Wheel alignment

Saturday 20 July 2024

Another milestone

A bit of a departure from cars and bikes this time round but the timing is right for a bit of reflection on something special and more than a bit sentimental.

Later this month, Jennie and I will celebrate being married for 52 years.  They say that time flies when you're having fun and that's the absolute truth of it. Mercifully, she doesn't read this blog or she'd think I've gone soft in the head but over all that time, I couldn't have wished for more support than she's given to all my peccadilloes and hobbies.  I'd like to think it's been reciprocated too and I'm just as crazy about her now as when we got married, even if I receive a well-earned bollocking from time to time for guy-type transgressions.  She once said that it was like living with a 5 year old for something I'd done.  Clearly demonstrated her past profession as a teacher!

When I first mentioned to my closest mates that I really fancied her, they reckoned that I didn't have a chance as she was far too classy for the likes of me.  Only your closest friends can get away with saying that!  I must admit that I was almost painfully shy at that time and nervous about asking her out. Pretty surprised when she said yes, although one of her close friends was in on the matchmaking too.  It could have turned to custard at that stage as my mates actually told her what they said to me.  However, she showed true class by ignoring them, although she does still enjoy winding me up about it if I need pulling into line.  When the time came later on, I botched THE PROPOSAL by getting hopelessly tongue-tied and she made me get down on one knee and do it properly, sigh.  We married less than 12 months after first going out which was a complete whirlwind.  Photo taken on our honeymoon.  Why such a beautiful and smart woman chose to spend her life with me remains a mystery.

Honeymoon in Yugoslavia, 1972

Moving from the UK to NZ in 1975 was the start of our big adventure together and as we both enjoyed our introduction to sailing in the UK, we bought a yacht to race at the local NZ yacht club.  On reflection, partners sailing together isn't necessarily a smart move as a hastily shouted command by the skipper can be taken badly (and often was!).  Fortunately, this was solved by Jennie expecting our first child and stopping sailing.  A move to single-handed yachts ensued and a lot of weekends were spent trailing a growing family round to various regattas in scenic locations around the country. Little wonder that our kids have always enjoyed the water!

Our Frostply class yacht - 1976

Building a professional career and raising a family became the priorities but in the late 80's, my interest in motorcycles was rekindled.  Jennie already knew of my past biking passion so I got the green light, although there was a quid pro quo in her buying a piano which cost twice as much as the bike!  

Circa 1990 - big hair and big glasses very much in fashion!

As the kids grew older, Jennie and I did more 2-up trips on the bikes.  She was the best pillion ever - you wouldn't even know that she was there.  However, there was one infamous occasion where we rode to some street races with friends and their wives.  On the way home, my mates and I might have been travelling a little too fast for the comfort of our pillions.  We stopped for refreshments at a country cafe and received a massive telling-off from our wives.  This was done in front of other riders sitting on the outdoor deck which received thunderous applause and cheers.  It would have been fatal to smile so we just shuffled our feet and took the very public rebuke.

Jennie and the Blackbird - 2003

The early 2000's saw the last of our kids off to university and Jennie traded being a pillion for her first 2 seat sports car.  We toured the south island for a month in her first one and had an absolute ball in near-perfect weather with the top down for most of the road trip.  It also allowed me to buy bikes which were better suited for the solo rider!

Mk1 MX5 at Warbirds HQ, Wanaka

Jennie became quite a petrolhead and for her 60th birthday, the first MX5 was replaced by importing a special edition MX5 NB model which had been worked on by Mazdaspeed in Japan.  Only 3000 of them were made for worldwide sales in the metallic merlot colour and other enhancements.

Mazdaspeed - prepped MX5, Warbirds HQ, Ardmore, Auckland

On the aforementioned south island trip, we also took a trip into the foothills of the Remarkables mountain range on 2 stroke quad bikes.  On a tricky downhill section strewn with rocks, Jennie left me for dead and has been smug about it ever since.  I still maintain that she wasn't aware of the risks but she isn't having any of it!

Hooning on 2 stroke quad bikes - Queenstown NZ, 2001

Since my retirement from motorcycling, owning our classic MGB GT car and a boat for sea fishing have both helped to fill the gap left from not riding.  Both of these pursuits were Jennie's suggestions so she really is one in a million.  A lot of her spare time is spent as Chair of the local museum and I lend my support as being one of her army of volunteer maintenance people - helping out cuts both ways!

