Wednesday 29 December 2021

Some advice on wrangling with a Horstmann Electronic 7

Some advice on operating this type of Horstmann Electronic 7 thermostat. These control the heating of domestic hot water tanks and are very common in the UK and probably elsewhere.

Thanks to MyBuilder for the picture of my type.

There are apparently two heaters in the water tank this controls, bottom and top. The idea of the Electronic 7 is to work both heaters safely, and not allow them both to be on at the same time.

According to advice on the Electrician's Forum in 2010 the Electronic 7 offers a timer that lets the bottom heater run off the cheap rate electricity. This rate is usually only offered overnight, perhaps between 11pm and 6am in a British winter. This lower base heater is apparently slower as it "may take 3 hours" to heat the tank from cold. Thus it's not much use to only put it on for 50 minutes or so.

The top heater is there to more quickly boost the hot water if you run out, and thus seems to be a bit more powerful. It can usually be put on for an hour at a time via the "Boost" button, and apparent somehow uses only normal rate electricity(?). It only directly heats the top third or so of the tank, but should provide enough hot water after an hour for one bath. Indeed, it does.

Now here's the confusing thing. If you turn off the Timed heating (i.e. big rocker button to 'Timed' and slider-switch to 'Manual', as seen above), then the red 'Timer' light on the box will still come on. What seems to be happening here is that this light also comes on to indicate the 'cheap rate time'. It being 'on' thus does not always mean 'the water is heating'. Just that the Timer can only be used at this time. When this 'Timer' light is on, you will then be unable to turn on the 'Boost' button and its light. This is presumably a safety thing, as it prevents both heaters being on at the same time and (I guess) overheating the tank. However, it may be rather confusing to some first-time users.

So, knowing this, it seems to me that it may be more expensive to run the bottom heater for four hours at off-peak each night, compared to a one-hour morning boost at peak cost. If a one-hour boost is all you need, and perhaps then not even every day. That said, I'm uncertain if the top heater has a different power wattage than the lower one. If it has then the cost advantage could be less. Check your boiler make.

Anyway the problem with this mutually-exclusive timer/boost arrangement is that if the tank is cold and you needed a bath at 5.30am, you would actually have to wait until 7am. ('Boost' button is not enabled until 6pm, then heating takes an hour from cold = hot bath only available at 7am). Obviously this is not viable for people who need to get to work quite early, and who like a bath beforehand.

The solution: Simply nudge the main clock-time forward on the Electronic 7. Press the 'hour set' button a couple of times and fool the clock into thinking it is running three hours ahead. In other words, when it is actually 4.30am your Horstmann's clock will then read 7.30am. The device has been fooled into thinking it is out of off-peak / cheap-rate time. It will now let you press that 'Boost' button just after you wake up. The 'Boost' light will come on, and you'll have a piping hot bath ready an hour later.... after some breakfast and light reading.

Friday 26 November 2021

Knutton doin', Labour reports today:

"In Knutton, Newcastle-under-Lyme, the Conservative vote shared soared by 25.8% points. Labour came in second with 48.9% of the vote share. The by-election was caused by the resignation of Labour councillor Brian Johnson."

Tuesday 2 November 2021

Newcastle turns blue

Good news. Newcastle-under-Lyme has turned blue, and not because of the pong from the Silverdale tip. The Sentinel reports today that:

"Four independent councillors on Newcastle Borough Council have joined the Conservatives – giving the Tories an overall majority on the authority"

Hopefully this might cause a re-think on their 'build on green spaces' stance.

Friday 22 October 2021

Four months without the 'pong'

It's now been four months here, with open windows and I'd not had a whiff of the Silverdale tip 'pong'. This, as many local will recall, was the 'bad eggs' pong was drifting down into the valley and across Stoke, causing so much concern a year ago. Can we hope that it's finally gone, at least for those not living on the rim of the tip?

Thursday 19 August 2021

Smell hell - gone?

It's been two months now, since Stoke had a whiff of the local landfill that so blighted the springtime and early summer with its 'bad eggs' smell. At least, that's been the case down here in the valley, and for someone with windows open. Mostly likely it's still not too pleasant for those living around the edges of the site.

Saturday 14 August 2021

In a flap

Great news, Stoke's pigeon cull has begun. Sadly it's unofficial. What we really need is a big official cull, right across the city. There are far too many of them, and they're becoming a pest species.

