Thursday, March 5, 2009



Saturday, May 3, 2008

Wood Family Float for 2008

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LAST UPDATED 7 JUNE - scroll down...


This year's theme was announced a month ago... it is to be "AROUND THE WORLD".

We had a few thoughts as a family and decided that NEW ZEALAND would be great to do, since we went there for our family holiday last year and Emma's brother Adam and his family live there.

However, all we could come up with was Sheep, thermal pools and beautiful scenery. And lovely huge sticky pastries.

I couldn't face turning the trailer into a hot tub and the thought of making 6 sticky pastry costumes was a bit daunting so I decided to do an enormous Sheep, built on the battery powered Jeep.

I made the plans and it was going to look great.. the sticking point was how to get it to look woolly.

The Giant concrete Merino Sheep I saw in Australia many years ago looks a bit like a sheep but I realised that the key part of what makes a sheep look like a sheep is its woolly fleece. My attempt at building the shape may need all the help it can get in making it look sheepy, so I hunted out some suitable material.

Cotton wool was too expensive (and I hate the feel of it!). The only other thing I could find was loft insulation. Despite the pretty pictures, the actual stuff idn't white but a horrid dirty grey. It's ecological, see, so they don't bleach it.

The pretty white stuff has been bleached so is as environmentally friendly as a Chelsea Tractor. Oh, and it would cost me about £100 to cover my sheep.


I liked the idea of building a smoking volcano from Japan onto the Jeep, but wasn't sure about dressing us all up as Japanese people... a bit uneasy. Reminded me a bit of Black & White minstrels...


Anyway, with our sights set on the bottom part of the globe, we finally decided upon AUSTRALIA!

We are to focus on THE FLYING DOCTOR ... I'll create a plane on the Jeep and we can all be walking wounded patients...

Watch this space.

Well, I drew up the plans the other day and decided to base the plane on the Piper Tri-Pacer.

I wanted a plane that the flying doctors used, plus which had wings above the drivers' heads (Joshua and Daniel (6) are to share driving - the 2 mile walk is too far for them to walk on a hot day). The wing will shade them come rain or shine. The pics are from

I've got some of the wood from last year but I'll need to buy some more and a few screws etc... Time to sort out the loft and flog some rubbish on Ebay to fund it.

Success... sold three knackered old wheel trims from my car for £21; a plastic play kitchen for £25 and some old ink cartridges from a long defunct printer for £25, so the kitty is full!

Off to Homebase I go (10% day)...

MAY 2nd/3rd and 4th:

Sorted out the wood and got the Jeep into the back garden.


Laid out the rough plans. The wings and the tail are going to have to be removable, so I can transport it to the procession start line in our trailer.

Not sure about the length of the wings... Need to be longer.


Built the main frame pretty easily...


The front framework went on pretty well too. The nose section has to be solid, as it will house some sort of motor for a working propeller, and it'll need to balance the weight of the tail section.


The tail section was added. I did have a concern about how to make it detachable though... Put a plywood roof on the frame, to protect the drivers and support the wings.


...but came up with a nifty hook system. Seems to work a treat!


Trouble is, after 5 minutes, the tail started to droop, so I realised that I needed a tail wheel. Real planes have them so I guess there's a reason for them.

Hunted around the shed for a wheel and found a battered toy lawnmower that I told the boys they had grown out of.


Result, a lovely tail wheel.


Added the tail fin on hinges... beautiful!


Trouble was, it didn't work. The wheel that is. Whenever the Jeep went forward, the tail wheel seemed to behave like a teenager - i.e. it had a mind of its own, went where it wanted to as opposed to where I wanted it to (and had an untidy bedroom).

I think this was because it was fixed and, as it probably wasn't 100% in line with the Jeep, went off in a straight line, twisting the tail.

Time for some physics.

Tim was upstairs studying for his Physics SATS, so I left him alone and decided to copy the shopping trolley/castor principle.

Yay! It worked!

Check out my neat castor system below...


