Here are found some solutions to problems that I haven’t found well documented or easily discovered on the ‘net.

[Repairing binoculars]

How to fix, repair, or disassemble your binoculars.
Warning, binoculars are very precisely engineered pieces of equipment. It is easy to break them. To do this you need to be both competent and desperate. There is real risk they wont work properly afterwards if you make any major mistakes. Having said that, reasonable care and competence can achieve useful levels of repair in most instances.

The ocular lens fell out of our Leitz trinovid 10×40 BA 110/1000 binoculars 2 days ago (17 Feb 2017), so I went to google to see how to repair them. No luck. Nothing showed up.
Tried youtube – nothing.
A few birding websites advised don’t try it, send them to the factory, will cost about half the cost of a new pair.
We simply don’t have the money to do that at present (the desperate part of the equation), so I started looking very closely at them, and taking them apart.

Started in the wrong place twice – took apart bits that I didn’t need to.

It is actually quite easy. There is a cover piece, that has a foldout piece of rubber that is a cover for the eyes that can be unscrewed easily by hand. A little spacer comes away also.

binoculars with eye ring removed.

binoculars with eye ring removed.

With the rubber cover on the body it is not at all obvious that the next piece also unscrews, but it does. I made the mistake of taking the rubber cover off to discover this fact.

I used a sharp knife point to remove the glue between the body and the ocular assembly. A pair of expandable pliers allowed me to get good 3 point grip on the ocular assembly (firm but gentle – not so tight as to crack the plastic) and unscrew it.

Pliers in place - gentle but firm.

Pliers in place – gentle but firm.

That gave me access to the ocular lens and its retaining ring.
A thorough cleaning of the the two cavities, and all lens surfaces, with camera cloths (fabric designed for lens cleaning), and reassembly, and it is all good.
When re-assembling, the trick (used with any fine threaded object) to prevent cross threading is to put the lens in place, then put the retaining ring on it, then unscrew the retaining ring until you feel a slight bump of the thread dropping. Because I hadn’t done it for a while, I unscrewed very gently about 4 turns, until I was very confident about exactly where the threads dropped past each other and meshed correctly, then started screwing it into place with my fingers just after I felt the bump. I used a fine jewelers screwdriver to tighten the retaining ring after it was finger tight. Then after a final gentle clean of the body cavity I reassembled the ocular assembly, and tightened it gently but firmly into the housing.

Worked perfectly.

When I did get it back together, it was clear from the sound of it that the other side was also loose in the same way, but hadn’t actually come apart yet. So I did that same procedure on the other side.

Worked so well that I pulled out the old set of Zeiss 10×40 B binoculars that someone had used and returned water damaged (lots of dust and watermarks in the internals making them virtually useless).

I tried the same process on them.

The ocular assembly came out easily, and was quite different, with two lenses in a tubular housing with a spacer between them. The retaining ring was quite different also, with two holes in it. So I went and got my set of circlip pliers from my workshop and used them to unscrew the retaining ring.

Tools I used

Tools I used

That allowed me the remove and clean both ocular lenses, then reassemble using the same reverse first, then forward technique to prevent the risk of cross threading.

Again worked perfectly.

Took about an hour to figure out how to approach the problem, but once I had worked that out, it was less that half an hour’s actual work and both sets of binoculars are perfectly serviceable again.

My wife and I both have our birding binoculars back, and it didn’t cost a cent (though I do have a very well equipped workshop and 17 years experience keeping engines and winches and refrigeration equipment going on fishing vessels at sea – so I am used to making things work using whatever happens to be available, rather than necessarily waiting for the correct part or tool or service manual to come from the manufacturer).


[Toyota Surf – Turbo cut out, Engine management light on, when climbing hills]

For those with a Toyota Surf (or potentially any other vehicle with an engine management computer), if you experience the car (truck) engine management light coming on and turbo cutting out when going up hill, as a first option replace the temperature sensor. To get going again immediately, just let the engine return to idle for 10 seconds, and the system will usually reset. I had this problem when going up steep hills for 4 years, before the temperature sensor actually physically failed completely, and had to be replaced, and the problem disappeared. I had taken it to specialist Toyota service centres in 4 cities without resolution over those years.


[Eudora, SSL Certificate]

Eudora reports “Server’s SSL Certificate was rejected”….
There is a fix in the google forum:

1. Launch Eudora from a closed state (or close it and then open it)
2. Check Email
3. Get error message “the server’s SSL Certificate was rejected for the following reasons…” Click YES (multiple times if needed)
—- You need the error message for the later steps to work.
5. Right-click on DOMINANT personality -> PROPERTIES (or right-click on the affected personality)
6. Click on INCOMING MAIL tab (when downloading is the problem)
7. Click on LAST SSL INFO button
—- IF you get an error message saying “you have never done any SS negotiation…” then go back to step 1
9. Under SERVER CERTIFICATES, click on the [+] sign inside the little box to open up the item below, and keep opening additional + signs until you get to the bottom.
—- the bottom one should have a skull icon (untrusted)
10. Click on the bottom item (skull) to highlight it and then click on the ADD TO TRUSTED button.
11. Click DONE, OK and close everything out.


[Repair an Ugly Duckling (Pyroclassic) wood burning stove.]

