1964 Econoline V8 conversion

When I bought the Econoline it already had a mustang 302 V8 fitted unfortunately it was not quite as advertised and needed a lot of work to finish it.

Luckily the engine had been fitted with a C4 gearbox and a custom propshaft, all the bolts were either loose or missing but not too hard to remedy.

In order to get the V8 to fit the previous owner had done a hatchet job and cut chunks of the floor out so the first job was to repair and modify the floor and also modify the engine cover (doghouse) to go around the much larger engine. Using the cutout sections we re-welded them around the larger engine giving a near stock finish.

The seat mounts were hanging above the manifolds so to get the stock seats to fit I swapped the standard seat mounts from passenger to drivers side which meant they were offset the opposite way and now sat on the floor.

Only half the doghouse was supplied with the van and it’s pretty ropey so temporarily I modified the bits I have using some aluminium sheet to fit around the larger engine but still maintain the original lid and fit around the stock seats, I’m currently waiting on a new doghouse to be delivered from the states and when it is I will modify it properly.

After this I fabricated new seat mounts from thick steel spacers and M10 bolts which I welded in place I also welded in seatbelt mounts.

The next job was fitting a shifter, when I bought the van it had a steel bar welded from the column shifter to the C4, it was so badly made that it fell apart the first week I drove it so I swapped this for a cable, fitting a B&M shift arm to the box and using a custom 10′ cable to the column shift, this worked allot better however there was a lot of play in it so after a while I sourced a dodge A100 dash shifter which looks great and has nearly the correct shift pattern for the C4. P, R, N, D are all in the correct place (10mm throw between each) however 2 is between D and 2 and 1 is where 2 is as the last two gears only have a 5mm throw.

I mounted this to the front of the doghouse with a fabricated box and extended the cable mounting bracket to accept the custom cable personally I think it looks like it could be standard and it shifts really well.

The stainless exhaust system that came on the van wasn’t complete and in fact wasn’t even fitted in the strictest sense of the word so after that fell off I bought some 2.5″ steel sections a couple of flowmaster boxes and welded up a custom exhaust, it currently sits low and I need to change the manifolds in order to lift it but that can wait until there are a few less important jobs to do.

After that I had to solve some major overheating, massive oil leaks, running problems, I’ve replaced the carb, had electrical issues and various other teething problems that you’d expect from a 54 year old van that’s been sat for years however I now have a safely converted V8 Econoline.

It goes like stink and drives beautifully, I’ve been putting some miles on it and loving it. Theres still lots to be done but I’m finally getting somewhere.

Jan-April 2017

Over the last few months I’ve tackled a few outstanding issues, it all started when I discovered a leak in the radiator which turned out to be bent and in need of a total rebuild, at a quarter of the cost to rebuild I decided to install a 4 core aluminium Mustang radiator, this is marginally shorter than the stock one but 4 core and mounts from the opposite side. Seeing as the original radiator bracket had been hacked up by someone in the past I fabricated a front mounted bracket for the new rad. 

During this process I swapped the thermostat housing for one with a fan switch and whilst tightening it discovered that the whole engine slid 75mm from left the right as the previous owner hadn’t actually made the engine mounts correctly as they had to come off I decided that I would also look at the level of the engine as i knew it wasnt 100% flat at the carb plane whilst on the road. 

The engine mounts needed to drop by 1″ so I machined up some solid spacers and fitted them with high tensile bolts (not those pictured)

The transmission needed to be raised 1″ to get it level although the C4 was the correct transmission it’s mount was horrific and definitely not original…

I fabricated a new one up from box section and fitted it back on the original mounts as it should be.

While the doghouse was out i also decided to convert the distributor back to original (although with electronic ignition) and bin the HEI setup, i treated it to new leads and original rocker covers aswell.

Before i put it all back together I decided that it was time i finished the doghouse properly, having received a donor from the states I grafted the two together, it still needs filnishing and painting but it will be done shortly.