Bank Holiday nearly over. I only spent about 2 hours a day on this so it didn't take over our weekend. It all detaches easily and sits in our back room fairly unobtrusively (Emma hasn't been in there yet).


12th MAY:
Busy family weekend, so I didn't have much time to spend on the float.

However, managed to sort the wings out. Joshua and Daniel (plus houseguest Kealan) helped create the frames.

Biggest issue was the width of the thing... Some of the roads we process down are narrow and car-lined - the articulated lorries sometimes get stuck and cars have to be bounced out of the way.

Solved this by making the wings hinged so Emma and I can quickly flip them up and hold them if we get to a narrow bit.

Worked out a simple way to latch the wings in place for the normal mode... When I cover the frame with card I'll need to cut some small holes to accommodate the brackets though.

Went to the brilliant Spelthorne Council Resource Centre with the boys to get the card for covering the whole plane with. They normally only allow one or two small sheets per visitor but our family are regulars and I took along a poster I'd made for them of last year's float (the house), to help inspire others and show what can be done with stuff from the centre. Needless to say, they were happy for me to take what card I needed for this project. I also found a tin of blue paint (I'll need to deepen the colour a bit somehow) for the fuselage. The boys came away with lots of bits of junk, which kept them occupied all afternoon with a glue gun, making their own models.

Decided time was not available to cover the wings etc with card this weekend, so I concentrated on the propeller mechanism. Found a bit of 'Foamex' plastic which I cut to a (sort of) propeller shape, then soaked in boiling water to make it pliable. I then twisted it and ran it under the cold tap to retain its bent shape. Looks alright really.

Used one of the big wheels from the toy lawnmower for the front of the propeller. Lovely touch!

Decided against a motor driven propeller. Instead, the passenger will have the job of turning the propeller manually - it'll give him something to do while his brother is driving/crashing.

Slight problem is that the prop shaft obscures entry to the battery compartment, so I won't be able to cover that bit nor fully install the prop shaft until the morning of the carnival, as I'm not surehow long the battery will keep its charge.

Anyway, Here's our happy tester...

As you can see, the wings come off easily from the hinges for transport/getting into the back room. Next weekend, then, for the grand covering - have card; have staplegun... also have school fair to run a stall at though...

May 14th:
Realised carnival is only 4 weeks away and weekends look busy... spent 15 minutes covering the tail with card. Looks pretty good I think - the seam along the top will be covered with wide dark blue ribbon (courtesy of the Resource Centre!). Tricky bits will be the cab and the bonnet... wings look simple to do, although may have a problem with the clip things that secure the bottom of the wing supports in place.

Decided to have a sound system in place. I want to broadcast sound effects of a plane idling as we go along. Can't quite find the right one yet, so I'll keep hunting...

I want one like this. Or this one...

MAY 17th:

Busy weekend with School Fair, then a Scout activity day, but managed to almost completely cover the plane. Also sorted out a door (not pictured). Going to find time over the bank holiday to paint it and add the details, lettering etc.

Managed to sort out the battery access really easily.

Emma has started commenting that it really quite large for the back room (or 'aircraft hangar' as I inadvertently described it) so I have to dismantle it at the end of a working session.

Going to sort out the loop of the engine sound at lunchtimes this week...

27th May:

Bank holiday weekend and last real opportunity to finish the float. Weather forecast is for the rainiest weekend since records began, except for Saturday... so that's my day!

Painted the whole thing quite quickly. Daniel and Joshua helped a bit, so did Oliver. Spent an hour getting resultant blue gloss paint off the patio.

Decided to leave the wings white, partially because that's what the real planes are like, but mainly because the boys used too much gloss decorating the patio and I might run out.

Started to put on some of the decorations...

Realised that it looks a bit like I've plonked an aeroplane on top of a kid's Jeep, so had to come up with a way of covering the sides of the car...

Done it! Look closely and you'll see I've added some white fuselage stripes, the call-sign and some blue wing stripes, all using ribbon and stuff free from the Resource Centre.

Look less closely and you'll see the tail is drooping a bit. I've since solved this by extending the length of the rear wheel.

