Thursday, September 28, 2017

Bay to Birdwood 2017

After arriving in Adelaide we caught up with fellow members of the Special Interest Vehicle Association. A meet up with fellow South Australian enthusiasts was organized for the Saturday before the Bay to Birdwood on the grounds of Carrick Hill stately home. A number of Club Auto Francais members attended and put on a good display.

Carrick Hill is only 20 minutes from central Adelaide. It has fine gardens and artworks on display. There was a wedding that evening on the front lawn.

The lawns are fine location for a small car show

All up more than a dozen vehicles showed up

Attending from SIVA were Rhys Mitchell and his son Alex in a Chevrolet Corvair Monza (above), Paul and Natalie Blank and family in a Rolls-Royce Silver Shadow, Stef and Yvonne Brayley in their Alpine A110 and Peter Schelfhout in his Peugeot 404 (below).

Peter had driven over from Perth and only arrived that afternoon. The drive had proven quite challenging as the car had experienced some problems with tuning and seizing brakes.

A trio of Renault 8's

The Renault Caravelle on the left received a lot of attention. It is a very fine looking car with a body by Ghia, but underneath the sporty exterior is Renault 8 running gear.

The Bay to Birdwood starts at Barrett Reserve in the beachside suburb of Glenelg. Cars begin gathering at 6am and are parked up for the breakfast and display. We set off from Adelaide CBD around 7am but were delayed by carburetor issues. The car ran really rough in second and third before smoothing out in fourth, but in the suburban streets around the city we rarely got up to fourth. We arrived around 8am and parked up next to a couple of VW Kombis.

We hardly stepped out of the car before being swamped by people wanting to talk about the car. I like talking to people about the DKW but I was trying to give the carb a quick clean at the same time and it was a little frustrating.

As the SIVA crew were scattered all about Adelaide and had set off at different times, we were scattered across the field. 1750 cars all in one place!! The sheer logistical effort involved in coordinating that many vehicles is amazing. By sheer luck we bumped into Rhys and Alex and Paul Blank and said our good mornings, then we were lost in the crowd.

A perennial crowd pleaser is the Delorean. There were four attending.

A great rarity in Australia - Saab 96 longnose. This was a V4 powered model.

A very fine Porsche 356

I think this Holden 48-215 (aka FX) was outside the age cut off, being built from 1948 to 1952, but might have been exempted due to the shut down of the Holden plant this year.

There was a lot of American iron around - as you must expect these days.  This was fine Cadillac Eldorado. I had always wanted one of these as a kid but my admit my tastes have changed a lot since then.

A lovely restored Volkswagen Karmann Ghia with correct paint scheme. Shelly chose to paint the roof white, which does look lovely of course, but the red body originally came with a black roof.

A due of French Sima Aronde's. A real pair of rarities.

I think this Simca Aronde was one of the most interesting cars at the event.

This Buick had come over from Victoria.

This EH Holden is the spitting image of the one I owned in the 1990s.

A Saab Sonett in our rear view mirror.

At 9am the first cars were waved on their way. It was almost an hour before it was our turn to go. The car was still running rough but we were too preoccupied to care. The streets surrounding the reserve were filled with spectators lining the road. It was a cold morning with the threat of morning rain but they still came anyway, seated in folding chairs and wrapped up in coats and blankets. There were a lot spectators lining Anzac Highway all waving and pointing. It was excellent.

Driving towards the start.

Crowds on the median strip on ANZAC Highway.

The Saab Sonett overtakes us.

This year the route took us back through the centre of Adelaide. For the last couple of years the route has gone around the centre due to the traffic congestion it caused. Personally I think this was a mistake as there was a lot of traffic on the road (despite it being early on a Sunday morning in Adelaide!) and progress ground to a crawl. The slower we went the worse our car performed and we stuttered along, but at least we did not stall or overheat. Plenty of other cars did though. Among the 1750 cars big Australian and American cars predominated other vehicles and the slow going was tough on their big engines. The roadside was littered with overheated cars with their bonnets up. I think if the organizers want to do the city route next year they should restrict access on some of the roads so that the parade can be quickly waved through.

A fairly common sight during the crawl through the city. There were actually two Cadillacs on the roadside.

