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I know of several people including myself, who build there own computers. However none of them build laptops.

I have looked on CCL's site and can find no mention of Laptop cases. They seem to sell one or two components but cases do not seem to occur.

Has anyone any thoughts on the matter please?

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I guess the lack of laptop DIY kits is because there is no significant demand.  Each laptop manufacturer has their own motherboard and other components to suit their specific design.


I recently had the task of changing some memory in a friends laptop. It was just my luck to find one card under a removable panel on the underside - but the second card was under the key board. I had to remove the keyboard and all sorts of gubbins to get at it. Everything is so crammed together - I don't think I would try to build one from scratch even if DIY Components were available. I imagine the cost would be prohibitive anyway.


If I recall correctly you once built a car from scratch using all sorts of bits and pieces. Why not put your DIY skills towards making a laptop using suitable stuff from the kitchen, garage, and your computer bits and pieces jumble box.

You could have a hand wound clockwork spring hard drive and a whole bank of AA batteries to fire the beast. The permutations are endless. 


If Roland Emmett were alive today I bet he would relish the task.


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Thanks for your quick reply, Alan. That was the sort of response I expected. I could not remember any mention of laptop building on any site I have seen. I do not want one seriously enough to buy one, in fact I think they are an abomination. I once got an older second hand one for management to transport photographs and little tales to her father's over in the Skipton area when he was on his last legs., and my current interest is along the same lines. Even the cheapest I can see on the internet is several times the price I would want to pay.

As far as  car building goes I have built one or two. I think the specific one you mention was the one that we christened "The Ugly Truck". The only proprietary bits that were in it were the engine/gearbox,  the front suspension units and the wheels.


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Some years ago ebuyer used to stock barebones laptops bundles, you then purchased CPU, RAM & hard drive and put it together yourself. They always worked out way more expensive  than specifying what you wanted from Dell or whoever takes your fancy. I don't think they ever caught on and they don't seem to be available any more

Seeing as there were so few components to configure or fit, you'd probably get the same buzz if you bought a cheap lappy and swapped out the RAM & Hard drive  for something bigger or solid state.

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My Ugly truck was not intended for that league.

It was built because we used to go to IOM a few times a year and always went on "the midnight boat" for what are known as logistic reasons. This left us having to try to sleep in the car on the quay side or somewhere, and try as one might that not a very comfortable or conducive way. So I decided to build something in which we could lay out full length in comfort. For some reason or other we never went to IOM in it.

At that time I had just taken early retirement and had kept my company BMW and my wife was running a 4WD Subaru estate. I had just finished getting the ugly truck licensed and on the road when the Subaru suffered the dreaded Subaru tank rotting  malady. So out it went, and she used the BMW and I used the Ugly truck.  A few months later she took early retirement, and so the Ugly truck became redundant.

In a nearby village there was a young chap selling second hand motors and so I went and had a word with him and explained how the public might take more notice of his stock of vehicles if he had an Ugly truck on his forecourt.  He said he didn't really need it, and politely did not buy it.

Some weeks later he came and bought it. Some weeks later I noticed all his stock had gone.

After another couple of weeks he appeared again on our doorstep, telling us he was going to France, to sell Ugly Truck T-shirts and he presented me with one.

He came back many months later....well the Ugly Truck came back into the district, painted black.

A couple of years later we moved from the wettest part of Yorkshire to the driest part of Yorkshire and lost all trace of it.


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Sorry you loose points on "Door"s . They were all made in the catgate workshop.  I will conceded the hinges. They are the only ones I could think of that were suitable, but I had to make eight small tapered packing pieces to make them work in a vertical plain. The hinge pins are set at an angle because of the nipped in contour of  the Land Rovers door

I saw the radiator grill on the road side one day whilst travelling home from somewhere or other and it seemed such a waste not to pick it up and use such an exotic item.

The biggest and most taxing task was making  the moulds. Every panel on the thing is different.

I must also deduct a point for the matter of colour. It was just two .

When my daughter first saw it she said "You've got the colour wrong . It should have been that right dark navy that they use on the vans that they take prisoners away in".

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Optical illusion then as the roof and bonnet still look different shades of that exotic colour hearing aid brown once popular with Leyland.


I stand in awe of your engineering ability and persistence, however your sense of aesthetics scares the bejeezus out of me, I've considered notable cars from the past like the Ford Edsel, Pontiac Aztek or Ssangyong Rhodius and believe you've managed to make them look comparatively stylish. I await your next effort with considerable trepidation.


No trepidation wasn't the word i was looking for, what I meant was




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                 "  I await your next effort with considerable trepidation. "


I am afraid you will have a long wait. That was the last in the line.

It predecessors were not as totally home made, rather more home assembled and included a Mini, a Mini Jem, a Marcos and enough motor cycles to make a man weep. 



