Wheel alignment

Tuesday, 30 May 2023

And now for something completely different....

It's funny how statements which you make come back with a vengeance and bite you again!  The last photo on my May 9th post showed a banner which was a tongue in cheek version of John F Kennedy's speech about going to the moon.  The banner read "We do this not because it was easy, but because we thought it would be easy".  This certainly applied to a recent activity!

Our 11 year old granddaughter Georgia started intermediate school this year.  She's a smart cookie and is in an accelerated class where the work is set up to challenge them.  Each student was recently asked to come up with a project, implement it and report the results.  Georgia had seen something on power generation using a waterwheel and thought it would be cool to see how power output changed with water flow and gearing.  All this because they have a small stream passing through their property!  She asked her dad Kerryn (our youngest son) what he knew about the subject and the answer was very little. As the lead time for completing the project was only a couple of weeks or thereabouts, he was straight on to me to see what I knew about the topic. The answer was Sweet Fanny Adams, apart from understanding the physics and engineering principles.  The short time deadline was going to be quite a challenge.

A brief discussion was had over the phone with Kerryn, with the thought that the 3 generations could work together as well as Georgia conducting the experiments and writing the report.  Wherever possible, everyday recycled materials could be used.  How hard could it be? And then the catch.... would Nana and Granddad mind doing the 400 km round trip this coming weekend to help make it all happen?  Immediate thoughts went back to the first paragraph of this post - no pressure then!

The best part of day one after the phone call was spent on YouTube and other sources learning about different types of waterwheel and it became quickly apparent that an undershot wheel was the only practical option because their stream was relatively shallow.  Next step was to see what resources we already had which might be useful for constructing a waterwheel.

Jennie had an old bicycle which had been unloved and not ridden for 3 or 4 decades.  That might be a useful source of big sprockets and maybe a chain.  I had an alloy bike rim which we inherited with the house decades ago and a quick bit of dismantling got underway.  I also dug out some threaded bar, stainless tube and other bits and pieces which Jennie previously referred to as hoarded junk, sigh...  I also requisitioned one of Jennie's nylon chopping boards to make thrust washers for new axles. It wasn't strictly theft as it had been re-purposed some time ago as a fishing bait board for the boat!

Collecting possible components with only a vague design plan at this stage

Next step was to head to the village transfer station and see if there were any old bikes with sprockets of various sizes.  One was spotted under sheets of corrugated iron in a pool of disgusting water.  Quite a job pulling it out in those unsanitary conditions.  Good value for a couple of bucks!  A quick bit of hacksaw work to get the sprocket and chain off, followed by soaking the chain in kerosene to loosen up the rust.

Raiding the village dump for more sprockets and chain

A call with Kerryn revealed that he had some plastic downpipe which could be made into vanes for the undershot waterwheel.  He built a shopping list of bolts and other fittings, plus our one and only purchase of a new piece of equipment.  We had intended to use a car generator from a wreckers yard but found a brand new mini-generator online at much the same price we would have paid for a car component.

Mini 12/24v DC generator

Armed with tools, boxes of bits and fingers crossed, we set off on the 200 km trip. I got stuck in and made a large sprocket carrier to the bike rim which was going to carry the vanes whilst everyone else departed for Georgia's Friday night hockey match.  Next morning, another family departure for our grandson's rugby match whilst Georgia and I measured and cut up the piping for the vanes.  She'd never used a jigsaw before so we had a short practice and then onto the real thing.  She was outstanding and made beautifully straight cuts.

Georgia splitting the piping with a jigsaw

After splitting the pipe, she then marked the halves up for cutting into individual vanes.  The width was a pure judgement call on our part, having seen the professional wheels on YouTube for serious domestic power generation. Let's call it an educated guess.....

Using a jig for marking out the individual vanes

With weekend school sport taken care of, I made up the axle assembly whilst Georgia and her dad mounted the waterwheel sprocket then drilled the wheel rim and vanes and bolted them up.  Another judgement call about how many to use, just using years of accumulated engineering experience and the obligatory crossing of fingers.

Bolting the sprocket to the carrier

Fitting the vanes

The completed wheel

With the axle in place and the wheel spinning freely, a support frame was made from timber by Georgia and her dad, with adjustable legs from threaded bar, then carrying it to the stream to see if it actually worked - the real acid test!  A brilliant outcome with 60 rpm being attained in a faster part of the stream.   I should mention that the stream is at the bottom of a steep gully so getting all the kit there and back wasn't a straightforward exercise by any means!

