Archive for March, 2013

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Already at Lusaka!!!

March 31, 2013

Thursday 13h30 Geoff and I said our goodbyes to our adorable families and commenced our blindness banishing Rhino saving journey from Johannesburg to London. Plain sailing it certainly was not. As the car was to the hilt packed and the two of us climbed into our respective comfortable Ford Fiesta seats and drove slowly out of the driveway to begin the long haul Janice, Geoff;s wife noticed some fluid dripping generously out of the front of the car! Ooops, so the first repair was affected within spitting distance of my front door! We found the breather pipe of the petrol tank was leaking so we cut and not pasted but cut and re-joined the errant fuel hose to the breather pipe. Add to this the fact that the tank filler cap was also hard and seriously suspect so we had further fuel loss here. In fact three days into our trip we are still learning the idiocyncries of the little Imp; the fuel breathers were one incestuous little mess the way I had put them together when installing the twin tanks and it took two days of fuel overflowing days to figure out how to overcome this particular problem.  Now at the Victoria Falls in Zambia we feel we have sorted the problem out. But more about that later.

Our first fire baptism was the inordinately heavy traffic on the Pietersburg highway north of Pretoria, all the ZCC faithful on their happy way to the largest Christian gathering in Moria. Add to this that at every single police control our litte Imp was stopped, only fo course for the police to admire our vehicle and ask questions about our trip.

Well we breathed a quiet sigh of relief as we brached off the main highway and turned towards Moli molie on a quieter road.    Our happiness with the quieter road was soon turned to shock disappointment when the car suddenly started losing power, eventualy failing completely. In desperation we flicked the fuel pump switch of the second tank and hey presto, the car kicked back into life again. Relieved we carried on but holding our breath nonetheless.

Now the days building up to our actual departure from Johannesburg was an extremely stressful time leaving both of us rather ragged and damn close to exhaustment but we stuck to our guns nonetheless. The main cause of our massive anxiety was the inordinate delays in obtaining visas for the various countires we planned travelling through. On Tur=esday the agency that we had entrusted to facilitate our visa acquisitions contacted us to say our visas for

Ethiopia were not being granted as the Ethiopians needed this doc commissioner of oaths confirmed, others signed off in blood and so on and so fifth! Geoff and I decided to rather take back control of our destiny in respect of our visas and on Wednesday as sparows we converged at the offices of our agency in Pretoria and claimed back our passports and went to the Ethiopian Embassy ourselves. It took only five hours and we both had visas granted for Ethiopia. This of course had now robbed us of precious time away from our preparations of the car and oru equipment. Nevertheless we now had all but the Sudanese visas which we were informed we would be able to get them in Nairobi in just one day.

So back to the road trip itself; along the route we happened to meet up with some fellow Historic Single Seater Car racers and lots of people enquiring about our car and the trip we were undertaking. Arrivied just as darkness fell in Ellisras and topped up the fuel tanks and decided that we should take a run to the Botswana border at Martins Drift. Well driving at night was always going to be risky due to possible potholes and the ever present danger of whacking a buck of some domestic animals aroung one bend or another. So good lights were a prerequisite and in this regard we were well away with good quality healights supported by two moders and very effective spotlights. We this was all going well until all of a sardine we found ourselves pummelling along in complete darkness with again the engine having failed……. What now? Well the extra spotlights were too much for  the 40 Amp fuse we had installed. So out we hop armed with the incredibly effective Streamlight Knucklehead and within minutes we were on the road again. Weary but deep down happy we arrived at the Botswana border post expecting to be delayed for at least one full hour to clear both the South African side and the Botswana formalities. What lay in store for us was nothing short of a nightmare. Armed with Job like patience and good manners we stood in the massive queues waiting our turn to be attended to. Well we were upset of course when people jumped the queue but we kept our clam nonetheless. We kept our cool the entire time, THE ENTIRE FIVE HOURS!

