|Blog 165 5th-9th May Dunedin
It’s misty this morning but you can tell it will burn off and be a nice day. Chris makes the spontaneous decision to ride with us to his mate Colin’s at Dunedin. We set off about midday as it’s not actually that far, the sun is out by then and we have a nice ride stopping briefly at a great viewpoint for pictures. Colin and Robyn’s place is right across town but Chris has been there before so we can follow him. Dunedin which incidently is the Gaelic name for Edinburgh (lots of Scots settled in the South island) is the polar opposite of flat as a pancake Invercargill, it seems everywhere is on a steep hill here. It’s quite tricky to ride around in places as there are junctions and turnings at all sorts of crazy angles.
Colin is a really nice guy and we all spend a very pleasant few hours chatting and drinking his excellent coffee. He is a bit of a coffee connoisseur and has a Rolls Royce of a coffee machine, lucky old us ! Their house is a bit different too it’s called a Framos and is made of lengths of pine which lock together a bit like a high tech log cabin, they are really cosy strong houses. About 4pm it’s time for Chris to head back so we say thank you and wish him a good ride.
Colin is an Engineer for a living and is the chargehand at a local foundry, he asks if there is anything we need to do to the bike. At the moment she is running well so I can’t think of anything pressing save our dilemma with the missing outrigger wheel. I explain our problem and Colin has a potential solution, he has a pair of old nylon wheels off a 2 1/2 ton pallet truck which he says we can have. The bearing size in the centre is different but we can make a spacer to get around that, it’s a good solution on a few fronts. They are a lot lighter than the solid tyres we were using, also they are a pair so it saves us buying a replacement wheel and solid tyre to replace the one we lost. Colin says we can drive down to his work and fabricate the missing stub axle as well, superb !
I had given up hope of sorting this problem out until Australia and suddenly now it’s all happening.
We have a big industrial arc welder, drills, lathes, mills everything you could want at our disposal. Colin has a rummage through the offcuts bin and finds some suitable material and he then sets to on a lathe making some top hat spacers for the wheels while I mark out and drill the plates and upright then weld it all together. In about two hours it’s all done and we head home for tea with the girls. Robyn treats us to a lovely stew for dinner and we have a night off and watch a film together. They have a 3D tv the first we have ever seen, they only have one 3D movie however as there are not that many available here yet so Monsters versus Aliens it is. They only got it as their old tv expired and you can obviously watch normal and HD tv on it as well.
We still need to wear some funny glasses but they have moved on a bit from the red and green film mounted on cardboard. These are a lot cooler looking with their own built in battery, the 3D effect is considerably improved as well and although I was initially a bit sceptical I was really impessed with the depth and clarity of it.
Time for bed now though. The next morning it’s raining and not very inspiring so we get on the computer to apply for our Australian online visas. Our plans have changed for Australia and we are going to try and do what Aussies call the big lap and go right around the country. Our timing coming into the East Coast will be about right so long as we head north and go anticlockwise round. The plan is to get up to Darwin in winter when it’s not too hot and be heading to the cooler south by the time summer comes.
