Saturday, December 30, 2006

Deflated

There's few things as bad as walking outside to find some idiot has deflated the tyre furthest from your front door, at the back - on a whim. Or for some other unkown reason. And then having to pump it back up with a footpump before there's major tyre wall damage.

Needless to say, my dreams last night were filled with plans for boobytraps with wires and guns, bricks balanced on the roofrack poised to fall on heads, and beating up whomever was responsible.. :-)

Tuesday, December 26, 2006

More Questions Than Answers

After our Xmas eve jaunt out to dinner and back, I find myself wanting to ask a whole lot more questions about how Olivia runs than I had before we left!!!

Yes, we made it OK - in fact very well. Slowly of course, and there are still aspects to driving her I'm getting used to. But we did it - down a steep hill, through busy traffic, even slamming on breaks a few times (aaah.. she pulls LEFT! :-) ). It was cool to be perched up so high that we could see things we normally don't in the Ford. And the kid is over his fear of riding in a strange vehicle that feels every bump, where the seats are rather slippery.

But here's the stuff I'm wondering, and will probably have to ask whomever I can find willing enough (and patient enough) to answer:

* Why are the lights either on bright or off - fuse or wiring issue? The middle setting for "normal beam" simply gives no reaction.

* What do I need to do to coax a bit more uphill power out of her? We're either screaming along in 3rd up the smallest slope, or shuddering in 4th - there has to be a way to boost the gear range and help her tackle hills.

* There's a slight jerking now and then - wonder if I haven't gotten to all the issues, or if the timing's that out...

* Engine heat goes up to about half-way on the guage - need to confirm this is normal. It doesn't seem to climb above that, which is a good sign.

* Gears are feeling better now that all the oil's been topped up too - the transmission was veeery empty... while the gearbox oil poured down my arm on opening (gonna invent a new cologne called "Eau de EP90", as I seem to permanently smell like that) - apparently that much difference in levels can blow an oil seal, so will have to keep an eye on that. Still struggling to find 3rd sometimes, but that's probably more me learning where they are than mechanical gear issues.

* I think I may still need to empty out a few compartments to lighten the load. There are some leaf springs stored under the floor level - haven't even attempted to shift those yet!

* Also need to check both other fuel tanks for gunk - I've been working from only one for now, topping it up. Need to grease the speedo cable, get it working to check mileage/fuel consumption too. Especially in light of the World Record Attempt coming up in April, which I'm definitely doing.

* Need to discover how to flash lights at other Landies.. :-) if at all possible.

One thing about owning a Series Landy is certain - you're never bored, there's always something more to do.. :-) And I'm looking forward to doing them.

Wednesday, December 13, 2006

Classics

New cars are all good and well. There's something to be said for aircon, no unidentified rattles/squeaks/scraping noises, a smooth quiet ride with the possibility of both music and conversation, shiny paint-job, reliability, and enough debt to buy a small house with.

But I think I like the classics better.

My first car was a 1970s Mini, acquired for a mere R2,000. It was dark blue with a vinyl sunroof that liked to collect rain - and pour it down your neck when you turned left. The spare in the boot was balanced on the only remaining strut that hadn't rusted through. There were holes in the floor under the carpet - driving through a deep puddle in winter would not only cut the electricts, but leave your feet sloshing around, after which the most incredible tiny mushrooms would grow under the seats. Sometimes the bush would fall off the gear lever - preferably in rush-hour traffic, where you'd be stuck in 4th gear and have to rev to immense heights to get going. Sometimes the fuel guage would give in, but for that we kept a length of hosepipe in the car - stick it in the fuel tank, turn it around - if it goes "splosh" you're OK, if it goes "clonk" go fill up. A bit of an adventure to drive, but we went everywhere. We even fitted 8 people, their surfboards and their bodyboards in - and went to the beach. Riding very low... :-) That car took me to Tech every day, to towns near and far, got stuck in sand dunes, got push-started in high heels. Even after we sold it, it brought interesting times. It's plates were found on a stolen VW Bug two years later!

