Bye Bye Sweet Thing

Posted in Mixed Nuts on January 12th, 2011 by MadDog
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Once again I’ll avail myself of the opportunity to journal the autumn of my life in my “one-page-at-a-time” autobiography. I can’t imagine how some of these things could be of much interest to anyone but me, but some (possibly very bored) people out there keep reading this stuff, so I’ll keep cranking it out. Backing off the pace to once every other day or so has allowed me more time to think about what I am writing. I don’t expect it improves the quality much or makes it any more interesting, but it lets me feel as if I’m giving more consideration to what I pour into it.

I sometimes wonder if I’ll ever go back and read any of it. I rather doubt that I will. After all, this is not a permanent record. None of us knows if we’ll be around for another year and when one reaches a certain age and has lived through certain life experiences, the question of “how long do I have” seems less important than “is this still fun?” I can imagine that I might, given the right frame of mind, go back and read certain posts from certain periods so that I can remember more clearly what was going on in my head then. It might someday be helpful to make comparisons.

What I do have to keep in mind is that I’m not making a permanent record here. Someday the server fees will not get paid for one reason or another and Madang – Ples Bilong Mi will tumble into the giant bit bucket never to be seen again or remembered leaving behind scarcely a ripple in the big pond of the web . So be it. In the meantime, I’ll try to have some fun with it. It is, after all, a toy for the hopelessly narcissistic.

Saying goodbye to things is becoming somewhat tedious. Fortunately, I don’t have much left to say goodbye to. It’s just as well. If you’ve followed recently, you’ll know that I recently had the blessing of putting Eunie’s beloved 1973 Triumph Spitfire 1500 into the loving hands of my cousin. She and her husband have promised the little beauty a good home. This makes me happy and solves what could have been a very troublesome problem, as I also sold the house where the car was garaged. The Spit, like me, no longer had a home.

Never mind. It is, as we heard Forrest Gump proclaim, “One less thing.” Laura was very patient throughout the prickly process of transferring ownership of a car from half-way around the world. The shenanigans required would have been very funny if viewed within the confines of a Hollywood farce. Getting the paperwork doctored to suit the authorities was an exercise in strained patience and perseverance in the face of unmovable obstacles. Finally, the obstacles allowed themselves to be budged. This alone is astonishing, given that we were dealing with inordinately stubborn boulders such as postal authorities and automobile license offices.

What follows is a series of images provided to me by Laura as a chronicle of the voyage of Sweet Thing from her abandonment to her new home.

Here we see her emerging from more than five years of cold storage into the frosty sunshine illuminating the now defunct and useless garage at 8080 East Road 300 North in Brownsburg, Indiana:

The house, and probably the three car garage, which seem perfectly serviceable to me, will soon be demolished or burnt. There seems to be some confusion as to the eventual fate of the structures. Truthfully, it matters not a whit to me. My nostalgia is confined to the good times. There were good times in abundance.

We’ll have one final look at the Good Times house:

In all truth, there were many good times to come when we moved out in 1981 to come to Madang.

Here is a rather gloomy shot of Sweet Thing being conveyed to her new home in Elletsville, Indiana:

And here she sits on her conveyance ready to be delivered:

She is a little beauty, eh? By far the prettiest of the Spitfires.

Down she goes. Sadly, the engine refused to start when the time arrived. This was later traced to a cracked distributor cap. This surprised me, since I had recently replaced the distributor with a new one:

I suppose “recently” is not accurate. The car has been in storage for quite a while. Still, how does a distributor cap crack all on its own with no apparent stress?

In the the frigid grip of an Indiana winter she seems to ask, “What now?” Where am I? Someone pinch me!

Let’s raise the bonnet and have a look:

Nobody makes cars like this any more. Possibly it’s just as well. It’s shocking.

Inside lies a relic from a simpler automotive age. She classifies as a “Classic Car” for purposes of registration. Just don’t expect her to pass any emissions test:

The engine has more new parts than old. There is a new crankshaft and bearings, new high-compression pistons, a new “street-grind” camshaft, new lifters springs and valves and the list goes on and on.

On this side one can see the Holley carburettor and the special intake manifold. Also visible are the tubular steel exhaust header pipes:

An expert on the mark might note that the radiator is radically larger that the stock model. We made this improvement after our last long road trip to Florida to see a launch of the Space Shuttle. It was a miserable voyage in a scorching summer. The engine overheated several times.

The dash is Brazillian Rosewood. All upholstering and carpeting is new. A new ragtop keeps most of the rain out. There is a Pioneer CD stereo system. Eunie and I did every bit of this work.:

She’s a fine machine, but requires the usual devotion from fans of British sports cars. Than means a well fed tool box in the boot.

