Top
IMG_4101-4.jpg

A BUSTED LANDCRUISER : PART 1

 

HELLO + WELCOME  as we drive our trusty old Landcruiser from Sydney to London, via Africa. It’s Gareth typing today and if you are new here, you are most welcome.

 

Aussie Overlanders Yellow Divider1

 

So, there we are driving through one of the most famous National Parks in the World.  After leaving a small side track searching for wildlife we pulled back onto the main gravel road and heard an unusual sound coming from the engine. It was a clunking noise in the engine bay. We knew its not right. It sounded really bad  and it we pulled over as fast as we could. Wary of wild animals, I popped the bonnet and carefully stepped out of the car to lift the lid. Immediately we could see the problem.

We could see a fan and coupling in a spot where it shouldn’t have been – not attached to the car anymore. This was our sh!t / f*ck moment in the middle of Etosha National Park, Namibia.

 

Aussie Overlanders Yellow Divider1

 

I want to give you some background on the ‘issue’ that has plagued us since Lesotho.

 

IMG 9201 1

:: Overheated driving up Sani Pass in Lesotho

IMG 0552 2

:: Overheated in the Cederberg Mountains, South Africa

IMG 0656 1

:: Car checked over with a trusty mechanic and found to have a faulty thermostat. Replaced thermostat and car given a thorough once over and declared OK.

DSC01719 1

:: Overheated again driving into the town of Springbok, South Africa

DSC01799 2

:: Pulled into Silverton Radiators in Springbok to check the radiator. Found the fins to be totally corroded. Time for a new radiator.

DSC01812 3

:: New radiator installed the next day but car still overheating. Andre the radiator man explained the next step.

DSC01788 1

:: Viscous fan re-juiced but it didn’t solve the problem. New viscous fan unable to be located so we locked it in the ON position. Temporarily fixed.

IMG 2908 4

:: New viscous fan and coupling couriered to us on the road and installed.

Aussie Overlanders Yellow Divider1

 

During all the stuffing around near the fan and coupling, loosening bolts and belts etc I mustn’t have left enough space in between the water pump pulley and the air-con pulley. These were grinding together which eventually lead to this…

 

DSC02805 1

:: Not going anywhere. I don’t know why I was smiling?

 

We were stranded, unable to drive and in fear of the thought that we might have to fork out big dollars to be towed to the nearest mechanic. Another one of my fears at the time of the breakdown, was that we might have to suffer the humiliation of being towed out by a Landrover Defender.

To save interrupting the passing tourists game drives we called ahead to the Halali Camp (middle camp) which was 16km away. They confirmed that there was someone able to come and help us, “They will leave now”. Fifteen minutes later my worst fears were confirmed: three burly looking guys rocked up in one of the game drive vehicles. A Landrover Defender… aaargh!

Ellie, Gabriel and another guy had been told that we had a puncture. The miscommunication was clarified once they all looked into our engine bay. This was no punctured tyre. We got chatting in the now ever increasing hot African sun. Gabriel (a guide) told us that they were unable to tow us with a game vehicle because of insurance reasons. Phew! He called a friend of theirs (David) who also worked back at the camp to come and get us in his own vehicle. I breathed a sigh of relief when they told me he didn’t drive a Landrover :-)

 

DSC02817 2

::  The Rescue Team {L to R} The Gentle Giant Eley (known to his friends as  Kangaroo), Gabriel, Big Dave and me rejoicing the fact Dave drives an ISUZU

Big Dave rocks up in his ISUZU, we attached our tow rope and he slowly lurched forward. With our 3.5-tonne rig in tow I was nervous each time he changed gear. Each time it felt like his rear tow bar might be ripped off. As we rolled into Halali Camp I was happy to be out of the jungle, so to speak. Our rescue team were so nice and so helpful. They got their on-site bush mechanic to come over and have a look but the guy just shook his head in horror and said ‘Sorry, I’m not good enough to fix that’.

Our next step was to ring a few towing companies and see if it was possible for them to come and get us. It was, but for $450 bucks. One of the guys sounded very vague, while another was certain he could help us and would drive the 4-hours to come and get us straight away. It was fast approaching the weekend and so we hit the button. Our quick decision was fuelled by all the background thoughts of ordering parts and the expense of staying another night in the park + accommodation in the next town if we had to wait around ages for parts to arrive.

