More Land Rover work: the tandem wheelarches

With a bit of subcontracting (for TIG-welding of aluminium, as well as the folding of it in a brake press), I’ve got Marmalade’s treadplate wheelarches built, and a lot of treadplate rivetted onto the sides of the vehicle and welded to the arches to stabilize them. With a bit of brachiation, it’s now possible to get from any door to any other door or to the roofrack, without stepping on the ground; potentially useful if I park or camp somewhere prone to flooding or mud.

A wheelarch, still shiny

A wheelarch, still shiny. This is too blingy for me; I’ll have to paint it soon.

Of course, I painted them to match.

A painted wheelarch

A wheelarch, painted to an approximate match (well, red, anyway).

I’ve also been doing some work on the tent cover, which is made from a short wheelbase Land-Rover roof that I shortened further and widened. I’m partway through wiring it up; it has a brace of solar panels, one for the main battery and one for the camping battery; and it has an LED strip on the underside (because, LED strip). I’ve changed the support legs, so they’re now all solid box-section steel (originally some of the were just metal pipes); and the rear ones are now guided on the way up, to help stabilize the cover. When I’ve got the lift handle done (another TIG-welding aluminium job), I’ll put a camera (built as a reversing camera) into the end of it, facing forwards, as that’s the highest point of the vehicle, so that I can see whether I can fit under an obstacle such as a low bridge or a garage door; it should also be useful for checking that roofrack loads aren’t shifting too much.

Inside the cab, I’ve at last fitted the Raptor Console I bought a while back, and shortened some of the wires behind it. I’ve still got to shorten the wires between it and the fusebox, before I can finish enclosing that part of the works; once I’ve done that, I can then put the fusebox cover back on, along with the little litter bin that slides onto it.

EMFcamp (and some geek clothing)

I attended my first geek festival earlier this year: EMFcamp. I really enjoyed it, and will definitely go again.

As I was travelling, and camping, in Marmalade, my six-wheeled Land Rover, I helped Makespace (the hackerspace of which I am a member) by transporting several people and lots of stuff there, including a marquee. Only one thing went wrong on the journey: the improvised rearward extension to the exhaust fell off. (Since then, I have had the whole exhaust system replaced with a custom stainless steel one.)

Marmalade at EMF

Marmalade at EMF

There are many good things about an event like this, the main things being meeting interesting people, seeing interesting things, picking up and sharing interesting ideas, and trying new things.

I’m not usually comfortable with crowds, but that applies most strongly to general public crowds. It’s not so bad when I’m with people I have a common cause with (although still there can simply be too many people for me); this is probably connected with the kinds of people I most typically have common cause with, that is, more likely to be fellow introverts.

The hackerspace community, of which events like this are part, is one in which I tend to be comfortable with the people (although there are some creepy ones who I avoid or am sufficiently curt with that they realize that I’m not choosing to continue the contact). In fact, although the deepest priority in my life is religious, I’m typically more comfortable in a specifically geeky group than in a specifically Christian group.

One of the taster sessions I tried for learning new skills was lock-picking (hosted by The Open Organisation of Lockpickers, which turned out to be alarmingly easy, even with my co-ordination, which isn’t the best around. It changed my perception of locks; I still lock things that matter to me, and I still check that I have locked things before leaving them, but I don’t think of them as secure as I once did. I bought a set of picks at the event, and have since bought a set of practice locks, and have practiced with them a bit, and introduced some friends to it, and following tutorials on more kinds of lock is now on my queue of things to do (which of course is held in [org-mode]),

I also tried my hand at blacksmithing, making a straight bar of iron into a simple spiral. Not that difficult, although I’m sure a lot of other blacksmithing techniques are harder to learn than that.

There were more talks about politics than I had expected, but it makes sense, as this community has come up with new ways of doing things, that could be applied more widely. (I think these new ways could also tie in with the ways developed over the last few centuries by the Quaker community.) I’ve made some separate notes about [my speculations on society and politics]

I’ve bought a couple of items of geeky clothing recently: a Scottevest Quest vest, which has 42 pockets, and a Utilikilt (only 4 pockets, but really solid ones, and a hammer loop and a tape measure loop). I wear the vest most of the time, and at EMFcamp also wore the Utilikilt, thinking it was a good place to start while still expecting some odd looks. I didn’t get any odd looks at all; the commonest response was “Is that a real Utilikilt?”, so people there were quite clearly used to them — and that is clearly a well-known brand. Some time I’ll try wearing it in other situations, and seeing what people’s reactions are.

