Petestack Blog

2 August 2018

What I’ve learned about nylon brushes

Filed under: Sailing,Uncategorized — admin @ 9:41 pm

Last year, when I started stripping that infernal flaking paint from Fly’s internal hull surfaces, I quickly settled on a electric drill with (mostly) nylon brushes for the job. And equally quickly discovered that some of the most useful looking ones were effectively useless! Nylon cup and pencil (aka end) brushes just melt out in no time, especially if you angle them and/or raise the speed at all (NB all brushes are being used within their recommended speed range because my drill’s not capable of turning faster). Flap wheels aren’t man enough for most paint-stripping jobs although I’ve come back to them for varnish, of which more anon. So my staple has been 4″ orange (coarse) wheels, which have been great on glassfibre but need (even) more care on wood. And I thought I’d learned everything there was to know about orange nylon wheel brushes till something I wrote just days ago proved I hadn’t. I prefer to use them perpendicular to the surface being stripped because they last much longer if you do, but found myself angling them to take the old glue and paint from the forecabin deckhead, then had to keep them angled to avoid grooving the resin. But today I discovered that this grooving is caused not by using the brushes perpendicular (which I’ve done successfully many times) or carelessness (when I’m really pretty careful), but by using them perpendicular after they’ve been reshaped (bevelled) by using them at an angle. And trying to reshape them by angling the opposite way just compounds the problem. So I had a brainwave and trimmed the offending strands back perpendicular with some snips, and all was sweetness and light again. Or perhaps not, because eight hours of non-stop paint stripping can never be described as sweetness and light!

So what of those flap wheels, of which ‘more anon’? Well, I’d been using the blue (fine) wheel brushes for stripping varnish off wood, for which they’re excellent if fast-wearing where the orange ones are really too abrasive, but the blue wheels more than doubled in price overnight while I had several sitting in my Amazon basket waiting to buy and never came back down, with similar apparently permanent increases everywhere else. And, while I was prepared to write off a blue brush in a morning’s work* at less than £6 each, I’m just not tempted at nearly £15! So here was me stumped when I’d been depending on piles of them to make a good job of the wooden surfaces of which I still have plenty to do. But then I remembered the hitherto rejected ‘puny’ orange flap wheels, and have since found them nearly as good (can be used with similar impunity!) as the blue wheels for the job.

*They don’t wear down in that time, but the strands quickly start splaying out to a broader edge that doesn’t strip the varnish so cleanly and easily.

Anyway, enough of that! What have I been doing with orange wheels today?

What you see in the first three photos is what you can do to a cockpit locker if you work non-stop for about eight hours. It’s not finished, but getting there. I was originally planning to try knocking off just the really loose paint (see final pic of port locker for the state of these things!), but soon discovered there’s really no satisfactory halfway house. The wooden bulkhead is to be epoxy-coated like so much else I’ve stripped of dying paintwork, and probably the whole lockers too now. And, yes, the outside of the boat’s filthy even though I cleaned it again last year before building the Noah’s Ark roof over the main hatch!

Nylon brush summary from one year and hundreds of hours use:

  • Orange wheels are the most useful overall as well as the most robust, but too abrasive for some softer surfaces and can be compromised by using at an angle. Also impossible to use in narrow spaces and/or where flat surfaces meet at acute angles (obtuse angles are fine).
  • Blue wheels are excellent for stripping varnish from wood, but currently unattractively expensive.
  • Orange flap wheels are a useful substitute for blue wheels at a saner price.
  • Cup or pencil/end brushes of any colour are wasted money when you can destroy them in five minutes.

