A big THANKS to RAB who today have sent us a box of goodies. They've delivered us a couple of coats and a new sleeping back for me. I've had one of their sleeping bags for 24 years and I'm still using it. They truly are the best and now I have one that's not loosing feathers and filling the car with quality down feathers.....It sometimes looks like we've hit a goose on the road....I suppose I should stitch the small hole up.
We are very lucky people.
Here we are still on "Holiday" in the UK for Christmas. Seen all the family and some of the friends. The friends we have not yet seen will be seen before we leave. We've got a suitcase with an exhaust pipe in it. Yes, you got that correctly. We've cut it up into two halfs and its been retrofitted with a coupler so I can connect it together without welding it. I am an Engineer you know....albeit a network engineer.....
We didn't get time due to laptop problem to say Merry Christmas to all the Americas contacts. So sorry about that. You might get something later !
We've put on a bit of weight over Christmas. Mainly, we think, due to alcohol. Maybe its food. Maybe its religion.
We've had a few messages back from my Christmas Email and even one back from a guy we me in Ethiopia back in Jan 2012. He's mentioned us in his book !
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.
Could it be we are getting a news paper artcle ? Usually they arn't interested as we don't have some charity to donate a few hundred pounds to. Well you know my feelings on that one. If UNICEF want to send us some pens we'll give em out and well even pay for them. Other than that you could never collect more than you spend unless you're someone famous. So we'll leave it up to Chris Moyles and the like. they did very well on their Kilimanjaro Climb. Millions ££ !!!
Any how this is what i've just sent the paper. Who said I was never good at English. This isn't the start of the book....its only the foreword.
Oh and if any future employers want my proposal writing skills, minus all the spelling mistakes caused by my sticking keyboard, send me a message.
""We decided to do the trip about 4 years ago but had been saving for something for a long time. We didn’t quite know what we were saving for, possibly retirement but what would we do with the money when we were old ? We were also expecting Julie to be made redundant and she was but little did we know was that Jarvis Rail went bust so her nice redundancy cheque didn’t materialise and her 22 years of working for them was worth a lot less than we thought. She had trouble finding a job in Doncaster but managed to get a temp Job at Wilkinsons Head Office which she loved and it was in the right direction against the terrible traffic caused by the new bus lane. Julie had no choice in driving to work as she worked in York for Jarvis and went very early most mornings and before the busses to catch the train. With the parking situation in Doncaster driving to Worksop knocked more than 2 hours from her commute. She was really happy there so leaving to go round the world wasn’t as attractive as it once was. She was still a temp though so what was there to loose.
(for all the Wilko's lots, yes she will come back if you will have her)
My job, where I’d been for 5 years was finally safe as I worked for an Internet company in Derby having been made redundant myself during the Dot Com bust ups. I took me a long time to find the job and almost a year and half out of work after the last one. I’d been made redundant twice but neither gave us much money but since one of us was usually working we made do with what we had and still saved like mad.
We bought Matilda (The Land Rover Defender 110 300Tdi) in Nov 2009 and I spent all our spare cash and time changing parts and getting her ready for the trip. I knew very little about cars and only what my Dad have taught me when I was a little boy. With the help of people I met on the internet at a Land Rover forum and some other travellers from Stockton on Tees we got Matilda ready. There are some websites dedicated to round the world travel and we used them for planning the route. Syria and Egypt becoming a bigger problem every day. We finally passed through Syria in the midst of the troubles on 14th November 2011. The people we were travelling with across Syria broke down in Homms and we managed to stay 2 nights in Damascus whilst I fixed their car. I’d learnt so much fixing mine up that I knew more than the Land Rover dealer in Damascus. Fixing other peoples cars and helping them out seemed to be a bit of a trend from then on.
We have quite a few jabs before we left and a lot of Malaria tablets ! We have another years supply each. Asking the Doctor for 700 tablets is a difficult conversation. Since its private prescription you can have them but for other stuff they just say “no”. Doesn’t matter that you might get ill. They don’t care, there are rules. Julie has to take a tablet every day and getting those from the NHS is impossible as they have these silly rules on how many they will give her. It’s amazing the things that you need to do whilst you are away and you take from granted when at home. Even the most simple prescription costs a lot. Much more than at home. Isn’t the NHS fantastic when you compare it to almost zero healthcare in some place in Africa.
Matilda herself was a Land Rover Defender 110. The 300Tdi engine was old and
uncomplicated. There was no computer and not much that could go wrong electrically. She’s an uncomplicated woman. Which was great for an uncomplicated Yorkshireman to fix. We had three boxes of parts on the roof and a computer full of workshop manuals. Inside there’s just us and Dash our mascot. Dash is a blue teddy bear my mother gave me along with a St. Christopher to go on my chain round my neck. I think they’ve both looked after us.
There’s a summary of our car problems in the link below. Might be a bit technical but it’s all there.