In fact the queue of about 3 or four wide stretching for hundreds of people out of the immigration hall was orderly at first but as the weight of numbers grew and the effectiveness of the Botswana border officials seemed to wane so the impatient crowd became more unruly demanding a faster service. Their ire was directed to the single policeman who was manning the entrance door and we could see that he was starting to lose the battle. From our side, we had progressed from about position 80 or 90 to being 20 or so in the line but then it all wnet pearshaped with the line of three or four wide collapsed to a massive 12 to 15 wide milling crowd shouting and screaming for the lone cop to allow them to entre the immigration hall. To this the completely innefectual copper glibly suggested that we simply fall back in line of two wide and then he would begin to again allow people to entre to have their papers sorted. Now picture the scene, hunderds if not thousands had broken rank out of sheer desperation and were swelling across the entire width of the passage =way, what chance was ther of an orderly line being fomed again, and who would be the first to go to the back of this particular line and how many more hours would it then take for them to get through the border. What a mess it really was. Both Geoff and I were squashed mercilessly in this angry throng that was jostling and shoving in an attempt to get through to the immigration officials. Inspite of the obvious dabger we gritted it out and in fact weasleed our way to finally gain access to the immigration hall. In fact as we entered I could hear the angry crowd outside complaining about the ‘Mlungu’ – the white men who had been granted access. Well shocked but the blatant bad manner behaviour of the crowds and totally enhausted we slowly drove out and away from the dreaded Martin’s Drift borderpost.

Within minutes we had found the nearby campsite and had our tent erected and before the dust settled we were both asleep! We were asleep for a full FOUR HOURS before we again leapt to our feet and packed up our tent kit, paid for the camping and drove into Botswana.

 

I was in no shape to fdrive and Geoff took up the reins and managed to whole day’s driving; we managed to get as far as Nata where we set up camp at the Nata Lodge and at sundown we managed to jump into the lukewarm water of the spotless swimming pool before tucking into a fine dinner and off to bed for a full and uninterrupted sleep in very pleasant surroundings.

Up bright and early and things were looking much better for the day ahead. With the little Imp loaded up again we mosied off and onto the road that runs through the Chobe National Park where we were treated to numerous sightings of elephants and other wildlife right next to the road or even crossing it.

But our day also had a small botheration in that the top petrol tank fuel pump failed so we set about sorting the problem out and even at the early stage of the days heat the petrol tank had begun to swell up with the heat that was being generated by the front mounted radiator and when I blew into the breather tank there must have been a blockage that had cleared and the fuel, now lukewarm squirt blasted out and went straight into my eye!! Now with my thumb holding the breather pipe closed to prevent the fuel from pouring out and my other hand trying to comfort my stinging eye and shouting to Geoff to GET THE EYE DROPS QUICK! He first thrust a bottle of cold water into my eye comforting hand and with the smarting in my eye becoming unbearable I let the fuel overflow do exactly that, overflow, I set about doctoring my eye with the water and holding my eye open I poured the water generously into the open eye and washed out the 95 octane and the applied a few eyedrops and within minutes I was fixed up and back on track. But not our fuel pump was not working properly!

 

Another day, another border crossing this time with an irritation of another sort; hordes of forex toters hassle and hound you and make you feel jolly uncomfortable and even vulnerable, certainly not welcome in Zambia. The Zambian government would do well to ban all these rubbish hasslers out of the immigration areas much like the municipalities do in Johannesburg where the toters are welcome to try to garner business outside the gates of the municipalities but not inside the gates.

 

 Tonight Sat 30th March we set up camp on the banks of the great Zambesi river and tomorrow morning we will take a walk past the Vic falls.

We have now arrived in Lusaka and are staying in my nieces home in Lusaka and tomorrow morning we hit the great north road to Tanzania.

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A busy but a very productive day.

March 25, 2013

Started the day cheering on the gaggle of F1 drivers who were on duty in Malaysia; hmmm I think young Vettel has done enough to have himself thrown out of favour with a number of folks at RB! And i say Garmin, you have yourselves a potential new customer for directional assistance in MR. LOST HAMILTON.

Then it was back to the grindstone churning out German wors rolls at the very successful Brightwater Commons Beerfest where we were blessed with glorious weather, great entertainment and plentiful and hungry customers.

Then it was off to my friend Bruce Pidwell who resurrected my race imp from a lost cause write-off smash in February and i loaded up the Imp doner body and parked it at home. A quick supper at home then with my family, including my sister who has come in from Zimbabwe to cheer me off on my trans-continental journey and then straight afterwards it was back into the garage to re-install the fuel tanks and take my JoLon Imp for a proper test run to establish that indeed i had been successful in fixing the brakes. Three small runs around the block and the brakes were fine but now the car was starting to overheat. Clearly i had developed an airlock as the frond rad pipes had to be undone for the fuel tank removal. Half an hour of fiddling left me no better off and i retired JoLon to the garage once again while i went back to the restaurant to finish off the day’s business. Getting home again at past midnight i almost managed to get into my house to head off to bed but the garage managed to pull me in to convince me to have another go at resolving the water air lock/ overheating problem.