A spot of winter fishing with So-Fish-Ticated

Made the same year we got married - 1972

Getting older doesn't mean sitting around, it means new experiences and never saying "If only....".  Being able to do it with my best mate is one heck of a bonus.  Overseas travel together has been somewhat curtailed since Covid but that will shortly be rectified with an Outback adventure in Australia, followed shortly after by my second knee replacement.  Hopefully after that, we can settle back into a normal, but busy life with our extended family.  I'm a lucky guy.

Tuesday 18 June 2024

A new toy - the Huawei Watch 4 Pro

The Huawei Watch 4 Pro unboxing

I've always liked nice mechanical watches, principally because of their elegant design; which appeals to me as an engineer. I still have the 54 year old Omega which was a 21st birthday present from my grandparents.  I also bought a TAG Heuer over 3 decades ago and both have served me well.  Smartwatches have never been of interest, although the rest of the immediate family have them for varying good reasons.  My view has changed over the last few weeks and I blame Bryan, my doctor!  Let me explain.

Apart from the normal age-related matters plus a bionic knee (soon to be both of them), I'm reasonably fit with good blood pressure numbers.  On the minus side, I've had Atrial Fibrillation (AF) for a few years.  Fortunately, the effects have been minimal and don't seem to affect my cycling or other physical activities.  On a recent routine visit to Bryan, he proudly showed off his new Huawei smartwatch, purchased during an overseas trip.  He gave me a lengthy demonstration of the manufacturer's health app which covers multiple aspects of cardio tracking.  I was particularly interested that it has an ECG function and could be a useful addition to monitoring my own cardio health.  This feature is currently  uncommon on smartwatches. Online reviews of this Huawei model are excellent.  After consultation with my Chief Financial Officer, permission to purchase was obtained and it was ordered through Amazon.  

This isn't going to be a full review of the watch capabilities as there are plenty of online reviews on YouTube and other platforms which do a comprehensive job.  What follows is my personal experience so far for the capabilities which interest me in case they're of any use to other potential users. Talk about being dragged kicking and screaming into the 21st century.  Good job I love learning new stuff!


When the package arrived from Amazon, the first action was to charge it via the accompanying magnetic wireless charger.  It has a large titanium case with a 1.5" (38mm) display under sapphire glass.  Very easy to read and there is a magnification function too.  I downloaded the Health App to my Samsung smartphone via Google play - all straightforward.  Accompanying instructions are brief but the process is reasonably intuitive for a non-IT guy.  About 30 minutes was spent trying to pair the phone and watch 3 or 4 times without success.  I thought I'd followed the correct procedure every time but it eventually worked ok - bit of a puzzle.  The first thing I did was to change the watch face from space-age digital to an analogue replica to confirm old fart status.  There are heaps of choices, both free and at a minor cost so no-one will be disappointed.  The following photo is what I chose.  Time, day/date, percentage of charge remaining, local weather and number of steps/calories burned (not interested in steps etc but it's part of that particular watch face).

A clutter-free design

The setup allows certain functions to not be loaded and at this stage, I've bypassed a few features which don't interest me. How it's configured affects battery life.  Huawei claim 21 days if wifi is turned off, down to 4 days or thereabouts when all bells and whistles are activated.  With my current setup, I recharged it after 6 days for the first time, which is fine with me. It takes about 90 minutes to fully recharge the battery.  No complaints there either.  After initial setup, the watch informed me that some system updates were available via wifi. One or two were very fast but the update of the Harmony operating system most certainly wasn't.  It had loaded 53% in 5 hours before it was time for bed.  With some trepidation, I left it to its own devices, expecting to see a "failed to load" warning or "Blue Screen of Death" in the morning.  Needn't have worried - everything worked perfectly and we were ready to rock and roll.


First step was to learn how to navigate between screens, which was dead easy with the assistance of good old YouTube. Opening the Health App brought up requests for permission to access the phone for downloading data for storage.  All pretty standard.  It was then time to go digging, although not in any structured way.  The following photo shows one of many screens showing various options.  These can be enlarged as appropriate.  The heart rate shows current rate and a historical trend since midnight.  This can be accessed in far more detail and there are examples further on in this post.  Three of the dials are blank.  These are some which I'm not currently interested in.  The light blue symbol with the stethoscope gives access to the Health App. The Yin/Yang symbol covers breathing exercises.  The purple symbol showing 7.4 (hours) is sleep data.  I'll be covering this in more detail.