Tuesday 20 July 2021

Sun block

What is the Met Office doing issuing an "Extreme Heat" warning today? North Staffordshire was max. 80 degrees today. That's just a normal summer, or it is in those happy years when England actually gets a summer. We don't need yet another dribble of daily alarmism. Thanks goodness I grew up at a time when we lived without constant nannying and scolding and 'soft' hysteria. My advice is to get the relevant addons and filters for your web browser, and learn how to block most of it out. It's not that difficult to select and block individual bits of a Web page, or to block items with certain phrases.

Monday 19 July 2021

Tip whiff sniffed... no more?

Don't blame me if I jinx it with this post, and flood Stoke with pong tonight. But I'll point out that the last time 'the stink' from the Silverdale tip was wafting over Stoke was in the night of 18th/19th June 2021. This means we've now gone a whole month without having a whiff of 'bad eggs' wafting down here. Which, in this nice bit of summer, is very welcome.

Meanwhile, Newcastle-under-Lyme Council are reported to be considering putting aside a £1m legal fund to take the tip owners to court. Something the owners have anticipated, as they hived it off to a ring-fenced shell company some months ago.

Friday 2 July 2021

Conservatives take Penkhull & Stoke

Good news, the Conservatives have just taken Penkhull & Stoke in a local councillor by-election. Together with a few defections of councillors to the Conservative group in recent weeks, it looks like the Party is now bedding into Stoke quite nicely.

Saturday 12 June 2021

Hot stuff

We may have nude sunbathing in Hanley, but where's this blistering heatwave that was promised? It's been very nice the last twelve days, but nowhere near a heatwave. Today was supposed to be the big shocker, but no. Just pleasantly warm. I don't even need a fan on, let alone an air-conditioner. Same for tomorrow, with the run of warm weather breaking next Thursday.

The real problem currently is the return of 'the stink' from around the nearby landfill at Silverdale. Last night was it was very strong, despite the stiff wind, and this time it had the added and faintly nausiating scent of sick in it. Lovely.

Friday 21 May 2021

Another blow to Hanley

Sad to hear that the Hanley Marks & Spencers is closing soon. Seemingly another casuality of the lockdown, along with the other big Hanley department store Debenhams.

Personally I won't miss either. But Debenhams and M&S closing will no doubt be a huge blow to the centre. Especially in terms of attracting "Mrs. Spends £100 per-week on clothes and cakes" and her kids, with the kids being dropped off in somewhere like Games Workshop / the comic shop / the Library. Webberley's big bookshop and the art supplies shop have long gone, and the Library is no draw for me — books now come to me from Amazon and eBay and go to lockers for pickup. Nice to see the arcade record shop and Brassington's shoe-shop are hanging on in Hanley, and that Brassington's website is offering prices that undercut Amazon on brands such as Dr. Marten's. But for me footwear is only a once-in-ten-years purchase, and all my music is now digital.

Thus Rymans is now the only real draw for me in Hanley, and even then only occasionally and only because the big-shed version of Staples on Festival Park closed down. Difficult to think of any other reason to go up to Hanley, and plenty not to — in the form of the druggies and crazy people who are allowed to roam it and yell at the public while the police sit idly by in their car. Which I saw with my own eyes when I visited Rymans last autumn.

My last M&S "new trousers" visit, some years ago now, was actually to the huge out-of-town M&S at nearby Wolstanton. It has to be M&S because only there can you get exact trouser lengths + quality + price + a selection. And they still take seriously menswear for those who are not pencil-slim 19 year-olds, and give it lots of display space. It's a good store, huge and browsable, and with a big B&M next door. Once the big Wolstanton flyover finally opens you might even have some people walking up there from Festival Park, provided the long pedestrian bridge-crossing experience is made pleasant. When I last went it was a bit of a dog's leg to walk there, and the toy-town bus back was late and meh.

So really, Hanley's become a bit pointless for me now. Especially as many things can now be sent to an Amazon pickup on Festival Park. Or had via eBay if they can fit through a letterbox. There's also the B&Q on Festival Park, for the sort of larger or more specialist DIY items that can't be had from Morrisons. But that's the western part of Festival Park, which can hardly be considered to be Hanley. Nor can Ableworld which is far down on the southern edge of Hanley by the canal, and which I may eventually need when the time comes for the zimmer-frame and the ear-trumpet. Now there's a thought. The city centre bosses might find a way to get the big Ableworld up into Hanley, with good parking, and at no extra cost to the chain. That would be a draw for many older people. It might even fit nicely inside the current M&S space. That's if, by then, Ableworld hasn't already found a new space at Wolstanton next to the new flyover and M&S.

