Sunday, July 20, 2008

Busy week

I don't have any spectacular scenery images this week because, well, I have been totally tied up in repairs. Our good old DIY lifestyle kicked in on me big time. And we haven't done much that was interesting enough to photograph. The good news is that we are going to be doing some boating over the next couple days and I should have some good ocean-related stuff to post. So the photos in this post are going to be obsolete shortly. We should have some sunsets, even.

Last Sunday was a mess, with both of our vehicles breaking down on the same day. Ouch. Sure glad that doesn't happen often. More about that later, but it took up a lot of my time this week.

We also still have three teenagers staying with us. We have found that if they get bored enough (no vehicles, remember) they will sometimes work for pizza and beer. Eventually. You do have to withold the pizza and beer....and yeah sure they will whine and plead for a couple days but eventually they seem to get with the program.

Wil and Ben got into doing some landscaping for us. Moving rocks from point A to point B. And we got LOTS of rocks:

(there.....that ought to keep them busy for a while...)

Other than the admittedly limited interest of the DIY stuff, the week was a bore. As an example, early one morning we heard what sounded like Rommel's Afrika Korps blasting up the road alongside the patio. It was one of those overhead cement pumping trucks and three big dump trucks full of mix for him. We watched these four huge trucks chugging up the road. We asked ourselves..."where the heck are they going?" There's nothing like construction going on down that road. In fact it's a dead end. 

I have to make a three point turn just to get the Land Rover turned around up we knew these guys were going to be real disappointed when this line of vehicles came to a halt at the top. got interesting. These guys had to back those monsters all the way back down this road, until they could turn around again at the bottom.

And then we got to hear them shouting recriminations at each other, over who was supposed to know where they were going, who was following who. Who doesn't know how to drive. That kind of thing. Cost them the better part of an hour I figure. But they seem to have a lot of each other's lineage now worked out. 
Who would have thought that four random truck drivers all apparently dated each other's mothers at some point, if we could believe what we were hearing.  Amazing.

See, I told you it was a boring week.

Ben and Wil are embracing the tropical lifestyle and eating up those tropical experiences as they can. They insisted on picking up a bunch of coconuts and borrowing a machete.

Coconuts seem pretty common to us, of course. You might say they grow on trees. Old-hat to us. But I guess they don't get to climb too many coconut trees in the Rocky Mountains. They were surprised that fresh coconuts are not those dried out little hairy looking things they had seen in grocery stores all their lives.
Now they know.

They have also been showing a lot of interest in conch. Plan is for us to go get a couple dozen and the Colorado boys are going to clean them. (heh heh heh, I am thinking.) So, rather than trying to explain it all to them in the abstract with no conch to demonstrate things on, we took them to Da Conch Shack for lunch. They got to watch a professional at work:

Of course the guys cleaning the conch always pull out what they call the 'pistil' and offer it to the tourists to eat. Usually the visitor will balk, and the conch guy will eat it for the shock value. Always good for an "ewwww!!!"

Not with this crowd. Wil grabbed it and scarfed it right down:

Don't you just HATE those people who do stuff like that right off the bat without properly thinking it through? Because that, of course, means now YOU have to eat one...

Puts hair on your chest. Or, well, something to that effect. Or so we hear.

I told them to pay attention to the man's every move, because this was their training for conch cleaning. They watched. They now assure me they are both experts. In fact, they have ideas on how it could be done even better.

Ah yes. I remember being nineteen with an idea how it all could be done better.

Well, we shall see, won't we. Film at eleven.

As though I didn't have enough stuff to fix around here, we found out that people staying in an unfamiliar house will walk right into closed screen doors in the dark. Even when they are covered with dust and located in a completely predictable location. Imagine my surprise when I woke up the next morning...

and find I have the "Shroud of Turin" on my new screen. Grrrr...

I won't mention any names as to which one of the boys did the face plant...
But I think it's as plain as the nose on your face...

As for me..well this week was (Surprise!) heavily DIY again. We managed to get the Land Rover into the garage. First official auto DIY project inside the new garage. Oh boy. Well, that was a big part of the justification for building it. So that I could do whatever maintenance that I could handle.