15 October 2015

Together and alone

Filed under: Uncategorized — admin @ 9:59 pm

This is not a new story, but a two-year-old tale I meant to tell back then and just couldn’t. Which is why there’s a great, big, Daddy-sized hole in my blog posts from September 2013 (when my father died on 16 September) to May 2014 (when I appear to have started writing again)…


It’s two years ago today that I took a portion of my father’s ashes across the Aonach Eagach and halfway back again before scattering them up there and descending alone. We had three cardboard tubes of ashes; a big one for my parents’ garden and two smaller ones for the sea and the mountains. We’d scattered the ‘sea’ portion from the pier at Baltasound (where his beloved Fivla was built and my mother, Angus, Lauren and I had just had lunch with Duncan Sandison, who built her) six days previously. Then, having volunteered for the task, I took the first opportunity to deliver the ‘mountain’ portion to the Aonach Eagach, which we’d chosen as somewhere both local and known to me, but above all something Daddy had always wanted and meant to do but never quite got round to while he still could. So it had to be a double traverse, carrying the tube all the way from Am Bodach to Sgor nam Fiannaidh so he’d done the whole thing (complete with my running commentary on where we were, what the moves were like and what we could see!) before ‘leaving’ him somewhere in the middle. Which, influenced by wanting to get back over the Crazy Pinnacles before the threat of rain came to fruition in already slightly greasy conditions, fortuitously turned out to be the major pinnacle (or Corbett Top) of ‘Aonach Eagach East’ as close as you can reasonably say to midway along the Aonach Eagach ‘proper’ between Stob Coire Leith and Meall Dearg. And here I emptied the tube in the swirling breeze, slightly to the south of the crest since I was wary of creating deposits where folk might need their hands on the rock, and prefaced by some deeply-metaphorical little speech about having to ‘leave you here and finish this journey alone.’ And then I phoned my mother and cried…

While I’d had the ridge to myself so far and fortunately not had to start explaining what I was doing, I did meet a couple of parties (who I didn’t tell) coming towards me as I continued my journey alone back to Am Bodach and the descent. But then perhaps I’m never alone because the ashes of the cardboard tube (which I subsequently burned to produce the ‘ashes of the ashes’) got buried in the cairn I built in my garden, and there’s a convenient place on the West Highland Way just above Kinlochleven from where I can see ‘Daddy’s pinnacle’ and talk to him. And I still do.

2013-10-15aonach-eagach-1 2013-10-15aonach-eagach-2

2013-10-15aonach-eagach-3 2013-10-15aonach-eagach-4

2013-10-15aonach-eagach-5 2013-10-15aonach-eagach-6

2013-10-15ashes-1 2013-10-15ashes-2

2013-10-15ashes-3 2013-10-15ashes-4

2013-10-15ashes5 2013-10-15aonach-eagach-7

2011-01-29aonach-eagach 2009-06-06aonach-eagach

[Edit, 31 December 2015: six valued comments on this post from my friends have inexplicably disappeared. My comment below was actually the seventh.]

24 September 2015

AJG Parcels wheelie bin drop!

Filed under: Kinlochleven,Uncategorized — admin @ 11:39 pm

Last Thursday AJG Parcels ‘delivered’ a large, well-packed, wooden elephant in a box marked ‘fragile’. Dumped end-on into my rubbish bin with a card through the door to say so, despite this clearly contravening the terms stated on the card as well as (not for the first time!) ignoring the note I’ve had fixed by my doorbell for years. And, perhaps not surprisingly when I had to extract the green (rubbish) bin from behind the blue (recycling) and lay it on its side to coax the box out, with a broken tusk and more serious injury to its tail clearly caused by their careless — nay, cavalier — handling!

To cut a long story short when I’ve only once before been riled enough by something like this to give it blog space, I used to rate AJG as a good local firm but don’t now. Their treatment of my parcel was shocking, but it’s their subsequent complete failure to sort things out with the sender rather than that ill-fated initial parcel drop (yes, drop!) that’s driven me to post here when I’d just have left it had they responded more reasonably. So, no, I’ll never willingly use them again, but appreciate others may still send stuff with them. In which case I may yet find myself struggling not to ask the driver (assuming we actually meet) ‘are you the one who broke my elephant?’

Since I believe passionately in fairness and giving people every chance, it takes a lot to earn a blog post like this, but… AJG Parcels, you deserve it!