1964 Ford Econoline

Here is my latest acquisition, I sold the Cortina and bought this 64 Econoline, its the second I’ve owned and was originally a 240ci straight six with a 9″ rear but when I bought it it was half converted (bodged) to a 302 V8 with C4 automatic from a Mach 1 Mustang.

I have been working to finish it, make safe and do a good job of. It’s taken a hell of allot longer than I expected for a “running road legal vehicle” but there was so much that needed doing/redoing to make it safe, I’ve pretty much finished the engine mechanical side but it still needs allot of work and at some point an interior and paint.

Here are a few pictures, it’s pretty bare atm with little to no interior but it goes like a rocket and is noisy as all hell.







Raspberry Pi 3 and Wirelessthings sensors

After all the issues migrating Wheezy over I decided to start from scratch with the Pi 3 and my wirelessthings sensors. This guide is pretty poorly written but is step by step everything I did. it assumes you have no mouse, keyboard or monitor attached.

This post is correct as of the 9th of april 2016

Prepare the Pi:

1. Download the latest Raspbean Jessie Image and Using your favourite method, prepare your SD card using the downloaded image for the Pi (I used Apple Pi Baker other GUIs are available).

2. Plug an ethernet cable into the Pi and connect to a router serving DHCP and Boot your Pi using the newly prepared SD card.

3. Using a network scanner (or login to your router) to determine the IP address of your Pi, I use fing on my smartphone.

4. Log into the pi using SSH in OSX type

SSH pi@IP Address

and use the password “raspberry”

5. type

sudo raspi-config

select Internationalisation Options and set your timezone then go into Advanced options and turn ON serial! Exit raspi-config and reboot your Pi when prompted

It is good practice to expand your filesystem at this point however I haven’t found raspi-config GUI very good at this so run:

raspi-config --expand-rootfs and reboot when finished

6. SSH back into your pi run:

sudo apt-get update
sudo apt-get upgrade -y

7. Change the default password! type


and enter your old password followed by your new one as prompted!

Configure VNC:

1. to Install VNC Viewer type

sudo apt-get install tightvncserver

2. If you want to change the VNC port type

sudo nano /usr/bin/vncserver

find the line

$vncPort = 5900 + $displayNumber;

and change 5900 to the port you want to use, I use 59000 which equated to 59001 in real life. Press Ctrl>X, Y, Enter to save and exit nano

3. To make VNC run from boot you need to create a script, type

sudo nano vnc.sh

paste the following into it;

vncserver :1 -geometry 1920x1080 -depth 24 -dpi 96

save and exit nano, type

sudo chmod 755 vnc.sh

then type


and you will be prompted to enter a VNC password.


sudo nano /etc/rc.local

add these lines after the commented section

# Auto run VNC
sudo /home/pi/./vnc.sh &

save and exit nano, reboot and VNC should now run from startup!

4. You can now connect to your Pi using VNC! so VNC into your Pi and set a static IP using the network settings GUI in the top right of the screen and reboot, the next few steps can be done through SSH or terminal in VNC its up to you.

Configure Webserver and PhpMyadmin:

1. install apache server

sudo apt-get install apache2 apache2-doc apache2-utils -y

then install support packages

sudo apt-get install libapache2-mod-php5 php5 php-pear php5-xcache -y

finally install php mysql connectivity

sudo apt-get install php5-mysql -y

2. install mysql server

sudo apt-get install mysql-server mysql-client -y

you will me prompted for a mysql password during installation.

3. install phpmyadmin

sudo apt-get install phpmyadmin -y

when prompted select yes and enter the password you chose above, then specify a phpmyadmin password.

4. we now need to configure phpmyadmin

nano /etc/apache2/apache2.conf

scroll to the bottom and add the following line

Include /etc/phpmyadmin/apache.conf

save and exit nano

5. Restart apache

sudo /etc/init.d/apache2 restart

and you should be good to go!

