Replacing an instrument panel bulb

Just before the last service I had arranged for our 2001 Holden Zafira, I noticed that the odometer had gone black. While it looked like some sort of LED dot matrix display, after some investigation with a torch (and comparing the other displays) it seemed to be some sort of backlit LCD panel. I asked for the people doing the service to have a look at it for me. They rang after they had done the normal service and told me the bulb could be replaced, and the bulb was only a few dollars, but it would cost me $150 to do the job. This was because the whole dashboard would need to be removed just to get to the bulb. So I decided there and then, I would get them to supply the bulb and have a go myself.

Well, after a few false starts (mainly around getting the radio out, but also I struggled to one screw that preventing me removing the dash), I managed to fix this a few weekends ago. It was quite rewarding to do this, as these days I tend to get my cars fully serviced at the dealer service centres. I also thought that there was some really nice engineering in how all the modules were designed to fit together.

Anyway if you have a Zafira, which is basically a pregnant Astra, you might find the photo diary I recorded here useful. (BTW for those that are interested the Holden Zafira is assembled in Thailand, but it is basically the same design as the GM Vauxhall Opel that is built in Belgium)

The working odometer

Toy Wooden Sword Construction from a pro!

Shield and two swords
My youngest son has for a long time had a fascination with all things to do with combat. Most of his make-believe time is concerned with sword-wielding warriors or gun-toting aliens. A few times we supplied him with plastic armaments that are available in two dollar shops and even your quality toy store. However at hour place, these never last more than a few tournaments. Also, swords seem to be about 1/4 scale – not much fun for real play fighting. So a few birthdays ago under cover of darkness, I spent a few evenings putting together a sword and shield. It certainly has stood up to the rigours of combat , as well as impressing a few other kids and their dads. After a bit of a lull on the battlefront, the son has renewed interest of late – however having only one sword has meant his combatants have been at a disadvantage, often having to use regular sticks or cardboard rolls for their weapon. Also, because these inferior weapons don’t have guard or hilt, the other party often gets a good whack on their hand – mum was the latest casualty. I succumbed to the pressure this weekend, and below is a bit of a photo log of the construction of a second sword.

Basically, it is constructed from standard plywood, 5 ply 12mm for the sword base, and some 3 ply 7mm to add some strength and thickness for the hilt and handle. You will need some construction glue to laminate the pieces together. Tools are just a jigsaw, an angle grinder with a flap wheel (to tidy up the edges) and a rotary tool with grinding wheel (to do finer smoothing) and a possibly a ball cutter to make the fullers (or “blood grooves”).

Any way, basically this might be something to make for your kids for Christmas – hopefully it might even last a little while and become a family heirloom!

Base sword and template

I made a template in Inkscape and traced this onto the 5 ply.

Hilt Sandwich

Make another two hilts from the 3 ply and glue, sandwich and clamp these. You can also screw them – I used chipboard screws with a square drive for good effect.

Finishing tools

You will want to use grinder with a flap wheel and a rotary tool for finishing it off

Ready for battle (or at least painting)

After adding the blood groove and sanding it smooth all over it is ready for painting

Back of shield

The shield is also made from 3 ply. I cut up an old belt and used brass screws and nuts and a large washer to make the handles.