Having lots of pockets is great, and I can squirrel quite a lot of stuff away (I’ve stopped losing things in it now, as I’ve chosen and remembered specific places for things). I’ve now got: two phones, a bluetooth headset, a bluetooth keyboard, a wallet and a separate card-holder, USB memory, penknife, voltmeter, oscilloscope, torch, lock-picking set, ballpoints, Moo cards, and the inevitable Ventolin inhaler! Sometimes I also have a USB power pack, a 7″ tablet, and my netbook; they all fit reasonably well, although I can feel when I’ve got the netbook there, and sometimes the tablet too. I’d like to have a conventional “gent’s” jacket with a similar range of pockets; as a maker, I know what I can do about that: I’m planning to unsew the lining of an ordinary jacket I’ve already bought, and use it as the pattern for making a new lining with layers of pockets in it. (I’ll blog the details as I do it, or afterwards as a project report.)

EMF Camp happens at two-year intervals, and in the intervening years similar events are held alternately in Germany and in the Netherlands. I’m already planning to go to the corresponding event next year, which will be Chaos Communications Camp in Germany.

Exploring some social and political issues

My politics don’t seem to fit neatly into classifications such as “right” or “left”, or indeed “centre”; I tend to think of myself as small-c conservative, but this is probably either an illusion, or just referring to an earlier stage of my development. But my lack of simple scalar political alignment isn’t a matter of being in the middle; more like being so far in each direction that my views curve right round and meet behind my back.

Direct democracy

One area in which my views probably align more to the liberal side is that of political decision-making. I support “Liquid democracy”, that is, making all decisions by referendum but with rapidly changeable proxying to save effort. There are various flavours of proposed details floating around: my version is to have proxying divided into broad areas such as health, the environment, defence, planning, transport, and education, with calls for voting being tagged with which areas they affect; people can proxy their votes separately in separate areas. Each vote would be taken twice: a preliminary one, in which proxies indicate to those who have proxied to them which way they are voting, and a count is taken and the provisional result announced; then the binding one, two weeks later, to give time for reflection and for changing or over-riding of proxies.

Supporters of the present system (plenipotentiary representatives, i.e. they’re elected, but once they’re in, they can vote as they like (or, even worse, according to the Party line) without regard for the wishes of those who voted them in) sometimes claim that the politicians are better informed, and better able to make decisisons, than those who voted them in. I’ve never seen any evidence put forward to support this claim. Others (particularly European integrationist bureaucrats) support a claim (implicitly or explicitly) that neither the people nor anyone they might elect are sufficiently informed and trained to make decisions, and that the decisions should be made by appointed “technocrats” (I think the European Commission, given the chance, would move towards the Chinese model as soon as possible; remember also that the instigators of the EU wanted to eventually form a post-democratic socialist superstate).

It is, of course, true that half of the people may have below-average decision-making ability, but there’s no guarantee the “leaders”, whether elected or appointed, will be any better; they may simply have low cunning and good deception skills, and there are good arguments for believing that they may be worse than the average, as you will quickly realized if you’ve seen televized parliamentary debates.

What most western countries have, plenipotentiary “representative” democracy, is a low point between real democracy and Chinese-style authoritarianism.

The balance is between giving direct power to a stupid trend-following population, and separating a specific group as being in charge, who will then work the system to their own unfair advantage.

There are some workrounds, mentioned below, for some of the problems of giving direct power to the people as a whole.

Citizens’ Income

Another of my ideas to the left of the current mainstream is “Citizens’ Income” or “Basic Income”: an income paid to everyone.