Setup Shares:

1. we are going to setup samba shares to make moving scripts etc easier, so install samba

sudo apt-get install samba samba-common-bin -y

2. once installed type

sudo nano /etc/samba/smb.conf

scroll down and make sure you have the correct workgroup (I just use WORKGROUP) and that Wins Support is enabled.

3. to be safe you should only add your pi user so type

smbpasswd -a

and enter your desired password, if you do want to add the root user type

sudo smbpasswd -a

4. to add shared folders type

sudo nano /etc/samba/smb.conf

and at the bottom add the code:

comment=www Share
only guest=no
create mask=0777
directory mask=0777

comment=Root Folder Share
only guest=no
create mask=0777
directory mask=0777

5. You should now be able to connect to these shares using standard UNC paths from your windows or macintosh computers

Setup the “Slice of Radio” (Wireless message bridge)

Beacuse of a change to the way the Pi 3 uses Uart, we need a workaround to get the Slice of radio working.

1. type

sudo nano /boot/config.txt

and add

# Change device tree to enable slice of radio

to the end of the file then reboot

sudo reboot

2. we now need to disable the serial prompt in a non standard way so type

sudo nano /boot/cmdline.txt

comment out the line in this file and add:

dwc_otg.lpm_enable=0 console=tty1 root=/dev/mmcblk0p2 rootfstype=ext4 elevator=deadline fsck.repair=yes rootwait

Save and exit nano

If you haven’t installed your slice of radio yet, shut down your Pi and fit it

sudo shutdown 0 otherwise reboot the Pi sudo reboot

3. next we need to setup your radios, If you’ve already done this skip to step 5 otherwise dowload launchpad from wirelessthings and copy it to your pi, this is a collection of gui python scripts used to configure your wireless sensors. I have put mine in home/pi/launchpad using vnc in terminal run

gksudo python LaunchPad.py

to fire it up. (using gksudo rather than sudo fixes display 0.0 errors caused by running X programs on VNC, you may not need this if using a monitor.)

4. In LaunchPad, Click on message bridge and hit start wait a second, then click on Configuration wizard (ignore the message stating “Message bridge not found”) then select “serial” in the next window you can configure your sensors, press the configure button on a sensor for one second, wait for it to communicate with wireless bridge and follow the on screen setup, repeat for each sensor. Once you are finished exit LaunchPad

5. next we install minicom to test communication with your sensors is working correctly so type

sudo apt-get install minicom -y

once installed we need to run

minicom -b 9600 -o -D /dev/ttyAMA0

This will open minicom and if all is well you will see your sensors responding, remember they will only report as often as you have told them to so you may need to be patient! Exit minicom when you are happy that the sensors are responding.

Ctrl A, X

Screen Shot 2016-04-09 at 19.53.13

BACKUP your SD Card:

At this point I’d recommend backing up your SD card image and archiving it:

Apache2 optimisation:

you can disable unused modules to speed up apache2, I disabled these but it’s made no difference.

sudo a2dismod autoindex -f
sudo a2dismod auth_basic -f
sudo a2dismod status -f
sudo a2dismod deflate -f
sudo a2dismod ssl -f
sudo a2dismod authz_default -f


Thats kind of it for configuration, you now have a Pi 3 running the latest Raspbian, you have sensors attached and reporting, you have a webserver installed, mysql, php and python so you can do with it what you like!

Originally I followed this project to get me going http://www.lourenco.eu/temperature/instructions.html but I have since ditched it in place of my own version.


Tutorial – Install PhpMyAdmin on your Raspberry Pi


1972 Mk3 Ford Cortina for sale

Originally a 1600L this car had a 2ltr Sierra engine and type 9 gearbox professionally fitted around 10 years ago. Its a nippy car that Runs perfectly with a progresive webber and stainless exhaust.

Its stock height and besides the inertia seatbelts its the Original Interior, they are also the original wheels.

The suspension has been poly bushed and it has adjustable tension Gas Shocks fitted giving it great road handling compared to the standard cortina, however its still really comfortable for day to day driving.