A typical selection screen

I set the watch up to continuously monitor cardio and sleep data without my intervention.  The phone can be turned off at any time, but will sync all the data when turned back on for a more detailed look at statistics.

The following photo is a 24 hour graph from midnight to midnight of my heart rate.  Between midnight and 0600, it's generally low during sleep.  The peak readings between 1100 and 1200 were when I was hill climbing on my mountain bike and it decreases quickly once the arduous part of the ride is complete.  The 91 bpm figure simply shows my heartbeat at that particular point in time by dragging the cursor to the required spot.

24 hour heart rate tracking

The following photo shows the mountain biking period in more detail by selecting the cycling part of the app before setting off.  Just by way of comment, my heart rate during the mountain biking was significantly higher than it normally is for an unknown reason and that's why data collection over time will be valuable. It was back to normal on a subsequent ride.

Cycling data

The next graph shows another ride with heart rate and a green/blue line showing altitude.  The heart rate is lower than the previous example, partially because the route doesn't have so much climbing in it. It may also be that my AF was behaving itself.  For the first 2/3 of the ride, it's reasonably consistent but drops significantly on the downhill section where I'm not putting much effort into pedalling.

Heart rate vs altitude

I was taken by surprise during the cycling by a male American voice periodically giving me various statistics, including when my heart rate was considered high - presumably because of some age-based algorithm.  It was relatively easy to hear when cycling along.

The ECG function takes about 30 seconds to perform and the example output below clearly shows my AF, which is normally not noticeable other than when I'm laying quietly in bed.  Even then, it's not really intrusive.  I'll be building up data for discussions with my doc as the basis for any future action.

ECG trace

The other function which I'm currently interested in is the sleep tracker.  I've been a light sleeper for several decades and it may be associated with the work I was involved with all that time ago. I'd like to improve the quality of sleep and getting objective data is the start of that process.  Here's part of the report covering a night's sleep. It suggests that Deep Sleep and REM states are far too short and that Light Sleep is far too long.  Although I haven't previously had objective data, the results come as no real surprise and opens the door to doing something about it....... further reading on the subject for starters.

Sleep tracking data


It's early days yet and it's risky to draw conclusions from such a small data sample.  Nonetheless, there are indicators to be chased down with further data acquisition and subsequent discussions with health professionals.  Also, it's fun learning something new and I'm a naturally inquisitive person.  Errrr.... bordering on anal or OCD if you listen to someone who is near and dear.  I couldn't  possibly comment.

I hope this post has been of interest to at least one person out there on the world wide web who isn't a techo tragic!

Monday 10 June 2024

Unplanned maintenance

Sometimes, we're just not sufficiently switched on to see warning signs over time that point to potential trouble.  We've owned the GT for nearly 3 years and apart from a rebuild of the carbs, expenditure has been in the routine maintenance category or minor improvements.  Overall, pretty good for a 52 year old car.

During ownership, there has always been a slight whiff of petrol, although no obvious source.  I just put it down to what one might expect from a non-injected engine.  However, that smell has recently been more noticeable after a drive when the tank is more than 3/4 full.  The baffles in the fuel tank are fairly rudimentary and with the relatively short filler pipe, I wondered whether it was possible that the fuel surges back up the pipe, particularly when cornering enthusiastically.  Time to jack the car up and have a good look round as a car fire is the last thing anyone wants.

Nothing obvious showed up until I noticed that some underseal was missing at the front of the tank - very hard to see in the narrow space.  That set the alarm bells ringing as a solvent such as petrol could cause underseal losses like that.  Time for a bit of research on the various MG internet forums and what I found was pretty worrying.  Apparently, the top of old MGB fuel tanks are prone to rusting over time, both from the inside and on the external upper surface where crap can build up.

Nothing obviously wrong at first glance

First job was to drain the tank.  Although there's a drain bolt at the bottom of the tank, I was worried about flow regulation and decided to siphon it instead into containers with a narrow neck.  Jennie was less concerned about me setting fire to myself than setting fire to the house so it was accomplished outside the garage with a fire extinguisher at the ready.

During the internet search, I found some excellent instructions for tank removal and replacement on a blog by US resident Eric Cloninger: Replacing an MGB Fuel Tank.  Very easy to read and also included a YouTube video link to an English chap who demonstrated how to do it.  Many thanks Eric - great when a plan comes together, eh?   I'm not going to give a blow by blow account but removing the tank was pretty easy, using the jack to support it, plus one or two well-aimed kicks to dislodge it from the threaded studs. As an engineer, I know when to apply brute force rather than careful leverage!