Some politicians in the UK are pressing for a “living wage” for all those in work, but I don’t think that goes far enough for a humane society. Although some less-specialized work could be distributed more widely, there simply isn’t enough work to go round. Some people simply don’t want to work anyway; I wouldn’t mind those of them who have the ability being required to do a “citizen’s job” in return for a “citizen’s income”, but apparently they’re a small part of the population anyway, and the work-round I have in mind for getting the laziest and stupidest out of the voting system might help here too.

And what happened to the SciFi paradise of everything being done by machines, anyway? I suspect that started with some weak assumptions (or swept some unpleasant hypothetical history under the carpet) as it shows people at leisure who are capable of good leisure, but who are also highly capable of good work. Unfortunately, the first to be put out of work seem to be those poorly equipped for a life of leisure either. And that brings up the point that it’s time we should face up to full employment as unrealistic, and start to educate people (or at least, some people) for a life of leisure — but in such a way that does not condemn them to such a life.

Unfortunately, as we have lost a lot of manual labour and have invented bureaucratic jobs to fill the vacuum with dignity, we now have a way of evaluating fields of work (such as teaching) that can be done by those who don’t know what they’re doing, and so we now have a race to the bottom in education, as colleges try to raise their position in the league tables by getting the maximum points for a given level of ability (and exam boards compete to sell to colleges by trying to give the highest pass rate). So now we have an increasing number of people who aren’t properly educated or trained, although they may well be thoroughly and meaninglessly qualified.

An alternative to paying Citizens’ Income in money is to supply goods and services in set quantities (rations) directly, to avoid “misuse” such as drink and drugs; but some people will want to use their resources for chemical escape from reality, and given the nature of their reality, perhaps it is reasonable to let them do so; I will cover that later in this essay, along with some feedback to other parts of these suggestions.

Setting the level of Citizens’ Income involves working out what basic standard of living is reasonable, and although there are absolutes here, it will also vary with cultural factors, and so I suggest it should be set on a national scale, rather than world-wide, so that a culture with a laid-back tradition and low material expectations doesn’t take advantage of cultures with a stronger work ethic and higher standards (yes, I’m thinking of Greece and Germany in 2015 as a specific example).

Now to my controversial work-rounds for some of the problems, where the right-wing end of my personal political spectrum shows more clearly.

Real Adulthood

Many legal systems have settled on adulthood by age. Is this a formalization of an approximation (which I think it is clear has failed badly) — or is it a deliberate way of being kind to those who don’t reach actual adulthood?

It would be hard to shift to this from where we are now, but I suggest the ideal is to grant legal adulthood (e.g. voting rights) following observation of actual adulthood, and not by years elapsed since leaving the womb.

This immediately takes the least responsible out of the voting pool, and so optimizes direct or liquid democracy. It also has gentle eugenic aspects, in that sex with a minor will still be an offence, but the definition of a minor will have changed, with irresponsible people staying minors for a lot longer than they do now, and so having less opportunity to reproduce and raise children. (This will work regardless of the relative importance of nature, nurture and the surroundings, in producing responsible people who contribute positively to society. I’m taking it as given that each successive generation being more responsible is a good thing, and increasingly so as the population increases.) The characteristics defining legal majority would be such that people who reach legal majority earlier than they do now would be the ones with more self-control and ability to plan their lives anyway — and ability to recognize inappropriate and manipulative approaches to them would be a prerequisite to adulthood anyway, so this wouldn’t allow abuse of the faster mental developers.

Thinking about this area raises the question of quite what we mean by equality: equality on what basis? Given that, both in existing systems and in the one described here, social privileges are graded relative to a control variable, which control variable gives meaningful equality: age or maturity?

Such a change would also, to some extent, push aside the concept of mental handicap: the people now treated as “different” adults would be treated as older (or permanent) children, which I hope would be less of a stigma. It would also change the motivation to grow up, as distinct from just playing grown-up.

In many (probably most) countries, some things are granted by licence rather than by right; driving, and firearm use, being common examples. Also, some “rights” are granted at particular ages. This proposed change would move everything from the latter category to the former, which could be seen as modifying Article 16 part 1 of the International Declaration of Human Rights: “Men and women of full age, without any limitation due to race, nationality or religion, have the right to marry and to found a family” to ”Men and women who have been found to be suitably responsible, without any limitation due to race, nationality or religion, have the right to marry and to found a family.”

