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Goodbye my little friend
Fri 30/06/2023 11:32 PM

Neptune Velyshaa Sniffers 
A fantastic housemate and friend.


Back in 2008 I got my first (and longest) housemate - that was when Neptune joined me.

I went to the RSPCA with the intentions of adopting an older female cat – but Neptune had other ideas and made it clear that he wanted to come home with me.

Neptune’s First Day:

His full name was Neptune Velyshaa Sniffers.

He came with the name Neptune from the RSCPA. I had originally intended to change it, but it ended up sticking. Velyshaa was a name from a Dr Who audio book I was enjoying at the time, and Sniffers was because he enjoyed sniffing things.

Although he always had his full name, he was normally just “Neptune” or “my little friend” when I was talking directly to him. "You want a drink my little friend?"  

Ever since he arrived, he’s been a very important part of my home. He’s been excellent company and a brilliant housemate. We argued occasionally – but mostly just enjoyed chilling together. He loved snuggling while I was watching TV. The computer wasn't his favourite as the lap wasn't as good.

He wasn’t the brightest of cats, but was great company. When he was young and full of energy he used to bring me a peg so I could clip it on his fur and he’d pull it off and attack it.

He had plenty of water in his self-feeder, but always preferred water in the bathtub. If you walked into the bathroom he’d often leap into the bathtub and look at you expectantly until you ran him some fresh water to drink. Sometimes confused guests.

Most of his life he was rather overweight (probably got that from my example), but in recent years he’d slimmed right down as he entered retirement.

My sister painted me a portrait of him for my birthday. In the above photo he’s standing proud beside his earlier (chubbier) self.

On Sunday I noticed he wasn’t eating much – and by Monday night it was obvious that he wasn’t feeling quite right so I booked him into the vets for a check-up the following week (first non-urgent appointment they had). It would only have been his third trip to the vet - not bad for 14 years.

I worked from home with him “helping” on my lap.

By Wed night he was feeling much worse. Still happy to be curled up on my lap – but struggling when he got up. By this point it was pretty clear he was dying and wouldn’t have long to go. I was going to have to make some hard decisions in the morning.

Neptune went to bed with me on Wed as he normally did. I woke up early on Thurs – he’d gotten up overnight but couldn’t get back onto the bed and was curled up on the floor. By this point he could barely walk, so we spent the morning having a cuddle watching tv until it was a bit more of a reasonable hour. When he wanted to get up for a drink etc, I’d help him get there once he indicated which way he wanted to go.

Messaged my sister who was able to help me organize a vet visit once they opened and came through to help me say goodbye. Thanks so much Em – I was a mess and couldn’t talk to anyone on the phone. I really appreciate it.

So one last cuddle with Neptune, and the very nice vet helped him go to sleep for the last time while he sat on my lap.

It’s been a tough couple of days. It was only yesterday although it feels like much longer. I’ll be ok in time – but I still choke up when I catch myself doing something for him. Checking the floor behind me before moving my office chair, pegging up the towels so he couldn’t pull them off, or running water in the bath when I go into the bathroom. After 14 years it’s just become habit. The house feels rather empty.


A truly fantastic housemate - thanks for the memories my little friend.

Comments: 0

Oscar in Penguin
Sat 13/05/2023 07:53 PM


This isn't exactly recent - but I arrived in the office at work one day to discover my workmate Chris was down (he's based in Victoria) and had his Hilux with him. Chris asked if there was anywhere close we could go exploring that evening (the evenings were long at this point).

We did a little brainstorming and found a road that headed inland from the town of Penguin. In fact, it's a fairly major road in Penguin, but on the map it eventually becomes a track. We figured it was worth a look, but would probably just be a gravel road.

As it wasn't a planned trip - after work I headed home to pick up Oscar and a few crucial bits of recovery gear and we headed out. If it had been planned I'd have been more prepared - in particular I'd have filled up before we headed out - I had about a quarter of a tank which I assumed would be ok (which it mostly was). 

Oscar had been having issues starting. If he'd turn over, he's start fine - but often there would be a slight click and nothing. No attempt to turn over. Not the normal low battery wuurrrr wuurrr wurrrr - just nothing. It appeared to be battery related as adding the jumper pack was normally enough to get it going - but I hadn't been able to work out why. Had to use to the jump starter to get him running but assumed it would be ok after charging him for a while. I also grabbed my handheld UHFs as Chris didnt have one in his car. 

Oscar hadn't had a lot of running since we got him back together after replacing the head gaskets. He is still down on power, and seems to heat up very quickly when climbing hills on the highway. I was a little nervous, but keen to see how he went. He got warm on the highway, but as long as I didnt push him too hard it was manageable. 

So we headed up Ironcliffe Road. Its a good road for ages, then becomes gravel when you hit a forest reserve. That stays good for a while until you come to an area with a number of walks leading off it, and a road signposted as both a vehicle and walking track. That was the track the map showed as a through path. So we headed down.

Initially it was just more gravel, but eventually developed into a track with a lot of deep ruts and became quite technical. 

You had to pick your lines to stay out of the ruts and hug the side of the track, and choose when was the best place to cross them. This involved quite a bit of Chris or I being out of the vehicles, guiding the other driver. Chris had done very little off-roading before, so as it got more challenging, I ended up outside while he drove both vehicles. I'd tell him where to steer and he drove it. 