Next car was an 80's Honda Ballade in dark charcoal grey. Again, not without its issues. But it went very well - until I got a neighbour to replace the brakes, after which it basically collapsed bit by bit. My mechanic eventually got so fed up that the last time he towed it he didn't return it. Instead he phoned to say it had been sold and he'd have another car for me within a week.

Enter the golden brown Ford. The Friggin'Ford, as it's affectionatly known. Also an 80's model, a 2 litre Sierra. It's been the one car that hasn't failed us spectacularly. It's tackled corrugated farm roads, mountain passes, town trips - and although we sometimes wonder if it will make it, it's done well. We've sorted out things like brakes that didn't brake, and doors that didn't lock. There are still issues in the thing that holds the hatchback boot up, a bit of a leak in wet weather, and some rust. But it's services with only one thing left to fix at the mechanic's - wear-and-tear backlash on the diffs, to be done in January. Just before my mechanic sells up his business and leaves. Probably time to up my car-fixing ability...!

Which brings us to Olivia. My first Landy - but definitely not the last. I look at the more modern ones and think that they're nice, but my heart is with the Series models. Tough, built to last, proven, simple to work on, with a distinctive style and sound, and oh-so-cool.

Already I'm looking at getting the kid a Series shorty when he's old enough to drive instead of something more modern. Alternatives to that would be the ancient round-shaped VW Kombi or - yes - a Mini. But I think we'll stick with the Landies. They're go-anywhere vehicles, can haul a multitude of friends or the most delicate of girlfriends, take a bit of late-teen driving and still come out OK on the other side.

So here's to the classics. Firmly embedded in this particular family's hearts, oiling up the driveways and providing adrenalin (whether through failed brakes on a mountain, something falling off on a highway, or the mere thrill of driving them) at every turn. Long may they chug on.

Friday, December 08, 2006

Landy Benefits

Just for the record - Landy people are the best.

I dashed down to my local Autozone shop this afternoon to finally get enough EP90 to do the under-oily-bits, and while there got a bit of engine cleaner and some new made-for-old-engines engine oil (fresh on the market). In the process, the shop owner discovered I was a Landy driver/owner. I got shown his Landy parked outside (Range Rover), got to go behind the scenes to check out some new suspension stuff he's importing from Australia which works well on my model, had a chat over other parts suppliers in the area, and got a preview of things to come on his computer screen for us Landy types.

When I got to the till to pay for my 4 containers of various goodies, he gave me 10% off just for driving a Landy! (In return I promised to give him the heads-up on our next meet-up, which hopefully will be in a week's time)

I really like these Land Rover folk. :-)

So it was a pretty profitable afternoon - a bit of education, a chance to connect with another Landy fanatic, and a good deal thrown in too. Very nice!

To top off the day, it seems insurance has finally been sorted - bar one or two things to be cleared up - so I can venture further afield at last. Greased up, filled up, and good to go.

This weekend I dive under the beast and get oily...

Tuesday, November 28, 2006

Photoblog: Dreams


This dreamcatcher came with Olivia - but it's not done catching dreams yet. I may add a few tiny objects to help focus them into one place sometime.. :-)

Monday, November 20, 2006

Olivia - LIVES!

Yes, it's true - she's back on the road! And the problem? Well it wasn't spark plugs (though I did replace half, and will do the other half when I don't have a thunderstorm to deal with). It wasn't fuel starvation - in the conventional sense of the word.

What it was turned out to be a lack of fuel (nearly empty tank) and a serious amount of gunk in selfsame tank! Yes, those are my finger-marks, having dragged through the debris to haul some out and see what it was. There were sticks, sand, mud and other bits, quite a collection.

I undid the plug below the tank, drained and scooped it all out, rinsed it with clean petrol and filled it up - and she started first shot!

YAY! We're back on the road! Took a quick turn around a couple of blocks and she's running well.

The only issue now is idling. It's set too low and I had to go on choke to keep her alive. But that's not something too difficult to sort out.

