We are very happy in the car and our full size double. Its actaully better to sleep in than a normal double. You don't fall out if you get to the edge so it feels bigger. It also have probably 5cm (more maybe) of additional width but i'm not sure what the window to window width inside the back of the 110 is.
On the humid nights the boat fan is a must as it keeps the air moving. We can have the sides open as we have stainless nets on them and also on the rear door winding windows. We've fitted a hanging mosquito net so we can actaully have everything open. We've just purchased another boat fan (they aren't cheap !) but we're having fun trying to decide where to put it. Its a Hella Turbo and the old one is a Jet. The jet draws 300mA and the Turbo 600mA on full speed. It doesn't make a dent in the 50Ah leasure battery. The constant noise also help drown out all other outside noise so It makes the noisiest places OK to sleep.
With the fan on It worries me a bit as we cannot hear outside but if we are locked up its unlikely something could happen that wouldn't wake me up even with the fan. The Alpine windows are our side security as we can sit up in bed and see almost 180degrees at each side. Julie looks out the back window and I can jump into the front. Not that we've ever had to.
If we had to do the window tints again we'd get blackout on the sliders and rear winding windows, the alpines in 5% (as they are now) and the rear with blackout at the bottom and a strip on 5% at the top. We've also got blackout curtains on all the windows and these are supprisingly good for insulation and condensation protection. The sleeping bags don't touch the windows and the curtains go all the way round the bed so it stops any dampness on the bags.
We bought the new fan because if the Jet breaks were are in real trouble. You couldn't sleep in the car if its hot without one. The floor gets hot and when its 40c you need to park early otherwise the car is at 60c. The floor gets to 65c on a bad day and 50c normally. If its cool the floor gets to 30c so it helps keep it warm in the car but we have the diesel heater (Webasto Airtop 2000).
We like being in the car more than a bed in a hotel. We can camp almost anywhere and it just looks like a parked car. We camped in the VA Waterfront Mall in Cape Town and along the Nile in Aswan and had no problems. You just need to choose the spot. Too quiet and we might have issues so if theres a few parked cars around we just park up. We do stand out obviously but most of the attention is on the many flags on the back door.
Mechanically the car is good. Testament to changing almost everything before we left. Things that weren't changed have failed. We'd not had a single failiure that stopped us and in fact we've not had a single failiure other than the clutch slave seal that meant I had to fix it right then. Although the shocks were changed we could have still driven. Almost everything is maintenance based on normal visual checks.
We've had a clutch slave seal go in Kenya. I got a mouthfull of Dot4 from the housing.
We keep breaking rear shocks. Top ring usually. We now have some BOGE 130 rears in the spares box as the Bilstien rubbish is leaking on one side but the Armstrong on the other is going strong . I put this down to being heavy and a weak anti roll bar although we are not sure.
Stuck piston on front brake caliper but just needed cleaning. >400c on the wheel !!!! (stripped entire hub and re-greased on side of road)
Wheel bearings keep coming loose but they get checked and sorted all the time. One is worse than the others so i might change the stub axle.
Transfer box is a pain in the ass leaking so I had it sleeved in Cape Town. The centre diff lost its thrust washers. We've had the transbox out 3 times. I wonder if some very poor EP oil in Sudan affected the washers.
Changed the airbags in the rear for 130 helpers in Tanzania as the airbag mount was broken, as they all do. Thanks Airlift....utter rubbish.
Changed the rear anti roll bar UJs. First we made new bushes using my dremel and some spare old shock absorber bushes.
Changed rear drive members and shafts . They were worn and not changed before we left.
Changed a rear prop UJ twice as its not greasing properly so was wearing. Its still not right and its a Hardy Spicer. The Allmakes ones seem better as they have a metal seal on the cup. The Hardy's have a rubber one and it doesn't seem to keep the grease in.
Wore some holes in the snorkle pipe, sealed with aluminium airconditioning tape.
Leaking pipe on the power stearing res. New pipe clip but still leaking slightly. Needs sorting.
Cap on clutch master cylinder broke. Used the spare.
Changed the water pump as it was leaking a bit. Used the spare.
Changed the fuel lift pump as it was leaking a bit. Used the spare.
Changed the headlights to the other side ones and stuck with them even in Africa where they dive the same as us.
Change the oil every 5000 miles / filters every other change but often every
Change the transbox oil every 7000 miles.
Change the axle oils every 10,000 miles.
Check and grease about every week (or two).
If I had to say (repeat other peoples wisdom) what made the difference is everything on the car is standard kit. Its the best advice to other travellers I can offer. The other would be to take a Land Cruiser if you don't want to carry spares as theres 3 dealers in every village !