The following photo shows the tank being wheeled out on the jack.  The top of the tank had been undersealed but looking towards the top right hand side, it's clear that the underseal had been washed off over time by petrol leakage.  This part of the tank is close to the right hand rear wheel and I suspect that it collects more crap as a result.

Old fuel tank immediately following removal

One of the panels had severe corrosion pitting but the panel nearest the front edge actually had a number of small pin holes all the way through.  These are shown below.  It's a fair bet that as the underseal got progressively washed off, the leaks became significantly worse; particularly when the tank was fairly full and g forces caused the contents to slosh about.

Fuel tank right at the end of its life

Celestial star map of the tank top, lit from inside

A quick call to Paul Walbran Motors, the MG specialists in Auckland revealed that they had a tank in stock, together with a mounting kit. Not cheap at approx NZ$1000 (USD 610, AUD 927, GBP 479) but they're imported from the UK and being a high internal volume item, shipping costs are significant.  Not complaining though as Paul and his team always deliver outstanding service.  It was received in deepest Coromandel less than 24 hours after ordering.

Next job was to transfer the fuel gauge sender unit to the new tank.  Years of accumulated grime and corrosion on the locking ring required a bit more brute force and copious quantities of WD40 before it came free but a new locking ring and rubber seal made reassembly straightforward.  The original rubber strips to prevent fretting corrosion between the floor pan and tank were covered in sticky underseal.  The replacements were cunningly manufactured from the rear inner tube of Jennie's bicycle because it's been years since she used it.  Besides, it's easier to ask for forgiveness than permission.  Ummm... actually, it's better to say nothing at all.  The new seal round the filler neck and floor pan hole was cut from Jennie's yoga mat.  Not likely to get into grief with that as it's been some years since she last did any yoga and the mat was abandoned in the garage.  Fair game, I think.

New fuel tank being prepped for installation

Next job was to pop the tank onto the jack and gently raise it into place.  Not quite as easy as the previous sentence suggests as the filler pipe had to be eased through a hole in the floor pan at the same time.  Only a few obscenities uttered and 15 minutes or so wasted until the best method was discovered.  

Bolting up was no problem, apart from a 76 year old body laying on concrete for much of the day in a cramped position.  Connecting the tank filler pipe to the external filler pipe via a length of rubber piping which was an interference fit took some time to accomplish but all was well.  Hook up the fuel gauge sender unit to the power supply, connect the fuel line and that was the job done.

Connecting the filler pipe through the floor pan and filler cap assembly

Hooking up the fuel gauge sender unit

Refill the tank (outside because I know what's good for me), no leaks, no smell of petrol and all is fine and dandy.  Well, apart from the aches and pains of laying on a hard surface for a fair slice of the day - nothing that paracetamol can't fix. Kneeling is particularly uncomfortable after the knee replacement and with the other due in September, servicing the differential is a job that needs to be done fairly soon.  Keeps us from getting under our significant other's feet eh?

Ready to come off the axle stands

Wednesday 22 May 2024

Winter and plenty to do

When a time deadline is coming up and you decide to sneak in "one more quick job" beforehand, you almost always know that it isn't going to end well, don't you?  This time, it was a weekender away with the Auckland chapter of the NZ MG Car Club, doing a winter lap of the Coromandel Peninsula.  The "one quick job" was checking engine and gearbox oil levels.  Engine oil was a piece of cake, over and done with in 2 minutes.  Checking the gearbox level involves removing a large rubber plug situated behind the lower instrument console on top of the transmission tunnel.  Using a technical phrase, it's a bugger to get at; involving bodily contortions as well forcing your hand partially through the opening to pull up the gearbox dipstick. There's also a risk of dropping it as removal and replacement has to be done by feel alone.  That's why I cunningly fitted a cable tie to the dipstick last time so that I could hook a finger round it for additional security.  It's impossible to photograph the hole and dipstick but follow the plastic pipe below and you'll get the drift.  This was the gearbox oil change from nearly 3 years ago.

Not a task for the faint-hearted

With a finger hooked through the cable tie, I gave it a tug and found to my horror that it wasn't the cable tie I pulled but the power lead to the overdrive unit. It had separated at the spade connection which was impossible to reach without jacking up the car and grovelling underneath.  Don't ask me how I know!