Masochists have ridden round Oz in a month, we are probably looking at six to nine to actually see something of the country along the way. It is a very, very very big place, Western Europe would fit into it about five times, New Zealand North and South would fit in over twenty times. Looking in the excellent adventure motorycling handbook we are looking at 20’000km + to go right round with a bit of skirmish into the outback. Gulp ! We soon discover this longer timeframe causes some visa complications also, we were expecting to just need an ETA (electronic travel authority) which is more or less instant online form. Our longer stay requires us to apply for a proper tourist visa which has to be approved but fortunately we can apply for this online too. We ask for twelve months just in case and fill in all the forms, explain the purpose of our visit and send them off. We then have an anxious few days to wait, if they are not approved in time we are going to miss the flight we have already paid for and have to start over. The other potential problem is that Australia has every right to ask for proof of sufficient funds to cover your stay. We deliberately only leave a small balance in our day to day account and everything else is done via a good friend at home so there are a few frantic email exchanges to rustle up some statements etc as he is going on holiday just when we will be travelling. We are really hoping the Aussie’s won’t want us to book an outbound flight when we enter as it will be near on impossible to judge what date to book and you get charged a big penalty to change dates. Organising all this takes up most of the day, Robyn gets home at 5pm shortly followed by Colin. We explain that we have another couple in Outram on the outskirts of Dunedin that we need to go and see as they have invited us over to stay tonight but we arrange to all meet tomorrow for coffee at the wobbly goat which is one of Colin’s favourite coffee stops so we can introduce them. Leaving some of our stuff here we hop on the bike in the rain for the 30 minute journey to Outram picking up a couple of bottles of wine on the way. The address is a little strange and we have to ask someone but eventually we find the right turning, we sail past the house first time and are just turning round in the turning circle when clonk the sodding driveshaft breaks again provoking an entire dictionary of profanity from me. Don heard us come past (and probably me swearing) and comes over to help, he and Karen push me the last 50 metres into their garage whilst I paddle with my feet, not a very dignified entrance but we are here. At least it broke so close I suppose. Don says he has a mate with a welder so we can sort it out in the morning. I don’t know at this stage why it broke so quickly, possibly it was fractionally out of allignment or it just didn’t burn into the metal enough and the weld just sat on top. The good news on this front is that I received an email from an Aussie guy called Mark who has been following our trip for a long time. He has offered to make us a one piece shaft the correct length. He makes driveshafts etc for a living and has access to the proper steel and heat treatment so this could prove to be our solution to this annoying problem. Anyhow no point worrying about it now, we go in and meet Ann & Don properly and sit down to eat.
Don is a mate of Murray’s in Blenheim and they travelled together with another friend across the United States on Guzzi’s before exporting them back home. We got in touch with these guys quite a while back via Pat in San Francisco who hosted them in the U.S. We have been in contact for some time and Don has kindly taken in a parcel from home for us which we are now united with. It contains a service kit for our petrol stove, zip runners to fix our tent, extra carb jets for the bike and a few other useful bits n bobs and we are very glad to see it. Motomecca provided the selection of extra jets for nothing which was very kind of them, thanks guys ! We have some but we’ll need a better selection in Oz as they have funny fuel in the out back and we will need to make some adjustments for altitude in South America. Tentipi also gave us a whole bag of spare zip runners for free, so thanks to them too ! Next day we whip the shaft out and take it to Don’s mates house, this is quite something to behold as the entire basement is one huge workshop where he renovates classic American musclecars, Fords, Pontiacs ,Chevrolets they are all here and we have an interesting tour. He raises a few interesting points about the driveshaft as well and aligns the splines either end in my jig before welding it up with a big mig in stages alternating sides to stop the heat pulling it out of line. Some of this I have tried before but I have never bothered lining the splines up as each end can turn independently and it’s not necessary for allignment. He might be on to something as the original ones are alligned but whether that’s just for machining purposes I don’t know. We will see how it goes I guess, it should certainly allow us to get to Christchurch to ship to Oz on time. I offer to pay but they won’t take a cent so all I can say is a heartfelt thank you.When we get back Don gives me a hand to put it back together which doesn’t take long with the two of us so we are all done by lunchtime. Ann meantime has made us a nice lunch which we enjoy before heading down to the Wobbly Goat to meet Colin and Robyn. The four of them seem to get on well which we thought they would and after our coffees we all head back to Don and Ann’s. A sociable afternoon ensues and Ann invites them to stay to dinner so it carries on all evening as well. Later on we all play a game called Balderdash which is a little like call my bluff and a provides some good entertainment. We start packing up next morning when Karen reminds me that our brake lights are not working properly. They are a pressure activated switch built into the brake pipes and I put in a spare switch so I could swap if the original failed without disturbing the pipework and having to bleed all the air out of it. I swap the wiring plug over, turn on the ignition and lean on the brake pedal. Nothing happens so I lean a lot harder and the lamp just lights but a bit intermitently. I am a bit perplexed but the answer soon presents itself as Karen spots brake fluid on the floor. When I plumbed up the brake lines I used a swivelling fitting on the back caliper to stop the hose getting twisted. These are slightly longer than a standard one and it must be occasionally just hitting the bracing bar that strengthens the rear frame rails under full suspension compression.
