Thursday, 8 August 2013

Day 34 DISASTER TO OODNADATTA Tassie to Darwin

So what do we do. First of all I want to mention that we all saw the funny side to this, no one was stressing (I was packing it inside) and we were all coming up with suggestions as to what to do next.

After considering all our options we decided that having the camper and or Patrol shipped back home wasn't what we wanted to do if we could avoid it. 

The radiator leak in the Patrol had now slowed down to a drip and it had only dropped around a litre of fluid so I gave it a dose of stop leak, topped it up and felt confident that I had enough water to keep topping it up if need be until we could find a better solution.

So we at least still had the Patrol to use. I decided to take the suspension arms out, they are only held in by 6 bolts and put them into the Patrol and I would go and try and find a place that had some gear so I could fix the bent one and make sure the other side didnt let us down as well.
Driving back to Mt Dare was not an option because it was too rough and we felt that Oodnadatta was probably closer only being 100 or so kays away, and the road gets better as we get closer to Oodnadatta.

So after removing the suspension we unhitched the camper and locked all its doors. In fact it is all lockable so we locked it all up and wrote a sign in the dust on the side that said "BE BACK SOON PLEASE DONT TOUCH" lol We felt confident that seeing as no one took all the cash in the tin on Molly Clarkes table, that the average passer by out this way wouldnt touch our gear,  I still had my doubts but had no other option. I was certain someone would make a mockery of the "TASSIE TOUGH CAMPER" sticker on the back though! LOL 

So the plan is to drive all the way to Oodnadatta, hopefully find someone with a welder and or oxy set and repair this now cracked and bent suspension arm! This was about to be an all nighter but had to be done. Michelle was keen on getting a cabin at Oodnadatta and coming back early the next morning to put it all back together but I wasnt keen on leaving the camper out here any longer than I had to!

Our luck was about to change! Not far down the road from where we left the camper we came across an entrance to a cattle station. Hamilton Cattle Station to be exact. So we drove in thinking they might be a chance of having a workshop with all the gear we needed and with a bit of luck they would let me use it! Long shot I know but worth a try.

And what do you know, they not only have a workshop with a mig welder, oxy set and all the scrap metal I could ever need they were also happy for me to use all their gear and do what ever repairs I needed!
I can not say enough for these people, they were genuine down to earth Aussies who were the nicest people your ever likely to meet. Not only did they let me use all their equipment, they were offering my wife and kids drinks etc and when I finished fixing everything they didnt want anything for it! I left some cash on the workshop bench so they could at least buy a carton of beer, we were so grateful.

Here I am wearing my shorts and crocs doing the repairs!

And after straightening the offending arm I put a but piece of angle from the scrap bin across the weak point so we could get ourselves home. It doesnt look pretty but it will work :)

A couple of hours later we were relieved to see our camper still sitting there in the middle of no where as we approached it on the way back from the cattle station. Not that anyone could take it with out wheels or suspension! And no one made a mockery of our sticker, in fact no one had come past from what we could tell.

We soon put it all back together and the feeling of relief that this was all going to be ok was amazing :)

6 hours since we broke down...........On the road again!

And as predicted the roads did get better the closer to Oodnadatta we got.

I needed a shower bad! This is the dorky and dirty face of a very happy man LOL I don't know why Im pulling a face but its a pic worth showing.

Luckily for us the road did get a lot better because the sun was going down behind us and we needed to make to Ooodnadatta to try and find a camp ground or get into the caravan park before dark. Oh and the temp gauge hasnt budged so the broken radiator isnt an issue so far.

Phew we made it! All set up right on night fall.

We all had a much deserved shower, a feed and it was fair to say I was going to sleep like a baby ;)

We were not quite where we had planned to be tonight but considering our problems we were close enough. We had planned to be at Coober Pedy but its only down the road.

There were some lessons learnt with all this. First one is to not take risks with injured vehicles in the outback, even though our gearbox wasnt the issue, just going through this potentially very expensive exercise was a lesson to not risk it!
Secondly, when I built my suspension arms with the material I used and looked at the stresses the arms would be under and the ability of the materials to handle those stresses I knew the arms were right on the limit of potentially bending if they were under enormous loads. Loads I never thought Id put them under. But in hindsight I should have built them using 5mm thick steel not 3mm and this would have never happened, but isnt hindsight wonderful!
Third lesson was that my wife and kids have 100% faith in me. They said several times while we were stuck on the side of the road that they have no doubt ill get us fixed and going again........I only wish I had their confidence in me LOL
And finally I have my faith in human spirit restored after seeing how the people at Hamilton Station treated us and allowed us to fix our problem. I dont think they will ever comprehend just how much it meant to us and how much they pulled us out the shit that day!
Oh and one last thing, lucky we had tools and few bits and pieces to magiver things on the side of the road.......but no one would go into the outback without a few essentials surely.


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