Doing the club run without overdrive would be a nuisance, as well as chewing through more gas so the car got jacked up, axle stands put in place and a 76 year old body squeezed underneath. It's a horrible job to reconnect it because of the limited space and last time, I ended up using a lot of bad language, thanks to severe cramp in my fingers.  This time, I cunningly held one end of the connector in place with a fishing hook disgorger from the boat toolkit and slid the other end of the connector in place with the other hand.  Still not easy but cramp avoided.  I should add that the overdrive power supply has now been slightly re-routed so fingers crossed, no more accidental disconnections!

Looking up from the garage floor. The gap is  about 2 cm wide

Another job not under a time constraint was a continuation of one that I thought I'd fixed a few weeks ago.  For some unknown reason, the front disc brakes on the MG started squealing when applied, but only on the first occasion they were used during the day - weird.  A quick bit of research revealed that brake squeal was relatively common on older cars due to the pads chattering slightly in the calipers.  That's why more modern vehicles have spring loaded backing shims or similar.  Anyway, a recommended fix was to coat the backing face of the pads with a copper-based grease to act as a damper. I did this and it worked fine for a while but the offside front rotor assembly started intermittently squealing again.  It may have been that I didn't use enough grease in the first place or that heat caused the grease to thin out.  In any event, I found some purpose-made high viscosity lubricant with a high melting point (see photo below).  Worked an absolute treat and hopefully, brake squeal is a thing of the past.  Another of life's learning experiences to file away!

Purpose-made disc pad ceramic grease

Replacing retaining clips and pins, greasing pad backplates

All done!

The tour with the MG club was a blast.  A warm, sunny winter weekend with virtually no traffic on the road other than us - awesome.  A great mix of MG's from 1950's T series cars through to an MG factory RV8 with the Rover 3.9 litre V8 engine.  Lovely twisty roads by the ocean and over the Coromandel Range, driving them how they were meant to be driven - pure heaven.  A great dinner together on our home turf of Coromandel Township and a photo shoot the next morning before the Auckland contingent headed for home.  Here's some photos.

Jennie and some disreputable old geezer

Near-neighbour Denise in the family '54 TF

A good mix of MG models and years

Lots more rolling in

Immaculate LHD MGA, imported from the USA

It was Mother's Day in NZ recently and Jennie wanted to go out in the MG for a picnic.  We chose a nice spot by the beach and where we parked, there was a walking/cycling track.  There were a few nice comments by passers-by of "a certain age" but one encounter really cracked us up!  We watched an elderly gentleman on a sporting upmarket mobility scooter approaching at an impressive rate of knots.  When he was really close, he banged on the brakes and slid to a stop sideways right next to us. His first words, nodding at the car were "I had one of those a few years back".   I suggested that he'd lost none of his skills which really amused him.  It's chance encounters like that which makes everyone's day!

Mother's Day picnic, Buffalo Beach, Whitianga

The knee rehab following surgery is coming along nicely.  There's more movement to come but we're now at the stage where I can venture off-road again without too much risk as long as I'm sensible.  We're fortunate through the generosity of a local landowner to have the Medlock Trail within 10 minutes of home.  It has substantial altitude changes and runs through both bush (forest) and open areas with stunning views.  Here's a panoramic taken at one of the high points, looking down over Coromandel Harbour and the Hauraki Gulf.  The beauty is that you can pick 'n mix the route length and difficulty to some extent but spending up to an hour or thereabouts most days doesn't interfere with other commitments too much.

Coromandel Harbour and the Hauraki Gulf

A clay climb - slippery when wet!  

Hill country riding

Open country on the Medlock Trail

At my age, it would be nigh on impossible to ride the trail without e-assist for the steep bits but there's no shame in that.  It gives access to places I'd never otherwise see and keeps me fairly fit as long as I don't hit the deck too hard in the tricky stuff.  Some parts of the trail are best avoided when riding solo in marginal conditions as calling for help after an "off" could be a bit hit and miss with phone reception. However, having local access plus an adjoining bike skills park with a number of severity grades right on our doorstep is what I'd call a win-win. Hopefully, keeping mentally and physically in reasonable nick means that we can still behave disgracefully for a few years yet!

