Saturday, April 16, 2011


SORRY !! My comments box wasn't set up properly, so my apologies to anyone who tried to comment. It should all be working correctly now.


I have also taken a lot of photos of aircraft. Somehow I find propellor aircraft more fascinating than jets.What better way to start than photos of a few Cessnas.
My two daughters (now grown up) stand beside a 177RG at Hood Aerodrome. Hood is our local aerodrome in Masterton NZ. The 177 was originally designed as a replacement for the 172. The 177 was very sleek, had no wing struts, and this model had retractable gear....but the customers kept buying the boxy old 172. Better ain't always best.

A 206 floatplane is anchored at Lake Te Anau awaiting the next lot of tourists who want to see the splendour of NZ's South Island from the air.

Another 206 tied up in Porirua Harbour near Wellington. The pilot told me he had flown some people in from the South Island to look at property.

A 208 Caravan taxis out at Hood Aerodrome.

An Australian registered 310 at Hood.

A 182 tied down at Hood.

Another air race entry. a nice tidy 180 at Hood.

A 182 with Wren conversion. The Wren components enable short take-offs, landings and slow speed flight. Note the small planes just behind the prop. These move in conjunction with the elevators to improve low speed pitch control.

A fairly late model 172, a 172R.

A 337 climbs away to the North from Hood Aerodrome.

A 150 at Hood Aerodrome.

Cessna 421 Golden Eagle taxis in at Hood while a Douglas Dakota lands behind.

Friday, April 8, 2011

BMW Maintenance.

