With as much gusto as a kid at Christmas opening presents, I rolled the bikes out of hibernation at Wim’s place. They were dirty, full of cobwebs, tyres flat and looked sad. It was a wonderful feeling to see and feel the bikes again
Elsebie’s bike looks a bit worse. For some reason the left front fork decided all on its own to start push out all the oil. How de hell this is possible from standing is a mystery. The strange thing is the oil on and around the fork is clear clean oil. The oil inside the fork is dirty black oil.
Besides that, the biggest job awaiting was to replace the waterpump seals, again! I replaced them in Nairobi before we started our trip to Ethiopia and they could not have done 5000km. I am now a self-acclaimed and qualified outdoor tree shade mechanic. All the repairs to date were under trees.
For 3 days, we work to get the bikes in shape again. The batteries took two days to charge but yesterday I got my Dakar to start. The sound of the engine spinning into life brought huge smiles and joy onto our faces. Next, Elsebie’s bike … With the water pump fitted, new oil and filter I tried in vain to get it to make us smile, but nothing.
Bought more petrol, thinking it was a shortage of petrol. Nope not that!
First, I stripped the petrol pipes and checked for petrol going to the engine, and nothing! The petrol pump is not working. I swopped it with my bike’s pump and it seems the culprit is the petrol pump that gave up the ghost. In Uganda already the pump stopped working due to the electric wire on the pump vibrating off but it was easily fixed with a new wire.
Kurt our good friend in SA took the time to source us a new pump and it will be with Ethiopian customs next week sometime. Thanks Kurt!
Wim the owner of Wim’s Holland House, where we stay are helping to go about roughing it through the bureaucratic horseshit with customs to get the part.
There is no fork oil to buy in Addis, the best alternative I was able to source was 10W hydraulic oil and with basic tools and a broom stick carved- to-size to fit the inside of the shock to hold the barrel. We were able to fit a new second hand seal I brought from home for good measure.
Another small problem is the Uni-filters I fitted for ease of cleaning and to re-use instead of carrying paper air filters in the time the bikes was standing also started to disintegrate. The only solution was to cut sponge from a mattress as a thin liner inside the air filter and use DW40 as foam filter oil. Lets hope it works!
This is now cutting nearly 2 weeks off our trip sitting waiting for parts again. Together, the time we lost last time and now, totals more than a month sitting around waiting for parts for the Dakars.
Look, drinking beers while waiting are a useful past time, but we want to hit the road.
At this stage, I am losing faith in the bikes, and I have to get my confidence back. I just do not trust German engineering any more. From shocks that fail to the water pumps, petrol pump, sprocket hub carriers, indicator lights that stopped working and my bike not wanting to idle anymore, I just do not trust them anymore.
Every time Elsebie disappears behind me, I expect the worst, I am struggling to enjoy the trip the last few weeks on our previous leg. My thoughts constantly consumed thinking they are going to break at any time and then it will cost us more time and money. Not to mention the amount of money it cost to recover a bike in countries where people see whites, or better “faranj” or “feranj” as cash cows. it’s the term for whites or Westerners and thus the ones with money.
Now I sit with the same. How do I get my confidence back in the bikes and we still have 5000km to go just to get to Cairo? Granted we did not stick to the usual highway racing of travellers between Cape Town and Cairo on asphalt. The bikes had a rough time with the likes of Uganda and Turkana and we used them properly.
This is the nature of the beast. In addition, as mildly irritating as it may be, we knew things would never be plain sailing. The beers are still good, the people we meet up with lends itself the potential to develop into long term friendships. That all make up for the bit of shit we have to take from the bikes.
I guess, the bikes are just mad at us for leaving them alone for so long. If you think a bike is just a piece of metal with no soul, you will be making a huge mistake. They have feelings and I know now they were not happy about us leaving them to stand there in that small room.
We will find a better hotel for them to stay next time round.