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Tales of the travels, trials and triumphs as we explore Australia in a converted bus

Motorhome Travels - Perth 2005


Big changes - I'm not sure I like living in a house!  It is much more work than living in a motorhome.
We moved into the house in Mirrabooka about two weeks ago. When we measured to see if the motorhome would fit up the driveway we knew it would be tight - very tight. We have about 4mm on each side of the motorhome as we drive it past the house. That calls for some precision driving and good team work. The biggest issue is that on the right hand side there is a fence, the concrete driveway stops short of the fence and there is just sand for about 400mm. With such tight tolerances we can not afford for the wheels to sink into the sand even slightly - this would cause the motorhome to roll into the fence. We have laid some pavers for now and they are ok but a more permanent solution needs to be found. 

The motorhome goes into the workshop next Monday for the first look at the engine, we are taking it to Major Motors (any comments about them?). I will do something about the driveway while the motorhome is in the workshop.

Tracey has a job (she had no trouble - as usual) agency nursing and various hospitals around Perth - I have applied for a few jobs and am still waiting to hear back (sill ... no big hurry:-).

My sister and brother-in-law have purchased a motorhome - yes, a Bedford 466! (and yes, I am sure they would notice if I swapped the engine when they weren't looking). It is just a little shorter than Hobohome at 36 feet but otherwise quite similar.  They have quite a bit of work to do on her before she is ready to take them on their dream journey - they are allowing themselves a year to get ready, so we should be ready to leave Perth about the same time next year. We are picking their motorhome up from somewhere down south tomorrow (Saturday) so from tomorrow afternoon there will be another Bedford occupying the space that Hobohome used for its first few weeks in Perth. 



We took the motorhome into Major Motors about 3 weeks ago - they stripped the engine down and found a number of issues with it - no single fault, just lots of very warn bits. The pistons are quite badly warn and the rocker gear is also in a bad way. They have given us a price of $14,800 to rebuild the entire engine. Yes, that is quite a sum so we thought it wise to seek more advise.

The number of differing options were staggering! After lots of careful deliberation we have decided to replace the Bedford engine and transmission with an Isuzu 6B1D-T and a 6 speed overdrive Isuzu transmission. We purchased this from National Truck Spares on the east coast at a cost of $8500 delivered. This turbo charged engine develops 185 hp compared to the Bedfords 140hp (one person we spoke to about it described the Bedfords horses as being mostly old drays ready for the pet food plant :-). It should also be a little more economical.

The replacement engine is being fitted by Ian Hodgkinson of Arnott's bus company - Ian seems very good and comes highly recommended and we are fairly sure he will not try to retire at our expense. The engine has arrived from the east coast and tomorrow the motorhome will be towed from Major Motors to Ian's yard - he will then start the job of fitting the new engine. At this stage we are hoping to have the motorhome back in out driveway in about two weeks time - but of course, that's just a guess. It's a holiday in W.A. today so we took the opportunity to drive around some of the known camp spots close to the city and managed to find a few that will make good weekend escapes once we have the motorhome back.
I will post photos of the engine as it goes into the motorhome.



The engine is in and the motorhome is finally home!

The new engine, freshely fitted, WA - [Click for a Larger Image]
The new engine,
freshely fitted, WA

We met Ian at his workshop on Saturday morning and put the front of the motorhome back on and re-attached the bull bars. We then took her for her first test drive with the Isuzu engine.

The first impression was how easily it started, we are having cold nights here in Perth and she started first kick without using the glowplugs. The new engine seems very smooth and although it is hard to tell without an engine cover (yet to be built) it seems fairly quiet. 

After a false start (small issue with the tail shaft) we headed off down the motorway to see how she would perform. Unfortunately, with no rev counter and no speedometer, it was very hard to judge, but there seemed to be lots of power. The gear shifter is now in a totally different place (up near the steering column) but that did not take too long to get used to and the extra gear seems quite natural.  

We still have a number of tasks to complete before we can load the motorhome up again and head off for a weekend.
The first thing we need is an engine cover, the new engine is wider but lower, so a different shape is called for. We also need to replace our grey tank as it has developed more rust holes and of course a rev counter and speedometer need to be fitted. We have to get the modifications certified by the WA department of planning and infrastructure and we hope that won't be too much o a drama. My current contract (work) finishes on the 23rd of August, we are planning a 2 or 3 week getaway then.



It is a wet weekend here in WA but we are making the most of it. We have left the city in the motorhome and taken her out for her first outing with the new engine. We are at Noble Falls, about 40km north east of Perth - it's a nice little picnic/camping spot close to a small river. It's a bit cold and wet but I am sure this would be a great camping spot on a nice day. The new engine went really well on the way here, so much power! Up hills at 90km/h that we would have been crawling up in second gear before the engine change.

New dash, new wiring, WA - [Click for a Larger Image]
New dash, new wiring,

She is also much quieter than she ever was, we can listen to music as we travel now - very cool!

Last week the motorhome was inspected and passed for registration in WA so we have yet another set of number plates on her now. We had a new exhaust system fitted on Thursday - this will be re-done on Monday as the fitter thought that when we said "3 inch pipe all the way through please" we really meant "fit whatever you feel like".

The dash has been recovered and looks really good in black although we think it may be a pain to keep clean. When I was wiring "The Baron" (sisters motorhome), I decided to do a big wiring cleanup on our motorhome. That turned out to be a bigger job than I thought, but I'm glad it is done - it is much tidier, safer and more logical. The alternator that came with the new engine is huge - 95 amps at 24volts, it can really poke a charge into the batteries.

