Wool & Weavers in 17th Century Wiltshire

18th January 2017

My earliest proven ancestor John Thornton born 1651 of Netton . Update: No such record can be found but thornton / ThornEtons have been found in the nearby Β Bourne Valley in the village records of the Winterbournes, these lines have since been connected . He was church warden of All Saints Durrington his grave marker can be found adjacent to the church.Β The parish registers, dating from 1591, other than those in current use, are held in the Wiltshire Family History Society.

All Saints Durrington Wilts.

It is reasonable to conclude that he was a noteable in the parish, by both his position in the church and a having a headstone erected. His occupation is recorded as a weaver, as was his son Edward who probably inherited his father’s loom.

The wool trade the major portion of Wiltshire’s economy and wealth from earlier times . In the 17th Century

Di Longhi EC702 Espresso – update 2017

30 Jan 2017

Update to the Blog http://www.myblog.tom-thornton.ca/delonghi-ec-702-expresso-maker/

Two years and 3 months on the machine sprung a leak πŸ™ oooooo
I immediately contacted Forum Appliances Vancouver to order a replacement. They also confirmed they would repair it for $75 BUT the shipping costs would be around $40 each way. :(O

I decide to open the machine to see what where the leak was .
YouTube is mine of useful info for such purposes :

There are several more video on other EC702 repairs.

What I found was that a gesket on the output side of the Valve #71 had been sqeezed out .

Showing the #71 Valve output side disconected
 and the damaged Seal/ gasket

Damaged seal detail.

Here is a link to the parts manual for EC702.
There being no breakdown showing the gasket I orders two replacement valves –  #71 @ $5. each  form Forum. I see this a cheap insurance πŸ™‚
As 2nd repaired machine will reside in the RV Trailer.

The replacement machine arrived this morning just in time to make my mid morning brew – Happy birthday Me !

Even with this failure I still consider this to be the best value for money coffee maker on the market . Which is why I replaced with the exact same one.

Only my original 1990’s Starbucks Barista which lasted 7 years has not disappointed me – I have suffered through 2 Krupps 2 failures within weeks  ( Leaks)
Breville 2 failures (Electrical).

Read my modification post to further improve this machine
I have also found it wise to ease out the steam jet to  lowere the back pressure other wise the Pipet will push off at high velocity into your milk which then soak you and the whole area in hot frothed milK <I:(O )))))))

WOW! -Real Marmalde

27 Jan 2017

Winter’s Delight, Fresh Tasting Tangy Marmalade

It is about late January when the supply of jars of this delicious tasty homemade preserve dwindle in the larder. Fortunately it is also the time that the Seville Oranges magically reappear in the grocery stores.

We make our own because I love the real thing , that is , NOT the sugary syrup in jars found at your local supermarket for $5 ea., which is the most expensive sugar you can buy . No the stuff I am talking about is like biting into a whole fresh orange !. Full of zesty citrus flavour.

Ok so now that you are drooling , and you are eager to have a go at making your own.

Citrus Ingredients for One batch:)

In my experience of making Marmalade the method is as important as the exact ingredients .

You need:
8 Seville Oranges & 2 Lemons
You may substitute other citrus according to your preference, but I recommend that for your first batch you stick to the above basic version.
6 Cups sugar
4 Cups Water
Pomoma’s Universal Pectin.
For non N.Americans 1 cup = 8 fluid Ounces
This makes approx 8-9 cups of Marmalade.

Buy this easy to read style

You will also need a Candy / Deep Fry Thermometer with temp reading in excess of  120C .

The process :

First cut the fruit in half to make it easier to work with.
Now with  very sharp remove the outer peel in thin broad slices.
Then slice the peel into 1/2- 3/4″ long narrow strips and set aside.
I have also found that instead of the above, if really sharp potato peeler is used on the whole orange, a much finer more consistent peel is removed .

Next squeeze every possible bit of juice out of you fruit into jug.
I  have found the tools in the photo to be the best for this.

Now in 4 cups of water boil the squeezed fruit, seeds included, until it becomes translucent and soft , usually about an hour.
When cool enough to handle, squeeze out all the juice that you can .

Time to prepare and sterilize your jars and their lids .

Now I have found that although in theory you will have extracted enough pectin , the natural setting agent, from the seed that you boiled I have had disappointingly runny marmalade on occasion :(. So I now add a dose of off the shelf pectin .

For this I use Pomona’s Universal Pectin because it is activated be Calcium not sugar and one can reduce the sugar content significantly if desired.

I have found it is best to add the pectin dose to the extracted juice and blend it well before adding the cooking pan.

