Well, that was fun. Eighteen months
of working every day rebuilding Wothahellizat. Now I know
I said this last time but this time I mean it...
Never again...read my lips...NEVER
The first time it took three years
and I was in my forties and this time a year and a half and
I'm in my fifties. In both cases I figured that was an acceptable
amount of time to lose from my life given my age, but as I
get older I have less time to waste on such things.
Of course this truck won't last
forever and there will come a time when I can't handle it
and have to do something different, but hopefully that's a
long way off.
Meanwhile there's a lot I want
to do, and slogging my guts out under a truck is not one of
So what's next. Basically we just
want to head northwest, back up into the Territory and West
Australia, but the combination of overspending on the truck
and the recent financial crisis has left us a little short
on funds, so maybe working for a while is on the cards.
As it happens we may have a job
lined up in Gladstone, just a few weeks but long hours and
good money. This may fit in well as it's too early to head
north now anyway, there's no point being up in the tropics
before April or May because it will be the wet season.
It's also possible that we may
have some work down south for a couple of months. So I guess
we'll just wait and see. Meanwhile we'll sit around on our
block and do as little as possible.
Till next time then, and remember,
Don't Dream it, Be it!
Sat 8 Nov 2008
Finally we leave Peter and Marie's. It's been
a long 18 months and there have been times when we've both despaired
of ever getting the job done. But done it is, well good enough for
the time being, and we can point Wothahellizat's nose towards the
gate, put it into gear and actually drive though said gate and keep
What a liberating experience
to be driving down the highway in our truck, although Chris is driving
the Cruiser as we need it for another month, so she probably doesn't
get quite the same feeling. This is also unfortunate as it really
makes sense to have someone else in the truck to keep an eye on
things because I can't hear much over the engine noise.
We stop several times to check for problems, so
far so good.
After half an hour we pull into the Burpengary
BP truck stop, I decant myself into the Cruiser and we drive into
Morayfield to do some shopping. It's just a quick trip and before
long we're back on the highway, heading into Brisbane.
I've been putting on some weight lately and it's
all Chris's fault, you see we now have an oven and she's been well
happy to use it, mostly because there's often nothing she can do
on the construction side of things [what a lot of crap he talks!
— Chris], but also because she knows that I run on my stomach
and cannot work for more than a couple of hours without a feed.
So five or six times a day I get cake or chocolate
slice or muffins or all three plus other treats. Couple this with
the fact that building a motorhome is not a very aerobic procedure,
it's good for strength and flexibility but of little use for weight
loss, and one can gain a few inches in the waistline.
This was highlighted the other day when we went
to buy some new pants and found I'd gone up a size or two. It was
a little depressing but the lady in the toll booth on the Gateway
bridge didn't help with her comments.
She was apparently training a new operator and
I guess part of the job is to assess the cost for each vehicle that
crosses the bridge based on it's size. She peers from the booth
to look at the truck, then looks at me and says to the trainee,
"He's a super size, that'll be $7.90". Bloody cheek.
Not long after we pull into our favourite spot
next to the J C Trotter memorial park. We haven't been here for
six years, will it have changed? Will we still be able to camp here?
Within seconds of pulling up, and even before
I turn the motor off a car pulls up. "Were you here a few years
ago?" the driver asks. "Yes, are you the bloke that bought
us fish and chips?" I respond.
He is! (See
story here in new window)
His name is Michael and he lives just down the
road. He's a nice old bloke and we get on well, as before. We might
drop down to his place tomorrow but for now we must take our leave
as we're both dying of thirst and really just want to sit in a comfy
chair with a coffee.
Wothahellizat camped at the park. Our first day back on the road.
Sun 9 Nov 2008
After lunch I walk down to Michael's. When
I get there I find that the property is covered with wallabies. They're
a little bit skittish but in general I can walk right passed them
and they totally ignore me.
I chat with Michael and his wife for a
couple of hours then he drops me off at the truck.
The main reason we're in Brisbane is to attend
a function tonight, it's the 45th year of publication of Wildlife
Australia magazine and as a fairly regular contributor I've been
invited. When looking at the map a few weeks ago we thought we would
camp in the university where the function is, however we elected
instead to go back to our favourite spot here at the park. Good
thing as it turns out, the university is so steep and tightly packed
there is no way we could have even got the truck around the streets,
let alone camp here.
The function is OK as far as these things go and
I do manage to catch up with Ken, an old friend from Canberra which
Mon 10 Nov 2008
Some time ago I was approached by a TV production
company. It seems that they would like to do a series about a nature
photographer photographing some of Australia's endangered places but
had been unable to find a suitable photographer, until they found
my web site that is. So yours truly is shooting a pilot today, and
we've chosen the Boondal Wetlands as a good spot for filming.
that though I have to drop my new camera and two lenses into Canon.
After 18 months at Glasshouse Mountains they have mould in them.
This is a disaster, especially with the camera as it cost $5000
and I've hardly used it. Why couldn't one of my old bodies have
got the mould?
We drop the gear off at Canon then proceed to
Photo Continental, supposedly the largest camera store in the southern
hemisphere, but to some of us it's just "the place of dreams".
