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Photo FeatureBusiness

The mechanics of mobility.

Petite Visuals presents a pictorial exploration of some of Gippsland’s numerous transport-focused workshops.

Jul 25, 2017

Words: Gippslandia

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It’s unfortunate, but we typically don’t have the best relationship with the craftsmen that build or service our transportation. Most of us will never meet the people who constructed our car. Then, we only visit our mechanic when we have a problem – when we can’t get from A to B smoothly – or travel at all. In diagnosing the cause of our vehicle’s inactivity they speak in a language that many of us will never understand and operate with tools which we can only chance to guess at their designated use.

Petite Visuals photographer, Morgane Cazaubon, undertook a pictorial exploration of a collection of Gippsland’s numerous workshops to demystify the processes behind crafting different means of transport. So take some time to get your hands greasy and learn the mechanics behind making you move.

Heyfield Vintage Machinery Rally, Heyfield.

Eager to learn more about steam engines and vintage vehicles, we visited the Heyfield Rally, but the gents proudly displaying their meticulously restored equipment were sparse with their words and more than content to let their machinery be the only thing blowing hot air.

Frecheville Heaney Boatbuilders, Paynesville, with James Frecheville.

Frecheville Heaney Boatbuilders was established in 1990. The aim has been to specialise in the repair, restoration and construction of bespoke traditional timber leisure craft; both sailing and motorised.

Many small crafts are constructed using timber, plywood and modern adhesive technology. After extensive experience in the field of mahogany runabout restoration, we are now building reproduction timber speedboats to classic designs for discerning clients. Recent diversification has been to engage in modern glass reinforced plastic practices with the construction of small racing dinghies.

Since childhood both Tim Heaney and I have enjoyed a lifelong association with both wood and the water. Our dedication, passion and enthusiasm for both sailing and boatbuilding are evident with the success of our business.

We use a variety of materials in both building and restoration work. Each job is considered for what is the best use of both materials and methods. We use a great deal of epoxy adhesive technology when working on modern boats, but still acknowledge that there are a time and place for traditional methods, and use of timbers and fastenings in repair and restoration of older vessels. Each stage has its own challenges and rewards through the delivery of the vessel to a hopefully very happy client!

Boats take time to build. The design is everything. It costs about the same to build a good boat as a bad one. We can knock up a dinghy in a week or we can take a couple of years to build a replica 1928 mahogany US Gold Cup racer complete with leather trim, custom made chrome fittings and, of course, a thumping big V8 motor. It’s all about client confidence and trust, and that makes the journey so rewarding.

Mahindra Aerospace (Gippsland Aeronautics), Traralgon, with Lloyd Clarke and Marguerite Morgan.

Gippsland Aeronautics, the former company commenced in 1984 by Peter Furlong and George Morgan, was primarily an aircraft maintenance company; servicing agricultural crop dusters and other smaller general aviation aircraft.

In 1991, the company type certified the GA-200, an aerial applicator aircraft, with approximately 50 aircraft being exported into nine countries. But due to the cyclic nature of the agricultural industry, the company looked for a niche market and work commenced to design and type certify an eight-seater utility aircraft using a 300 horsepower engine. A prototype was hand built and flying by 1993, with type certification awarded in December 2000.

The company manufactured the aircraft locally and exported to 34 countries. However, export sales were severely affected by the 2008 global financial crash and an initial 75% of the company was sold to the major global corporation, Mahindra. Mahindra, an Indian company, was interested in entering aerospace and the aircraft utility market. Today, GippsAero is wholly owned by Mahindra Aerospace and continues to manufacture and design new aircraft for the utility market.

GippsAero’s former owners, Peter and George, had a keen interest in aviation since they were boys. They flew gliders and raced cars. They both George and Peter dared to dream, then followed through and lived it. George and his wife, Marguerite, are still working with Mahindra Aerospace. Peter retired in 2010, at acquisition, due to health.

The GA8 Airvan is a versatile utility aircraft. It services many market sectors, including; scenic tourism, skydiving, carriage of freight, aeromedical, humanitarian, special mission for law enforcement agencies. No other aircraft in its class is as able to do all this.

Eval Motorcycle Co., Traralgon, with Billy Ayres.

I’d been building, repairing and modifying motorcycles for years under the family business of Ayres Automotive. In 2014, I decided to cut away and establish Eval Motorcycle Co. I wanted a business name with a connection to the local area, but it had to be short, then sound and look good. We came up with EVAL, which is short for Eastern Valley. I have a great team of skilled guys who work alongside me to assure the high quality and attention to detail that we’re known for continues. Part of the Eval team, past and present, are Jessica Walker, Nathan Walker, Steve Campbell, Rob Henty, Isaac Bartrip, my wife Louise and three sons, Tommy, Harry and Austin Ayres. With outside help from Paul Makepeace, Scott Skinner, Shane Coulthard, Joel Barry, Matt Rutjens and Peter Brown.

I’ve always had a passion for old vehicles and have a collection of old cars and motorcycles. My grandfather, Jim Ayres, was very well known in the area for restoring vintage and classic vehicles and motorcycles. My Dad, Kevin Ayres, always has something in the garage being restored too. From a young age, I was collecting parts at swap meets, I have loved pulling things apart, modifying motorcycles and cars, fabricating my own parts and welding. It’s very satisfying to modify or make items that can’t be bought.

Customer communication is key! It’s very important that the customer understands what they want to achieve before the project commences. Each project is different; a more for subtle modifications can take a few days, but if it’s a full restoration or complete design and builds, it can take months, possibly years to complete. The general build time is six to nine months. We’re currently booked six months ahead for our project work.

We were very privileged to be invited, along with five other Australian bike builders, to build a custom motorcycle and display at the Mooneyes Custom Show in Yokohama, Japan, last year. We had a very tight budget and short timeframe of seven months to design and build a motorcycle to represent Australia at the best custom show in the world. For years I had visions in my head of building a Harley-based, Salt Lake racer-inspired motorcycle with a low, long, streamlined stance that had an influence of Burt Munro’s, ‘’ World’s Fastest Indian’’. Upheval was the result! One of the most important aspects of Upheval was that I wanted to fabricate as much of the bike as possible, without using off-the-shelf parts. The old-styled Girder/Springer front end is completely my own design and consists of 146 individual parts that are all made locally.

You become quite attached to some of the bikes, as you’re spending long days, night and weekends building and thinking about them. They’re a big part of your life. I’m very lucky that there’s the next bike to work on and do it all again.

Gippslandia #3 - Mechanics of Mobility

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