The BMW has been fairly reliable, but not completely reliable. One of the first problems occured around about 60,000kms when the splines on the clutch plate stripped. I don't know why BMW persisted in using such a fine spline. There are about 20 fine splines in the plate compared to 6 or 8 deep splines in car clutches for a similar purpose. BMW say the gearbox should be removed and the splines lubricated regularly, but cars never seem to need this done until the linings are worn out.
Around the same time I had to replace the brake master cylinder, which started leaking after I bled the brakes to renew the fluid. I have struck this problem before in cars where during bleeding the piston travels beyond it's normal working region. It's seems to me to be more prevalent in European vehicles than Japanese.
I replaced the timing chain at around 80,000kms and it's getting noisy again at 165,000.
I was told that I would probably need to replace gearbox bearings at around 80,000kms, but mine never started to get noisy till 120,000. I removed and re-installed the gearbox myself, but got the BMW mechanic to fit the bearings as apparently there is a modification that is performed. Another new clutch was installed at the same time, as was a new oil seal at the rear of the engine.
It has had new rear wheel bearings, but front ones are original.
Rear brake linings are original and I'm only on my third set of front brake pads. The first set didn't actually wear out, but one lining had separated from it's backing. Front brake rotors were replaced at 120,000, when much of the other major maintenance was done.
Steering head bearings have been replaced and I actually feel they may have been over tight from new.
I have only installed new pushrod tube seals quite recently to stop a slight oil leak. Rings and bearings and valves are as fitted from the factory.
Electrical problems have been almost non-existant apart from when it was fairly new the alternator charge light began staying on. Strictly speaking it was still under warranty, but as the dealer is 100kms away I decided to take a look myself with the help of a workmate who was trained in electronics. We discovered that one of the push-on terminals on the back of the diode board at the front of the motor had not been pushed fully home right from new. Pushed on correctly, it has never given any more trouble in a further 100,000 plus kms. The neutral switch in the bottom of the gearbox was also replaced at 158,783kms. This was done in situ, despite the fact that BMW manuals say the gearbox has to be removed.
The smooth running seems to be easy on bulbs. I have replaced one tail lamp bulb, one front indicator bulb and two instrument bulbs in 25 years.
I think I am on to my fifth battery. Since I stopped riding over Winter I was removing the battery and charging it at the beginning of Summer, but a couple of years ago I bought one of those battery chargers that keeps the battery charged up all the time. I reconnect it every time I park the bike. So far this has proved a worthwhile investment, but one needs to keep an eye on the battery water level especially over hot Summers like the one we have just experienced.
The only other problem now showing up is wear in the spline where the rear wheel fits on. This needs to be lubed regularly, and I have done this every time I have installed a new tyre. The experts tell me it is not bad enough to need attention yet.
Apart from the Michelins the bike came with I have used Continentals exclusively. I have always found them a good tyre for my riding and I don't see any need to change. Tyre wear varies quite a bit with Summer or Winter riding. Hot roads are not kind to rubber. Front tyre last from a worst of 14,000kms to a best of over 25,000. Rears from about 10,000 to a best of almost 13,000. The original Michelins lasted 7120 kms on the rear, the worst rear tyre distance I've recorded and 25,046 on the front, which is one one of the best for a front !!
I fitted a VDO clock to the into the fairing at 108,000kms in 1998. When I told  the salesman at the shop I intended it for a motorcycle he suggested I use a marine one which has non-corrosive components. When he looked up the price we were both surprised to find that it was less expensive than the standard one. The salesman said that this was probably because most of their sales were for non-marine and the marine type were probably older stock. Whatever the reason, I don't care, it has been completely trouble free.
Oil changes I have done completely by the book until I stated not using the bike through winter. Since then I have changed the oil and filter at the end of every riding season regardless of mileage (kilometerage!) covered.
In the gearbox and final drive I use fully synthetic oil which I change every three years.
In 1995 at 82,400kms I installed a K&N air filter which has not been serviced yet.
The "bodywork" has stood up pretty well. As explained earlier I repainted the body parts at around 120,000kms, The paint on the frame is still good, though I have touched up one patch where my boot rubs against the frame. The screen is still the original, and does have some light scratches, but the seat covering is still like new with no sign of wear or splitting. Maybe the use of sheepskin covers much of the time has helped this.The exhaust system lasting in excess of 100,000kms before replacement is also impressive. This was probably helped by the purchase of a small bike (Yamaha RD50) for the commute to work. I actually only needed this for about 2 years, as after that I secured a job in Carterton which meant the BMW got a 40km return trip 5 days a week, mostly at 100km/h.The only other small problem I encountered was wear in the pannier mounting clips which caused a pannier to depart from the bike (without my knowledge) on the way to work one morning. The later bikes with panniers that hang from the top of the frame is a far better design.
I also had one minor accident when going to work early one morning in darkness. A motorcyclist coming in the opposite direction lost control in a patch of roadworks hitting a white painted drum, which was marking the centre of the road, and deflecting it ito my front wheel which took me down. the BM slid on it's left side on the crash bar and the mainstand tag. Luckily the tyres didn't dig in and flip it over, so damage was minimal. The other motorcyclist, whom I think may have been trying to make his bike wheelspin in the gravel roadworks, suffered a large whole in his bike's crankcase!
I am often asked what new bike would I buy if I had the money (Lotto). I guess I would try everything I could, but I would be inclined to just keep maintaining my current machine. Modern touring bikes all seem so heavy. A naked BMW R850R is weightier than my R80RT complete with fairing. I guess that's the price you pay for all the electronic components etc. The only modern component I really find appealing is ABS. I wonder how many motorcyclist have been badly injured or indeed have died, because they have either locked their brakes or have not braked hard enough because of fear of locking. Although I have had some frightening moments I have never had to use maximum braking right down to a standstill whilst motorcycling, however I have had one situation where ABS saved my bacon in a car on a damp road.

My Bikes...up to the present

As mentioned in my last post, on this subject, my wife and I looked at new BMWs in 1985, but at $14,000 plus they were just too expensive. Late in that year the NZ Government announced that a duty charged on imported motorcycles would be removed as from the 1st of January 1986. I had no idea how much difference this would make to the price. On the 2nd of January (a public holiday in NZ) we went for a ride on the GS850 to Wellington. Whilst there we looked through the window of the BMW dealership. On the floor was a new R80RT. Although the new single rear shock models were out, this was one of the last of the twin shock models. A sign on it had the $14,000 odd price tag crossed out and added below the words "NOW $9800".
"Wow", I said.
"Why don't you get one. You've always wanted one." said my wife.
She didn't have to tell me twice. Two days later we travelled to Palmerston North, visited the BMW dealer, and ordered a new R80RT. As I mentioned earlier the new model was already available, but these were around $1600 dearer. Finances were a bit critical so I chose the cheaper option. I would have liked a blue one ,but there was only red available. On the 9th of January we went to Palmerston North and picked up our new machine. 25 years later we still own the same bike
Stopped for a rest in the Manawatu Gorge, which is one route from here to Palmerston North.

On a nice winding motorcycling road within half an hour of my home. Sheepskin seat covers are an item I rarely travel without. 

Summertime in the Wairarapa (the region Masterton is in) can be very dry.