2015-09-17my-note 2015-09-17bins

2015-09-17broken-elephant 2015-09-17packing

2015-09-17ajg-card 2015-09-17tusks

2015-09-17tail-1 2015-09-17tail-2

5 August 2015


Filed under: Cycling,Running,Uncategorized — admin @ 12:46 pm

A year gone by since our 2014 Norway holiday/Norseman recce and Marie, Donnie and I were back for Marie’s actual Norseman, which perhaps not surprisingly turned out to be a tougher gig for everyone than last year’s sightseeing fun trip with no ‘touristy’ days at all (the one obvious chance of last Thursday going begging with everyone basically just too frazzled after a 24-hour journey to head out again) despite much stunning scenery etc. still enjoyed over many hours of driving. So some interesting things noted in passing like Øye stave church, where we coincidentally stopped to change drivers en route from Oslo to Oppheim, and the Lærdalstunnelen (24.51km world’s longest road tunnel), which we drove through not that much later, but really it was all about the triathlon. And here Marie had a tough time (on her birthday!), not placing where she’d hoped/expected (something I can fully emphasise with after my 2014 West Highland Way Race struggle!) but characteristically fighting on to make the ‘black T-shirt’ cut-off, finish up Gaustatoppen and record the still-more-than-respectable time of 13:36:26 for the 1.9km open-water swim (shortened from 3.8km for cold water temperature), monstrously hilly, frequently chilly 180km bike ride and 42.2km run. So, Marie… we’ve waited a year to see you back up Gaustatoppen after the whole shebang, you got there in good shape even if you were struggling to run and we couldn’t be more proud of you if you’d won! :-)

2015 Norseman Results

2015-07-29oye 2015-07-29oppheim

2015-07-30oppheim1 2015-07-30oppheim2

2015-07-30oppheim3 2015-07-30oppheim4

2015-07-30eidfjord1 2015-07-30eidfjord2

2015-07-30eidfjord3 2015-07-30eidfjord4

2015-07-30eidfjord5 2015-08-01eidfjord1

2015-08-01eidfjord2 2015-08-01hardangervidda

2015-08-01imingfjell 2015-08-01imingfjellcrop

2015-08-01gaustatoppen1 2015-08-01gaustatoppen2

2015-08-01gaustatoppen3 2015-08-01gaustatoppen4

2015-08-01gaustatoppen5 2015-08-02hjartdal1

2015-08-02hjartdal2 2015-08-02hjartdal3

2015-08-02gaustablikk 2015-08-02marieandjo


6 December 2014

More December

Filed under: Uncategorized — admin @ 3:14 pm

Three reasons to be fed up of December already:

  1. Nae daylight.
  2. Weather.
  3. Christmas.

That’s all!

12 August 2014

Squares, stars, wheels and kelpies

Filed under: Music,Running,Uncategorized — admin @ 11:27 pm

Some tidying up of ‘Munro’ odds and ends last week, with Thursday as ‘deleted Top (square) day’ seeing the missing bumps (which quite frankly probably all deserved to be deleted!) on Meall Garbh and Meall Corranaich efficiently dispatched…


And Friday providing a good opportunity to bag long-demoted, but in no way diminished, ex-Munro Beinn an Lochain (still fully deserving that Corbett star!) en route to my mum’s for the weekend…


Which brought us two good trips together, with Saturday spent in Edinburgh at the Hebrides Ensemble lunchtime concert and Scottish Parliament to see the Great Tapestry, and Monday at the 12-year-old Falkirk Wheel (which I’ve been meaning to visit since it was built) and newly-completed Kelpies. And the Wheel/Kelpies combination is a great double act with obvious common ground in their stunning blend of art, engineering and watery purpose, and the Kelpies in particular suddenly making huge sense (as portal to the new canal extension rather than ‘just’ monumental sculpture) in growing logically from their environment in a way you just don’t appreciate from the motorway. So, with Wheel and Kelpies alike set in thoughtful, attractively landscaped parks where you could spend considerable time happily wandering on a fine day, what else can I say but ‘thoroughly recommended’? Except just watch the time-lapse (construction) and aerial videos on the Kelpies site! :-)

