Tinkering (with) a Petrol Tank & Tweaking a Windows (in Mac)

We get to read some of the most inspirational stories in Primary School. I remember two of them vividly; one is the little Dutch boy who plugged the leak in the dyke using his finger saving Haarlem from flooding. The second is, how Robert Bruce, while resting in a cave, got inspired watching a spider failing repeatedly in getting a strand of web across the cave, eventually succeeding in the seventh attempt. The Scottish King, after being defeated six times by the English, was about to give up. Inspired by the spider, he makes one last attempt, wins the battle and ends up as the greatest King of Scotland.

Now for moment, assume, Robert Bruce is in the cave today and his general is drawing a battle plan on a computer operating Windows system. Suddenly, Microsoft decides to upgrade the OS (Operating System). The general has no option but to upgrade the OS to finalise his plan. Each time, after about forty five minutes of installation of new OS, the screen goes blank and he has to start all over again. His old OS is not working either leaving him in limbo.

Not the one who would give up  easily, the General tries different techniques, but nothing seems to work. He swears, kicks the system and says “I am done with this.”  But he is drawn to the screen again and again, telling himself, he would have one more go at it. After two days and eighteen attempts, the General succeeds which inspires King Robert Bruce. And he goes to the battlefield, fights one last heroic battle and is immortalised in the History books of Scotland.

Something similar happened to me over the last two days with dear old (or new) Windows. I will come to that in a bit. First the petrol tank episode.

Chasing a mechanic or staying at his shop is not new to me. Dad had an Enfield Crusader bike when we were kids. The bike spent more time at home or at mechanic shop than on the roads. Once every month, the bike would give up its ghost and father would take it to the mechanic in Arya Gowder Road near our house in West Mambalam. The mechanic Mr. Balu was a smooth talker and he would assure my dad that bike would be ready by the following day.

The following day, in Mr. Balu’s lingo, meant something like Uttar Pradesh or U.P (a large state in India) people’s parsoan (परसों). The word actually means day before yesterday or the day after tomorrow. But in U.P it could mean any day in the last 50 years. So every day, yours truly or JK (sometimes both) used to go to his shop, get the same stock answer and report it to dad. Dad would then ask us to see if the bike is at least opened for repairs. So we would hang around in his shop. Mr. Balu would sense that we have come to watch the progress of repair and open up a couple of parts and tell us, “See I am working on your dad’s bike only. What to do? I am not getting the right parts.” So the story would continue till one day, struck by a flash of light, Balu would actually put the bike in good repair. I would be elated because I used to get to ride the pillion from the shop to our house.

Our own bike repair travails or a part of it is narrated in A Sunday, A Yezdi and An Adventure (To all those Yezdi lovers). The advent of 100 cc bike put an end to riders misery with mechanics. The advancement in technology meant the bike is ready to go anywhere anytime and you don’t need to kick start the pedal a million times every day. My Yamaha R15 did not even have a kick shaft. The manufacturer was confident it would always fire to life with ‘self start.’

The only maintenance the young generation do on their bikes or cars is fill petrol and check air pressure in the tyres. Some experienced drivers may check coolant level in the car or water level in the wiper wash tank. The riders and the drivers of yesteryears  were forced to know how to change a clutch cable or brake pads. All these is forgotten now, thanks to robustly built bikes and cars.

The problem with living in two cities, one where you work and the other where your  real home, is, you always have a pile of jobs pending at both places and you never get to do anything.

Last month, when I was in Hyderabad, I tried to start my old Pulsar bike (Bajaj made). The bike was the first model of 180 CC bikes from Bajaj which is now 16 years old. When I opened the petrol cock, I saw a leak from the left bottom of the petrol tank. I decided I would get this done during my next visit. So the first thing I got down to do, during this visit was to replace the leaking tank. I called few Bajaj service centres and all informed me that the old model petrol tank is not available now.

I thought the small leak could be welded and decided to fetch a mechanic who would remove the tank, get it welded and fix it back. I went around and no one was ready to come in spite of my offering them to take them in my car and drop them back. I spent half a day in vain.

