehicle.

I've generally found the van bits of this vehicle to be very easy to work on, though the coach built bits have tended to make up for it.

It appears that the thermostat however is the exception that proves the rule and is going to be a bit of a faff to change. Was a bit of a faff to *find* never mind change!

Conventional wisdom places it where the top radiator hose emerges from the head. That's not even visible from under the bonnet, so passenger seat and the engine cover were removed.

The top hose is just about visible buried under the fuel system here, though anything that looks removable that's big enough to contain the thermostat is conspicuously absent.

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A bit of head scratching and standing on my head appears to have located it, rather oddly kit seems to be at the engine end of the *bottom* radiator hose.

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Odd setup...and not exactly easy to get to. It's sandwiched between the exhaust manifold and offside engine mount, tucked behind the alternator which precludes any thoughts of access from the front.

Near as makes no odds the lowest point in the system too so definitely be a coolant drain as step one... inevitably I'm going to end up with several litres of coolant in the face doing this job though. The coolant is due a change anyway so I don't mind having to drain it...just don't particularly want to wear it.

May end up being a case of "screw this, a garage can do it!" depending on how awkward access ends up really being when I try to get tools onto it.

Need to clean the whole area up too as the timing cover gasket appears to be leaking to no small amount...again.

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Will probably blast this area down with degreaser then hit it with the pressure washer first though as I'd like to confirm if this is coming from the timing cover or oil filler neck extension (bolted to the timing chain cover as in the van application the normal filler is inaccessible) before I go blowing £30 on another gasket for the timing cover.

That combined with running several errands however has consumed my available energy reserves (and patience with being eaten alive by ants), so back hiding in the air conditioning for now.
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mickthemaverick
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Re: Zel's Fleet Blog - BX, Jag XJ-S, Sinclair C5, Mercedes 208D & 230TE, AC Model 70.

Post by mickthemaverick »

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Zelandeth
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Re: Zel's Fleet Blog - BX, Jag XJ-S, Sinclair C5, Mercedes 208D & 230TE, AC Model 70.

Post by Zelandeth »

Interesting selection there.

Given the going rate for an Oric Atmos on eBay seems to be 75-100 that first lot looks bloody cheap if it goes for the estimate. Definitely worth sticking £50 on, even though it's a system I really know nothing about!

Atari isn't really my thing and I suspect will go for good money as it's boxed, I tend more towards the actual computers than pure gaming consoles - though my housemate is very much into that and has a pretty substantial collection - think an original NES is the oldest thing he has though - so I'd happily stick £60 on that as it would be a nice thing to surprise them with. I reckon it will go for well above that though.

Z88 is something that has been on my radar for a while. Again that estimate looks well on the low side given that the last half dozen or so I've had on my watch list have all gone for over a ton. Given the amount of stuff I've bought lately I think I should restrain myself there!
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Re: Zel's Fleet Blog - BX, Jag XJ-S, Sinclair C5, Mercedes 208D & 230TE, AC Model 70.

Post by mickthemaverick »

Zelandeth wrote:
22 Jun 2022, 17:26
Interesting selection there.

Given the going rate for an Oric Atmos on eBay seems to be 75-100 that first lot looks bloody cheap if it goes for the estimate. Definitely worth sticking £50 on, even though it's a system I really know nothing about!

Atari isn't really my thing and I suspect will go for good money as it's boxed, I tend more towards the actual computers than pure gaming consoles - though my housemate is very much into that and has a pretty substantial collection - think an original NES is the oldest thing he has though - so I'd happily stick £60 on that as it would be a nice thing to surprise them with. I reckon it will go for well above that though.

Z88 is something that has been on my radar for a while. Again that estimate looks well on the low side given that the last half dozen or so I've had on my watch list have all gone for over a ton. Given the amount of stuff I've bought lately I think I should restrain myself there!
I'm not bidding on anything in any of those sales Zel, so if you decide to have a go bear in mind delivery costs!! :-D
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Zelandeth
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Re: Zel's Fleet Blog - BX, Jag XJ-S, Sinclair C5, Mercedes 208D & 230TE, AC Model 70.

Post by Zelandeth »

mickthemaverick wrote:
22 Jun 2022, 17:49
Zelandeth wrote:
22 Jun 2022, 17:26
Interesting selection there.

Given the going rate for an Oric Atmos on eBay seems to be 75-100 that first lot looks bloody cheap if it goes for the estimate. Definitely worth sticking £50 on, even though it's a system I really know nothing about!