I'm interested in looking at the Olympus E-3 with a view to changing
over to the Olympus system. The camera looks good and certainly
the lenses are fantastic, but a new system will cost at least $14,000
and possibly up to $20,000. No way I can afford that, I'll have
to get creative if I want to swap to Olympus.
Once our business is done we move the truck up
to the Boondal Wetlands. It's a bit of a tight squeeze turning the
vehicle around in the car park but with the old Wothahellizat it
would have been nearly impossible. The new truck also goes better,
I crossed over the Gateway bridge (very steep) in fourth gear the
other day, that would have been unimaginable in the old truck. It
looks like the previous 18 months of purgatory is at least paying
off with a more drivable vehicle.
We no sooner start preparing lunch when Luke (the
producer) arrives, but food comes before film and I must eat.
Ten minutes later we make a start, the filming
of the pilot mostly entails me wandering around pretending to be
actually looking for a photograph, but I also do some work to camera
and we film the truck on the move. After a couple of hours it's
done. Luke will edit the footage into a pilot for showing to the
network, if they like it I'll be a TV star, if not I'll stay a semi-retired
nature photographer. Either way life is pretty good.
He'll probably get the nod for the idea but not
the talent, I can just hear the TV executives now, "Great concept
Luke, but dump the old fart with the beard".
We don't know where we can camp around here so
finally decide to head up the highway to, wait for it, Glasshouse
Mountains. It's as though after 18 months of captivity we finally
get released but can't handle it in the wide world and run home.
In our defence though we won't go back to Peter and Marie's place,
we'll camp next to the park in the township.
Tue 11 Nov 2008
The original idea was to bolt straight home
but we've decided to hit the shops, specifically the Chermside Mall,
a huge shopping centre on the north side of Brisbane. Also I want
to return to Jaycar (electronics store) and get some more LED lights,
yes I know I said I'd never touch LED lights again, you just can't
trust no-one these days can you?
After a grueling day in the shopping centre there's
no way we're travelling today so it's another night at Glasshouse.
Peter drops in for a few minutes on his way home from a job building
a dam, he looks knackered.
Wed 12 Nov 2008
We drive up to Gin Gin. Initially we planned
to camp somewhere along the road but it's only a couple of hundred
kilometres so we just soldier on.
On the northern side of Maryborough we
pull over for a drink. While I look around the outside of the truck
Chris climbs inside to get some water.
"Bloody hell!" she exclaims.
The fridge door has opened and most of the fridge's
contents are on the floor. What a mess.
It turns out not to be as bad as it looked though,
nothing is broken except some roundish objects that you purchase
by the dozen. I'm not at liberty to divulge the exact nature of
the broken items, but I can give you a hint, we're having omelette
for dinner tonight.
After cleaning up we continue and finally pull
into the Gin Gin rest area at about five. We thought we'd just fill
up with water here then proceed to the block, but there are so many
campers over near the tap that we decide to stay the night and get
water in the morning. Also we may have to clear the long grass before
parking the truck in its spot on the block; it's already too late
for that sort of mucking around and certainly would be by the time
we actually got to the block.
No, we'll just sit here and relax instead.
Thu 13 Nov 2008
Everyone has gone, the area that was packed
last night is now totally vacant, so we fill up with water then head
up the Mt Perry road, we're nearly home.
As we get close I can see "our"
hill and the back of our land, then we pull off the main road and
wind our way between the hills along the meandering track that leads
to our road. There's a steep climb, then we enter the long grass
and drive along the ridge that provides level access to our otherwise
very steep piece of paradise.
As it happens there's no need to clear any grass
and I swing the truck straight into the spot we used to park, I
remember that it took a few goes to get the old Wothahellizat into
Finally we're back on our land.
Fri 14 Nov 2008
Motorhoming friends of ours, Gavin and Tracy,
have purchased a block of land at nearby Mt Perry, 70 acres of mostly
cleared farming land with permanent water. It sounds good and we'd
love to check it out. But before we get out there they drop in here.
show them around our block which is steep with no water and heavily
wooded, totally different to theirs.
As they leave Chris notices that we have a flat
tyre on the truck. It will of course have to be fixed but I am totally
sick of doing this type of work so I just put a jack under the axle
to stop the tyre deflating further and leave it for another day.
Sun 16 Nov 2008
Today we drive out to visit Gavin and Tracy
at Mt Perry.
about a 40k drive with steep hills and the Landcruiser is not running
well so it takes a while to get there. On arrival we find their
bus camped next to a spring, there's a sprinkler running to green
up the grass around the motorhome, what a luxury having water on
tap like that.
It's a very pleasant spot and we wind up staying
for a camp-oven stew. At around 7:30 we notice some bad weather
is approaching so we leave in order to get home before the rain.
[who left all the shutters open hey?]
The Cruiser is so badly out of tune that I have
to make several runs at the hill to get up onto the road, I hope
we can outrun the storm.
We know other motorhomers who are thinking of
buying land around Gin Gin based on recommendations from yet other
motorhomers. It looks like we started something. It is a great area
up here though, so I'm not surprised.
Mon 17 Nov 2008
We go into the city today, the City of Bundaberg that is. The main
purpose of the trip is to organise to have the truck's springs reset.