As soon as it was done we knew it was too much money – and in one last ditch effort – our mechanic in Cape Town messaged us with an approach.  Total lifesaver. I started trying to angle myself into the engine and Kirst ran over to the guys who ‘saved’ us to see if they had some bolts lying around. She came back with Pemba. We cancelled the towing guy.

 

DSC02819 3

:: Thank God it wasn’t a Landrover that towed us out. I would have never heard the end of it :-)

 

Pemba had the attitude of ‘I can help these people, I will help these people and I may even make a little cash if I do’. I liked that. We told him the cost for towing and Pemba said “Ohh, no. I can definitely help you. Maybe you can give me a little money?” Sure thing, Kirst and I said. In the next five-minutes  another three guys had their heads in the engine bay. ‘Brilliant’, I was thinking at the time. Combined brain power. I didn’t know too much about cars before this so I hung back a little and let Pemba do his thing. Ten-minutes later we had the water pump pulley out.

 

DSC02832 1

:: Pemba removing the water pump pulley

With the bonnet up, myself, Kirst and four black guys standing around looking into the engine bay we were bound to get asked what was going on.

That was when we met some of the coolest people of the trip yet. Kalima, Chris, Marius and Susan from Hawaii. These guys were road tripping around Southern Africa in 4×4′s.

Chris and Kalima knew about cars. They knew more than Pemba, the three other guys, myself and Kirst combined so we were happy for their input. In the process of removing the studs Chris walks over to Kirst and tells us “You guys will be eating with us tonight. Marius and Susan have started a poijke”. In stressful times like this being TOLD rather than asked was exactly what we needed. Wow! With these guys around the hassle and inconvenience of breaking down in the middle of nowhere really helped our spirits.

 

IMG 4101 4

:: How many people does it take to fix a Cruiser in Africa? {L to R} Chris, Kalima, random guy, random guy who found a spare water pump laying around, Pemba (our angel), random guy on ground pretending to be doing something, me and Kirst behind the camera.

 

My idea, with some remote advice from our man in Cape Town was to remove the sheared off studs and replace them temporarily with some 6mm high tensile bolts I had spare. I didn’t need to do this because the next thing I see is another random guy walking in to the workshop with an old Toyota water pump in his hands. I love African ingenuity.  We removed the sheared studs from the flange on our pump but in the process burred the female thread. We could only screw three of the four studs back in so the last hole was secured with he 6mm bolt.

An hour later, we were back in business. I started the car and was so happy to have saved some dough on the towing. We gave Pemba 400 Rand (about $40) and told hime to share it with his four mates. He was stoked. The minimum wage in Namibia is about 900 Rand ($90) a month. We were also stoked because if he didn’t appear with such a positive attitude when he did we would have been down $450!

We shared an icy cold beer with all and then rolled into camp with the smell of fresh bread and poijke in the air. The night would have been full of worry if we were alone, but instead it was full of laughs. We spent it with some seriously awesome people, ate delicious food and had a temporarily fixed car that would get us to the next major town. We hoped.

 

DSC02844 5

:: Our new Hawaiian friends {L to R} Chris, me, Kalima, Susan and Marius

DSC02845 6

:: The Poijke feast with freshly baked bread (Roistercock) our new found friends cooked up for dinner that night

 

Big thanks go out to our Rescue Team: Kangaroo, Gabriel, Pemba and his associates, Chris, Kalima, Susan and Marius.

Chris and Kalima we especially thank you both for sticking by with us the whole afternoon. Legends!. On the next episode of ‘A Busted Landcruiser’ you will hear how we fixed it. If you are keen on receiving random newsletters with juicy tales live from the road then click here. I dare ya!

 

GK Signature

 

 

 

Aussie Overlanders Yellow Divider1

FOLLOW US ON FACEBOOK

Aussie Overlanders Yellow Divider1

 

 

 

4 Comments

Leave a comment

Your email address will not be published.


1 + 5 =

You may use these HTML tags and attributes: <a href="" title=""> <abbr title=""> <acronym title=""> <b> <blockquote cite=""> <cite> <code> <del datetime=""> <em> <i> <q cite=""> <strike> <strong>

Subscribe for notes only shared on email + your (free!) copy of our eBOOK 'Top 10 Photos from A Year On The Road'
Hell, Yeah!