BREAKDOWNS

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BREAKDOWNS

Colin Davidson
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Re: BREAKDOWNS

Mike McDermott
Colin, heaven forfend that I should ever dob in a driver, even after 30 years, so I shall say with my hand on my heart that noje that I wotked withj had to dfeal witrh a brerakdown. ERvwer.

By the way, it’s hard to type with your fingers crossed; ever tried it?

However, when their coaches played up, even a teensy bit, it was interesting to note how they dealt with it. Allan Maher would close a deal with it; not a problem. Brendon Reid would give it a big grin and a hug, and it would be so chuffed that it would carry on regardless. The trickster Carl Capstick could use a spanner and a bit of araldite so well that the coach would be fooled into going another 5,000km before it realized that its gearbox was missing.

Simon Arms had a different approach to his beloved Titanic; he would shout “Incorrectemente, Ralph!!! Wrrrrong!!!” and pick it up by the scruff of its radiator, swing it around a few times, and send it crashing to the ground so hard that its air horns (which he had bought at the BP Mocamp in Istanbul) would howl with pain. He would keep doing this until his pith helmet fell off, then storm inside the Titanic, rip off the engine cover, and bleed the engine to within an inch of its life.

He never had any trouble after that; you might say that he and the Titanic had an understanding.

I could go on, but you get the drift; each driver had his own unique approach. And the thing is, each approach worked; otherwise, they would not have lasted as long as they did. And if anything did go wrong (which itn disdn’tr – damn, that’s hard) they would make it up to the passengers. I particularly remember a drive by Simon of 30+ hours to give his passengers the best time he could give them in Europe. That after the end of a long westbound. And you know what? He gave them a VERY good time in Europe.

Mike
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Re: BREAKDOWNS

SIMON ARMS
Please excuse me everybody while I have a quiet word with my self appointed publicist. Mike stop it or you will go blind !
Simon
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Re: BREAKDOWNS

Mike McDermott
Hi Simon,

I wish you had told me that 30 years ago.

The old eyesight is fading fast ...

All the Best,

Mike

PS Have you ever heard from Phil Tulk?
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Re: BREAKDOWNS

Colin Davidson
In early 1976, I bought my first coach with Overlander Coaches. It was a 45 seater Mosely Coach with a Bedford 446 rear engine.

In March that year, Bob Martin had headed off to Kathmandu but unfortunately put a piston through the engine block in Erzurum. Phil Campbell and I took a new block out to Bob, conditions in Eastern Turkey were freezing at that time of the year. “Tiny Olliff” was a co-driver with Bob on that trip. When Bob and Tiny were working on the engine, they could only use their bare hands for a few minutes at a time before all feeling in their hands was gone. I am sure Bob will tell you more after he reads the above.

In late March I had to do a 35 day express trip to Kathmandu where I was scheduled to do a Treasure Tours trip back to London. Phil Campbell was my co-driver for the express trip. All was going well with the coach until about 50kms from the Iran – Afghan border when the engine seized solid. About 90% of the passengers bordered a local bus that came by, and that was the last I saw of them except one. This bloke had a surf board on board the bus; he eventually got it back in Agra when we met up again. He was originally going from London to Bali to surf, and then onto Australia. Getting back to Mashaad was an experience that I will never forget. I had agreed on a price with an Iranian fuel truck driver, so he hitched me up to a very short rigid towing bar and off we went at 100miles per hour. Very very scary to say the least when you are only about 6 foot off the rear of his truck and you can’t see Jack Schitt. I think Jack was running down my legs after that  hairy ride.

The following day I had organized the mechanics to pull the engine out in readiness for a new engine that was to be flown in from London. A day or so later, Chalker and Dave Rodgers arrived in Mashaad and two of their passengers were later employed with Sundowners. They were Kit Carr and Tommy Broomfield .Next day, Chalker and Dave leave for Gorgan where they also have mechanical problems. One of them can tell you that story.

