Mike is a Chartered Engineer, a Member of the Institution of Electrical Engineers, and proud to be a Kiwi. His grounding was in physics, chemistry and mathematics, leading to a career as an engineering officer in the Royal Air Force in England. He is now retired and living in Auckland, back home in New Zealand. Like many Kiwi Blokes, his pride and joy is his Shed. A Shed is a place where a Kiwi Bloke spends much of his time alone surrounded by his tools, current and past half finished projects and the collection of parts and material usually referred to by others (typically wives) as 'that pile of junk'. It is a place where new uses for No. 8 fencing wire can be explored - for New Zealand is a place where lateral thinking and a healthy disregard for 'experts' is admired. For a peek into his Shed, see the picture at the beginning of Chapter 7.
Mike is the one who's first boiler was made from an old industrial vacuum cleaner, and who investigated the possibilities of using jam jars to make a glass column. In case you're wondering ... industrial vacuum cleaners make great boilers, and jam jars can be made to work, but require tapered lapped joints to be ground using a lathe and lots of patience, using techniques borrowed from amateur astronomers who grind their own mirrors. This Shed 'research' led to development of vapor management techniques for compound distillation, to a new and simpler design of Soxhlet extractor, and is now progressing, in close collaboration with Mike McCaw, towards development of new and innovative types of still and processing equipment.
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