Wednesday, 17 January 2018


Given the right conditions; in Australia;a single female fly and its offspring are capable of producing 13 million flies a year.  Furthermore, the majority of them can be found in the outback.  To keep them at bay your typical Aussie bushman will wear a hat with corks dangling on strings fixed around the brim.


And if you believe that you’re as daft as the above gullible tourist! Smile

Your average Aussie bushman knows all the flies want is a small sip from the moisture in the corners of his eyes or around the mouth and is prepared to tolerate that.  However the sensible tourist has one of these.


With billions of flies out there is unsurprising a percentage of them commit suicide by bashing themselves to death on the vehicle radiator.  And it isn’t just the insects that’s a problem!  The native grasses have to be very hardy to survive in the dry environment so when it comes to procreation, spreading their seed by attaching it to passing vehicles is a good idea.


Photo from Beadell Tours

If the radiator clogs with insects and seeds then the vehicle can overheat causing potential engine failure.  Naturally I don’t want that to happen so I’ve decided to make radiator screen similar to the one above.

I did look at fitting it behind the grill but access to the area is difficult and as I’m probably going to need to clean the screen daily I’ve decided to make one using fibreglass mesh insect screen.  The type of mesh you fit to a door or window.  Metal mesh would probably scratch the paintwork.  I’m going to strengthen the top and bottom edges with some 3mm brass rod and will apply adhesive foam tape on the reverse where it touches the vehicle.

The first step was the make a template from a piece of cardboard left over from the delivery of our new fridge.


Next, I cut out the mesh slightly larger than the template.  It needed to be larger in order to fold the edges under thereby doubling the strength and removing any sharp ends.


duct tape was used to hold the folds in place.  I needed something to replace the duct tape and remembered I had a craft glue gun which I use when refilling inkjet cartridges.


$2 from the Reject Shop back in 2008.  I don’t trust this glue to be permanent as I suspect it might be water soluble, so I will replace it with Sikaflex once the screen is assembled.


With the vertical edges glued I made a start on the top and bottom.  To provide some strength I’ve fitted 3mm brass rod into the seam then glued the seam with the hot glue gun.


I’m leaving about an inch of mesh between the rod and the edge because I plan to fit eyelets which will be used to secure the screen to the vehicle.  The fibreglass mesh might chaff the vehicle paintwork and fake chrome grill so I fitted adhesive foam tape around the edge and across the centre wherever the screen touches the grill.


There are two outstanding tasks left.  The Sikaflex needs to be smeared on the other side of the mesh to bond the mesh to the foam tape and to seal the edges.  And the brass eyelets need to be fitted.

Hopefully the screen will be effective in protecting the radiator from being choked.  However there will still be an under-body grass hazard.


Photo from Beadell Tours

It’s not unusual for this amount of grass to build-up in a day of travelling.  Dry grass will ignite at 130C and the vehicle exhaust is hotter.  Actually when the diesel particulate filter (DPF) is doing a regeneration it reaches 500C.  Already there have been a number of Ford Ranger utility vehicles destroyed by grass fires as a consequence of the grass touching the exhaust.   This was one of the hazards I thought about when selecting a suitable vehicle.  Unlike the Ford, the Isuzu DPF is located high in the engine compartment.  But grass build-up is something I will have to carefully monitor. 

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