Next... sorting out the costumes: A ripped-off arm for Oliver; Boomerang embedded in hat for Tim; broken legs for Emma and something gentle for me, like a mild headache.

The thing still dismantles for easy stowage in the back room, where Emma has yet to spot it.

...only 2 weeks to go!

MAY 31st

Received the Carnival Brochure and programme through the door this morning and phoned up to register our float.

We were told that there was a slight problem as some committee members had, last year, complained that we had won the trophy for 'best decorated bicycle' when, in fact, we had built the float on a mechanised child's Jeep. (Don't know how they'd classify an electric-assisted bicycle!) This was despite the fact that Emma and J&D were on a decorated bicycle as part of our float!

Anyway, the chap in charge of the floats said we would therefore be classified alongside the juggernaut lorries since our plastic Jeep is not manually powered (until the battery runs out and I have to drag it - perhaps we get reclassified if that happens!).

So, our plane is now going to be alongside the 8+ enormous lorries from the schools, Scouts, guides etc... we are going to look very insignificant... Also, they are always mega-impressive as they have up to 20 families helping build each float! Oh well.

I'm now waiting to see if we have to complete the same risk assessment forms as the lorries have to, and which we had to do a couple of years ago when we entered our car and trailer - can't wait to write the answers to the health and safety questions - "will you keep under 5mph" etc - the Jeep struggles to do 3mph downhill, with a following wind!

Watch this space...

Going to make the costumes this weekend.

JUNE 2nd:

Made a fab boomerang-embedded-in-hat thing for Tim yesterday... lots of blood! Used very light card-covered foam display board from the Resource Centre and a bit of brown paint.

Also sorted out a ripped white shirt with blood everywhere, plus dismembered arm with bloodied stump for Oliver to carry. Also sorted the inflatable shark to be following Oliver on a piece of invisible thread.

We also picked up from the Resource Centre lots of white material for slings and bandages. I found a neck brace in the lost and someone at work has promised me a pair of crutches.

Joshua (nearly 7) is the driver, as he crashes a lot less than Daniel (nearly 7 too)... trouble is, he loved the gory injury costumes and declared he wants to be a patient. Aaargh! I think we will put some bandages on him and he can be a sort of ironic flying doctor. Should satisfy him, assuming he understands the concept of irony.

Decided against the plane engine sound effects... Basically, the sound of the plastic tyres on the road and the motor would drown out the nondescript recorded plane engine sound. Instead, I'll be carying a portable ghetto blaster and playing a selection of Aussie tunes, including:

  • Waltzing Matilda
  • Home Among the Gum Trees
  • Skippy
  • My Boomerang Won't Come Back
  • Tie Me Kangaroo Down Sport
  • Waltzing Matilda
  • Pavlova
  • Sun Arise
  • Neighbours_(2nd_1992_ver)

Who needs iTunes at 79p when there is my favourite MP3 search engine:

JUNE 6th

Hmmm... us being a lorry seems to be a hot topic of conversation in the village!

My mate Dave popped around last night to inspect the float and ensure it complied with health & Safety regulations (he works in the aerospace industry and is eminently positioned to advise on our aeroplane). He did point out that we really needed port and starboard flashing lights on the wings but, since I didn't have any and he couldn't find his ones, we decided to compromise and add a blue emergency services flashing light on the top of the cabin instead.

Just checked the weather forecast - yay!


Emma took J&D to swimming lessons this week so I could be free to finish off the float. Managed to get it out of the back room, through the dining room and into the front garden without damaging much stuff.

Assembled the float to check I would be able to do it quickly on site - just need a manual screwdriver and 8 screws.

Attached the propeller permanently, wired up the Chrysler's mega-battery and affixed two baskets inside the float, out of J&D's way, for them to put their drinks and snacks in - they tried it out for size and are really excited... especially Daniel as chief propeller-turner!

Weather is really hot and sunny - can't believe that 10% of rain is going to come by this afternoon - not a cloud in the sky.