Medicalization and normalization of addiction

We can’t make everyone happy in the real world; should we give chemical happiness for those for whom there is no hope (because they have declined hope, or want someone to do for them what they have to do inside themselves)? But in a world of increasingly short resources, we have to watch the population, and in particular the non-contributory population; and so I suggest we should consider having the state supply “recreational” drugs to registered users, in return for arrangements not to reproduce for the period in which they’re taking the drugs, and losing their voting rights (and driving licences, and firearm licences) for that period, as these are the things that should be done with a clear head.

Conveniently, this takes the least responsible and most self-centred out of the voting pool, and so optimizes direct or liquid democracy, and reduces their contribution to subsequent generations, whether by nature or by nurture.

No-one is forced to do anything (if addicts really can give it up any time, like they claim), and the people who don’t exist because of this scheme never start to exist anyway.

I wonder how much of the population would take up this option? In countries which have long campaigned to discourage smoking, it has fallen to about one-fifth of the population, and a similar proportion are reckoned to have tried “recreational” drugs at some time, which may give a guideline.

That’s enough for one post; I shall tackle international relations separately.

My annual day of extraversion

For most of the time, I’m fairly introverted, and tend to guard my personal space quite strongly, and am slow to contact strangers, and get uncomfortable in crowds of strangers, particularly when I have little in common with them.

However, I can be more outgoing, even with a lot of people around, at least if the people have some kind of interest or purpose in common with me, and on the whole don’t seem to be trying to get something out of me.

For the last three years, this has had a peak (increasing each year) in the form of taking part in the World Naked Bike Ride in London, and I’ve done it in the appropriate style: completely naked. This doesn’t embarrass me at all: I get embarrassed about making mistakes, not about having a human body. The first year I did it, I was still fairly reserved (and still fairly overweight, and a bit self-conscious about that). The second year, I got more confident (partly through being greeted with an enthusiastic hug at the start by a lady I met the previous time, and partly through having improved my appearance by intermittent fasting; I had been quite overweight before). This year, I was fully confident, and decided to clown around a bit, and be a complete tart and ask lots of ladies (some clothed, some nude, some in-between) to pose for photos with me; I didn’t keep a count but counting from the photos I have, there were at least 30! Actually, I didn’t really feel particularly naked; it was more like that I’d changed into a naked clown suit, rather than that I’d not got anything on. It’s quite crowd of people, but there’s a feeling of something in common, and people who’re used to public nudity generally seem to have more respect for personal space than the general public, so I didn’t find the numbers of people unpleasant (although I’m not personally keen on the music tastes played through the boomboxes; I’d rather have classics or folk, or how about the Ride of the Valkyries?).

I won’t use prim terms such as “life-affirming” that I’ve heard used by some people not involved in it; the day is simply a real blast. But it’s the sort of thing that description can’t really get across; the only way to find out what it’s like is to take part yourself.

Some people tell me I must be brave to do take part, but I don’t think there’s anything to fear about it. In fact, in terms of feelings, I’m no longer aware what there is about it that’s supposed to be frightening: I have to reconstruct that from other peoples’ obsessions about what others will think of them, including from body image.

The only downside is creepy male photographers, particularly at the start, but I see them as more pathetic than anything else, and there’s a real contrast between how much life and joy and confidence there is in almost all of the participants, and how needy the non-participant photographers come across as. They seem to be rather sad people, perhaps lacking any human warmth in their lives, and I guess that they’re using their photographs as a substitute for that. So it’s not a matter of bravery to take part, but perhaps more one of kindness, albeit perhaps a rather condescending kindness, by people who have something to give, towards those who only have a gap to fill. I hope that some of them will make a bit of progress, and eventually become lively people who can join in and contribute, rather than parasitize. There’s always hope.