I have just removed the thermostat, cleaned the housing faces and put a new gasket in place and tightened up the thermostat housing. Giving the gasket maker a chance to dry overnight i will water the car up in the morning and give old JoLon a  good honest run tomorrow. Wish me good luck!

It’s now time to get a little bit of shut-eye before its off to  the Embassies in Pretoria at 08h00 in the morning!

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MARK BACHLER FOR PRESIDENT!

March 23, 2013

It is a sad state of affairs when you have to get advice from an Auto Electircian that the brake specialists has done a bum job and that there is no way the mods to my Imp brake system would ever work! I Visited my good friend Frank copping of mOBILECTRIC TO HELP ME SORT OUT THE FACT THAT MY BRAKE LIGHTS REMAINED ON PERMANENTLY. IT TOOK HIM A FULL TWO MINUTES TO DIAGNOSE WHAT THE PROBLEM WAS! THE BRAKE S SPECIALISTS SHOP cbf HAD MODIFIED MY HYDRAULIC SYSTEM BY PUTTING A LONGER ARM TO PUSH THE MASTER CYLINDER SO THAT I WOULD GET MORE PEDAL; YES I DID GET MORE PEDAL, BUT GUESS WHAT??? THE PRESSURE NEVER RELEASED AND AFTER A FEW REASONABLE STOPS THE BRAKE FLUID HEATED UP, THE PRESSURE WAS NEVER RELEASED SO THE BRAKE LIGHTS NEVER WENT OFF COS THEY ARE ON A PRESSURE SWITCH AND OF COURSE THE BRAKES WOULD BEGIN TO BIND!!!! AAAARGH, I HATE INCOMPETENCE! 

 

so after work last night i went to my garage and removed both fuel tanks AGAIN and removed the specialist brake shos mod and put back the origional spec master cylinder plunger. Bled the brakes AGAIN but was met of course with dissapointment, the result was back to almost no brakes, the problem that i had encountered from day one. too tired and quite honestly right out of ideas, i retired to bed to get some shut for a big day at work the next day. 

Oh i am soooo grateful that i have a big mouth, cos talking about my brake drama to one of my good customers he pondered what the problem could be and suggested calling our mutual pal, Mark Bachler. wiwthin minutes mark had me sorted so after work tonight, i set abotu following his sound advice! i took off all four brake drums and on measuring them against older ones i found the ones i had been using had a much bigger diameter, so a quick change, a full double bleed and guess what? a full brake pedal again and tomorrow after graft i will put back the fuel tanks and give it a good road test which i expect to be perfect. !! thank you Ian for reminding me about Mark and thanks Marks for the top advice!

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enough to BRAKE my heart!

March 21, 2013

As part of my car prep for this trip i decided to replace with new or totally refurbished items on my braking system. Surprised and rather perplexed in fact i was to find that i could not in fact find any brakes! The pedal went all the way to the floor and even when resorting to removing my double fuel tanks to replace the master cylinder this did not improve matters. In fact i had in spite of having my braking system reduced to a gradual and gentle retardation system i did drive the car around for a few weeks in the vain hope that the problem would one day sort of miraculously just correct itself!!!

Some hope!

Well at least i don’t feel soooo bad! Even though I failed to discover why I was unable to get brakes on my Little Imp! Having given up the ghost and handing it over to the brake experts at CBF, it took them three full days to sort out the problem. In fact if the truth be told, they did not actually discover why i had not pressure on the pedal so they just replaced the original plunger out of the master cylinder. So at least now i have brakes and good one at that! However the interesting thing is that the brake pedal is now much higher than normal. So when you lift off the accelerator to push brake pedal you end up with your right knee about level with your right ear!!! But I’m positive we will get used to it. It will just take a bit of re-adjusting if we then drive a normal car.

 

Tonight having taken the Imp for another short run i found the engine power slowly being sapped so much so that i was down to first gear on a slight incline!!! This was definitely serious and worrisome. Firstly thought it could have been fuel starvation, but it turned out to be binding brakes!!! So 45 minutes to let it cool off and off i managed to get home and adjust out the brake shoes.

 

Indeed i was soon seething as i found the specialist brake shop had successfully and well and truly beetled one of my brake shoe adjusters! Grrrrr!

 

 

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SHOCKING!

March 16, 2013

Our kick off date of 17th March has been delayed due to a few admin and technical problems but we expect to head off to London shortly.

For example, the IMPortant parts we were waiting for from England has still not arrived. In fact they probably have arrived in South Africa but due to our postal strike here i have not yet been advised of their arrival nor do i expect to get them before i need to leave.

