Bringing Henry Home - Tennant Creek to Daly Waters

Tuesday, Jun 13, 2017 at 10:00

Peter Beard (WA)

Tuesday 13 June 2017

The easterly wind hit Tenant Creek about four in the morning, howling around the Bluestone Motel and dropping the temperature significantly. It had blown from the south east all day yesterday, giving Henry exceptional fuel economy. Ali woke but snuggled back down happy in the knowledge there is just a relatively short stint today, a round 400km north on the Stuart Highway to Daly Waters.

By 8:30 Pete was underneath Henry checking then topping up the gearbox oil, an ingenious operation requiring a big syringe full of oil being forced into the filler plug on the side of Henry's gearbox. This has been a regular operation since Adelaide. At first Pete and Kris thought the oil covering the rear wheel was from the rear axle seal. It was, sort of, but more on that later. Most, however, was seeping from just about every gasket and seal in the gearbox.

After making sure Henry was fit for the road, Pete and Ali spent leisurely morning sipping tea and relaxing after two long drives. Heading out of Tenant Creek around 10:30 it was a straightforward drive north. The trio stopped at Three Ways for fuel, where Ali had to physically hand over her driver's licence before they would allow Pete to fill up Henry, then again at Elliot for a sandwich and a cup of tea. They arrived mid-afternoon at the historic pub at Daly Waters, the easterly still howling.

Pete pulled up to the pumps to fill Henry and followed the sign that said to go to the hotel for service. The bloke behind the counter said just fill up and come back let me know how much, which Pete duly did. The bloke did not believe that Henry could take $180 of petrol. The pump definitely said $180 but doing the sums it should have read only $101 - the dicky old analogue display clearly not being able to distinguish between a zero and an eight. Kudos to the bloke behind the counter for being honest. Pete and Ali would have happily paid the $180.

So back to that leaky rear axle seal and leaky gearbox. Pete, Kris and Colin left Streaky Bay a bit later than planned due to the festivities the night before, crossing the wide flat lands to Port Augusta on a still, warm day. Eagles and hawks filled the sky above the ribbon of road, using the thermals rising from the warm tarmac to float above the world in search of prey. Arriving in Adelaide they made straight to Team Lost Claus Graham and Helen’s workshop to deal with the worrying oil leak Kris had discovered around the rear wheel. Thinking it was the rear axle seal Pete had already lined up a second hand axle (big thanks to Graham organising that) and was ready to do surgery on Henry on arrival.

A couple of kilometres before reaching the workshop another problem emerged; Henry's gear stick fell out. Closer inspection revealed that the thread that holds the stick into the extension housing had stripped, so it was out with the fibreglass tape and a couple of pieces around the base of the gear stick and the extension housing and problem solved. Temporarily of course.

Edit: In fact the "temporary" fibreglass tape repair worked so well that Ali and Pete are now in Darwin on the way home after the rally and the same tape fitted in Adelaide before the rally is still holding. Taking off from the traffic lights is always a challenge though, because Pete can never tell if he's selected first or reverse!

Over the pit at Graham and Helen's it was discovered that the stream of oil was actually coming from the gearbox. Well, most of it was. So cancel the axle replacement and make a mental note to fill up the gearbox. Regularly. That is one to be dealt with on return to Perth. Colin got a lift from Graham and Helen’s to pick up his new shitbox. All through Adelaide the Shitbox Rally crew was gathering. Tomorrow the briefing, then on Saturday they would be off to Cairns with overnight stops at Roxby Downs, Oodnadatta, Alice Springs, Tobermorey Station, Burke and Will Roadhouse and Einsleigh.


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