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Your father sounds to be/was a champion sort of fellow. My real interest was 'bikes and still would be if it were not for the passing years. Management and I must have covered thousands of miles on two wheels in the UK and on the continent and Eire.


It's funny that motorcycles should come up just now, because we are going over to IOM on Wed. for a few days. One of my friends over there was* a motorcycle man. He had quite a collection, including a Vincent, an Airiel 500 and a Triumph 500. which were all complete and in running order.  Most of the collection was spare parts, which he had collected from all sorts of sources, including a tip. He had a garage with nothing in it but motor cycle stuff. He was odd in that he could tell you what every part was, and what it, did but didn't have the first idea about putting a bike together.


On one of our trips over we had gone in the Minjem. It was a two seater with a large space behind the seats and a large lift up back window. When we arrived at his house on the Saturday morning he said, "I'm glad you came in that because I would like you to take this cabbage that I have grown down to the Vegetable Show.  I can't get it in my boot." (He was a keen gardener with a little A30.)

We went out into his garden to pick up the cabbage and when I saw it I could nor believe it was only one plant. It took two of us to lift it and it only just went through the back of the Minijem. When we got to the church hall, or whatever it was, it had double doors and both had to be open and we had to walk in with him walking in backwards and me walking forwards. to get the cabbage inside (and I never got a photograph of it.)


On a subsequent visit has wife had given him some stick about storing all "this rubbish" in the garage and we came to a swift agreement that I would swap him the Minijem for the running Triumph and most of the  spares that were of no use to him. And so it came to be. He ran the Minijem for many years until one day he said he had to get rid of it because the petrol tank had taken a knock from a stone or some thing and it had sprung a leak. BMC had stopped making Minivans and so he could not get hold of a new tank. I never knew why he did not get some local tin basher to make him a new one.


I assembled five or six 'bikes out of my side of the deal.


* He was diabetic and went to the great motor cycle store in the sky a few years ago.

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My dads first car was an A30.

One of his bikes had an ex army tank that had been marked for disposal by the simple technique of walloping it with a ball peen hammer, I think it was a slightly dodgy item he picked up at Vale Onslows. He checked it was fuel tight, soldered a patch over the dent then repainted it. Most of his bikes were functional but compromised on the engineering front as he'd buy bits as and when he could get them, frame here, gearbox there engine somewhere else and in most cases not designed to fit together so having access to a machine shop at work was a godsend.

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Vale Onslows.


That's a name that was introduced to me by a chap who bought a Triumph sidecar outfit from me. Part of the deal was that I took  an original SOS*  motorcycle from him.

The outfit was one I had put together for my wife to use to get  "motorcycles" added to her driving  licence. It was a 500cc Triumph bike with a lightweight sidecar (the type used by scooters in the past.

I put into the sidecar a wooden crate with a few "loom weights" for ballast.

One day I had taken them out for some reason and had forgotten to put them back. I asked her if she would go to see a friend of mine, who also messed with bikes, and pick up something he had for me.  You can see what is coming can you not?

Well she corrected things perfectly when the sidecar started to lift, but it shook her so much that she abandoned the idea of ever driving a motorcycle.

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What type of tank did he have


Probably an old Norton, they'd been sold off as scrap by the MOD  but Len Vale Onslow had acquired some somehow. If you look him up on Wikipedia and various other places he's painted as this saintly old motorcycle pioneer. My Great uncle however was in the police and reckoned Vale Onslow could have given Arthur Daley lessons in sharp accounting and interesting deals.  

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  • 3 weeks later...

We arrived back from IOM nearly a week ago and as usual we had a couple of afternoons with my motorcycle friend's wife, who has now taken over the maintenance a of the garden. She is quite an adept but with a much less lunatic approach than Keith had.  His style is wonderfully displayed in the following video:-


This was made several years ago,shortly before he went to the big garden in the sky.

Kath has removed all the "agricultural " machinery and trimmed a lot of thing back without loosing the maniac touch.


I was just wondering about telling the strange tale of the NSU.



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We used to have a chap near us collected old farm equipment like that and he wanted to open his collection to the public, the local council said no as it could cause traffic problem ! Traffic problems it was a collection of old ploughs and similar not sodding Disneyland and just to show how consistent they were after he died and the collection was broken up, they turned his field into a weekly car boot sale venue and that most definitely does cause traffic problems. Don't you love all the logic behind it ?

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Herewith a story about an NSU 250 overhead cam motor cycle :-



I think I will tell you the tale of the NSU. It throws a little light on the odd ways of man.


We were over in IOM about 20 years ago and were driving along listening to Manx Radio when an advert came over the ether telling of a man in Ballabeg who was selling a 250 NSU that was totally stripped down, and gave the 'phone number to call for details.


Management and I had a quick committee meeting and being not to far away (nothing is in the IOM) we went to inspect it. It was certainly stripped down as far as possible. The only thing not dismembered was the flywheels/big end/conrod assembly and that was totally without sign or feel of any wear having taken place. A very realistic price was agreed, and we went to friend Keith and got three big plastic fish boxes to use to carry it all back to my garage at home in England the day after.