There were plenty of female photographers, particularly photographing the naked men, but they didn’t seem as creepy; typically joyful, and not needy. Perhaps it’s something to do with it being easier for women to find a relationship with a man (if they’re not too fussy) than for men to find one with a woman? It’s interesting to reflect on what creepiness is; a topic that I’ve given a blog post of its own, but I’ll delve briefly here too. Part of it, I think, is wanting to use other people (and your interactions with them) to make yourself feel better about yourself despite this not being a free choice of the others concerned, and when you’re aware that from their normal actions, you can see that they don’t see you they way you want to pretend they see you. In the context of taking photographs of naked strangers, it’s a fairly simple and blatant case of it: using their subjects’ photographability as a substitute for them offering the intimacy they associate with nudity. So the complement of this is, the reason I think of participation in events like WNBR having an element of generosity to it, is that you’re kindly putting aside an opportunity to classify people into “worthy of seeing you naked” and “not worthy of seeing you naked”. Or perhaps that’s too sophisticated an analysis, and it’s all just their hormones, poor things.

Sometimes people see nakedness as a sign of vulnerability and powerlessness, but that’s certainly not the case here; it was the naked people who were very much in charge.

But that’s a small aspect of it; celebrating body freedom is a lot more than that. For those brought up in the old-fashioned British culture of the body being in some way bad, particularly the parts of it that aren’t usually shown, it’s a celebration of the body (including all parts) not actually being in any way bad. (Good and evil are characteristics of the soul or personality, not of the body.)

As well as being about body freedom, it’s also an ecological protest about transport. I doubt it’s had any directly attributable effects, but it must be doing something to raise awareness of cycling.

I made a montage of photos, that I considered putting on this blog, but decided I didn’t want to have to flag the whole blog for `nudity’, `adult content’, etc for the sake of one picture. (I might put it up on my flickr feed later, and add a link here.)

I can definitely recommend joining in with this to anyone; I think it’s the most enjoyable day of my year. (I get deep pleasure from walking alone or with a thoughtful friend by a quiet mountain lake, too; I have scope for both kinds of enjoyment.) And if you’re not sure that you’re got the confidence to try, “feel the fear and do it anyway”; you get confidence by trying things, more than try things by getting confidence first. The event is in early or mid June each year, and details of starting points are published on the WNBR web site, and on Facebook pages for each individual ride, some time in advance.

As a little side observation, I noticed that, although undressing in public is something women are traditionally seen as not very keen on, they make a proportionately larger (and, I think, faster-growing) part of the naked cycling community than they do of the Free / Libre / Open Source Software programming community.

What is creepiness?

What is creepiness?

We recognize it when we see it (in others, at any rate; creepy people don’t seem to recognize it in themselves, and that ties in with other aspects of creepiness), but it’s less easy to describe quite what it is.

In this essay, I’ll be describing what I see as creepiness; others may have different definitions, which I’d be interested to hear about. The particular type, or aspect, of creepiness I’m writing about overlaps with neediness, or can be a reaction to need (or to loneliness, or depression).

Creepy people are those who perceive that others see them as less desirable than others, and try to force situations to be such that they can see others’ reactions as affirming them as desirable. There’s an inherent falseness to it, because at some level they have perceived that people don’t like them, and they’re trying to trick people into doing things that make it look like they like them, and are then pushing themselves to believe the lie they have rigged.

There’s something horrible about having someone be creepy towards you, but it’s difficult to pin down what this is. Sometimes I have to remind myself of Jesus’ saying that uncleanness cannot come into someone from outside (Mark 7:15), as a way to cut myself off from feeling contaminated (which I know is an ungenerous response to human neeed).

Another aspect to creepiness is trying to treat effect (e.g. chatting with someone) as coming from the nominal cause (wanting to chat).

Creepy people often show an unconfident or forced approach to the people they’re trying to get something out of, which makes those people avoid them. [Link to “sexual harassment and you” video on youtube]

Often it seems that when someone is looking for company, others avoid them.

I think the reason behind this is that people don’t like being sought to fulfil a role in someone’s life. When someone is deliberately looking for company (rather than taking what company they naturally get), they are looking for someone to perform some function or service towards them. This is often referred to as objectification; I don’t like this term, as the “object” is being used specifically because “it” is a human; the important point is that he or she is being used. I prefer a term such as “`being used to provide personal contact as a service”, but I’m pretty sure that it’s the same thing that some, particularly feminists, refer to as objectification.

