Jul 2 12

Sense of humour failure



Car Trouble

Approaching Dar es Salam yesterday, we were 40kms out, it was around 15h00.  In the morning coming from Selous, we had to stop at Kimbiti on the way out and re-weld the chassis of the trailer.  The ‘two year guarantee’ had not lasted very long.  With limited tools and equipment, we had done the best job possible.  It seemed to be holding out on the tar road at least.  So we were 40kms out, when there was a soft thudding type noise, and then a sudden loss of power.  Some smoke appeared from the bonnet area and there was a smell of burnt oil.  We immediately pulled over to the side of the road and stopped the engine.

A stroke of luck, an elderly gentleman, Mr Abdula, noticed our distress and stopped.  A man of 6 children, well dressed in suit and tie was a magistrate in the nearby district court.  Fortunately, he spoke good English and after discussing the sequence of events, he assured me he would call the best mechanic around, from the nearby village (4kms away).  Having downed his tools, the mechanic took half an hour to arrive on the back of a motorcycle, driven by a different person.  He concluded that the problem was probably electrical as only 2 of the four injectors were working.  The oil seal of the engine had simultaneously perished.  In the fading light, 30 000 Tzn Shillings was paid to return to the village (10 000 fuel for Mr Abdulha’s vehicle), purchase some oil (20 000) top up oil and then to drive slowly into Dar with the assurance from the mechanic that there would be no further damage to the vehicle or its components.  En route, we would intercept another mechanic who was also experienced with auto-electrical problems.

Ranging between 40-60km/h we arrived into Dar.  At an arbitrary gas station we met Mr Fadhili, a stocky mechanic with no English.  Mr Abdulha insisted on following us all the way, and when I apologized for the inconvenience, he assured me that “we Muslims are constantly looking for opportunities to do good”.  A man of such stature could not be offered money; all I could do was give him my sincerest thanks.

After stripping one of my bolts on my tow hitch and putting rocks on the wrong sides of the trailer wheels, Mr Fadhili gave me the synopsis that the injectors would need to be cleaned and the electronic sensor would then work and then we’d be up and running.  We needed to look at this in the morning and so Mr Abdulha recommended a newly opened hotel, not far from Mr Fadhili’s workshop for us to overnight.  I suggested that it should not be too expensive and he assured me that it would not be.

The Royal Giraffe had only been open for two weeks, and was a stark mix of Middle Eastern décor, come new age chic.  The room cost 50 000 TZN (R300) and was the smartest they had.  We put a mattress on the floor for Danica and Nicolai slept on the couch.  It was 22h30 when room service arrived, Danica was already sleeping.  The 4th floor was a night club from Wednesday to Sunday and there was an unlocked, unsuitable channel; we could not stay here.

The following morning Mr Fadhili arrived half an hour late with an English speaking friend in tow.  After lengthy discussion we resolved to rather take the vehicle to Toyota.  The assessment there was somewhat bleak.  Each injector cost 1 400 000 TZN (R8 000) and they had no stock.  They also did not have an oil seal in stock and that could take a week to get from SA.  There was comfort that a Portuguese South African, Mr Jose Alvares was in charge of the service department.  He spoke good English and Portuguese and was bent on finding a solution.  He would take out the injectors, have them serviced/assessed as well as attempting to match the oil seal from the local market.  Maybe, maybe there would be a match.

With the Protea Apartment Hotel in town being full, we opted for the Sunrise Beach campsite on the South Coast.  Right on the sea, this would hopefully provide some respite for some pretty deflated attitudes.  We now were in Jose’s hands and had to wait for some news.

The problem turned out to be far worse than expected.  There was no compression in one of the cylinders.  A hole in the 4th piston ….


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