Spring Break – First Drive

It has been a crazy last few weeks/months, I want to say it went fast but now that I look back on the progress I have made in that time it feels like a lot longer. The Sydney Motorcycle Expo is fast approaching and I have been doing a lot of work for a few leaders in the industry to make them stand out in the expo hall, unfortunately I cant show you what I have been working on but on the other side of the garage I have been just as busy, the PS13 Project.

After the dyno tuning was all complete, the coolant system all sorted, I still had a small list of things I wanted to complete before taking this car for a drive.

When I first built the front end I bolted everything up semi-unfinished, I was really happy with it but it still needed some de-burring and cleaning up.

I have to say its one of my favorite parts of the car, I always wanted to keep the factory front bar, I never liked the stock spongy cracked plastic original item but the shape was just perfect. The move to FRP was done and then I was on a mission to make it work. With all the alloy mounts, the slip in hanger, the canards and the splitter it all works perfectly and adds some timeless style and sophistication to the front end.

After using a dremel to clean up the returns on the vents, de-burring the alloy mounts I was ready to remount everything and tick that off the pre drive list.

I put the doors back on and refitted the East Bear mirrors, I plugged in the electric windows and quickly figured out that they don’t work, the way I wired them is incorrect and I need them to earth somehow.

After finding a hot rod diagram using GM window motors I figured my system would be similar. So I adapted the drawing to my needs and went about making it work with my existing relays and wiring.

With the weekend rolling around and the weather looking good I spent Saturday triple checking that everything was ready to go.

I raised the car 10mm all round and then fitted up the alignment tool that I made for the Hilux.

This is really simple to do and makes alignments a breeze.

It simply two alloy bars that hold fishing line at the height of the wheel centers, once attached and the fishing line is tight you can run around the car squaring up the bars so that they are parallel to the wheel centers.

Once parallel simply measure off the front and back face of the rim edge to obtain a square setup, make sure that your steering wheel is locked central so that your not fighting the steering.

Once it was squared up it was time to drive.

Up the road and out of the suburbs, I was nervous and excited all at the same time, it’s such a welcome feeling to me getting in something that has so much mechanical feel, if their was one word to describe this car it would be RAW!

52mm throttles mean the slightest hit of accelerator brings large amounts of horsepower straight away, as the houses thin and the disapproving looks of fellow motorists subside the roads open up and I can start to enjoy the car.

There’s no power steering here but theirs no weight either, the steering feels amazing, the brakes are even better and the complete feel of the car as I begin to learn its quirks just makes me feel right at home.

It has this real rasp and crackle as the throttle opens, a quick glance at the gauges and everything is in spec, the tacho reads 3k rpm and with a clear and straight road ahead I decide to see what its got. With an instant snap of the throttle it comes alive, the rasp is changing to a roar and the engine is open to atmosphere and doing all it can to make its peak power, 2nd gear, 3rd gear, 4th gear, 5th gear and its really moving now, I back off and roll it into 6th gear continually looking at the gauges to make sure its healthy and surviving.

Its an amazing feeling, I feel a sense of success come over me, this car was a lesson in really working with what I have and making the best out of the situation I was in at the time. I wouldn’t change a thing and I am more than thankful that I kept working through those times that I really didn’t want to.

So whats next?

I cant express how excited I am for this spring, winter has finally broken, the mornings are getting lighter, the weathers still cold but the calendar indicates I have some good times on the horizon.

It all starts with the PS13 and its second consecutive trip up the highway to Sydney Motorsports WTAC event, things are going to be a lot different this year though. The Sunday after the event usually consists of 1,000km south on the Hume highway, not this year!

This year I am doing something that I have wanted to do for a long time, on the Saturday night of WTAC I will be heading to Cooper Customs to drop the PS13 off for some panel work and paint by the best in the business, Nathan Cooper.

I spoke to Nathan around a month ago to let him know my plans, I wanted to chat to him about his workload after WTAC to see if he could work his metal magic on the PS13 project, being the legend he is he shifted around a few things and will open the doors to his shop and roll the PS13 inside for three weeks. This PS13 project has been huge, its only fitting that I finish it in the right way and involve the right people to make it the car I always dreamed of.

That very next morning I jump on a plane to San Francisco where I will be united with a project I have been working on all year, my 1955 Harley Panhead project. From an eBay purchase in New York at the start of the year, travelling half way across the country to Dan Carrs workshop in Texas it’s now bound for Jasin Phares workshop in Vallejo San Francisco.

Jasin and I will put the finishing touches on the bike, I will fly in and finish up the things I need to do, strap everything I need for a month to the sissy bar and head off on an adventure through the most amazing American countryside broken up with events and museums along the way. I have learnt a heap from this different way of approaching a project, choosing the right people to be involved in it has been key but this journey wont be the last involvement I have with the right people in 2017.

Flying back into Sydney I head straight to Nathans workshop Cooper Customs where the PS13 will be waiting for me, hopefully draped in its new paint and panel work it will go back into the trailer where I head in the opposite direction and go north.

There’s finishing a project and then there’s FINISHING a project……. That’s where northern NSW Grafton Warren Cooper comes into the story. I met Warren a little while ago (not in person) when I was preparing for the Land Speed Record a few years ago, Warren is a composites artist, if it’s to be made of Carbon then Warren is your man, he’s also just a great guy and I have wanted to involve him in a project for a long time.

Ill be jetlagged, tired and hopefully 100% burnt out from having such a good time in the USA but I dont have to do anything other than open the bonnet, show Warren what we are working with and then sit back and enjoy the show (that’s how it’s all played out in my head anyway).

So when summer comes around and Spring was just a bunch of rad memories the PS13 will be an absolute work of art pulled together by a couple of legends with the same surnames. Its at that point the build will be complete and the track time can begin, I started 2017 with a few small goals, I worked my ass off through the winter, made plans and alliances that will allow me to spend spring enjoying the spoils of all that hard work. Then when the days get longer and the summer kicks in I can relax in the fact that I did everything in my power to finish 2017 the only way I know how…. Properly!