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Tales of the travels, trials and triumphs as we explore Australia in a converted bus
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Motorhome Travels - August 2012

10/08/2012

The day our plans went backwards (and downhill).

We had drawn a line in the sand to be back on the road again by Wednesday the 8th of August. One of the good things about drawing lines in sand is that they are easy to move - we drove out the gate on Thursday the 9th.

The new shape of the back of the bus - [Click for a Larger Image]
The new shape of the back of the bus

Our first stop was the local shopping center at Gin Gin - just 50km from Mt Perry, then on to visit our motorhoming friends Rob and Chris on their block just out of Gin Gin. The bus was going well and we were feeling good as we turned off the main road and headed for our friends block. I did notice that the bus was a little sluggish as we climbed one of the steep hills along the way, but thought nothing of it. The next hill was a lot steeper and I slowed to shift into second gear before attempting it. The bus started to struggle near the top and I decided to stop and put it into first gear (as I have done many times before). The bus stopped just fine, but to my surprise immediately began rolling backwards - the brakes were not holding her on the hill. Now just let me say at this point - if you have not been in a 12 ton bus going backwards down a steep hill in a wild and uncontrolled fashion - ya haven't missed anything. It is no fun at all. The moment the bus started moving backwards, our fate was sealed ... it was not going to be good.

Unfortunately the road curved and as the bus gained speed, keeping it on the road very rapidly became impossible . Hobohome left the road near the bottom of the hill and struck an unsuspecting gum tree with the rear right hand side. This turned out to be fatal to the tree (it broke off at the ground and lay down to rest) and not ideal for the back of the bus. The stop was fairly abrupt and several items inside the bus became airborne (including Tivoli the cat) but thankfully with the exception of some glasses and plates, everything and everyone inside were intact. Outside it was a different story.

The Airbag tree lays down to rest - [Click for a Larger Image]
The Airbag tree lays
down to rest

The tree (that we now referred to as "airbag") had struck the back right of the bus, broken the steel bumper and pushed in a large part of the rear of the bus. It looked very bad and I felt sure the Moke would be a mess. My first thought was "has this damaged the chassis?" - if it has, it could be fatal (straightening the chassis on a 1968 bus is not something that is likely to be economical). After "adjusting" the guard away from the tyre, we managed to drive out of the ditch and up the hill (in low ratio) and on to our friends block just a couple of kilometers up the road.

Once on the block we were able to examine the full extent of the damage. The blow had missed the chassis rail by about 150mm so I was fairly confident that serious (and potentially fatal) structural damaged had not been done. The paneling down about half of the right hand side of the bus now had an interesting wave like ripple and the poor little washing machine had been squashed to less than half its original size. While the damage looked horrible, I didn't really think it was too bad. The next job was to call the insurance company. We had heard the campfire stories about the Motorhome Club insurer "Ken Tame" - how understanding, accommodating and efficient they were - it was now our opportunity to experience this first hand. They were just fantastic. Within just a few hours we had arranged an assessor, a repairer and a timeframe for getting the repairs underway. We do have one other issue ... where to stay while the repairs are carried out. Of course the Shouse is the obvious choice - however there is a small issue of electricity. The shouse was designed to make use of the solar power plant on the roof of the bus. If the bus is not there - we will have no power (the shouse solar system is only designed to run the security and watering systems when we are not there). A phone call the the insurance company resolved this problem. They agreed to pay for the hire of a generator for the duration of the repair in lieu of the emergency accommodation costs covered by our policy.

We spent a very pleasant evening with Rob and Chris drowning our sorrows in XXXX and wine around their fire before heading back to Mt Perry in the morning.

We are now in the process of moving EVERYTHING out of the bus and into the Shouse in readiness for taking Hobohome to the panel beater on Tuesday morning. The Moke has been released from the crushed rear of the bus and is undamaged. At this stage we do not know how long we will be shouse-bound, but are hoping it will not be more than a couple of weeks.

I have not yet had an opportunity to fully investigate the issue with the brakes, but the trip back to Mt Perry did show that the brakes are for some reason binding slightly. This may have caused over heating and the sudden and catastrophic lack of braking at that most inopportune time. More work required to confirm that theory. 

13/08/2012

The move from the bus to the Shouse is almost done. One great way to see how much you are carrying around is to take everything out of the bus and put it on the floor in a shed. It might be an ideal opportunity for an even more severe reduction in the gear we carry with us from state to state.

The sunsets here at Mt Perry are often spectacular. Just before sunset yesterday, I took the opportunity to take some photos of the shouse bathed in the warm evening light. It still looks like a shed on the outside - but the inside is now looking more like a place we could be comfortable in (well as comfortable as we can be without wheels beneath us).

 

A nice big deck here would be great - [Click for a Larger Image]
A nice big deck here would be great

The back side of the shed - where the bus normally lives - [Click for a Larger Image]
The back side of the shed - where
the bus normally lives

The living area and kitchen - [Click for a Larger Image]
The living area and kitchen

The bathroom - [Click for a Larger Image]
The bathroom

The bedroom - [Click for a Larger Image]
The bedroom


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