I love my ugly duckling wood stove. 18 years ago we bought this house sight unseen, and I was delighted to discover it had an ugly duckling stove in it (I had read about them in the 70s, and how efficient they were, but had never owned one). It hadn’t had much use up until then, but since then I have worked it hard.

Last winter the roof of the firebox collapsed, and the floor started to come apart, and the secondary air injectors basically fell apart (I suspect due to water damage from a storm taking the top off the chimney, allowing rain to get in).

A bag of Shiracast 145 from Crow Refractories, and a couple of days work, and I have cast and cured and installed 5 new panels for the ceiling of the firebox, and put in a new floor on the firebox, and replaced the secondary air injectors. Time will tell how well it works, but it seems like it might be good for another 20 years.

The Shiracast is a dry brew, with only 14% by weight water added, it requires a vibrator to get the air bubbles out and get a reasonable surface on it.
A multifunction tool like the Bosch PMF 190 can do all that for you, with a little creativity.

The dry shira 145 mix has a specific gravity of about 1.7, so work out your volumes, and multiply by 1.7 to get a weight, then measure the mix and water exactly (kitchen scales work well).

I did the ceiling of the firebox in 5 panels. 4 of them were identical 34cm x 10cm x 1.6cm. I made them like that, so that I could lift the front edge of the top plate, and lock it up with a piece of 25×25 tomato stake, and slide the new pieces in the front, and down under the wetback, and into position. Anything longer than 10cm wouldn’t fit making the turn past the bottom edge of the wetback.

I made a former for these from some 20mm chipboard I had lying around, and lined it with baking paper for easy removal – worked a treat.

The 5th piece was 34cm x 20cm, and had two 8.5cm holes equally spaced. I formed the holes by cutting the bottoms off a couple of baked bean tins, about 2.5 cm above the base, then drilling a hole for a screw in the middle. I put in the baking paper lining, then screwed on the upside-down baked bean tin bottoms, and wrapped them in cardboard until the desired 8.5cm size was reached, then sealed them with Duct tape.
I put a couple of 3 inch nails against the bottom edge of the former, before putting in the baking paper, so that there would be a gap for some wire to hold up the ends of the new secondary air injectors.

I cast each piece one at a time, leaving them in the former for about 8 hours, before taking them out very carefully and putting them on an oven tray.

I bought a few meters of bungy cord from Mitre 10, and made a little shaker table by drilling holes in the 4 corners of my former, and threading though bungy, connecting to a carabiner, so I could clip it to a hammock hook outside on the deck. Four more holes let me wire the vibrating multi-tool to the underside of the former – and – shaker table.

I just hand mixed in a 2 l ice-cream container using a small plasterers trowel.

After the last one had been out for 36 hours, I did a cure in the oven (all 5 pieces together), starting at 40 deg C, and stepping up 20C every half hour until I had the oven as hot as it would go (about 300C). That seemed to work fine – though the smell in the house wasn’t good, even with the extractor fan on full, and the windows open (I think that may have been the baking paper, which was just a fine soot by the end of the process).

The old air injectors were badly corroded, with only short stumps remaining. They were 19mm OD (outside diameter). I found a piece of 20mm ID (inside diameter) copper pipe, and cut a couple of appropriate lengths, bent the ends up in a vice, and they fitted right in.

So under $100 materials, but quite a bit of time, and the old ugly duckling is ready for action again.

In the 18 years we have live here, we haven’t needed to buy in firewood. Just the trimmings from the trees on the section is enough for heat and hot water all winter long. A very efficient fireplace. Now ready for its next 20 years.

3 months on – working well – efficiencies and control back very close to new.  The only idea that didn’t work was the wire to support the secondary air injectors, it melted away.  But the injectors are working fine – there was enough of the old ones left to hold the new ones up.
Feb 2017 – the copper injectors didn’t last out the winter, the heat was too much for them.  I now have some stainless steel ones to insert and try next winter.

[Repair of Schnitzer Pico grain mill.] (April 2020)

10 years ago I bought the Schnitzer Pico grain Mill. I’m not a big user of flour, but have bought 20Kg of organic wheat periodically and make pizzas and banana bread and such like things.

A couple of weeks ago the mill started making horrible noises then stopped.

We were in covid lockdown, and the people I bought it off did not respond to emails. I had no instructions on how to take it apart. Taking the baseplate off the bottom just got a good view of the motor. I went to youtube, and the third video I looked at showed a few frames of one with the top off. From looking at that I was able to determine that a twist of the top plate to the left looking down should take the top off. I tried. It was very firm, but it did eventually work.

With the top off, it became clear what needed repair (a stone removed) and two metal cross bars glued back into place. The whole things then cleaned and reassembled, and the mill is going great again – pizza cooked by me for our 26th wedding anniversary (locked down at home, rather than on the West Coast as planned). Also managed to get Ailsa’s hammock installed in the lounge – so she is happy about both things.

3 Responses to Strays

  1. Pingback: Repairing binoculars | Ted Howard NZ's Blog

  2. leon Marshall says:

    are ugly duckling stoves still made and where can one buy

    Liked by 1 person

    • No – not as such.
      The original was made by Bruger Industries in Wainui, then it was renamed the PyroClassic and manufacture moved to Upper Hutt.
      The design has morphed. Most people want to see the fire, so efficiency was reduced somewhat to give visibility.
      Current range looks somewhat different.
      Sometimes ugly ducklings come up for sale.
      I have a spare in my garage.

      Liked by 1 person

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