GRAYnomad Nature Photography :: The GRAYnomad Chronicles :: #087
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Editorial

It's been a long time coming but I finally start on the camper fitout for the Landcruiser. One reason I've made a start is that we planned to go away on March, that's now been put on hold and we're aiming for September, but if I don't get on with things it won't be finished even then.

Besides that I'm getting real keen to get back into my photograhy and having a servicable camper is a big part of that.

I begin with the roof rack, mostly because I need that to be in place so I have somewhere to put a spare wheel, so far it's been stored inside the canopy but it can't stay there, I need the space.

Till next time then, and remember,

Don't Dream it, Be it!

Mon 04 Jan 2021

I've nearly reached the low point of the track which is a little bit passed these steps.


 
 

Once at that point I'll stop for a while and get into the camper build.

Sat 09 Jan 2021

Several times in the last couple of weeks I've had to cook dinner because Chris wasn't able to. She's finding it very difficult to breathe lately and that's getting a bit worrying.

Anyway tonight I make sausage rolls (under her supervision), what a carry on. What a mess.

We have the fire on because it's actually a bit cool, hence the making of sausage rolls (and bread for that matter) and they tasted great. Chris says "I bet you enjoyed making them". My considered response is "There was no single part of that I found to be enjoyable, and we haven't even done the bad part yet" (referring to the washing up).

If I wind up doing the cooking around here they will be the last sausage rolls we ever eat.

Thu 14 Jan 2021

I started work on the camper today.

The first thing to do is build the roof rack, mostly because I need to get the spare wheel out of the way before I can start on the interior.

I'd like to use some bends in the design rather that just have a square boxy rack, and I do have that tube bender I bought a while back. It's not really for bending RHS, but I think it should work for small bends.


 

I do a test piece, it works well.


 

I have to cut a relief on the inner side of the bend.


 

When RHS is bent with a proper machine this inner side is also folded inwards to allow for the compression, that doesn't work with my simple bender but this cut seems to achieve the same result.

As the bend progresses though the metal does start to distort.


 

So I set up a temporary anvil so I can beat it back into line.


 

To get the required angle I place a protractor on both sides of the bend and subtract one value from the other as I'm bending. Then add a few degrees to allow for the metal to spring back. This works well, although one of those new electronic versions of this protractor would be great.


 

Sat 16 Jan 2021

I go for a hike up Mt Perry today with friends Gavin and Tracy that live out that way.


 
 

What a great walk this is already and when it's finished in a few months it will be even better.

Sun 18 Jan 2021

Today I invested heavily in cryptos.

I've signed up with Odysee, a YouTube-like platform that is distributed and unlikely to be shut down by big Tech. On Odysee you can "tip" creators if you like their videos and you do this using the inbuilt crypto currency. It's called LBC (LiBrary Coin I guess) so I thought I'd buy some.

You have to buy cryptos through an exchange and somehow I knew about the Coinspot exchange, it's Australian based so I thought I'd sign up to it.

Well it seems that I can't sign up because my email is already taken, hmmm. I contact their help line to be informed that I've already signed up. Oh that's right, 2-3 years ago I was toying with the idea of buying cryptos, but back then you had to faff around to much to verify your identity.

These days all that is required is a scan of your driver's license. I do that and am in.

Now to charge my account and actually buy crypto. I put $10 into the account and blow the lot on LBC, yeah I know, risky but I like to live on the edge.

Sun 21 Jan 2021

Simon (a neighbour) rings about silver, I've been talking with him about buying some literally for years now but somehow just never got around to buying any.

Anyway after the recent Wallstreetbets play on the stock market the word is that they will try again with silver. I don't know about that but it's as good a reason as any to finally stack some silver I guess.

I planned to go into Bundy anyway tomorrow so first up I will drop into the bullion dealer.

Mon 22 Jan 2021

Bloody bullion dealer is closed on Mondays. What the heck, what business doesn't open on Mondays?

No matter, maybe that's nature's way to stop me from wasting money.

I spend the rest of the day wasting money in other shops instead. Well not so much wasting, I'm buying gear for the camper fitout and I hope that won't be a waste.