This is part of a wider group of false behaviours: in general, people trying to adjust their relative status as seen by those those around them: clothing and image obsession, ridiculous exaggerations of masculinity or femininity, status symbols. Presumably they work on some people, but to others, the status looks silly and the neediness is apparent.

Although I’m writing negatively about creepy people, I’m aware it would be charitable to show them some charity, but the problem with this is that it’s likely to be seized as what they wanted, rather than what you offered.

Fortunately, human development is possible, and some people grow out of these behaviours; it can be just a phase before certain realizations occur. (I certainly went through a lonely and needy stage myself, and I guess I may well have come across as creepy to some at the time.) Unfortunately, not all do.

I change jobs

My old job expired a few months ago; the project I was on was starting to shut down, and I was one of the people that made redundant.

It wasn’t at all traumatic; I got quite a few interviews, and three job offers, one of which would have required relocating or commuting; I preferred to take up one of the ones that was nearby, as for the time being I’m happy to stay in the same geographical area.

As I don’t want to have to avoid controversy to avoid annoying an employer, I’m not naming either my old employer or my new one (nor, for that matter, myself, although it’s not difficult to find links between this blog name and my personal name; I’m just not making them explicitly myself).

Anyway, I’m happy with the new job. I drafted this post a few months ago, along with several others, then didn’t get round to finishing and releasing them, so now I’ve been in the job for half a year, and it still suits me, and my line manager has been telling me to look at what I have to do to be ready to be considered for moving up a grade. Not that that side of it is that important to me: I’m glad to be doing something complex enough to be interesting, but not so complex as to be frustrating.

My first tattoos

To celebrate getting my P2 grade in Krav Maga, I got my first two tattoos, both of them Christian symbols: an Icthys (Jesus Fish), and a Trinity knot.

My Ichthys tattoo

My Ichthys tattoo

I was a bit nervous beforehand about how painful it would be, but it wasn’t that bad; around the nettle-sting level, although more concentrated. By the time the artist (Miles) had finished the first tattoo and marked out the second one, my endorphins had got going enough that the second one hurt very little.

My Trinity Knot tattoo

My Trinity Knot tattoo

Most tattoo shops look pretty off-putting from the outside, possibly a sign of wanting to attract people who’d like to look off-putting. I noticed one of my Krav Maga friends had a large tattoo on one of her legs, and I asked her for a recommendation, and she recommended Good Times Tattoo in Shoreditch, and so that’s where I went. It’s a cheerful-looking place, with lots of natural light, and very different from the dingy back-room image that I’d somehow associated with tattoo parlours up to then. I recommend them heartily; I’m planning to get some lettering added to my existing tattoos, and I’ll certainly be going back to Good Times for that.

Getting my Krav Maga P2

A few months ago, I passed my Krav Maga P2 grading. Like my P1, this was on the second attempt. This time, I scraped through with a borderline pass. So now, I’m (just) trained up enough to deal with most civilian street attacks.

At the time, I thought that P3 would be out of my reach, but now I expect I’ll eventually go for it. I’m not the fastest at learning physical skills, and I’m not the most co-ordinated of people (typical Aspie-ish techie, I suppose) so it’ll probably take me a while to feel ready.

To do P3, I’ll have to be able to do combat rolls, which so far I seem to be unable to do, so I should start practicing headstands / handstands at home before long.

In the process of getting this far, I found I’ve become a lot fitter than when I started, and can run without getting short of breath. I’m not a particularly fast runner, and I can’t run as far as many people, but, after kicking an attacker on the knee hard enough to “chicken-leg” them, I should be able to get away :-)

Camping and laning around Salisbury Plain

Since my last post, I’ve been doing various unfinished projects on Marmalade, hence not posting any more. But some of them are well on the way; in particular, I got the new tent cover pretty much working (although since then I’ve damaged it on an overgrown green lane, and have yet to fix that, of course making some improvements while I’m at it).