Happiness is a spinning wheel

Sunday dawned with the main goal of hooking up the generator.  It was spun up at various rpm using an electric drill to obtain voltage output characteristics, particularly at speeds that the waterwheel would rotate at. A good confidence boost as it worked just fine.  A mount for the generator was made, using clamps for chain alignment and tensioning.  With time being a precious commodity, a rudimentary coupling was made to mount the generator sprocket. Not a perfect solution but adequate for the experiments to be run.

Setting it all up

With time getting on, Jennie and I had to make the 3 hour trip home whilst Georgia and her parents headed for the stream again to test how the completed rig worked.  Very much in our thoughts on the way home and a hope that I hadn't lost any engineering mojo with that dodgy coupling!

Got a message soon after we arrived home, complete with videos and photos - an outstanding success in every respect, apart from the chain periodically jumping off the sprockets.

Measuring the output voltage with different sprockets

Documenting the results

Georgia hooked up with fairly lights!

An immensely satisfying weekend for multiple reasons.  The pleasure and fun of the family working brilliantly together across 3 generations, pride in seeing how hard Georgia worked and her focus, overcoming problems on the run with very tight timelines plus all of us learning new stuff.  None of us are ever too old to learn new things, it's what keeps us alive.  It really doesn't get any better than that!  The future is in good hands with young folk like Georgia around.


Georgia has to complete her report and submit it this week.  Her parents and grandparents might be a teensy bit biased but when it's finally assessed, it's hard to imagine that the outcome will be a poor one!

Proud Dad and daughter

Saturday, 13 May 2023

Flushed with success

I apologise in advance for the title which is an appalling pun, but please bear with me as I'm in engineering heaven!  Sonja, your husband will fully understand!

MGB 60th anniversary meeting, Auckland 2022

Since purchasing the MGB GT just short of 2 years ago, the emphasis has been on setting up a planned maintenance schedule.  The previous owner was meticulous in keeping records of the restoration in 2017/18, but there was no record of subsequent maintenance.  To a professional engineer this was sacrilege (cue eye-rolling and sighing from Jennie).  Besides, record-keeping for a classic car is an essential part of sales strategy should we ever wish to sell it.  An Excel spreadsheet was duly set up to track expenditure and maintenance activity. (More eye-rolling and sighing).

Everything is pretty much up to date now with just a couple of small(ish) jobs scheduled before Spring with another having been ticked off the list this week.  Let me introduce you to the murky world of the cooling system.  Most modern car and bike owners don't give the cooling system a second thought, apart from occasionally looking at the level in the radiator or overflow bottle.  With classic cars, the cooling system requires rather more attention.  In our climate, antifreeze properties of coolant aren't an issue but a good glycol-based coolant raises the boiling point which can be helpful in adverse conditions. Of most interest to protect our investment is the anti-corrosion property, particularly with a cast iron engine.

Early on in the ownership, I drained the existing coolant which was rust-coloured and with a small amount of sludge in the radiator.  No flushing or anything at that stage, just refilled it with some Prestone premix which was on special locally.  I figured that it would give better protection whilst some of the other priorities were attended to.  Fast forward to the current time. I was ready to do a thorough job and saw an article on a Castrol coolant called 4Life.  The interesting bit in the article was that it offered superior corrosion protection than cheaper alternatives over a longer period.  Another interesting feature is that it detects head gasket leaks by changing colour!  Product duly purchased, along with a flushing agent to do a proper job.

Castrol 4Life long lasting coolant, plus coolant flush

Take the car for a short drive to warm the old coolant up, then drain it.  Still a bright fluorescent green, it was in good order with relatively little rust contamination, just a bit cloudy.

Old coolant.  Still in good order, at least visually

Next step was to refill the system with filtered rainwater, adding Penrite radiator flush and then heading out for a 20 minute drive to circulate it.

Adding radiator flush - good for up to 15 litres of coolant

The radiator flush clearly did its intended job on the cooling system with quite a bit of discolouration in the drained coolant.  The surprise was that it was still quite green, indicating that there was quite a bit of old fluid lurking in the nooks and crannies of the engine, radiator, heater and pipework.  Shining a torch inside the radiator filler cap showed a nice clean radiator core - result!  Two more repeats until the water ran clear, taking temperature readings with a heat gun to make sure that nothing untoward was happening. I call it an essential tool.  Jennie calls it "just another toy", sigh.....  Cool to see the red laser aiming dots shown in the photo though.

