Car Service Recommendation for Service4Service

13 May

Service4Service Logo

Although I’m a firm believer in cleaning, oiling, and re-greasing moving mechanic parts I unfortunately neglected my 1993 Nissan Micra over the past two and a half years by avoiding the cost of servicing it whilst I was studying at Uni.

Previous to its service, the car felt chunky and the engine didn’t sound as clean as when I became its latest owner – before then it had an annual oil change and service by a qualified mechanic.

So after looking at the options of a DIY approach alongside a search for independent garages who could service my car, I eventually settled on Service4Service for 4 reasons:

  1. I didn’t have the facilities at home to safely carry out an oil change myself;
  2. They offered a pick up and delivery service from my work;
  3. The service cost for the basic servicing package (interim service) was reasonable, although I decided to give it the full works as an apology to the engine that did regular long runs to Uni and back;
  4. If something else was wrong with the car that I didn’t have the knowledge of then I could have ended up ignoring some big issues.

I’ll give you a little walk through of my experience with Service4Service because the company did a really good job on my Micra just in case you want to look for an independent place to service your car.

When the Micra Got Serviced…

…I arranged for it to be collected from my work offices by an engineer from Service4Service, after booking it in through their website and talking with the account handler who called me after I completed the online part. I’d also arranged for it to be collected in the morning when I started work and returned within the hour before the work day finished.

So the engineer arrived in his own car with a clipboard and ID to prove he was from the company. He then checked the car over for any scratches and dents before asking me to sign some paperwork, followed by a swap of keys and off my car went to the company’s local service centre.

One of S4S’s salespeople called me once the service had been completed and informed me of a number of advisory repairs, however, I chose to stick with just the service as I have a family member who was able to help with the repairs otherwise I would’ve gone ahead with it.

My car was returned about half an hour before home-time and I’d also noticed it had been cleaned inside and washed, saving me a trip to the car wash – great way to finish off a car service. The engineer provided me with my list of suggested repairs and stamped the log book. Done.

Overall I was impressed with the level of customer service and fancy touch of cleaning my car before returning it to me. Also, they clearly did a good job because my engine feels far more efficient and I’ve noticed I’m getting a little bit more mileage out of a full tank which is always a great benefit.

I’d recommend trying these guys out because the site says they have 700 nationwide service centres so there could be one near you. Will also give them a go when I eventually get my Merc because they said that they protect the manufacturers warranty with their servicing at a much lower price than the main dealers. I’ve I had a star rating it would be a solid 5 out of 5!

How I Hard Boil My Eggs

18 Feb
A hard boiled egg halved - Whitmore Hands

A hard boiled egg cut in half by Mr Whitmore

I enjoy having a bit of egg and bacon on a Sunday but I prefer not to fry it all and instead choose to grill the bacon and boil the eggs – much healthier in my opinion.

I wanted to share my method of cooking hard boiled eggs, which come out perfect every time and taste delicious for those of you who want to enjoy the healthier alternative to an English fry-up.

Apparatus

To make my hard boiled eggs I used the following:

  • an electric hob
  • a small saucepan
  • 4 medium-sized chicken eggs
  • tap water

Cooking Method

Using these 5 simple steps you’ll be able to cook the perfect hard boiled egg:

  1. To begin with I placed the eggs in the saucepan and added cold tap water so that the eggs were submerged with two centimetres between them and the surface of the water (use the tip of your index finger as a measurement).
  2. The full saucepan was then placed on the hob and I turned the heat on to around 3/4 of maximum heat.
  3. I waited until the eggs began to boil (a few repetative bubbles will indicate this) and left them to boil for 3 minutes using a sand timer to record this.
  4. Once the three minutes had ended I turned the heat off of the hob and replaced the hot water in the pan with cold water from the tap.
  5. I left the eggs in cold water for 5 minutes before peeling them using a particular technique that will be explained below.

Peeling Technique

I used to struggle with peeling hard boiled eggs because my parents always taught me to tap the top of it with a spoon and peel down, however, since living with a flat mate I have learned a new method which is much faster and less mess:

  1. Lay the hard boiled egg on its site and bash it against a hard surface.
  2. Roll the egg forward so it creates a crazy-paving effect on the egg shell that goes around the circumference of the egg.
  3. Pick one part away using your thumb and the rest of the shell should easily come away from the boiled egg.

Here’s a quick 6 second video I created on how you crack the egg using the rolling method:

Feel free to subscribe to my YouTube channel if you want to view more of my videos.