We've had three of the four springs reset over
the years and the truck used to look nice and level. However with
the new weight (12.5 tonnes wet) and weight distribution the springs
have risen to different levels causing everything to look a little
awkward. Even on flat ground the cab is skewed in relation to the
Anyway there's a mob here in Bundy that did the
last spring job for us so we'll take it back there. They don't have
a furnace and so can only cold press the leaves but that will have
I walk into the workshop and approach the first
bloke I see. "I need some springs reset" I say. He looks
at me, "On the purple ACCO?" is his reply.
Whoa, do I look that unusual that he would remember
me after three years?
This guy is just one of the workers and cannot
book us in so we walk over to a pit where the boss is working under
a truck. "Remember the old ACCO?" he asks, "The purple
one?" came a response from beneath the vehicle.
Hmm, it seems we made an impression around here.
We walk over to the office, as we're filling in
the details in their diary the office door slides open. "So
how's that old ACCO?" I hear from behind.
I turn to see the fellow who was the boss last
time we were here. He's a nice bloke and I remember we talked at
length about life on the road, in fact he was building a truck himself
with a view to hitting the road as well.
His arm is hanging limp and he walks with a shuffle,
it's obvious he's had a stroke but I don't ask.
I'm right, he finally finished his truck and was
within two weeks of heading off when nature stepped in to ruin his
After four months he's recovering but still has
a long way to go and certainly cannot drive his truck. He's handed
over the business to his son but still does some office work.
"If only I hadn't spent so much time working"
he says, "It certainly made us realise what's important".
Amen to that, if I had a dollar for every story
I've heard along these lines I'd have...well several dollars.
Wed 12 Nov 2008
Huge storm today with very strong winds. It
highlights my slackness because the truck is still disabled with a
flat tyre and we couldn't move it to a safer spot if we had to.
we don't have to, but what's the point in having a mobile home if
it's not mobile?
Thu 13 Nov 2008
It's off my arse and into tyre-fixing mode.
It only takes a few minutes to put the spare on so at least we can
drive. Now I have to tackle the job of removing the flat tyre from
its rim and fixing the tube.
It takes about 20 minutes of bashing and prying
to get the tyre off, not bad by my standards, and partly helped
by the fact that I always smear the rims with rubber grease when
I put tyres on, this helps when the time comes to get them off.
The offending wheel propped up on wooden blocks so I can jump up and down on the rim to force it out of the tyre.
Having got everything apart I cannot find any
obvious holes in the tube. I'll have to inflate it and check with
soapy water but at this point I run out of enthusiasm for the task.
Fri 14 Nov 2008
Although we didn't have to clear any grass
to park the truck the whole area around Wothahellizat and the container
is choked with long and dead grass and that does have to be cleared,
partly to reduce fuel if there's a fire, partly because we'll be having
visitors and they will need a clear area to park their motorhome,
and partly because it looks better when cleared.
So the whipper
snipper came out a few days ago and has been put to work. As we're
a few hundred yards from the entrance to the block we don't expect
to be seen and I often work in my undies and boots (if that conjures
up an image that you weren't prepared for you may like to take a
moment to recover at this point).
This works well until my neighbour decides to
show his parents the back of his block and, with no vehicular access
through his land, he brings them up through ours.
Although we've waved a couple of times when we
passed by his shed we haven't actually met. He jumps from the car
with beer in hand and introduces himself as Pete. He's a pretty
rough-looking fellow but seems nice enough, his parents look nice
enough too, although it's difficult to tell with them trying desperately
to look somewhere else.
Sat 23 Nov 2008
It looks like we're in for another storm and
all the tyres, tubes etc are still lying around so I guess I should
put them away. I still haven't tested the tube so I stick another
spare one inside the spare tyre, hoist the two into the spare wheel
drum, then hoist the spare wheel on as well. (we carry both a spare
tyre/tube and a complete spare wheel).
Our camp in disarray, with a storm coming it's time to tidy up.
Sun 24 Nov 2008
There's a lot of smoke around and we always
get nervous when we see smoke so I head off on the motorbike to investigate.
I ride around the road to a nearby high spot but still cannot ascertain
where or how far away the fire is.
A ute pulls up.
He's also trying to figure out what's happening. His name is Bob
and he's a boat builder living in a caravan on his block just around
the corner. We chat for a while then go our separate ways.
As I return I see Pete in his yard and stop to
say g'day. I have ulterior motives though, as he's the new owner
of the land adjoining ours I want to find out what his plans are
for it. You see we like it just the way it is and don't want any
fences or man-made infrastructure of any kind. We certainly don't
want a house built up near the spot we stay.
I think we're in luck on this score because Pete
doesn't appear to have 2c to rub together and is on a pension.
He's a nice enough fellow.
I mention that I may have to watch the news to
see if there's any information about the fire. "You've got
electricity in the truck have you?" he asks.
"Of course, we run on solar" I say,
"and so do you, haven't you got power?". He says that
it just runs a couple of lights but he'd like to be able to listen
to his radio.
I say that he'll need an inverter but let's have
a look at the system anyway.