I came home dejected but was determined to get it done before the Dussera for vehicle Pooja. I called the society’s (where I live) plumber assuming he would be having the necessary tools to unmount the petrol tank. He was busy with some society work. I rummaged through my dad’s tool box, collected spanners of various sizes and went to work.

Bajaj Pulsar 180 CC 2002
My Bajaj Pulsar 2002 Model

As mentioned in the previous paras, no one except the mechanics now remember how to meddle with bike parts. I know I have to remove the seat to get access to the bolts which held the tank to the frame of the bike. I vaguely remembered that the lever to pull open the seat lies somewhere close to the battery box but forgot how. A quick consult with YouTube gave me an idea and I removed the seat. To my surprise, I found there was only one bolt which held the tank to the frame and I could locate a proper spanner from the assortment of tools I took with me.

I put the small petrol tank in the boot of the car and went searching for a welder. The one I found was busy and was not interested in doing a small job. I convinced him to take a look. He did, but came up with an immediate comment. The petrol tank is too dangerous to put the welding torch even when the tank is empty. I asked him for a solution and he told me to take it to a car washing shop and get it thoroughly cleaned.

The washing shop was busy with lot of vehicles waiting to be washed for the Dussera puja and no way they were going to look at me. One thing the years of being a salesman taught me is not to take a ‘no’ for an answer. I convinced couple of young workers and they got it cleaned. When the tank was filled up with water I could see the hole form which the water was draining fast. I marked the place thanked the people who cleaned it and took it back to the welder.

A senior welder was in the shop now and he said the tank still smelled heavily with petrol vapour and it would be dangerous to do any welding. I told him I understand the situation and I call myself ‘safety first’ guy. After all, I am one of the few lucky people who fell on a high speed paper machine, got rescued and lived to tell the tale. The saying the industry is ‘Paper Machine does n’t forgive.’ I asked him is there anything we can do. He told me to wait for an hour and hopefully the gas would evaporate.

Wait I did and got the welding done without any accidents. I asked him if I could fill petrol now and he said I could but better to rinse the tank first. The gas station had a long queue and I filled up the car first (hoping that would work as an incentive) before asking him to rinse and fill the small bike petrol tank. But the impatient crowd behind me would not allow any experiments at the place. I took a risk and filled 2 litres of petrol, got home, mounted the tank and started kicking. Months of lying idle resulted in the battery becoming dead; so the only way was to kick start the bike.

The bike fired up after some time and I took it for a small spin and rains arrived. I tried to take the bike next day to the bank and the bike stopped promptly at the bank. The bike would start after half a dozen kicks but would die once I throttled the accelerator. The luxury of living in our great county solved my problem.

In India when you are struck at an impossible situation, you don’t have to go looking for help. People who see you in perilous environment rush to you offering help. Two young men immediately came to rescue me. One left after 10 minutes but the other one was not ready to go till my bike was up and running. I told him the reason could be some water droplets which remained in the tank, would have gone to the carburettor which was preventing the bike form idling.

He said we could flood the carburettor and see if that helps. We found the old bike tool kit under the seat the cover totally worn out and the contents rusting away. We unwound the screw below the carburettor and some how the bike roared back to life.

I rode the bike for few kilometres, it would stall after few minutes of  riding and then would let out a roar. Once the firing stabilised, I filled the tank and went for a long drive.

The whole repair cost me 200 Rs < 3 USD and my DIY results made me so happy. The bike was now ready for vehicle puja.

I should have rested on my laurels; instead I took on another DIY which almost spoilt the short break I took from work. I am currently burdened with two laptops; I use MacBook Air for most of my work. But I am also forced to use a Windows Laptop, as Tally, one of the most robust accounting software (for small and medium firms) only work on Windows. I decided to put Windows in my Mac, thereby hangs the second tale.

I will try to be as non technical as possible here, as most of my regular readers are not that computer savvy. You can actually run a Windows on Mac using couple of techniques, one of them is creating a virtual machine in the Mac and install Windows in it. Parallels is one such virtual machine software which I had bought few years ago. First let me explain why I had to put the two OS together.

