She’s gone


Bye bye Maggie.

Yes, my dear Maggie has departed to new owners. I’m afraid I had to drop the price a lot. The guy who came to see it last Tuesday (his name was Sly!) turned out to have very good mechanical knowledge. He very soon took the cover off the timing belt, had a good look at it in the strong sunlight and pronounced it needing replacement. I kinda thought it did. He reckoned it’s a $240 or more parts job and about six hours work. Then he took the radiator cap off, found rust in the water and said the water pump and probably radiator would need doing as well. In the end, he offered $800 from my asking price of $1250.

I refused at first, but when I thought about it overnight, I realised that I would not be able to sell the car to someone else in good conscience knowing it needed those faults fixed, nor did I want to spend probably $1,000 getting them fixed.

So I called him back and said I’d take his offer. Luckily he still wanted it, so the deal was done yesterday. It turned out it was his girlfriend Wanda who was buying it. They are a French couple, touring the world, but liking Perth so much they may stay. Very nice people.

So that’s that. It’s a big load off my mind. I don’t have to pay the next quarter’s licence fee and I’m no longer taking up space in the laneway. And I have Vera to console me.


I forgot to mention. Sly had a neat trick. He brought a condom with him. No, not what you think. He took the radiator cap off while the car was cold, and stretched the condom over the radiator filler hole. Then he got his friend to start the car.

The aim was to see if there were any air bubbles coming out of the radiator water, which would have inflated the condom if there were. That would have indicated head gasket leaks. The condom did not inflate, so all was well. Something to remember if you ever need to check a car.


Still on the subject of cars and such, do you ever get the feeling you’re being ripped off? No? Never? Lucky you.

When I booked the Verada in for a new exhaust a few weeks ago, I took it to the same place I’d had the brakes done before that. How much again for the exhaust? “$695, mate.” But I remembered his quote when I had the brakes done, $595, and I said so. “OK, mate, $595 will be fine.” So he was looking to make an extra century at my expense. “Give the little man a go”, they advertise. Yeah, right.

Next, look at this:Spoons2

Yes, $104 for a set of plastic bowls and measuring spoons! Funny, I thought, they look familiar:spoons1.jpg

I bought these at Target a few weeks ago. Price?  $2. Yes. two dollars! Get the feeling that buyers of the bowl set are being ripped off?


Now that Maggie’s gone (Wanda, the French woman, loved the name, by the way) I can concentrate on Vera and Honda-san.

On the Honda with its poor radio reception, I’ve found courtesy of YouTube that you can get at the roof mounted antenna base by opening the tailgate and pulling the rubber sealer away so as to pull the roof lining down enough to see it. And from the manual, there is a connector in there, feeding the line down to the radio via the channels. I wonder if that connector is corroded or has even come adrift. It looks as if it will be relatively easy to find out.

On Vera, I’m danged if I know why I’ve lost power to the cigarette lighter socket in the centre console. It was working, then just stopped. Yes, Myrtle, I have checked the fuse and in fact there are two involved and both are fine. I’ve had them out to check in case it’s a bad contact. Could the wire have burnt out to save the fuse? I’m investigating, which involves removing the centre console trim etc.

While I’m in the area, I want to add another “cigarette lighter” socket to the right of the steering wheel somewhere, because that’s the side I have the GPS and I don’t like its USB cable draped across the top of the dash.

And while I’m at it, I want to add a USB socket in the centre console of both cars, to feed a USB thumb drive to the radio/CD/DVD. That means making a very neat rectangular hole. Lucky I bought an Aldi multi-tool for this kind of thing recently.


You’d think I’d have enough cars but I still feel the urge to buy another one!


A BMW 5-series E39 M has come up on Marketplace. The E39 is a late 1990s car and is regarded as one of their best classic models. Add the M specification (hand built and all that stuff) and it becomes a legend, very desirable. $5,000.  No, I don’t need another car…



Unsuccessful day!

Huh. The guy didn’t show up yesterday, nor did he phone or text or message me.

However, today I’ve had two more bites. One guy is coming tomorrow to look at it (so he says) and the other guy wanted to stat haggling right from the first contact. I said hold your horses, I’m not ready to haggle yet. I’ll know more tomorrow afternoon.

Successful day


That was easy. I advertised Maggie, the Magna yesterday on Facebook Marketplace and it sold today. At least, I hope it’s sold, I’ll be certain once the money’s in my hand, but the guy’s coming from Mandurah on the train tomorrow to pick it up.

That’s a relief, paying the licence fees on three cars was a bit much and I’ve just got in with a month left on this one.

As for the money, I got $1,000 and that will about cover the $930 I paid out last week to have the oil leaks fixed (rocker cover gaskets replaced), two new rubber drive belts and the back three spark plugs replaced. But it’s running like a sewing machine now and I have a clear conscience. I hated having to have that work done but the oil leaks would have caused a yellow sticker at least. I can clear the laneway at the back of my house now. No-one complained, and one or two other houses park cars in their laneway, but I was a bit worried about it.

So ends 16 years with that car and it’s been great. Apart from a flat battery or two, I don’t think it’s ever let me down or failed to start. Two separate mechanics have told me that these engines will just keep on going forever if you look after them. One said he knew of one that had done 460,000Km (mine has done 157,000Km). It’s still smooth, qquiet and powerful. No rattles or squeaks. Lovely car.

That’s why I replaced it with the 2004 Verada, below left.


It’s the same car but three years better developed and with more luxe. Now that the brakes and exhaust are done, it also drives beautifully. It’ll see me out, I think. Unless I trade it on something more expensive, but the Honda might go then. Who knows.


It’s lucky I didn’t make any move to buy that Mercedes CL500, because it wouldn’t fit! I knew it was a big car, but I decided to check the measurements. Yes, the Merc is 5950mm overall length, and my garage is 5850mm max. So even with the bumper touching the garage rear wall, I wouldn’t have been able to close the roller door. Hah. It wasn’t meant to be.

But never let it be said that I don’t aspire to high class. One of these has come up for sale at a dealer in Perth. It’s a 2006 CLS350 at a considerably lower price than the CL. I might just go and kick the tyres, sit in it and scratch my beard.


CLS350 2006

Oh, and the length is 4913mm, so I’d have 937mm clearance. That’s do-able.


The er, low standard of education of people on Facebook is astounding. They don’t seem to read the ad before asking questions. They need information repeated, sometimes twice or even more. They ask the same questions, just with different words.

The guy who bought Maggie asked me to send him photos of the car. There were 15 photos on the ad. If he was seeing the ad well enough to answer it and ask questions, how come he couldn’t see the photos? I asked him for an email address so I could send them to him. No reply. Then I put the photos into my reply. That seemed to do the trick. Huh?

I also bought a laptop power supply on Facebook Market this morning and went to Greenwood to collect it. But the woman left me standing at the door for several minutes while she went and searched for it. Why didn’t she have it ready when I called? Even then it was a lower power one. I asked about it and she said, oh yes, and went to search for several more minutes until she found the right one. Even then, it was missing its clover-leaf power cord. Oh, yes, and I waited several more minutes while she searched it out. Duh!


My power bills used to be about $250 per two months before I got solar power, and dropped to about $45 for the same period after solar. Yippee, I said. But in this winter, I’ve been using reverse cycle for heating during the day and into the evening. Uh oh, my bill for June and July was back up to $220. It can’t be helped I suppose.

Dinner time. More later. Ciao, chow.



Isle of Skye  © PJ Croft 2019

It looked like spring was here yesterday, but it was very cold last night and now it looks like deep winter again. I’m sitting here waiting for a phone call to tell me that Maggie, the Magna, is ready for me to collect, but I think it’s too late for them to call today.