The first thing I notice is a small black box
with "Power converter" written on it. I reckon he already
has the equipment he needs.
There's no 240v socket, however there are two
wires leading from it. One goes into the battery box and the other
disappears into the gloom (the lights aren't very bright) somewhere
behind the box.
"I reckon that wire will have a socket on
the end" I say. I pull it out and sure enough it does. Looking
inside the battery box we find that the inverter is not connected,
I make the connection and the front-panel LED comes on. The radio
is not immediately available to test things but it looks like he's
Well I've made a friend there but it's time to
get back, it's well after beer o'clock.
Tue 25 Nov 2008
We're due in at the spring man first thing
tomorrow but decide to drive in today to save having to get up too
early. We know a good camping spot just around the corner from him
so we'll drop anchor there for the night.
Because he'll have the
truck all day (and possibly the next day as well) we also take the
Cruiser so we can gad about town. This means though that, once again,
Chris cannot travel in the truck which is a real pain because I
keep hearing noises in the back but I cannot investigate the cause.
Wed 26 Nov 2008
At 8AM I drive the truck 50 yards to Bundaberg
Truck Align. There's already a converted bus there and while we wait
for Matt (the boss) to arrive I get talking to the bus's owner. He's
been travelling for a few years and has a base in Victoria. He'd like
to head back over to the west but is afraid to because of the economic
crisis, worried that he'll get stuck over there far from home.
offer my opinion that as long as you have a couple of thousand bucks
you can always drive back in a week or so.
"Yes but what if there's a fuel shortage?",
he counters, "or even a war". Well you know that they
say, just because you're paranoid it doesn't mean something won't
This however is probably indicative of what everyone
is thinking, albeit a little extreme, and it shows how self-fulfilling
all this media hype can become. We're all told how bad things are
so we pull our heads in, thereby making things worse.
Apparently there was a big recession in the 90s
and another in the 80s, at the time we were engrossed in our jobs
and generally enjoying ourselves and didn't even notice.
But it depends on what stage of life you're at
I suppose. If you're 20 or 30 you don't really care about this stuff,
as long as you keep your job the state of superannuation funds and
stock market is irrelevant. Even if you lost all of the $38.50 you
have in super there's plenty of time to make it back up.
But now we find ourselves to be 50-odd, on the
verge of taking out our super, and finding that it's value has nose
dived over the last few months. At least we've stopped the rot by
moving it all into cash where it will stay for the time being.
I still think we'll be right and won't have to
work, but we are keeping an eye out for a way of making a few bob
to top things up.
Matt arrives and we spend some time talking about
a course of action for the springs. We decide to reset the left
rear pack and add a spacer to the right front.
Now we have all day to fill in, we've grabbed
a couple of books and chairs and it's my plan to spend a large part
of the day sitting down by the river reading, but like most of my
plans that's not how it works out.
By 4:30 we're still shopping and have to cut things
short to get back and pick up the truck. It looks good with the
body nice and square to the cab. We hand over $923 and drive it
back around the corner where we'll camp for the night.
Sat 29 Nov 2008
A week or so ago the TVs set top box appeared
to have died so we've been watching tele using the TV's tuner. Trouble
is the TV is analogue and doesn't get all the stations, so we resolved
to get a new STB while we were in Bundy. Of course as soon as we hit
town and tried the STB it worked, so we didn't bother looking for
a new one.
Now I'm sure you can guess what's coming. On our
return to the block we settle in to watch some tele and the bloody
STB doesn't work again.
So today we drive back into Bundy with a view
to buying a new STB, but this isn't as easy as we thought it would
You see most TVs these days are digital and don't
need an STB, Harvey Norman (a huge retailer, AKA Hardly Normal)
don't have a single unit on the shelves. Another huge retailer does,
but none of them run on 12v and anyway they are too large to fit
where the old STB is. Luckily the young salesman used to work at
yet another retailer and he mentioned a small STB they used to sell
there. It's just a black box about the size of a packet of cigarettes,
no fancy displays or huge box. That sounds about right.
We drive back into the main street and find the
STB at Dick Smiths electronic store, sure enough it's tiny and it
runs on 12v. We buy it. It's only standard definition but that's
all we're used to so it'll be OK.
On our return to the block I plug the new gadget
in and everything works, another challenge successfully overcome.
I'll wire it in properly tomorrow.
Wed 3 Dec 2008
Talk about a slack attack, we've spent almost
the entire day just sitting around on the deck talking and watching
the world go by. Actually what are going by are thousands of butterflies,
they are making their way from the SE and heading NW, mostly in pairs
but not always.
The reason for their direction of travel is a
mystery to us because it's against the wind and not towards the
After several hours we decide it's time to do
some travelling as well, so we go for a walk. The circuit we used
to walk (through a couple of neighbour's vacant properties) has
been cut by a fence, the land in question was recently purchased
by a new owner and apparently they like fences because they encircled
the entire block even though there's no animals or buildings on
As there's nobody in residence we follow our walking
track anyway, climbing over the obstruction.
On our return we resume our positions on the deck.
We just love it here so much so that we're in danger of not getting
back on the road. I have to constantly tell myself that I can sit
here all I like in ten or twenty years time, meanwhile we should
be out there doin' it.