Wednesday 19 May 2021

Pong along

There were definite slight traces of the bad-eggs "pong", down in the Stoke valley, during yesterday afternoon, then fading. Then it became quite noticable at about 8pm-9pm yesterday, before fading away again. The wind is in the right direction this morning, but brisk and no smell here.

Friday 14 May 2021

10 days without the pong

Touch-wood... the "bad eggs smell" has not returned to the Stoke valley in the last ten days, even after all the heavy rains of the last week and now lighter winds. Has the ongoing 'capping' of part of the waste-tipping site, reported in the papers, cured the problem? Let's hope so.

Saturday 8 May 2021

The writing is on the wall(paper)

Well, that's that, all bar the shouting and some predicatable Staffordshire county results. It was a great set of election results for the Conservatives, bar the likely result in London.

Taking it on a timeline:

First up was Labour being crushed in the big Hartlepool by-election, as we all now know. The Conservatives reportedly won the seat by a landslide 7,000 majority.

Then on Friday came the laugh-out-loud news that Conservatives 'make history' with Stoke-on-Trent by-election win, taking the 'safe' seat of the city's former Labour leader Mohammed Pervez.

Later on Friday evening came the more predictable Police & Fire Commissioner result. Conservative Ben Adams romps home as new Staffordshire Commissioner. Reform UK (former Brexit Party) were also on the ballot there, but very few had a clue who they were among the various micro-parties and tendencies of similar name. Reform, Reclaim, Realise, Reboot, Resist, Revive... who has a clue which is which? They might as well be ReRe and her Performing Rabbits, as far as most voters are concerned.

On later prodding the news engines, good news then popped out from across the Midlands. Local councils in Bromsgrove, Nuneaton, Walsall, Cannock — and even the Black Country 'key town' of Dudley — had come over to the Conservatives. Five seats in Wolverhampton were also quietly voted to the Conservatives. Parts of Tipton such as Great Bridge have gone Conservative, which would have been utterly unthinkable 20 years ago. The Conservative mayor of Birmingham is also fairly certain to be re-elected. Cheshire also seems certain to elect a Conservative Police & Fire Commissioner.

Predictably, no media outlet outside Stoke bothered to mention Stoke. Which, in a way, is good. When Stoke votes Conservative, it's now just 'to be expected' and is no longer national or even regional news.

Where does Labour go now? Frankly, who cares? Outside London they're now about as important as Boris's choice of wallpaper.

Wednesday 5 May 2021

Return of the pong

I spoke to soon, on 'the pong'. It's back in central Stoke tonight, and it's 'a super-strong pong' now the high wind has moderated. A low NW wind is dragging it down the valley. It used to be a bit sickly, but now it's very slightly acrid. There's obviously some connection with heavy rains.

Saturday 24 April 2021

The pong is gone, for now

The "great pong" seems to be gone, or at least gone from Stoke-on-Trent. For those who have not experienced it, a 'bad eggs' smell has been periodically wafting down into and through the Stoke valley since about the end of last summer. It was very bad by the end of January, and returned briefly and in a much lesser form at the start of March.

Perhaps it's the general lack of rain that's caused the pong to go 'poof' and vanish, but I haven't sniffed anything untoward for about five or six weeks now. Doubtless the month of May will see the rain returning, though, and May Day Bank Holiday has a fearsome reputation for being a windy washout. So we'll have to see what happens after a few good downpours.

Walleys Quarry landfill in Silverdale is blamed, but they say they have proof that the ultimate cause is off-site. Regardless of where it's coming from it can't be very pleasant for those living on the lip of the dump or trying to sell their houses there. All I can say that central Stoke-on-Trent appears to be no longer affected, at least until the next heavy rain comes.

Thursday 1 April 2021

The one-year death-map for Stoke-on-Trent

Here's the official 'death by the virus' map, showing the total from March 2020 onward.

The wide view. Size of the green dots indicate total number of deaths. Leek appears to have been badly hit in the end, re: its population size, although it initially had low numbers.

The Stoke-on-Trent map, here with the actual numbers added to the circles. Central Stoke-on-Trent seems to have been relatively lightly affected, and Trentham heavily hit.