I am currently using my Surface Pro 4 for Tally work which is a great waste of resource. The surface pro was actually bought for drawing work and for creating doodles; since I can’t even draw a straight line, forget drawing & painting I was only using it for making debit and credit entries. You don’t use a 1000 Dollar machine only to run Tally.

I checked if my Parallels licence was active and it was. I downloaded it & created a Virtual Machine. Next was finding a Windows copy. I had one Windows 7 Home Premium edition. I installed it and the installation went without an itch. I went online and registered it. So far so good.

The surface pro-4 had Windows 10 and I was not sure if the files created in Tally would work an earlier version of Windows. I called Tally support to check this out but they were closed for holidays. So I decided to upgrade my Windows 7 to Windows 10.

Windows 10 was released in 2015 and till last year, Microsoft gave a free upgrade to the new OS to anyone who had an earlier version of OS. I spent some time if I can still get a free upgrade and found Windows 10 Media creation tool which would help me to upgrade my W7 to W10.

Everything seemed to go OK but after 45 minutes of installation I got a message, ‘The Installation failed.” The famous Blue Screen death of Windows popped up.

Windows 10
Windows Blue Screen of Death

I noted the error and went about checking the ways to solve. You can solve any problems (computer related i.e.) by spending some time in the net. I started following each and every solution and went back to installing again. And after 45 minutes the same result.

One cure for all malice, as per Microsoft is, installing upgrades. My original copy of Windows was many years old and Microsoft would have provided hundreds of upgrades.

After few upgrades I checked and was informed all upgrades are done. Tried again and failed again. Next suggestion was to install a Service Pack and I did it still no luck.

I searched if there is any other way of running Tally on Mac and got to know I could run it from cloud using a Mac. I decided I would do this and uninstalled the Windows and Parallels from my Mac. But more research cautioned me on storing any financial data on cloud, so I went back to Windows installation. But Microsoft was not ready to activate the Windows which I just uninstalled.

Microsoft helpline did provide a solution but first I had to punch 8 sets of six digit numbers on my phone and another 8 sets of 6 digit numbers given by the software giant on my computer. You missed or messed up one digit you need to start all over again. Some exercise on concentration  it is.

After 200 updates and few other tweaks I was still at the last minute failure. By now I had already spent 10 hours in front of the system and was ready to give up. Rachna’s friend Bharadwaj came over for dinner and I asked him if he knew anything about this. He said he would try and he tried for another three hours. By 11 at night I said we would call it a day and I will try after some sleep.

I was dreaming or hallucinating a solution as I went to sleep. Woke up, brewed some coffee and started the system to see if the second day was lucky.

I would have probably tried every single solution suggested in the Microsoft site and others. It would have been easier if the system rejected the upgrade as soon as you started installation. Typical of Windows, it would go through the entire process only to say ‘no good’ after 45 minutes.

After Lunch, I took a nap thinking even Robert Bruce would have given up now and Scotland’s history would have been written differently. It was then a flash came to my mind. What if I changed the Virtual Machine software and try this again.

Parallels was giving a new version (Parallels 14) and I downloaded and installed it. I tried to run the Windows 10 upgrade and sat in front of the screen as if I am a NASA scientist, monitoring a Rocket Launch to Jupiter.

Fortunately for me this idea worked and at last I saw Windows 10 being installed message after the 40 minute wait. It was lucky at the 18th or 19th attempt and after 36 hours of struggle.

At last, Windows on my MacBook Air

I don’t want this to be a blog on virtues of Mac over Windows. But I could not stop thinking, in the last few years of using Mac I would not have spent a fraction of the time I spent in last two days to install something.

But then, where is the story for blog in writing ‘Started Mac Mojave installation at 9:03:22, completed 9:47;14.’ It is not enough even for a tweet.

Also, without the benefit of tweaking Windows, would I have remembered the Robert Bruce story? That, I think, is a good trade off.

Featured Image: Doodle by Renuka from Rob Murray’s drawing ‘Rathlin Island, 1306.’


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