Castlepoint Beach is about 45 minutes drive from here. This photo taken late in the day. Castle Rock (that big lump behind the bike) was named by Captain Cook, who thought it looked like a castle from out at sea. I'm not really a beach person, but this has got to be one of my favourites.

Parked at Hood Aerodrome.  Sometimes referred to as Masterton Airport now that we have a regular air service.

One of our first trips on the Beemer was a quick trip around the South Island. This is on the Lewis Pass road.

One of the very long bridges over the very wide Waimakariri River in the South Island.

In 2004 with 120,000kms on the clock it was time to do a bit of maintenance. The gearbox needed new bearings, the exhaust was rusting out and the paint was fading. I had a complete stainless exhaust system installed, removed /installed the gearbox myself, but got a BMW mechanic to do the bearings and had the bike repainted in blue. The colour is actually a Ford colour called "Galaxie". It may not be standard, but I like it. Speaking of non-standard, I was never happy with the fact that many parts on the bike were painted black, whereas the pannier racks and crash-bars were chrome. So at the time of painting I got chrome plating on the carrier, the rear indicator stem, the front mudguard mount/fork brace and the handle for lifting it on to the main stand. There is a separate post on the maintenance and repairs I have endured.
I have now covered 160,000kms and if you think that is not much in 25 years then please consider in that time I have purchased my own home (and all the upkeep that entails) and fathered and help raise two daughters who are now grown up and left the nest. I now only register the bike in the Summer except for this year when finances have been a struggle with me having been made redundant in February 2009 and not having  managed to find full-time permanent work since.
This is the first time in over 30 years I haven't been on a motorcycle in the Summer.
The painting of my BMW at the top of this blog under my photo, is a copy of artwork done by my daughter. I thought it was a great effort for someone who is not mechanically minded. Check out her art (amongst other things) on

Wednesday, April 6, 2011

2010 Vintage Harvest

In 2010 the Vintage Harvest was again held near Carterton. This time there many more trucks present

This Bedford is the same age as me and looks in better condition, but then I haven't been restored !
1991 R722RS. Not really an oldie, but still very smart.

I remember when Leylands, like this 1964 Hippo, were the big rigs of the road.Transport Nelson had a large fleet of these in both 6 wheelers (Hippo) and 8 wheelers (Octopus),

Nice 1973 Mercedes Benz LP1319 even has the huge R/T aerial which was almost compulsory on trucks of this period.

Brian Pope of Masterton spent many hours restoring this1948 Austin K2, for John Gray of Greytown, back to it's original condition. Note the single digit telephone number.

This 1976 Scammell Crusader had covered 3.8 million kms.

1955 Thames is a model not often seen restored.

Detroit 8V92TTA  powers this 1980 Kenworth W924.

Two Ergomatics. A 1970 Leyland and a 1967 AEC

This International looks like it may have a locally built cab. Many trucks of this era were imported only complete from the firewall forward, so cabs and body could be added in the form required. I don't know the exact year of this, but must be around 1943-36.

Monday, April 4, 2011

2007 Vintage Harvest

The first Vintage Harvest was held near Carterton in 2007. The event was held not only to show early methods of harvesting, but also to demonstrate older machinery in general. I mainly went to look at the old trucks, but found I spent many hours of looking at almost everything there with great interest.

You don't get much older farm implement than this. Two clydesdales pull the reaper/binder.
These two Lanz Bulldogs sat idling all day. Jerking back and forth as their huge pistons of their single horizontal cylinder performed their duty. This is what they were designed to do as they are as much a stationary engine as a tractor. On the left is a 1937 model, the other a '56.

John Deere made the first diesel in 1949. This is the "R" with two large parallel, horizontal cylinders.

Many a farm in this area had a Bedford of similar model to this as their farm truck. This is a 1955 A5.

A military collector from Carterton showed this 1967 ex NZ Army International F230D heavy equipment transporter.

Gleeson's travelled from Pahiatua with this 1959 "S" Bedford...... well as their 1947 Ford V8.

This TS3 powered Commer was painted in the livery of Hargreaves Transport of Dannevirke.

A Fordson E27N with half-track conversion.

Garrity Brothers of Greytown displayed their 1937 Chev along side their 2004 Hino.


Sunday, April 3, 2011

The 1950s and 60s

I grew up in the 1950 and 60s and remember well the cars of this period we no longer see. I particularly like street scenes with the cars of this era parked or driving by. There are some brlliant pictures on the net if you do some searching. If anyone has any photos of their own please forward them and I will publish them, crediting  the photographer of course.

