Across Australia 2012

General information about this rally can be obtained Here

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Day one Perth to York 96km

A short one that I made longer, started with the Governor waiving us off at his house, then mixing it with Perth CBD traffic which was a little like Ballarat. The Sizaire was missing and as it happened I was also missing a vital turn so was heading for Broome, navigation fixed, unfortunately Sizaire still missing but made it to York for the first night. Visited Bedelia’s cousin while there.

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Day two 271km Southern Cross

300 Km today. Temp 32 strong head winds. Andrew says most carburetor problems are in fact ignition problems so with that gem and the fact I have 2 spare mags with me decided to swap them over… Unfortunately they are 20mm too high so the strap would not fit so 200 more km of missing till lunch then with the aid of some threaded rod from “Two Dogs Hardware” Merredin she is firing on all one cylinder.

Day 3 225km Kalgoolie

Weather forecast has proved very accurate with about 66mm of rain today, Kalgoolie awash, Sizaire occupants likewise, waterproof clothing a myth.

Day 4 188km Norseman

Ditto minus brothels.

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Day 5 191km Baledonia

Briefly famous for Skylab crashing into it. Have overtaken just about everyone except the Canadians in their “Great Western” the only known survivor, very large, huge 2 cylinder engine under floor (5″x7″) will have to start stalking them. As we left Norseman mobile coverage stops for about 1000km, it’s wonderful how Melbourne now gets 4G when the main arterial road to the West has no G.

Day 6 247km Cocklebiddy

I don’t think Cocklebiddy is famous for anything apart from the mouse plague, the bar smells of disinfectant with a touch of dead mouse, I might take a peg to happy hour tonight. Sizaire is running beautifully although rear main is managing to spray everything in oil including occupants feet. Stopped to see why it was losing power only to find we were going up a hill. I may have to install spirit level.

Day 7 266km Eucla

Weather still cloudy it seems the weather is following us although it’s better than the 40 degrees that was here a week ago. The 1910 Indian sidecar failed to proceed and has been a guest on our trailer today, the Kiwi (Ken) who owns it has arranged for set of pistons to meet us at Ceduna meanwhile the bike guys mobile workshop will clean up the barrels this is the second Indian to suffer this fate luckily we have good pony express. Very few Australians working out here, mostly Irish, German and Kiwi …. Just like the Neerim South pub.

Day 8 Nullabor Roadhouse 195km

I’ve always said that the only parts of a rally I remember are the disasters. I even remember them fondly with the benefit of hindsight. Today started badly, apart from getting up awfully early, within 5 km of the start I lost 1:45 hrs of my life in an instant due to a combination of WA not having daylight saving and a strange 45 minute time zone in the middle on nowhere. So more speed was needed, however at this point Andrew & I thought we could feel a vibration at certain revs, was it there before? As you can see in the above photo we decided to get to the oily bits on arrival at Nullabor, we thought the vibration that had turned into a knock was a big end bearing, we were wrong and if we had just grabbed the flywheel it would have been immediately apparent that the nut circled in the diagram was loose so our rest day at Ceduna will be very busy. The motorbike blokes reckon it’s just a big bike engine so no problem. I will ride the Triumph tomorrow.

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Day 9 Ceduna 290km

Andrew set alarm for 5:30 for a 7:00 start, unfortunately no one thought how light it would be at 7:00am as the sun rose at 7:45. Set off on the Trusty Triumph at 8:00 and was so overjoyed it started first push that I forgot to turn the oil on …. A km down the road locked the back wheel as the engine nipped up, waited, turn on the oil, restarted all good with no trouble for the rest of the day. Tonight we pulled the engine out of Sizaire and will borrow a wheelbarrow so we can walk it to the other caravan park where the bike guys are staying. Hopefully tomorrow will bring good news.

Day 10 Ceduna rest day for some

Ended up taking engine to Ian Sargent on the back of the car trailer it’s a three man job to pick it up so would have destroyed wheelbarrow, luckily it’s only one cylinder. The crankshaft is in five pieces held together with tapers and 48mm nuts …all were loose. The jerrycan holder on the trailer ended up being exactly the right size to be used as a V block to align the crank in addition to much whacking with a No.4 Thor we managed 6 thou. runout which should be good enough, worked until 9:30 getting it all back together. Completely shagged out went to bed.

