That's it, the end. Its over.....
The car is loaded on the final leg of our trip. Matilda is in a big steel box and waiting for shipping back home. We are also waiting for our shipping (flight) back home. I've posted some info on Wiki Overland about who we used for the car shipping
Loading and arranging it was pretty painless really. Not as cheap as we had hoped but cheap enough considering what we have paid for other shipping legs. The loading was $250CAN and the Shipping was $1818CAN. We should have minimal fees in the UK although the process is a bureaucratic nightmare. My advice is don't SORN you car, no matter what the RAC or DVLA tell you and when you return drive it into England and don't ship in ! We will pass some comments on how we get on later. The paperwork shouldn't be too bad but getting home on to the drive is the problem. There's a new thing called Euro Transit Plates that allow you to drive anywhere in Europe for 4 days. We will probably be getting those. It makes a mockery of our MOT, TAX and Insurance rules but is completely legal. Why can't England issue these? Every country in the world (we know of) has temporary plates you can use to get your car home if its unregistered. Not England. The plates are German. Welcome Back UK Citizen,,,, now fill out some forms.....
Yes its a film and its not even out yet !
Not steaks this time but Lobster. I got them on special offer. Jan cooked them and had to show us how to eat them. Some tools were used. Phil had steak. I wish I had.
1. 86,400,000 seconds
2. 1,440,000 minutes
3. 24,000 hours
4. 1000 days
5. 142 weeks (rounded down)
6. Two years 8 months and 26 days
We are not quite there yet but its not long......Sometime in July we will be home and on July twenty something we are at 1000 days. Will we beat the deadline?
Costco didn't manage to honour there free balance and rotation promise and said it could not be done safely so what did I do?
I took off the wheels in their car park and presented them to the guy to balance. I then rotated them myself ! So if you're reading this Costco, you've failed us twice !!!! The guy gave some made up excuse about he book saying they were not allowed to jack up a Land Rover Defender as it could not be done safely. This is the same book I asked to see where it showed him where to jack it up !
We stayed and drank with Chris and Jacqui who we knew from railway days many years ago. They now live in Canada and they cooked us some massive steaks....we drank lots and stayed up late. Their house is really nice and has a great view. Chris needs to pull his finger out and get it finished though. We men have a hard life keeping the women happy. last time we saw them was 4 years ago in Costa Coffee at home. The week before they emigrated.
Now we are at Phil and Jan's place in Nova Scotia trying to plan getting home. We'll know more in a few days. I'm applying for jobs and all sorts or normal stuff. I don't like it. That's the getting home bit not the hospitality.
Few more miles and a few more checks of the car. Some service work done again. I really need to count how many we've done for the trip in numbers page. I'll do it when we get home. We stopped off in a little town on the way to the Canada border and found a nice Walmart and a Buffalo Wild Wings. Its Wings Tuesday so we can't turn down 60c wings day at Buffalo. We could have eaten cheaply but had a beer, which isn't. Only one. We've been splashing out a bit on eating out and we need to stop. Its getting expensive. Golden Corral and Buffalo Wild Wings and the odd Pizza. We still eat less than we used to. I think most overlanders loose weight although when they stop for a while the pile it back on!
The trip is almost over and thats a shock. The booking of things to get us home is looming.
Julie didn't used to eat Chicken on the bone. How things (including us) have changed. The car park photo is what we see almost every day. Walmarts garden products section. We've been counting things for the trip in numbers and we've been to 220 McDonalds (at least) for Wi-Fi. We will try to get that exaclty when we are back......surely we should get a medal or something. At $2 (plus tax) for Wi-Fi its not bad but it was cheaper in Africa for a mobile sim card and internet in the car ! We could get a month worth for $10usd and here is costs us $2 for the decaf coffees. I don't dring their tea, its awful. So we do get something else other than Wi-Fi for $2 but thats $60 per month if we do it every day (which we probably do !). I'm ashamed of it but the local places don;t have Wi-Fi or $1 drinks.
Now thats a big Alaskan Carrot ! They grow fast in the daylight 24 hours a day ! (I forgot we had the photo),
Firstly a picture of the missile we missed the first time passing this way..
Woody would not be happy....
