Tuesday, January 26, 2010

Being Neighbourly

Katie did some community service today!

We had booked an e-waste collection just down the road, but it fell through at the last minute, leaving my schedule in disarray. Instead we went to go help our neighbour move a bed from nearby storage to his home.

While hooking up the trailer, Katie gave me a bit of a fright. Our yard has a small slope to it, I'd reversed her up this nearer the trailer and had just finished hooking it up when I saw her start to move forward.... without me in the driver's seat! I don't think I've ever run around a trailer and squeezed through the gate gap so fast. I had visions of her popping in across the road for a cuppa, but fortunately she didn't. It was a mere small movement forward, just enough to truly wake me up and make sure I was paying attention.

The rest of the day was uneventful by comparison. We did a trip to the beach area, a trip to the town area, and then battled through the ongoing road construction, up a steepish hill behind a brick-loaded truck in first gear and home again. No overheating, no kak (not even an attempt to throw me out, as she did last Friday when the driver's door opened suddenly as we were speeding down the highway!) and no drama.

Well.. except for one thing. Her friend Olivia is coming back home tomorrow without her heart transplant (replacement engine is a dud) - and Katie's probably going to have to provide the forward motion to get her here.

Sleep well Katie - tomorrow's another big day.

Monday, January 25, 2010

Back to the grindstone

E went out to start Katie this morning, ahead of towing her friend Olivia in for an engine swap. He came back saying "I don't know what you've done to that truck but it wouldn't tow anything in its current state!" I looked at him in surprise - Katie was doing just fine when I last drove her!

The Disco2 got to do the job instead though and Katie will be parking closer to the front door until Olivia's back from the hospital.

Then it was my turn to have a word with Katie. Started her (pump pump pump...), put my foot down, threw another R100 petrol down her throat and she was fine. I guess she's just not a morning Landy, especially after being a parking-lot-potato for two days. And what truck doesn't need breakfast?

Today she saw a bit more of the Cape. I had a collection to sort out in Stellenbosch, so off we went - via the plastic recycling people in the opposite direction. The trailer is a lot more stable behind her than either Olivia or the Disco2 - I barely notice it.

After last week's hill episode, I was interested to see what she'd do on the R44 out of town toward Stellenbosch. We'd had a word with the guy who drives a Series with the same engine over the weekend and figured out the carb gets starved of fuel at a certain angle (cuts out), and steep hills are not her friend. Yup, going uphill the temp rose a bit, came down again on the other side. Not steep enough to cut out but I can see the pattern here. We'll be looking at timing as soon as we can manage. The radiator also seems a bit overfull even when cold - I want to check for any blockages and make sure the thermostat is doing what it's supposed to.

She drove well the rest of the day - back to Somerset West, down to the noisy and dusty scrapyard, and a trip or two into town.

Tomorrow she'll be visiting a local school - I'm sure the kids will love her.

Friday, January 22, 2010

One more work day

Today I had an unplanned trip required into Cape Town. A company had 60 computers and the equivalent monitors needing recycling, and I made arrangements to do so. We hitched up the trailer (after J figured out how to remove the "condom" from the hitch), poured more petrol into her gullet and off we went.

She was feeling hot by the time we got there, and as we pulled up we got a surprise. Someone else had pitched and claimed the load, and was piling it into a Kia bakkie. In a bit of a huff I had a word with the guy in charge, who said he'd sommer told a whole lot of people to come collect, as no-one ever did. So poor Katie didn't even get a chance to cool down before we had to drive again.

I had another collection lined up, so off we went to do that one, and it turned out not to be too big. We were loading on a lawn - when it came time to pull off, poor Katie seems to have had a bit of a shock, she simply didn't want to go! Had a brief word in her ear, tried again and she gave in.

She made it back very well with the small load. Bit of a taste of things to come.. :-)

And, being Friday, it was time to park her up for the weekend to rest. I think the poor old girl needed it after being thrown so thoroughly back into being a daily driver.

Thursday, January 21, 2010


E & I swapped vehicles today. His first shot at driving Katie (and being a Landy expert, I was waiting for his comment...). He needed a truck that could transport a long ladder, and Katie has a roofrack, so there we had it. Me, I was staying at base camp so would use the Disco2 if I needed to go anywhere.

Now E is very tall, and any Series truck is a bit of a squeeze. Granted, Katie has much more comfortable seating arrangements than Olivia, but he was still having trouble with foot and leg room within minutes, compared to the roomy D2. He soldiered on and come afternoon was going to give her a real test of what she could and couldn't do.

We have a high site on the slopes of a mountain. Some of our fellow high-site dwellers brave the roads in Unos and Toyota Ventures, but we like our Landys. Conditions were not too bad, albeit a bit hot, when E & J loaded up Katie for her first expedition up the slopes.

An hour or so later I got a call - oh dear, I could hear things had not gone well. Katie had stalled twice going up the mountain, had overheated, and E was swearing never to get into her again (except, of course, to come back down). Actually, he was swearing about a good few things at the same time, and Katie featured prominently in them.