2014-08-11wheel1 2014-08-11wheel2

2014-08-11wheel3 2014-08-11wheel4

2014-08-11kelpies1 2014-08-11kelpies2
2014-08-11kelpies3 2014-08-11kelpies4

5 August 2014

Norway 2014

Filed under: Running,Uncategorized,Walking — admin @ 2:06 pm

Quick summary of my week in Norway with Marie and Donnie Meldrum… part recce for Marie’s 2015 Norseman Xtreme Triathlon entry and part, well, just regular holiday! Noted in pseudo-diary form (= even fewer sentences than usual!) with photos ruthlessly (?) pruned from the 500+ I took to give a more-or-less representative taste of the whole, so not even necessarily all the ‘best’ shots…

Monday 28 July

Flew Edinburgh to Bergen, picked up hire car (automatic BMW estate with just about enough space for Marie’s bike box, some modest luggage and the three of us) and drove via a late lunch stop at the Norseman start point of Eidfjord to Geilo, which I might introduce as the convenient, centrally-placed ski resort (somewhat reminiscent of Aviemore, but perhaps they all are?) where we were lucky enough to find suitable accommodation when planning the trip just weeks before. Initial discomfort (or maybe terror!) at driving on the right for first time since America 2006 presently allayed by getting the seat (too many levers here!) and mirrors properly adjusted for accurate road positioning.

2014-07-28eidfjord1 2014-07-28eidfjord2

Tuesday 29 July

Up Prestholtskarvet (1,853m?) on the Hallingskarvet ridge/plateau. Pleasant walk reminiscent of high Cairngorms tops with substantial summer snow patch some bonus fun. Then to Torpo for a quick look at the 12th century stave church, but too late for a proper look inside. Donnie driving.

2014-07-29prestholtskarvet1 2014-07-29prestholtskarvet2

2014-07-29prestholtskarvet3 2014-07-29prestholtskarvet4

2014-07-29prestholtskarvet5 2014-07-29prestholtskarvet6

2014-07-29prestholtskarvet7 2014-07-29prestholtskarvet8

2014-07-29torpo1 2014-07-29torpo2

Wednesday 30 July

‘Norway in a Nutshell’ trip by train to Myrdal, train again to Flåm, ferry to Gudvangen, bus to Voss and train back to Geilo. Flåmsbana (famous steep branch line) quite sensational but tricky to photograph from packed train with everyone else trying to do same, so photos barely adequate but, yes, the track and buildings you see in both (second row down) are part of the same line! Ferry trip down Aurlandsfjorden and up Nærøyfjorden (allegedly the narrowest in Norway) equally stunning, then an unexpected bonus on the bus trip (just when we thought it was all over!) with an ever-so-steady descent of the hair-raising Stalheimskleiva (just Google it!) bringing applause from the passengers.

2014-07-30geilo1 2014-07-30geilo2

2014-07-30flamsbana1 2014-07-30flamsbana2

2014-07-30ferry1 2014-07-30ferry2

2014-07-30ferry3 2014-07-30ferry4

2014-07-30ferry5 2014-07-30ferry6

2014-07-30ferry7 2014-07-30ferry8

2014-07-30bus1 2014-07-30bus2

Thursday 31 July

To Gaustatoppen (1,883m peak above Rjukan) to check out rest of Norseman cycle and run course, with Donnie driving. Marie and me taking one east-side trail up the hill and the other (which turns out to be the race route) down to cover all bases. Quick run along the ridge (Marie staying at radio tower) for me to tick true summit, with south (near) end easy going and north (far) straightforward, blocky scrambling (think ‘Carn Mor Dearg Arete’). Subsequent short diversion into Rjukan valley (famous ice-climbing centre) by car at my request.

2014-07-31gaustatoppen1 2014-07-31gaustatoppen2

2014-07-31gaustatoppen3 2014-07-31gaustatoppen4

2014-07-31gaustatoppen5 2014-07-31gaustatoppen6

2014-07-31gaustatoppen7 2014-07-31gaustatoppen8

2014-07-31gaustatoppen9 2014-07-31gaustatoppen10

2014-07-31gaustatoppen11 2014-07-31gaustatoppen12

2014-07-31gaustatoppen13 2014-07-31gaustatoppen14

Friday 1 August

Return to Eidfjord via Vøring(s)fossen waterfalls (me driving) to catch the gathering Norseman vibe and let the birthday girl compete in Eidfjord ‘Mini’ (1/10 Norseman distance) Triathlon. And she was doing just fine (possible ladies’ podium) till knocked off her bike (quote ‘can’t wait to show off my war wounds and torn shorts’) by angry, overtaking Frenchman, after which she did well to get going again and still finish well up.