It is in great condition generally and has been resprayed at some point in its life, it does need a small repair to a wing, one sill and rear arches (not MOT fails) but it comes with brand new sills and rear arch repair panels, I had planned on getting these done but never got round to it as they really arent that bad.

Located in North Hertfordshire








Wireless Hot Water Temperature sensor

I wanted to add hot water temperature to my raspberry pi powered “Pimometer” but wirelessthings dont make a suitable XRF sensor.

I decided to buy a standard wirelessthings temperature sensor, unsoldered the thermistor and added a flying lead resoldering the thermistor to this, making sure to insulate the legs of the thermistor.


Luckily (or not) our hot water cylinder has no insulation around the immersion heater at the top of the tank, using some thermal paste i attached it to the bare metal and taped it in place with some foil tape. I then added it to my pi and left it to get some readings.


The final step was making sure the readings are relatively accurate, using a thermometer under the hot water i compared the real life temperature to the readings on the pi and to my suprise they are are only a couple of degrees out so definitely accurate enough for what I need.


After seven days of data logging i lagged the hot water cylinder to see if there was any significant improvement in heat retention.


NOTE: When first testing this setup I didn’t use thernal paste, the readings were around 30% out which was nowhere near accurate enough, by adding the thermal paste and angling the bead of the thermistor it has improved this considerably.

Hog 1000 backlight replacement (retrofit Cold Cathode with LED)


The backlight on my Hog 1000 died, this is not surprising considering its age and the fact that backlights do eventually die! Sadly the inverter and cold cathode tube for this console are no longer available so I decided to replace it with some LED strip!

I first removed the main PCB then the LCD, I de-soldered the inverter and took the cold cathode tube out of the casing.

LCD with tube mounted

I removed the foil that covered the tube and slid a strip of daylight LED tape into the aluminum holder (covering the terminals on the tape and the cable where it exits) with some PVC tape.

Test fitting the LED tape

Finally I found a12vdc supply from the rear PCB and I put the console back together!


It works a treat and is very bright, you can’t control how bright it is from the console anymore and it doesn’t automatically switch off when the console is inactive but beggars cannot be choosers and it works brilliantly!

To get around the dimming issue I have ordered a 12v LED dimmer switch online and plan to fit it just under one of the wooden side panels. I did consider taking a feed from the other LCD backlights so that they dimmed and turned off together in the end I decided it was safer to leave them as they were and not fiddle too much!

Better than new!

Inertia seatbelts in a Mk3 Cortina

So you want to fit front and rear inertia seatbelts in your Mk3 ford Cortina? Well it’s relatively easy and here is how I did it!


The fronts are a simple straight swap but its worth mentioning that they should have a long solid buckle link as otherwise they don’t do up if you are a little on the large side and the inertia reel needs to function vertically, I just bought generic three point inertia seatbelts online.


The rears need to be a three point type but without the extra top guide so that the inertia reel sits on the parcel shelf and functions horizontally, they also need short webbing buckles.

Originally I bought some securon rear seatbelts which were apparently Cortina fit however the webbing on the buckles was too long so they fouled on our child seat. I ended up buying generic intertia seatbelts online and removing the top guides.

Seatbelt mounting holes are already there under the rear seats, the reel itself sits on the parcel shelf and bolts through the holes already in place. I also added some extra very thick large seatbelt mount washers for added security!



How to make the best quality homebrew beer from a kit


Yes its true, you can get pub quality beer from a homebrew beer kit, I’m often asked by friends when they start brewing if I have any tips and what process I go through to get great quality beer from kits so I thought I’d write it down.

If you follow the instructions that come with beer kits you will get a drinkable homebrew however with a few additional steps and a little patience you will get a considerably better beer!

Although not a professional I’ve been home brewing since around 2002, first doing kits and more recently moving on to full mash brews.

A summary of the process::

1. Buy a good full extract kit.

2. Make your wort up from the kit by adding water and yeast then leave to ferment in a bin using an immersion heater to regulate the perfect temperature.