The only thing that wasn't standard was the crappy Big Bore shocks and these were a real problem. We ended up putting dropped shock mounts on the rear and normal length shocks. The shocks run smack in the middle of travel now but they are still breaking. A few have said we should go back to normal mounts and normal shocks but even carrying 2950kg we seem to be running with a lift. We will never fathom this problem. Maybe the BOGE HD 130 shocks will last the rest of the trip.
Tyres are BFG AT and are flawless. The older BFG MTs split but the newer ones do not by all accounts. East Coast ATs. West Coast MTs are a must. In South Amercia we shall see....I've just got new ATs.
Set off in October and miss the rains all the way down the East Coast. Arrive in May in South Africa.
I had my charred meat for Dinner in the form of a Kebab (of course) and we've even posted a picture for you. Go check them out.
We had another fun time parking and they really should try harder when trying to rip off a Yorkshireman. We arrived back at the park and I said "20 more mins" to the guy as we were blocked in. So giving him some warning we wanted to move. He said "6 hours max" so we had to go as we'd been 6 hours already. I promtly paid him the 30 Turk Lira and said "OK we go now". Once on the way back to the car he ran up and wanted another 5 TL for the over-run into the 7th hour which was quite legitimate as we had indeed been 6 hours and 5 mins (which is why were going to be another 20mins having a coffee not wanting to waste the town center parking) I promtly explained if its 6 hours max how can he charge me for 7 ?? He gave up and we drove off.
Stayed last night in a really bad services and have now discovered there are better quality ones to be had even in Turkey. I have found they have western toilets in Disabled form and in Child form. Today i used the smallest toilet in the world. I could hardly get my ample backside on it. Enough gross descriptions but you'd understand if you've ever been to a nursery recently.
Now on our way to Ankara. We have a phone card now as Turkey is in the worldwide mobile rip off zone where it goes up from expensive (35p per min) to thats a rip off (£1.70 per min). The phone card was 5TL for 60 mins UK calls which we need to tell the bank where we are to stop them blocking the card.
Sat outside guess where,,,,, but not using their Wi-Fi for once. We are on someone elses. We've just had a worrying time trying to recharge our Turkish Toll cardfor the motorway. You can only do this at Shell stations and there seem to be none on the motorway so with a empty card, how do you get off to fill it back up again. Luckily we've found one. Panic over in only 100km.
We didn't feel a thing.
battery is rubbish so quick post form the square in Istanbul. Julies taking photos so will try to post some later if we can find power, Internet and parking.
Looking forward to some grilled meat in bread.
we're in Turkey. Took 2 hours to get through the border on a little back road that happens to be the main route in from Bulgaria. Lots of windows and lots of passport showing and stamps. Insurance, Police, Vehicle and a few others i can't quite remeber. Its all practice for Africa i suppose. I didn't use the Carnet although i could have used it but i doubt they'd have known what to do with it.
Currently sat in a motorway services hijacking some Wi-Fi from somewhere. I don't think its meant to be open but it is. Will post more again as soon as we find more Wi-Fi but at the moment i'm starving and i have 5 fish fingers with my name on them....Fish finger sandwich....mmmm.
Did i mention you also need a Visa,, one of the windows i forgot.
traveller is with us across Syria. UKtoSA have pulled out and are using RoRo across the med. We might not yet get through ourselfs. We are still meeting another couple on the 13th. We shall see what happens. Sources inside Syria are saying its OK (barely altough Homs is bad) and the other crew have pulled as they cannot risk being turned away as they are on a deadline. We are not, and can wait. Fall back plan is to also RoRo or wait it out in Turkey or somewhere else. We can also wait for the Swedish convoy in December and try again.
We've left Constanta where we stayed in our first campsite. Not the best one in the world but contary to a well informed source the price wasn't 70 whatsits it was 35 whatsits so thats about £7 for a hot shower and a view of the Black sea. It's not black actually its just like any other sea and its almost blue. Unlike the north sea which is brown. I dread to think what the resort of Constanta is like on peak season, it looks like it would be mental. According the Lonely Planet its VERY expensive and VERY packed. It looks like it gets pretty hot also.
We did our first washing in a dry bag. You throw in the clothes add water and soap powder and seal it up by rolling the top (as per the way of stopping stuff getting we inside) and roll it around on the floor for 20 mins. You should have seen the colour of the water that emerged....even i was amazed. I'm blaming it on my socks as i've been driving in just socks to keep my feet cool and my foot well is a bit dirty. We need to buy a brush to clean out the car. I'm sure a market in Istanbul will have one. After rinsing the clothes we now have a pile of wet washing that we are slowly hanging up on the washing line across the back of the car. Julies knickers were hung up when customs wanted to inspect the rear of the car at the Bulgarian border. Julie is a little embarassed her "smalls" were there for the multiple customs men and the "one in the suit" who;s likely to be some secret police. Her knickers now have a record........at least they were clean.