Thursday 4 April 2024

Two steps forward, one back

It's been anything but a routine existence in the James household since my knee replacement at the end of last August.  The surgery itself was pretty much painless and testament to the wonderful surgical team lead by surgeon Melissa Rossaak at Ormiston private hospital in Auckland. Rehab has been anything but painless. Getting started with a proper rehab programme was delayed due to a shortage of public health service physios in our region so I went privately after losing patience.  The rehab pain was due to the exercises to regain flexibility.  It's unavoidable that these will hurt when you're pushing hard.  Being grumpy and a little depressed was inevitable and massive kudos to Jennie for taking it in her stride and only telling me to pull my head in on far fewer occasions than I deserved.

After several months of flexibility exercises, it was time to graduate to cycling again.  Stage one was mounting my ancient road bike in a simple resistance frame and doing lots of static pedalling in a lean-to shed attached to the house.  The biggest hurdle was getting my rebuilt knee over top dead centre because of the degree of bend required but we got there with much sweat and bad language.

Pedalling fast and going nowhere

Muscle strength was markedly improving and knee stability was outstanding compared with the previous few years. In the new year, it was time to try out the e-mountain bike, albeit sticking to sealed roads for a while to gain confidence.  Sitting on the e-bike in the shed for the first time revealed some ergonomic problems as the configuration was markedly different to my old road bike. Some adjustments saw a very careful first ride without too many anxious moments. Yippee!  

Three or four more shortish rides and things were going well, so I booked an appointment with Bryan, my village GP for a progress chat.  Bryan is a great guy and like most GP's in a rural environment with proper hospitals few and far between, he has an amazing array of skills but he's really down to earth with no pretentions.  This is where the "one step backwards" in the title comes in.  After expressing pleasure at the progress made, he points at the side of my knee and says, "What's that?"  "It's a mole", I say - had it for at least 2 decades.  Bryan was uneasy about it, made an appointment for the next day so that he could remove it and arrange a biopsy.  Duly removed the next day in about 10 minutes and sent away.  Result came back that it was a low grade melanoma.  Heck of a shock, even though it was low grade.  Bryan didn't see any point in organising a specialist hospital consultation due to potential delays through the national health service so offered to do the larger excision the following day to make sure that it was all removed.  Absolutely brilliant as it stopped me brooding about it and letting the mind run wild.

The surgery session itself was a surprisingly social affair.  I guess that's what happens in a village of 1600-odd people where everyone knows each other.  Whilst Bryan performed the surgery, a nurse practitioner was there for routine surgical support duties and a final year med student was there to observe and suture the incision under Bryan's guidance.  While this was going on, we were all chatting about wine, classic cars and fishing; accompanied by much laughter.  What an incredible atmosphere to take one's mind off proceedings and an hour later, it was all done.  My knee surgeon isn't going to be happy though.  Her once arrow-straight incision is now crooked where the skin had to be stretched to close the latest battle scar.  Just call me Frankenstein's Monster!

Decent battle scar

The subsequent biopsy result was completely clear - a massive relief.  I owe Bryan big time for spotting it in the first place as I wouldn't have noticed anything. Also for all his additional experience and skills when they were needed.  Whilst not a big deal in the scale of things, with the skin in the area of the incision being quite tight, I wasn't immediately  able to cycle or do anything else strenuous and risk popping the sutures - another time-related setback.  I've only been on the e-bike again for a relatively short time but everything is going well.  Hopefully, I'll be back on the dirt trails before long.  NZ and Australia have some of the highest UV levels on the planet and whilst I've always taken precautions, I'll be extra vigilant from now on, including regular mole mapping.

Out for a nice 25 km training ride - Te Kouma launch ramps

These delays have stopped progress on other jobs too.  The garden is in dire need of a tidy-up for starters.  We used a mowing contractor during rehab but the rest hasn't had much attention since last August.  Autumn pruning, thinning out our bromeliad collection and other gardening chores are all work in progress.  We had a massive crop of Luisa plums but we were able to  pick the lot and bag them for the freezer.

Impressive Luisa plum crop

Garden in dire need of tidying

Driving the MG has generally been limited to local trips but it's been a good time for routine maintenance - changing hoses that have gone hard etc.  However, we have a day trip with the classic car club from the next town coming up shortly and next month, a 2 day weekend trip with the MG Owners Club.  All great people with no egos or marque snobbery.