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Day 11 Kimba 310km Half Way

When I finished assembling the car there was two bits left over, a washer and a 24mm castellated nut. I thought not bad really, although a 24mm castellated would seem important, to cut a long story short it was important as without it the clutch couldn’t be a clutch so we failed to proceed again and after removing tail shaft, clutch assembly and then had Andrew go buy a 24mm socket for more reassembly and I was really having fun by this stage. We disembarked at 10:00am engine still has odd vibrations so am practicing thinking of something else. Arrived Kimba which has an amazing pub had a nice curry however Camp ground had run out of hot water so cold shower, tomorrow is an other day.

Day 12 Peterborough 286km

Yesterday I did say I would practice thinking about something else however it became difficult to remain stoic as the vibrations corsing through the Sizaire started undoing nuts, adding more stress fractures to the mudguards and generally fraying the occupants so before anything serious started cracking we sadly put Sizaire back on the trailer until our next “rest” day in Broken Hill so continued on the Triumph. Had to ascend the Horricks Pass so was flat on the tank doing 55kph most of the way up but failed to proceed 50m from the summit so only a short push by the assembled spectators waiting for just such an event. Below is a picture of El Sid AKA Sid the border terrier wearing his “doggles” riding on the back of the Darracq and obviously loves it.

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Day 13 Broken Hill 284km

My good friend John Fitz says “A scout smiles and whistles through all difficulties” so with that advise I have tightened my woggle, pulled up my socks and have had a pretty good day all things considered. So Sizaire on the trailer Triumph on the road, first 30km ok then bike started to slow down and I’m pretty sure it’s was not a hill. The Inlet valve spring that is supposed to close the valve was relying on gravity instead so we had a tug of war with the spring stretching it, reinstalled all good. Oil seems to be leaking out of the engine all over the drive belt, forward progress variable. Emptied excess oil out of crankcase, cleaned belt with petrol. Andrew takes over, engine seizes 5 km later, I probably should not have drained excess oil as that was all it had as oil feed compromised. This provides the opportunity to drive in a nice air conditioned car to Broken Hill. Have found a sympathetic machine shop so have removed Sizaire engine again this time only 90 mins. Had a good meal provided by friends up from Adelaide so off to bed.

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Day 14 Rest Day Broken Hill

First thing this morning we had the engine off to Don Stewart he proceeded to whack the crankshaft with a sledgehammer them spin up on lathe and it seems reasonably true, this was the part we could not do in Ceduna. Having worked all day the first startup was about 7:00pm the magneto was way out so the car sounded more like an AK47 with rapid backfires so had a large audience before we had finished. Andrew and I took the car for a spin with the bicycle headlights on but couldn’t see a thing once we left streetlights A was shining his mini torch on the speedo reading off the speed 52, 53, 54, 55 fast enough with 10 metres visibility. I have included photo of a few helpers we called in for the engine install.

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Day 15 Wilcannia 195km

Good day today, engine runs with various clunks and knocks so constantly juggling throttle and spark to nurse it along. Made it to Wilcannia for lunch, caravan park flooded so camped on golf course not sure which hole. Due to water lying everywhere mosquitoes are flying and biting everywhere, luckily I have Andrew with me as he works like a sacrificial bait. Only 1000km to go … How do you smile AND whistle at the same time?

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Day 16 Cobar 261km

I’ve read somewhere that mosquitoes find us from the CO2 we exhale. This was the problem I was trying to come to grips with at 4:00am after being woken by either dogs barking, loud music or people yelling, all of which happened randomly during the night. The problem was could I get outside to have a leak wearing only my jocks without sustaining serious injury from the massed squadrons of mosquitoes by holding my breath, needless to say this idea had inherent flaws which I won’t go into. Otherwise the Sizaire went like a French watch albeit one that runs slow and leaves an oily spot on your wist when you take it off. We have found some 20W-60 oil so the knocks seem a little more subdued so are averaging about 55kph. Had a lovely Barramundi for tea tonight but just drank water, lots of it. The days are getting hotter.

Day 17 Dubbo 297km

“The slogan Press On! has solved and always will solve the problems of the human race Sizaire Owner” (Calvin Coolidge). Long day today however we have arrived before everyone else except a bike so that must be good. Am just about to have a nice lie down under the Siz to slop some grease on some of the bits that rattle and top up the oil. Unfortunately because of the rear main wobble the clutch throw out bearing is being pulverised as we drive, it lost about 2mm today so will not be much left by Sydney.

