World War I Wooden soldier’s trunk

In 2014 my Grandfather Verdun passed away at the age of 98. The task of sorting through his belongings fell to my parents and I.

Verdun was an engineer so had many tools and a garage full of interesting things he had collected over the years. One of the boxes of tools in the corner of the garage had suffered from years of being in the damp. The tools inside were beyond saving but the box was pretty sound. I brought the box home and it sat in my cellar for a while.

Recently, I decided to have a go at cleaning up the box to use to store family photographs and memories.

The trunk belonged to my Great, Great Grandfather, Arthur Alfred Cooper who was a Regimental Sergeant Major in the Royal Field Artillery. He travelled all over the place including India. I wonder where this box has been?

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Original Anglepoise Lamp Restoration

For a while now I’ve been after an original Anglepoise lamp. The iconic design has been around since the early 30s when car engineer George Carwardine designed the three spring version. To this day, the lamp can be seen in design magazines and stands proud above lesser modern designs.

Once again, I turn to eBay and find an average example of the 1227 lamp, dating from somewhere in the 1960. The Shade has no lip on the rim and the 2-step base has a pressed steel cover over the heavy base material. The lamp is black and in fairly good condition if a little tired looking. The existing brass bayonet bulb holder has a switch that works – but doesn’t feel very positive. Dismantling it reveals remains of a spider and some surface corrosion on the brass contacts.

As this first attempt is for my own desk, I’ve decided to deviate from the original restoration and replace some of the fittings with new alternatives. I want to use a Philips Hue e27 edison screw bulb in the lamp and ultimately strip all the black paint. I’ll then polish the aluminium parts to a mirror finish and possibly spray the base cover in a complementing metallic silver.

The paint is fairly thin so one dose of Nitromors should do the trick.

The lamp if fully dismantled, wiring stripped and retained (in case I want go back to original state) and aluminium parts prepared for paint removal.

Thankfully, within a few seconds of applying the Nitromors, the paint on the shade begins to bubble revealing a clean bright aluminium underneath.

The arm sections require a little more effort, especially at the ends where the joints are – I wonder if the paint is thicker at these areas to allow for wear and tear.

With all the black paint removed I’m left with a clean, plain aluminium set of parts.

The other parts of the lamp; Springs, nylon spacers, nuts & bolts are in good condition and are retained for reassembly later.

For the rebuild, I chose some 3 core, braided cable in a steel grey colour which came from Pendant Lighting on Amazon UK, some new grommets, an inline switch and a chrome bulb holder with shade rings.

I treated myself to a bench grinder with polishing kit from Machine Mart and set to polishing the aluminium parts of the lamp. The wire wheel attachment on the grinder also did a good job on the steel base of the lamp. The polishing kit consists of a rag preparation wheel, a cotton polish wheel and some some metal polishing compound.



I’m very pleased with this machine, it makes light work of the polishing but it does take a bit of practice to find the sweet spot on the wheel – I launched parts of the lamp across the workshop a few times. Got away with it though.

With a final polish by hand, re-assembly and rewiring was done. The rewire is a little fiddly, posting the braided cable up the narrow bars and feeding on the grommets where necessary took a few hours.

As the replacement chrome bulb holder doesn’t have an integrated switch, I wired in an inline switch on the power chord. Here is the finished article. I’m quite pleased with the result.

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Questions about the Ami WQ-200 Wall Box

Here are some images to illustrate the crack and chip on the top righthand corner of the wall box.

There’s a small hairline crack about 1 inch and on the corner a chip out of the casting. The chip is right on the corner so isn’t really visible when the wall box is shut.

The hairline crack runs towards the corner and there the chip measuring about 1.5cm. Hopefully these clear up the situation for you.

I’ve done a video on YouTube to illustrate this more and gives a bit more detail about the functionality and shots of the inside.

SOLD – Ami WQ-200 Wall Box

You know those times when you’re browsing eBay and somehow you end up looking at things that had never been on your radar? Well, this is one of those projects.

Somehow, I ended up bidding and more surprisingly, winning a Ami Wq-200 Wall Box. A wall box was traditionally connected to a jukebox to allow selection of tracks from a table or booth, like you see in old diners. By itself, it didn’t play music.

Finished Wall Box

What I did find was a clever little device that interprets the signal from the wall box and controls the playback of an iPod playlist. The device came from the lovely Ann Marie at Ann Marie was able to ship it from the States and it arrived in just a few days. The wiring is really simple, just 2 wires connected to the signal terminals.

iPod adpter

The wall box itself was in fairly good condition, a few pits in the chrome and some wiring that was a bit questionable but not too bad. I managed to get a 240V > 30V AC transformer from for a few quid.

The main issue with the operation of the wall box was the alignment of the selector arm, not returning to the default place. The adjustment for this was described in the service manual so quite a simple fix.

At some point, somebody had added a relay and some extra wiring to the credit / motor circuit, it looks as if there was occasional overshooting when credits were added. I was able to remove some of the wiring and rewire some of the power lines.

Extra wiring


After a bit more tinkering, the wall box was working correctly, cleaned up the contacts, new bulbs and polished out some of the scratches from the plastic window.

My Custom base plate

Finished Wall Box

Here’s a video of the finished wall box, all shiny.

Make a USB steering wheel from an old mouse, a rubber band and some duct tape

Here’s a quick, fun project. Arcade games such as Out Run are best played with a steering wheel. This 10 minute project shows you have to make an effective USB steering wheel out of things to hand.


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Edak Milex case restoration

I came across an army surplus stall at a car show. Sitting in the mud, half full of water, were these two metal flight cases. They’d been used in Basra but suffered from flood damage and were sold off.

Beaten, old boxes.

I’d been thinking about a 19″ rack for some of my equipment for a while and noticed that these boxes had 19″ rack cages inside. I asked the stall holder how much he wanted for them and was pleasantly surprised when he said £10 each. I snapped them up and carried them back to our car.

When I got home I did a little research and found the manufacturers website. Edak, based in Switzerland manufacture these specialist cases for military use. I realised that they probably would have been fairly expensive so decided to restore them.

Milex Schematic

Milex exploded view

State of the boxes

I had a quick go at stripping the paint from the metal, but it wouldn’t budge, Acetate, Nitromors, white spirit, nothing shifted it.


So, I found a local company that could sandblast them, Stockport Powdercoating Company. They were able to blast both boxes and the end covers after I’d removed the rack cages and any other parts I could.

The result what a nice matt finish of bare alloy.

Blasted box with cage removed.

Blasted box with cage removed.

I then spent a few days priming, and spraying a gloss metallic finish. A few layers of clear coat lacquer made for a hard wearing surface.

A few of the plastic lock inserts were broken, Edak were kind enough to supply these free of charge.

IMG_0611 - Version 2


Finished boxes

With a few extra rack fixings, and some more equipment added, I’m really happy with the results. Should world war III happen, at least my amp will be ok.


San Francisco

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A day in Chicago

In 2008 We stopped in Chicago for a whistle stop tour of the city. These are some of the sights we saw.

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Beaches, Sunsets and amazing places.

These are some “tweaked” shots from our travels to Western USA. Sitting in a cold, grey Manchester, dreaming of the warmth of the Californian sun.

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Disney’s Animal Kingdom

In December 2011 we visited Disney’s Animal Kingdom.

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