Rob Gray :: ontheroad :: wothahellizat :: wot1 :: diaries :: issue-007


3 Feb 1999

I'm busily trying to get the truck back on the road so we can take it to the Canberra CMCA chapter's rally next weekend. The rally is in the bush and I thought it would be a good shakedown trip for the work done so far. Mind you it's still a cab chassis so we'll have to take the 4x4 as well so we have something to camp in.

I've built one of two cradles to hold the house batteries. These cradles hang from the chassis rails on either side of the drive shaft however I don't have much room and I'm a bit worried that the movement of the axles may cause the drive shaft to hit the cradles. One reason for taking it on the trip this weekend.

5 Feb 1999

It's Friday night and I've finally got the truck ready for it's first real outing. I fire up the engine, drive just out of the workshop, apply my new maxi brake and get out to listen for any unwanted noises. There's the distinct sound of escaping air from one of the new fittings, a half turn with a shifter fixes that. The mirrors became misaligned when I added some stabiliser bars to them so they get re-aligned. Hmm, looks pretty good.

Climbing back into the cab I slip into gear and start up the driveway. It's quit steep and the engine lugs a bit but makes it up easily, must be cold I thought. On reaching the road I go to change up a gear and realise I was already in third. Man this thing's got more pull than a herd of elephants.

I really just want to drive 'round the block to make sure nothing falls off, and get some fuel. Pulling into my favourite service station (the nearest one with easy access for trucks, I guess you start to think more about this sort of thing when driving such a large vehicle) I pull the knob that is connected to the cable that is connected to the lever that is connected to the shut-off valve that stops the motor. Nothing happens, the motor keeps running just fine. I push the knob and pull it again, still nothing. Bloody hell. The valve is on the other side of the engine so I have to get out and climb back in to manually shut it off. So far not so good.

I fill up and return to the workshop. Tomorrow's outing is looking unlikely. On lifting the engine cowling I see the problem. The cable is similar to a choke cable with a knob which is connected to a wire which is enclosed in a sleeve, when you pull the knob the action is transmitted to the other end of the the cable where it pulls whatever is connected to the wire. In this case however, the wire's sleeve is not clamped tight enough to stop it from moving, therefore when I pull the knob the entire wire/sleeve combination moves, instead of just the wire. The end result is that the the cable simply changes shape and does not transmit the pulling action.

This cable has been a pain from day one, it's really difficult to connect, imprecise in it's feel, and now it seems, is unreliable. The truck will not be going on tomorrow's rally so I pack up and go home.

6 Feb 1999

After going to the wrong part of Micalong Creek (it's a very long creek and we went to the wrong end resulting in about 100k extra dirt-road driving than anticipated) we finally catch up with the other members of our chapter on the cool, willow-lined banks of the creek near Wee Jasper.

It's interesting to note our response to this bout of geographic embarrassment. In the past I would have been really pissed off about not checking the exact location and Chris would have had a go at me as well. This time however we both figured "what the heck, the worst thing that can happen is that we enjoy a weekend in the bush by ourselves". We were self sufficient so it didn't matter where we camped.

I know the general layout of the land and suggested that we drive west and head up any track we find going in a northerly direction. I reasoned that this would probably get us to the right area, but if not, who cares?

This incident tells me that we are slowing down and ready for the full-timing lifestyle.

Anyway the first track to the right did take us to Wee Jasper (at the other end of Micalong Creek) and we met up with our CMCA friends. Mark & Gail had their almost-finished "Hobohome" there,

with it's garage for a mini-moke under the bed at the rear of the bus. This proved to be something that everyone wanted to see.

We set up our humble camper. Actually, for a 4x4 we have a very well setup vehicle

it's just that, by motor home standards, it's a bit spartan. I confess to much envy when I look at what can be done with big rigs. I can't wait to get ours to a usable state.

8 Feb 1999

I'm going to do something about that blasted engine cut-off cable. I've seen solenoid cut-off valves before and decide to install one. I soon change my mind however when I get a price of "about $300" from the local International dealer. Sure I could probably get a third party unit or a cheaper one from the wreckers but there has to be a quicker/better/cheaper way. And there is. All I need to do is move a lever on the side of the motor. I reasoned that any form of actuator should do the trick then remember the solenoid actuators used to retro-fit central locking to older cars.

These actuators are cheap and readily available from Jaycar, a chain of electronics shops. After work I buy one and set too fitting it. After welding an extension to the existing cable bracket I screw the actuator to the extension, connect a spring to the lever and connect the actuator to the spring with some fencing wire (now I ask you, where would we be without fencing wire?). I jury-rig some wires and apply power, the actuator pulls, the spring stretches and the lever moves. It looks good. I start the motor and repeat the process, on applying power to the actuator the motor stops almost instantly. I repeat the procedure a few times then declare the new setup a goer. I insert a button in the dashboard hole where the cable knob was, tidy up the wiring and the job's finished. Total expense, $15 for the actuator, a dollar or so for the spring, an inch and a half of fencing wire and about two hours of my time.