3. Syphon off the fermenting wort after around 48 hours and leave to finish fermenting.

4. After 5-7 days once the specific gravity has stabilised, syphon into a pressure barrel with some sugar and leave to condition.

5. After 20-25 days you will have a great beer to drink, Enjoy drinking your finished beer!

Read on and I will explain the full process.

Firstly to brew great beer from a kit you will need some things:

A good quality beer kit – only buy full malt extract kits, these are the kits with two tins of extract rather than one which you need to add sugar too, they taste much much better when finished!

A decent pressure barrel – If you are going plastic I thoroughly recommend a “king keg” I’ve had one since 2002 and done hundreds of brews, it still works perfectly! they have a top tap which is fed by a float and have a C02 fitting as standard, you do need to use a little Vaseline to seal the cap but I’ve had two of the cheaper bottom tap barrels fail on me so I’ve given up on buying them!
My next purchase will be a corny keg (stainless pressure vessel) but more on that another time.

A beer immersion heater – this is a must in order to get a consistent fermentation, since buying one of these several years ago my beers have been considerably better!

Two fermenting bins, you can use one but it will make dropping your wort much harder!

You will also need:
At least one fermenter lid with a hole for the immersion heater
A siphon
A thermometer
A hydrometer
A large spoon
A sample tube or hydrometer jar
Some steriliser
And some sugar for barrelling (I use brewing sugar (dextrose))

The actual process of making a great quality kit beer is relatively simple and has a few stages; Preparing the wort, Fermentation and Dropping, Racking and Barrelling.

Preparing the wort for fermentation – In this stage we will hydrate the tins of extract (Basically concentrated wort) from your chosen kit beer back into wort ready for fermentation

1. Sterilise all your equipment as per the instructions on your steriliser and rinse it thoroughly afterwards! You don’t want your beer getting mould or other infections in it, besides not tasting good it will make you ill!

2. Open your beer kit and check the contents, you should have at least two tins of malt extract, some instructions and a sachet of yeast, Read the instructions but take them with a pinch of salt and don’t pay too much attention to the timings. Some kits also contain hops which will need to be used as per the instructions with your kit.

3. Pour some warm water in your sink and immerse the tins of extract to soften the contents.

4. Boil 2 full kettles of water and pour them into the fermenter, then put the kettle onto boil again as you may need hot water later.

5. Open the tins of extract and pour them into the bin, stir and have a little taste of the extract its great stuff! You may struggle to get the dregs out as its sticky stuff, I shake the cans in a circle and the centripetal force will throws the contents out!

6. Add a few litres of cold water and keep stirring until all of the extract has dissolved and any extract splattered over the side has also gone, top the bin up with more water to the wort volume in your kit instructions, make sure you check the temperature while doing this and if necessary add some boiling water, you want to get it to around 25 degrees Celsius to ensure a good start to fermentation.

7. Using your hydrometer check the specific gravity of your wort and write it down.

8. Add the yeast, Refer to the instructions on your yeast but generally you will just sprinkle it on the top of your wort.

9. Finally pop your immersion heater into the wort and loosly put the lid on the bin.

Fermentation and dropping – Fermentation is the process whereby the yeast converts the sugars from the wort into alcohol, Dropping is the process we use to discard the bulk of the dead yeast from your finished beer, this is the single most important thing you can do to turn your beer from drinkable homebrew to pub quality beer!

Fermentation usually takes around 5-7 days but could take more or less depending on the beer and the conditions, do not rely on the times stated in the kit instead use the estimated final gravity from the instructions with your kit, Essentially you need to measure the specific gravity of the wort using your hydrometer every day and when it gets to a reading around the estimated final gravity and doesn’t change for 24 hours it is ready for racking and barrelling however we don’t want to just leave it to do this as we will be dropping the wort halfway through.