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Day 18 Bathurst 210km

My man in Gippsland sent the following: “life is full of obstacle illusions” and today was certainly one of those. First off I backed off the clutch throw out bearing which stopped it being flogged out by the clutch assembly with the by-product of less rattles which meant we drove faster. Secondly, the Sizaire transaxle makes down changes a bit of a challenge and as such we have only changed down twice in the last 17 days which means only 2 decent hills from Perth to Dubbo. That all changed today both of us had plenty of practice even getting down to first a couple of times. I still feel the ideal Sizaire driver should have 3 right hands and at least two brains for perfect gear changing, as that seems unlikely will just have to continue to practice and think happy thoughts.

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Day 19 Penrith 160km

This was the big day with the big hills so Andrew drove first thinking the hills were later, he was wrong as climb from Bathurst to Lithgow were pretty unremitting. Out of Lithgow we took a little known goat track to avoid the big trucks and road works on Victoria Pass, it was a perfect veteran car road, narrow, winding, no traffic and sheer drops. All went well initially, 3rd gear then 2nd gear then 1st with speed dropping and dropping so just before the crest I had to eject some ballast (Andrew) and she noticeably picked up speed. On to Katoomba to visit some friends of Andrew and Frances unfortunately we got lost and went down a very steep street with an equally steep exit, we were like a ball bearing in a spoon drain and in the end had to call in the tow car to get us out. Otherwise we have arrived and need a drink (not water)

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Day 20 Sydney 45km

Last day and the one most of us were dreading, although as with most things dreaded it was not so bad after all. We left the Penrith Panthers gin palace and headed down the M4 causing a movable traffic jam as we went, about 20 km out we stopped to regroup and observe the damage rubber necking was doing to Sydney traffic system. All went well until we entered the CBD where on Napoleon Street Sizaire met her Waterloo. Grinding slowly up a very steep gradient, failing then rolling backwards as the brakes only work while going forward. Desperately pulling the brake lever but still going backwards I aimed for the curb barely missing various other desperate veterans trying not to be baulked. Bystanders were pressed into service and we managed a U turn and when they had their breath back gave instructions for a more scenic but less challenging route to Martin Place. Stood around for 3 hours extolling the virtues of Sizaire et Naudin, met the Govenor, answered the usual questions about tyre availability, how fast it goes and yes it does run on unleaded. Drove to Concord Oval via Parramatta Road, Andrew left Martin Place at the same time by taxi and only beat us by 5 minutes, Sydney is truly a veteran city. Lastly I would like to thank Bob for organising it and my fellow participants in particular Andrew as co-driver and Frances as backup vehicle driver, the motorcycle people who helped me out when we had mechanical problems and had a much greater challenge than us from trucks, weather and a sore behind. This is it for the blog thanks for your interest.

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10 Responses to Across Australia 2012

  1. Neil Martin says:

    Hi mark.
    Good to hear that you, Andrew and Francis are home safe and sound.Your story or blog as you call it was very interisting and informative.
    Luckly all French cars are not over stressed like the Sizaire with thumping big engines. The Renault just went Chuf chuf—-chuf chuf—-chuf chuf all day long and
    when a rise came, the rear end moaned and when a hill came 2nd gear growled.
    1st gear had a trying time also from Bathurst to Katoomba as well as Mt Panarama where I nearly ——– myself going down the esses, what a drop.
    Thanks for telling us your experiences of the crossing.
    Thanks must also go to Bob Lamond for his drive and enthusiasm for stageing this event. Well done Bob.
    Neil & Lynette. entry #31

  2. Bob Lamond says:

    Mark I think you triumphed over all adversity and I admire your fortitude and the Sausage !
    See you at Echuca if not before
    Cheers
    Bob L

  3. Ian Haughton says:

    Great story. Reading it on my iPhone but I’ll look at the pictures on the computer
    What an adventure. I hope the Prado gives me less trouble on the way to the kimberley

  4. Lee Wright says:

    Hi Mark. I am not sure if l am allowed out after the Perth–Sydney run but would like to keep in touch. Regards, Lee.

  5. Jonathan Wightman says:

    I would like to enter on my 1929 DKW E300 motorcycle. The top speed is about 60 km/hr. Best regards Jonathan Wightman Rockingham W.A.

    • Mark says:

      Hi Jonathan,

      If the DKW will only get to 60 Kph then you are welcome to come along.

      Regards

      Mark McKibbin

  6. Frank & Kathy says:

    We hope to be in Kalgoorlie for the National in 2014. Please keep us informed. Frank

  7. Tony Jenkins says:

    I will be traveling with Alan Madden looking forward to the trip

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