May 2003




If at first you don't succeed - send for Cliff.

by David Bussey

The time had come to move the dismantled Jindivik project from Adelaide. Inspected in March last year, it was then stored in two places, Bob Jarrett's hangar, and a property in the Adelaide Hills. Our trip was scheduled for late autumn to allow for the Adelaide Hills brown snakes to slow down a bit. (In the event, the material was all  consolidated at the hangar by Bob). We have acquired an airframe that is around 80% complete, though a little battered in places (A Jindivik's  last landing is rarely smooth, that's why it was the last!) There is also a quantity of new unused frames, stringers etc, to rebuild most of the bent bits. Cliff's excursion allowance was  taken up by the Metro shift, but Ian Daniels was keen for a little drive, and had arranged the loan of his father's F100 ute. Ian and David Bussey set off south on May 25th, with day 1 more or less conforming to plan. The vehicle blew a quantity of oil out of the dipstick on the way up Cunningham's Gap, but the planned stop at Coonabarabran was reached without incident.

Day 2 saw the alternator light come on about 50km south of Dubbo. Dismantling showed it to be burnt out, and a return was made to Dubbo where a 'reconditioned' alternator was bought and fitted. Stopped at Forbes for the night – a little behind schedule, but nothing drastic.

Day 3: Diverted off highway to collect a Vengeance engine mount offered to the museum some time previously. Suffered a flat tyre along the West Wyalong-Hay stretch, but that was fixed with no trouble. Stopped at Rankin Springs (population 112) – refuel and quick feed. Cold and rain flurries, and the truck barely started. Headwinds or crosswinds all along this stretch. Day ended at Balranald, with about 2 hours with the local mechanic, who replaced the condenser and main lead.

Day 4: Further session with NRMA garage just north of Mildura. The run down to Adelaide passed without further incident, though we were now 1 day behind schedule. We had allowed one day for revisiting other contacts, but this could no longer fit the remaining time.

Day 5: Another 'only just' start, and off to Bob Jarrett's  hangar. We called the SAAA, and the guy duly arrived, jump started the truck and announced the points were sticking. (Bob's troops  had already worked that out). He then revved the engine, as there was a  restriction in upper revs, but with one last rev, there was a colossal bang and a cloud of black smoke from under the truck. Having split our muffler like a barbeque sausage, he then repacked his ute and left with his ears ringing! One thing about museum volunteers – they like tinkering, and Bob Jarrett himself has great experience in car repairs. So we had a collective pit crew of about 6 people, and finished up with new leads, fuel filter, the battery recharged and the muffler tack welded and wired up. In conference with Bob, and Cliff by phone, it was agreed to leave the trailer behind for Cliff to collect, and return with whatever could be fitted in the back of the F100, and our fingers crossed. We did however decide not to go back via Hay, and chose the Mallee Highway – greater distance overall, but more small towns along the way. Departed  Adelaide mid afternoon and things seemed to be running ok, so we kept driving after sunset to gain a few extra km. About 10km short of Pinnaroo, everything went quiet! A clear cold night, millions of stars, not a light to be seen, and only one vehicle passing every 20 minutes! Oh, and no mobile phone coverage of course. We managed to flag down a truck heading into town and contacted the SAA rep in Pinnaroo. The culprit – the Dubbo alternator!

Day 6: Brand new alternator, and battery recharged once again, and it was nearly noon before we could set off. Reached Deniliquin by nightfall. Ian had a plan – he called his father in law and arranged for him to drive down and meet us at Dubbo, as a safety escort.

Day 7: 5am, freezing, and another 'petrol down the carb, pump the pedal and cross the fingers' start. Vehicle slowly getting louder, thanks to 'Frankenstein's muffler'. Met at Dubbo as planned - swung by the electrical guy's premises – it was then Saturday afternoon and the swine was shut. Resisted temptation to throw dead alternator through the window!

Day 8: Narrabri, and we needed the escort vehicle and its jumper leads to get started.  Muffler fell off outside of Goondiwindi and Ian replaced it and added more baling wire  without daring to switch the engine off. A rear tyre lost a chunk of tread so the wheel was changed at Warwick, where Cliff caught up with us  on his way down and we compared notes. Back home by 4pm, - and back to work next day. Cliff duly collected the remainder of the Jindivik, and had a trouble free trip. He even had the temerity to stop at Lincoln Nitschke's and Pearce Dunne's to collect a little more stuff on the way back!


We do all tend to get a little blasé about  long distance driving , and the assumption that the vehicle will function. We were never going to die of thirst at the side of the road,  but without the assistance of many people along the way, things could have turned out worse than they did. I would particularly like to thank Bob Jarrett and his team, and pay tribute to Ian Daniels' ability to keep the truck functioning,  in between its major bouts of mechanical rebellion. Many thanks to Cliff and Yvonne  Robinson for stepping in at short notice for an unplanned extra 4000km worth of travelling.