Summary

Now that I’ve shared my method of making a hard boiled egg I hope you try it out yourself. If you feel like you have any tips or techniques of your own then please share them in the comments below.

Finding An Extending Dining Table

1 Feb

I recently remembered a moment in my childhood when I visited my Grandparents’ house one Boxing Day and enjoyed sitting at their dining table that was like no other I’d seen before. At this time of year it folded out using a series of techniques: place settings appeared to slide out from either end of the table and the centre of it parted to reveal another piece of table at the flick of a latch. The once average-sized dining table that easily seated four now became a much larger piece of furniture that accomodated eight to ten people.

Frances Hunt extending dining table

Colomiers extending dining table from Frances Hunt

At that time in my life I never knew what to call the table other than Optimus Prime or Megatron, purely because of its ability to transform like my childhood cartoons did. Now I’m much older, and slightly wiser, I can confidently say that this dining table is commonly known as an extending dining table. They are used for times like I’d described when you’d have more visitors eating at the dining table than usual. Unfortunately the matching chairs don’t fold away in the same manner so you need a hiding place for those parts of your own.

History of the Table

I liked the idea of this dining table and knowing that my Nan recently replaced that impressive piece of furniture for something smaller and more modern I rang her up to ask where it had gone. I was sad to find out that she had it taken to the skip and broken down. I was even more upset to discover small parts of its history because I personally wanted it in my own home.

According to Nan this extending dining table was a very famous make that she and my Grandfather inherited in around the 1940s, made from Oak and complete with 4 matching dining chairs. She couldn’t recall the exact name of it, which I’m now somewhat determined to find. What she could remember though was that the table was regularly maintained by French polishers based in Essex. Judging by the cost involved with getting a dining table French polished I guessed that this table was worth a few bob to warrant such a costly maintenance cost.

I distinctly remembered the wood’s dark brown colour and how we’d set this table year after year, like a wooden, mechanical ballet. It was creaking in its old age even when I was a child but I’ll never forget the memories that were spent around it.

Finding the Table

Extending dining table from Frances Hunt

Picardie dining table (Frances Hunt)

I’d like to find one exactly like it one day and it would be great if someone was able to give me a few names of antique extending dining tables that were popular in the early 20th century so I could run them past my Nan to see if they jog her memory. The closest I’ve come is on my search through Frances Hunt’s collection of extending dining tables, the images of which are above.

If you think you might know what the brand name of table is from the era I’ve described, feel free to drop me a comment below. Any help would be greatly appreciated.

Snow Has Arrived, Please Cycle Carefully

22 Jan

Last weekend it began snowing in my area by the sea, which progressed to quilt the entire South-East of Essex. I’ve heard weather reports of it being much worse in other areas of the UK and hope that people keep warm and safe, which is what inspired me to write a bit for cyclists out there.

Looking out of my window, the snow appears to be turning to ice and my road has practically transformed into a street ice hockey rink. That noticed, I’d like to remind all of you dedicated cyclists to keep off the streets for the meantime because I’ve seen some hairy moments in the last couple of days involving cyclists and impatient drivers.

Icy Street in Essex, UK

The ice on my road makes it impossible for cyclists to travel.

Cycling through the snow isn’t an easy challenge to start and it could end up damaging your gear unless you intend to re-oil the gear set, chains, etc after each trip you make. Considering it only snows about a week out of the 52 in the year, you could save yourself a lot of hassle by just walking to work (don’t forget your wellies).

The big problem is ice and what you can’t see beneath thick snow. With car owners growing impatient of having to drive slowly and cyclists being hypersensitive to the road, the combination just spells trouble. The most nonsensical thing I saw this weekend was a cyclist riding in the oncoming traffic lane because it was the only clear part of the road – do yourself a favour mate and leave the bike at home!

So what can we gleam from this short and obvious blog post that we didn’t already know? Some of you cyclists out there need reminding is all. I’ve seen the dedication in many of you who have set yourselves a challenge to ride for a full year come rain or shine but I think you can give yourselves a rest in situations like this, especially when your safety is at such risk.

Let me know if you’ve seen any risky cycling during this period of snow in the UK in the comments below.

Vintage Bicycle Refurb Update for 2013

8 Jan
BSA Star Rider

My BSA Star Rider

I’ve had the BSA Star Rider for a while now and there hasn’t been a huge amount wrong with it. I’m aware that to a lot of people it looks like I’m riding around on a rusty mess but trust me, this summer my bicycle will be the envy of vintage bike lovers everywhere.