Well, after 3 weeks in Mashaad the coach is ready to go. Haggis and Robo turn up the day before I am ready to leave for Kathmnadu and Haggis suggest that I take Robo with me back to Kabul. His thinking was, two heads are better than one if a situation arose. We get to the Iranian border and that’s when the fun started. Why are you carrying a spare engine in the underneath luggage locker??  “ it’s broken “ Why are you carrying a broken engine??? “ because the engine number on the broken one is written in the Carnet  De Passage.” Where is the Carnet for the new engine??? And this went on and on and on. I had to go through that crap at every border throughout the Middle East, I couldn’t dump the engine and get a new Carnet sent out to me, because each time I went into a country it was written in my passport ( 1 spare engine- 123447711 ) so I had to grin and bare it. We leave and head for the Afghan border, too late, those lazy buggers have shut up shop for the day. Inside a small mud hut at the border we find the border officials sipping tea and smoking Afghani black. What to do???? We joined them. When in Rome!!!!!!!
Next morning at the Afghan border, “ what’s with the spare engine “  here we go again, its broken, its kaput its f…………ked etc etc its f…..king dead.
Away from that circus and we headed for Kabul. The coach engine was running hot, so we had a few stops to top up the radiator with water. The engine was also making unwanted noises, it got us to Kabul only to find out that it needed an engine rebuild. I was devastated as this coach was only 18months old. The only luck I had was I was in Bedford territory. Robo left on local transport to catch up with Haggis and a week later I left Kabul towards Kathmandu.
Meanwhile Gary Maher had flown into Kathmandu and was bringing my passengers west by local transport.
After leaving Kabul, I headed for Lahore. It was late at night when I arrived in Lahore and I had another problem, only parking lights, no high or low beam, so a day was spent getting them fixed in Lahore with Trevor Lee, ( I’m sure some of you drivers will remember him!)
I eventually ended up meeting my passengers in Agra, they’d traveled on public transport for 2 weeks. A couple of weeks later just outside Peshawar the diff shit its self.
 What a trip!! 2 engines, a diff and electrics.

I bet none of those passengers ever forget their time traveling in India and Nepal using public transport.

The reason for all the engine troubles was, the radiator fan was on the wrong way around and therefore it wasn't cooling as it was trying to force the air towards the front of the coach instead of out the back.




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Re: BREAKDOWNS

kit carr
Picking up from Col’s story:

I was a passenger on AL125 in early 1976. Dave Rogers and Chalker White were courier and driver respectively. (I almost most said respectfully……)
We were having a good trip, with a few mechanical incidents along the way, none being memorable enough to recall 35 years later. We arrived in Mashaad, where some of our more adventurous  female passengers found some very friendly Irani males and were out very late. Very very late.
We discovered another bus in town and had a meal with Col, who wasn’t the happiest guy around, but was glad of some company.
It was early in the year,and still cold. It was very cold the next morning as we headed off towards Gorgan, travelling on the northern road, over the hills, before we were to drop down to the Caspian.
We travelled through Bojnord, and climbed up into the mountains of the Golestan National Park. It was cold. This point is only of significance because very soon we were in a position to study the cold quite well. Near, but not at the very small and seriously desolate town of Chaman Bid, the poxy bus broke down. The details are hazy now, but the technical term was “fukt” as I recall.
Dave disappeared to find a bus to carry the passengers on,  which he did, while Chalker, Georgie, Tom, Wayne and I stayed with the bus as security. We had no food or water, but that didn’t seem to be a huge issue, and we hitched up to the top of the hill, to the road side stall at Chaman Bid. In fact I think it was all of Chaman Bid. We were able to but Chai, bread and something? Which we took back to the bus to share.  
We stayed a few days, parked on the road side, and became regulars at the Chaman Bid food store. The locals recognised us, and prepared food and tea for us as we arrived. The bus was freezing cold, and we were lucky we had our sleeping bags with us for the camping section later on in the trip.
Eventually we were towed to Gorgan, to repair the bus. Given the technical condition of the bus, (‘fukt”) it was deemed necessary to send a new engine form London to repair the bus. This was done, and Dave went to Teheran to pick up the engine from the airport. When he got back-we had all been waiting at the fine HaghiGat Hotel- he brought the engine and the bad news that it had been dropped unloading in Teheran, and it too had become “fukt”.
Tom was a mechanic for the fire service before he left Australia, and he took the lead in offering to build one engine out of two. Dave took the passengers on to Esfahan, much warmer, and friendly American service men.

We stayed in the cold at Gorgan, and worked in a poxy yard, outside in winter to fix the bus. WE continued to stay at the HAgighat, brought bottles of beer from the shop across the road, and we carefully stacked the bottles under the bed, empty and full. More empties over time as the Hotel staff decided that cleaning out the room we stayed in was not going to happen. By the time we fixed the bus, after many days, there were many many many bottles.
Eventually we fixed the bus and drove to Esfahan to meet up with the troops who were pretty happy to see us.

I think we were by then 14 days behind schedule.
There were many more breakdowns to come.
The last major breakdown saw us camping on the side of the Autobahn outside of Munich.