We drove on north east towards the Adelaide Hills. Away from the city centre there were more spectators and lots of non-participating enthusiasts had bought their cars out of their garages and parked on their lawn in solidarity. I remember one house had a collection of classic Alfa-Romeos parked out the front while they waved and tooted their horns. The car continued to be troublesome though and I pulled over into a petrol station to clean the carb again and get a drink. Many other cars pulled over too for fuel, food, drink and use the toilet. The place was packed so we didn't get away for about 20 minutes. We still had problems but the car was running a little better.

The convoy had also spread out by now so we weren't jammed together. We could get up into fourth gear and get a bit of run. We were soon up in the Hills and the route to Birdwood was actually closed to general traffic. That meant we could tootle up the hills as slow as we needed to while the traffic went around us. I was surprised to note as we ground our way up in second gear (30 miles an hour) that Ford Falcon GT was following us and made no attempt to overtake. Quite extraordinary!

The route through the Hills was scenic, twisty and not too steep. We certainly weren't the fastest car on the road but we were far from the slowest. However, as we were passing a small lake (I don't know where it was exactly) on a general rise, the car experienced fuel starvation. This sometimes happens on a long rise where you can't afford to vary the throttle for fear of the revs dropping down to first gear speed (the car has a non-synchro first gear). We really needed to stop, feather the throttle a little to get the fuel flowing smoothly again and then set off. I spotted an area of gravel just large enough to pull the car over and we instantly stalled. After a bit of cranking she fired up with a little bang. Whatever had been blocking the carb was gone and she ran beautifully for the rest of the day.

1750 cars set out from bayside Adelaide but not everyone stops in Birdwood. Some participants arrive, collect their certificates and then turn for home. We were so far back in the pack that there loads of cars passing us on their way back. It was still grindingly slow getting into Birdwood. At least a thousand cars were parked in the museum grounds. As an interstate club the SIVA members were supposed to parked together somewhere near the museum entrance, but we were now spread all over the place. One member was in the concourse. Another had obtained a VIP pass and the others were parked randomly. One sharp eyed marshal spotted our club logo and explained to us where we were meant to park, but in the crowd of cars we were redirected into the general entry. We saw the SIVA flag flying across the field so we tried to make our way their but it was hopeless. We decided to park wherever we could find a spot.

Cars in the field

More cars...

As we drove through the crowd we bumped into Peter, Stef and Yvonne and Peter warned us that our exhaust was "swinging in the wind." That wasn't good news! A quick inspection revealed that the new rubber mounting bracket holding the exhaust on had snapped. This was a read problem as the exhaust was now held on only by the mounting beneath the front seat. It would not have been a good idea to drive back to Adelaide without a fix. We removed the broken mount and took it to the RAA (Royal Automobile Association) guys who strapped it up temporarily with cable ties. It wasn't a pretty fix but it would get us home.

This mounting block was not original but exhaust shop couldn't find anything else that would fit. I believe the block came from a Landrover. Anyway, one of the metal plates tore away from the rubber mount.

With the added thickness of the cable ties the repaired mount was a bugger to reinsert. Thanks to Paul Blank who help me put it back on. Here Paul is using his feet to push the exhaust away from the mounting bracket so I can force the block back into position. Definitely a two person job.

All this fuss kept us from really appreciating our time at Bay to Birdwood and we did not get to enjoy the display at the National Motor Museum. We also missed catching up with the other SIVA members and people from the Historic German Register of Australia who'd come to the show to catch up with us. I felt the end of the event was rather chaotic with people leaving the display area.

The Shannon's Goggomobil

50 years of Volvo display

Mowag truck from Switzerland

Paul's Rolls Royce flying the SIVA flag

How did this guy get in here? An Austin 7 that is definitely outside the date range.

Lovely Mazda Cosmo

Steyr-Puch Haflinger. There were two in attendance.

Stef and Yvonne Brayley and their Alpine A110 in the concourse. Stef drove the car all the way back to Perth!

BMW 2002

Fashions in the Field. Stef and Yvonne were ripped off. Stef's suit is not fancy dress. He's owned it since the 1960s!

Bay to Birdwood was a great experience and we enjoyed it immensely, despite the less than perfect performance of the car on the day. Ironically the car drove magnificently the next day when we drove to the drop-off. However, the Classic event was a little disappointing for me as the event was dominated by the 'usual suspects' - 369 Holdens and 277 Fords. But that is Australia isn't it. The entry lists are here: The efforts of the organizers are to be congratulated. Bay to Birdwood is a major logistical undertaking and the support they have obtained from the community is fantastic.