A friend of mine, who used to be a works rider for Triumph and had all sorts of bikes, had a similar bike. He also had a special tool for holding 250cc NSU engines whilst working on them. This allowed the engine to be moved into virtually any desired position one desired. ( This was as good as having four hands.) So bit by bit I rebuilt the the engine/gearbox combination, and could find nothing wrong with it and hence was totally at a loss to understand why it was in bits.


According to the log book the bike had been sold new in Liverpool and had first changed hands at about 5 years of age. Its change of ownership had moved it to IOM where it changed hands another half dozen times but had never been licensed for the road after its first owner in IOM. The chap I bought it from said he had had it several years and had never had the time to rebuild it.


I realised why it had never been rebuilt shortly after starting the rebuild myself. The design and engineering were superb and too complicated to describe here, and had it not been for my friend's special tool I too would have thrown in the towel. After a couple of weeks of careful rebuilding and marvelling at the standard of German design I had the thing mastered and back on its wheel again.


It received lubricant and fuel and a quick downward thrust on the kickstart peddle and she fired up as sweet as you could wish. I sat astride of it for about a minute and then it just stopped abruptly. Panic!!!! I had a tentative push on the peddle and it was quite solid.

I waited for another minute or two and, just as I was going to have another try, a friend turned up. He too was a motorcycle man.


“Looks great”, he said. But when I when I explained what had happened and demonstrated it to him he was as baffled as I was. So I started to strip it down carefully, examining every component, until I got right back to a flywheels and big end assembly (which still felt like new).


Splitting a big end is not difficult. The difficulty arises in balancing the reassembled assembly to the level of perfection needed for something rotating at the speed the engine reaches in use. My other problem was finding a new big end bearing. As we talked my friend mentioned a chap that I had met at an autojumble some months before, and who lived down in Cheshire. He raced an NSU and did a bit of parts dealing to finance it. It took me quite some time to find his tele. number but I succeeded and rang him that evening.


I rang him and “Yes” he had a big end assembly and if I wished I could go down with the entire flywheels assembly and he would fit a new big end assembly, and balance it up, on his genuine NSU works style balancing rig. So the following evening I went and got this job done and brought home the flywheels and new big end assembly.


The following couple of days saw the gradual reassembly of a runner.


I also brought back the old big end assembly. It was a most beautifully turned chunk of solid bronze, turned in a lathe into the precise shape of a normal big end assembly i.e. roller or ball bearing supported on a big end shaft. The workman ship was of the highest class but the entire venture was folly of the highest class.


It was obvious that there was no provision for feeeding oil to the bearing surfaces and hence it would heat up, expand and then seize up very quickly. The big question was who, when, why and where?


One day I got out the old Manx Logbook and had a serious look through it to try to determine an answer to the question. I found that the bike had first been bought and put on the road in Liverpool where it stayed for several years. It then went to IOM and was registered there to an owner who had it on the road for several years. It then passed down through quite a number of owners who never licensed it. Some kept it for longer periods than others but they all never licenced it for road use. Its condition showed no sign of rough usage and so I came to the conclusion that when the second user had it the big end had been badly damaged and rather get the proper article he had managed to get a very skilled craftsman to make a substitute out of bronze (there were a good number of aircraft quality engineers in IOM at the parachute ejector seat factory at the right time). I am guessing that the then owner was beaten by the complexity of rebuilding without the special jig and sold it to the next owner in bits. This procedure continuing until I heard the Manx Radio many years afterwards.


I only rode it a few times before sadly realising that it was quite a nice ride one up, but trotting round the dales with management on the back, was a non starter so I an advert went into an olde motor cycling paper with an asking price of £800 . One day, not long after the published day, I got a 'phone call from a chap expressing interest in this NSU. He had had one before and he thought it was wonderful and had regretted selling it and would I take £600. I said I would not but If he was such a fan of NSU I would sell him it for £700. Done! His friend would be coming up our way next Wednesday and he would bring cash and a van. All of which came to pass.


A month or two later I was looking at “Classic Motorcycle” (a monthly mag.) when what should I see on the centre of the back page but my £700 NSU 250, as centrepiece of an advert. by a well known MotorCycle Dealership. Asking price £3000!!!!



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  • 1 month later...

I am coming back to this topic about laptops because  my daughter has just bought herself a new laptop and brought me her two discarded ones. Both are Toshiba. Unfortunately she has lost their chargers  and "manuals" (if they had them).

I have ordered a new charger but I am unable to find out if Toshiba manuals exist. I could make no sense of Toshiba's site and pitiful pretence of "customer service"  this afternoon.  So I am wondering if anyone can shed a light on Toshiba's stance on customer service and the question I wished to have answered about manuals.

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