All good, temperature-wise

With the flushing water in the cooling system now running clear, it was time to fill up with the premixed 4Life coolant which looks like translucent cherryade.  A straightforward job, take it out for a run, check for leaks and job done.  The engine has never run hot and the new coolant seems pretty much the same as the old one in that respect. However, by thoroughly cleaning the system this time before adding new coolant, it's something which should now be fine for many years.  Half a day well spent.

Adding the new coolant

Just to prove that I'm not a complete automotive tragic, another little project is underway.  A few years ago, we had stained glass windows made for our upstairs lounge by a neighbour who was a real renaissance man when it came to anything arty.  The high level windows depicted scenes based on where we live - the Coromandel Peninsula.

Stained glass windows - upstairs lounge

We also have a tapered high level window in one of our bedrooms which is a pain to clean and near-impossible to curtain.  A stained glass insert would be a perfect decorative solution.  Based on a photo I took in the garden of a Tui nectar-eating bird on one of our plants, a preliminary computer sketch was generated to see how it would translate.  Pretty good as it happens.

The original photo of a Tui in the garden

Mock-up of stained glass window based on the photo (about 0.75 metre square)

The Tui will be in iridescent blues and green on the real thing.  Sadly, our neighbour has since passed but we found another craftsman on the Peninsula who will make it for us.  Inevitably, his skills are in great demand so we have to join the queue for his services.

Plenty of variety to keep me occupied in retirement!

Sunday, 9 April 2023

12 months since retiring from riding - how has it gone?

In my early 60's on the Blackbird - a tad light on good skills

Regular readers will remember that I made a series of posts in 2010 and 2011 about motorcycling, the ageing rider and what steps might be useful to prolong one's riding in a competent manner. I was in my early 60's at the time. The posts attracted the attention of well-known U.S - based motorcycle author David Hough and some lively correspondence followed.  In a direct but constructive manner, David called me out to actually do something concrete about future-proofing my own riding.  The first step was to sell the heavy, tall Blackbird and get a lower, lighter bike in the shape of a Triumph Street Triple.  No loss in performance for the type of riding I did and many benefits.

Leaving for the 1600 km in under 24 hours Grand Challenge event - 2010 

From occasional incidents over the years, there was clear room for skills improvement.  I'd never had an independent assessment of my riding and to cut a long story short, I decided to enroll with the NZ branch of IAM RoadSmart UK, which uses Police Roadcraft as the basis of its advanced training.  The initial assessment in early 2011 was quite a shock to the ego but I stuck with it and passed my Advanced Test in late 2011.  The total benefits from taking this option can't be understated and they were detailed HERE .  The journey of upskilling continued, eventually becoming a mentor and Examiner.  As well as a massive increase in my skillset to keep me safe, other benefits such as the value of humility and helping to upskill others had a much wider personal impact and will continue to do so.  Making lifelong friends with people on the same journey was a genuine privilege too. Without doubt, continuous upskilling enabled me to keep riding longer than it would have otherwise done.  I still find myself informally assessing other road users which is a good means of  remaining sharp and staying out of trouble.  You will understand that my wife is excluded from assessment as I don't want to be sucking hospital food through a straw.

IAM trackday 2016 on the GSX-S 1000 (courtesy Barry Holland)

The other critical part of discussions with David Hough and others was about the difficult decision of when it's time to consider retiring from riding. In hindsight, this discussion was to be incredibly useful because there was plenty of time to plan for an angst-free retirement from riding at a future point in time.  Reaching that point very much depends on the individual rider and their circumstances but sooner or later, it's something that all of us are going to face.  Surely it's better to plan for that eventuality than suddenly being faced with the end of a lifetime's passion?

In a nutshell, having a fallback interest or two seems to be the most appropriate means of softening the inevitable change.  In my case, owning a runabout for sea fishing was to become one of the options as it was a pastime which Jennie enjoys too.  Ok, let's be honest ....  she's actually better at it than I am!  Travel is another interest which we both share although that has been partially screwed up by the global impact of Covid.  