Daisy heads home back to Perth with Ryans Transport.

I've since fixed the exhaust mounting. Again, it's not an original fitting - the exhaust is a little out of original alignment. This silent block is a little smaller than the Landrover mount. I hope it lasts, but suspect I'll need to add another bracket to the back end of the mount to reduce lateral tension.

Back to the travels with a DKW part one

And part two

Wednesday, September 13, 2017

More travels with a DKW

Our first stop in South Australia was Mount Gambier, just across the state border. Mt Gambier is South Australia's second largest city. It prospered in the 19th century from mining and its large agricultural hinterland. The city is built around the core of an eroded extinct volcano and here you find the city's main tourist attractions, the Blue and Green Lakes. The Lakes are within the flooded craters of the volcano. In the 19th century they became the city's main water source and a pleasant natural reserve was created around them. We stopped for a quick photo opportunity and then decided to carry on.

The Blue Lake

I've never seen Shelly take so many photos of the car.

We drove north to Tarpeena and the Coonawarra. Coonawarra is the red wine capital of South Australia's limestone coast. We stopped for an excellent lunch at Ottelia and Fodder before stopping in at Wynns. Wynns Coonawarra was the first red wine I ever drank and it remains a top quality drop today. Interestingly the terroir of the area is confined to a very thin strip that runs along each side of the main road.

From Coonawarra we continued north to Narracourte and the famous fossil cave system. The caves here preserved the remains of some of Australia's spectacular megafauna, such as giant wombats and kangaroos that stood some ten feet tall.

We arrived too late to do the fossil cave tour though and after a quick visit of the museum we turned west and drove towards Robe on the coast. The landscape between Narracourte and Robe was low lying farmland and coastal scrub. There wasn't a car on the road so we could drive flat out - 70 miles per hour - most of the way. We came across a wombat wandering along the road verge at one point and turned around for a second look but he scurried away into the bush before we could take a photo. It was a timely reminder to pay attention to wildlife. At dusk the kangaroos come out and are the cause of many accidents. By the time we arrived in Robe the sun had well and truly set so we called it night.

We explored Robe the next day. It was a very pleasant small port town that was once a major point of entry for immigrants heading to the Victorian goldfields. During the gold rush of the 1860s Victoria increased port fees to capitalize on the flood of immigrants so ships would pull in at Robe to offload their passengers, who would then travel overland to the goldfields. Robe grew very prosperous for a time but eventually fell into decline towards the end of the 19th century. It is now primarily a summer tourist town.

Main street in Robe.

The beacon at the end of the headland.

The bonnet's up because people are curious about the car. "Two stroke you say?"

From Robe we stopped for a photo opportunity at the Big Lobster in Kingston. Australia is filled with big tourist icons like this - the Big Pineapple, the Big Merino, the Donnybrook Apple, etc. The Big Lobster had been up for auction that weekend but failed to sell.

A long, low barrier island stretches between Kingston and Lake Alexandrina at the head of the Murray River. There are very few stops along the route so we made sure the tank was filled up before we set off - without a fuel gauge it's dangerous to assume! When we pulled over for a rest stop at Meningie an hour and half later, the car refused to start. The engine would spin but just not catch. Not even liberal squirts of 'Start ya Bastard!' would work. It took a good half hour before it finally fired up. Something was clearly up with the car.

We took the free car ferry across the Murray and drove north to Strathalbyn. The town has a reputation as the antiques capital of South Australia. Thanks to the delay on the road we arrived at night and didn't get an opportunity to explore. The town is divided into two halves by the Angas River, with a each side of the town having its own centre. The western side has the modern facilities, such as the banks and shopping centre, while the eastern centre is filled with antique shops. Although we checked out all the shops we did not find anything interesting.

The tourist office in town was extremely helpful and, because we thought we were making good time, we considered heading down to Kangaroo Island. We picked up brochures and information, but this option would quickly be removed from the agenda because when we returned to the car and I checked the radiator it was half empty with a pool of coolant under the car. I topped up the coolant and added another bottle of radiator stop leak.

We turned south and headed towards Goolwa at the mouth of the Murray. I forewarned Shelly that we'd need to find a radiator repairer when we arrived.