Atari isn't really my thing and I suspect will go for good money as it's boxed, I tend more towards the actual computers than pure gaming consoles - though my housemate is very much into that and has a pretty substantial collection - think an original NES is the oldest thing he has though - so I'd happily stick £60 on that as it would be a nice thing to surprise them with. I reckon it will go for well above that though.

Z88 is something that has been on my radar for a while. Again that estimate looks well on the low side given that the last half dozen or so I've had on my watch list have all gone for over a ton. Given the amount of stuff I've bought lately I think I should restrain myself there!
I'm not bidding on anything in any of those sales Zel, so if you decide to have a go bear in mind delivery costs!! :-D
Nah, to be honest having something to tame my enthusiasm isn't necessarily a bad thing!

Especially as I am picking up basically a whole car load of kit in a few weeks from a friend up north, so window shopping for random targets of pure opportunity is something I should probably keep to a minimum for a bit.

... Especially as that's a run that with the current price of diesel is probably going to require a second mortgage as it is even in the Caddy!
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Zelandeth
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Re: Zel's Fleet Blog - BX, Jag XJ-S, Sinclair C5, Mercedes 208D & 230TE, AC Model 70.

Post by Zelandeth »

Tiny, tiny but satisfying job done on the Caddy today.

These absolutely sun-baked stickers on the front windows were annoying me no end.

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Especially on the passenger's door which was obviously massively off-level even when it was applied 20 years ago. Who in their right might would have looked at that and thought "Yeah, that's fine..."

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The one on the passenger side had started to peel off at one corner and was causing the window to bind up when closing, so it was time to get rid of it.

These were for the chopping block too.

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I hate stickers like this on my cars so I'm surprised it took me this long.

Much better.

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I can't remember who it was that suggested using WD40 to remove sticky residue from things like these stickers, but I'm really glad it was suggested to me. Just wiped the glue residue right off, and normal glass cleaner easily got rid of the WD40 residue.

Speaking of stickers, one I had been waiting for for non car related stuff turned up. The C64 that arrived a few weeks ago looks rather less scruffy now it has the missing one replaced. It's not metal backed like the original, but for the sake of a couple of quid I'll take it. Looks way nicer than a missing badge.

Before:

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After:

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Doesn't affect the usability obviously, but having details like that sorted out makes me happier.
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Zelandeth
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Re: Zel's Fleet Blog - BX, Jag XJ-S, Sinclair C5, Mercedes 208D & 230TE, AC Model 70.

Post by Zelandeth »

Removing those stickers from the Caddy earlier in the week reminded me that this one on the van had been bugging me for a while. "A while" in this case meaning around three years.

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It's not bugging me any more.

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Much better. Though the grubby hand print really is a reminder that I really, really, really need to give the poor thing a proper exterior clean. It's filthy, growing moss everywhere and needs a polish as badly as it needs a wash. That's several day's worth of work though!

The Caddy is being dropped off tomorrow morning to have the shoulder wear on the front tyres investigated. Hopefully it just needs the tracking set by someone who actually knows what they're doing. I figured though that it would be polite to hand it over in a condition where the interior isn't 50% dog hair by volume so gave it a quick clean.

The interior really doesn't scrub up half bad for a 20 year old car.

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While I already had the vacuum cleaner out I figured I may as well treat the van to the same treatment, especially as the Caddy being on fleet now means it's no longer the main dog carrier so will likely stay fluff free for a bit longer this time.

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Really need to get a wet vac in to clean that staining out of the carpet a bit - or more likely get some proper automotive carpet in and just re-lay it given that it's coming unthreaded in a bunch of places and disintegrates a little bit further every time I touch it. Plus pale beige carpet in the cab of a vehicle just isn't smart! It'll never stay looking clean. A neutral mid grey or blue to match the living area would make far more sense.
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Zelandeth
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Re: Zel's Fleet Blog - BX, Jag XJ-S, Sinclair C5, Mercedes 208D & 230TE, AC Model 70.

Post by Zelandeth »

Caddy is back from the garage.

They had a good dig into the front end and aside from the little bit of play in the universal joint at the bottom of the steering column I had already identified it was all deemed good.

The tracking was another matter. It was set up with just over 4mm of toe in. Correct setting is 1mm of toe out...so yes, that would definitely account for the fidgety feeling to it and the shoulder wear on the front tyres.

