Friday, 3 April 2009
It drives me up the wall. Every trip I have done in the past has been driven by rust in some way shape or form. The first ever car expedition I did across the Sahara, I realised the car was about to fall in half because of the rust. I had to sell it there and then in Nouakchott, Mauritania, a terrible position to because the customs rules meant I was completely set up by the buyer and over the next 24 hours I’d had a gun waved in my face, been smuggled through 10 police checkpoints in the back of a car, illegally fled Mauritania in a pirogue, and spent the night in a Senegalese prison before having all my profits taken off me by a mafia of crooks in the town of Rosso, leaving me with just enough for my flight home.
On the trip to Cape Town I did with Esther we finally had enough of the bodywork rust in our Landcruser after reaching the other side of the Sahara, and spent 7 weeks having the body work re-welded. It was really fascinating to watch the team of Ghanaian welders at work, using recycled galvanised plate from reclaimed air-conditioning ducts to fashion body panels, and the springs from old car seats as welding rods. Fascinating sure, but after 7 weeks it was also a frustrating pause in the journey.
I’m annoyed with myself for not looking closer at the bus when I got it. I don’t think it would have mattered, I was always going to buy it, and I don’t think I could have done much better on the price. I got it for less than its scrap value. It’s a G-reg, from 1990. If I’d found something 5 years younger it would have been galvanised at the factory. Instead it’s “Rotten” as M, an old travel companion and welder friend of mine declared. He doesn’t use the term lightly.
I’ve stripped it back so all the rust is visible and it makes for a pretty big hole. M’s going to need a few sheets of metal to rebuild it. The shocking thing is that this bus had an MOT, and PSV test certificate, even though the bodywork is structurally unsound, and from the extent is fair to guess it has been for a few years. This bus was taking little kids around Preston before I bought it.
I really want to get it all sorted before I set off and at the moment have the time and resources (though not really the cash) to get it done. More than anything, I don’t want to spend all my time on this trip repairing the bus.