Later, as the sun sets, we're still on the deck,
the only difference being that my coffee cup has been replaced by
a beer mug. It's dead quiet except for the sound of crickets and
Did I mention that we love this place?
Thu 4 Dec 2008
We're still sitting on the deck. This time
we get talking about the cost of living, whether or not we have to
decide to roughly calculate now much it costs us to live, we've
done this several times before of course but it's a good exercise
to revisit occasionally.
Once again we come up with the same answer, we
can live quite happily on $15,000 a year. Now that doesn't include
any contingency allowance, ie. provision for a blown motor or dropped
camera, but it does allow for normal vehicle maintenance etc. and
it allows for about 8000k of driving the truck, more than enough
to drive from the top of Australia to the bottom and back again
to follow the seasons.
Fifteen grand! That's less than some people spend
on a golf club membership. While most couples wonder how on earth
they will live on the $24,000 pension, we can't wait to get a pay
Then we got onto the issue of how much it would
cost for each of us to live if the other was gone. For me there
wasn't much difference, I'd just halve the food bill. But if Chris
was left alone she could live on...wait for it...$3,250.
This even blew me away. How can someone live on
just over three grand A YEAR?
The main reason is that she can't drive the truck,
so she wouldn't be doing any travelling in it and therefore no huge
fuel bill, insurance etc. She would just use it as a house on our
The other reason is that she is very easily amused,
with miles of space to walk around and a cheap supply of books from
the op-shops she's happy. No web sites, data plans, cameras or any
of the relatively expensive things I seem to need.
Truth is I could live without most of that stuff
as well, I just have this compulsion (or is it ego) that tells me
people are interested in reading about our lifestyle and/or looking
at my photos. One day I'll realise that's not the case and save
myself a lot of money :-)
Fri 5 Dec 2008
We're going back into town today but first
I get to have a bit of a sleep in. Really it's more of a lie-in as
I've been awake for hours and at some point Chris alerts me to the
fact that the wallabies are grazing just outside the front of the
it's been very warm all bedroom shutters are open and their design
is such that the bottom of the shutter openings are directly in
line with top of the mattress, this is for ventilation but it also
means that we can lay in bed and look out at the world, or in this
case the wallabies.
What a great way to start the day.
Later while on our walk we hear a car approaching,
it's Pete our neighbour and he's actually on his way around to our
place to drive through to the back of his block with a load of junk
for his shed.
His car is a wreck, it seems he rolled it a week
or so ago while doing a U-turn out on the main road. Now I would
think that it would be almost impossible to roll a vehicle whilst
doing a U-turn, unless of course you were not in possession of all
your faculties and drove into a ditch.
Given that every time I've seen him (including
now while he's driving) he's had a beer in his hand I'd say that
was the story. His version of events seems to confirm this as well.
Apparently he was turning very slowly and "all
of a sudden" the car started to roll over. A woman stopped
to help and while he was busy trying to hide several cartons of
beer in the bushes she rang the police. I don't know if they found
his booze or if he was done for DUI, but it probably doesn't matter
much because he was disqualified from driving anyway.
About three nights ago I noticed that he was burning
a light until the wee hours and figured that something had changed
because last I heard he didn't have the spare power to run a large
light all night. We just walked past his place, noticed a new generator
and figured that explains the light.
Well it does explain the light, apparently he
just bought the generator a few days ago, but it doesn't explain
its use all night. That can also be attributed to the booze because
it seems he "fell asleep pissed with the light on".
And speaking of books (well I was the other day)
I managed to find some time to do a bit of reading today. Chris
had a smallish book with a story set in the middle ages, it's the
sort of thing that I like but that she'll never read, so with nothing
but crap on the TV I open the book. By midnight I've nearly finished
Sun 7 Dec 2008
I have done some work today, grass cutting,
painting and tidying up some rubbish, but by late afternoon it starts
raining and we find ourselves back on the deck.
that the storms seem to largely go to the north of us which is fantastic
because we can sit on the deck with a drink and watch the show.
And what a show it is. For a couple of hours the
rain comes through in waves, repeatedly hiding then revealing the
mountain. And the lightning, both sheet and fork, is spectacular.
The new deck is a triumph, even better than the
one on Wothahellizat 1. Because half of it is actually inside the
lounge room we are more sheltered than before and can enjoy the
area in a much greater range of weather.
So today we can sit on the deck while it's raining,
but just two days ago it was nearly 40°C and it was still comfortable
because we can open the sides to let the breeze through.
Another thing that's working well is the rainwater
collection, we have been getting low on water but today, even though
we missed most of the rain our tanks are now full so we've added
about 300 litres. You may think that's not much but by our standards
it is, probably 3-4 weeks worth of usage.
Fri 12 Dec 2008
We have friends staying at present. Mark &
and Gavin & Tracy (hobohome.com).
Mark & Gail's rig (the GMC) and Gavin & Tracy's (the blue Bedford bus).
M&G used to own Hobohome, the Bedford bus,
and sold it to G&T several years ago.
