Features: Preparation for Stage 2
St Justin, Marciac - France
Two weeks after arriving at Bruce and Jenny's, we are still here. Well, 3 actually, OK, I admit it 4, oh, I just can't lie, it's 5 weeks (by the time we actually left it was 8 weeks! - Neil). Where the weeks have gone, I do not know, but it might have something to do with Jenny's fabulous cooking, the spectacular views of the Pyrenees and oh, did I mention the wine?
We have actually been very busy, updating the web-site and making numerous alterations to Bumble. Our travels so far have thrown up a whole list of things that needed to be changed and we have set about making the revisions. This really is the last time we can concentrate fully on Bumble in a secure area with all the tools to hand and we want to get it right before we head off. No parents to run back to on our next leg. Also, as we are so behind our original schedule, we have had to wait for the rainy season in Sudan to subside, so there was no point in racing through only to have to wait to enter Sudan.
The alterations we have made, should make life a little easier for us and include the following:
· Insulated engine cover, courtesy of Jenny - with the engine positioned smack bang in the middle of the driver and passenger seats, there is an unbearable amount of heat generated. It gets so hot at times; I am convinced you could cook a 3 course meal on it! With the new insulated cover, temperatures up front should be a lot more clement.
· Insulated floor - once again, a real heat generator. Chaka spends a lot of time perched on top of the fridge, holding on for grim life, as the floor becomes too hot to walk on. With the new insulated floor, it should not only keep the heat out whilst driving, but also keep the heat in when temperatures drop at night.
· Sink - when we started the expedition, we made the decision not to have a sink and to see how we got on. Washing cups, plates, saucepans etc is usually done in the washing up bowl after each meal, but there are times when you have a coffee and want to quickly rinse the cup out afterwards. Also, there are the occasions when you want to rinse your hands or indeed each morning and night when you clean your teeth. Rather than opening the door and spitting your toothpaste out, in the hope that nobody is walking past at the time, the sink once again comes into its own. It was actually a dog bowl to start off with and Neil got a very strange look when he took it into a mobile home dealership to try to get a plug for it. The assistant said, 'but it's a dog bowl', as if we hadn't noticed. Anyway, Neil built a fabulous cabinet to house the 'dog bowl' and it is now our sink and quite superb it is too!
· Racking to house our storage boxes - we have taken Zarga aluminium storage boxes with us for spares, clothes, etc and originally they had to be lifted in and out over a 2 inch bar whenever we needed something. We found this to be a pretty laborious task as when full, they are extremely heavy. We also wanted to make more use of the space above the boxes rather than pile bits and pieces on top using bungee straps to hold them in place. This was not satisfactory at all as over rough ground everything moves around and poor old Chaka would suddenly find a camping chair land on top of him as we rounded a sharp bend. Everything was beginning to look a bit cluttered, which is the last thing you need when living in a confined space. One thing we have learned is that everything must have a home, otherwise chaos reigns and tempers flare. Neil has devised a great form of racking which not only allows us to slide the storage boxes in and out but we also now have a shelf, which will allow us to be a lot more organised and a drawer for odds and ends.
· Mechanical & Electrical
· Leaking brake master cylinder.
· Fit spotlights for night driving
· Mount more oil coolers and fan for the automatic gearbox
· Install accessible fuse for air-conditioning
· Install separate relays and fuses for oil cooler fans and spotlights.
· Install a power socket for the fridge.
· Improve security and strength of spare wheel carrier on the rear
· Provide security point for bridging ladders on the roof
· Make security bars with mosquito nets so we can sleep with the front windows open
· Make secure stowage for High lift jack
· Improve water tank filler hose location
· Re-install arctic heater and fan
· Move socket for winch control
· Secure plumbing
………and probably lots more little jobs I have forgotten to mention.
Lots of grinding…
..late into the night.
Then came precision welding…..
…until the sun went down….
The only thing missing now is a pop-up roof - it really hurts your back bending down all the time - but I think we will have to wait for that addition.
In Morocco and Europe we have been asked continuously what we were doing, so to overcome the language barrier hieroglyphics were in order. To promote their enabled campaign Leonard Cheshire used the universal Disabled logo with the addition of a key, armed with a can of orange paint and a tin of black Hammerite we set about recreating the same………
And to illustrate the route, Sue drew a map of Africa onto each front door……..
This was an idea used by the Land Rover FC101 expedition in 1975, titled 'The Longest Beach in the World', driving the width of the Sahara from West to East.
People now expect wheelchairs to exit from the side door and think we are from Africa, nearly!
It seems quite a long time since we started out on our trip and I am sure some of you would like a brief summary of where we stand vis a vis the Cheshire Homes we have/will be visiting.
