A bit of a hiccup
Ha! That’s it, I’ll show them who’s boss. Take me on those unsealed roads, up them unsealed mountains, leave me in the hot sun – all in the name of getting some solar for the batteries, and then disappear for hours on end leaving me to fend for myself surrounded by families, screaming kids, nosey grey nomads, all in their ‘modern’ camper vans. How I loathe school holidays.
It all started with a bit of a hiccup, had a little bit of gas, dirty fuel or something. I was stinking up the outside as well as the inside. The kids woke up with headaches and made some very inconsiderate comments about the smell. They had a quick look at my innards, shrugged their shoulders, and we were on the road again for about an hour before pulling into Emerald. I was feeling lousy.
M got out and had another look at me, this time underneath. “Nicki” he yelled “I think we’ve got a problem.” N came round the back. “She’s leaking petrol,” he added, as if I wasn’t even there. They stood and discussed the predicament for a bit and then disappeared into the shopping centre leaving me on my own again.
Soon a rotund young gentleman came out dressed in a REPCO uniform, and he too had a look at my underside. “You’ve got a leaky bit of fuel line – between the filter and the tank.” After much discussion the young REPCO man declared that M and N should get me to a mechanic, he would ring ahead to make sure they could fit me in.
Twenty minutes later we arrived on the other side of town, where I was jacked up into the air while all the workshop staff gathered around to take a look at my privates. In ten minutes the faulty hose was replaced. They sat me in the corner for an hour to monitor my leakiness. Satisfied, I was discharged from the mechanics. All was good, and no more nasty smells – at least that’s what they thought.
After two days’ well-earned rest, the kids packed me up and were about to hit the road again, when… things just didn’t feel right, smell right, start right. M got right underneath this time and confirmed his suspicions with a very rude, “Shit, she’s leaking again!” Before I could protest, I was back at the mechanics and up in the air again. This time it was the bit of hose running from the filter to the pump.
Back on the road, or should I say dirt track, bouncing past open cut coalmines and giant industrial orange-yellow trucks with tyres bigger than me! Up hills, down gorges – all man made. We made our way to Lake Elphinstone for an overnight pit stop.
Coughing and wheezing
Up with the sun, coffee and scrambled eggs for brekkie, and we were out on our way to Mackay by nine! Twenty minutes into the run, and again things started to feel queasy, but a different kind of queasy. M put his foot on the brake and pulled over. “Thank Ford” I thought, “He’s going to give me a rest.” But instead he turned me around and headed slowly back to the lake. N was scanning the road and so was M. We arrived back at the lake; I stalled and came to a rest. The kids jumped out and walked around – not around me but around the campground, searching for something, something that, by the sounds of their conversation and the deathly silence on their return, was important, expensive and not found.
Two hours of driving and we popped, wheezed, stumbled into Mackay. Everything was hazy by this point but I made out the words “mechanic” and “Google” and after a rest (I may have zoned out) I found myself sitting in a Kombi graveyard. There were rusted out old bodies strewn across overgrown grass and weeds, a very friendly one-eyed dog that sniffed me out, and a cranky old fellow by the name of Paul, who insisted on referring to me as a ‘he’, had a poke around. (I took offense – I am a lady, I assure you).
But in his defence, there was something about Paul. His hands had a way about them, and straight away I had confidence in him. He made me feel comfortable and at ease, as he tinkered with my carbies. Paul was a man that had grown up on air-cooled Vee Dubs he knew what he was doing, and you could tell.
“Bring ‘im round on Sundee with ya own oil!” Paul declared “’e needs a tune up and resetting of the tappets – needs ta be cold for that” he added.
They were up early and emptying all their stuff from my insides today, then three agonising attempts to start me up saw me finally groan into action. There were a couple of farts, pops and a good old-fashioned backfire to clear the bowels and wake the neighbours. And with that we headed out onto the quiet Sunday morning roads of Mackay. Dropped N off in the city and M continued down to Bakers Creek for my date with Paul.
I thought (hoped) it was going to be just me, Paul and the dog, but M insisted that he hang around – wanted to pick up a few tips “just in case she becomes a problem again, I’ll know what to do” he added. Ford forbid M poking around under there. But stay he did.
I gazed out into the yard looking over countless preloved now deceased Vee Dubs and wondered about their stories, and why they had been abandoned, while Paul reset my tappets, replaced my points, oil, and oil filter. He squeezed some new grease into my front suspension, and adjusted the clutch. Dan the one-eyed dog slept in the sun, then when it got too hot wandered inside the workshop for some shade, and lay down at my back tyres. Four hours later M fired me up, and Paul gently but knowingly adjusted my idle to a wonderful “tick, tick, tick…”
Feeling like a Porsche, I took M back to town, picked up N and returned to camp for the night. Ahhh it feels good to be back to normal…. Then N said something to M about crossing the desert. “Good luck with that” I thought and nodded off.