The ruts were getting worse and worse as we went. The bit I've got video of was a nasty little rut that we were eventually able to climb. Unfortunately the angle was great enough that Oscar's low petrol caused him to stall. The petrol in the tank all sloshed away from the pump. This in turn caused the battery issue to rear it's head - and he wouldn't start. So I was hanging in space balanced on pretty much just two wheels while Chis had to attach the jumper pack and we could restart him. Once he was running again, I was able to get just enough traction on one of the hanging wheels to drive up the bank.

But the next section of road proved to be even worse. We were on one side of a massive rut, which then cut across the road. The two choices were to REALLY hug the side of the track and try and get past that side, or cross the rut, which would have been pretty extreme. I'm not sure we'd have gotten through it without lockers - and both options had the real possibility of rolling a vehicle if you got it slightly wrong.

By this point it was not long off dark, and we had no idea what the track ahead would be like - so I made the call to turn around and head back. Chris wasn't keen on tackling the challenges we'd already been through in the dark - but they were better than potentially rolling a car.

By this time one of my handheld UHFs also went flat - so I could direct Chris when he was driving Oscar (Oscar has a UHF mounted in the car) but not when he was in his Hi-Lux. That was limited to hand gestures. Guiding him through the ruts was extra difficult the darker it got as we had to have headlights on - which meant I couldn't see his wheels when guiding from the front - but we progressed as best as we could.

We eventually made it out to the gravel road at around 10:30PM. Aside from stalling due to crazy angles and low fuel, and the battery issue - Oscar had done great. Didnt even think about overheating, when when working relatively hard. Seems to the issue with hills on the highway doesn't apply to low range work.

On the way home, and in the trips since, I've discovered that if you let him pick a speed and gear (technically you pick them, but based on what the engine wants) he'll climb things without overheating. As long as you aren't in a hurry. Still need to get that fixed.

The starting issue was probably a dying battery. It would read as over 12v, but perhaps didnt have the amps to even try and start. After I replaced the battery I haven't had the same reluctance to start (touch wood).

As far as Ironcliffe Road goes - I want to go back. If it hadn't been so late in the day (we started after work remember) I might have risked pushing on. Or if there had been at least one more experienced driver - but it was just me and Chris, and it was only his second time off-road. 

With a little more preparation, an earlier start, and another driver who knows that they are doing - I'll be back. Chris will get an invite too if he's game.

I want a set of lockers!

Comments: 0

Perkolilli 2022
Tue 03/01/2023 11:29 PM


Back in September, my folks and I loaded up into Grandpa's old cruiser and headed to Kalgoorlie in Western Australia. Drove across the country to meet up with my Uncle Matt and join him at the Lake Perkolilli Red Dust Revival event.

Lake Perkolilli is a dry lakebed just north of Kalgoorlie, that used to be used a race circuit back in the day until WWII interupted things.

After the war, it was kinda forgotten but in recent years they've started a revival event. Only vehicles pre 1939 are elligable. 

Dad saw a story about it on Desert Collectors (a TV show apparently) and let Uncle Matthew know. He was hooked on the idea and managed to source a 1933 Vauxhall. A quick border hop to collect it as Covid started making that sort of thing difficult - and then a couple of years getting it going again. So with a caravan in tow, Uncle Matt and Aunty Liz began the long trek from Queensland to Perko.


We headed that way from Tassie and met them in South Australia.

Across the Nulabour Plains, Matt's truck could only do about 70kph into the headwind, but we made it without major issue (our camper trailer did a wheel bearing that was almost disasterous but we survived) and arrived at Lake Perkolilli.

There was a huge collection of old cars there - and they weren't afraid to get dusty.

Because the event is technically a recreation, not a race - they handicap each car. The idea is to try and catch the car ahead of you - but you aren't allowed to pass them. The Vauxhall (or perhaps it has more to do with the driver) was one of the faster cars - so Matt normally ended up the last car in his group. Sometimes the slower cars were given almost a full lap headstart in a 2 lap race before Matt was released. 

The downside of being last is that he was always in a dust cloud. Made photos and videos difficult too.

It was a week long event - but the first couple of days were just practice - so Matt was able to give Dad and I a couple of laps (hence the video). 

I used my phone's GPS as a speedo. We were only doing 118kph but  certainly felt a lot faster than that in the almost 90 year old car with no glass.

The whole event was fantastic. The atmosphere was great (excluding the dust in the actual air) and I'd be keen to head back. Might need to find a pre-1939 vehicle...


Comments: 0

Subaru Shuffle
Tue 09/08/2022 08:04 AM


Yeah, I make silly decisions. 

I found a 1976 Subaru 1600 wagon on Facebook Marketplace. It's very similar to the Sedan I used to have, except a wagon and has a true 4WD (not all wheel drive) engageable system. 

These are very rare to find, so I rounded up a mate and a cruiser and headed to the far south coast of NSW to pick it up.

Hired a trailer in Melbourne to drag it back - but got an unregistered vehicle permit to allow it to drive onto the Spirit and from there back to my place. 

Now I need to decide what to do with it :)

Comments: 0

Project Dacey 9 - The Chassis Returns
Wed 30/09/2020 10:59 PM


Well the good news is that I am back at work full time now. The business is still suffering but it's good to be back at it.

The bad news is that between work and being able to catch up with my family and friends again, I haven't done as much on the project recently.

The chassis finally got cleaned up and sent away for blasting and powdercoating. It's back now. I've also got my springs restored at a local springwork and started collecting bits and pieces ready to start reassembling.


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