Ready for another day of being out-fished by Jennie

However, Covid lockdowns were also largely responsible for some serious thought about retiring from riding sooner rather than later.  There wasn't a "lightbulb" moment but a dawning realisation that I'd achieved all I wanted from a 58 year riding career.  Enjoying a series of challenges during that time through competitive drag racing, long distance endurance events, track days, occasional trail riding and formal upskilling had largely satisfied the urge.  My role as an IAM Examiner often required 500 km days in all weathers and they were becoming less attractive - the one downside of living in a remote rural area.  Also at the back of my mind was the fact that if I did have an accident, a body in its 70's wasn't going to recover quickly.  A serious consideration not only for me but the potential impact on the wider family. 

Out with fellow IAM member Tony and his wicked MT10 SP

Having some fallback interests meant that I could now seriously entertain the thought of stopping riding with no regrets and perhaps surprisingly, the prospect didn't feel like a big deal at long last.  I'd like to think that was largely due to the planning mentioned above.  It was made even easier by an almost throwaway comment by Jennie that we should look at buying a classic car so that we could have even more fun together.  My best friend in the UK is a classic car owner as well as a motorcyclist and after some conversations with him, it seemed like a great way to keep occupied, given my interests and background.  Bloody hell, actually choosing something which appealed to both the CEO and me was a major mission, resulting in sulks and pouty lips for a few months but we finally settled on an MGB GT, a choice never regretted.  The difficult background to that acquisition has been detailed in previous posts but it was serendipitous in one respect.  1972 was the year of manufacture and also the year we got married!

A sunny day on the Coromandel Peninsula with the MGB GT

With the decision having been made, the KTM was advertised for sale and the delivery ride to the new owner was surprisingly unsentimental.  I guess this was due to all the prior preparation for retirement, even if the actual endpoint wasn't known.  After retirement, another potential interest also popped up, partially as a means of staying fit as I got older.  I had owned an old road bicycle for at least 30 years but the steep hills in our area combined with age was an issue.  What about an e-mountain bike which would enable me to use it on the many bike trails in our area whilst being kind to my damaged knees?  I took delivery of the Giant E+1 in June 2022 and it's been huge fun, having covered just under 2000 km since then.  Ummm.... we'll skip over falling off and breaking a rib just after taking ownership due to getting a shoelace caught on a pedal.  That won't happen again due to a change of shoes and pedals!  Riding motorcycles has been a real bonus for riding an MTB though, despite the mishap.  Situational awareness, balance and braking to name but 3 benefits.

The Medlock MTB trail, Coromandel

So in summary, giving up a passion (an obsession according to Jennie) hasn't been as difficult as it might otherwise have been, thanks to a bit of planning which effectively started a decade ago. The year since selling the bike has passed quickly with plenty of interests to keep occupied.  I'm still interested in motorcycles but quite happy not to own one.  Not the slightest regret and I guess that it's as close to a perfect outcome as one could hope for!  Still have most of my riding gear, but I'll get round to selling that in due course.

I hope that this post has been of interest to anyone else who has similar decisions to make in due course.

How new challenges normally start!

Monday, 27 February 2023

Some nice Americana (and other vehicles)

 I saw that the local classic car club was having an afternoon get-together this weekend.  We're not members but as it was open to the public, it was a good opportunity to take the MG along.  Ownership was predominantly classic American, with a smaller number of classics from other countries.  It never ceases to amaze me just how many classic cars are owned in NZ considering a population of around 5 million. The other amazing thing is the extremely high standard of restoration considering that most of them would be a huge money pit! 

Here are some photos of the cars that caught my eye:

The early 60's white Ford Thunderbird was just so representative of that era.  The interior looked like a cross between an American diner and a showy jukebox with all the chrome trim. It wasn't to my taste but could still appreciate the kitsch styling as a statement of those times. Metallic sky blue vinyl seats!

Early 60's Thunderbird alongside a bare bones hotrod

The Thunderbird interior.  Beauty is in the eye of the beholder

As you might expect, Mustangs were well represented.  It's interesting how influences from younger years get carried through to adulthood.  In my case, it was the Mustang fastback which Steve McQueen drove in Bullitt.  I've seen the movie in more recent times and it's utter crap but the car chase with the baddies in the Charger is still great fun!

Late 60's Mustang GT

Moving forward to the early 70's, the Mach1 fastback was also a real looker.  The Mach 1 convertible at the gathering was also pretty nice.