Since we needed to travel to North America every couple of years, we decided to keep the Spitfire and rebuild her to usable condition instead of renting vehicles on each sojourn. I reckon that over the years we saved money by doing this. At least that was our goal. So, in the end, it did pay off. There is one more fine example of beautiful coachwork and the single minded purpose of building a car that is simply fun to drive which will not be rusting away in some barnyard, neglected and unloved.

Sometimes a plan has an unexpected outcome.

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Please Buy Eunie’s Car

Posted in Items for Purchase on November 12th, 2010 by MadDog
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This post is way out of the usual for Madang – Ples Bilong Mi.  I’m afraid that it’s not going to be of much interest to most readers. I won’t apologise, since I have to do it. I’ll be back later with something more interesting. I didn’t have much fun writing this, so I need to entertain myself also.

Since I seem to have fallen on hard times lately, I’m forced to think and do things which were formerly unthinkable and un-doable. One of those unthinkable things is to sell, as quickly as possible, an object (just at thing,  I keep reminding myself) with which I never imagined parting. That thing  is Eunie’s car.

I’ve always thought of it as Eunie’s car, because I’ve never personally known a woman who was as eager to spend so much time working on a car. I did a lot of the mechanical stuff, but Eunie’s passion was the cockpit – “Hey, this is where I sit. It’s got to be nice!”, she’d say. There is a bumper sticker still hanging on the wall in her former office that says, “I ♥ My Spitfire.”

So, my good friend Steve Hassfurder, with the help of friends, has gotten the Spit out of the garage of the house which I must sell before it drags me into the bottomless pit. He got it started and tells me that it runs fine, as I expected it would.

I’ve been fretting (my hobby) concerning how I can get the news out that the car is for sale. It dawned on me only today that my largest audience is right here on MPBM. Nothing ventured, nothing gained. So, with no further self-pity, here is the text and photos which I prepared to send to Steve:

1973 Triumph Spitfire 1500

A Little History
We purchased this car in 1986. I drove it back and forth to work while we were stuck in the USA for twenty months. When we moved back to Papua New Guinea we decided to keep it stored in the garage of a house we owned in Brownsburg, Indiana. Beginning with our first extended stay back here in the USA, we decided to start to restore the car. During periods when the car was not in the workshop we used it as our daily vehicle. The car is very beautiful and in excellent condition. There is no rust. The body has been completely restored from the metal out.  The engine, drive train and suspension are all completely restored with many new parts. There is no play in the steering and the car is a joy to drive.

A Partial List of Restorations and Improvements (the ones I can remember)

GM “Torch Red” with matching wheels
Restored from metal out with no rust anywhere
New floor pans
New lower front panel (lower doghouse)
Ugly rear fender join seams removed

Interior and trim
New carpeting throughout the cockpit
New upholstery and cushions on seats
Brazilian Rosewood dashboard
Dashboard upper and glove tray have new covering
New windshield
New folding convertible top
Pioneer stereo system (four speaker) with 10 CD changerElectrical
New fuse box
All electricals restored – everything works!
New Mallory distributor
New battery

Running gear
Larger radiator with dual thermostatically controlled cooling fans
New Holly two barrel carburettor and new alloy intake manifold
New tubular steel header pipes for exhaust
Rebuilt alternator
New “street performance” camshaft, new valves and springs
New high compression pistons (stock Triumph parts), rings, wrist pins, connecting rods and bearings
New crankshaft and bearings
New clutch
Transmission completely rebuilt (no sync problems on 2nd gear)
New front brakes and new rotors – rear brakes completely rebuilt
New half-shafts and bearings for the independent rear suspension
New rear shock absorbers and new rear leaf spring (no “Spitfire squat”)
New front wheel bearings
Front suspension, steering and shock absorbers all new or rebuilt with new parts – no steering play!
New exhaust system with stock Spitfire muffler
New tires when last serviced

It is very hard to find an earlier Spitfire, one made before the appearance of the car was ruined by regulations, in this condition. For beauty, ’73 was the finest year for “Spits”. One could easily justify a price of $10,000 for this car, considering the cost of putting one into this condition. I am asking $6,000. I will consider other offers. Please contact me. Leave a comment or if you prefer email me at


Dubious Art

Posted in Photography Tricks on July 11th, 2010 by MadDog
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Having been simultaneously inspired, challenged and somewhat chagrined by my post a couple of day ago on the sublimely eccentric and sophisticatedly earthy art of Lindsay Smith, I decided to blow away an entire morning when I should have been doing something else, namely making some money, creating. If that sentence is not complex and grammatically dimwitted enough for you, then hang around for a while and I will probably come up with something even more opaque.