New hoses ready for fitting

Unfortunately, there's one more cloud on the horizon.  I had a call from my surgeon asking when I wanted the other knee replaced, with a strong recommendation that it should be done by the end of the year.  It's something I've deliberately avoided thinking about but the replacement has been so good that having another like it will be amazing.  I guess having it done next spring should be the goal and rehab should be faster this time.  However, something to look forward to beforehand is our 52nd wedding anniversary trip to Australia to an area we haven't visited previously.  Starting in Adelaide, South Australia; we're going through the Outback in a 4WD truck north to Uluru (formerly Ayers Rock) via some of the famous landmarks.  That should help take my mind off things.  Perhaps we can get back to normal in 2025 - I'll be 77 by then but still trying to live life to the fullest.

Outback 4WD adventure

Monday 5 February 2024

A day in the sun

For the second post running, we feature some classic cars.  Every year barring Covid or natural disasters, the Coromandel Car Club puts on a car fair with vehicles from all around the peninsula and beyond.  The majority are American classics, with a smaller number from other countries, including some really rare vehicles.  It was held yesterday in perfect weather in a farm paddock just south of the town (village).  Entry was via a gold coin donation - fantastic value for money and extremely well organised with food and live music too.

The following photos only scratch the surface but are of vehicles which caught my attention.  Apologies if any of my descriptions are inaccurate but it's only 2 and a bit years from first classic car ownership!  Delighted to say however, that our MGB GT attracted a fair degree of attention, even in the presence of some seriously nice (and expensive) hardware.

We open with a location shot.  One side of the paddock borders Coromandel Harbour and the opposite direction shown here looks towards Castle Rock, the core of an old volcano. Pretty much the perfect setting on such a great day.

Backdrop towards Castle Rock, Coromandel

Some serious money on show here - miscellaneous Americana

Dodge produced some wonderful muscle cars in the 60's and 70's, particularly the Charger and Challenger.  I'd never seen a Coronet R/T in the flesh until yesterday but you can certainly see the lineage.

The Coronet R/T

Matte orange finish Chevy pickup with a natural finish V8 engine.  Looks far better than chrome in this application.

Chevy pickup with flawless matte paint

The European Ford Capri is becoming increasingly rare in NZ, particularly the 3 litre version and commands a premium price.

Ford Capri 3 litre

The Ford Falcon GT is arguably Australia's premier muscle car of the 60's and 70's (ok, the Monaro too for Holden fans!). Available with a range of engine options - 289, 308 and 351, plus various bolt-on goody options; it had a great racing legacy. I seem to remember that a top spec Falcon GTO sold last year for a tad under AU$2 million which is really serious money.

The one in the photo below has modern mags which suggests that it's either a low spec GT or a non-factory GT which has been upgraded.  Serious collectors tend to stick to originality.  Still a nice car though and sounded great.

Falcon GT

Beautiful Chevy pickup

In a departure from Americana, the following photos are of the Saker GT.  I must admit that I'd never even heard of one, let alone seen one in the flesh.  There's plenty of reading about them on the internet, but in short; they were originally designed and built in NZ.  Full production was subsequently carried out in the Netherlands, with some controversy about the legality of the arrangement.  A gorgeous-looking car and the owner had some trouble getting it into the paddock because of the minimal ground clearance.

Saker GT

Saker GT front end - crash rating???

Mercury Cyclone GT - a seriously large car

Something a little different was a Toyota Landcruiser set up for long distance travels and camping.  I understand that the owner brought it to NZ after owning it in Australia, which makes sense.  Incredibly well set up.

Toyota Landcruiser

There were a couple of all-black vintage cars at the fair, both of them with paint like a mirror - no dust, fingerprints or any other form of blemish.  An absolute tribute to their owners.  I'd happily own this but I guess super-deep pockets might be required.

Model A Ford - 1926?

Model A Ford interior

The following Vauxhall Viscount represents a bit of nostalgia for me.  Growing up in the UK, a mate had a Vauxhall Cresta with the same body shape.  The Viscount was the top of the range version.  We all used to pile in it and head off to the pub or longer weekenders and it had a surprisingly good turn of speed with a 3.3 litre engine. Ahh.... carefree days!

Vauxhall Viscount (UK made)

Nice airbrushing on a Ford saloon

Two Fords from different eras

Early Mustang fastback

A Corvette in Lamborghini Muira livery

Finally, a very nice Ford coupe hot rod.  A black finish still looks classy!

Ford Coupe hot rod

A great day, only 10 minutes from home and kudos to Coromandel for putting on a great show with some unusual machinery.