Dropping needs to be done when approximately half of all the fermentable material has been fermented (usually around 48 hours after fermentation has started), to work this out take the Initial gravity reading that you measured and subtract the estimated final gravity from it, divide this by two and add it to the final gravity, when your worth reaches this specific gravity it is ready to be dropped.

e.g 1040 – 1009 ÷ 2 + 1009 = 1025

When your wort reaches the desired gravity, syphon the clean wort from one fermentation bin to another discarding the sludge at the bottom and any foam or floating deposits (you may loose some of the wort during this process but it is totally worth it as it seriously improves the quality of your final beer) so that your second bin contains only clean wort, position the tap on your syphon at the top of the second barrel pointing it into the side of the bin to allow the wort to aerate this will help the fermentation start again quickly, once this is complete put your immersion heater into the wort and leave it to finish fermentation.

Wort being syphoned into second bin:image



Dead yeast left behind in the original bin:image


Racking and barrelling – This is the final stage and the easiest although longest stage of the whole process. Essentially we are taking the fermented beer and putting it into a pressure vessel where secondary fermentation occurs creating CO2 and pressurising the beer, this conditions it forcing all the crud to the bottom clearing it and giving it its final flavour.

Once fermentation has finished take 50g of brewing sugar and add it to your pressure barrel then syphon in the clean wort from your fermentation bin discarding the sludge at the bottom and any foam or floating deposits and give it a gentle stir. Screw the cap on tight (If you are bottling add half a teaspoon of sugar to each bottle and syphon directly into the bottles before capping) remembering to lube up the seal and leave it somewhere cool until it is ready to drink. The instructions for your beer kit will give you a guide as to how long this will take (usually around 14-20 days) but always leave it longer than it says as a rule of thumb I usually say around 25% longer.

If you do want to drink it quicker you could always fine it before you barrel it, finings are an additive which encourage the trub to clump and fall to the bottom of the barrel much faster. Most commercial breweries fine their beers so don’t be afraid!
Although I have never used finings with kit beers I have with full mashes, (especially when using wheat in the mash) personally I use Kwick Clear and it does a fantastic job!

Green man kit conditioning in the “King Keg”

Once all these steps are completed you will have a clear and great tasting beer. Although there are a few more steps listed here than the bare minimum outlined in most beer kit instructions it is worth completing them all as you will get a much better beer and after all that is what you want!

Stop helping the “Like Harvesters”


Its called “Like Harvesting” and its a way for people or organisations to boost their facebook pages allowing them to target larger audiences with subsequent adverts or to sell likes and potentially your profile information to third parties.

Usually these will be a picture, maybe a small girl with a sign saying things such as “my mum says if I get 200,000 likes then I can get a pony”, a picture of a sports car/iPad/high value item with a bow on it pretending to be a competition or more often than not a high value voucher offer for a supermarket or similar.

Its not going to hurt you but think before you share anything on Facebook, try and make sure posts are not created purely for likes and check out the person posting it to see if their page looks legit.

Finally, if the offer seems too good to be true then it probably is!

Milestone brewing company – Green Man – beer kit review

Its been a while since I brewed from a kit but what with the recent arrival of a baby and prior to that months of working hard I’ve not had the time to do a full mash so I figured I might aswell put a kit on anyway!


I’m making a Green man beer kit which I bought yonks back from Wilkinsons it is described as a light golden ale with citrus notes, so right up my street!

Its your standard variety cheap malt extract beer kit with two tins of malt extract and a bag of yeast (Gervin GV12 – Ale yeast), Unfortunately the dog ate the instructions but I managed to decipher the gravity readings and volume from the remains of the shredded paper.

I have made up the wort to approx 22.5 litres at 25C and am getting an OG of 1040 (bang on the recipe) I’ve put my immersion heater in, sprinkled the yeast on and will aim to drop it around SG 1025 (probably around 48 hours from now) FG should be approx 1009.

Update 14th December 2014 – Dropped wort at SG1020

Barrelled on the 18th dec at SG1010 so should be ready around the 11th of January at around 3.9%

Watch this space