Here's to travels! At last... :-)

Friday, November 17, 2006

Identification & History

Found a site that tells your "fortune" (ie gives info) based on chassis number for Series vehicles, and here's what they've thrown out for Olivia:

948 Model: Land Rover, Series III
Body type: Station wagon
Wheel base: 109in
Engine: 6-cylinder
Model years: 1972-1979
Destination: Completely knocked down (CKD), right-hand drive (RHD)
***** Serial number
C Design: Two significant design modifications

Hmmm... how nice that they don't tell you what those two modications were! I mean, if they're significant and all.. :-) Unfortunately the system only gives a model/year range, and not what would be the ideal - a detailed history of everything known about that particular vehicle, where it was put together, what it originally looked like fresh off the factory floor etc. Those details would be really cool to know!

I do, however, have a superb write-up on her recent history, thanks to her previous owner. I'm sure there's much more that hasn't been told, but it's fun to know where the beast has been and what it's been up to.

History's still in the making - we've got many more places to see ahead of us.

Once and For All

This weekend is Landy weekend. I have to get her sorted out once and for all, even if it takes me the whole weekend.

To start with, I need to get a spark plug gapper - none of the shops I was at stocks one, so I guess I'm going to have to hit the specialist auto shops. Hopefully sorting the plugs will help with the starting issues - and will be checking a few other things while I'm at it that are related.

Then it's on to that still-slowly-deflating front tyre. I need to get it checked out and fixed before it causes tyre wall damage.

I want to get hold of a guy that breaks old Landies and find out if he has any fuel tank insert thingies - don't ask me what they're called, but it's a metal tube that fits into the top of the tank and has a mesh at the bottom to filter out any nasties. Olivia's one has a hole eaten through the mesh, and I don't want to take any chances (of either gunk or bits of mesh ending up in the tank). I hope I can resist coming home with another Landy from the breaker guy - who apparently has FORTY of the things standing around in various stages of repair... but unless he's giving them away free it's unlikely Olivia will get a playmate just yet. Cash has been assigned to priorities other than Landy collection for the forseeable future.

Once she's up and running again, the tyre needs re-affixing to the bonnet - mostly because it looks good! Also keeps the bonnet from rattling up and down a whole lot. I just hope I don't have to do too much in the engine again shortly, as it's hellova heavy to lift. I have to climb onto the bumper to do so.

Then it's on to matters grease and oil - checking levels and such. While I'm at it, the Ford also needs gearbox oil. I just wish it had the gap underneath that Olivia does to crawl into.

I want to give the rooftop tent a go too, and check that all is well there. With guests arriving over Christmas, and not a lot of space in the flat - it may just come in handy. Will do that in a secluded place though, as it's going to be a learning curve to set it up and I wouldn't want to become the object of derision by the neighbours. Especially as the wind seems to be picking up!

And then there's the matter of her "tattoo"... but that's a post for another day. :-)

Monday, October 30, 2006

Go Beyond

Filmed around the area where I live, Land Rover's new ad embodies that sense of adventure and wonder I suppress too often. Go Landy! :-)

Sparky


Hmm.... this could just be the reason I was struggling to start Olivia! :-) Off to get new sparkplugs this afternoon.

Friday, October 20, 2006

Dreamtime

I dreamt very vividly last night of Olivia. Although they were mere flashes, I took her all over the place - visiting people and driving through scenery that I'm not even sure I yet know.

Yes, she's been on my mind lately, and under my nails yet again. There's always something to check or sort out, and I've learnt never to do it in a white shirt. :-)

I know dreams are a reflection of what's on your mind, and mine have followed only 3 lines of thought for the past few weeks. But dreams can also be an expression of the subconcious wishes and desires that fester below the surface of knowing. They can point the way forward when our brains simply can't figure it out during the day.

So when I dream, I listen. Even when I merely dream of Olivia.

Tuesday, October 17, 2006

Land(Rover)-scaping

Olivia is parked just below my house - I can see her when I gaze out the window. Although not an official parking area, it's out of the way enough that no-one will bash into her. We have had a few scares with large turning trucks though, and she's due for a move to a safer spot.

Today the garden services blokes were in the area, "trimming the verges". In other words making the edges of fields short and leaving the middle. A sort of brazilian wax for grass if you will.

