Industry revival for Nelson city?
Hopes for performance engine manufactureTRACY NEAL
A tool and die maker with a flair for invention has his foot on the gas of what he hopes could be a revival of manufacturing in Nelson.
Pro Machining founder and manager Greg Anderson turned to his love of motorsport for inspiration on a potentially new industry in performance engine design and manufacture.
The alloy prototype of one for a Volkswagen racing car is 91 per cent done, and has spawned a secondary product line making specialist crankshafts.
The custom-stroke crankshafts are made for buyers around the world, for $US5000 [$NZ5720] a pop.
The intellectual property for the prototype engine being developed is owned by motorsport research and development company Racespecs, of which Mr Anderson is a director.
He said its evolution had been "about as long as since Adam was around", but it really got going after he returned to New Zealand in 2006 from 15 years in the United States.
Mr Anderson said the engine was essentially a Volkswagen style engine, which they were trying to make stronger, and build more horsepower into. His input lay in the design of a bearing which stopped the flex in the crankshaft, making it more rigid.
"I'm not actually trying to reinvent the engine, but give it a better platform.
"The aim is to build more horsepower for racing," Mr Anderson said.
That meant between 1600 and 2000 horsepower in a stock-body type VW racing car.
About $50,000 cash and "thousands of hours" had been invested in the prototype.
"We've had no financial backing other than from me and the other two [Racespecs] directors.
"We started posting details on a forum group based in California, and got about 100,000 views and between 300 and 500 people worldwide are actively watching.
"The development is purely for racing cars. There's been a suggestion we do it for home-built aircraft, but the liability is too great."
Mr Anderson said production is the end goal, which could be done in Nelson.
"I do see it happening, if I can keep the momentum up - I know it's going to work."
He said manufacturing in Nelson had all but gone. His firm once had six staff, but was down to two, including himself.
Mr Anderson had shied away from seeking input from agencies designed to assist local businesses develop markets for their products, claiming he was "not a paperwork man". The project now needed someone willing to invest more time than money.
"I don't want to jump through all those hoops. I have a handful of ideas on where to go next, but not enough time."
- © Fairfax NZ News
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