Thursday, April 28, 2011

Airbox, alternator and 'orns

While the GT6 is at the body shop* the poor Herald has to bear the brunt of my urge to tinker. Over the last couple of weeks the Lucas alternator originally swiped from my old Range Rover has been replaced with a smaller and more powerful Nippon Denso one. The rewiring was simple, and I took the opportunity to fit an alloy alternator mount instead of the cast iron one. I'm not that worried about weight, but the alloy mounts are beautifully made so I though, why not?

Another change has been to replace the pancake K&N filters with an airbox and cold air duct from the front of the car. The car ran better as soon as the pancake filters were removed, so they were obviously restricting airflow. The new airbox is made from half a PI's vacuum tank, so retains some Triumph pedigree! Inside is a pair of 1" trumpets. The duct is 75mm ID, and while corrugated pipe flows less than smooth-walled, I think the size offsets any loss in efficiency. It should be more than adequate for a 1300 engine. The airbox has reduced the old induction roar, which just means that the exhaust sounds louder.

The airbox is absolutely the widest possible - the scratches show where it was catching on the inner arch the first time I closed the bonnet. The offending projections have been removed and it now has about a centimetre clearance. I'll repaint it sometime, and replace the rubber fuel hose between the carbs with a copper line.

The filter is a boy-racer pod style, mounted below the radiator. My Herald's radiator sits a little forward and below the original position to accommodate twin electric fans, so working out how to mount the filter took a few evenings. The design works well but isn't perfect - it'll be a bugger to get out and clean in a year's time. I may have thought up a better design by then...

To squeeze the filter in I had to remove the horns, and will have to make some new brackets to hang them from. One stopped working a few months ago, so I'm on the lookout for a replacement.

*Work has finally started on the GT6 body tub - the doors and bonnet were finished last year. The dents in the wings have been pulled out with Joe's spot-welder-dent-puller, the forklift puncture on the right rear guard flare has been repaired and the aerial hole in the scuttle welded up (I didn't want it). Joe also asked for the rear vent covers - I know I gave them to him last year along with everything else but he swears he's never seen them. Never mind, a replacement pair are on their way from the Spitfire Graveyard.

I didn't think the original door hinges were bad but Joe made a face when he found slight play in the pins. He'll insist on reattaching all the panels and adjusting the panel gaps before returning the car to me, so I decided to do the right thing and get new hinges. Having a perfectionist for a panel guy is a good thing!

Wednesday, April 13, 2011


My planned trip back to Christchurch went pretty much as planned. My youngest brother organised a 70th birthday lunch for my father, but Dad didn't know that middle brother and I had flown over from Australia. It was a great afternoon, made better by Dad introducing his fiancee to us all. Surprises all round then!

Conversation naturally gravitated to Christchurch's favourite new topic - the Earthquake (capital E). Everyone has a story, whether they were at home, driving or shopping when the quake hit. As calm as they all seemed, every time the restaurant's front door banged, they all jumped. Maybe some of them always will.

Large areas of Christchurch are untouched, with uninterrupted water, electricity and sewerage. Hardly a crack to see anywhere, all the shops are open and life continues as normal. Meanwhile, residents in eastern suburbs are living in houses which will certainly be condemned when the overworked insurance assessors arrive, have no water or working toilets, and no indication when they will be able to start rebuilding. Their workplaces are sealed by red 'condemned building' notices, no supermarkets are open, and they have to navigate broken roads to the other side of town to buy food and bottles of water.

I only had two days on the ground and little time or desire for rubbernecking. Driving down a few streets and seeing familiar buildings half-collapsed or gone was enough. It doesn't look or feel like home anymore, and the sense of loss is everywhere.

Once out of the city, though, the landscape is the same as ever. And it's autumn, the prettiest time of year. A friend showed me a new walking track in North Canterbury, to an old fire lookout shed overlooking the Balmoral Forest on the Culverden Plains. I've been playing around with HDR photography and the colour contrasts that afternoon were a good opportunity to test 'Photomatix Pro'. Some of the results are a little extreme, but it's fun trying the various processing options!