I've only driven it in absolutely torrential rain on the way back from the garage, but it seems to feel a little more stable. Definitely less squirmy under braking anyway.

Will definitely be getting a new full set of tyres fitted at the earliest opportunity. All four of these have shoulder wear now, plus they have never been the best.
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Zelandeth
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Re: Zel's Fleet Blog - BX, Jag XJ-S, Sinclair C5, Mercedes 208D & 230TE, AC Model 70.

Post by Zelandeth »

Out in the van today noted that I had lost the nearside front speaker.

From prior experience I knew this was almost certainly going to be down to the spaghetti associated with the stereo getting caught when reinstalling the engine cover as despite a couple of strategically positioned cable ties it still managed to get utterly in the way. Therefore there was roughly a 50% chance of something getting pulled out every time the cover went back in.

The cause of this isn't hard to see. Not helped by the fact that there really isn't much under there to anchor anything to.

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This was a classic case of me looking at it and thinking "that will take me half an hour to tidy up" and then proceeding to lose about 80% of an afternoon.

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The eventual result of a lot of swearing, dropping things through the floor and poking myself in the ribs on the driver's side seat runners.

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If you look even vaguely closely you can see that calling it tidy would be a vast overstatement, but it's a huge amount better than it was and less likely to cause issues down the road.

Most notably that huge chunk of terminal strip has been ousted in favour of a bunch of Wago connectors. I know some people don't like them, but I've never had any problems with them, and nothing is going anywhere here. They're far less likely to vibrate loose than screw terminals, and I definitely didn't have the time to faff about soldering and heat shrinking things together today - as that would be the way to properly do this. If I go back in here one day to reroute the power feed (I'd ideally like the head unit to be powered from the leisure battery so I can run it without worrying about draining the vehicle one when stationary) I will probably go down that road then.

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One of the other changes I made was to add a local ground...apparently whoever originally fitted the ISO harness never connected the ground pin! The head unit was grounded entirely through the antenna shield and/or the fitting cage (the dash moulding is actually metal under the vinyl finish). I ran that to a ring terminal I fitted under one of the dash retaining bolts.

The downside of the arrangement is that there is no longer enough slack to allow the head unit to be removed - you need to unplug it from the back first. Though given that is entirely doable with the dash layout in the van and will add about two minutes to the job, if that's the price to pay for getting the wiring out of the way of the engine cover, I'll gladly pay it. That cover comes off far more often than I have the head unit out of the dash.

While I had things in bits anyway I took the opportunity to fix a couple of issues where illumination was concerned. One was that there was no connection to the illumination circuit from the head unit. This meant that it was waaaaaaaaaaay too bright and lit the entire cab up when driving at night, even with the brightness manually turned down. Secondly was that I'd never wired up the illumination when I fitted the compass (read: Put it there to cover the hole in the dash top left when I removed the old alarm volumetric sensor). Thirdly the illumination for the cigarette lighter didn't work.

The first and second points were easy enough to sort. So the head unit now dims to a more sensible level automatically when the lights are turned on, and the compass now glows a night vision friendly deep red colour when the headlights are on.

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The camera has of course decided to make it look far brighter than it really is.

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Haven't been able to sort the lighting on the cigarette lighter though. Pretty sure it's just a blown bulb but there's no way to get to the back of it to replace it. I can just about touch the housing with the tips of my fingers if I pull the blower switch out - but the illumination bit is on the far side of it so that gains me absolutely nothing. Reckon it's something I would need to literally pull the whole front dash moulding out to get to. That will have to happen one day when I get the scuttle replaced...so it can be replaced with an LED then, until then it will just have to continue bugging my OCD after dark.

It doesn't really *look* like I've done anything here does it?

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The only clue from the driver's seat is that the wiring being tidied up means you can no longer see any of it - several wires used to be visible down below the hazard light switch. Not any more.

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The difference is very apparent when refitting the engine cover though. It just slots into place now rather than requiring ten minutes of fighting to get it to sit right without snagging the wiring.

I'm pretty sure getting that trapped in the seal was the cause of the clip on the nearside having a broken handle. Someone tried to force it. If anyone knows of a spare one of these clamps sitting around somewhere, please let me know.

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My nearside one is missing most of the handle so requires a screwdriver to lever it open/closed which is less than ideal. I have tried to buy them from a couple of breakers over the last couple of years, but they've apparently deemed it to be too low a value a part to be worth replying to me - well aside from the one guy who wanted £60 plus VAT and postage for one...which seemed a little...steep...to me!