We are now in Varna and worried the car will be stolen. The crime in Bulgaria is pretty bad. We are in a secure park but the guard looked as dodgy as they come. Please don't steal my home !
Dinner tonight is eating out in "Be Happy" (a chain) and it was pretty nice and the price was also pretty good. They have free Wi-Fi so i'm sat here drinking my last Pint (500ml,,,undermeasure!!) and typing this. We aren't the only tourists in here. Theres me and Julie 15 years ago sat across from us except they arn't English but are speaking it. After all its the universal language and you don;t need to speak anything else......i hope !
The whatsit pass named above is closed from the 1st of november even though its easily passable on an electric disabled motor scooter. No idea why they close it every year even if they've had no snow. Thats Romania. There's a tunnel at the top that has some big heavy steel doors put across it with a normal door allowing foot traffic and bikes through. So we had the 60 or so Km back track to go the long way round. I was hoping it was open but wasn't optimistic. You may have seen it on Top Gear as they did it on their Romania Special Episode.
Theres a lot of UK registered cars on Romania. I wonder where they come from? If you read between the lines, some are likely stolen according to Top Gear. They all seem to be Y reg which is also strange. Seen a few nice Land Rover Defender 90's,,, and again this strange.
We are again in McDonalds getting Wi-Fi. We've hopped on a few rogue Wi-Fi zones elsewhere. What we will do once he McD's dry up i have no idea. We had a crap day yeasterday finding facilities. We need a shower badly. Its too cold to wash outside so need to find a services with a shower. If we don't find one we will be in a Hotel for the night. The bonus is the hotels in Romania are cheap and should be around £20. I might try the "we don't need the room, just a shower" trick. I don't want to stay in a Hotel as it means leaving all our stuff on, and in, the car. Thats unless we get a room with a view on Matilda and/or a security guard or locked compound.
its official we are moving to Romania. The beer is 1 Euro !
Its more expensive to park or drink coffee so we are moving here and living out our life as alcoholics. Not that we arn't already. We parked in a Truck stop last night and made Chilli and Rice and then went to the bar bought a few beers and watched the first episode of a series i'd downloaded before we left. We have about 24 episodes to watch of a couple of series so we need to make them last, 1 episode per week. We also have a few films to watch so will use them when we are really bored. The parking last night was 2.5 Euro and the beer was 1 Euro...amazing. The premium beers were the same price as local so Julie had a Becks and I had something local. I felt so bad only paying 3 Euro for three beers i gave a 1 Euro tip. Their food also looked really nice but i'm not sure i could have ordered it although they all speak pretty good English here.
Guess where we are sending this email from ? Mcdonalds again of course ! The reason for the title is we are in Deva on out way to somewhere we don't quite know where it is. Should be fun.
Finally found a Mcdonalds with power and internet so we can upload a few photos. The battery of the lappy is lasting but a few moments. We need to get another soon. Will look in Turkey and if not try to get one of the Hubb crew in Turkey to get one delivered.
Going to try to post a photo with each Blog entry from now on. Battery permitting.
Got to budapest safe and sound. Did my weekly vehicle checks on the side of the motorway in a service station. Nothing worth noting except i seem to have used 60 litres of diesel where 40 should have done. Need to keep my eye on that but it could be a symptom of trawling round cities in traffic looking for parking spots! the parking with no signs.
We found a really good place in Budapest on the side of the river and the type of view only the adjacent 4 or 5 star hotels have to offer. It actully cost us about 4 hours of parking 1600 HUF (about £4.50). Again the parking warden let us off for the 6 minutes of parking i didn't have the change to purchase. He ticketed the adjacent car for similar.
We met a guy from Somerset this morning (hi Chris) and he pointed us at some free parking up the river where we parked all day for nothing and got the tram into town. Took some time to figure out where to get the tickets for the tram and also to figure out that where the locals park isn't always legal. Parking with your wheels on the mud (actually a park) is illegal but parking right across the pavement is OK. We narrowly missed a ticket as i decided the park wasn't the safest place for the car so moved about 200 meters. Tonight we are really near the UK embassy. We seem to have a habit of putting massive crash barriers infont of our embassies when the others do not. Not sure why we think we are so special. Even the yanks don't have them.
Anyhow as seems to be the way of things the laptop battery is on 5 mins remaining. Its completely knackered. Cya later.
