What to do After You’ve Written a Few Sensible blogs.

In the interests of staying insane, or at least becoming normal, one has to get away from the ‘sensible blog’ syndrome.

So don’t expect this to help you to fix anything that a couple of aspirins won’t sort out.

So here it is…………….

                                 The Allen Invasion of the A5 Services

                                                                                          

            Wailingpolice sirens belly-ached into the night as half the motorway cop cars in the county picked out the A5 Services outside Bromfield in their strobing beams. This was all highly irregular as the belly-aches were usually inside the cafe.           

                          #

            “It still looks like a burger in a bun to me” said the prone cop sighting at it down the barrel of the .45 calibre automatic pistol. Slamming his stomach down on the tiles after a bagful of chicken nuggets had not been a wise move, the sergeant quickly realised. The officer sprawled next to him raised his Heckler and Koch and dug around in his shirt pocket distractedly.

            “The bloke on the phone said they all look like burgers; ‘there’s hundreds of ‘em’, is what he said.”

            “There would be; this is a burger bar,” said the sarge; he didn’t take his eyes off the burger, though; “but it’s dead in my sights if it tries anything funny.”

            “If that bloke was right, we’re outnumbered, sarge” said Algy, with a nervous twitch. There were, indeed, hundreds of them dotted around the floor like acne.

            “They don’t look armed, Algy.” A silence descended on the deserted restaurant, broken inconsiderately by a waitress diving for cover behind the cutlery trolley. “But would I know what sort of killer weapon a burger in a bun might carry in its, er, pocket?”

            “Don’t that one look bigger than all the rest? What do y’ think, sarge?”  

            “Of course it’s bigger. It’s a Double-Whopper-Angus-Burger. What would you think if you ordered a Double-Whopper-Angus-Burger and a sausage roll turned up?” A cleaner lady with a power floor washer walked in without looking up and plugged it into the wall.

            “Are you mad?” said the sarge.

            “I’ve been doing this job for twenty years, what do you think?” She pushed things in and pulled things out of the machine with the efficiency of a robot. Algy’s face turned puce and he looked up her rumpled stockings from the floor.

            “Look, madam, we’re on a..a…stakeout for this… er…just a minute.” Algy pulled out a crumpled reporter’s note pad triumphantly and flicked through its tacky pages; “Allen Invasion!”

            “A what?” said sarge, his eyebrows standing well clear of his forehead.

            “That’s what it says here,” said Algy.

            “You’re telling me we’ve surrounded the Blastoff Burger Bar with sixty men on the whim of a bloke who can’t spell ‘alien’?”

Just then a disembodied voice shouted something that sounded like

            “’Ten…Shun!” and the burgers that had been scattered randomly about the floor of The Blastoff Burger Bar shuffled around willy-nilly before clicking into several ranks behind the Double-Whopper-Angus-Burger. A floor-washer started up behind them and a thoroughly spooked Algy redesigned it into a cheese grater with his Heckler and Koch while surfing the soap bubble waves cascading across the tiles.

            “Help” said Algy, careering towards the ranks of the Allen Invasion Force as they opened fire with ketchup and Worcester sauce.

            “It’s ok Algy, I’ve got you covered,” shouted sarge.

            “There’s no need sarge, I’m covered already,” said Algy.

            “And you think I’m mad!” said the cleaner, formerly of the rumpled stockings and now of the floppy gumboots, as several of the Allens blasted off into the dizzy ceilings of the Blastoff Burger Bar. The sergeant battled to get a grip on his walky-talky as it danced out of his hands in the monsoon of ketchup from above and the tide of ‘Washy-Floory’ suds surging below.

            “The situation is getting messy, sir” said the sarge into the phone that was grotesquely distorting into something more Allen than the Allens.

            “Bring your leader to us!” boomed the Double-Whopper-Angus-Burger, in radical break with tradition.

            “No,” shouted Algy to the ceiling, “that’s all wrong. Your line is ‘Take me to your leader’. I saw it in ‘The Allen Goes to Hollywood’.” Just then the glimmering of dawn was obliterated by an unimaginably vast Super-Dooper-Triple-Quadruplicately-Huge-Whale-Burger that cruised, silent and deadly, over the Blastoff Burger Bar and hovered, its ketchup cannons primed like a million bristling cocktail sticks.

            “Bring us the President of the World!” said Double-Whopper from his ceiling tile.

            The sarge at last dropped his eyebrows as there was nowhere else for them to go.

            “That could be tricky” called up the sarge.

            “What! You refuse! Puny services-ling?” Double-Whopper bristled. “In that case we shall eliminate your silly civilisation.”

            “Psst. Sarge.” Algy nudged the sarge’s elbow.

            “Not now, Algy. I’ve got to think this out,” bubbled the sarge through a mouthwash of Washy-Floory suds.

            “She’ll do.” Algy pointed at the cleaner with the floppy gumboots. The sarge, aghast, looked at Algy as if he was an Allen.

            “They’ll never go for that. Just look at her.” The sarge had another look just to make sure. He shrugged. “Here she is, then;” he called up; “the President of the World.” The President of the World looked up from her ceremonial mop and bucket.

            “No!” A panicky voice rang out from the Ceremonial Ceiling Tile. “You must not invoke the gods. It will be the end of everything as we know it.”  The President of the World stubbed out a distressed fag-end and smoothed down her floral piny.

            “What you got against dogs, then?” enquired the President of the World, rolling up her sleeves and bridling her bosom.