Also delays in some visas are an issue, so while we hurry up and wait for the various embassies to do their thing we are finalising bits n pieces on our Imp chariot.

Yesterday was however a SHOCKING day.

I watched the team of shock absorber fitters swarm around my car and merrily remove the rubber doughnut in order to fit two back Shock absorbers!!!! I was surprised twofold! WHY REMOVE THE DOUGHNUT & why have tee shirts that had the following message printed on them “RELAX IM AN EXPERT!”

Well after an interminable delay i decided to assist them in aligning the last two (obviously the most difficult) bolts and they proceeded to fasten the nuts and bolts accordingly. There was also a delay due to the fact that i had gone for a specific shock that works well on my race Imp but what we miscalculated was that the race imp’s springs are much shorter. So we had to undo the original shocks a d send out for longer replacements which added to the delays.

Time to head home arrived, now in rush hour traffic and lo and behold as i took off from an uphill stop street i heard an almighty clack clack clack from the left rear so pulled over to examine what the donner had happened. What happened was that the guys who removed the doughnut had stripped one of the bolts and the nut just removed itself and with nothing to hold it in place the bolt merrily found another place to be and that was not where i was getting any drive!!!

A phone call t my lovely wife and a snap lesson over the phone on how to drive a car with a trailer on it and then sit back for an hour or so until night fell and the car trailer arrived .

Aon to the trailer and off home and after a quick coffee it was off into the garage with my son Brendan who with me battled for a good hour or two the get the bolt back in place and the doughnut back where it should have been. Our long frustrated toiling was duly rewarded and hyper happily i placed the new nut in place and began to tighten………… to my absolute horror i came to realise what in fact had caused the drama in the first place!!! They had stripped the bolt so the offending bolt had to be then removed and the mission of reinserting a new bolt and nut began all over again!!! Now why they removed the doughnut in the first place boggles my mind.

 

Well today was better, we now have the front suspension properly set up by my friend and suspension expert Wayne Berrington-Smith; yes the very same Wayne who last year piloted my race Imp to great success at Kyalami.

We also inserted our rear windows sorted the handbrake setup.

 

So London, get you ready for our imminent arrival!

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‘scuse me, is London thisaway?

March 13, 2013

'scuse me, is London thisaway?

the JoLon Imp first time out of the garage on its own steam!

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SHAKING DOWN THE JOLON IMP

March 13, 2013

For the past few days i have been getting close to my Imp that will soon transport me and Geoff to London, in fact to Coventry where we will get to meet many more members of the Imp family at the Imp 50 Birthday party.

Well it has not been plain sailing, in fact if the truth be told i have had butterflies in my tummy every time i start driving it, just plain worrying about what might not be working or whatever.

Plenty still needs to be done, for an example, the brakes are seriously suspect in spite of refurbishing everything from the piping to the brake cylinders, masters etc. So i am going to have to have an expert examine where i have gone wrong here cos we will need to be able to stop from time to time!

I notice also that the dash lights are not all illuminating as they should; the water temp is a critical one that remains in the dark so to speak!

But my biggest shock surprise (‘cuse the pun!) was when i pulled into the Supa Quick fitment center to have a set of new shocks fitted only to find the techies there perplexed at the type of shock on my Imp, we have nothing that will fit this Terence, you will have to modify the suspension. Now while i should be busy deciding where to pack my toothpaste and sunglasses for the trip i am having to reinvent the wheel. My own fault of leaving things to the last minute. Well no worries anyway, i just paid a visit to my good friend Bruce who was manfully toiling on my totally wrecked race Imp and while he was pre-occupied with piecing together the seven jig-saw like pieces of Imp that he will reconstruct the rear end of the Imp i sneakily stole around to the front of the Imp and removed the two front shock adjustable turrets that will allow me to use normal shocks. Yippee!

So tomorrow i will have the newbies fitted along with the new springs that i have had made to allow us to tackle the tough African roads.

I also found the rather strange wiper switch to be rather unreliable, sometimes it worked and sometimes not! Hope we have a dry run then!!!

On Saturday 16th at the first Historic Tour race event of the year we have been invited to take our Imp around the track for a parade lap and the organisers have agreed to add R1 per every paying spectator towards our charity effort.

However two matters have thrown a spanner into the works and that is the post office strike here in Johannesburg which has prevented me receiving the parts that i ordered for the Imp from England and the other is a delay in obtaining the visas for Ethiopia, Sudan (North) and Egypt. I do hope we can overcome the hurdle of visas soon.

So our departure date will have to be moved out to later in the month.