We've cleared a more or less flat area for friends
to park on and created a fire place so I think everyone is quite
It's certainly great to be camping with some motorhoming
friends and we spend several days catching up. With happy hours
around one or other of the motorhomes it's almost like being back
on the road.
Tue 16 Dec 2008
M&G left yesterday and G&T are leaving
today so we'll be on our own again. Not for long though as we are
heading back to Glasshouse Mountains on Thursday to house sit over
we leave though we have to sort out some materials to take with
us as we'll be doing some work on the truck while we're away.
Wed 17 Dec 2008
Tomorrow we drive back to Glasshouse Mountains
to house sit for Peter & Marie, so today is largely spent tidying
up and preparing Wothahellizat for the trip.
18 Dec 2008
We mean to have an early start but as usual
it doesn't quite work out that way and it's close to 9:30 before we
leave. The truck runs well and there aren't too many dramas, we're
slowly getting to know what needs to be tied down, locked up, or put
away before we drive.
Fri 19 Dec
Peter & Marie and the entire family are
going to Fraser Island for the Christmas break, that's why we're here
mostly because there are a lot of animals that need caring for.
they go though Peter oils underneath all the vehicles, this will
protect them from the salt as the majority of driving on Fraser
is on the beach.
Peter has a rather unique method of accessing
the underneath of a car, he just lifts one end up in the air with
Peter oils the underneath of his ute in preparation for a trip to Fraser Island.
Tue 23 Dec 2008
Gavin and Tracy arrived the other day. They
have two reasons for staying with us over Christmas (apart from liking
our scintillating company that is), firstly they want to be off the
road and out of the way for the silly season. Secondly, the other
day while they were camping on our block we got talking about how
they get bogged so often and how the debogging procedure could be
of the main dramas when debogging a truck is getting under the vehicle
to place a jack so you can lift the wheels and pack under them.
On the ACCOs you can jack wheels from the outside because the hubs
extend, but on most busses/trucks the hubs don't extend, in fact
it's worse because the rear wheels are often duals and deeply dished.
So we came up with the idea of building something
that could bolt onto the wheel nuts and extend enough to allow the
placement of a jack.
And so the "bolt on hub extending jack thingy"
(BOHEJT) was born. The BOHEJT consists of a steel ring that goes
over the hub, it has holes cut for the wheels nuts, three on the
bottom are smaller and designed to go over the studs and be bolted
on by the nuts. The rest of the holes are large and fit over the
A large tube is welded to this ring, it has to
be large enough to fit over the hub and long enough to extend past
the dished rear wheels.
When bogged you remove three wheel nuts on the
bottom of the wheel, bolt on the BOHEJT, and jack the wheel up from
The BOHEJT in action. It looks too long here
because this is the front wheel, on the rear wheels the hub
is much further in and the tube only just protrudes enough
for the jack.
It works a treat, so keep a look out for the "bolt
on hub extending jack thingy" in your local 4x4 shop real soon
now. We've got to work on the name though.
Sat 3 Jan 2009
We're still here at Glasshouse Mountains working
on the truck. For the last week or so I've been painting every day
and it's now finished.
We have also installed the windows in the rear
shutter and they look great, with the back wall up and the windows
uncovered it's almost like having a small sunroom at the back of
Sun 4 Jan 2009
We've just about finished, but before we move
from under the shelter of the wash bay I'd like to adjust the brakes,
get the park brake working, and check out some leaks on the front
parking brake mechanism is as difficult to remove as is was last
time I tried, however about half way through the job I remember
that's it's not actually necessary to remove the linkages to adjust
the brake, you just have to loosen a lock nut and turn the linkages.
Then I want to remove all brake drums as some
are so seized that last time I tried I found it impossible get them
off. This time is no different but at least I have access to a large
oxy/LPG torch, eventually the drums succumb to a little heat.
Two drums that are easy to remove are the front
ones, that's because they are covered in what looks like oil. I've
noticed the leak for some time and assumed it was brake fluid, but
when we get things out into the open it seems to be liquefied grease
from the hubs.
So the seals have gone, now we have to pull off
In the process one of the wheel bearings sticks
onto the axle, and as the seal is behind the bearing we'll have
to cut the bearing off and this means buying a new one.
As usual a simple job turns into a not so simple
job. All I really wanted to do was adjust the brakes and free up
the drums, now I'm in for an almost complete dismantle of the front
Wothahellizat back in the wash bay.
The front axle with hubs off.
Close up of the left side, note the bearing
still in place, it's supposed to have come off with the hub.
The two front hubs and a pile of bearings,
hub nuts etc. Check out the original Army paint, 38 years
and still going strong.
Wed 7 Jan 2009
Still waiting for the new bearing. I've finished
replacing the seals on two of the axles but the third one requires
the bearing to be cut off before I can proceed.
I could probably
do this but Peter is an expert so I think it's wise to let him,
after all a stuff up could ruin the axle and then we're in deep
The left hand axle with stuck bearing, all
cleaned up ready for cutting.
Peter makes a start with the oxy.
It's getting a bit hot in there.
Thu 8 Jan 2009
We ordered the new bearing the other day and
today it arrives. Peter is in town so he picks it up while I pay for
it over the phone.
