Monday, 2 December 2013

Experiences: Ruben Mckenzie, Jack Simpson, me and a LARC!

So back in 1982 at MAX Instruments, I took a phone call from a certain Ruben Mckenzie from the Commonwealth Department of Housing and Construction. They were based at Schneider Rd at Eagle Farm and Ruben wanted to buy a VDO tacho drive key. Total value about $2.50.

What on earth would the Dept of Housing and Construction want with one of these?

Only one way to find out… "Mate, I'll deliver it for you on my way home!"

So I did and that is when I met Jack Simpson and the the LARC. These were amphibious tender vessels from the Lighthouse Tender Ship, the Cape Don. And what beasts they were! Jack had been in the air force in the war and looked after the Packard V12 (Merlins) that were in the RAAF rescue boats. The same as the USA PT boats. Three of the beasts per boat.. two in parallel and one in backwards set back towards the stern. Jack was amazing. A tall man who made his tea in a billy over the oxy torch and chucked the remains onto the old cement workshop floor.

And he loved these LARCS as thought hey were his own flesh and blood!

So Jack fitted the tacho drive key.. and over the next few years we supplied a lot of parts for these craft. Diesel fuel conditioner to prevent the fungus build up in the water layer interface under the fuel in the tanks, a high powered VDO windscreen washer to spray water on the huge inboard disc brakes as they regularly overheated on downhill runs to the beach. When Jack was finished, every time you put your foot on the brake pedal.. great jets of water flooded the disc; it helped.. but didn't entirely cure the problem.

Ruben was Jack's boss and a fine fellow he was. When I took delivery of my then new Telstar TX5 Ghia, Ruben thought the mounting of the number plate around the tow bar was crook.. he asked Jack to make a new mounting bracket for me. Amazing guys.. I guess jack has gone to God now, but I often wonder about Ruben.

The best days were the times I got to go along on a road test. One trip in particular… standing on the open back deck of this beast we headed into Newstead along the main road. Jack blowing the air horn (which I had supplied) for any driver who was slow to get out of our way. (Remember the brake issue?) Finally we headed down the boat ramp at breakfast Creek and then motored down the river until we came to another boat ramp near Luggage Point where we drove back onto mother earth and then back to Eagle Farm.

That was one vehicular trip I will never forget!

The LARCs also found their way to Antarctica too!