The Homes visited so far are:
Cheshire Home City, Country
Association d'Aide aux Enfants Handicapes Meknes, Morocco
Centre Koutoubia Marrakesh, Morocco
Dar El Hana Cheshire Home Tangier, Morocco
Llar 'Joan Trias' Barcelona, Spain
Homes to be visited:
Cheshire Home City, Country
Khartoum Cheshire Home Khartoum, Sudan
The Cheshire Home for Physically
Handicapped Children Addis Ababa, Ethiopia
Jimma Cheshire Rehabilitation and
Training Centre Jimma, Ethiopia
Limuru Cheshire Home Limuru, Kenya
Kariobangi Cheshire Home Nairobi, Kenya
Mlali Cheshire Home Kongwa, Tanzania
Lilongwe Cheshire Home Lilongwe, Malawi
Divine Providence Cheshire Home Lusaka, Zambia
Livingstone Day Cheshire Home Livingstone, Zambia
Cheshire Chiota Project Marondaro, Zimbabwe
Westwood Cheshire Home Harare, Zimbabwe
Eric Miles Cheshire House Milnerton, South Africa
Cheshire Home Langa, South Africa
Turfhall Cheshire Home Lansdowne, South Africa
We will be leaving France at the end of October and our plan is to drive through Italy in a couple of days, cross over to Greece to visit Neil's sister and brother-in-law, Colina and Jon, who are over there on business for a year, then on through Turkey, Syria, Jordan, either Egypt or Saudi, Sudan, Ethiopia, Kenya, Tanzania, Malawi, Zambia and on down to South Africa. The list of Cheshire Homes as out-lined above is something we very much want to keep to however, with the political situation in Zimbabwe showing no immediate signs of letting up, we may have to make a few changes en route and by-pass trouble spots if need be. With our revised schedule, we are looking to be in South Africa around the middle of 2001.
As I mentioned in an earlier feature, we apologise for the irregular rate at which the updates have appeared - nothing for 3 weeks and then 3 features all at once. As we are now back on track, we are intending to update the web-site every 10-14 days, at least with news if not a feature. We have had a number of requests for dates and locations to be included with each feature so watch out for the new format which we hope will be easier for you to follow our progress South.
We would like to thank both sets of parents, Bruce and Jenny and Mavis and Eric, for their support and above all patience. I am sure they never thought their off-spring would arrive back on their doorsteps with such frequency in their mid-30's. I hope we will be able to repay the compliment one day, wherever we may be.
I know some of you aren't interested in technical news of Bumble (Janet) but then there are those of you who do like to know some of the oily stuff. Here is the comedy of errors on changing the seals in the brake master cylinder that should have taken a couple of hours but ran into nearly a week.
The brake master cylinder had started to leak and fortunately a spare seal kit was something that had been awaiting our return to France. In the manual it looked straightforward so I had a go. It all came apart OK until it came to a 13 mm hex bolt. I tried to improvise with a bolt head, which I eventually had to weld to a bar to get the thing to budge. Once apart the new seals went back in OK.
Now it was time to top up the brake system and bleed out the air. First rear bleed nipple sheared clean off with little effort. I used penetrating oil on the second but that followed suit. I was now stuck with an immobilised vehicle and limited workshop facilities. I decided to remove the rear slave cylinders and take them to a workshop where I could use an easy out and pillar drill with a little heat.
Following the manual carefully I removed the wheel,
I bent the solid steel wheel brace in the process
and was then confronted with two stubborn screws holding the wheeldrums on. They would not budge with an impact screwdriver so I ended up welding a bar to each screw head and removing it that way. Again following the manual I was instructed to remove the hub assembly to get at the brake pads, off came the hubcap, circlip, hub - and there was a shiny 60 mm nut - no chance. In frustration I gripped two lengths of bar between my knees and levered the pads apart while trying to unclip the spring with a pair of pliers. Success, I now had free access to one slave cylinder.
I proceeded to undo the brake pipework or not as the case maybe. The only way was to hacksaw the pipework. The same lengthy procedure was repeated for the other rear wheel until I had two slave cylinders and four lengths of brake pipework. I visited the local Citroen garage, what else in France, who rang round for replacement slave cylinders, over £100 a pair plus delivery! I persuaded him to have a go at reconditioning them whilst I went in search of brake pipe. He had suggested a diesel injector specialist in nearby Pau who came up trumps. 3 days running around and I was equipped with all the parts except for bleed nipples or 'bleeding nipples' as I began to refer to them. The local Rover/Land Rover Dealer in Tarbes ordered them and used the word 'normalment' we will receive delivery next day. This did not fill me with confidence but apparently this was a colloquialism. By Friday morning they still had not arrived so I rang my friends at Espace Land in Nimes who despatched a set of four immediately. Later that afternoon the Tarbes garage rang to say they were in, oh well at least I won't have to run round for another £1.50 bleeding nipple!
It took 2 hours to reassemble Bumbles brakes, bend and connect the new pipework and fit all new bleed nipples ready to bleed the system. After much pedal pumping, squirting of brake fluid and adjusting of shoes we were ready for a test run. Success, no pulling and normal breaking with no leaks! Next time I have a problem with the brakes I think we will head for a garage!