Just going to finalise costumes - J&D want to bandage up several of their soft toy animals, so that'll keep them busy for a bit - they're really getting into the swing of it.

Took the float apart and it all fitted perfectly into the trailer. I tied it down securely so we don't scatter stuff en route to the start zone. I plan to drive straight to the start place this time, offload the float and drive the car/trailer elsewhere to park it... I usually park and then we drive the float the final way but I don't want to risk damage this year!

So, We're all ready and it's only 9.15am and we don't leave for 3 hours. Time to do a bit of preparation for J&D's birthday party next Saturday (Dinosaur theme - 'Jurassic Party') - lots of grass to cut, hedges to trim, games to make, magic to rehearse... before 25 little people converge on the house... it never stops!

There... all lovely!

Off to the carnival then... To the place where the floats assemble. We are found by a representative of t'committee who informs us that, after much discussion, they have decided to place The Wood Family in the 'Buggies' section, ie the old and infirm. Oh well - it's the fourth section they've put us in using the same Jeep!

The procession was great fun - lots of laughs as Oliver got chased by the inflatable shark on invisible thread behind him, with severed arm in his hand. Tim's boomerang, impaled in his head drew laughs too.

Joshua steered really well - we only had to lift the wings a few times as parked cars nearly got thwacked ('Near Miss' I believe they're called in aircraft parlance). The rear wheel I was so proud of fell off after ten minutes, so I quickly made a faux one (at the first rest break) using the plastic top of a drinks bottle and lots of gaffer tape - this was great - it just glided along. I put more gaffer tape on at the three later rests.

Anyway, into the arena for prizegiving.... We were delighted to win first prize in the buggy section, to the dismay of all the old folk who had worked really hard on their mobility scooters!

Only thing was, the prize wasn't a trophy but a bottle of Sainsbury's Cava. A somewhat bemused Carnival queen handed it to Joshua and Daniel - who had driven the float so were the main stars of it - and sort of muttered well done. J&D were equally bemused... although we were all delighted to win and, anyway, we had so much fun!

Home for a swift drink then 30 minutes to rip the float apart, saving the wood for next year, when we are no doubt going to be classified as 'Animal Act' or something!

Thinks... more than one person commented that the prize was a bit odd for a family, and one anonymous person said they would happily fund a new trophy for Family Entry, to encourage families to enter and to accomodate groups like us which nobody can work out what to do with! I shall pass that on to t'committee!

Sunday, June 10, 2007


10th JUNE
Carnival Day was yesterday...

Weather was fine (and hot); Bob turned up with his huge van on time - house was too tall so I had to quickly saw the legs off (the house, not Bob's). They were only there for stability while I build it so weren't needed. Made it into the van with 1mm to spare!

We assembled at the start and a great atmosphere ensued as the floats started to arrive.

We got our costumes sorted and were ready for the judging... The local (Tory) MP was impressed by the wind turbine (obviously sucking up to his boss!) - but was quick to point out that we weren't helping the environment by our coal fire... I muttered something about carbon offsetting and it seemed to satisfy him.

We set off and really enjoyed the reaction from the onlookers during the 1 hour glide round the village.

Guess what... WE WON THE TROPHY for the 'Best Decorated Bicycle' (which included the main house of course!)! (the organisers asked us if we could transfer our entry from 'foot Party' to that category, - there were loads of really great foot party entries!) The boys were delighted!

End for another year... I've promised not to start talking about plans for next year until mid Jan 2008, or when the theme is announced (I still want to built a couple of Daleks!).

By the way, the boys loved dismantling the float today...

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Thursday, May 3, 2007

Village Carnival Float 2007

Well, it's that time of year again.

The Wood family are thinking of entering the village carnival with a float of some sort... see archive blog for details of our previous walking versions and last year's trailer effort.

I'll keep you up to date with our plans for this year (Carnival is in mid-June) as they happen...

Emma persuaded someone on the Carnival Committee to let us know what the theme is for this year, as they held their planning meeting last night. I was hoping for TV Programmes, as I had plans to create a working Dalek or two plus a r/c K9, but it isn't to be! The theme is...


