On Labour Weekend (20/10/1998 - 23/10/98) I went to the Mini Nationals in Palmerston North. This was my first major trip in my mini, and my first
major trip out of Auckland on my own. I traveled in a convoy of seven Mini's from the Mini Car Club of Auckland.
The trip got off to a bad start. Less than two weeks before we were due to leave, I blew up my differential
(some of the The broken planet gears). I started the engine for the first time after the rebuild at 10:30pm the
night before we were leaving. I finished replacing all my brakes shoes at 1:30am the night we were leaving.
I arrived at the Greenlane MacDonald's carpark and met the rest of the convoy at 12:15pm on the friday. I still had many things
to do. The brakes needed adjusing. The bonnet needed attaching and aligning. The grill had to be attached and parts of the cooling
system attached to it. The stereo had to be wired up. The horns needed to be attached. The plate that covers the hole in the
firewall had to be installed. There were many many things to do. I got most of them done in the hour or so before we left. I fixed
or attached something every time we stopped on the way though.
The trip itself was very eventful. We stopped at the Bombay Hills service staion to pick up Frits. This service station is about
50km down the motorway from auckland. There is a bit of a hill up to it, but nothing major. When we got there, my mate's John's
car was spewing steam!!!
This was not good. We left him with a map and the route we were taking. We didn't really think he would make it. He did. Him and
his passenger Alex took apart the heater and mounted the core on the grill, as an extra radiator. The heater didn't work when
it was in the car. This we because it was blocked. They used a fire hose to flush it and the main radiator out. This, along
with an overflow tank, solved the cooling problems.
Somewhere between Bombay and Taupo, a guy in a red Falcon tried to pass me. I was at the back of the convoy, and he came up
and passed me on the passing lane. In NZ we have two lane (one each way) State Highways. In various places, usually on hills,
three lanes are available, two lanes for uphill traffic and one for down. The falcon was content to pass me and only me, I
didn't really like this, so when the 250m to end of passing lane sign came up, a floored it and passed him. He wasn't very
A while later, on a straight stretch of road, the Falcon passed me again. There were many more huge gaps, but he didn't pass Mike in
the second to last Mini. So I passed him. I dropped into third, let out the clutch and moved into the other lane. I got a huge
episode of torque stear, and nearly went into the back of the Falcon. I went past the Falcon with the worst case of the speed
wobbles and went in fourth with 7000rpm on the clock. I got more torque stear, and was rapidly aproching Mike. In the distance
the oncomming traffic was becomming closer. I hit the brakes fairly hard, and pulled in behind Mike. I'm fairly sure I locked
up the fronts :-/
The Falcon didn't try and pass me again.
Just outside of Taupo, Frits's flywheel fell off!! Disaster. Luckily it didn't escape. It just came loose as he was slowing down
for an intersection and went bang bang bang. We spent two hours in Taupo tightening it up again. Luckily Mike had brought the
huge spanner needed to do up the bolt. While we were there John and Alex found us. They stopped for gas at the same petrol station
we were working behind! We then spent another hour or so having dinner at pizza hut.
About 20km from Fielding (15km from Palmerston North), John's clutch dissintegrated. The friction material on one side of the
plate just came off completely. Andrew Carter towed him at at least 90km/h on a short tow rope the rest of the way. John was