Driving a 1954 Austin-Healey 100/4 from Peking to Paris in the June 2019 ERA Rally.

Sunday, 2 September 2018

0065 Alice to Queensland

29th August 2018
A long way home - 6820 kms round trip.

1st & last pub in NT
Coober Pedy diggings
I finally got away from the Alice early on Sunday afternoon, and managed to get down towards Coober Pedy before sunset, passing lots of road kill, and seeing several eagles which only took off just before I arrived at the scene.  I stopped beside the road for the night, and continued into Coober Pedy the next morning where I refuelled and got some coffee.   Coober Pedy never ceases to
make me smile, with its seemingly endless mounds of dirt from the diggings piled up everywhere - It always makes me think of Hobbits !! From Coober Pedy I headed on south, and before sunset I had got through Port Augusta and turned east towards Broken Hill. I have never seen so many kangaroos beside the road, both dead and alive.  They were just lined up along the side of the road for kilometre after kilometre, and I stopped fairly early because it was just getting too dangerous.

Sunset in the bush
It was a typically beautiful bush sunset, but by 7 pm I was asleep !  Next morning I was up early and decided to risk the 'Roos on the road, leaving in the dark at 6 am.  Driving at dawn is one of my favourite times, and it was as spectacular as usual.  Despite seeing quite a few, luckily all the skippys stayed on the side of the road, and the day passed uneventfully as I almost reached
Sunrise in the bush
Coonabarabran by sunset.  Once again the sunset was brilliant, but it was much cooler.  During the night I noticed it was quite cold, although I was snug and warm in my sleeping bag, but in the morning I found out it was actually below freezing - Minus 2.3
Ice !!
deg !!  The roof and windscreen on Gidget were solid ice, as was the Toyota windscreen - So I started the engine while I ate my breakfast so I could have everything warm
Minus 2.3 !
as quickly as possible !  It was a great scenic drive in from Warwick, down the edge of the Dividing Range and into the Gold Coast by 5 pm.  3 1/2 days from Alice, and 6820 kms since I left the Gold Coast 3 weeks ago.  This is a big country !

Keys in the ignition !
Safely home - 6820 kms
Now it is time to attend to some of the things we need to do to Gidget
before we ship her to China next March.   First of all I needed to unload her off the trailer, but where were the keys ? Ashton was sure he had put them on the sideboard in our hotel room after we loaded her on the trailer, so they had to be there somewhere.  So first I checked in the car - And sure enough, there they were in the ignition - Problem solved.    She started first turn of the key, and I put her in the garage before starting to unload all the boxes of gear that were in both Gidget and in my tow vehicle.   And there was a lot of it, and most of it was very red with dust from Alice ! 

35 mm of dirt !
7.7 kg of red dirt !
First job was to get the car up to JH Classic Restorations first thing the next morning so we can get the roll bar fitted as quickly as possible.  We have also obtained some replacement seats from an MGF Trophy 160 which I had to pick up from Steve - Who was leaving for Bundaberg almost immediately !  So I had limited time to clean the car but managed to get the seats home, and started to remove the current seats - Which meant I had to drop the skid plate in order to reach the bolts underneath.  Last time I removed the 6 mm thick skidplate I was lucky to escape with all my fingers after it crashed to the floor, so this time I was prepared, and put 4 wooden blocks underneath.  And it was a good job that I did because in addition to the 15.7 kg that the skidplate
No dirt in front section
weighed, when it dropped down it was heavily loaded with red dirt !  This dirt was up to 35 mm deep in places !!  There was no dirt in front of the vertical plate in front of the sump, so this must have been able to be blown away by the airflow.   All the retained dirt was behind this plate, and after it had all been collected and almost filled a bucket, we weighed it - 7.7 kg !!  No wonder the skid plate was so heavy !   Going to have to find some way to prevent such a build up in future !

Good seat
Plan for roll hoop
Took Gidget up to Peter at JH Restorations in the morning with the seats still in
place, as I had just run out of time and was still pretty exhausted from the long drive back from Alice.  Peter, Brett, and myself agreed on the basic design, with which Ashton agreed. I will go back on Monday with one of the new seats to make sure it fits, and once the car is no the hoist we will be more easily able to undo the seat bolts.  I will also take the roof up to them as they believe we will still be able to fit the roof over the roll bar, which will make everything a lot easier for us when it is raining !

Split in 2nd seat
Over the weekend, I also worked on the new seats to get them ready for sizing in the car.  To do this I had to remove
Seat belt tensioner removed
any extra items such as the explosive seat belt tensioners, and also worked on trying to get the adjustable seat backs working more easily as they were very tight.  So having taken them apart and lubricated them, and loosened the bolts involved, I got the handle working much more easily.  One of the seats has perfectly good upholstery, but the other is slightly ripped along a couple of the seams and will need a little work.  And if the seats fit OK, we will also be removing the adjustable runners and mounting them directly to the floor, so we can sit lower in the car.  So a bit of work to do there.

Dirt in the battery / diff area
Sealing the boot and other body work to prevent (or at least reduce) the ingress of dust and dirt is also a major project.  When I removed the battery access panel behind the seats there was a LOT of dust in there, and it was obvious that this was a major entry point for dust into the cabin when we were in Alice.  This should not be too difficult to seal.

Dust in spare wheel splines
Additionally, the internal splines on the spare wheel had been
covered in grease for protection, but this had attracted a lot of dust.  If we got a punture on the road, it would take forever to clean this dust off before we could fit the wheel - So this will need to be sealed somehow with tape so it doesn't collect dust in future.
Damp dirt on fuel filter

The fuel pumps and fuel filter also look as though there might be a slight leak there as the dust there is actually damp - Further investigation required there.  Also plan to try to seal off that fuel pump area somehow so we can prevent dirt getting in there in future.

Lots of other items on the list to attend to, and we will be addressing these over the coming weeks.  But for now we have the basis for an excellent car - We just have to fine tune everything !

Stay tuned !

Photos here :-  https://photos.app.goo.gl/WpZpz1aREEiFQy4Z6

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Ashton & Giles welcome any visitors, support, and comments as we prepare for our Adventure !