 

The plan for this bike has changed several times and I think I’m ready to begin working on it properly now that the New Year is in full swing.

 

So far I have given the bike new tyres and inner tubes (made by Raleigh), which has given it a sexy white wall look from the 70s. I made sure to get the nearest exact replacements possible so I bought woods valves again – these are a bit of a pig when pumping the big full of air if I’m totally honest.

 

I also updated the gear shifter from the nasty broken one it came with to a white 3 gear Sturmey Archer shifter. It’s much nicer looking and contrasts perfectly with the matt black body paint.

 

This is the new plan, which I will stick to for 2013: continue to ride the bike while it works fully until the weather gets dryer. When the weather improves I will strip the bike of all its components until just the frame remains. I will then carry out all the steps necessary to re-spray and re-vinyl the BSA to as near its original state as possible. Then I will complete it by cleaning, greasing, and re-assembling the bike (hopefully in time for The Tweed Run).

 

This blog will document my bicycle restoration project as it progresses so that other people who wish to carry out similar projects can learn from my perspective. I’m hoping that this whole thing won’t be too difficult. So fingers crossed and get ready to follow my journey.

BSA Bike Update

10 Sep

I’m sorry that I haven’t written since my initial post. I think its about time that the bike restoration project began. Remember how I wasn’t sure of the model although I had a photo of the logo on the bike which clearly stated “Star Rider”? Well this is the model. I can clarify that the bike I have on my hands is a 1961 BSA Star Rider making this bike a good 50 odd years old. Not bad eh?

I did the standard wipe it down with a bit of oil and cloth and greased all the moving parts from the outside that I could see without taking stuff apart – just to make it look and move nicer before riding it down the seafront with my girlfriend on her trendy new mountain bike.

So…rode quite a way before getting to the coast. Came up to a big hill and started gaining some speed until POP. I was riding on a rear wheel and a flat tyre. Superb! Now I had to carry it home which wasn’t too bad because it’s quite a light bike.

I was annoyed that this had happened but then I thought its a 50 odd year old bike and I have no idea how old the tubes and tyres are. Time to place an order methinks. eBay here we go!

I was searching for tubes that were 26 x 1 3/8 in size, slightly larger than your modern day 26′s. As I’d expected they were quite rare in numbers but I eventually found an eBay listing for both tubes and new tyres (http://www.ebay.co.uk/itm/Raleigh-Cycle-White-Wall-Bike-Tyre-26-x-1-3-8-37-590-/120557178862#ht_500wt_1414). I was going to replace the tyres at some stage anyway so I thought this wasn’t a bad deal. So I bought it.

Looking forward to these arriving but whilst they are off the bike I think I will take some of that nasty looking rust off of the chrome rims. I’ll show you how I did it in the next article so that you can try it yourself. Until then keep an eye on this space as the bike begins to get more and more beautiful each time I post.

Also! I’m going to be tweeting updates on this through my Twitter account @randalwhitmore so follow me if you’re interested. Everything to do with this bike will use #whbike if you just want updates on that because I do Tweet other random shish from time to time too :{P

The Bike Renovation Begins

31 Aug

My 'new' BSA bicycle

First of all hello and welcome to my blog. My name’s Mr Whitmore and I’m an online marketer from the UK. When I’m not doing that I’m working hard in the gym or on the rugby pitch and when I’m not doing any of that cool stuff I’m tinkering (a great past time for many blokes across the world).

This is my first of many posts to come on a bike renovation I’ve decided to carry out. My old man thinks I’m mad for starting this but I like a challenge so if this works it works. If it doesn’t…well you’ll get a nice weekly run down of my failure but I don’t intend to on any count.

The bike I’ve been lucky enough to buy through an online marketplace from a local fellow is a BSA brand (http://bsamuseum.wordpress.com/), not sure of the model and neither was he. All I know is it was rusty and damn old BUT it’s main components were functioning, so much so that I rode it to work this morning – sketchy!

I always liked the look of the single speeds and “indie-style” bicycles that whizz around London, the type that would typically have a Topman model perched upon it. This in mind I decided I’d find a bargain, strip it back, and ride the crap out of it. Easier said than done I’m guessing but who knows. In the next few weeks I’ll be following multiple online resources to get this done and I’ll let you know what I’ve been reading and watching for your own reference.

Feel free to take a look at a few more photos of my new bike below and I hope you enjoy reading my future posts.

BSA bike logo

BSA bike handlebars

BSA bicycle frame

BSA fixed gear

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