Mach 1 convertible - nice personalised plate

The modern Mustangs lack the character of the genuine classics but the 5 litre version in the photo below with all the fruit looks pretty good.

Modern 445 5 litre Mustang with all the bells and whistles

The 1936 Ford V8 was a magnificent restoration, finished in a deep cherry red metallic paint.

1936 Flathead Ford V8

I thought that the Z28 Camaro in the photo below had received a sympathetic restoration, not overdone.  The late 60's Z28 with this body shape is my favourite Camaro anyway.

Z28 Camaro - all muscle
This late 50's Chevy Bel Air attracted a lot of attention when it drove in.  The whistle of the supercharger was distinctive even above the exhaust note.  Wonder how it got through its fitness warrant without extra muffling?

An automotive wet dream

There are an awful lot of $$$$$ invested under the hood

The Chev engine was impressively engineered but the engineering shown in the next photo was even more impressive - a twin turbo Buick-engined dragster.  Not a speck of dust or fingerprint to be seen anywhere.

A demonstration of excess!

Some of the parked vehicles

More parked vehicles including a certain Blaze Orange MGB GT

Although American classics were in the majority, there were still a few interesting Australian and European vehicles.

I've seen several vintage Morgan 3-wheelers in NZ with V twin JAP or Matchless motorcycle engines out front but this one with a 933cc side valve Ford engine was a first.

1936 Morgan 3-wheeler

This early 60's Aussie EH Holden wagon was restored by the local chap who was hosting the event.  Prior to the restoration, it had been locally owned by one person for multiple decades.

Early 60's EH Holden wagon

A nicely restored Aussie V8 Ford Falcon which sounded wonderful.  An affordable option as the genuine GT's or GTHO's are in the $millions bracket now.

Ford Falcon V8

Last but by no means least is the Aussie Chrysler Valiant Charger from the early 1970's.  Available as a straight 6 or V8, they cost serious money now. Specification impacts on what you have to shell out but a quick peruse of a NZ website shows several for sale between NZ$90,000 $175,000.  I'd be very happy to own one (subject to CEO permission which will not be forthcoming!)

Valiant Charger R/T

Tuesday, 14 February 2023

Classic cars and a wild lady called Gabrielle

Oh dear, after the previous post moaning about the succession of storms hitting NZ and our area in particular, I clearly offended the weather gods with Cyclone Gabrielle having just come to visit us - unbelievable!  More on that later.

Coinciding with Gabrielle's visit was the annual Brits at the Beach car festival held on the south eastern side of our peninsula at Whangamata.  We'd entered for this event and booked accommodation months ago and with Gabrielle forming up in the Pacific, we weren't sure whether to pull out of the event.  However, looking at the forecast a few days beforehand , it looked like we might just about make it before the weather turned to custard big time.

The event started on Friday with a limited numbers charity drive round the Coromandel Peninsula.  I took part in that whilst Jennie and her sister Sue travelled separately as our MG isn't set up for more than 2 adults.  A nice 2 hour drive from home to the venue half way round the peninsula in hot, sunny conditions.

Our '72 GT in the company of fellow entrant Mike's '65 Roadster with factory hardtop

Checked into our accommodation, registered for the event and a nice drive round town at dusk with a few of the 160-odd entrants.  A number of entrants had cancelled because of the weather forecast. Next morning, we all met at a local park and mustered in lines by make of vehicle so we we would park in the same order at the public display venue on the waterfront.  It was warm and overcast with a stiff breeze.  MG's were bracketed by Land Rover on one side and Austin Healey and Rolls Royce Rolls Royce on the other.  No snobbery at all, everyone was totally approachable and chilled.

A goodly mix of British classics (courtesy: Brits at the Beach)

Fords and Minis

There were quite a number of Land Rovers, most of which had been heavily modified by their owners. The first one below was a V8 version which had a camper body made by the owner with a scooter on the rear for local travel.  a sign in the rear window says "Sorry for driving SO CLOSE in front of you"!

Land Rover camper van conversion

Built for serious back country work

A line for the unusual or exotic

With everyone assembled, a London taxi lead off for a parade through town to the display area on the estuary waterfront. Unlike some of the older cars, our MG showed no sign of overheating at the slow pace which was a relief.

A line up of MG's

The Scimitar below is what I would have chosen for our classic car but Jennie thought that they were pig ugly, sigh.....  No regrets about owning the MG though.