If you go to Wien (Vienna) you may see there are lots of parking spots on the side of the road and lots of small car parks. These are all devoid of signs of any description. There are lots of signs saying you cannot park between certain times in certain areas but none saying when you can park or where. So, after 3 hours of trawling round we found a small park near an undergound station and near a main train station. Julie skipped off into the station to find out whats what. We had already deduced that you need to get a scratch card like Bratislava and you get these from the train station or Tabac. Julie came back from the station even more confused so i went in and asked the same questions and got the same none answer. I then went to the Police station and got a reasonable answer. Parking charges were 9am to 10pm anywhere and is in zones (about 15 or so of them). Depending on which zone you are in means you need a different colour scratch card. Simples....not really. On my return to the car Julie was panicing as the warden was coming. We both jumped on him and luckily he spoke very good English and explained all. You can only park for two hours anywhere ! This was at around 5pm so we needed to park for 5 hours and this was impossible. The nice warden then said "don't worry about it, as this was his patch and we could park all night for free". Result and after only 3 hours ! So we parked and rode into town. Doncaster council would have been proud of us, except they don;t charge £3.70 for the short Journey. Only Doncaster have that expensive honour.
To save the hassle of parking again we are leaving Wien(a). On a side note if you ever come here in a car go to a Hotel and pay around £4.50 for a 24 hour parking permit that allows you in the 2 hour places for 24 hours ! Go figure....
BTW. I will post some photos soon. Honest.
Parked outside a church for the night, found a Irish Pub with Wi-Fi and a nice local beer and not I'm drinking Guiness. Worried about the vehicle again being on the side of a road even if its outside a church. According to lonely planet Slovakia is pretty safe even by UK standards and probably safer. We are getting better at locking up the car and using the security we have in place to full effect. The centre cubby is rammed full of all things of any value, not that there is much of value just cables and crap as most of the stuff is in my bag with us and not in the car.
We attracted the interest of a Policeman on the motorway but we have no idea if he was lasering us or looking for the Vignette on the car. So far we have had to buy two Vignettes for about 17 Euro combined which is pretty good considering they cover all the motorways for 10 days each. They also look cool in the windscreen and will certainly fox an Africa copper hell bent on insurance, roax tax or something a nice hologram sticker can be explained as "thats it there".
I should have got a new laptop the battery is lasting only an hour. Battery management of all the devices is causing stress......we are having lots of practice charging them up and had had to buy a three way (not the ones you get in prague),,,,, adapter for the 12V.
Looks better at night. After a night sleeping next to a cobbled street we need a rest . The drivers all think its a Grand Prix cicuit and the racket the cobbles make is unbelievable. Especially when your head is about 2 meters from their wheels. Bed at midnight after some beers and then up at 6am to beat the parking wardens. We moved to a much nicer residential area that would have provided a much better nights rest. They were setting up a film set in one of the houses and one of the vans had a Van Helsing sticker on the back from when they were filming that so not sure what they were doing. Looked very professional. We walked miles round the town and I had my first foot long Czech traditional hot dog...yummy. Our budget is blown again with it being a city. Found a Tesco's and got some shopping. Its set out exactly the same as ours are at home so you can find everything. They have all the magazines on the right when you go in follwed by the stationary and car stuff and Laptops and TVs...just like Balby. Prices are comparable but strangely some odd things are much cheaper. Engine Oil for example was about £4 a litre and Vodka was dirt cheap. We bought one. Guess
You would have thought Germany would have an abundance of Wi-Fi....You'd be so very wrong. It took us hours to find a working hotspot and miles of trawling round. All that said Berlin is quite a nice place. The weather was fantastic and we even eventaully found free parking overnight next to the Brandenburg Gate (about 300 meters infront of it anyhow). This is after finding the not free parking and paying 14Euro's. So far our most expensive day. 24Euro for the bus tour and 10Euro on some beer, also the Diesel isn't as cheap as England (did i just say England was cheap??). The new tank is getting us 650 miles easliy so filling up 120 litres isn't cheap anywhere.........
thanks for all the messages.
we go onto the road and made a heading south and the east. Currently visiting the highlights of Europe in the form of Motorway truck stops which are quite nice if you happen to stop at a nice one! The not nice ones, are NOT nice.
Next Stop Berlin, Prague and then South to various capital cities.
Thanks for all the comments and Emails. We are trying to get the map fixed but all things are IT are sometimes fickle. The Map uses at least four servers to work. The Google Map server, The Email Server, The Web Site itself, The Database server and in actual fact a 5th server at Inmarsat. So getting them all to talk to each other and do this flawlessly isn't easy and Bart the developer who came up with the magic is doing his absolute best to get it working. Might be a few days as after all he's doing it for free !
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