Unfortunately for them Olivia's standing on a verge. They cut very neatly all around her, but no-one was going underneath! :-) When I drive away there will be a lovely Olivia-shaped patch of long grass, smack-bang in the middle of a well-cut section.

I guess there's more than one way to mark your territory as a Landy.

Monday, October 16, 2006

Bribery

One more thing needed before I can get out and about with Olivia (other than insurance, which goes through today). And that's sorting out the timing, idle speed and mix - all of which I don't want to attempt on mere book knowledge alone.

Nor do I want to pay exorbitant amounts for my usual mechanic to do it for me!

But, as they say in Afrikaans "'n boer maak 'n plan" (farmer makes a plan) - and I'm all for skills-swapping.

So I've bribed a friend's mechanic brother with a tray of brownies in exchange for coming over and showing me exactly how it's done! :-)

Now... who can I bribe for a few tanks of petrol?

Wednesday, October 11, 2006

Gym

There is no exercise quite like pumping up a rather large tyre on a heavy Landy with a small foot pump....!

Just glad I only had to do one (for now).

Saturday, October 07, 2006

Woman Alone

In the midst of all my planning for trips here and there in Olivia, there's one thing that constantly gnaws at the back of my mind - the issue of safety as a single woman (and perhaps child) travelling on my own.

Many of my trips may be made alone, but in this day and age is that a viable option? Especially here in Africa... There are guys who say they won't travel alone, that the potential for attack or breakdown or lying somewhere hurt for weeks in a remote area is simply too great. And they're right about most of it. Sorta.

On the other hand, travel companions are not exactly plentiful. It's hard to find someone to go with you on a whim, or even on an extended journey (could always hire a hunk for entertainment purposes, I guess... :) ). There are certain trips that should be done alone. But perhaps those should be confined to "populated areas" or places where there is either a cellphone signal or the chance of others happening along within hours?

Yet that kinda defeats the purpose of some journeys. There's an urge to get away from the masses, out into the bush, away from civilization - and letting fear keep you from those experiences is not a good thing.

But I'm also a practical chick. I know my limitations, I know what I can and can't do, what I can and can't handle. I guess my concern is more for other people (potential hazards, worse than the wild things!) than for myself. I don't know the intentions of folk I may run into on the way, nor can I predict what they will or won't do.

I'm aware of the dangers this country holds. Hijackings, murders, rapes, mutilations, theft. Many of them confined to the cities and their surrounds where crime festers naturally. I know how my grandparents live on their Gauteng farm - sleeping with a gun each under the bed, locking everything up tight, shooting first - asking questions later. It's living dominated by fear and suspicion, by necessity. But what of the deserted areas? Surely one is safer there than where people are congregated?

I sometimes doubt my strength of personality to fend off those who don't have good intentions. If I were to travel far and wide, could I deal with the scheming, bribe-seeking masses who pick on anyone who passes through? I'm not sure.

All this and more sits in the back of my head, urging caution. Yet I dream of being alone under a star-spattered sky in the middle of nowhere...

Perhaps I should just pick my "middle of nowhere" carefully?

Thursday, October 05, 2006

Tourist Attraction

Olivia's quite the tourist attraction! Whether it's photos on the wall in my office, the background I've set on my computer screen or just standing around outside my home, she attracts attention.

And jealousy... :)

I've had a number of folk come by to gaze at her, peer inside and underneath and wistfully wish they had a Landy. Another just dropped by my office. The amount of drooling going on could easily have shorted out the keyboard.

The thing is there's no other vehicle around that looks like her. There's a couple of Series vehicles, but nothing in her grey-blue-green. Nor plastered with flags from where she's been, or kitted out just-so. She stands out from the crowd in a big way.

She's a real beauty. Gorgeous beast - completely amazing. I may look worse as I age, she just keeps looking better.

Tuesday, October 03, 2006

Monday, October 02, 2006

Oh give me a home...

No buffaloes roam here, but I think Olivia's new view is probably quite different to the one she had a few months ago... :)


However - it doesn't beat the views we still plan to see.

Follow-on

Amazing how just when you think you have one thing sorted, you need to sort something else! (I had a theory with my Mini that if you fix something small, something big's gonna break - so leave the small thing...)