When he returns with the bearing Chris notices
that there is a error on the invoice, they've charged $522 for what
should have been a $50-60 bearing. Probably added a 0 by mistake
when typing in the value. Never mind, we'll phone in the morning
and sort it out.
Fri 9 Jan 2009
"Five hundred bucks for a bearing?, bloody
hell" I exclaim into the phone.
The man at BSC assures
me that's the correct price because it's an old and uncommon imperial
size. Youch! I have to sit down for a while to recover. Good thing
we didn't order a spare.
And speaking of spares, there's been several times
over the years that I've thought it would be a good idea to buy
another 6X6 ACCO and strip it for parts. We've never thought it
was really worthwhile, but with prices like that maybe we should
revisit the idea.
Sat 10 Jan 2009
We move the truck out from the wash bay so
Peter can have access.
Sun 11 Jan
Just tinkering with some wiring and other small
Mon 12 Jan 2009
There's a nifty gadget you can get called a
MICA lock. It's basically a valve that you insert into your brake
lines, when closed it will hold pressure on the brakes without having
to keep your foot on the pedal. This is useful if you have a dicky
park brake but is mostly used for locking the wheels when winching
and using the truck as an anchor.
I'd like to implement a MICA lock
on Wothahellizat, but the real thing requires the routing of the
hydraulic lines up into the cab. That's way too much work, but we
have air-over-hydraulic brakes, so I got the idea that I could do
something similar with the air part.
To cut a long (all day) story short I can't get
it to work, I still have another idea but I've had enough for the
That's it then, we're done with the mechanical
work, I just have to tighten up a few things and pack away the tools.
As I'm tightening up the air lines on a bulkhead
near the front of the motor I lean on the fan. It rotates. "That's
a little strange" I think, but then justify it for a few seconds
by telling myself that it's a hydrostatic fan. But it's not a hydrostatic
fan, there's no way it should move, unless...
- The fan belts are really loose, or
- The motor is turning, or
- Something's broken
Naturally we go for option 3.
It's the harmonic balance, the gadget that's attached
to the end of the crank shaft and that turns the fan belts. A harmonic
balances other purpose in life is to remove any "harmonics"
from the rotating engine and they do this by being made of two steel
parts joined by rubber. The rubber allows the outer part to vibrate
to compensate for any slight imbalances in the motor.
But when the rubber fails the outer part, which
has the V-grooves that drive the fan belts, is free to rotate independently
of the motor. This causes those devices driven by the fan belts,
ie. the alternator and the fan, to behave erratically. This in turn
explains why my tacho has been all over the place lately, as it
get its signal from the alternator.
So now we need a new harmonic balance.
It's late so I put this problem in the too hard
Tue 13 Jan 2009
Today I have to pull the harmonic balance off,
that's not a huge job but requires the removal of the radiator which
is both very heavy and delicate, thanks goodness we have a forklift.
though I had better source the part. I find a source for new parts
and get this, a new harmonic balance costs over $1600 and takes
four weeks to be delivered from England.
Let's try second hand.
$650, that's better but I'll keep trying. $450
and it will be here overnight. That'll do. Now I'll remove the old
Wothahellizat looking like it's having a nose job.
There is of course a complication. A chassis crossmember
runs in front of the motor and there's only about 15mm of clearance
between it and the balance. Trouble is you normally need a couple
of inches to pull a balance off. This presumably was not a problem
when they installed the motor because it would have been dropped
in vertically, but the balance has to be pulled off horizontally.
We have three options, raise the motor, remove
the crossmember, or cut the crossmember.
We go for option three, it will be much easier
to cut a section of steel from the crossmember and then weld a piece
back in after the job. And while I'm at it I can modify things to
allow any future harmonic balance removal.
The harmonic balance is off, with the help of one of Peter's pullers (foreground).
The modified crossmember.
Fri 16 Jan 2009
We could really leave now but P&M are going
away for the weekend so we'll hang around to look after the place.
I can keep busy by finishing off some more wiring and doing a few
pace has certainly slackened though, we're nearly done now and it's
very difficult to find the enthusiasm to do anything.
Tue 20 Jan 2009
Today we finally leave the workshop, and this
time we won't be back. We're not going far though, some time ago we
identified a nice spot in a nearby national park so we're going there
for a few days.
We say our goodbyes although it's actually everyone
else that's leaving first. Peter is off to a job and the rest of
the family are going into town, so we're left alone to pack up and
shut the gate on our way out.
Beau says good bye, what a lovely dog he is.
Later in the afternoon Lee drops in, we have been
communicating for some time about the truck and he's come down to
have a look and a chat. He's convincing me to write a book about
our travels, I like the idea so we'll see if I can muster the energy.
Wed 21 Jan 2009
We get our first "Did you build it yourself?"
today from a passing walker. It's just like old times.
in the day we have another visitor, Peter is a photographer from
Brisbane and he's been up a couple of times to check out the truck
while we were building.
He's now decided to build one himself so has driven
up to pick our brains. We talk for several hours, mostly while sitting
out on the deck, and I think he left even keener to do something.
