Words: Liane Clarke Photos: Liane Clarke and Jacqui Madelin
“Sound, sensible motoring that will not cost a penny more than it should”, so said the classic Morris Minor newspaper ads. And, owners were backed at the time by the British Motor Company’s service promise — express, expert, everywhere …
On day two of the Trillian Trek, ‘sound’ and ‘sensible’ were not words that came immediately to mind as several vehicles in the fundraising fleet fell victim to a variety of ailments ranging from, frankly, the ridiculous, right through to the moderately serious.
Luckily for the ‘Trekkers, New Zealand's premier charity rally is backed by the RNZAF service promise — here, there, and right behind you.
The first team to fall were the ‘Naki Girls’ … or were they? The girls spun quite the yarn to our boys in blue about mysterious leaks and fears that the cooling system in the Fairlane 500 was about to pack it in and how their high hopes of a good showing in the non- competitive rally were coming to an end before they had even begun.
There was much sucking of air through teeth and shaking of heads as second and then third opinions were called for before a verdict was finally delivered — their chilly bin had sprung a leak! Now the way the boys tell it, the girls had no idea that the chilly bin is not technically a mechanical component of the car. The way the girls tell it, the chilly bin was a set-up to keep the boys on their toes, a pre-breakfast amusement if you will. Either way, the story had done the rounds before lunch and it was giving everyone a good chuckle.
There was a headlight issue with The Cupcake Hoodies’ 1973 Mini. What they were doing needing the headlights in broad daylight is a story for another time as is perhaps the curious case of the RNZAF headlight whisperer, who appeared to be taking a holistic approach, getting down on the Mini’s level and trying to coax the headlights into life with soothing words and puppy dog eyes.
Throughout the day there was a rebuilt caliper and a tyre valve issue on the sole Pontiac in the fleet, plenty of unspecified electrical work on various vehicles — surely nothing to do with the constant deluge of water and foam from the fire trucks on the event — and in something of a karmic payback, a solenoid on the 1973 Ford D600 Foam Fire Engine that wasn’t interested in doing its job.
The latter gave up at a most inopportune moment at Wellsford School, preventing a victory lap of the playground after a good old fashioned water versus foam battle.
It was the last issue of the day and the RNZAF boys threw themselves into the challenge, swarming over the vehicle in an attempt to get the big girl started. But she stubbornly refused to budge despite the efforts of the pit crew full press. Things were looking dire until some bright spark (Harry) had a brainwave and reached for some “mechanic’s little helper”. Boom, the big girl sat up, listened and all was right with the world again.
Kidding aside, the men and women of the RNZAF team are in their 20th year of providing mobile mechanical assistance to the event [formerly known as the Variety Bash]. Technicians and mechanics from all over the country are chosen each year with a view of deepening their skill set beyond the military vehicles they work on day-to- day.
Flight Commander, Shaun Kradolfer, says it’s a great team and confidence building exercise and long may it continue.
“Most rewarding is that what we do in the background means that the Trekkers can be in the foreground, helping Kiwi kids to have a better life.” said Kradolfer
Now back to that Morris Minor reference. Eagle-eyed Trekkers are always on the look-out to grow the event, whether it’s an abandoned fire engine in a paddock in Matakohe or this little darling that was spotted outside the Ruawai Four Square.
Naresh Ranchhod has owned the 1971 Morris Minor Quarter-ton van for a few years now and has styled it, in true Kiwiana fashion, as a delivery truck for Four Square sporting the beloved Charlie character on the side, reminding passersby of how long Four Square has been in the business of providing Kiwi essentials.
Gone is the 1098cc A-series and a Datsun 120Y heart now lives under the hood. It doesn’t get much use though, as, in the absence of a WoF, each day he pushes the Morrie round from the back of his Four Square and parks it in front of the store.
Naresh, who has always fancied taking part in a charity fun run, would not be drawn on what he paid for the old-school billboard because he laughs, “my wife doesn’t know how much I paid for it or how much it cost to get it to this stage!”
Will we see Naresh on the 2018 Trillian Trek? “I’d love to give it a go in the Morrie … we wouldn’t be the fastest but I think we might have a chance at the cutest!” Awwwwww.
The Trillian Trek continues throughout the week heading up the west coast to Cape Reinga then back down the East Coast to finish in Whangarei on Saturday.
If you missed day one's diary, click here.
Official route of the 2017 Trillian Trek:
19th March Day 1 — Matamata to Orewa
20th March Day 2 — Orewa to Dargaville
21st March Day 3 — Dargaville to Omapere
22nd March Day 4 — Omapere to Taipa/Coopers Beach
23rd March Day 5 — Taipa to Taipa
24th March Day 6 — Taipa to Russell
25th March Day 7 — Russell to Whangarei