Had lots of thoughts and found an enormous number of terrible nursery rhymes.

Here's my list:

One plan I like is 'See Saw Marjorie Dawe'... I have a vision of building a big seesaw from planks (I've an idea of where to borrow these), mount it on wheels with a big and a small son on either end, seesawing as Emma and I pull the thing round the village on ropes/harnesses.

Emma's not convinced.

We also liked the idea of 'Rub a dub dub, three men in a tub'... I could line the car trailer, fill it with water and have three boys at a time dressed as butcher/baker/candlestick maker (costume?!) with props, sitting in the water. Trouble is, for the past few years we've had water conservation issues in the village and I might get some stick if I did this!

Joshua (5) likes the idea of 'Hickory Dickory Dock', but mainly because he wants to dress up as a mouse. I can't quite see how I can build a grandfather clock that won't topple over, so I'll work on some mind control techniques with him...

'Flying Pig' is out (Pink Floyd we ain't); 'How much wood would a woodchuck chuck' might be a goer, if it weren't for the health and safety aspect preventing us from throwing lumps of wood at the onlookers.

More thinking needed perhaps.


I might be able to construct a house on Tim's toy electric Jeep... Lots of scope for fancy dress on us all...

This is the house that Jack built. (that's the main thing)

This is the malt, That lay in the house that Jack built.
This is the rat,
(Joshua could be a rat instead of a Mouse)
That ate the malt,
That lay in the house that Jack built.
This is the cat,
(that's Daniel sorted then)
That chased the rat , that ate the malt,
That lay in the house that Jack built.
This is the dog that worried the cat, (one for Tim - Oliver will be driving the house)
That chased the rat , that ate the malt,
That lay in the house that Jack built.
This is the cow with the crumpled horn,
That tossed the dog , that worried the cat,
That chased the rat , that ate the malt,
That lay in the house that Jack built.
This is the maiden all forlorn,
(tailor-made for Emma!)
That milked the cow with the crumpled horn,
That tossed the dog , that worried the cat,
That chased the rat , that ate the malt,
That lay in the house that Jack built.
This is the man all tattered and torn,
(that'll be me then)
That kissed the maiden all forlorn,
That milked the cow with the crumpled horn,
That tossed the dog , that worried the cat,
That chased the rat , that ate the malt,
That lay in the house that Jack built.
This is the priest all shaven and shorn,
(or this, perhaps...)
That married the man all tattered and torn,
That kissed the maiden all forlorn,
That milked the cow with the crumpled horn,
That tossed the dog , that worried the cat,
That chased the rat , that ate the malt,
That lay in the house that Jack built.
This is the cock that crowed in the morn,
(family carnival, so we'll skip this)
That waked the priest all shaven and shorn,
That married the man all tattered and torn,
That kissed the maiden all forlorn,
(hmmm... being the 'man, all tattered and torn' seems more appealing now)
That milked the cow with the crumpled horn,
That tossed the dog , that worried the cat,
That chased the rat , that ate the malt,
That lay in the house that Jack built.
This is the farmer sowing the corn,
(That's one for Tim, rather than a dog - easier costume to make!)
That kept the cock that crowed in the morn,
That waked the priest all shaven and shorn,
That married the man all tattered and torn,
That kissed the maiden all forlorn,
That milked the cow with the crumpled horn,
That tossed the dog , that worried the cat,
That chased the rat , that ate the malt,
That lay in the house that Jack built.


We've decided upon 'This is the house that Jack Built'.

Our spies tell us that the village First School is doing 'Sing a song of sixpence' and someone said the village police are doing '3 little pigs' but, since they were year 8 Boys, I don't believe them.

Oliver decided to break his hand at school today, either in PE or punching Tim. not sure. He broke his arm last summer while we were float building so this was only to be expected. We're aiming for an ankle or leg next year.

Cleared the garage ready for building the float. Discovered lots of lost treasure. Ebayed some, which will pay for any costs involved in building the float.

