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Friday, February 20, 2009

‘Bearing’ the hardships of life on the road

On the afternoon of our arrival at Lake Leake I decided to do some washing. Buckets arranged, and with plunger in hand, I sat down on the little stool to start agitating the water. I was sitting behind the car, and as I looked up noticed what looked like oil in the right rear wheel rim. The man of the house, car and van had been pottering around so I thought (hoped!) maybe he had spilled some water on the rim, and cautiously asked ‘Is that oil in that wheel rim?’

I plunged and sloshed away as he inspected. ‘Hhhmmmm.’ An unfortunate affirmative. ‘Wheel bearing?’ I ventured. ‘Looks like it’. Both our minds had immediately gone back to Jugiong and our unscheduled week of repairs that had included the other wheel bearing. So off he went up to the caretaker to get the number of a mechanic.

The first guy he called (Tony) was booked up for over a week, but he gave Dazz another number. Gordon said he’d have time to look at it, so ordered the part. He told us to call back at 1pm the next day to see if it had arrived on the courier. It had, so we prepared for the 30km drive back to Campbell Town.

How does one prepare for a trip to the mechanic that’s greater than walking distance from your place of abode? By packing an overnight bag, of course. Yes, he had the part, but just about every time we get something fixed the wrong part is ordered or sent, or there is some other unexpected delay. So, when you expect the unexpected you pack an overnight bag.

‘The wheel shouldn’t fall off, should it?’ ‘Nahhh, should be right. Just take it easy though.’ So we did.

Arriving at Gordon’s, we found a big shed, lots of cars in various states of disrepair and more engine bits and scrap metal than would fit inside the big shed. We could only presume that his fleecy slippers had steel caps…

He shifted the vehicle he was working on and put ours up on the hoist and we set off for a walking tour of Campbell Town for a few hours. The walking tour took less than an hour, so we settled for a lie down on the grass under a big, shady birch tree instead. As we wandered back to Gordon’s Dazz tried to bet me $50 that the wrong part had been sent. I was too smart to take that kind of a bet, which was lucky because as we walked up to the shed we could see the wheel was still off.

‘How’s it going?’ ‘Good… Oh… and bad.’ ‘Really?’ There was no surprise in Dazz’s voice.

‘They sent the wrong part’ was the bad news, but the good news was that the right one was on the courier and should be here in an hour. He’d left the old bearing in though, so if there was a problem we’d still be able to get back to camp.

Meanwhile, he’d changed the oil and greased the drive train as Dazz had requested. (It was lucky that Dazz didn’t leave Gordon’s with the old oil filter inserted up his rear end, as that was what Gordon reckoned should be done with the filter to whomever had put the last one on. It was on so tight that he crushed it getting it off! Fortunately (or unfortunately, depending on your perspective) Gordon had forgotten all about the oil filter by the time we eventually left at 8:15pm…)

By the time the courier arrived so had Tony (the other mechanic). He’d finished for the day, and being mates with Gordon, had popped around to say g’day. He sat and chatted as Gordon inspected each part of the new bearing kit to ensure that it would all fit. Once satisfied he started pulling out the old one. From the other side of the shed we couldn’t see exactly what was happening during the removal process, but it did involve a lot of banging of metal on metal and metal on concrete, some grinding, a blow torch, and a good deal of swearing. All the while we were happily chatting about how blog worthy this whole event was.

Tony had become very much involved in the job that he was too busy for, but couldn’t just stand by and watch his mate struggle. The whole process probably took about an hour, and Gordon didn’t even set his safety slippers on fire! Tony showed us the old bearing which seemed like it had probably split a long time ago and part of it was spinning inside the housing and was quite worn (maybe this was the source of the sporadic mystery noise that no one has been able to identify and fix!) They both had a smoke while the axle and associated bits were put in an old tin of oil to cool down – the oil bubbled for quite a long time – and then began the reassembly process.

So, with light at the end of the tunnel, and Gordon trying to put the disk brake back in, Tony wandered over to give him a hand and noticed that the backing plate was on the wrong side. On most other cars it’s a simple matter of undoing a bolt and spinning it around, but not the Jackaroo (and we thought it was only Peugeots that were engineered by helper monkeys!). Thus ensued another hour of drilling and bashing and grinding and swearing as they re-engineered the thing to allow it to spin, because that was the quicker and safer option than trying to get the bearing out again without damaging it…

Finally, six hours and $250 later we were on our way. We thought that was a bargain for all that work and afternoon of entertainment for us, not to mention the reading pleasure of all of our blog followers. Thanks Gordon and Tony!