2014-08-01voringsfossen1 2014-08-01voringsfossen2

2014-08-01voringsfossen3 2014-08-01voringsfossen4


2014-08-01eidfjord1 2014-08-01eidfjord2

2014-08-01eidfjord3 2014-08-01eidfjord4

2014-08-01eidfjord5 2014-08-01eidfjord6

2014-08-01eidfjord7 2014-08-01eidfjord8

2014-08-01tornshorts 2014-08-01finish

Two more photos added 6 August, belatedly cropped from larger shots (as was the ‘torn shorts’ pic) to show Marie’s pre-race bike testing and ‘war wounds’ we never saw in real time…

2014-08-01bike 2014-08-01warwounds

Saturday 2 August

Pleasant couple of hours spent watching the Norseman come through Geilo before the rain hit. Then the first really wet stuff after hitherto (mostly) great sunny weather, so not too disappointed when enquiries about train times/costs to Finse (just three stops up the main Oslo to Bergen line) with thoughts of walking to the Hardangerjøkulen glacier snout resulted in discovery that 1. it couldn’t be done today, 2. it would have cost the earth for train standing room only (seats fully booked at weekends) and 3. times for tomorrow really wouldn’t sit well with the need for rest before subsequent overnight drive back to airport even if we’d wanted to pay 80% of our entire ‘Norway in a Nutshell’ train/ferry/bus fare for the privilege of retracing a fraction of that route. So off to the famous Borgund stave church instead (further than Marie thought when the 67km she quoted from the GPS turned out to be as the crow flies!), with Donnie driving there and me back. And what an interesting place that was (most original/characteristic/best-preserved surviving example?), with an excellent exhibition in the purpose-built visitor centre and the driest/brightest spell of the afternoon also adding much to the experience.

2014-08-02geilo1 2014-08-02geilo2

2014-08-02geilo3 2014-08-02geilo4

2014-08-02borgund1 2014-08-02borgund2

2014-08-02borgund3 2014-08-02borgund4

2014-08-02borgund5 2014-08-02borgund6

2014-08-02borgund7 2014-08-02borgund8

2014-08-02borgund9 2014-08-02borgund10

2014-08-02borgund11 2014-08-02borgund12

2014-08-02borgund13 2014-08-02borgund14


Sunday 3 August

Speculative wee trip to Ål (on the Torpo/Borgund road, with me driving again), where we virtually stumbled across the fabulous Bygdamuseum with its fascinating insight into historic Norwegian buildings and interiors. And saw a horse/pony wearing a ‘zebra’ coat! Followed by a late afternoon/evening of attempted sleep before leaving for Bergen just before midnight.

2014-08-03al1 2014-08-03al2

2014-08-03al3 2014-08-03al4

2014-08-03al5 2014-08-03al6

2014-08-03al7 2014-08-03al8

2014-08-03al9 2014-08-03al10

2014-08-03al11 2014-08-03al12

2014-08-03al13 2014-08-03al14

2014-08-03al15 2014-08-03al16

2014-08-03al17 2014-08-03zebrahorse

‘Zebrahorse’ photo (100% crop from larger shot) added 6 August.

Monday 4 August

Flew Bergen to Edinburgh and home late morning, with head naturally still full of Norway and double-checking impressions of similarities/differences to Highland Scotland on the drive. So it’s bigger and typically steeper, but different/complementary (the colours being subtly different too) rather than just a supercharged version of the same thing. Somewhere I felt at home and look forward to seeing again with thoughts of more walking, running and possibly (on yet another trip?) climbing, but simultaneously (without doing down that Norwegian grandeur at all!) giving me renewed appreciation of our uniquely Scottish landscapes. And how surreal it felt to be out for an afternoon run above the head of the Leven(s)fjord (now don’t go looking for that one on the map!) thinking ‘this morning I was in Norway!’ :-)

31 December 2012


Filed under: Uncategorized — admin @ 6:47 pm

Has to be my least favourite month of the year, so glad it’s nearly over!

