Home Eye on the Industry Shifting Gears In the Red Centre

Shifting Gears In the Red Centre

by Digital Mayne Media

Milwaukee Tool’s partnership with the Red CentreNATS automotive skills development programme is already delivering results in several indigenous communities – including the Papunya community’s ‛Cuz Congress’ S Model Valiant.

“There’s a lot of work to bringing the ‘Cuz Congress’ back to its former glory, but the Papunya community have [done it],” said paint and panel icon Owen Webb, who has donated his time to support the programme.

Webb explained how the ‛Cuz Congress’ Valiant is an icon in Alice Springs and is well-known throughout the Red Centre.

“A little over 25 years ago, it was a feature of many town parades as well auas having a starring role in a popular documentary,” he said.

The programme, known as the Red CentreNATS Rusted Gems Project, is designed to help build confidence within the local communities and nurture interpersonal skills. The ‘Cuz Congress’ is one of two cars that students at Yirara College are working on as part of the program. The second is an XR6 Falcon that has been provided by the Redtails Pinktails Right Tracks Programme.

“The CentreNATS Rusted Gems Project will help the Yirara College students gain experience in mechanics and car restoration,” Webb said.

“Education and health assessments also make up an important part of the programme,” he added.

As Red CentreNATS starts to appear on the horizon, work on the ‘Cuz Congress’ Valiant has kicked up a gear. Once completed, participants will enjoy the satisfaction of having their cars displayed at this iconic event, knowing that their vision and hard work made it happen.

With the support of Shane Gaghan and his students at Charles Darwin University, the Rusted Gems team have been working hard to get the Valiant running.

“They’ve gone through the engine and the running gear to see how much work would be required to get mobile again,” Webb said.

The team put the ‘Cuz Congress’ up on a hoist to see if they could turn the engine over by hand.

“On the first try, it was pretty locked up, but we managed to get the engine to free up by hand after working through a fair bit of elbow grease,” he said.

The team then changed the oil, replaced the oil filter and pulled the spark plugs to check for compression.

“We were surprised to find that the engine wasn’t in too bad a condition, so we continued to push forward,” he said.

The build team then turned their attention to the electrical system, rigging up a relay and switch to try and get the ‛Cuz Congress’ to fire under its own power. This included pulling down the distributor to check its condition, quickly cleaning it, setting the timing, and sorting out the firing order.

“We flicked the switch, and [it] started turning over, but [it] just wouldn’t fire,” Webb said. “We had a pretty strong feeling that the [carburettor] was knackered, so we sprayed some Aerostart directly into the manifold, and [it] fired!”

“You couldn’t wipe the smiles off their faces when it fired into life for the first time in some 20 plus years,” he added.

Milwaukee Tool is proud to support the Rusted Gems Project. The project aims to set up automotive workshops in these remote communities staffed by qualified tradespeople who will pass on their automotive skills to future generations.

For more information visit milwaukeetool.com.au

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