Mother is looking after our stuff whilst we are away. There’s a surprising amount of stuff that needed sorting out. The local Santander Branch Manager has been a star as we always need to do something or pay something and they both look after us very well. We use Skype a lot and we’ve have over 20 PayGo sim cards for my phone. It Internet 3G coverage is great even in Africa. The Maasai warriors have their spear in one hand and their mobile phones in the other.
Africa is expensive, which is very surprising. Egypt is certainly the cheapest place for almost everything including fuel. In Ethiopia we were very surprised as its Green! We only expected to see the sand and dust that the TV programs show but Ethiopia is a BIG place and Africa is massive. You can fit all India, China, USA and all of Europe into Africa with some other smaller countries filling in the gaps. Its BIG and it usually takes 3 months or so to drive from Europe to Cape Town. We took much longer and left Africa after one year.
We slept in McDonalds car parks, hotel car parks, laybys, side of the road, in shopping centre car parks, campsites, the odd hotel, people’s houses and almost anywhere we found that was safe. We even slept in the desert under the night of a thousand stars. It really makes you realise how our little journey is nothing in comparison to the distance to some of those stars in the sky. We saw the edge of the Milky Way from horizon to horizon. Something you only get to do in places like the desert.""
So we've finally booked the shipping to South America (Cape Town to Buenos Aires) with stuffing (loading the car into) the container on the 16th November. The car should be in SAm by the 21st December. The cost for this little excursion for Matilda is $5,200 USD. OMG ! (about £3400)
Flights are booked to get us to Argentina a few days later on Qatar Air. I'm begining to regret this already as thier customer service is shocking and the flight is 30hours via Doha. It stops in Cape Town, Joburg, Doha, Sao Pualo and BA. The connection in Doha is 55 mins....so we will miss the connection, i'm sure of this but they say 45mins is plenty. The other stops are for picking up people so all included in the 30 hours we will be in the air for 27 of them. Another OMG !!!
We've also had to book another flight in SAm due to the silly airline rule that you cannot fly on a single ticket. You must have a return or a ticket somewhere else. Theres no way round this as this is the same thing that happened to us when we came back to South Africa. They wouldn't let us come. In reality they blame immigration and immigration just don't care as long as you have enough money to get you home or out of their country at some point. Even a bus ticket is good enough but seemingly its not good enough for the airlines. The cost of the flight is £920 for us two to Buenos Aires and then the flights we won't use is another £400. We can refund the one we will not use 100% which is why its a bit expensive for the 150mile flight from BA to Montevideo. So take note that Argentinian Airways do a 100% refundable ticket.
The last few days we've completed our detour around the garden route and are now going back to Cape Town to rent a car and get an apartment or hostel for the duration till we fly. Once we get to SAm we will also need an apartment or hostel or something to do....more money. Total is ~£6000,,,, anyone want to sponsor us ??? We've collected £400 for charity so I think we deserve it. Oh wait thats another overland team, not us. I feel like another rant over others that do charity and I again point out that you MUST collect more for the charity than you spend on the trip. Rant over.
We met Kobus and Alett in Port Elizabeth for some drinks and food. We also borrowed their shower in their apartment. Thanks again guys.
My stress levels are high as we have a lot to do before we can ship. Lots of stuff to sort out like paying the locals in Rand via bank transfer from the UK.
We may now be meeting up with 10 Swedish travellers in 3 other cars on their way to Africa. We need to waste some time in Europe as they are planning on going leter than we were but the more people the safer it should be crossing Syria.
Finally got the wills sorted. £54 and done online. Mirror wills. Just hope they never come into play.
So we thought long and hard about getting a findmespot tracker to use so family and friends can see where we are. Thats all we did, we thought about it.
In the end having consulted with various web sites and other more seasoned travellers we decided to get a Satellite Phone instead. This will perform the same funtion of keeing the family informed about where we are but will also mean we can call for help should we need to. They can text us for free and we can then call them back. Sounds like a plan. Now all we need to do is compile a list of mechanics phone numbers world wide ! After all what good is a phone if you don't have any numbers?
Last two days has been a packing festival. Boxes all over the place. We started by emptying the garage so we can get the sofa's in there when we leave proper.
Whilst we were doing this garage reorganisation a Toad (not Frog) managed to get into the garage (we have them every year). "Luckily" Julie spotted it today and started (LMAO) screaming for assistance just before the garage light went out (its on a push timer!) I wandered down stairs with her in a bit of a tizzy. There she was stood on the steps in the dark. Its only a Toad. I scooped it up in bowl and put it back in next doors garden near to the pond.
My office is gradually filling with boxes.
Wheel bearings done and spares list filled. Got a couple more things to do on the car before its done. So its all becoming paperwork and admin now. We need to get the house sorted out. Theres a lot to do. The letting agency came round and they charge a lot for doing very little !
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