Get ready to cook :

Prepared ingredients

You need a large jam pan , Stainless Steel preferably, with a heavy bottom to avoid burning. I also have found our regular kitchen stove to have difficulty in delivering enough heat to achieve the necessary rolling boil to the magic temperature of 108C . Instead I cook outside on our Coleman Propane camping stove.


Juice pressing tools – Lemon Squeezer and Potatoe Ricer

place all the spent citrus centres into the pan with 4 cups  water cook until translucent about 45mins – 1 hr. allow to cool and squeeze out every drop of liquid and reserve it back into the pan. To extract the maximum from the cooked cores I squeeze them in the Potatoe Ricer shown in the photo . this adds a lot of fine pu;p to the brew which may not be to everyone’s liking.

Rolling boil at 104C – Wait!

add all the prepared liquid ingredients into the pan and begin to heat gently adding the sugar by drizzling it in while stirring steadily.
Once the sugar is fully dissolved, begin to raise the heat keeping an eye on the thermometer reading , while liquor is at a rolling boil. It will probably stall for a while at 104C, but be patient !. Another point to note is that the sliced peel will become translucent. What is happening now is you are boiling off excess water which raises the boiling point of you Marmalade . When the thermometer reaches the magic 108C  and this may take another 1/2 hour, test a drop on a cold plate to be assured of your preferred degree of set .

Remove from heat and place the precious Marmalade into the sterile jars to just below the top, cover with lids and tighten the rings , turn upside down to for 5 + mins the seal is confirmed when the lid pings πŸ™‚

Now you have many months of breakfast pleasure to enjoy πŸ™‚


Coffee Bean Roasting 2

20th Dec 2016

My Pop-Corn Roaster set up
The roaster is placed in thebucket and aids Temp rise.

Nice Christmas roast

I have been roasting Green beans for over 15 years but this week I may have found a way to achieve  more consistent results.

Recently my roasts have been a little disappointing as they lacked richness .
Today was almost the longest day, the light was poor so peering in at the darkening beans through the smoke was difficult , so fetched a bright LED flashlight to illuminate the beans in the final stage.

Smokin’ away

Illuminating the roast with Bright LED flashlight

It worked wonders for me, being able see clearly the colour of the beans , enabled me to better identify my end point .

If you roast with a similar set up I suggest you try this .

The MAJOR & The Bucket Sweeper Project

13th Oct. 2016

Major 8 ft Bucket sweeper working on a JCB Telehandler

Just had a visit from a friend that I met in 1968 while working at Western Star Trucks, Kelowna. We have shared much since those halcyon days .

Later I worked in the field as sales rep for “The Major” in Western US and Canada . During that time there was much talk by those responsible for road maintenance to be more environmentally sensitive about how they dealt with road sweeping . It being then considered inappropriate to simply sweep debris off into the ditches , drains or watercourses .

With that brief the Major, a specialist manufacturer of attachments for construction equipment set out to build a “Better Sweeeper”. One that was an improvement over the existing commonly used Open Broom .

The aforesaid friend , Tony Hagger owned The Major, and for this he was the leader the design team . I became directly involved in field trials and demonstrations .

To further promote the concept I shot movies of these and used my video equipment to create promotional Video CD’s of these demos  for distribution to dealers and potential customers or State Highway departments.

Cleaning out a cabinet recently I found copies and decided to post them on YouTube .


Fourteen years on I don’t think it has been widely adopted, in fact The Major seems to have disappeared πŸ™


DeLonghi EC 702 Expresso Maker

17th Nov. ’14

I am a coffee fanatic 

I buy a section of green beans and roast them in an electric pop-corn popper weekly.
Over the past 19 years i have owned several expresso machines. the first a Starbucks Barista ( $500 ) by Saeco I believe lasted by far the longest 1997 to 2006 . When it died it was no longer serviced by Starbucks and in fact Starbucks no longer sold this type of machine.
It was replaced by the then new-comer in the market place Breville ( $350 ) this machine made excellent coffee bit the steam wand was not so good. When it blew its boiler after 18 mths just out warranty I switched to cheaper Krupps machine from Costco ( also about $300 ) this thing failed inside 3 mths and was replaced under warranty but i had to pay the freight to return it ($50) when it failed again a few moths later Krupps Canadian agents would not replace the unit so beware this and other brands handled by them.

Following a long hiatus I re-entered the market and found Focus appliances in Vancouver to be extremely helpful . When I phoned and spoke with one of their expresso consultants. He was confident that I would be happy with a machine that has been around a long time – solid reliable and serviced by them – De Longhi EC702

They offered the machine @ $199 with an extra 12mths warranty and free shipping = remarkable savings .

