Saturday, 6 June 2009

Lift and Separation

As self-funded (semi-) retirees, outside what we own in the way of real estate, the MX5 is probably our best investment, given what the GFC is dong to our shares and Super.

It is important, therefore, to keep it as pristine as possible.

It seems highly susceptible to stone chips. Maybe the paintwork is at fault, or perhaps the exposed paintwork on the front of the car is lower than the average, and simply closer to where the flying stones are generated. The recent on-and-off heavy rain doesn't help. It softens the road foundations, and the B-doubles do the rest. What used to be a stretches of solid bitumen is now pock-marked with potholes and loose stones. This is particularly the case along the Warrego.

With this in mind, I've bought a starnge and wonderful device called a Carbra. Made of heavy grade vinyl, and tailored to the NB version of the MX5, it attaches to the front of the car with velcro and little metal hooks. It is a tight fit, and the instructions demanded that I put it in direct sunshine for an hour or two so that the vinyl might soften. Sunny days have been conspicuous by their absence recently, so I had to tussle with unsoft vinyl. All this did was increase the frequency and intensity of profanity, and it did fit (eventually).

It does the job, and doesn't flap or flutter, but takes a bit of time to fit. It's also not a good idea (if you have the choice) to use it in wet weather, as it would take a lot of drying out, I imagine.

Getting hold of one of these is part of our preparation for the great trek North in July. We must be crazy - having two other vehicles much more suited to long road journeys than an open-topped roadster, but I've always yearned to do such a journey in minimalist fashion.

I guess I'll just have to get it out of my system.

By the way - in connection with bras, I always thought "lift" and "separation" were aerodynamic terms. My wife has set me straight - it's never too late to learn.

Friday, 5 June 2009

Fools and Fuels

My trip this week was St George, Thallon and Dirranbandi, so there was plenty of time to think, particularly on the 380km return journey.

I was driving a diesel, so after putting up with the stink of distillate after filling up from a high-flow bowser, I began to consider the relative merits of various fuels.

Starting with Diesel, it’s a lot cheaper than it used to be, and I understand is ultimately much more efficient than petrol. Modern diesel vehicles are pretty much on a par with petrol driven machinery when it comes to noise and smoothness. They also have heaps of torque, and are pleasant to drive, especially on long journeys. Fuel is usually easily sourced, even if you need to have a good cleanup after refuelling (especially in the bush) and are best dressed in overalls during the exercise.

Our fleet manager doesn’t like diesels but only for the somewhat bizarre reason that she’s sick of dozy drivers filling them with unleaded and driving away….very expensive.

I’d consider diesel on current prices, but they won’t last long. Once distillate begins to cost 15% above unleaded the benefits of improved efficiency disappear.

Most of us are familiar with cars running on unleaded, so I won’t go into any detail, except to say that modern small cars can be very efficient, and unleaded (particularly the ethanol blends) can be very cheap if you shop around.

Monday, 1 June 2009

Marburg Loop

Our most recent MX5 run was to a winery at Marburg via Cunningham’s Gap, Rosevale and Rosewood.

It was a brilliant day, just before a massive change of weather which saw the South-East receive a record May rainfall. We assembled at Toowoomba, and headed down the New England towards Allora.

There were six cars in the convoy, which grew to ten as we got together with non Darling Downs members (Mexicans).The run across from the Warwick turnoff to morning tea at Cunningham’s gap was scenically spectacular.

The country looked green and lush, and the sight of Glengallon homestead off to the left reminded us of the history of the area – just as spectacular.Morning tea was taken to the background of the characteristic calls of Whipbirds (Psophodes olivaceus) in a well-hidden little park. These noisy, but shy birds were in abundance, even though they remained well out of sight.

We then headed north to Rosevale, Maryvale and Rosewood along secondary and very enjoyable roads. This reminded most of us why we do this – nothing beats the sounds, sights and smells of travelling in a convoy of MX5s through the beautiful countryside – truly a tonic for the soul.
Lunch was at Warrego Winery. There was a great choice of tipple, even though the drivers had to abstain.

Just up the road was Woodlands, a venue used for a local festival which featured a display of veteran cars. We were enjoyed lunch in the shade of the Jacarandas, whilst watching a procession of these vehicles trundling past. A few of us visited the festival, to find a few displays and cars still in situ. The opportunity to photograph both the older machinery presented itself, and there were some interesting results.

Thanks are due to the organisers, both local and Mexicans. I’m looking forward to the next one.

Hugh White - Without America

Hugh White is always provocative, and doesn't pull any punches when it comes to criticising current defence policy. In 1995, he was appo...