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  LCOOL Ultimate High Country Experience
Day 6 - 31 Dec 10

Grant and Crooked River Day Drive

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Today was going to be a cracker and everyone was looking forward to it.   Some nice tracks in Collingwood and Bulltown Spurs, a casual look around Grant, including wandering through a mine.   Crooked River is always a favourite, with its 24 odd crossings, and then plans to get back to camp nice and early for Campfire smorgasboard cookup after an extended happy hour for New Years Eve.

The trip up Collingwood Spur was uneventful, and after having come down it twice in the last couple of days, it was nice to get the different aspect.   Once we got to Grant, everyone was out having a look around the old town site.   Morning Tea was also on the agenda and there was quite a queue around both the information booth and the loo as everyone stretched their legs.

A short drive up to the mine, and we squeezed our cars in so that there was room for us all.   With headlights and cameras at the ready, we squeezed into the mine – it must be 200m long at a guess and it was lovely and cool.   Darren explained that the pieces of timber extending out through holes in the roof were ventilation shafts and that they tethered sails onto the top to collect air and send it down into the mine.   A couple of scratched heads (perhaps gouged!) where people weren’t wary of the low roof – notably Matt and Ivan but Matt was sensibly wearing a hat – Ivan came close to a stitch or two!   We got all the way to the end and then turned back to get a group photo in a fork in the mine, before heading out and checking out the exterior – very bright and very hot in comparison..

We got back on the road and wandered down Bulltown Spur before hitting Crooked River – Craig giving us all a bit of a history lesson about the various bits and pieces which were located along the track.   Darren up front got on the radio to ask Ivan a question about a rubbish bag the previous day (At the top of Billy Goat, Ivan had found his bag on the spare wheel had come off the top and was upside down and was empty – the guys that Darren was talking too had picked up a full rubbish bag, and were now meeting us on the Crooked River track – complete with Rubbish Bag.

Meanwhile, even though Ivan should have cared about the rubbish bag, he was otherwise engaged, listening to a clunk in the rear which did not sound at all healthy.   Not having felt any wheel spin, wheel grab, or heard a bang, he got underneath to check the suspension – perhaps it was a shock clunking – but all looked good.   He pulled up onto flat ground and in the mean time, Matt had come back to give him a hand – on flat ground it was unfortunately diagnosed as a blown diff..   Darren came back as well, and between us (with Matt underneath doing most of the hard stuff), removed the rear tail shaft.   We hooked up Matt’s car to assist in the drive out (Prado with only front wheel drive equals a Camry – and with all the weight up the back and not on the front, was going to make getting out of here interesting).  

Worse was yet to come, with a lot of resistance even with the tail shaft removed – we tried rocking the car to free up the diff, but still no good.   At risk of putting a hole in the diff casing, we found a suitable hollow to prop the vehicle over, and with a couple of jacks, got the car high enough to wedge some decent logs underneath.  Plan B was to remove the diff completely (which involved disconnecting brakes, and pulling the axles forward), and removing the crown wheel.   Some major surgery on the track!   Luckily, we had three fifteen year olds who were keen to learn and got involved in the process.

With the crown wheel removed, we replaced the diff and looked to find some way of putting the oil back in (more to protect the axle bearings) – tried a combination of drink bottles, but no good.   Brain wave – use the hose for the drinking water – this was a perfect fit in the diff filler, and allowed us to stand up next to the rear wheel to replace the oil.