Yesterday's alternator-placing episode was supposed to solve the power drain problem. After lunch I hooked up the Ford, gave her a jumpstart and started up the engine. It took some doing though, the idling is a little low and I still need to sort out timing and mix stuff. But she got going eventually, revved along happily for a few minutes.

And then died! Again! Sounded exactly like the fuel starvation issue we started with.

And the battery had worn down again, once disconnected from the Ford. Eish!

This is the point where I wish I could plug my brain into a couple of really knowledgeable ones, who could immediately identify the problem/s and tell me exactly what to do to fix them. Also explain some of the terminology in the manual ("pierce" the cover? how, exactly?) and point out if I'm doing anything drastically wrong. It would be nice to have a USB port or WiFi access in the head to attract knowledge like a magnet and store it on a shelf somewhere. Instead I have to pick it up bit by bit - often getting frustrated in the attempt.

Thankfully the Landy bloke I ran into last week had some wisdom on Wiring, checking battery leads and various other fiddly bits. I'll do a bit of testing this week to see if anything's perished or loose or undone.

But that's life with cars. You learn a bit more every day, even if it takes a while. And more often then not, fixing one thing is simply yet another link in the chain of finding more things to sort out.

Like the front tyre that seems to be very slowly deflating....

Sunday, October 01, 2006

Therapy

When you've had a rough weekend and feel like the world has plonked itself on your shoulders, there's nothing like car-wrangling to sort you out. It's very therapeutic!

Today I finally got Olivia's alternator back in (yay, it's fixed!). Then had to turn my attention to the Ford - the bonnet cable slipped out of its moorings (again) so it wouldn't open. Fortunately this time I knew how to fix it, and did a more permanent job than last time's duct tape measures. Unfortunately the other end (beneath the steering wheel) is looking a big dodgy, frayed and threatening to snap.... There's something to be said for simple opening mechanisms such as Olivia has!

Between swearing at bolts, entangling and impaling myself in/on wire cables, lying on recently-rained on ground under two cars, and hunting things that disappear into long grass unexpectedly, I'm feeling a whole lot better than when I began.

Wednesday, September 27, 2006

Landy People Rock

Just for the record - I love Landy people! They completely rock.

I dashed down to town this afternoon to stock up on fruit/veg, then made a turn at my mechanic to get advice on where to have the alternator looked at (with discount for using his name), then stopped at Autozone to see if they had any new ones (no luck) - and on the way back made a random turn down a street where I thought I'd spotted an old Landy parked a while back.

Not only did I find the white S3 shorty I saw in traffic there, but also found the home of an orange 110 and a gigantic dusty orange Forward Control! The owner was out the front chatting to someone, and I asked if I could drool over his machines. Of course that led to an hour-long discussion on vehicles, a climb up into the FC to peer into the engine, some advice on wiring, and a second alternator ending up in my back seat "to try"! Only at the very end of our conversation did I remember to introduce myself... :) (And promptly forget his name - I'm terrible at things like that)

I also came away with phone numbers and names of a lot of very useful folk who have older Landies in the area - and a treasure-trove of parts, advice and help on offer. Seems the name thing is a trend though, as he didn't know the surnames of at least 2 of the guys, although they've known each other for years. Eish! Apparently there's a hell of a lot of us in the area. Even the owner of the Series I (that nearly made me crash into the car in front of me craning my neck to see it recently) lives just down the road.

Have promised I'll be back with Olivia sometime soon - and his alternator if it doesn't fit.

Yup, Landy folk are the best.

Expert? Ummm...

I look like I know what I'm doing - right? Well - generally speaking. Toolbox out, hands greasy, arms in engine, parts lying around, all that stuff.

Truth is - I'm on a huge learning curve. There's so much I still don't know, and things I'm figuring out as I go. Having a honking big manual and some online advice certainly helps a lot. But there's things I still don't understand too well, and others I'm learning only by trying. When folk get all technical, I often have to go look it up (bless you Google!). Sometimes I still won't know what they're on about thereafter, but I do know a lot more than I did 2 months ago.

