Two Wheel 2018 – Part Three – Art And Oddity

The art first – the motorcycle in the heading image was one of the exhibits brought from Japan for the 2018 WAHRS. It was alone on a plinth outside the stand with the original Mooneyes dragster. I got there just as Baron von Harney’s Flying Circus hove up and swooped on the stall-holders. Poor, bemused Japanese people. They probably wondered if someone was going to turn cannibal next. In the event, they just got glamour girls and Harney.

Now the bike was a beauty – in fact it excited John to admiration for the workmanship and flow of the design. And he has a hard eye to please – he appreciates original manufacture far more than bolt-on hot rodding…and he’s seen a lot more of the sport and art than most people at the show.

There were also some more historic devices propped up nearby. I like these for the period feel of them – as is the case with the motor scooters, I would be deadly afraid to try to ride on in the metro area but would welcome a chance in the country. Mind you, that would probably be as disastrous with me at the handlebars as well…

I can do as much damage in a little Suzuki sedan as needs be – motorcycles are just compounding the danger.

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The Stylish First That We Never Remember

The silver Toyota Corona seen in today’s column is about 1966-68 vintage, I should say. I recognise it from my first days of car-shopping – it was one of the marques that made it through to my final selection panel in 1966. It did not take the prize – that went to the Renault 10 – but I’ve been considering it in retrospect for years. I think it might have been the better car.

No, I’ll qualify that. The better car in a pedestrian sense. I don’t mean better for running over pedestrians – I mean a car without any spikes of engineering brilliance to carry it through mundane build quality. A car that was excellent without being extraordinary. As it is, over the years I have come to appreciate that more than the four-wheel disc brakes and independent suspension of the Renault.

The Toyota Corona was the first, however , that we saw here with the slope-back grille configuration. This is ubiquitous nowadays, but in the 60’s all grilles tucked under rather than protruded at the bottom. In the interim since 1966 the designers have had to pursue more aerodynamic configurations, but back then this was unique. It nearly sold me on the style.

The off-put was the sort of little thing that customers often obsess about; in the engine bay a number of the actuators and brackets were finished in raw cadmium plating…and it looked cheap. It wasn’t, of course, and probably held up better than painted parts. But such is the perception of an uneducated buyer.

My friend, Dave Walter, bought a new ’68 Corona and hotted it up as hard as he could. There were speedy engine parts and rally seatbelts and spotlights…and it was never raced or rolled anyway. But that is what you did when you were 19 years old. I indulged in stick-on racing stripes and a chrome gear stick knob. I had style over substance…

The Little World – Follow Me

One idea leads to another. Saturday experiments with a Pacific island set lead to a Sunday shopping trip to the hobby shops…and the delightful discovery of new model vehicles to add to the theme. All aircraft related.

I also discovered a hobbyist in England who makes plans and patterns for OO scale structures – including Nissen huts and airfield buildings. These are downloadable files in PDF format that allow me to print up as many buildings as I like. It looks as if I will be making raids on the cereal packet cardboard and recipe cards for building materials.

Today I concentrated on the USN and USMC aircraft. But the Japanese Army Air Force is coming along – I have 2 A6M models in different liveries – one has the engine exposed for maintenance. Now I have to research what their barracks and control towers looked like.

Looks like it will be a good summer spent building in the air conditioning!

 

Playing With The Old Toys

The old Toyotas, that is.

Perth was awash in motor car shows yesterday: The Italian car show at Gloucester Park, The All Ford Day at Bassendean Oval, and the Toyotas At The Quay at Elizabeth Quay. As I am entitled to free public transport and Elizabeth Quay is right on the train line, I opted for that one. The fact that the show itself was also free appealed to my frugal nature.

We often neglect the Asian motor cars in automotive events – in some cases with a disdain that amounts to mechanical racism. But at an event that celebrates all the Toyotas, that could hardly be the case. And for Western Australians it points up a fact that we sometimes forget: a lot of us have owned and driven Toyotas in the past and a lot of us drive them now. My wife has been most successful with them, passing from Corollas to an Avalon and now to a new Aurion. I spent a few years in a ’73 Corolla myself and have a fond memory of it. In fact, if I had replaced the head on it in ’85 instead of trading it in, I would probably be motoring in it now.

Not in comfort, mind. It was pre-A/C days, and a do love the A/C in my present Suzuki.

But the show today was proof positive that the Toyota has a solid place in Australian motoring history. That so few of them have been rodded or customised is made up for in some part by the fact that there are any number that are rally and race cars. I can’t get all that enthusiastic about that aspect of them, but I appreciate the fact that others do.

Here are a few of the brighter items at the Quay today:

The Little World – New Tenants

Spent the afternoon in the studio working up a new camera. It’s the latest in the series of the brand I prefer, but the lens that was used is the same one that served the previous model. That’s the beauty of sticking to one maker – if you have good glass it just keeps going on.

The subjects are the old tenants and the new tenants of a time-share holiday property. I believe there was some form of dispute over the tenancy and it became necessary to institute a noisy eviction.

