Wednesday, March 31, 2010

Back at the wheel

Modern geologists don't often wander the deserts with a hammer, compass and rough map these days. We use 40-tonne drill rigs to core rock hundreds of metres below the surface. It's fast, expensive, and completely impossible during the summer wet season, as the trucks sink into the black steaming swamps that were, until the rain, hard-packed dirt roads. This year's 'big wet' has lasted longer than usual, so we've only just been able to start the 2010 drilling program.

When we're not drilling, I get sentenced to a spell in Head Office in Brisbane. A tenth-floor view of the Brisbane River is great, but after a couple of weeks I start to miss the open spaces, laid-back atmosphere and clear skies of the Coalfields. Also, I have a proper garage/workshop in Moranbah, so the Triumphs stay tucked up while I'm away. This year we had a cyclone pass over, which dumped a lot of rain but caused no damage other than a few toppled trees. The workshop was covered in branches but didn't leak, so I'm happy.

The Herald doesn't seem to have been bothered by being laid up, thankfully. I came up for a meeting at the beginning of March, and took the Herald - it was only 90 miles away, virtually next door by Australian standards. In fact the Herald handled the drive better than me, as a migraine kicked in during the day. Solution - drive home with earplugs!

As for the GT6, the heater matrix is away getting tested. I do NOT want to find out that it leaks once the car's reassembled! I've also had time to look over Canley Classics' alloy water pump housing, and I love it. It looks like an exact casting of the original iron one, and is beautifully machined and finished. No casting flash. I'd have substituted UNC threads for the pump studs, but I guess they wanted people to be able to reuse the old ones. I can't - one came out, one sheared and the third is just plain stuck!

Wednesday, March 10, 2010

Light and shiny

One lesson learnt while rebuilding the GT6 is that it's far easier to restore a car to standard specification than modify it. The parts fitted at the factory are guaranteed to fit - for instance, a pair of front suspension turrets which had been powder-coated years ago and never used didn't fit as well as the originals. I tried to make up new steel brake lines, but found that flaring and forming new pipe isn't as easy as you'd think. In the end, after careful cleaning and checking for cracks, the originals went back on.

However, there are a few areas I'm determined to change. The engine will be rebuilt to a higher state of tune than the original US-spec (78hp), so the gearbox, diff and rear axle will be upgraded to improve durability. The new diff is a Subaru 3.7:1 LSD, and the rotoflex couplings have been replaced with a CV conversion made by Nick Jones. The right hand side's been assembled, and only needs an adapter between the inner CV and the Subaru diff.

A few other non-original bits thrown into the mix are a lightweight alloy water pump housing and engine backplate. I still have some reservations about whether the engine plate will be strong enough to prevent the engine and gearbox flexing, but it's well machined and seems solid, so time will tell. The water pump housing's beautifully made, amazingly light and only a little bling :-)

A few other parts trawled from eBay and purveyors of parts Triumphant are a pair of NOS door handles - the original are pitted and 'orrible - and replacement running lights. These were only fitted to US-spec cars, and while I'm in two minds as to whether they suit the lines of a GT6, they are part of the car's history and identity, so will stay. Just like the US-spec dashboard layout and brass dash plaque.