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Luck: Just the bad sort at the moment

September 19, 2011

After leaving Prince George confident we were fixed, we headed South towards Whistler. In the end we didn’t set out until almost lunchtime as we needed to do some laundry and get a water fill for the Beast. So at the end of the day we were only about half way to Whistler and decided to spend the night in a Provincial Park at Lac Le Hache. We really didn’t want to be too far from people – just in case. But no problems and in the morning we set off towards Whistler again.

Around lunchtime we stopped in the small town of Lillooet to have a bite and fill up with Diesel. And then we set off…..leaving the Petrol station we could hear a loud rattling sound coming from the Beast. We quickly pulled over and I leaped out to see whether we were dragging anything – but the sound was coming from the engine – so we switched off and took stock.

On trying to restart there was nothing.  Here we go Again! At least this time we were actually in a town – even if it was a pretty small one.

Our first challenge was to contact somebody.  We went to the local pharmacy and the lady at the till was very helpful and phoned round town trying to find us a mechanic. She eventually got someone who would come to the side of the road to check us out.

About 30 minutes later Greg arrived (the owner of the local garage) and had a quick look – he diagnosed a piston stuck because of a broken injector and said we should get a tow to his garage and he would look at us on Monday (this being a Sunday).

So the next task was to get a tow. We went back to the pharmacy, the IDA, to get more help. So this time things were more complicated. There were two towing companies in town. One of them said we were too big and the other (Bobby from Me Too Towing) said their truck was out of town but agreed to come by and have a look at us.

We went back to the truck to wait. After about 10 minutes Bobby rode up on a big Harley and looked the truck over. He then said that his truck would likely be out of town until the evening but he would try to tow us with his pickup. The one problem here was air for our brakes. Without the engine running our compressor doesn’t work so we have to rely on air in the tanks to run the brakes. If we run out of air the brakes lock on and then we won’t move without getting more air (we do have glad hands at the front to take a fill).

The good thing was that we hadn’t been broken down long and therefore still had air in the tanks and we only had to go about 1km down the road.  Bobby went to get his pickup and a tow rope. He attached the rope to the front of the truck and started pulling. I was in the driving seat – fighting with the steering wheel as with no engine you have no power steering and Sarah was up front with Bobby.

This was the longest 1km I’ve ever driven. Whenever we hit an up slope the pickup started wheel spinning and only just managed to pull us. I can tell you I was relieved when we reached Greg’s garage – the local Mohawk service station – and the air tanks were almost empty so this was just in the nick of time.

We spent the night parked outside the garage and the next morning at around 8am Greg came to have a look. It took him only a few minutes to realise that his initial diagnosis was wrong and instead what had happened was that our starter motor had failed. When we moved off the starter didn’t disengage and when the engine started spinning at full speed it spun the starter hard causing the interior to begin to disintegrate. Fortunately by stopping so quickly we prevented bits falling off into the engine and causing more damage.

Our challenge then was to find a new starter engine. It didn’t take long to realise that the local parts company, Lordco, couldn’t find a replacement. It has taken us a week to actually track down a replacement. My dad has been amazing helping us find a starter. He’s been our UK agent in phoning people and working through all the issues for us. We managed to order a starter from a company in Toronto on the advice of one UK dealer but unfortunately when this reached us it was clearly the wrong part. So we were CAD$200 down in shipping and no further forward.

DAF in the UK recommended one starter but then changed their minds after a couple of days – the military spec starter was different to the civilian one because of a heavy duty fly wheel.

After breaking down on Sunday we finally got a starter on a plane from the UK the following Friday – due to arrive on Tuesday. We have seriously crossed fingers that this will work.

In the meantime we have been camped in the parking lot at Greg’s garage. The one saving grace of this whole week has been that the people of Lillooet are so wonderful . Everyone has been incredibly friendly and helpful.

When the first starter didn’t work out Elsa, the wife of Greg’s mechanic – Sunni, gave us a lift to Kamloops (the nearest proper town but still 2 hours drive away) so we could rent a car and get some freedom. There is no public transport from Lillooet so without the kindness of people in the town we were really stuck and this wasn’t the only person in town who had offered us a lift.

Bobby De Roy, the towing guy, has also been amazing . He gave us some vegetables and a big sockeye salmon which we BBQ’ed up and it was gorgeous.

Lillooet itself is set in a valley with big mountains surrounding it. It frequently records the highest temperatures in Canada and in fact when we arrived it was at 35C. The temperature dropped in the week though to the 20’s. The scenery is more akin to what you would expect in Nevada or Arizona –they even have rattlesnakes near here.

When we arrived the town was on serious fire alert and some maniac had lit 7 fires that day. The volunteer fire service had worked for almost 24 hours straight putting them out. The whole area is so dry that 1 fire could take out the whole town. In fact one of the fires was only 200 metres from where we were parked so we were a bit nervous when we spotted it and very relieved when the fire fighters arrived, although the first fire engine flew straight past as we were standing there but thankfuly doubled back shortly after.

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2 Comments leave one →
  1. paul bulos permalink
    September 19, 2011 4:00 pm

    You are having so much trouble with the Beast – you have still got something like 15 months to go – what are the chances it will make it to South America? Are you having tio revise your expectations of the trip, is this normal, or just rotten luck – why so many problems?

  2. November 8, 2011 11:37 pm

    At least your getting your problems ironed out in a 1st world country. Imagine trying to sort these problems out in the Atacama Desert!

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