Went to Homebase to buy a few bits of wood. Managed to get a discount as some of the pieces were straight. also got a few little metal brackets which I think will be needed if the house is to last the trip round the village.

Got the Jeep out and tested it. After being half concealed under a tarpaulin during the winter it worked first time (after charging the battery). Oliver test drove it first but is really growing out of it. Joshua and Daniel took turns driving it up and down the lane and had a great time. Shame I'm going to have it locked in the garage for the next couple of months!

Started building the frame. It all went rather well. I even bothered to pre-drill pilot holes in the wood to prevent it from splitting. It still split though.

Built the 'A' frame top bits surprisingly easily and stood back to admire my handiwork.

Spotted that it is too tall to get out of the garage. Bah. Still, I can lift the frame off the car (only held by nylon ties) and it should go out, to be assembled in the driveway on the day of the carnival (9th June).

I plan to cover the frame with the same rolled card I used for the Titanic 2 years ago, assuming the local Resource Centre still has stocks. I may also see if I can obtain some rolls of brickwork wallpaper from somewhere. Might try '' which has been great for offloading unwanted stuff without dumping it - check it out, it's great! About time I got something back from the network.

Got to work out how to build a robust fireproof chimney as I want to have real smoke coming from it. Now, do I use my disco smoke machine (not used before as it needs 240 volts, but with my inverter from last year and a 12 volt battery, it might work!), or plumber smoke pellets like for the Titanic...?

I plan to decorate the sides identically, so that there's a door and pair of windows on both sides, so viewers on both sides of the streets will get the full effect. Also need to work out how to put the sign on the house. Might do a 'FOR SALE' style sign saying 'THIS IS THE HOUSE THAT JACK BUILT' with 'THE WOOD FAMILY' as the agents.

Did a bit more work on the frame to make it more stable (but without the horses). Built the chimney and made sure smoke etc wouldn't enter the house and gas Oliver as he drives it.

I added a baseplate to help prevent Oliver getting
burning smoke pellets dropping down his neck.
Fortunately, the carnival is before July 1, so
I can happily allow smoke in the house.

Sourced some wallpaper...

They sent me a free A4 sheet to check it out and it's perfect! I need 2 rolls, at £8.95 each (less 10% for being a new customer). I wonder if I know enough people to order 273 free A4 samples to cover the house with...

Better idea. I've got some old Tube maps and Scout badges that I'll pop on Ebay and, in a week, perhaps they'll cover the bill.

My mate Dave suggested a nice finishing touch (eventually)... a wind turbine attached to the Chimney, a la Dave Cameron, would look great.

I'll enjoy building that, I think.

Perhaps I've got an old poundshop fan or motor knocking around somewhere...

Just about completed the frame... need to add a door frame now.


Built the door frame and started covering the frame with card. Need to visit the local resurce centre as I've run out. Badges etc selling well on ebay and so far have covered the cost of half a roll of brick wallpaper.

11th APRIL

Ebay items selling well... soon going to get enough money for the wallpaper... and hopefully the smoke pellets too!

16th April

Brilliant - made about £25 from Ebay selling to fund the wallpaper and smoke pellets. (£21 plus small profit on postage).

£8.50 for a Bear Grylls book (plus £2.50 postage)... but you can buy it at amazon for less... ho hum!

Found some smoke pellets on Ebay and bought them with my profits... £9 inc postage... want to check they are good enough... I'm sure the last lot I got lasted for 60 seconds.


Also bought these, as they seem much better, but more expensive. Will do field trials in the garden when the neighbour's washing is out:

EACH SMOKE PELLETS WILL BURN FOR APPROX 65 SECONDS (Light with match or standard lighter let the pellet do the rest) 25m3 of dense grey/white smoke

17th APRIL

Must start thinking about Joshua and Daniel's part of the float. I plan to build a shed or house onto the two-boy bicycle trailer we have. Emma can then cycle in the parade. Had a brainwave - Daniel still has a large cardboard house he got for Christmas and which he wouldn't let us chuck away (We persuaded joshua to lose his one by letting him set fire to it in the garden last month, but Daniel's more possessive!). The four boys are now going to finish decorating the card house themselves and I'll put a sign, on it saying something like "And this is the house that Daniel, Joshua, Timothy & Oliver built" - snappy, huh? Will save me heaps of work - just some Duck tape.