It was a 45 minute drive to Goolwa and the radiator was hot when we arrived so we parked the car up under the Hindmarsh Bridge and walked into town for lunch while the radiator cooled down. The construction of the Hindmarsh Bridge caused a huge controversy in the 1980s. The economic justification for the project was non-existent as there were only a dozen people living on Hindmarsh Island. To thwart the project, environmentalists, traditional owners and their lawyers concocted the cock and bull story that the island was culturally significant as the site of 'sacred women's business.' Just what that business was was of course a secret that could not be shared with 'white fellas.' The matter was held up for years in the courts but was eventually thrown out and the bridge was built.

After a very mediocre lunch we found that the nearest radiator specialist was in Victor Harbour, a little further west, so we set course accordingly. When we arrived we found that they'd relocated. The car was running very hot now so we nursed it to their new location, but they took one look at the car and said they were not interested. That was disappointing of course, but worse was the discovery that the radiator tank seam had split and water was squiring out under pressure. The next closest radiator repairer was 40 minutes away in Aldinga, just south of McLaren Vale. I phoned the guy and he said he'd have a look. We had to wait a good two hours for the radiator to cool down enough to block the cracked seam with putty and refill the tank with stop leak. While we waited an elderly German couple pulled over to have a chat and look at the car. They advised they had owned one back in Germany and loved it. They were very surprised to see one here in Australia.

We had a nervous drive to Mclaren Vale but the putty held. The next morning, I dropped the car to Martin at Aldinga Radiator Services and caught the bus back to McLaren Vale.

Let's just say there are worse places to be stranded than McLaren Vale, one of South Australia's premier wine regions. We hired pushbikes from the local tourist office and tried to cycle around the wineries. It seemed like a great idea at the time, but not having ridden a bike since our school days it wasn't long before everything was aching! Still, it was beautiful weather and we got some exercise while enjoying some magnificent wine and food. I think Mclaren Vale's reds were the best we tried in South Australia. Of especial note was Black Chook sparkling shiraz. In my experience sparkling shiraz are rarely any good, but Black Chook was truly outstanding.

The Almond Train. Before vineyards, McLaren Vale was famous for its almond groves.

Penny's Hill Winery. Home of the Black Chook.

Mclaren is very scenic

The fine view from d'Arenberg estate.

D'Arenberg Cube.

After two days the radiator was fixed. Martin advised that the old radiator had been 60% blocked so he'd cleaned it out, re-welded the tank and pressure tested it. He said we'd be lucky if the water temperature now rose about 'cool.' When we arrived in the late afternoon to pick up the car Martin was still fitting the radiator back in the car. His is a one man operation and people continually dropped in throughout the day to distract him. Nevertheless, the refitting only took a few minutes but then, once again, the car refused to start. We fiddled around with the carburetor but that may no difference. Then we noticed that the accelerator lever arms weren't actuating the throttle. The lever moved but the articulation wasn't moving. A quick tighten up with a spanner got the mechanism working again and then we were ready to go.

By the time we got underway it was dusk and we had a longish drive to Hahndorf ahead. Well, it wasn't so much 'long' as it was challenging. Firstly we had to get up and over Penny's Hill, which was a long sweeping steep curve. We struggled up in second gear with a long trail of irritated drivers behind us. I was terrified at the prospect of the accelerator lever failing again leaving us stranded on the road, in the dark. But we made it to the top safely. Then we had a very tense night drive through the Adelaide Hills to Hahndorf. By the time we arrived an hour or so later I was exhausted. The town looked lovely in the night and our accommodation was excellent. We had German food at the main hotel and then called it a night.

The best schnitzel ever!

Hahndorf is one of a dozen or so towns in South Australia that was settled by German Presbyterian exiles in the 1840s. Whole communities left Germany and resettled in the region, bringing with them their language, culture, food and most importantly, wine growing traditions. South Australia has these German's to thank for their number one tourist attraction and export. Hahndorf is extremely pretty but the architecture is scarcely German in style. Being only 45 minutes from downtown Adelaide it's a major tourist attraction. We spent a good few hours wandering the streets, shopping and enjoying the ambience before setting off again.

Lovely stone buildings in Hahndorf

If there was ever a town suited to the DKW....

We continued north to Birdwood, home of the National Motor Museum and final destination of the Bay to Birdwood rally. With 1750 cars attending the Bay to Birdwood we assumed the museum would be somewhat crazy on the day and, as we were driving past anyway, we should stop in and have a look. The museum was in the midst of renovations as a new display from the Holden factory was being installed. The place was almost empty and the power being switched on and off at the time, so they let us in for free. The museum really is excellent with some top class displays and an interesting collection of vehicles.