Every shot in this post is a radical modification of an image which has been sitting among tens of thousands for years, some for decades. Every one except this one: For some inexplicable reason, as I wandered aimlessly around in our front yard this morning, I became mesmerised by the left headlamp of our new Nissan Navara. It is our first new car in nearly twelve years, so we are still somewhat excited about it. It’s the cheap kind with wind-up windows and no electronic gee-gaws such as central locking. You don’t want that kind of stuff here. If it breaks, it stays broke.

When I got the image up in Photoshop, I began to see its possibilities. How bizarre could I possibly make an ordinary automobile headlamp appear? I began to think of the way it might be portrayed in some stylised automotive catalogue. What I wanted was how it might look on acid or some similarly perception distorting substance. Because it has now become art, I have titled it Headlamp of our new Nissan Navara.  I am such a wordsmith.

This one is derived from an old shot and is titled Woman in Canoe on Astrolabe Bay:

Again, with the clever titles. It get worse. Hang around. Some of these you may need to click to enlarge to get the full impact of my efforts to bamboozle you.

Yeah, now this one is a oldie. I entered this one in an art show a long time ago and actually sold a one-off original print for K200. I think that it was the first image that I ever mane any money from:

It’s title is Sunset Watercolour II.  Catchy, eh?

Back in the days of burning rubber, a fine mist of vapourised castor oil in the air, hot tarmac and icy Chablis we called the driver’s compartment of a sports car The Cockpit. It was so very, very English. Here is the arted-up cockpit of our 1973 Triumph Spitfire 1500 which sits immaculately restored and carefully wrapped in a garage in Indianapolis, Indiana waiting for someone to make me a reasonable offer for a car which is rapidly approaching the priceless category. Would you like to buy it?

I mean the car, not the picture, which is titled Spitfire Cockpit.  I wonder how many disappointing Google hits I’ll get on this one.

The dashboard or fascia, as we called it back then, is Brazilian Rosewood, handcrafted over a period of several days by none other than me. Hah, you thought all I can do is take pictures and spew drivel, eh? I got the shot on our first digital camera, a one-point-something megapixel Minolta of some kind. I’m sure that it’s moudlering away in a drawer somewhere.

These are our orange lilies, which will be familiar, if not boring, to regular readers. They are decked out here for a night at the disco:

That’s the Photoshop Poster Edges filter, if you’re interested. It’s one of my favourites. The title is Edgy Orange Lilies.  Better?

Here is an old shot of the fabulous Australian harmonicist and singer Harper at a performance years ago at The Slippery Noodle in Indianapolis, Indiana:

The title is, a little obviously, Harper.  I got the shot from a stairway above the back room venue in the area of the building which used to be a brothel. It is the oldest continuously operating tavern in the State of Indiana and now operates one of the best blues clubs it has ever been my pleasure to patronise. I always hit it a couple of times whenever I’m in Indy.  The cover charge is cheap. The food and drink is also blue-collar priced and surprisingly delicious. The amazing thing about the place is that it has three venues for bands in the same building. If you don’t like one, you can pick up and move to another. The only problem is that it is sometimes packed. It used to be a mob hangout. There are several spots where there are bullet holes in the walls.

Just to show you how civilised and cultured I am, here is a plate of fruit at a vineyard near Vienna. It’s been given the artsy treatment also:It is delightfully and playfully titled Vienna Vineyard Fruit.  I sincerely hope to get back to Vienna someday. It’s one of my favourite cities. Summertime is splendid. I don’t even want to think about winter there. It would be as bad as Indianapolis, from whence I escaped. The shot above has been “posterised” a bit to give it a more painterly look. Posterisation is simply a fancy term for reducing the available colours in an image.

If none of that is quirky enough for you, then I shall deliver the coup de grâce.

This is my left bicep, at the healthy diameter which it once was at the time I was getting my Dancing Dolphins  tattoo, which you see here partially completed:

I decided . . . no, I fell upon the idea of doing it in monochrome . . . okay, duochrome.

Okay, that’s enough nonsense for one day. I’m getting dizzy.

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Buy Our Car – 1973 Triumph Spitfire 1500

Posted in Mixed Nuts on April 19th, 2008 by MadDog
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I’m posting this because I’ve placed classified advertisements at several web sites in an attempt to sell our beloved Spitfire.

Here’s a couple of photos. 

1973 Triumph Spitfire 1500 for sale

1973 Triumph Spitfire 1500 for sale (cockpit)

If you’re visiting this page seeking information about the car, please leave a comment or contact me at

I will send to you a Word document with a complete description of the restoration.