Yes, I get greasy. I get things in my eyes lying underneath the engine. While down there I discover ancient wasps nests and garnered oily dirt hiding bolts. It's a whole different view from above - everything drips down, not up.

I tend to operate on the theory that if someone else can do it, there's a good chance I can too. It may take a bit of trial and error to learn, it may take me a lot longer to get it done - but I'll do it eventually.

As I mentioned yesterday - this is a journey. Of discovery, of learning, of re-prioritizing how my days evolve. Every day a little piece of knowledge gets added to the stores, and I get closer to being an Expert. In at least one thing (even if it's only how to put in an alternator, for now).

Tuesday, September 26, 2006

Alternate(or) Reality

Life's a journey. Sorting out a Landy is too. Both don't happen immediately or easily.

Take the Alternator issue. Seems my new battery is being worn down rather quickly and it's the alternator's fault (we think). There was a spare in one of the boxes, so I started to haul the old one out. It's now taken 3 days!

You see, I started it on the weekend (along with a couple other odd jobs), then realized the bolts were too tight to move. So sprayed on something to loosen them up and left them to soak. Next day - rain! No chance to work.

Today, by some fluke of luck, we were given the afternoon off. And the rest of the afternoons this week. So back to the alternator I went. And this time the bolts moved. Yay! Got it out, compared it to the new one... and noticed a couple of fitting issues. So I spent the entire afternoon fiddling with connections between bolts and holes, trying to find a way to both fit it in, and get it into a position where the fan belt runs straight and tight enough.

So far no luck. Darn. Along with trying, I also sat and looked at it, lay underneath and looked at it, stood and looked at it, and then also sat on a jerrycan and thought. These things take time, you see! :)

But there's tomorrow. I can always get it right then. And will also be making a turn past some folk who can check out the old one for me to quote on reconditioning or replacing (as a spare).

In the meantime the kid says I smell of fuel and oil again... :) He'd better get used to it! That's the scent of the journey.

A woman's place

I've noticed something interesting in the last 2 months. I've been involved in a number of 4x4 enthusiast forums online, and there's an oh-so-subtle undercurrent that I've picked up.

I seem to be one of the few women owners, and certainly the only one who gets her hands into the engine (apparently). The boys are more than happy to help out with info and such now and then - the boys on one forum that is. On another forum it's a different story. I could say something worthwhile - contribute to the conversation - and there's a few guys that will immediately dismiss my view, put me down and move on, or ignore me completely.

Seems a woman's place, in the offroad world, is not in the driver's seat! At least according to some.

I don't think they realize they're doing it. Maybe subconciously they feel I'm stepping on toes, infringing on the male world of outdoor rough and tumble, worming my way into that beer circle around the braai-grid - where male bonding happens, where men are the providers, the protectors, the Makers of Fire. And women are relegated to potato salad and kids duty in the background.

I thought it was my imagination at first. That I was reading things in to sentances, making moutains out of molehills. Granted, I'm still learning - I may get it wrong sometimes, and I do more reading than talking because of that. But it's happened nearly every time I've opened my virtual mouth, it can't be just in my head. So I've taken to saying little or nothing on that particular forum - just to be safe. I thought that kind of thing went out the window years ago. But maybe old habits die hard. Still trying to figure it out myself.

And this ain't a rant - just an observation. :) I'm not unsubbing in protest or any such weird stuff. I'm learning how the guys see things, and adapting so I don't step on any toes.

Wednesday, September 20, 2006

Driving Ms Livi

Imagine, if you will, sitting in a tank. All you can see out the front is a limited horizon framed by two small glass windows, some of which is used up by a spare tyre on the front. A portion also being consumed delicately by a woven dream-catcher hanging from the rear mirror. You can't see much out the sides - right next to you is yet another small plate of sliding glass, the aft windows are plated up and you forgot to adjust the side mirrors before you climbed in. The back view is half-blocked by a big spare wheel. That's what sitting in Olivia is like.

Add in a very upright sitting position and not much leg room to work pedals - but gears that sometimes require quite a reach to the left, especially the elusive Reverse. A seatbelt of the solid old variety - it doesn't retract, you fling it over the back of the seat or down the side when not in use. No extra cushioning, no plush carpeting, no moulded-to-body seating (and there are only 2 seats) - this is one vehicle made for durability and practicality. You climb up-and-in, not sink down-and-in (especially if you're around 5ft5 as I am).