About three hours from start to finish, we were on the track with Matt pulling the Prado/Camry, and Ivan doing his best to keep the strap tight – we got out past Talbotville and were able to take the strap off so that Ivan could progress under his own steam

Meanwhile, Bob had an issue with his 100 series, with the fan going through the radiator (one of two 100 series with this issue on the trip).   Unfortunately, he didn’t realise at the time, and the sender unit only works on hot water, not on steam – so he didn’t even have a temp gauge to warn him.  (in hindsight there was an indication that something was wrong, the car began to idle roughly, which I put down to perhaps dirty fuel from Dargo but turned out to be the smashed fan running out of balance. based on this the damage was done halfway along the Crooked River track which included several water crossings of varying levels. We had performed numerous water crossing in the days prior to the damage including one trip we drove along the river a couple of hundred metres before exiting. There seemed to be no formula for which water crossing was a problem while others were no problem although when the splash tray underneath was removed, the notorious "foam strip" was found water logged and in a ball at the back of the tray so it would APPEAR that it finally became dislodged allowing water to enter between the fan and the radiator (it had been checked before leaving Sydney and was in place). I can't be sure that is how it happened, but based on previous posts, I suspect this is what happened.

After arriving in camp, Bob and co (‘co’ being a term to describe the support being received by the on site LCOOL community – from qualified mechanics giving support and assistance, to able bodied helpers, to those ‘supervising’ with beer in hand – Bob had the lot for quite some hours as he removed and repaired his radiator (see photos below).  The initial inspection was to find the cause of the rough idle, but the problem soon became apparent when, while removing the air filter to inspect and clean, several pieces of fan were discovered scattered throughout the engine bay.

The end result was a fan which was trimmed down so that it was somewhat balanced (with full blades cut down to match the broken ones), a repaired radiator, and unfortunately a suspected head gasket issue (much better than the complete engine replacement he thought he was looking at!

Lots of swimming today, and those who had been doing repairs on the track were busting to get wet (and to have a beer) - before long though, Happy Hour was in full force, preparation for tonights Smorgasbord was under way, and New Years Eve festivities were apon us.

Some lovely treats for Smorgasbord, including Nachos out of the camp oven, Darren's Chilli Bean Dip, a range of curries, and dessert followed as well.

Craig pulled out an old favorite in the visual department - the Catherine Wheel (see photo below), and John had located some other visual delights that he brought down with him.

Many stories told around the fire, and midnight was apon us - bedtime came too and those who had had a big day weren't too far away - tomorrow is another day!



Mark and Trudee's camp just before setting off



Terry, Ivan, Darren and Glen - up to no good..



Lined up at Grant for morning tea



lots going on - people out looking at the old town site, reading the info booth material, grabbing the loo while they can - oh, and it's morning tea time!!



Grant Township Site



Site of the Royal Mail Hotel



Ted reading up on the site - his immediate family is from Grant, and even has a relative in one of the photos on the board..



We moved up to the mine site and got ready to go in



The entrance



Very solid, but look out for the roof - jagged rock - suits short people



Matty with his old mans lead light - no wonder he banged his head!



Just near the fork in the mine



Coming out - from cool and dark to very hot and Very bright!!



Waiting for the rest to come out



Craig doing some track work on Crooked River



The start of Ivan's diff repair - or crown wheel removal!   Adam Matt and Jordy working hard to get the vehicle in place



Matt underneath doing the hard yards



There's our problem



Jordy and the boys knocking back the tabs on the carrier under Matt's watchful eye



End result, Crown wheel and bits in a bucket on the back seat..



Meanwhile, back at camp, Smorgasbord delights are starting to cook



Tables are set up



Meanwhile, the kids get more of the river



Isaac getting up on the boogie board



Darren - you just know he's up to no good!



John takes a break while everyone hoards the table



Busy times - lovely tucker!



Options for everyone



What's that bottle on the end of the table - will that come out later on



Bob's radiator receives some attention



And a bit of extra insurance



Bob in his 'Man Cave', working on the radiator - loads of LCOOL support given during the repair - some helpful, some nearly helpful ;-)



Terry has the fairy wings for being last to Sergeant of Arms



Around the fire



Action - water games not over yet!!



Craig's Catherine Wheel at work



Mark, Raff and friends having a chat



Is that torchlight on the ground - or a well timed photo for a well timed 'flash' ;-)

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