Yet another example of the dictum that you must never let a chance pass you by. The palm trees were a plastic kit found in Melbourne, the planes picked up from Hobbytech here in Perth. Heaven knows where the tractor came from. The sky and sea are an image I purchased on a job-lot of CD disks from eBay. Some enthusiast decided to cash in on his holiday and hobby images and auctioned them off. I daresay he has done this many times and this beach may well turn up in other people’s pictures. Never mind – I paid for the picture and I think it has served very well.

They say that there is no money in stock photography these days – probably true if you are looking for a livable wage. But if you are prepared to sell your stuff off individually, there is hobby money in it. I’m not the only person who is searching out material for posters and flyers.

The Statue In The Park

I have said before that my flabber is rarely ghasted, but this last week has more than made up for it. Leaving aside the North Korean foolishness, and the predictable nature of the unpredictable, we came to the hot summer rioting in the CSA and the subsequent reactions by various authorities.

This sort of clash is nothing new for the place – I can remember it back in the 1960’s, when the temperature rose and some clash set off a riot. I even seem to recall Baltimore losing a couple of whole city blocks to fire in the middle of one of them….though that may have been Philadelphia or Newark. In any case, late summer, before the kids get back to school, is the traditional time for rioting and looting. If you haven’t got a television by August it is your chance to bring one home before the football starts…

The thought of incipient riots has also proved useful for the Baltimore city administration – allowing them an excuse to edit out any of the civic statues that they don’t like on a prophylactic basis. Fair enough, though given what modern sculpture looks like these days, one could wish that they would widen the scope of their concern and pay for the cranes to take away some of the grottier pieces of new scrap iron art.

As it is, I think they could have saved a lot of work and expense by just hiring a signwriter to re-name the existing statues. Unbolt the bronze plaque that says ” General Lee ” and attach a plate that reads ” Malcom X “. Just scrub out ” Stonewall ” on the Jackson statue and write ” Samuel L. ” in its’ stead. Any one else who might be less recognisable could be tagged as Patrice Lumumba or O.J. Simpson, and everyone would be happy.

Not the rioters, mind. You don’t get a free Motorola by renaming statues…

Here in Australia we have seen a most amazing piece of theatre by Senator Pauline Hanson. For overseas readers, she is a politician from Queensland ( and that is fruitful ground for many, many posts…) who rose to fame by hating Asians* professionally. Now that she has achieved a seat in the Senate, she hates Muslims professionally. To express her dislike for them she paraded into our federal Senate chamber wearing a full-coverage burka garment – then tried to argue that she wants it to be banned.

No, I’m not making this up. It really happened. I don’t have that much imagination.

I do not know whether she has any shares in a restaurant, or owns a pick handle, or plans to change her name to Lester. I don’t really want to think about it. I have an old flabber and if it is ghasted beyond its’ rated pressure anything could blow.

I also don’t want to think about who her next professional hate is going to be. I’m not sure if she has done with the Asians, though she’s gone somewhat quiet about them. The Muslim seam will eventually play out, and she may still be digging.

Perhaps we could get her busy removing statues…

*Mostly to the Chinese, though she was prepared to be unpleasant to Japanese and Thais as well.

Selling The Truth Part Four: After Sales Service

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It is an uncomfortable fact of legal life here in Western Australia that anything we sell has a one-year warranty. Even if the manufacturer of something has just dumped a shipping container of it at low tide on Coogee Beach and headed out to sea again, the retailer who sells it has to stand by it for 12 months.

This does not make goods better, or best, but it does tend to keep the retailers from latching onto the worst of the rubbish that flows out of Asia with the view to dumping it on the mouth breathers of Perth. It can go to the mouth breathers of country areas…

If truth is a product that can be bought and sold, it too will come under this legislation. Whatever idea someone pays for has to function adequately for 365 days. Adequately…not necessarily well. Adequately as in not bursting into flames or eating through the glass bottle. And here lies a difficult situation; how many things are true a year after they are written, heard, or seen? How many ideas can stand the test of even a little bit of time?

The spectacle of the digital camera trade is enough to give the truth-seller a somber moment. New digital cameras are marvellous for a week, great for another 5 days, interesting until Sunday night about 9:30, and dead fish for ever after. It is fortunate that the better Japanese makers can make cameras that last for several years…escaping the state strictures. They sometimes get caught by dodgy quality control that allows shutters or mirrors to fail very quickly but if they are smart they whisk the defectives away and slaughter them out of the sight of the populace. The cameras I mean. Goodness, what minds you all have…

For the Truth Store ™ the problem will be to select things for sale that are going to work past the one-year mark. Not so much as a matter of honour and decency and beauty – we are talking about the Backstabbers Guild Of Australia after all – but as a way of limiting legal troubles.

We will have to concentrate on easy things at first, that may not have a big margin. Things like  ” Gravity makes things fall down. ” or ” Egg salad sandwiches from the servo in summer are a bad idea.” to get us going. Ah, I didn’t actually mean to make a joke about the egg salad and going but we’ll let that one pass. Frequently. Oh, dear…

Right. When people have come to trust us we can put out the more delicate truths about sex and politics and religion and with a bit of luck most of these will still be in operation by 2017. After that we will be providing a pre-paid transport service to a warm destination for anyone who complains. It’s a secret exactly where, but we can give you a hint; the vehicles are hand baskets…