Before covering the camping and the laning, here’s a “general status” picture of Marmalade, roughly as he is at the time of writing:

Marmalade on a gravel track, with metal tent-cover and incomplete metal wheelarches

Marmalade on a gravel track, with metal tent-cover and incomplete metal wheelarches

The new tent cover is made from a short-wheelbase Land Rover roof, shortened and widened and fitted to a welded steel frame. I gave up on making fibreglass or plastic wheelarch extensions, and got some treadplate folded to shape, and some brackets TIG-welded to the underside of it. I have some matching metal waiting for complete shaping to make curved front and rear sections to the rear wheelarches, too. These arches are strong enough to stand on, for access to the sides of the roofrack for tying things down.

In April, I went green laning with some friends, camping at the Stonehenge Campsite (which isn’t very near Stonehenge itself). Here is the tent cover in the open position; I’m going to alter the strut supports a bit, and may sometime add side and end curtains to it, to make it an extension to the tent. The tent itself is unchanged; I’m trying to look after it better than I have done before (I bought it with legacy money from my late parents, so it’s partly a Memorial Tent!), and so re-waterproofed it last summer, as well as making the new cover.

Camping, with the new tent cover up

Camping, with the new tent cover up

The tent cover swings up on four roughly parallel legs, with the front pair shorter than the rear (so that rain will run off away from the tent), and I pull up a pair of more robust struts to for it to rest on at the front. (I’ve started to make levers to pull those up for me.) The struts are stabilized by some channel welded to the roofrack, that they drop into as they move into position; I’ll change the rear leg supports to have stablizers too.

Inside the tent, I’ve taken out the old flourescent tube, and added an LED ribbon, which distorts the tent less in its closed position.

In the military training area

In the military training area

We drove on tracks in the military training area; where we stopped here was nice and dry, but we’d been through some very major watersplashes to get there.

A moderately muddy lane

A moderately muddy lane

Some of the lanes were muddy, although not enough to cause any real difficulty.

On an overgrown lane

On an overgrown lane

South of the training area, some of the lanes were badly overgrown in places. This one was like driving through the middle of a hedge for about half a mile. I took this picture when we had to stop and cut a fallen tree out of the way. Unfortunately, some previous lane users had pushed through the real hedge and made a detour into the neighbouring field, rather than moving the tree out of the way. We had a chainsaw with us (unplanned; someone had left his in his Land Rover after some gardening), and cut the tree into small enough pieces to drag aside, and used the pieces to plug the gap in the hedge.

A lane with big puddles

A lane with big puddles

Some lanes were rather wet; a bit before this puddle, there was a section so deep I was up to my ankles in muddy water, with my feet on the pedals! That one was a bit alarming; I’m glad I wasn’t the first in the convoy, and I saw the vehicle ahead get through alright, as you can see this dashcam video. I probably wouldn’t have attempted this one if I’d known how wet it was going to be; I doubt we did any actual damage, though; it seemed to be a normal lane surface underneath the water, and any mud we churned up will have settled again fairly quickly.

High-current wiring to the rear

I’ve now connected the long battery cable that runs to an Anderson connector near the back door, with a couple of tap points on it. As I didn’t want to cut and join the cable (there’ll be enough drop anyway at that length), I tapped it with blocks of brass drilled to fit and clamp around it.

Here’s the connector block near the middle of the vehicle (just above the damper of the middle axle); this will take the link from the auxiliary (camping) battery.

Forward tap on the long power cable

Forward tap on the long power cable

It’s bolted to the bodywork with a screw recessed into a cylinder of Delrin, and there’s a block of Tufnol between that and the brass block, to make sure positive and negative stay apart. I’ll add a sheet of rubber between the box and the bodywork, too, in case of cracking.

Inside the `toolbox’ compartment at the back is another connector, fitted just in case it comes in useful later rather than for a specific purpose — it would be much harder to add later. As the cable is on the `battery’ side of the main isolator switch (for a little added security — it can’t be used to bypass the isolator), I could use it for maintenance lights, a clock etc.

Rear tap, in case with clear lid

Rear tap, in case with clear lid

After this, the cable runs on to an Anderson SB175 power connector, for jumpstarting at the rear, running a towball winch, charging phones, or whatever else comes in useful.


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