Here we are trying to get into a State Park in Minnesota and we'd done all the web stuff (which is pretty rubbish in the USA) but at least we knew the price. Well we thought we did but as we've discovered before they all tell lies. The $20 camping didn't include the $5 park entry so it was too much for us and this is after we've driven there. Shit ! We'd even got meat and everything. Including expensive National Park firewood left over from Yellowstone. Special bug free National Park wood as all the wood in the parks is.
So talking to some nice people outside they offered to pay for us ! We couldn't let them do that, could we. Well yes we could but not all of it, just some of it and they were happy and so were we. They asked us to get a spot next to them and we were quite happy to do that. You know how I like to talk ! All set then.
The lady on the counter the one that had been not too helpful so far wouldn't let us in the park with the wood we had. She wanted it and was going to burn it. Burn it in the same way we were going to. First though she would put it in two bags and seal it up. She wouldn't let us have it back in the morning. "It must be burnt." "It might be carrying bugs". The fact that it was already here and on the roof of our car and in the State escaped her and the rules. So even though the guy she called when I kicked up a fuss who seemed to hint there was flexibility in the rules still failed to secure me getting it back in the morning. I mean I could have driven a mile out of the park, placed the wood under a tree and returned sans wood and gone back to get it in the morning. This solution would be much worse if the wood had bugs but that's just me being illogically confused.....
So the park would be $25 + $7.23 (our wood) + $6 (replaced with their wood)
We left the money we were given (nice people) in an envelope. I hope they got it back !!!! and left disgusted with the stupidity of it all. We missed talking to the nice people and talking about some of the places we'd been. This included Ethiopia where they seemed to have worked previously. I hope they read this and I hope they know how much such generosity means to a tight Yorkshireman.
We slept at Walmart and went to the SPAM museum in the morning. No free SPAM except a sample and its not too bad to split up the day. The exhibits donlt answer all my questions on the product or indeed give too much info on how good the meat actually is or why there is Chicken in some types????
More miles and more fuel. We are almost exactly following the route we did going west coming back east. So its not exactly interesting. We did manage to see the missile in the silo we missed last time as the gate was closed. You know when we went to the Minuteman thing. We are staying in the same car parks and driving the same boring road. The highway i90 isn't the best road in the world and rather like Ruta 3 in Argentina. This time however its all green as last time it was all brown. Its better in green ! Its also got to be one of the least used roads in the world. There's not many vehicles on it so its a pretty easy drive. In a few more miles we will be in uncharted territory so that should be fun!
A+ rating on the boring blog post ?
The oils in the car are being checked each morning. The gearbox oil is red and staying red so we can only presume the new syncro's were the cause of the brown oil, all exactly like Ashcroft's said. I've been using a syringe to take a sample each day and that's the Gearbox, Transfer and Engine all checked. Not that you need the syringe for the engine but you get the drift. We are about due to change Trans and Engine so we are not going to get away with getting dirty before we come home. We have at least one more change to do ! Julie will tell me its in the 50's for the changes. I can't be bothered to look ! When we update the our trip in numbers we will put them all on.
The tourists in Yellowstone obviously think that seeing a Bison is reason to stop dead in the middle of the road....on a hill....inbetween parked cars. Parked illegally of course trying to get that illusive picture of an animal so common there are only 15,000 of them in Yellowstone. We saw maybe 100 each day.....YOU'RE ALL IDIOTS !!!! Not only is it a Fedral Crime its ffing dangerous. Also driving without any consideration to those behind you. Not using your indicators (blinkers to the yanks) and basically leaving your manners, sense and brain at the park gate......
Yellowstone is not a safari park. You are not allowed to stalk animals and your not even allowed to get withing 100yards of a bear. Does that stop them. No it does not. In Kruger if you take a photo of someone doing this type of thing they get a large fine through the post based on their licence plate. They should implement this in Yellowstone. Nearly every vehicle was a)parked illegally b)parked dangerously c)within the minimum distance allowed under fedral law. Of course thats not counting the actual stopping for no reason on the highway which is also illegal.
Serves us right for going there on the day they opened on a holiday weekend and for drving 1500miles back-tracking to get there. Do I wish we hadn't.....yes.