Bought some pearl barley for Tim the Farmer
to lob around as we walk around the village.
Oatmeal would've been cheaper but Tim didn't
want his hands to get dirty. These were 39p/bag.

18th APRIL

Got to visit the Resource Centre on Saturday as I've run out of card... Covered 75% of the house. Also, I hope the Resource Centre has some free paint - I need gloss brown for the roof to help it be a bit waterproof in case it rains on the day.

Tested the smoke pellets... the smaller ones last for about 40 seconds so 100 will do just fine. I wonder if I can dismantle them and stick them together so they last for 5 minutes...?

Built the main part of the wind turbine - it's GREAT! self-contained, battery-powered... ready to mount on the chimney when it's papered with brickwork paper. Then I've got to make the turbine's vanes - going to use plastic foamex display board... you cut it to shape and then, I discovered (by watching the doctors use a similar material for Oliver's broken hand splint), you pop it in hot water and you can mould it. It then cools rigid!

The card staple-gunned on easily to the perfect frame!
...then I ran out of card. :-(

Look - a door that really opens!
So Oliver can get in and out.

19th APRIL

Flogged some more old Scouting books on Ebay - there are some rich/gullible Scouty folk out there! Got another £60 in the float kitty! Might buy some more smoke pellets as I really like them...

20th APRIL

Yay! The Wallpaper's arrived - looks perfect... might start papering at the weekend.


Busy weekend but great weather, so hauled the house outside the garage for some serious work while Emma did some gardening and the boys fought.

Went to the Resource Centre and found a FREE 5 litre tin of Victorian Red waterproof masonry paint - absolutely perfect! That's the roof sorted out... and the doors. Also picked up another 20m of the card.

Also found a leftover can of high-tak spray flooring adhesive. Thought that might be more fun and quicker than wallpaper paste, and neater than staple guns for doing the brickwork. We shall see.

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Moved it outside for some working space as it was so sunny.

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Covered the whole thing in card.

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There's the door - Oliver can just about get in.

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Site of proposed window, with artist's impression of nervous Oliver driving.
I had spent ages trying to work out how to build a frame for the window.
Then I realised I should just cover the whole end and cut the window out!

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Perfect... the boys seem to like playing in it too!

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On goes the first of two coats of paint. Goes on like a dream!

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If only real wallpapering was this easy!

That spray glue was brilliant - really strong but let me position it before setting like concrete.
Only trouble is that doing the corners, you get streams of very sticky gob flying around, like that spray string stuff, only VERY sticky. The sort of stuff Spiderman probably uses.
Major issue is that the sticky gravel where it landed stuck to my shoes and I kept walking stones indoors... and increased my weight by a few pounds.
I hope next door's cat recovers from its, erm, roll in the gravel.

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Two sides took about 15 minutes to do.

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All done!

I need to add some fascia boards to hide the join between the roof and the walls. I've got lots of stiff white card strips from the Resource Centre which will be ideal.

I'll also need to add a skirt of cloth to hide the gap when the house is mounted back onto the Jeep.

Tested the chimney with a smoke pellet - seems to work!


Moved blog to this site as the title is a bit more descriptive! Spent the morning teaching a class of Year 8 kids at Tim's school all about magazine/newsletter production. Reminded me why I never became a teacher. Lovely little people. Found out that the school is doing 'Humpty Dumpty' in the carnival, but they're coy as to which teacher is playing the lead part.

Had an e-mail from someone confirming that we've entered okay for the foot party part of the procession so all seems to be in order.


Created an impressive smoke pellet holder thingummy in 5 minutes, using a glue gun and a length of board. This will sit in the chimney. All I need do is put my hand with a cigarrette lighter through the hatch and light one at a time... solves the problem of the lighter blowing out as happened before.

