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

Motorhome Travels - October 2012


We have the bus back! That has to be one of the longest couple of months ever!

We went into Bundy on Friday to pickup the bus and took the Moke - this was so that we did not have to drive two vehicles back to Mt Perry, but also to make sure that the Moke still fitted and the loading ramps all worked ok (all was fine).

Waiting for the paint to dry - [Click for a Larger Image]
Waiting for the paint to dry

It must have been a major rush to get the work completed that day as the paint was still a little wet when we arrived at the workshop at 4pm. Fortunately two pack paint dries quickly so we were able to drive her out just after 5pm. The engineering work looks really good and there seems to have been quite a lot of thought put into the reconstruction. There are a few things that need to be addressed ... they forgot to tint one of the windows, there is some seriously sloppy paint work and the back door does not quite seal. These are all minor issues and most of the little things are already fixed.

Tracey completed her last shift at the local hospital last night and now we are really focused on getting on with our travels. In a complete turn-around, instead of heading inland with the Moke as we had planned, we have decided to go costal with the Vitara and boat. Some friends of ours visited a place called Stannage and they tell us that there are tons of fish there just waiting for some keen spearfishing folks (like us). It has been a long time since we were in the water with a spear gun and we are now really looking forward to it. We have been working on our breath holding again and are working on getting it back to where we were (time wise). We have also decided to buy a shark shield - this is an electronic gadget that you wear on your calf (and trail a long antenna) - it is supposed to repel sharks by interfering with their electrical sensing organs. I must confess to being a little skeptical about them, especially after reading an article about how a great white shark ate one of the devices during some testing in South Africa - never a good sign and probably not the article they will refer you to on their website.

The process of changing the bus over from Moke mode to Vitara/boat mode takes about half a day to complete and we are working on that today. Then we just have to get all of our gear loaded back into the old girl and we are off (via Bundaberg to get the paint work and window tint sorted). We plan on driving out of here before the weekend.

Incase you are wondering, I did get to the bottom of the brake issues that were the cause of the accident. These have been resolved, but I am still keen to fit another form of emergency braking system (funny how an uncontrolled trip down a hill backwards makes you think about such things). I am thinking of fitting a spring brake chamber (or two) to the hand brake mechanism - I just need to find some way to figure out the force required to apply the breaks without destroying the linkages etc. More thought required.



We finally managed to get away from Mt Perry on Sunday (the 14th) and once again made our way to our Friends the Grey's - this time we made it without any damage to bus or tree. We had a few small things to sort out with the panel beater in Bundaberg so made our way there early on Monday morning and by midday we were all done.

Unfortunately the not-so-permanent fix job I did on the timing pulley of the Vitara is again giving trouble - this will need further attention very soon. While in Bundaberg I purchased a lock-off mushroom stop button to fit to the bus. Now let me say first off that I know that this is not the ideal solution to a runaway bus situation - however I feel that it is better than doing nothing. Also let me point out that the brakes on the bus are now fine (at least as good as they have ever been and that the incident on the hill has been fully investigated and the cause understood). The reason for fitting the BRSB (big red stop button) is just an extra level of security - would it have been effective at stopping us from hitting the tree? I don't know and I really hope I never find out.

The BRSB (Big Red Stop Button) - [Click for a Larger Image]
The BRSB (Big Red Stop Button)

So what does this BRSB do (I hear you ask)?

When we fitted the new Isuzu engine and gearbox (way back in 2005) - it came factory fitted with a device called a band brake on the back of the transmission (effectively on the tail shaft). This is normally operated by a second handbrake lever. A few years ago I fitted an electrical linear actuator and a very strong spring to operate this auxiliary brake. The switch was small and hidden well out of the way. Being hidden away made it useless when I needed it to avoid the downhill backwards event. To this end I have added a Big Red Stop Button that now engages this brake. Unlike a spring brake chamber, the actuator applies the brake gently over a few seconds, but it is able to apply considerable force.

The downside of this arrangement is the distance (and number of break points) between the band brake and the wheels on the ground. Using this device while moving at speed will expose the diff, the uni joints, the tail shaft and the joey box to tremendous stress (and this is why I say it is not the ideal solution) - however, hitting a tree puts us both under a fair share of stress - so as I said ... it is better than doing nothing. I am very open to other ideas (I have already had suggestions of anchors and parachutes) - so feel free to let me know if you have any ideas better than the band brake.

On Tuesday we went out to 1770 to try our hand at spear fishing for our dinner. The recent wind and rain there had turned the normally clear water very cloudy - thus no fish for tea. The other reason for putting the boat into the water was to try out the new echo-sounder (latest model - draws pictures of the bottom - very cool). To my utter frustration the #@$%@# thing would not work at all - it was only after cursing everyone from the designer to the seller that I realized that I had mounted the transducer upside down (duh). It worked much better once I turned it up the right way.

We are currently parked up at Calliope bridge - a nice free camp south of Gladstone and are heading north from here.


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