This has damaged the fitting causing the leak.
I have a spare length of hose with a banjo that I chucked in at the last minute but I didn’t think to put any spare banjo bolts in. I know what thread they are so Don makes a quick phone call to the local auto parts store and they have one. He kindly goes to pick it up for me while I cut the damaged fitting off and fit the much shorter banjo fitting instead, fortunately I used Venhill stainless braided hose which you can remake yourself all you need is a new sealing olive and some spanners and I have all of these. By the time Don’s back I have the new fitting on and it’s just a matter of bolting it together with two new copper washers and bleeding a tiny bit of air out at the end of the line as I put a hose clamp on it to avoid losing too much fluid. Now we are ready to go, I say thankyou to Don and Ann again, who have been brilliant and we head back into town. It was seriously fortunate that the fault showed itself in the way that it did i.e not when we were riding it !
We would still have had some brakes as we have two linked brake systems running in parallel but it would have been spraying brake fluid everywhere and obviously reduced our brake performance considerably. That afternoon we head into town to do some sight-seeing, our first stop is the Octagon which is the centre of town. Parking up the bike we explore writers walk and Dunedin railway station which is still decorated with it’s original Royal Doulton tiles and is magnificent. The City Art Museum is open too and free and although interesting their overly warm heating forces us out before we are really done. Speights brewery is also round the corner but we settle for just pictures from the outside as the tour is expensive and I can’t exactly take advantage of any samples. I have developed quite a taste for their beer though its good. We also drop in on Rhondda’s (the lady from Auckland who made our start to NZ so fantastic) son David who is now living down here in Dunedin. We are able to give back the biker’s mapbook she lent us. It has been an invaluable map as not only did it have the best mapping around but it also showed recommended rides and all the gravel roads besides. Thank you Rhondda. Now on to the perfectly normal sounding Baldwin Street, it’s claim to fame is that it is the steepest street in the world. It is a dead end so you have to turn round at the top and yes it is ridiculously steep. I was game to ride up it until I saw it, then I had visions of snapping driveshafts, burning clutches or falling off trying to turn round at the top and went right off the idea. Trust me the photos totally flatten it out, it is silly steep and it must be a total pain living up there. We watched a couple of practiced locals charging up it and swerving at the last second into their parking spaces. Lastly we head out to the Otago Peninsular, there are two main roads, one hugs the coastline and the other climbs over the top of the hill. The plan was to go along the coast and then back over the top but there is a diversion due to landslips along the coast so we end up going over the top before dropping back down to sea level. The weather is moody and adds to the dramatic scenery as we swoop around bend after bend. The road ends at an Albatross sanctuary, we get off and have a walk around, it’s too late to go in today but it’s worth stopping for the views over the sheer cliffs and out into the wild seas though. On the way back the landslips on the bottom road have been cleared so we hug the coastline all the way back into town and Colin and Robyn’s. We are treated to a delicous roast dinner and Pavlova for pudding and then we spend the rest of the evening chatting until it’s time for bed. We are up in time for bacon and eggs and to say goodbye and thank you for a great few days.
Colin has offered us the use of a steam cleaner at work and it seems like too good an offer to refuse. He needs to get going so we agree to meet him at the foundry later. Australian customs and quarantine are notoriously fussy about imported goods being clean and free of any organic matter to avoid bringing in pests and diseases. Organic matter includes mud, grass seeds,spiders webs, insects etc etc. The foundry is in town, pulling into the staff car park we go in the tradesmans entrance and find Colin who sets us up with steam cleaner.
It’s a really good machine and makes short work of the ingrained dirt, it won’t get everything off there’s too many nooks and crannie’s but it will save me a lot of time in Christchurch. The foundry staff all come out for a look at smoko (teabreak) time and we meet and have a chat to the owner who is interested in our travels. Colin gives us a bit of a tour around and we get to watch some molten aluminium being poured from the furnace and into the moulds which is fascinating. It takes a couple of hours to clean the bike but the results are well worth it and it will save me days of scrubbing later which is great as time will be tight.