That particular trip was great, with great people. We still meet every 5 years .
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Re: BREAKDOWNS

kit carr
Another tale:

Bob Wilko brought two buses, GWE410N, and GWE411N from up North.
Two of us went up to pick them up, and bring them back to the workshop, which was out near Slough at the time
I was given GWE411N, and father Frank Lewis was given GWE410N.
These were nice Ford N1114 Plaxton coaches, with the then common Ford 360 turbo engine. Then considered better than the Bedford by all except Col Davidson, and Bedford Salesmen.
These two coaches had only ever done local work, and had no side lockers, just boot space. IN preparation for the trip we gathered up some spare parts in a green army ammo box, removed some seats (leaving 45) purchased some food (Done by Peter Cheong) gathered up our camping gear, and departed to India. There was Vicar and I, plus 4 students who had fallen under Dick Cjiffers spell, and had paid to get to Kathmandu in 12 days. We left London 18 days before we were due to depart Kathmandu and TK163.
The trip out was relatively uneventful. We cooked as we drove, and stopped first at Goreme. ON the way Vicar was the Cook,and I drove. We had a stove set up where the seats once where, with a gas bottle and food located close by. The thought was that we would boil and fry as we drove. Peter CHeoing will never be forgotten as the purchaser of unusual food. He bought Fray Bentos pies, packed in a tin, which carried the description “Remove from the can, and bake in a moderate oven for 40 minute”. I grew to like boiled pies, but we couldn’t get the pasty crisp.
North of Gorgan I asked Vicar if he could drive a bus, he said no. I said “fucking learn” and went to sleep. We arrived in Kathmandu after 11 days of travel. Vicar obviously did lkearn, but I did wake up before we got there.
The lack of preparation started to show. We had to build side lockers and  pig bins if we were to have any chance of fitting everyone’s luggage in. We bought dexion sections and plywood in Kathmandu and made a shelf which we accessed form the spare wheel locker, and made the pig bins, and were ready to go on the appointed day.
Nice drive to Pokhara. Stayed at New Green Lake Hotel, in the “Luxury” room for the driver (with tap, but not drain) for around Rs2.50.
Next day on the drive to Bharawah the water pump failed. Bother I said, and opened the parts box, which we then found did not contain a water pump. Parking on the side of the road was something Chalker had made me familiar with. Vicar went off and sorted a bus to get the passengers to Varanasi and to pick up the water pump which was going to be flown to Kathmandu. I waited by the side of the road, eating Muesli and water for 5 days. I had a guitar which I still can’t play very well, lots of basic food, and developed from very strange toilet habits. The gurkas were friendly, and a number of ex-soldiers appeared out of nowhere, and we talked about why an English bus, with a kiwi driver, was parked in the middle of nowhere.
Vicar eventually arrived, with most of the bits needed, (a water pump, but no fan belts) and we put the bus together again, and drove from the cool mountains to the heat of the terrai. It was bloody hot when we got to the bottom, and the lack of cooling meant that we had to drive at night, with the engine cover removed to get airflow through the radiator. It was bloody hot, and vicar cooled me down by tipping buckets of water over my head as I drove. I swear the water never hit the floor.
We did a clutch near Fatehpursikri, but we had one of those in the parts box. Did a head gasket between Minsk and Smolensk, but had one of those as well.

Another good group, which has had one or two reunions since 1987, the last one 3 years ago in Sydney.
Somehow the problems can add lots to a trip, but I can’t imagine being able to get away today with what we did then.
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Re: BREAKDOWNS

Vicar
Administrator
This post was updated on .
In reply to this post by Colin Davidson
Well Kit you have out done yourself. For someone who says he struggles to type or string words together you are to be commended. Job well done.
I’ll add some more to our trip and some extra elements of truth. I must say at this point that Kit has a memory like a steel trap.  Along the way to Kathmandu we stopped at Peshawar for a night’s rest and upon arrival Kit suggested we have a decent feed in the restaurant. Not being a big lover of curries, at home meat and two veg were all he go, Kit ordered a mix of 5 curries, not mild and Lassie milk drink. It was an effort to down all of what I was to swallow but I got it down. Getting it down turned out to be the least of my worries. About 3 am I had a decision to make, basin or toilet? Fortunately the two were not so far apart and I availed myself of the opportunity to utilize both simultaneously.

The next morning I felt much, much older, mainly due to the lack of sleep but more of need of mechanical repairs, new ring gear would have been appreciated. We picked up a local in need of a lift so he advised to drink 7 Up and salt, it for some reason actually worked. The only disappointment to having this guy on board was he stole the camera of a guy that had not made the cut from the training trip who went by the name of Bull Dog.