This one is from a site about Folsom in California. A '56 Chevy has just cut-off a pedestrian as a '57 follows it. As well as lots of other goodies in the background.

This one is from a postcard of Frankfort Kentucky.

My favourite. I got this off the net some time ago and now don't seem to be able to find it again. I'm fairly sure it is the main st. of  Hazard Kentucky. Click on it to enlarge and there is an absolute treasure trove of American 50s cars. There are also a few advertising hoardings which will be familiar to Kiwis...Coca Cola and B.F.Goodrich, to name two.

This one was taken with my father's camera sometime in the 60s. I'm not sure if I took it (being the car buff in the family) or whether my Dad took it, because being from rural NZ it may have been the first time we had seen a parking building. It is of Farmers parking building in Auckland.

If you are in to photos of cars of the 50s and 60s this book by John Gunnell is worth having on your book shelf. It is a collection of photos from the camera of the late Rodman Bingham who was a commercial photographer who spent a lot of his day listening to an emergency services scanner, then racing to the scene of accidents to get the best photo. All photos are very sharp, but be warned it could break your heart. Not because of any gory scenes (there are none), but because of the sight of some mangled wrecks which would be collector's items today...... this 1949 Custom convertible V8, which could bring a Ford fan to tears.

Friday, April 1, 2011

"R" Model Macks

I  have always like the styling of the "R" model Macks. Much more modern looking than the other common conventional of that era in NZ; the "W" series Kenworth. I have never driven one, but have sat in the driver's seat and found the view over that short, fat bonnet through the curved two-piece windscreen quite impressive. Here are some NZ "R" model Macks mostly photographed in the 1980s.
Although strictly speaking "R" model includes the Super-Liner, I have not included them in this piece.
An "R" of Childs Freighters in A-train configuration enters the Manawatu Gorge between Woodville and Ashhurst. The tunnel is for rail traffic. A short distance past this point the road crosses the Manawatu River and winds along the cliff face on one side of the Gorge, whilst the railway does the same on the opposite side.

This 1984 R612RS with self steering semi-trailer has just crossed the bridge at the western end of the Manawatu Gorge and is approaching the settlement of Ashhurst. This one was operated by Produce Freighters.

A 1985 R686RST of NZIG ( New Zealand Industrial Gases) unloads LPG at Tom's Auto Services in Masterton. The Mack has probably served it's useful days by now, but Tom's is still operating, but these days run by Tom's son; successful rally driver Richard Mason.

Piako Freighters 1985 R688RST B-train with a load of drums awaits at the Picton ferry terminal in the South Island for a sailing to Wellington in the North Island.

D.F.Lloyd & Sons of Palmerston North operated this R686RST of 1987 vintage with tri-axle tanker.

Detroit Diesel powers this "R" model of TD haulage of Mount Maunganui. Seen here parked outside the Dudley Arms Tavern at Mangatainoka, the home of Tui ale.

ASC-Flowers ran a daily freight trip to Masterton from Palmerston North with this, then, brand new "R". In the background can be seen the viewing tower of Centrepoint in Masterton's main street. This building has now been demolished and replaced by a new premise containing a bank amongst other things. The "R" model macks in NZ were mostly Australian sourced. As far as I know NZ and Australia were the only countries where "Rs"came from the factory with a 4 headlamp set-up.
The short trailer in this photo is the front half of a B-train. The trailer bogie could be slid out from under the body and the turn-table (fifth-wheel) for the second trailer would emerge from between the chassis rails. 

John Reid contracted to Child freighters used this flat deck "R" and trailer to carry products for Humes who make large concrete pipes, tanks and culverts.

A Halliday's Haulage "R" with furniture trailer moves away from the traffic lights on a wet day in Taupo's main street. Notice how the engine's torque is making the front of the truck lean to it's right under acceleration.

A long bonnet "R" is parked in Masterton outside McGregor Hall in Worksop Rd.with a load of empty produce crates. The long bonnet (hood) was an option and usually housed a V8, but sixes could also be specified with the long option as may be the case here as there is no V8 badge visible on the bonnet side. This rig was operated by Freightways.

This "R" was operated by Bob Laing. It is unusual in the fact that it has 10 stud wheels whereas most Kiwi "Rs" had the spoke type hubs with detachable rims.
A Freightways B-train tanker purrs through the sheep saturated NZ countryside.  This one wears twin exhaust stacks and twin intake stacks.