Showing off the new WA plates at Noble Falls, WA - [Click for a Larger Image]
Showing off the new WA plates at
Noble Falls, WA

It sure is great to be back in the motorhome, even if it is just for the weekend. We will probably go exploring again next weekend. Tivoli seems to be happy to be back in the motorhome and away from the big bullying neighbourhood cats that seem to regularly invade her territory.

We are heading off for a couple of weeks at the end of August - it will be an opportunity to have a look around the area and to give the motorhome a real shake-down.  I think that Lee & Howard (sister and bro-in-law) will be joining us in 'The Baron' for at least some of the time, so we will be travelling in convoy - both with newly fitted engines. I'm not sure, but I think the 5.7 litre Isuzu engine may blow the 8 litre Bedford away!



Eager to give the new engine a run and to meet some local motorhomers, we consulted the Wanderer (CMCA mag) to find that the Perth Swans chapter were meeting at Yarloop for the weekend. That's about 200km south of the city - so Saturday morning we headed off. It is a long time since we have been in weather this cold - the vents in the front of the motorhome that normally stop us from cooking in hot weather are now threatening to freeze us to death, I'm gunna have to do something about that!


The rigs at the CMCA chapter meeting, WA - [Click for a Larger Image]
The rigs at the CMCA chapter
meeting, WA

We duly arrived at the meeting place (wearing woollen hats and coats) to be greeted by the very friendly Swans. To our surprise, the first rig we saw when we arrived was Gulivantour (far right of the photo above - previously owned by Ron and Aileen). We knew that they had sold the rig and now met the new owners.   Thanks to all the Perth Swans for making us feel welcome.

Friday the 2nd of September - After much preparation, we headed out of the city and east to explore WA's outback for two weeks.  After a couple of good days the weather turned cold and very wet and it has stayed that way now for quite a few days.

Despite the weather, we have had a good time and visited some really interesting places - Wave Rock is very interesting and well worth a visit.

Wave Rock - Outback WA - [Click for a Larger Image]
Wave Rock - Outback WA

A few days ago as we headed off early in the morning, Tracey noticed  that the clutch was slipping as we drove up a big hill. I had a look and got a few turns out of the adjustment, but not enough to give me comfort that we are in good shape. We are going to have to have the clutch looked at when we get back (and I hope that it lasts that long.

Sunday - 11th - we have called home for a few hours on our way north. We need to pick up some things from the house before heading off again. We are meeting up with Lee and Howard tonight and will travel together for the week - the Baron and the Hobo!.



Three weeks of holiday is now just a memory. We had a really great time and both vehicles performed well with no incidents (apart from a battery issue on our companion motorhome, caused by a nasty SuperCheap battery terminal). 

Our first two nights were spent by the sea in a great little spot (that needs to remain a secret for now). The two keen fisherpeople of the group took the opportunity to put a line out. Much to everybody's surprise a fish was landed and in fact eaten! I was not that surprised that HP did not catch anything - he appears to be sleeping in this photo!

Spot the sleeping fisherMAN, WA - [Click for a Larger Image]
Spot the sleeping fisherMAN, WA

For the remainder of the week we investigated some of the camping spots in the various books we had between us - one of the best was beside a small stream near Cataby. We managed to tuck both vehicles into a nice clearing well off the road and enjoyed a couple of days of relaxing in the sun. The relaxing was interrupted for a short time while we took advantage of the additional manpower to fit our replacement awning (kindly supplied by our friends Ty and Trish - thanks again guys). It was a bit of a mission to get it fitted (we were glad of the extra 4 hands) but once on it looks great and fits like a glove. One more task to be crossed off the to-do list.

I am still not happy with the clutch and I feel that it needs looking at - one task added to the to-do list!

We returned to the house and (reluctantly) started back at work on the Monday. The following weekend we headed northing again to join 135 other CMCA members at the state rally in Mora. Lots of fun - we met some really nice people and generally had a good time.   Now it is back to work to pay for all those other things on the to-do list.



Oh ... long time, no update!

The Property - North of Perth, WA - [Click for a Larger Image]
The Property - North of Perth, WA

Well not much interesting has happened - it has been work, work and more work!

Now, at last for me this is over for this year (and maybe next), Tracey still has two more weeks to work then we will be free.

The plan (at this stage) is to work on the property until after Xmas day then head south for a few weeks R & R before renting the property and heading off in the motorhome again. We should be on the road again by mid Feb.

For me working for UW has been a fantastic learning opportunity - it was a baptism of fire - a sink or swim arrangement but something I am glad I had the opportunity to do. I am not sure that I am cut out to be a Project Manager - but despite that, I think things went very well and in the end, it was my decision not to extend the contract.

I am going to drop the transmission off the motorhome next week - I really want to be sure that the clutch is not going to let us down at the most inconvenient time. I have had a 5 minute tutorial on removing the transmission and what to look for once it is off, so I am well equipped for the job. I just have to make sure that I don't drop it on myself as I am doing it!

The list of things to-do to both the house and the motorhome seems to be growing each day - now that I have more time I hope that I can shrink that list quite quickly.  I think that the biggest job is going to be painting her, but if we take it slowly it should not be too much of a drama.

After two years of moaning and complaining about how heavy the Moke ramps are we finally have a solution. We looked at all manner of options including building new ones out of aluminium. We decided to try lightening the ones we have - before we started each ramp weighed in at 44kgs. We had an engineering shop cut 3/4 of the outside box section off each side of each ramp - they now weigh 31kg each - still not a one hand job to toss them around - but way better than they were. We have not yet used them but we are quite confident that they will stand the weight of the Moke.

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