            “PSSST!” pist Algy at the President of the World. “It said ‘gods’: not ‘dogs’.”

            “Don’t you ‘pssst’ me mate. I know my rights. That’s oppression of a Pet Owner’s Society member. I’ll set my god on you.”

            “Aaaiiiieeee! The President of the World invokes the dogs yet again.” The Double-Whopper-Angus-Burger wailed pathetically. While outside, the Super-Dooper-Quadruplicately-Huge-Whale-Burger pulsated as it sent down a majestic silver stairway through the ceiling of the Blastoff Burger Bar; along which a crowd of Allens stepped equally majestically, each Allen carrying a majestic mop and tin bucket and primrose yellow rubber gloves. They raised their majestic plungers in salute.

            Things had become very confused by this time; so they might have praised their joss-stick slungers in palute. It was hard to say.

            “No; leave all that bowing and scraping stuff out” said the President of the World, “it’s embarrassing.” The plunger-gesticulating crowd of Allens looked shamefaced, their plungers drooping to an impotent half-mast.

            “What is it that you want?” said the sarge having strung together a couple of brain cells.

            “We are collecting for ‘Uranus in Need’ and doing a bit of market research on the side” said the Double-Whopper-Angus-Burger, grandiosely.

            “It seems like a good cause, sarge” said Algy. “Nice to think somebody is collecting for mine; even though it’s not in need, so far as I know.”

            “On what terms do you do the market research, Mr., erm Double-Whopper-Angus-Burger?” enquired the sarge.

            “Oh, the usual; you get to fill out a questionnaire that takes a mere twelve hours a day for six months and get a fluffy badge for it.”

            “It’ll never catch on, here on Earth.” The sarge looked dubious.

            “According to our market research it’s what everybody does for a hobby when they’re not shouting at a computer.” The Double-Whopper-Angus Burger looked as smug as one might imagine a burger in a bun could be.

            “So,” said the sarge, tentatively exploring the limits of lunacy, “if we have a whip round and donate a few quid, you go away. Is that about it?” The burger-boss clicked its crust impatiently.

            “Don’t forget the market research!”

            “And the market research; yes.”

            “Then we must move on. One of the little moons of Mars next, I think.” If it could have smiled it probably would have. “Nice spot, Phobos.”

                            #

            To cut a short story to about the same length; i.e. tedious; in the wake of the exit of the Allen invasion force of the A5 services, (it having collected £1.52 and given out several hundred thousand market research leaflets), a month or two later followed a queue of brave politicians and journalists, both of whom were writing a blow-by-blow, fly-on-the-wall account of the event; in the same way that a duck-billed platypus did of the invasion of Greenland by aquatic camels. These intrepid seekers of truth descended on said cafe, having first taken the precaution of booking into the Dorchester for lunch.

                         #

            The leaflets from one section of the archetypal activists read:-

 

              Politician Does Something    

The Conservative party candidate for Crackbracknel, the Right Honourable Mouthmore N. Getplaces single-handedly sent people to quell an Allen invasion at the A5 services near Bromfield. He says.

 

He also says that his bravery in sending people to quash this intergalactic attack far outweighed any previous bravery as reported by any of the other parties. Whichever they were.

Sporting an open mouth and a megaphone he modestly described his battle as ‘Heroic’. Some spectators erroneously interpreted this as ‘diuretic’, which was about when it hit the fan.

The report from the police department was somewhat different.

                      #

            ‘We didn’t see hide or hair of Mr. Mouthmore N. Getplaces. We did get some fluffy badges though.’

 

                   The End (is in sight).

 

That was definitely worth tea AND a macaroon. I feel so much better. I mean, there’s nothing actually wrong with normal………..?

Fender Hot Rod Deluxe. You really don’t want this kind of fault.

Of any fault that can beset an amplifier, oscillation is the most damaging and also the most obscure to fault find, unless your happen to have an oscilloscope about your person. Not everybody has those. Even the symptoms are not easy to interpret.

So what is it, and why is it? The ‘what’ is easy. The amp puts out its full power, but you can’t hear it. That’s because the oscillation frequency (often) is way above any Earthlings’ hearing. I have heard that folks on Calisto whistle at frequencies in excess of a MHz, but you shouldn’t believe that because I just made it up.

The ‘why’ of this can be tricky. Without the benefit of a ‘scope you would be able to hear a fairly heavy buzz (this is the power supply putting out everything it’s got), and distortion on anything you plug into the input. That is the signal fighting with the huge oscillation signal.

But the heavy buzz could also be reservoir/ smoothing capacitor problems (which could also cause the oscillation), or possibly an output bias fault, (check bias volts, around minus 55 or so is a safe one to go for 6L6 valves), or possibly a heater/ cathode short on any valve (interaction with the volume/ tone controls will narrow it down to the first stages) before the phase-splitter.

The causes are often reservoir/ smoothing caps drying out, especially on older reissue amps. There are three 22uF and a 47uF in the Deluxe/ Deville amps, and the best plan is to change them all. Another cause is shorted windings on the output transformer. The centre tap becomes not centre because the lacquer sealing the windings has melted. You can check for that by measuring the impedance (ohms) of either output valve anode to the positive on the 47uF. They should be the same but anything up to 10% or so discrepancy should be workable.

A high voltage (1kv working) poly capacitor (say, around 0.0022 uf) across the anodes of the of the 6L6′s can work wonders in stabilising an oscillating output stage. Not a cure for all ills, though.

There we are; an almost sensible blog. I’ll need a cold shower before my macaroon.