Now, along with your shrunken view and bolt-upright high-view stance, surround yourself with a big engine and a ton or two of bodywork, and you may start to imagine what driving Ms Livi is like.

However, words cannot convey the unique Landy smell of oil, fuel and dust. Nor the sound of an engine roaring to life. The leaf-springs and shock absorbers ("absorbers" being somewhat of a misnomer, as you do feel every bump) articulating what the road beneath your wheels is doing. The feel of weight moving up a hill and momentum-in-weight going down (hoping the brakes are sufficient to the task - trusting they are).

The first time I drove her I wondered if I would be equal to the task. I was still learning the gears, testing the controls, figuring out the levers and knobs, finding my way around power play and braking distance, gigantic turning circle and steering wheel nearly as large. There were things rattling around all over, guages to decipher, wideness and length to judge.... That first drive in a different vehicle does take some doing! I've always been one to tune in completely to what a vehicle does - it's small sounds, little movements, the "talk" below the noticeable. Some need more listening than others to know their throbbing hearts.

But as I've sat with her, and driven here and there (no long trips until I check one or two things through), and discovered her secret hiding places, found what makes her go (and stop) - I've realized we're going to get along just fine. More than fine. Driving her is a pleasure. An adventure. Nothing to fear, in spite of her size and weight. The more I learn about how she operates, the deeper she works herself into my life.

So I'm driving Ms Livi. Olivia is getting out and about. I'm tuning in - and now that I've adjusted the mirrors, who cares about the limited view. I can see all I need to, the rest is pure instinct. Melded to machine, and off we go.

Wednesday, September 13, 2006

Of Fuel and Filters

It wasn't easy getting Olivia home. When I bought her, she was sitting in Joburg, 1,500km away. And once I'd found transport, she wouldn't fit on the carrier! But eventually she arrived in Cape Town and a friend took me through to get her.

It was a mission to get her started, as the batteries (both of them) were "pap", but once she was going it was OK. Except....

About 10km from home she suddenly died! Happily puttering along and suddenly there was nothing. Fortunately the friend (who was driving behind me) knows things about cars. We jump-started her (for the third time), or at least tried to. Still nothing - sounded a bit like fuel starvation. So out came the Big Tow Rope (see her pic 2 posts below) and off she went. Towed by a Hyundai - but heading forward at least.

We tried another start near home before we took on the mountain I live on. Still no luck, so up we went - all ton or two of her, loaded to the hilt with ammo boxes, equipment and such, hoping the tow rope would hold. We made it to near home where just a short tow was left, but my friend was unsure he had sufficient traction to get her up the last, worst hill. So there she stood. Fortunately another guy dropped by with his Landy (to drool at mine), and we managed to get her right to my place with a bit of effort.

And then came the search-and-fix part. After a lengthy chat to the previous owner, it was time to check out the fuel filters. And the pic in this post is what I found! She has two filters, this one being an "extra" in-line one, and it was literally clogged with mud. The engine-bay one was also quite filthy. Out they came, replacements in (another learning curve - fuel tends to drip out of engine-bay filters once you loosen the bolt at the bottom... and washing one's eyes with fuel is not a good thing), and she finally started! YAY!

While chatting to the previous owner, I'd sorted out which tank belonged to what guage/lever, so now most of the fuel stuff is worked out. She has 3 tanks - a total of 175 litres (though I've been warned not to over-fill one of them). The fuel pump ticks along happily on start-up, so we're getting there!

Step one in getting to know the Landy / getting the hands dirty completed. And this fuel filter saved for historical purposes... perhaps I should frame it! :)

Tuesday, September 05, 2006

Meet Olivia!


Our newest member of the family is a 1978 Series III Land Rover called Olivia! She's had quite a few adventures already, having travelled all the way from South Africa to Ethiopia, and a good few places in between. She's one awesome beast.

Adventures start here...

Thursday, August 10, 2006

Coming attractions!