We did meet up with Martin and Nicole from OVERLAND SPHERE. They are setting off on the next leg of their journey. And its been a big one so far. Their actual web site is My Overland Adventure. We enjoyed a camp fire and some drinks....of course we did !
One other good thing (was there another?) is Yellowstone is first come first served on the camping so you might get a spot. Maybe. Just maybe if you are there REALLY early !!!!
The other thing is there are a few animals and some hot water.....worth a visit, yes almost. If only they would remove all the alien species from the park. You know who i mean.....and its not even peak season !
Leaving lovely Alaska and back into Canada. We met some nice people in Alaska and we would have liked to stay longer but we need to get moving. The Canada border crossing was fun. They wanted to take our pepper spray off us but when I pointed out the french instructions about protecting us from "Dangerous Animals" it was allowed as "bear spray" is permitted. They also forget ot give us our passports back so we had to drive back about 3 Km. We strangely didn't realise immediatly. They also looked in the car to make sure we wern't carrying anyone else????
The Gearbox is behaving and the chatter is much less. Maybe the clutch wasn't quite seated correctly and causing that. We can only guess what it was. As the gearbox place said. If its quiet in drive and changes well, which it does, then its fine.
Camped out last night for the first time in a while. We had a fire and made steaks. Luckily we had some in the freezer as we were not expecting to find a spot for free with a fire ring. The weather was good but my improvised hot water bottle in the form of a hot stone was nice. Its still getting cold in the evenings. It was maybe 7C when we went to bed.
We've now seen more bears than we care for and they are everywhere. The hightlight today was a very young cub but we missed the photo as there were cars behind us and we couldn't just swerve off the road to take some pictures.
We are in A&W having a burger and Wi-Fi. Its a bit expensive ! Julies birthday is on Monday. Where will we be......She's not very impressed with the places we've been on her Birthday in countries past. Can we make Edmonton?
Hi, Shona. We haven't had chance to respond to your messages. You seem to have taken over from Gayle in being the frequent poster.....
Here we are with the gearbox fitted to the car. I say here, as we are in McDonalds....We have driven here.
Blue is dead.....long live two...
My ball(s) and sceptre (pictures) giving way under the pressure of being a mechanic....did I really say that. I'm and Engineer dammit. I have letters after my name to prove it. My workmanship may not be 100%....we shall see. We had a massive crotch failure after I spilt oil over "them".
Another first before we get into it. We have two full on earthquakes since we've been here. One off the bucket list. Even though we had one in the UK but these, like everything in the USA are bigger. This was a 5.5...wow!! Pretty big and we felt it in the car. Not far from us and in the middle of the bay just south of Anchorage.
So firstly, Thanks to Ed for technical support and use of his shop, Jason for being more stressed than me and providing lot of humour, Andrew for running Julie around to the shops and providing some food now and again, Kathy for cooking for us and Curtis for loaning us his long bearing puller. There are few others who delivered Pizza and sanity for the short periods that I wasn't freaking out. I was working 10am to 2am almost every day and getting up at 4am again to contact the UK. I'm knackered.
The box came apart like they do with the help of Curtis's puller and much swearing and heavy lifting. The use of Ed's shop made it much easier. I even managed to do Jason's timing belt on his pimped up 300Tdi whilst I was waiting for parts. We had some fun with his pully and crank seal. His crank is very tight! I'm not sure that I've been paid back for that "help". Maybe he should read my pay it forward posts. Andrew stole some of our beer and never quite lived it down. The guys made my stress almost tolerable. Andrew and Ed were preparing for a 3500 mile dash to overland expo. Andrew hasn't been that far, ever ! I wonder how they are getting on? They left yesterday with only 6 days to get there. Pictures of the leaving below along with Jason and his ride.
One of the bearings was gone in my gearbox and the reverse gear dog teeth were damaged. The fifth gear running surfaces were worn both on the main shaft and the inner of the gear. Maybe that was due to the metal paste in the MTF94 gear oil. We've refilled with Redline MTL now as we cannot get MTF94 here. I hope the pump is pumping it round box......it seemed to be working.