3rd MAY

Cut up some white card and started adding details - looks pretty smart really (in my opinion)!

Photo Sharing and Video Hosting at Photobucket

Did the sign...

Photo Sharing and Video Hosting at Photobucket

And got the wind turbine working...

5th MAY

Stuck on the windows - they look okay! I've one more to copy off and add by the front door. 'For Sale' type sign erected safely - that and the turbine are detachable so they fit in the garage.

Still not checked to see if it will fit in the trailer for transportation to the Carnival start point.

Minor problem on my patented smoke capsule board. Too big to fit in the chimney - I can't reach the top half! Cut it in half and popped one half inside. Rest will be in my pocket.

Re-did the chimney so it looks more authentic on the top with a round bit, made from a Resource Centre pot, painted. Tried it out and lots of smoke comes out of the gaps, so used some old bath sealant to fill the gaps. Had a family viewing of the thing so far...

Want to do a sign for the door... and pop a doorbell on. also, decided to have some music after all. It'll be 'Our House' by Madness playing on a loop. will use car battery and inverter from last year, placed in the Jeep with Oliver.

6th MAY

Had a brainwave... in previous years, the 12v battery for the Jeep has given out just as we finish. If I've got an additional 12V car battery running the inverter for the stereo, can I link up the batteries so that the car battery also powers the Jeep? I think it's called wiring it in parallel... anyone out there reading this able to give me a clue on how to wire this? My usual e-mail or thewoodfamilyfloat [at] gmail [dot] com (or Gaz me via B3ta).


Made a lovely sign for the front and back door...

ahhh... the joys of bronzeworking (ie Photoshopping).

17 May

Here's Joshua and Daniel's house... mounted on their bicycle trailer... I'll possibly add a similar skirt to it that I'm adding to the main one.

30 May

One week to go! Had the Carnival Programme delivered today... we're entered alongside lots of other walking parties and have our names down as winners of 'most entertaining float' in the main section for last year. We've never seen our name on the cup though - the carnival folk forgot to engrave it and took it from us in Feb/March to engrave it and that was the last we saw of it!

Anyway, I built a rather clever (though I say so myself!) method of lighting the smoke pellets and dropping them into the chimney through the trapdoor with one hand, rather than the fiddly two-handed affair last time... click the video to see it in action...

1 June

Found the long-range forecast for the carnival... bah!

3rd JUNE
Had a test drive this morning... works well, although Oliver has very restricted view from inside the house and practiced crashing very well. Realised it's too big to go on the trailer so the morning of the Carnival will be spent rigging some way of getting it to sit securely on top of the trailer!

Tried to site the music player on the back of Emma's bike but it interferes with her sitting down a bit So it may go in the front basket to really annoy her.

Grabbed a bargain Priest's outfit on Ebay for 99p. "One size fits all"... we shall see! Not sure I'll be able to walk quickly in it, judging from the pencil-skirt design! Hope it arrives by Saturday. (remember, I'm the 'priest, all shaven and shorn'!)

Made a corn bag for Tim to put his corn in. Tim (13) was concerned I had miss-spelled the word 'corn' on the bag as I guess he was looking forward to distributing something else...

7th June
Two days to go...Not received my Priet's outfit yet. got this e-mail though:

Hi David , I was supposed to have sent you a Priests costume , I did , the
problem is that due to my own labelling error the package has been delivered
back to the sender (me) and not to you , Do you still want this ? The
soonest i can send it again is tomorrow morning which i will do anyway
unless you instruct me otherwise before then .
Sorry Nick

I pleaded for first class special delivery posting Friday so might arrive Saturday, although our postman rarely bothers delivering post to us on Saturdays.

Weather forecast keeps changing from odd scattered showers to blazing sun all day.

GOOD NEWS: My chum and neighbour Bob bumped into Emma this morning and rashly offered to help transport the float to the start. I was straight on the phone and he's coming with his employer's long wheelbase van. We plan to pop the 'Jeep in first, then lift the house in behind it - avoids the use of ramps. He's a star - saves me a BIIIIG headache!