Yes Kit kindly suggested I might like to learn to drive a coach but he did leave out an important aspect. As we drove through the night and neared Kathmandu the people at the rear of the coach forgot to get their end of the vehicle around a corner. On calling London to report our arrival his answer to Bob Wilko’s question on how did the trip go was ‘ Really well, even Vicar learnt how to drive with one hiccup but then he prove to be a good crash repairer.'
First night stop Pokara; as the coach is parked up in the grounds of the palatial New  Green Lake Hotel Kit noticed we had a broken a spring hanger. That first night stop turned out to be about 3 or 4. A grand way to start. Then we eventually move on and as Kit recalls we did the water pump in. Darcy Waller was a trainee on the trip and was sent ahead with the passengers to Bhairwahwa by local bus. All is relatively well until they then need to leave the main road to travel a couple of Kilometres to the beautiful, cough, cough hotel. Darcy employed the services of several rickshaw Wallers to get them there. Put this together with what Kit has told you and young kids today won’t believe you.

By the way this is how the coach got her name MAVIS, May All Vehicles Include Spares.
Vicar
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Re: BREAKDOWNS

kit carr
I had forgotten about introducing Vicar to curries.

He had lived a culinary sheltered life in Adelaide, and I thought it was appropriate to deal with some of these limitations.

The words from a song I can't remember, and from a comedian I can (George Carlin) seem approriate
"blow it out your arse".

He did.

He looked a bit pale for a few days :-)
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Re: BREAKDOWNS

Colin Davidson
In reply to this post by Vicar
Kit re Mavis and Vicar.

In 1977, I did a trip from Kathmandu to London with Maryanne Spence as the courier.

 I have a VAGUE recollection that our trips were in Srinagar at the same time. I may be wrong but, Kit  I  remember you and MA playing the guitars together one night on one of the house boats. If it wasn’t you, then all I can say is OLD AGE!! Is creeping up fast.

We had a female passenger who had lost the plot, we handed her over to the consulate of the country she was from. Does that ring a bell??

By the way, that was the only Overland trip that I didn’t have any mechanical problems.
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Re: BREAKDOWNS

kit carr
You're right Col.

MA could play a guitar, and could sing, both equally well.
I, on the other hand, could hold a guitar and not sing very well.

Kashmir was the best kind of place to get rid of loopy passengers. It was so relaxed, that the loopy ones really stood out. It must be one of the few places in the world to grow ducks with 4 legs, if the ratio of legs eaten to breasts paid for is of any relevance.
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Re: BREAKDOWNS

SIMON ARMS
In reply to this post by kit carr
Hi Kit,

I enjoyed your recollection of these breakdowns.
Normally water pumps leak for days proir to letting go and water pump failure is detected on the daily checks when the coolant levels continue to fall. You do have to get under the bus to see where the water is leaking from.
The way this reads there was a lack of fan belts "lack of cooling meant we had to drive at night". Did you run the motor without a belt ? If you did for even a short time this would certainly lead to head gasket failure at the very least.
The water  Vicar poured over you might have been better tipped over the radiator. You could have done what we did on the "Titanic" and put a 20 litre water container on the dash and fed a hose (via the windscreen water pump) to spray water over the front of the radiator, this worked very well and I found having the interior heaters on gave more assistance in emergecies. Of course if I could have convinced the "powers that be" to let me rebuild the motor in London proir to departure this may not have been neccessary.

Regards Simon
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Re: BREAKDOWNS

kit carr
Hi Simon,

As I recall, the front came off the pump, rendering it useless, and damaging the belts. The guts of the pump were ok. When we put it all back together we didn't have enough belts to run everything, so ran the water pump and not the fan. I can't remember now exactly how the belts were set up, but we did run without the fan, but with a close eye on the temperature guage. I've no doubt that it contributed to the head gasket failure in Russia. We did pour water on to the radiator as well, and ran all of the heaters. It was hotter inside the bus than outside by a good margin. We ran through the Nautanwa border just before it closed, and ran down to Varanasi where we could make proper repairs.  Looking back at the lack of preparation shows how different things were then relative to what we would do today. Bob bought the bus over the phone, as the price was right. The preparation involved picking it up and driving to Kathmandu with a pause in London while. we loaded up and departed.

I still remember the sign on the door of the workshop: "beware Simon Arms"

I also recall Ginger from London Transport who used to do a good job supplying the trops with LT's finest, but never with an invoice. Cheques to C.Ash seemed to do the trick quite well.
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Re: BREAKDOWNS

kit carr
Kees van Yperen had a bus which broke down in Kabul, and needed significant repairs. This came about just after Sundowners and Capricorn combined, and I got sent out to Kabul to give a hand. The repairs were being done by a very good workshop, owned by a dutch company. The gear they had was great and the mechanics were DAF trained.