Prime spot

Holden were originally a saddlery before they began making carriages and later bodying cars.

Henry Hoke's 'spring powered racecar' (a parody) and South Australian manufactured Lightburn Zeta. Lightburn manufactured cement mixers, fridges and washing machines before deciding to build a car. It was terrible!

Port Adelaide tram bus. Shelly's favourite.

The museum has some really excellent displays, such as this one with a Holden FC.

We drove on to the Barossa, probably South Australia's best known wine region. We stayed in the town of Tanunda, which seemed at the time a little small to us given the popularity of the region, but after visiting the other towns in the area we realized Tanunda IS the big centre. We did a winery tour, which was good fun and the wineries we visited were all very generous with their tastings. After two days and nights in Tanunda we relocated to Nurioopta, which we thought was the 'big smoke' but no, it wasn't.

Welcome to Tanunda!

Chateau Tanunda. This magnificent building was restored from a ruin.

Inside Chateau Tanunda

More vineyards

The road to Seppeltsvale. During the depression, returned soldiers were set to planting palm trees around the estate. The result 80 years later is impressive.


The old winery buildings have turned into an arts and crafts studio.

Workers cottages

The town of Angaston in the hills overlooking the Barossa is certainly the prettiest in this area, but it was very quiet on a Sunday.

We took a detour to Greenock to visit the Greenock Aviation Museum. This extraordinary museum is the private collection of one man who has over the years picked up dozens of World War Two and inter-war year aircraft. All are to a large extent partly dismantled, but it's still an amazing effort. By my recollection he had in his two enormous sheds 2 De Havilland Mosquito bombers, 3 Avro Anson training and communications aircraft, one De Havilland Vampire jet fighter (complete), 1 Commonwealth Aircraft Corp (CAC) Boomerang fighter (very rare), 2 CAC Wirraway fighter/bombers (very rare), 1 De Havilland Dove airliner, 1 Mustang fighter (complete) and a BEC Canberra bomber (complete). These are just the planes I can remember. I was totally dumbstruck how he'd managed to acquire them, transport them here, dismantle them and reassemble in his sheds. It's a truly amazing effort. Here is a link to more photos

Inside the museum. In the centre is a Vampire jet fighter

Rear view of the Vampire.

In the centre is an Avro Anson and in the foreground a CAC Wirraway.

Mustang fighter

After the Barossa we travelled further north to the Clare Valley. Clare had a totally different feel to the other wine regions. The landscape was less Mediterranean and more 'Australian bush' and the land use was far more mixed than in other areas. There were sheep, wheat, and cattle farms as well as vineyards and fruit orchards. It felt more complete; more organic.

Sevenhills Church

Seven Hills vineyard

Seven Hills is operated by the nearby monastery

Mr Mick's tapas bar and winery. Top notch tapas.

Knappstein winery and brewery.

Martindale Hall

Martindale Hall. Parts of the movie Picnic at Hanging Rock was filmed here.

Martindale Hall

We spoke to a sheep farmer on our journey and he advised things had been very tough over the last decade. Wool prices remained down and there was a glut of wine. Many businesses were very near the verge of insolvency. One bad year could be enough to send many broke. This despite the tourism that pours into the region.

Sheep grazing and canola

Bungaree Station

Bungaree station shearing shed

The endless road....

After Clare it was a straight run back to Adelaide. We had been invited to the Mayor's reception for the Bay to Birdwood. I was very impressed by the community engagement with the classic motoring community in South Australia. Attending the reception were federal and state ministers, the city council and representatives from the business community. They all see Bay to Birdwood as an important event for Adelaide. We met the organizers, the Bay to Birdwood chairman, Michael Neale, and the director of the Motor Museum. It was a great evening.

But things weren't so well with our car. Apart from the radiator and wipers, the car had been driving magnificently this whole time, but just as we arrived in Adelaide the car began to struggle and would not idle properly. I thought it may have been low charge in the battery as it hadn't been charged for weeks so I charged the battery overnight and changed the spark plugs. That didn't really help either, which meant the problem was probably the carburetor. I didn't want to pull anything apart without adult supervision so enlisted the help of one of Michael Neale's, contacts to help me. In the end it turned out to just be dirt blocking the idle jet which took us a minute to fix.

We were now just days from the big event and the car seemed to back in sorts. Would it behave? I'll save that for the Bay to Birdwood report -

Link to part one: