Reply To: Howard Gem Series V

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Hi all,

Work on the Gem will be curtailed for a while. Was on an 18 month NHS waiting list for an op for a blocked vein on my leg. With 4 months to go had a call to say there was a slot available yesterday from a cancellation. Took it and am now laid up for a while. When I get active again will be flat out on my veg plot, soft fruit and orchard in my spare time, am still working. So no time to play with machines, unless urgent repairs. One of the problems with using such old kit is the constant maintenance to keep it going. But that is part of the fun, get great satisfaction from getting them to operate at an optimum level and then working with them.

Have never used a large walk behind rotovator with rubber tyres, so do not know if the direction of the cleats on the tyres makes much difference. Someone told me that they should be opposite to a tractor years ago, so that is what I understood. Have a Clifford Mk1that came with the tyre cleats pointing backwards. It was owned by an old boy who became so infirm he gave up his veg growing and swapped it for a load of logs. This new owner used it for years until it stopped working with no spark. Muggins bought it for £40, the vendor was very honest and said the coil had packed up. He thought it could be repaired with an external Honda 90 coil. So had a go, stripped the secondary windings from the original coil and hooked up the primary windings (which I understand rarely fail due to their thickness) to the external coil. But it did not work. Put in a Villiersparts coil and then had a good spark. Not the cheapest repair, but do use the roteo (Evesham slang for rotovator), it does a good job for its size and sounds a lot different 4 stoke singles. It will not chop in tall plants and is unstable over rough ground due to the wheels being so close together. If it hits a big stone, the flywheel will turn on the crankshalf, it then has to be re-timed. But its a gas to use.

My other roteo is an early Clifford Model A with steel wheels. Bought it in the early 1980’s from a chap who was packing up his part-time market garden. He wanted £70 for it and had a Trusty for sale too. Did not really want the Trusty, but it had a rebuilt engine, plough and cultivator frame, so agreed to take it off his hands for £25. Have used that same Trusty for 40 years. Its well and truly knackered now, apart from the engine and clutch. Have another two Trusty’s I bought in bits, both with Douglas engines, one with a reserving gearbox and transmission brake. The plan is to get one going in tip top working condition and put the Jap 5 engine from the retired Trusty on the Clifford. That has hooked tines on the rotor and I think does a better job than the L blades. Got some new tines years ago from Chester Hudson, he seemed to have massive stocks of all sorts of parts. I wonder what ever happened it all, does anyone know? The Clifford used to loose its gearbox oil from leaking seals where the rotor shaft came out of the central casing. Understand the original seals were leather, would like to replace them. Does anyone have any ideas about that too?

Will post an update about the Gem when its either working, or if there is a serious problem.