Yes, she made it up the mountain as any 4x4 should - but not as well as expected. I know she's sat for a while and probably isn't used to being driven around over all sorts of terrain, but this was pretty scary. What was wrong?

Katie's dad received a couple of very panicked messages on his cellphone, and when he got back to me we tried to figure this out. At the same time I was all over the Landy forums to find some wisdom.

And it was during all this I found out she does not, in fact, have an R6 engine. Instead it's a Chev 4.1! Hmmm... whole different kettle of fish, but now I know where to start looking.

A bit of investigation revealed the likely culprit to be timing. Between the jerking and the overheating, those two fingers pointed pretty squarely in one direction.

It was after sunset before they made it back, exhausted, hot, hungry and stressed out. The work there had been terrible - and Katie's contribution to the bad day had been duly noted.. :-)

At least now we had a bit of direction though with knowing how to manage her engine. And we know someone who has one...

Wednesday, January 20, 2010

Seeing the sights

Today Katie got to see a little bit of Somerset West and Strand. With all the goods we picked up, some of them go here, some of them go there - and delivery was in order.

Up and down we went to all sorts of places, and she did OK. Except for the jerking.

But if you put your foot down it goes away. Eish :-) Seems she doesn't want to be driven TOO gently.

Our final stretch home after a day on the road and she was starting to feel as if it was rest time. It's a bit of a hot day. She's been doing a lot of town driving today, around the local mall, a place where we're installing wireless internet, and to get the groceries. She definitely prefers the open road. Fuel consumption is not lekker.

Have I had any Landys wave at me? Nope. Not a single one.

Tuesday, January 19, 2010

We meet, greet, and get going

Tuesday. The day we've arranged to collect Katie the Land Rover. From what we know, she's an R6, a beast I have yet to drive - but hey, she's a Landy. She's 2 hours north of here, so armed with a map book we leave pretty early to trek to the other side of Cape Town.

While I meet with Katie's mom to sort out the final bits and pieces, E & J (my males) check her out and transfer my handbag and other paraphanalia to her. Then they leave.. and there I am, facing down a new truck I know nothing about, with a full day of driving ahead of me and home VERY far away!

On top of it all, it's not the dryest of summer days in Cape Town. Before I get to the city I have the wipers on (yay, there's one on the driver's side and it works!), feeling a familiar Landy drip of water on my accelorator foot. I've also discovered 5km down the road that she has a slight judder, which turns my "geez, this thing has speed!" into a sudden more focussed attention to every jerk and strange sound.

Katie is definitely not Olivia. The engine sounds completely different. There's a lot more power. But there are some familiar things. A speedo that doesn't work (I drive on guess-revs), a rapidly falling fuel guage, the inevitable brakes that may or may not be sharp enough to come to a sudden stop. Katie has back seats - Olivia doesn't. Katie's spare is in the load area - Olivia's is on a swing-away frame, leaving a lot more room in the back for other things. You have to pump Katie's pedal before you start her or nothing happens - Olivia's you hold down for a cold start at a certain level, then she's fine from there. Katie's passenger side mirror doesn't move, so I get a view of passing shrubbery instead of what's behind me. And Katie's license disk is not displayed! Sorted that out at the first fuel stop, so it's now stuck on the window and legally displayed.

Nevertheless, I had a good chat to Katie on the way into Cape Town and by the time we parked at appointment #1 we were getting to know each other. I had a few old computers to collect and got to show her off to an admiring security guard who wants a 4x4. Then it was around the block to get another few items - and around the block, and around the block... around 10 times before I found a space to slot her in. Upon which I was promptly parked in front and back. Up front was an old Oom in a Nissan bakkie who backed up to within millimetres from her bullbar and only stopped when I got out and shouted at him (seems the hooter only works when she's switched on). Back was a delivery van. Nevertheless, business done I finally got out of there.

Next stop, up a hill to see a man about some Wavecoms. How would she handle hills? Well not too badly, though she was smelling hot now that the rain had gone. Back down the hill and along the highway I was actually passing other cars! Wow. One final stop, then the home straight - idling along happily against a headwind at a decent speed. I'd forgotten how headwinds eat into fuel consumption...

Back home a couple of neighbours eyes nearly popped out when I turned up in a strange truck, but one had kindly offered a spare parking area, and Katie had her first night in the small town of Somerset West.

Thursday, January 14, 2010

And so it begins

14 January, and a Facebook message from someone I know only via our internet interactions on Land Rover websites and forums says:
Hi Michelle.

We are leaving on our epic adventure in 2 weeks and i have to find a solution re my R6. I am basically looking for someone to baby sit her and use her gently while i am gone for 8 months.

Any ideas?

Me? A Landy? A HOMELESS Landy in need of love? Hell yes! :-)

A bit of back and forth, terms and conditions sorted out rather unofficially, a collection date was set.

And thus I fell into having a third Landy standing around our allocated parking areas. To which the neighbours thought "oh no, not another one"....