Wednesday 24 March 2021

Got milk?

Where did all the flocks of small birds go in the 1990s and 2000s, that had been so abundant in the 1970s? Well, it might have been the legacy of 1980s pesticides and the diminution of hedge and meadow habitats. But it may also have been partly that we were no longer giving millions of them a rich milky breakfast each morning, after they had pecked their way through the foil tops on doorstep milk-bottles.

This used to be a very common thing, up until the nationwide move to supermaket carton-milk and the stopping of doorstep 'milkman' deliveries of bottles with foil tops.

Monday 8 March 2021

Back to pong

The "bad eggs smell" is really bad today, and seemingly floating south down the Stoke valley in the light southerly wind. The worst it's been yet. What a nauseating way to start the key 'back-to-school day' for the kids and nervous parents. If it is the Silverdale tip, as everyone assumes it is (though I've seen nothing by way of proof on that, and it might not be the ultimate source) then I wonder if the site is trying to vent the gases 'first thing Monday morning', before some sort of inspection later today? The Sentinel reports there's finally to be a emergency meeting of councillors, MPs and others, seemingly this week, though no date is given by the paper.

Thursday 11 February 2021

Roaming drone

I may have spotted an autonomous drone, the first I've seen. It was buzzing along in a straight level line parallel with the West Coast mainline at Etruria, going south to north, and did not appear to be under any human control. Possibly it was inspecting the West Coast Main Line by HD camera?

Wednesday 3 February 2021

Frosty, with a chance of bollocks

You can no longer believe a word of what's written about "weather warnings" in the legacy newspapers, if you ever could. Go look at the actual hour-by-hour day-by-day forecast, and every time you'll see it's just blatant clickbait.

Today it's claimed that a two-week 'ice apocalypse' is due from Iceland, headed for Stoke. What we actually have coming is wind from the east during five cold nights when it'll be a bit frosty in the early mornings and cold most of the day. That's all.

Wednesday 27 January 2021

The pong over Stoke

Back in the day, when school science lessons were not yet a branch of the Politics Dept., kids did real science with chemicals and test-tubes. Then we all learned about the famous 'bad egg smell' at first hand. This smell, as all swots who had Chemistry Sets at home will recall, did not come from our bench-mate 'Pongy' Podger. Rather it was from the noxious chemical we had just made, Hydrogen Sulphide.

Now this same eggy 'stink bomb' smell hangs intermittently over a large part of Stoke-on-Trent. The Sentinel has just noticed it today, but I can tell this blog's readers it's been around Etruria for months, on and off. I think I first caught a whiff when the workmen were resurfacing the rat-run road between Shelton New Rd. and the Festival park flyover. That was a long while ago now, possibly even the end of the summer. I thought it was the workmen and their tar, but it has persisted on and off.

Lately it's become ever stronger and more frequent, likely aided for me by a north wind. The local newspaper can offer no solution to the mystery, but does add to the facts by finding that there are reports of it all over the city.

It's not the canals. My theories have been:

* Rumbling and burpings from the weedy old gas-holder site at Etruria, near to the Holy Inadequate pub. Old-timers in Etruria will recall the gigantic gas-holder that stood there until about 15 years ago. But if that was the case, surely those living opposite it would have been in the paper before now.

* The works to put in the new business units on the Shelton Bar site, as the final stage goes in and there's apparently an ongoing move to clean up the highly polluted Fowlea Brook which runs nearby.

* On the same site, deep pilings being driven in to hold up the immense Wolstanton Flyover that's planned to cross the valley. However, I'm fairly sure that work has not yet started.

* Seepage of gas from some opened and un-noticed shaft leading down to the city's deep and flooded mines. Possibly the most likely solution. But where is it? Surely such a fissure or shaft would have been noticed? Unless it's bubbling up through a lake or large pool?

* New test-wells, drilled for geothermal heat-sources that might one-day power Etruria and Hanley for free. Again, the site was said to have been at Etruria, where the old Garden Festival greenhouses used to be. But, so far as I know, that Labour pipe-dream of free energy has been abandoned by the new Council.

* Drains and sewers. But again, you would have thought the services concerned would have things like Internet-connected gas-detector devices bolted to the brick-walls down there, that would have detected such things before now.

There you go, take your pick. And be careful not to flick a cigarette end down any mysteriously smelly shaft. Apparently the gas is explosive when hanging in the air in dense quantities.