Archive for July, 2017

Conglomeration of Car Complaints

July 28, 2017

Well, July has been (and continues to be) a difficult month!  Kim’s health has been very poor and his Chronic Fatigue has been greatly exacerbated by various wogs and also kidney stones. What he needed to recover properly was rest and a lack of stress, but that has not been easy to come by.

Firstly our brand new and very expensive fridge has been playing up – it just stops cooling every now and then despite the fan going and the lights being on.  Kim thinks it is a computer fault as if you turn it off for 10 minutes and then turn it back on it starts to work again.  It has had one part replaced but the fault continues!
Then we had our steer, Stu – the big brown and white boy, butchered at home which is a full hands on event for everyone, and of course half of us were sick and miserable at the time.  We managed to get the job done though with the help of extended family and friends – who were paid for their efforts in delicious fresh beef!  It is lovely to have such a variety of cuts of meat to use again, and it tastes wonderful.

Smokey, Twindles and Straight-Line-Stu

Lydia booked her cat in for sterilising the other week, only to have her come on heat before we could take her in.  Now we have to put up with yowling and crazy cat antics for a week or so until she can get taken safely to the vets.  We are very glad that Lydia bought a huge cage for her as it means we do not have to have her loose in our sleeping quarters – instead she gets evicted into the cage on the veranda each evening.

The main issue of the month has been cars!  You would think that with 6 cars we should be able to keep on the road quite easily, but we do a huge number of kilometres each week and it has been a constant challenge to keep the cars going for the last couple of weeks.  Poor Kim has already been struggling to just get by with his shocking health, and he really isn’t helped by all this urgent mechanical work which often only he can deal with.  Firstly the two Citroens had their alternators fail within 2 days of each other.  The Xantia stopped when it’s battery went flat in the dark in the mountain range near home and Lyd had to walk up to the top of the pass to get enough phone service to call for help.  Kim took a battery out of another car which managed to give it enough power to drive it home that night.  We took the Xantia to an auto electrician a couple of days later and he fixed the alternator but reported that the cause of the problem was a leaking pump situated directly above the alternator and which had filled it with oil and gunk!  The leaking pump is still awaiting fixing as it requires various parts to come from an online order.

Kim had a spare alternator for the C5 and he managed to put new bushes into that and installed it himself.  That got the C5 going for a week or two until Muggins here (yes, me), thick headed and in recovery from 2 nights of toothache agony without sleep followed shortly after by a tooth extraction, filled the car up with unleaded instead of diesel!!  It got towed home by the RACT the night before last and is awaiting repair.  That means pumping out 60L of mixed fuel and then flushing diesel through it all and hoping no permanent damage was done to the injection pump.  At least we do have access to second hand parts if needed.

Sam’s lovely new little convertible was going well until it’s accelerator cable broke.  Kim, our hero, managed to drive it home through the mountain pass just by adjusting the idle speed.  Our mechanic advised that we should just remove a cable from one of our spare parts cars – but two cable removals later we find that they don’t fit, so now we have to order a part online and wait for delivery.  Kim attempted to get creative this morning by joining two separate cables, but the attempt failed as the join interfered with the proper working of the cable.
Our lovely old Caravelle got pressed into action, but shortly afterwards it started to fill with steam.  Looking at it this morning we discovered a coolant leak dripping onto the heater core.  It looks like we need to source a new O ring  to stop the leak – hopefully that is all!
The good old reliable Peugeot 206 GTI has been the mainstay of our fleet, however even it has not been trouble free.  One morning when Kim had taken Lydia to work the exhaust fell down.  Thankfully Kim heard it hit the ground and stopped immediately.  With the help of a friendly passer by he managed to jury rig it back up and drove straight to a workshop to get fresh mounts put on.  After that I sadly hit a wallaby one morning on the way to Lydia’s work, that broke one of the fog lights and/or its mount.  Then yesterday Kim thought the power steering was not working as well as it should and when he went to check the power steering level this morning he found that it was just fine – but the alternator belt was only half the width it should be.  We assume something got tangled in it and caused it to fray and it must have been slipping sometimes.  He is worried that if we use the car then the belt will break, so it is best if we do not use that either.  He picked up a new belt this afternoon when he collected Lydia from work.

So, to pick up Lydia from work today – out came the old VW beetle!  Even it is not without issues as it has been waiting for it’s brakes to be done up for months, Kim tells me they are worn down but still working.  Perhaps fixing it will become more of a priority now!  Of course tomorrow is forecast for pouring rain, so I don’t see us fixing anything then.  Good grief!  It has got to the point where the multiple car problems have actually started to become a cause of amusement in the family now.  🙂

The good news for the month is that we did manage to find, purchase and get delivered (just yesterday) a bunch of 9m long 5” aluminium irrigation pipe, 57 of them in fact.  $5,200 worth!  This will be the piping for the micro hydro system.  We will need to get a couple of fittings and a few replacement seals but then should be able to start running the pipe down in the pre dug ditch.  It is very exciting, but I am sure is going to take us many months to do.  🙂
At the end of June we fitted more solar panels to the roof of the caravan’s annexe.  The fork lift on the tractor was a wonderful help!

Solar Panels being lifted onto the Annexe roof by MB Trac

Cathy fitting solar panels to the annexe roof

Solar panels on annexe roof

Despite taking care to use seals etc, we found that the ceiling was leaking after rain.  It always has leaked to some extent because of the poor design of the annexe which has a flat roof and water often pools on it and finds its way inside instead of running off, but now it was even worse.  The best solutions would all take lots of time and money and were not feasible in the middle of winter with rain forecast in the near future.  However, we have temporarily solved the problem by making a sloping raincoat of greenhouse plastic.  It is great to lie in bed hearing the rain and look up at the dry ceiling.  Amazing how little things can give a lot of pleasure.  🙂
Lydia had her birthday this month.  She organised the day off and spent many hours making sausages!  She made some basic beef ones and also an adjusted recipe of kase krainer sausages which had different spices and chunks of cheese in them – she smoked those ones the following day.  We learnt a lot in the process and will probably do better next time – but it was a VERY time consuming job.
Anyway, I best move on.  I am currently suffering from a mild stomach wog, caught no doubt at the hospital where I went on the weekend in desperation for some pain relief from the toothache.  In the end I found the most effective thing to be keeping my mouth cold by constantly sipping iced water.  Didn’t get much sleep though!  I’m very glad that is over.
*****ADDENDUM Monday 31/7/17******
I am pleased to report that the rain held off the following day (Saturday) until the afternoon and Kim managed to find a new way to join the convertible’s accelerator cable, which worked, and Caleb got the 206 most of the way through changing the frayed belt.  So things were looking up.  Then on Monday Caleb finished repairing the 206 and Kim managed to flush the fuel out of the tank of the C5, started it up and it worked just fine!  Every time one of the cars has an issue now we all start to giggle – somewhat maniacally perhaps – but we find it funny none the less!