Monday, January 12, 2009

Beware of Dutchmen bearing gifts

Way back in 1974 we were teaching in Popondetta in Papua New Guinea. I was manager of Popondetta Vocational Centre and Joan was head of the Girls Voc. Section. We went on leave to Australia at the end of '74 and returned to Popondetta to find that one of my staff, 'Dutchy' had damaged our car. A front mudguard was ironed out flat by a steel power pole. Dutchy was contrite and gave me a Black and Decker bench grinder. I accepted the bribe as I was restoring a WW2 Jeep left in the area by departing military. That grinder, with wire wheel on one side, did stirling work on old Jeep parts found around the place. When we left PNG in late 1975 we packed it and it has seen much more work up until yesterday.

You will note the the sturdy metal construction and the bakelite on/off switch (non standard).
Yesterday I noticed that the switch had cracked and would no longer work. Easy, I'll just replace it with another.
WorkSafe safety covers.

When I removed the switch I pulled the wires further out of the hole to attach a new switch and that's when I found the bare wires. In all those 34 years the bare wires had not come into contact with the metal body of the grinder. Now that deserves a Lotto ticket!
I will rewire it and install a suitable, safe switch.

Just recently I have noticed a number of burned cars at various roadside locations. Abandoned cars usually have their plates removed and after a few days get a notice stuck to the body saying that this 'vehicle has been reported'. That is also the death notice for the smashed, parts taken and just recently arson attacks. I guess it's fair game if the car is really abandoned. I'd be pretty unhappy if my car was left on the roadside after it was stolen and nobody checked who it belonged to.

Even when the plates are removed a vehicle is easily traced from the chassis and engine numbers. Begs the question; why don't the authorities trace the owners and charge them for the disposal? Up until a couple of months ago a car body could be collected by a scrap merchant and $100 cash given to the owner. Maybe somebody in authority was pocketing the scrap metal money?

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