I put it in to Bridgestone Select Tyre & Auto, 56-60 Canning Highway, Victoria Park yesterday to have the rocker cover gaskets renewed (to fix the oil leaks), the rear three spark plugs replaced (since the manifold was off), two external drive belts replaced and an engine clean. Why so far away? My partner bought me a voucher for a service with them back in March and they did such a good job that I was impressed enough to go back. I recommend them.

Anyway, I delivered my car at 12.30pm and sat out the waiting period at the MacDonalds down the road until they phoned me at 4.45pm, not to say “Come ‘n get it” but to say the spark plug leads are corroded at the ends and I need a new set. But they don’t have them and so the car won’t be ready until tomorrow (that’s today, Friday). So I’m sitting here in the warmth of my heating while the wind blows and the rain falls, waiting for them to phone to say it’s ready. But since I have to get bus and train and bus to get back there, nearly two hours of travel, I don’t want to go out today.

Yes, it’s lucky it was a nice sunny day yesterday because I had to catch a bus along Canning Highway to Elizabeth Quay bus terminus, then the train to Clarkson, then a bus to my stop on Marmion Ave. It took nearly two hours. We all should be using public transport more, but it takes too long. I was the only passenger on the first and second buses at times. What a waste.

By the way, I got home and realised my house key was on the car key set at the service place. No worries, I have the lock box key safe on the side of the house now and so I could let myself in. Phew. I hadn’t given it a thought until I was at the door.

PS: I just phoned them and they’ve got the leads but are too busy to fit them at the moment. I’ve said I’ll leave it until tomorrow, but if the weather’s still crappy, I’ll probably leave it until Monday. It’s not as if I don’t have transport. I had the exhaust replaced on Vera the Verada on Wednesday and it’s sounding and driving great, plus I’ve got Hashimoto-san.

PPS: they just phoned and it’s done, so I’ll go in tomorrow. I asked for the damage (the bill!). It’s more than the car is worth!!! Gawd, I hope I can sell the car and recoup at least some of it. Grrrr. (The bill is about $900. Ugh!)

I’ve verified that the antenna lead is open circuit in Honda-san, by the way, and I don’t know what to do about it. It would go above the roof lining and down a pillar, along a floor channel and up into the dash, all hard to get to. I’ve noticed that the antenna socket on the roof has screwdriver slots. I wonder if I might find something if I unscrewed it. Probably the roof and wheels would fall off 🙂


By the way, remember I listed all the electronic devices I have that have failed and await my fix? Well, add another one: the radio/CD in Vera the Verada is a 6-disc CD changer type, but you can’t load a CD. I hadn’t tried to use it up to now. It says Please Wait while it grinds and buzzes, but no Load command appears and no light in the slot. So that’s another one! Holy smoke. And I’m not sure if I listed it, but the power antenna in Vera is dud as well. I’m in the process of replacing that, but wire colours and mismatched plugs and mounting holes… grrrr.

I filled it with fuel on Monday too, and went to write the details into the notebook I keep for each car. Hmmm, no entries since the first fill when I bought it in November last year. Hmmm, search for the previous notebook entries in my Expenses notebook – nothing. I realised that this really was its first fill after those nine months. Because of its dud brakes and tyres, I hadn’t been driving it much except for short tests and hadn’t used the fuel. Wow.


I know I wrote about that beautiful Mercedes last week, the one in Port Douglas, but I’ve just about decided it would be a leap too far. They are well known to have problems and the fixes are enough to bankrupt mere wage earners. I reckon this car is young enough (in kilometres) for the problems to be in the future, but…  I’ve almost given up the idea, but if it’s still up for sale in a month or so, maybe, maybe…


I was going through my filing boxes last week and found my old WA Building Society passbook from 1976/77. It shows graphically how far we’ve come in just 45 years.