Thu 22 Jan 2009
I want to check out the huge Borders bookshop
in north Brisbane so we ride into the city. I must say it's great
to be back on the motorbike, to be able to breathe in the scents of
the country as we pass through it.
OK so things were a bit ripe when that
cattle truck passed, but overall it's great to be more in touch
with the environment rather than the pasteurised, homogenised, and
air conditioned life us westerners usually live.
We get to the Chermside shopping mall and I make
a bee line for the book shop. My task, should I choose to accept
it, is to find as many books on Java Swing as I think Chris will
allow me to buy. Java is a programming language that is pretty much
computer independent. This means that any applications I write won't
be reliant on that 400-pound gorilla we all know and love, otherwise
known as Windows.
This is becoming an issue as I have several applications
written in VB6 that will have trouble when I move to Windows Vista,
something I will almost certainly have to do soon because my current
laptop is five years old and really showing signs of its age. There's
so much crap on it that the poor thing is flat out powering up let
alone running a large app like Photoshop CS3.
To this end we've been looking at the new laptops
lately and the range available it just ridiculous, it's taken me
a week to get up to speed on the processors alone of which there
appears to be over 50 types available. Centrino, Centrino 2, Core
Duo 2, Atom, and each type has dozens of subtypes, P9600, T8400,
T7350 etc etc. Why do we need so many? Then to make matters worse
some shops call a Centrino 2 a Core Duo 2 and vice versa. Eventually
we ignore the labels and get into the system settings to see exactly
what the computer has.
We almost bought a Toshiba that will allow me
to roll back to XP, however I've decided to bite the bullet and
move to Vista, but it just pisses me off that Microsoft are forcing
my hand. For example, the Office 2000 I have won't run on Vista,
so not only do I have to buy a new computer I also have to buy Office.
Corel 7 won't run either, and who knows what else. So it's going
to be a painful period.
That's why I'm going to start migrating to applications
that aren't dependant on Windows but it will be a long process and
some programs will possibly only ever be available in Windows so
I don't think moving to Linux or an Apple is practical for me.
And now I hear that Vista will be replaced by
Windows 7 in 18 months. Bloody hell. It had better be compatible.
Anyway, after starting to look at $700 laptops
and realising that they are way under powered, we moved up to $1500
then $2000 and were fairly happy that we could get a good unit for
around the $2k mark.
And then we saw it, the Toshiba Qosmio G50/402.
What a weapon, 640Gb hard drive (actually 2x320gB
which is better than a single drive), T9400 processor (one of the
fastest), 18" screen with 1960x1080 resolution, built in TV
and radio tuners, all the I/O ports in the right place (ie on the
side that suites my office), the DVD drive on the front (another
requirement for the office layout) and of course it's a Toshiba,
a brand we've always been happy with.
And the price, $2799, or closer to $3000 with
extended warrantee. Youch!
Stay tuned to see if we decide we can justify
Fri 23 Jan 2009
It's raining today and we really should make
our way back to the block but I'm in the mood to just sit around and
read. It's a really nice spot here and we're in no hurry to leave.
All shutters open in the rain.
The open deck looking out onto the bush.
Sometime early in the afternoon we get another
visitor. Rod lives locally and was driving past. He stopped to look
then couldn't resist and came over to say g'day.
We talk for a while then he leaves.
Later he returns with Tracy, his wife. They're
both pretty interested in this kind of lifestyle and we get on well.
We chat for hours until it's dark, hopefully we've convinced them
that being on the road is a great way to live.
Sat 24 Jan 2009
We're still sitting in the national park. It's
a nice spot and there's no real need to move.
25 Jan 2009
Jeez, you can run but you can't hide. Chris
has been email-conversing with some old friends from her school days
in the UK of late. Based on a couple of comments made by her friend
we decided to see if we could find her house with Google Earth.
blow me down if we didn't do just that. All we had was the post
code and fact that there was a blue tarp on the greenhouse roof
and we can get an aerial photograph of Chris' friend's back yard
with enough detail to plan all sorts of mischief.
So from a motorhome in the Australian bush we
can check out the back yard of a house in Nottingham UK. Pretty
impressive technology and Chris is living up to her nickname of
Sherlock (one of her previous surnames, she's had a few don't ask,
If that's what we can do from a motorhome in the
bush with a cheap laptop just imagine what Big Brother (the Orwellian
BB, not the inane TV show, ) can do. Still I don't know about you,
but I have the utmost faith that the authorities only use such power
for our own good.
Mon 26 Jan 2009
Today is one of those classic living-on-the-road
days we love. I spend much of the time wandering around looking for
photos, and Chris relaxes on the deck with a book. This is what we're
supposed to be doing and it's been a long time between drinks.
Some macro shots of the day.
Tue 27 Jan 2009
I wake to the sound of rain, it's great to
just lie in bed and listen to the drops on the roof and leaves. The
shutters are working well, even in a downpour there's little need
to close them. We only do so if there's also a wind that blows the
water through the side of the shutter opening.
We really should make our
way back to the block but neither of us want to travel in the rain
so we'll hang around another day or so.
Thu 29 Jan 2009
OK we've been slack enough for one week, it's
time to head back to the block as we have friends meeting us there
on the weekend.
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