Tue 23 Jan 2021

Bugger it. I go back into Bundy and buy some silver. Not a lot, just something to dip my toes in the water. I'll probably add to the pile over time but I'm not interested in speculating, in general I don't care if it goes up or down in the short term but I do think it will go up over the next few years and let's face it cash is worth less and less every year.

Mon 25 Jan 2021

Meanwhile still working on the roof rack, the hard part is done now.


 

Here we see two spare wheels in place and that's how I originally planned to roll all the time. But really you only need two on an outback trip, for day to day driving there's little point and it makes the vehicle higher. So the front (lower) one will be permanent with proper mounting hardware, the top one will not have any permanent mount, at this point I'm not sure how it will be fixed there but I suspect a ratchet strap to two will do the job.

Sat 30 Jan 2021

I've pretty much finished the roof rack, still have to add solar panels and a few things but the spare wheel now has a home and that was the important thing, I'll finish it off later.

So I can start on the interior.

I do a bit of a mock up with some of the items that will be included, fridges, water tank, porta potty etc.


 

Sun 31 Jan 2021

All the large trees are dying around here. It's a real shame but at least will give me a source of firewood for years to come.

As they die all the outer layer of wood peels off like a really thick bark as this one is doing.


 

This one is just a couple of feet from the house, that's a real problem and I don't think I am game enough to drop it myself, quite apart from the fact that my chainsaw is not big enough.


 

It's the big one just left of center. I think we'll have to get an arborist in for this one.

Wed 03 Feb 2021

I start on the frame for the windows today. This involves ripping some 3x1 to about 60mm wide


 
 

These will be screwed and glued onto the canopy to create a frame around the windows. This should stiffen up the canopy quite nicely and also provide a nice square attachment point for any fly screens we add.

The tray used to have a "Ute mat" on the floor, I removed it a while back and was going to give it away but have decided that it might be useful as a "floor" on this part of the workshop.


 

Yes I'll probably trip over the upturned edges, and they will catch every extension lead that I drag over the mat. We'll see how it goes over time.

Thu 04 Feb 2021

One of my old school mates is passing through the area and when this happens they generally drop in to see another old school mate that lives just down the road from here.

And also when this happens I generally drive down to his place to catch up.

So I'm cruising down the highway in the middle of nowhere when an approaching car lights up with the red and blues.

Bugger, it's a cop and I'm the subject of his attention.

He approaches the passenger side of the car and indicates that I should wind the window down. I can't really because it's almost out of reach and too hard to wind with your arm at full extension anyway. I indicate that he should open the door which he does. "Sorry" he said, "most cars have electric windows these days".

Anyway it seems that I just cruised through a school zone at highway speed. Heck I'm on an open highway in the bush with not a kid or soccer mum in sight. I didn't even see the sign. Oh well, dem's the rules I guess.

He is very pleasant and we yack about the Bingera mill closing and other things. Unfortunately he still has to write a ticket because apparently once the radar flags an infringement there has to be a matching ticket issued.

But he makes the fine for the lowest amount possible which saves me about $500.

Mon 08 Feb 2021

We decided today that we will delay the trip down south until September. Partly because I won't have the camper finished by March/April but also because Chris' son has his 50th birthday in that month and she would like to be there at that time.

I'm happy to delay because I don't want to do a long trip with the camper half finished, and besides that I have too much to do right now, what with all the grass growing like crazy after the rain.

So I get back into the camper build. After doing a few welds the generator fails, just stops dead. Bugger.

I restart it with some trouble and it runs just fine.

A minute later it stops again.

Restart...stops in a few seconds.

Double bugger. Let's have a look at things.

Well the first item I notice is that the fuel filter has almost no fuel in it. I don't remember how much you should be able to see in the clear housing but I think it should be a lot more than that.

I disconnect the fuel line and blow into it. I can hear bubbles in the tank so it's not blocked, but also there isn't much draining out either if I lower the hose. I remove the tank and then the outlet valve. There's a small filter that's part of the valve and that does have some gunge clogging it a bit, not enough to matter I would think but I clean it anyway.

Now there's a better flow out of the fuel line so maybe that was the problem.