Reliant Scimitar GTE with the Ford 3 litre V6 powerplant

Fords and original Minis

A Morris delivery van - notice the Ace of Spades cutouts on the mags!

A Bristol and Jowett Javelin

Alvis TC21 Grey Lady - a stunning restoration

Rover P5B - one of my personal favourites

The following car won the "best classic restoration" popular vote.  It's a Daimler SP250 with the V8 Daimler 2.5 litre motor.  The restoration was breathtaking and I'd hate to think about the total restoration cost.  It would be easy to say that it looked brand new but it wasn't.  Nothing that came off a mass production line could look that good.

Daimler SP250

The following photo was taken in front of the vintage Rolls Royce.  The owners had 4 Rolls of different ages and were an absolute delight.  They were staying at the same motel as us and offered to take Jennie and Sue for a drive in it but unfortunately, time was against us.

Jennie, me and Jennie's sister Sue going upmarket with the Rollers

That's just a sample of the many photos taken.  We were really impressed with the organisation and the laid back atmosphere.  Other owners were totally approachable and no cliques.  I guess that's the Kiwi way.  That evening, there was to be a live music show and the following morning, a "bonnets up" followed by fish and chips.  However, with the cyclone approaching and a real risk of not being able to get home due to landslips and flooding, we decided to head straight home.  A memorable couple of days though.  The following photo is part of a road we travelled on to drive home from the car festival.  Less than 24 hours later, this is what it looked like.  The couple in the photo had just had their car break down.

Floodwaters on the Coromandel Peninsula (source: NZ Herald)

Well, Gabrielle has passed over us and you can read in the mainline press about the devastation it's caused to parts of the north island.  From a personal viewpoint, I guess you could say that we dodged a bullet.  Our decision to skip the final half day of the car festival was the right one as heavy winds and rain started not long after getting home and some of the roads we travelled on became impassable in the night due to slips and floods.  We're currently cut off from the rest of the north island as are many other peninsula communities.  Plenty of food and work to do clearing wind-borne debris so that's ok.

Wind starting to knock our neighbour's palm trees around

Yesterday was pretty scary as Gabrielle approached with high winds and torrential rain.  During a lull and having no power for over 12 hours, I ventured out in the 4x4 to get a feel for what was happening in our locality.  Had to negotiate 2 downed trees not far from our driveway.

Just hoping that the rest of the tree doesn't land on me

At the end of the road where we launch our boat was the sight of our friend's (and fellow classic car owners) yacht having broken its mooring and ending up on the beach.  Fortunately, it doesn't appear to have been badly damaged but will need to be slipped to do a proper examination.

Not a sight that anyone wants to see - a beached keel boat

The next photo maybe shows that an arty shot is possible despite the conditions.  A row of mailboxes on our street with waves piling in from behind.

Murky conditions

Next, it was round to the village wharf which is just a few hundred metres from home as the crow flies.  There was a local yacht with the jib torn to pieces.  I'm wondering whether the wind was so strong that it unfurled itself and just flogged itself to bits.  Not cheap to replace.

Yet more damage to local yachts

I was going to drive to the end of the wharf but the wind had picked up and was driving waves over the wharf so discretion was the better part of valour.  One of the mussel harvesting boats was getting pounded by the beam-on wind and rain.

The Phoenix getting hammered

A quick return home to prepare for the worst part of Gabrielle.  I must admit that the main worry was losing our roof but fortunately, our neighbour's trees helped to diffuse the worst of the gusts.  We live on the side of a hill so flooding wasn't a concern apart from the risk of flooding in the basement garage if the drain outside couldn't handle biblical bursts of rain.

At 2am today, I woke to howling winds and the aforementioned biblical rain.  A quick inspection revealed that some rain had got in but dumping a load of towels inside the garage door took care of that. A mad dash outside clad only in boxers to remove wind-blown vegetation from the drain mouth resulted in a good soaking which really wakes one up at that time of the morning!  Probably a sight best unseen.  At least the drainage improvements in the garden after the last garage flooding fiasco several years ago has clearly worked.  With 400 mm of rain having fallen in the last 24 hours, we got off lightly by comparison with many in the north of the North Island.

Mother Nature always has the capacity to remind us of who calls the shots but whether mankind will do anything to live in a more sustainable manner is anyone's guess.

Sodden towels, anyone?