That one little main-shaft bearing(pictures) was causing all the trouble. According to Ashcrofts the ones that are supplied the gear-box, that lasted only 14,000 miles, are a "common failure". So why do they not get a better bearing and only fit those? I think they do indeed have an upgrade for it but its an option! Why is it only an option? It should be mandatory. The bearing is an RHP. We do not have the option fitted even now as its a like for like replacement. The parts were sent for free and all credit to Dave at Ashcrofts for being online all weekend at very strange hours and on a bank holiday. We could have only expected more had they sent a new box. Parts are quicker however. This is considering the box actually now lasts the distance so to speak. I'm still worried. Its not like we had all the tools to do this quickly and easily so I'm still stressed and listening for noises. The chatter is terrible in neutral but normal according to form. However its MUCH louder than before. I've asked him for an opinion on that.
We managed to do most things twice as you do when you do not know what you are doing. The first "oh shit" moment was the syncro rings. Two are different and we'd fully reassembled the box to an almost no return point and couldn't get gears. I'd put a syncro ring on wrongly and we needed to take it all apart again to change it round. That meant all the shims needed doing again. Luckily the different ones are not inside the bearings we'd just pressed on. Phew !!!!
Once the box was fitted the clutch didn't work so we had to slide it back to get to the pressure plate and make sure it was engaging properly. Not easy to do but made easier with the hoist. I'd luckily put the clutch on correctly as you can fit the friction plate backwards. The springs go towards you! They normally have "front" or "flywheel side" written on them but mine does not. Not sure why the clutch wasn't working. Ed seemed to think it wasn't priming but the arm seemed very far back so maybe the input shaft was not engaged squarely and it was pressing the plate.
You need to fit the gear lever turret before lifting the box in. Not the levers just the turret base as its a RPITA to get it on once its fitted. You cannot get the selector fork into the coupler easily when its in the tunnel so fit it first. Make sure you fit the trans box chassis mount as you fit the transfer otherwise its a nightmare to get it in the little space. The syncro rings and the unique ones. Its pretty easy to tell where they go as the have a slightly different taper on the inner surface. Resetting the selector forks to the correct position is also key. There's something in the book about that. There's also some pictures on the web of a correct selector fork position.
Blue is now dead....lasted well but seemed to fall apart with all the oil. We now have (blue) two. I wonder how long it will last. Hopefully we never need to use it !
I'm sure I've forgotten loads of things but to be honest I don't want to remember most of the experience. Its been pretty terrible made better by the people we've met. I'm hoping the box lasts until we are back home....not a lot to ask really after all its cost us a few thousand dollars in the first place and now a few hundred in oils and stuff. Luckily we had the help of Land Rover people like Eddie Angel. He truly is. Thanks.
We have a new windscreen and specially cut to order. You can't imagine how expensive they are here so the car insurance was worth it. The new screen was $400 USD. No excesss/deductable. You know the insurance only pay the glass company cost -22%. So insurance companies rip everyone off, not just the public.
If you've been reading facebook you'd know the first place would not fit it with the old seal so we went elsewhere. I wasn't going to wait 12 days for a new seal just because they didn't want to use the old one. Plus it was an extra $100. The second place had no problem at all. Its been etched with Safety Glass to satisfy potential MOT problems although i'm not sure it applies to cars.
We are in the most northern (Americas) McDonalds again. We promise not to get my Dad out of bed again just because when we rang Julies Gran yesterday she was watching Coronation Street so we had to call her back when it had finshed. This meant we called my Dad past his bedtime.....I'm sure she doesn't realise the lengths we must go to to get Wi-Fi suitable for calls. Its not like we are just up the road on a landline. So my Dad can blame Julies gran...and he should take note that an 81 year old goes to bed later than him! She really is a night owl.
We must say a BIG thanks to Mark and Michelle for leting us use their cabin for free. They like to get other travellers to stay and have done some serious travelling themselves. In fact Michelle is in Boliva visiting he sons who have been there "on holiday" for quite a while. The cabin is great and built by Mark for guest and parents to stay. Its really cosy. Luckily they have Wi-Fi as the TV has one channel. We've been watching downloaded TV on the Samsung. This is TV we got in Mexico when we had unlimited super fast Wi-Fi. We downloaded rather a lot ! Legal downloads of course as pirates sail boats not drive Land Rovers....wink wink.
This post should be "Cabin in the Woods"....but Julie hates scary movies.
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