Notice how everything was typed or manually written, and your passbook was your only record of your account. I assume the bank had duplicate records, but there were no desktop computers then. You stood at the counter while the teller took your book to a desk and typewriter and manually entered the figures. I think W. P. B. meant without passbook, i.e. a deposit from Ch.7 from my pay. We used to get paid in cash in those days too, a thick wad of notes in a long, tan coloured envelope. I didn’t have a big balance then, but I wasn’t earning much either. Each payday it was a battle of long tan (sorry!)

Remember the Friday panic? You needed cash for the weekend, so you had to find a way to get to the bank before they closed, which was 5pm on Fridays but 3.30pm on other weekdays. They were closed all weekend and there were no ATMs, so if you missed out, you sometimes had to write a cheque and try to find someone or some shop who would cash it, embarrassing. This was while you were madly trying to fill up with petrol for the weekend, or find a rostered station. It was terrible.

Contrast it with now: almost everything is done with a plastic card, and we maintain our own records, do our transfers and pay all our bills on-line on our own computer. There are ATMs everywhere but we get cash as we need it from the supermarkets or wherever. Travelling? No need to buy travellers’ cheques, the ATMs in our destination countries recognise our plastic card, even our ordinary local bank EFTPOS card, and dispense local currency, even showing our remaining balance. Need more? Just use a credit card. In all my years of travelling, I’ve never had a problem with card fraud, by the way. Just lucky I guess.

Oh, and we can do our banking on our phone, too, just by touching the display. Mine uses both a fingerprint and a password to get in, so I’m pretty relaxed about security. And my passwords are genuinely random letters and symbols too, not simple guessable combos. I use a password manager called Dashlane and although I was pretty wary when I started using it, I’m impressed enough to continue. There’s only one thing: it stores all your passwords “in the cloud”, that is, in America somewhere, so you need internet access. If you haven’t got any connection, it doesn’t work. That’s why I keep another password manager on the side as backup. It’s not too difficult to keep them synchronised.


Speaking of security, I’ve just about finished reading a 1,000 page book on the history of GCHQ, the British General Communications Head Quarters. Great book! The author really knows how to write, his prose just flowing along as a good story. It started around WW2 and Enigma and Bletchley Park and all that, but as it goes on it gets into the Sixties and onwards and explains a lot of the events, scandals and disasters that I remember but didn’t know the full story. I’m nearly at the end in the post 2010 period, so it’s quite up to date.

One of the interesting things it mentions is public key cryptography. This is where you use a string of numbers, known only to you, to scramble all the letters and numbers and symbols in your email or document.

So you encrypt your email (using software) as if there was a padlock on it before sending it to your mate Bill, for example, and even if some spy intercepted it and tried to decode it, no-one can read it because they haven’t got the key. Of course Bill can’t read it either yet, because he hasn’t got the key at this stage. You have it, but you can’t risk sending it to Bill.

The answer is for Bill to also encrypt it with his own padlock and key (set of numbers) and send it back to you. It arrives to you with two padlocks now, yours and Bill’s.

Now you can unlock your padlock because you’ve got the key. Then you can send it back to Bill, and it’s still safe, because it’s still encrypted with Bill’s padlock. Of course, he has his own key, so he can unlock the file and there it is, as you originally sent it.

Isn’t that clever? So simple, and it was one of GCHQ’s employees who thought of it.

The problem is that now that it’s so simple to encrypt messages with virtually unbreakable codes, all the crims and drug dealers and terrorists can do it, and security agencies like GCHQ and ASIO and the NSA can’t decode them (in any reasonable time). Heard of 256bit-AES encryption? That’s it. Now you know.

Uh oh, here it comes again.


Sometimes it feels like lightning has struck. Not in a bad way, instead a good way, I think. You may recall I’ve had the hots for at least two years to replace my Magna with a second hand Mercedes. But at the end of last year I gave the idea up as being too ambitious and bought the bargain Verada, then the Honda. I believe Mercs are great cars, but can break just like any car, and if they do, they’re very, very expensive.