I reassemble everything and voila, it works.

Wed 10 Feb 2021

I take the Landcruiser into the mechanics. The brake rotors were too thin years ago and I don't think they have got any thicker over that time and although in theory I could do the work myself I really don't want to, I haven't done that particular job before and who knows what tools I would need that I don't have. And quite apart form that I'm just sick of doing that sort of work, I'll still do simple things like timing belts, but I think that from now one I'll just pay a mechanic if needs be.

So we'll pay for them to do it, $1250-1300 they quoted, ouch.

So now I don't have the car to work on I'll get back into some weed clearing. After the recent rains the tall weeds have made a comeback and I like to get them before they mature because at that point they become really woody and almost impossible to cut with the nylon cord I use in the brushcutter. Also I'm hoping that if I get them all before they have a chance to seed maybe they won't return in following years, or at least be hugely reduced in numbers.

Later in the afternoon I walk down my track, towards the bottom is a lovely area in a gully with a rock face and nice trees, and today there must be a 1000 butterflies there as well.

They are mostly a black and blue variety but a couple of smaller yellow ones and some huge black ones as well.

I stand still for about half an hour watching them, with many landing on branches just a foot or so from me.

From now on this place will be known as "Butterfly Grove".

This actually brings to mind an alternative reason I have for building the track, I will be able to easily stroll around it with a camera and take macro photos of the insects.

Thu 11 Feb 2021

I get a call from the mechanics, the brake hoses and swivel joint seals are knackered. Will we do them? Yep, might as well while it's in the shop.

Fri 12 Feb 2021

I phone the mechanic at about 2 o'clock to ask how things are going. Not good as it happens. It seems that the king pin bearings are stuffed as well. Does a Landcruiser even have king pin bearings?

Now it is easy to get ripped off with things like this, but I'll give them the benefit of the doubt, after all it is a 25-year-old FWD and who knows how much, if any, maintenance it's had. Also all this work is on the brakes and front suspension, two areas you really don't want a failure at highway speeds, or any speeds for that matter.

So I tell him to go ahead. I am dreading the final bill that's for sure.

Tue 16 Feb 2021

Got the Cruiser back today. It cost about $1900 which is a fair slug but to be honest I was expecting more. I think this is a watershed moment for me, having someone else do mechanical (or indeed any) work for me is something I have hardly done for decades.

Am I getting old, or just have things I'd rather do?

Wed 17 Feb 2021

When I return from clearing grass I here a funny squawking sound, I investigate and find a snake latched onto a frog. I grab the snake and force it to let go, then relocate it down in a gully. I think it is the same one that was under Chris' computer a few days ago, might have to take it further if there's a next time.

Sun 21 Feb 2021

We have several resident bush chooks (scrub turkeys) and they have got pretty tame over the years.

But lately they have taken to sitting down just outside the living room with their backs towards us. I can only assume that they are so comfortable with us now that they consider the house (and us) a safe space that they can largely ignore which means they only have to keep an eye out on a small amount of the bush rather than the full 360 degrees.

It looks a bit like that are watching out for us, so I now call them my "watch turkeys".


 

The internal framework for the camper is coming along nicely, this is part of the support for one of the bunk platforms with provision for one of the fridges to go partially underneath the bed.


 

Sun 07 Mar 2021

I have decided to visit another pistol club so today drive out the the Miriam Vale club.

It's a real nice drive through the bush to a secluded range that you would never find without instructions, and even then I get a little "geographically embarrassed".

I think I'll be coming here in future, one of their shoots is on the first Sunday of the month, and I also shoot at Eidsvold on the first Saturday of the month. So what I'm thinking is a two-day excursion shooting at Eidsvold on Saturday morning, then spend the rest of the day traveling around the district looking for photographs and camping somewhere in the bush. And finally I shoot the next morning at Miriam Vale and then either look for more photos or just head home.

And speaking of photos, on the trip today I saw three really interesting machines in paddocks right close to the road. All three would make good subjects for the large-format camera so I'm looking forward to that.

But before I can spend a night away in the car I have to finish the camper fitout, or as least get it to a usable state.

 

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