There's a Landy coming... an old Landy which is the most awesome beast! Watch this space for details, photos, and a blog name change.... :)

Wednesday, June 07, 2006

Options

I ended my last post with the statement that buying this Landy could change our lives forever (beside the obvious satisfaction of driving a very cool car and getting into the local Landy club). Let me elaborate a bit:

We're not just planning a Trip. We're planning a Lifestyle. This will truly be "chucking in life as we know it".

You see, we may not come back to South Africa anytime soon once we start to travel. Not because we're millionnaires, but because there really is nothing keeping us here, except family - and we don't see much of them anyway.

There's a strong possibility that I could end up volunteering for a stipend somewhere, or using one of my many skills/qualifications to help out a community that needs it. The kid could end up working or studying in any country. We could sit and count birds for a year, in exchange for food and lodging! (or just food - the Landy's pretty self-contained...) (then again... there are plenty of edible plants and things out there, perhaps we'll just need space to park? a sufficiently-extended visa?)

I've started to develop a mind-set of living with open hands. Possessions are becoming less and less important, and the question of whether to sell or store is starting to become a non-issue. Granted, there are mementos (photos, things from my mom given to me after she died, my piano) and such - but really, we don't need everything we've collected over the years to have a happy life. We can leave the mementos with a relative who will appreciate them.

I have no house to pay off, nor do I have a car to pay off. I have no responsibilities to fulfil for years to come, nor do I have a career plan that involves working my butt off in one area to climb some imaginary corporate ladder. I can live on little, I can always find a way to make whatever money we need.

OR...

We could do a brief foray into the wilds, and return to the expected rut we currently tread. Which is definitely not very appealing, but would probably be more profitable.

So those are our options. I'm leaning toward the nomadic, the unexpected, the remarkable.

As I said, buying a Landy could change our lives.

Monday, June 05, 2006

Perfect!

I know women are supposed to be "emotional shoppers", but this is ridiculous! I'm in love with a Landy.

I'm not usually given to shows of affection for inanimate objects, nor shopping with my heart, nor any of that sort of nonsense. But there's something that connected completely and deeply with me when I saw this particular vehicle. It may not be the best-looking, smartest, shiniest, most colourful one - but it's simply perfect. It's everything I've wanted in an overland companion. It's got some of the overland essentials already installed, having done the through-Africa trip that I'm aiming for. And it's the right age (a 1970's Landy - which is what I've been after for many reasons).

Before I even knew it had a name, I'd decided it was a "she" - and it turns out it is.

I've got all the info from the current owner. I'm in the process of consulting those who know about these things, and then will put in an offer on her. I really hope it's accepted. She's just perfect.

Wish me luck! This could be THE turning point that determines the rest of our lives...

Thursday, June 01, 2006

Eco-African Dream

I was chatting online to a friend yesterday, who is off to the Zambezi valley in June. No jolly fair... Between that and running into those overland vehicles in traffic recently, I've restarted my wild daydreams. Yup, that "take off through Africa" thing. Again.

Unfortunately, this time round my kid is totally non-enthusiastic. But I'm hoping to "cure" him with a camping trip or adventure holiday near the end of the year, once it's safe to sleep outdoors without freezing.

Then this morning's e-news says petrol's going up again. Like WAY up. And, being who I am, I got thinking...

I've been going on about using traditional means to cross the continent - a petrol or diesel Landy, which requires long-range tanks and regular juice-ups.

BUT...

What if I could combine my itchy feet with my treehugger tendancies? What if I could find a way to convert an offroad vehicle into one that runs mostly on solar or electric power? Granted, there may not be many places to plug into a baobab to recharge.. but what if it used a combination of various fuel sources, and could switch between them when necessary?

Like this New Zealand bloke who runs a vehicle on water and a splash of petrol? Or any one of the myriad other options? Sure, solar cars are no speedsters, but which offroad vehicles actually speed along?

You know, I'll bet that if I got some strange hybrid vehicle going for an extra-long trip through Africa, I'd garner a bit of sponsorship to cover the costs.

Thinking. Brain steaming... :) It could actually work!

(cross-posted to my regular blog)