29 February 2012

February blog post

Filed under: Uncategorized — admin @ 11:01 pm

Not much to say here, but (having posted nothing so far this month) might as well get in a rare 29 February post to keep the unbroken monthly ‘archive’ menu going…

So what can I write about tonight with nothing having compelled me to get typing over the past 28 days? More reflections on the Kenya trip (where I’m now thinking that late decision to ditch the bivy gear was a huge mistake and probably cost us both summits)? My constant use of parentheses (see previous sentence), which some might previously have hinted they don’t care for but others more recently admired for the clarity they bring to my (let’s open another can of worms while we’re at it!) constantly overlength, trailing sentences? Or perhaps just some fancy new words (like ‘oligodactyly’ and ‘syndactyly’) I’ve recently discovered to describe myself? But take too long about it and it won’t be a 29 February post anyway, so stuff the mumbo-jumbo and it’s just getting posted right now as a multiple missed opportunity! :-)

23 May 2011

Anything that can go wrong…

Filed under: Uncategorized — admin @ 8:13 pm

Such a destructively windy day in Scotland, yet strangely not the cause of most of what you’re about to read…

[Seconds after writing that, the power cut affecting the south side of the village hits the north side too!]

Took the van to the garage two weeks ago to get the exhaust checked out because of a developing (but unfamiliar) ‘throaty’ note, then back last week for new exhaust after finding the expected hole in the old one. Then back again today after (coincidentally necessary) new exhaust failed to cure said note because I’m also needing a new wheel bearing. Had also been expecting trouble with the windscreen wipers (a bit quirky from new in tangling with each other or randomly inverting once in a blue moon!) since getting a nice new windscreen last month to replace the one broken near Dalwhinnie and, sure enough, my nearside wiper flipped last week to lightly scratch the glass (it’s the thought as much as the ‘damage’) just 20 days into its life. So took a good look at the wipers this morning, found hopeless play in the offside one, spotted marking to the trim and paintwork where they’ve been failing to stop within their designed arcs and thought I’d better get these seen to as well. At which point one (the nearside) breaks right off when we inspect them at the garage, I’m needing new arms and linkages and strongly suspecting they’ve been faulty from new (NB van’s now booked in for Thursday)!

[Power just came back on.]

Heading out for another wet and windy run yesterday, I pick up my almost new OMM Cypher Smock (worn just a handful of times this sodden May since a first quick test in April, but rapidly becoming a favourite piece of running gear) to discover that the front’s badly delaminating. So email the supplier to say I’m looking for a refund (might have got a rogue sample, but couldn’t trust the eVent fabric in any like-for-like replacement) and think they might also want to pass this on to OMM… to be told today that OMM have requested the garment be sent to them for inspection before any refund, credit or replacement is issued. So not totally happy about that when it’s clearly not fit for purpose and IMHO I should have got a straight refund, but now have to play ball and send it on with a ‘detailed letter of explanation and outline of how I’ve cared for the garment’ (just worn it a few times over the past fortnight, right)! Then, to keep up the running theme, why (oh why) am I suddenly a good 2kg heavier (been working to lose weight and monitoring it daily since 1 January) after 90+ miles of trail running in a week when there’s no way I’ve taken on the calories to do that? (Thought I had a pretty good handle on all the issues but clearly don’t, although I’ve noted almost cyclic ‘blips’ in an otherwise downward trend before and hope it’s just one of those because I’ve otherwise taken a month’s step backwards!)

And finally (to get back to the weather that’s destroyed so much today for other folk but not really for me), I’ve been outside trying to tie down what’s left of Fly’s cover before it self-destructs, the chimney sweep’s sensibly postponed because I was needing him to go on the roof and I’ve still no prospect of testing the new mower that arrived a fortnight ago so long as this May stays true to form. So of course it could all be worse (house could have blown down/away), but that doesn’t mean it’s all great! :-/

PS Forgot to say I found the Co-op closed this afternoon because of the power cut, so am going to run out of milk…

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