But for more than two years I looked at the ads, finding that most of them are on the east coast (mainly Melbourne more than Sydney, must be a lot of lawyers and money men in Melbourne), so I relished the idea of buying one over there, flying over on FF points and driving it back slowly so as to see the bits I haven’t visited. And to visit a dear aunt in Brizzy if possible. It depended on the time of year, of course. With thunder-snow and destructive icy blasts and gales all over the east today, I wouldn’t want to be touring right now. By the way, it’s clear once again that Australia is two countries in one, east and west. The weather in WA? World’s best climate, I reckon. It’s pretty cool and raining now, but no wind and only 17degC, that’s nothin’ to worry about – I’m still wearin’ me shorts 🙂

Screenshot_2019-08-02 2005 Mercedes-Benz CL500 Auto MY05(4)

Anyway, getting back to the point, a Mercedes has come up in a private sale that seems to tick all the boxes.

  • it’s the right model: a 2005 CL500. I’d prefer a 2006, but this is close enough;
  • it’s very low Kms, only 118,000, practically still in warranty for a Merc;
  • it’s the right colour, black – I hate silver, which is the only other colour in Australia;
  • it’s the right price – right according to what I know and by the Red Book;
  • it’s in immaculate condition, from the photos;
  • it’s in the right location – Port Douglas, Qld. I’d love to collect it from there;
  • it’s the right time of the year to do the drive, i.e. Oct/Nov roughly.

It’s also an all black leather interior, unfortunately, as I would have much preferred tan (below right), but it can’t be helped.

But everything else falls into place. I know I said I was scared off by the reputation for cost and unreliability but at the low kms it’s done, I think I’d take the chances. Unless you’re unlucky, they will go for years, given the right care and feeding. It’s a 5L supercharged V8, 0-100 in 5.6secs by the way, but I’d drive with a pussy foot, heh heh.

Screenshot_2019-08-02 2005 Mercedes-Benz CL500 Auto MY05(1)

This throws everything into the blender. I’d have to get rid of both Mitsubishis in a hurry. I’d keep Honda-san though, I like it too much to sell it unless I have to. It all  depends on finances, of course, and I’d be taking a risk, but I’d be betting the Merc will hold its value and might even start to rise, as they become more scarce. Just call me crazy but I feel it’s my last chance to do this big trip. It’s kind of my Route 66. I hope my friend will come with me.


I don’t know why it’s happening now but if you look at the comments at the end of my July 9 Tenth Anniversary post, people out there somewhere seem to like my blog. I wish I knew where they are, just from curiosity, but I’m very gratified and somewhat encouraged to write more often. It takes a fair while to write these posts, at least an hour, usually two, so I don’t do it every day, but I’ll try to do more. Thank you to all who have replied and please keep the comments coming.


I’ve become addicted to Facebook’s Marketplace. It’s like looking through an infinite pawn shop and my right finger just seems unable to stop scrolling through the goodies. There’s an awful lot of dross, of course, but a few desirables. I’m amazed at how battered and dirty some goods are, though, and how people don’t seem bothered enough to dust and clean them before taking the photos for sale.

I’ve been tempted to buy a few times but I’m usually put off by the long drive to see the goods. However, I’ve sold a couple of items in the past few weeks and it’s not a bad way to sell, although strangely, people seem to think they don’t want to drive all the way out here /-)

I’ve accumulated an awful lot of goodies over the years and it’s time to realise some cash if possible. I have an awful lot to sell, and it’s all as clean as the day it was unwrapped. I look after my things.


Today I’ve received a DVD I ordered from Amazon, Who Is Killing the Great Chefs of Europe? It stars Jaqueline Bisset, George Segal (whatever happened to him?) and Robert Morley. I saw it many years ago (it says ©1978) and I’ve seen it once more somewhere, but it’s the only movie I know of that never shows up in the old movie bins and is never repeated on TV. Why? I reckon it’s a great movie (in the comedy sense) and deserves to be better known.