I used to read these adventure stories when I was a kid. I remember admiring those guys in Africa or South America who were always fixing their Land Rovers with baling wire or scavenged tractor parts. (who am I kidding.....I STILL read those kinds of books).

Well, halfway down Leeward Highway isn't the Sahara, but it was still a pretty inconvenient place to have a clutch go belly up. So now I can say I once repaired a Land Rover on a tropical island. Nice place to work on it, too.    I "once" repaired a Land Rover??  ha ha ha ha haaaaaaaa.   and boo hoo hoo hoo hoooo.

This is what the engine compartment of a Land Rover looks like after a guy with no idea what he is doing has removed the entire 'clutch box"

You can see the six holes there where the clutch box was mounted.   Well, okay okay, you can actually see three of them.  But you can imagine three more, I bet.   Just look for the clean parts. Getting this thing out involved removing the air cleaner and a few other things, but these vehicles are built like erector sets. Everything is accessible and in removable assemblies. It really lends itself to the 'shade-tree mechanic' approach.  I read someplace that these are the only vehicles around still built by hand.  Which means everything is bolted together, and can be unbolted and replaced, and all that. What a rebolting situation.

It was pretty easy to pinpoint the problem. The clutch pedal went to the floor and hydraulic fluid squirted out all over the floor mat. So, I had to get this thing out of there. It got a lot more complicated than I had anticipated. However I now know a fair bit more about hydraulic clutches and Land Rovers than I knew a week ago. I also learned that what we call Vise Grips in the USA are called Mole Grips in England. What we call wrenches are 'spanners'. And this whole clutch box operation is described as being a 'bit fiddly'. yeah, I can go with that.

Oh, getting the part. I gotta tell you about this. As soon as I figured out I needed a new master cylinder, I called the local dealer where we bought the Land Rover. I got the news that the part was going to be $ 284. and it could be shipped over from England in a "week or two". It would be $ 110 to tow the Land Rover to the dealership. And we were renting a car for $ 100 per day until this thing got fixed. Being optimistic about the part actually showing up in two weeks I figure by the time the labor charges kicked in we would be looking at about $ 2,000. all up before we could drive this vehicle again. Sometimes in August. Maybe.

Not good enough. So I got on the internet, and after sending off emails to about four different places a Land Rover specialist in New Hampshire answered that they had a master cylinder in stock for $ 65. Because of the accumulating car rental charges, we had it shipped Fed Ex to the TCI. That's the fastest way.

Two days later I had it in hand for a grand total of $165, including import duties.

I got the entire clutch box thing back together the next day:

That clutch pedal just looks so out of place on a bench doesn't it?

And does it work, you might ask? Well heck yeah.

There goes La Gringa up the driveway on a test drive.

Total cost doing it this way; $ 665 including car rental. And we had it done in four days. So doing it myself saved us $ 1,400. easy. Probably more. These things always cost more in the shop, I have noticed. Well, that makes it worth getting greasy. At least I think so. It took a big chunk out of a couple days to do it this first time but if it ever happens again I think I could get that down to a couple of hours. You see, I am an experienced Land Rover clutch fixer, now.

After getting the Land Rover clutch issues sorted out I started on the Suzuki. That turned out to be pretty simple. Just a stuck carb float. Quick and simple...I rapped on the side of the float chamber with a wrench and suddenly I had fuel in the carb again. Whew. After the washdown pump and the clutch I really felt like I had enough DIY for one week.

Meanwhile, back at the ranch:

Yep, the boys managed to get most of the slope covered with nice flat rocks.

So that's pretty much how our week went. Now we plan to take our guests out and let them try their hand at cleaning conch. This should be good. I'll get pictures.

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

Wow Gringo,

Thanks for another exciting episode of 2 Gringos in the Carribean. I'd have to agree with j. schieffelin in the replies to the last update, in that you do have some genius with restoring a bilge pump & replacing a master cylinder for a clutch in a Landrover. Not to mention getting teenagers to move rocks around in the sun. Thanks again.