I received the machine this morning and thoroughly cleaned its inards with several hot water sparges and steam passes through it. Having watched a few YouTube demo vids of the machine I was not surprised to find the patented Auto steam wand produced steamed milk OK but with lots of bubbles and almost no micro-foam. One professional Barista who has this machine at home said to remove the outer sleeve from the wand  ( panarello ) permanently and learn to use the single jet tip as with the professional machines to make perfect micro-foam with a texture like latex paint .

Tomorrows coffee will be even better πŸ™‚

Updated  25th Nov.

Some suggestions based on my past experience in the craft and this machine in particular.
I firstly removed the tamper as I found it to rediculously awkward to use and made a hand one on my lathe with a Corian face that is a snug fit in the basket. This enables consistent tamping.

Panarello removed

Later I cut of the lug as well !

Shop made tamper

 Next I removed the patented Panarello which produces froth rather than the required micro -foam and by trial and some error using only the single jet tip to heat the milk. By imersing just the short conical portion just below the surface of the milk near the edge of the jug one can generate a good swirling motion and nice micro-foam . I find that with the steam control handle down at 30mins position I get plenty of  aeration and moving the tip inward away from the edge near the end works well for me.

I found this instruction to be very helpful –

Further update : Dec 1st 

The lug on the steam wand was causing me grief as it limited the movement and angle that I could position my milk steaming jug . Yesterday I cut it off and today even better Micro-foam with the tip placement about one fingers width in from the side of the jug and canted about 30 degrees with the tip bare submerged πŸ™‚

Updated 1 year on : Aug 27th 2015

Yep! it is twice daily use and still working faultlessly πŸ™‚


TSR 2 -Supersonic Blast from my Past

TSR 2 Britains super fighter/bomber

Updated : Nov 16 2015

Newly released film – https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=o53u0X0Ik0w

 The only TSR-2 to fly, XR219 in anti-flash white finish, at BAC’s Warton factory in 1966

Links : http://www.thunder-and-lightnings.co.uk/tsr2/history.php

 In Flight  Film  http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=GXdJxjvQZW4


During the early ’60’s I worked at the Plessey  Research facility near Romsey then named Roke Manor. I was a lead mechanical designer working on a ECM package for this aircraft. It was to replace a similar functioning unit used in the V series bombers. The size of that unit was approx equal to two garbage cans. The unit for TSR 2 was to be minute in comparison. The finished size was 10″ in dia x 10″ long being super cooled with glycol. The microwave section was 1/8 ceramic triplanes and a new range of  miniature microwave connectors was designed to facilitate connections of the interior circuitry. I have learned that the unit was never installed and probably handed over to RAE at Farnborough.

In 1965 Harold Wilson and the Labour government of 1965  cancelled the entire aircraft project. In doing so crippled the British Aero industry. I was so disillusioned by the The UK’s failure to place significant value on those brilliant designers and engineers that I made plans to leave the UK. 1967 I emigrated to BC Canada to begin working a a designer for at the then new Western Star Truck Plant in Kelowna BC.

This work was covered by the British Official Secrets Act for the Next 25 years = Secret

Micro Wave coupler 5x full size
Development Bench tool – X band Phase Shifter

I goes without saying it is a near identical scenario the surrounded the all weather fighter the Avro Arrow here in Canada at around the same time.

I am sure some of this ECM developed went on to be used on later aircraft for the RAF but the momentum was lost.

For anyone with a desire to learn more – Damien Burke has published a very good book ” TSR 2  -Britains Lost Bomber ”  Although very well researched it denies that an ECM package was under developement for TSR2 which I know to be false ! Daimien has a copy of a letter from a senior RAF commander stating that there was to NO ECM package . I suspect ARE had other ideas which they kept under wraps .

Document – Noise Jammers denied – Our unit was a complete ECM package.

Faulty product or bad workmanship ?

1st April – 3 weeks Post Op. I am told that I am making good progress with re-hab. However , a good & solid nights sleep with no pain would be even better :(o.

Just when you think you have put an unpleasant experience far behind you such as a house fire, sometimes it jumps up to bite you. For example, almost exactly 3 yrs ago to the day we lost our house to a fire ( long and unhappy story ) last week Dian & I had been chiding each other to ensure the shower door was properly closed and the shower head directed appropriately because water was appearing under the door. Well it as it turned out it was neither us or the shower. After calling in Belfor, our restoration company that rebuilt our house they determined with the aid of a moisture meter and 2ndly a plumber that one of the new fittings installed had cracked , and was seeping water into the wall and under the shower. So we have endured  3 days of de-hums running 24 hrs, but now all is well and dry now πŸ˜‰ When I am fit I will need to make two cover panels for the holes they punched through the drywall to gain access to the problem.