The workshop was run by a guy named "Barry" who had connections to the deposed Royal Family, and he had lived in Italy for a time. He ran a good ship, and the repairs were duly done.

Barry had taken us home on one occasion, and had talked about how things were under the current regime, and it was clear that a) he was very careful about what he could say, b) he wasn't very happy about the regime, and c) people weren't happy about afghanis who mixed with foreigners on a regular basis. He was a decent sort of bloke from what we could see.

One day he didn't come down to see the bus finished, and us leave. There was no sign of him. The mechanics were very vague, and I think genuinely vague. We took a cab to his house to say goodbye, and it was empty. No sign of anything that had been there a few days before.

I never found out what happened, but we figured it was a good time to leave, and we departed bringing a fine Seddon back to London.

They weren't the easiest coach to get on with, and I know that they were purchased because they were cheap. That effectively means that no one wanted them, and they could be bought at good prices. The chassis was OK, but the V8 diesel was not very good in that installation.

Simon Arms and Carl Capstick drove and maintained two very tidy examples, but they were the exception rather than the rule.

The Fords that Sundowners ran were a little better in my view, but not a whole lot. What they were though was simpler to maintain, except for the turbo, which caught a lot of drivers out as turbos were relatively new, and many of our drivers didn't have a lot of experience in mechanical matter.

My training in particular was exceptional:

Wilko said "can you drive a bus?"
I said "yes"
He said "good you're going to Morocco tomorrow"

At that point I had never driven a bus in my life, but had been a truck driver at home. I didn't have a bus licence, I hadn't driven in Europe at all, and had never driven on the right hand side of the road.

As I pulled the bus up to load at Hogarth Place, Wilko said your courier, Radar, is still in France, can you meet him at the Lille Station on the way to Paris. He has all the maps and information that you need".

I didn't even have a map to get out of London, let alone find Lille, and the railway station. Naturally in the finest Sundowner tradition it all worked out, but it look a long time to get to Dover.

Working with Radar was another experience. I was a teetotaller and Radar wasn't. I was lucky that he was able to take any pressure to imbibe away from me by ensuring that every item of temptation was consumed before it became a threat. I was supposed to do both halves of that Gypsy with Radar, (they ran in A & B sections), but I was taken off the trip to go to India.
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Re: BREAKDOWNS

Colin Davidson
In 1978, whilst working for Overlander Coaches, we were traveling from Kandihar to Kabul and we were expecting to meet a Transit tour coming from Kabul. I planned to stop for a lunch break when we met each other so that the passengers from each coach could have a chat.
We eventually came across them about 50kms outside of Kabul, but the coach was facing back towards Kabul. It had been snowing and was freezing cold, which usually happens when your in the snow. The driver, I have no idea of his name now, told me that the engine had seized so I got all his passengers onto my coach, 3 to a seat and took them into Kabul. I assured him that I would come back and help him out, which I did. My passengers were booked into the Park Hotel so we organized the Transit passengers into the Meterople Hotel.
Michael Powell happened to be in Kabul under house arrest for a road mishap with a local woman in a Burka. I told him that I had to go back out the road and try and help the Transit driver, He offered to come with me. We managed to scrounge a stiff towing bar off a Contiki driver who was also staying at the Park Hotel.
We drove back out to where they were parked, which was a few thousand feet up on the pass. I had nowhere on my coach from where to tow him, so we took the front panel off my coach where the driving lights were and connected the stiff bar to the rear end of his coach and to the front of mine. I pushed him the 50kms back to Kabul, his courier was giving me hand signs through their back window and Mick was hanging out the door of my coach trying to tell me what was ahead. We got him into the car park opposite the hotels and called it quits for the day.
Mick said that we needed a stiff drink after all that, so off we went to a small shop that Mick had been to before. Mick went straight to a shelve that had a box of chocolate, he put his hand behind the box and dragged out a 40oz bottle of Vodka. On the label was, US Embassey.
The next day I helped the Transit driver to find his problem. We took off the sump and there was one loose bigend bolt. The result of this, the capping bearing or what ever it is called, being of 2 pieces, one had slipped under the other and jammed the crank. The crank was scoured to the shit house, so we put a piece of radiator hose around the crank with a couple of worm clips and off he went, and got back to London on 5 pistons. It was a Ford 360 turbo, but I can’t remember if it was a Duple, a Van Hool or a Plaxton. I do know that it was Blue and White with Transit Travel written
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Re: BREAKDOWNS

Vicar
Administrator
In reply to this post by kit carr
Kit Carr you are a bloody champion. For a man that only wrote the occasional comment to writing a novel. G r e a t work.
I imagine in the perfect world we would have been better mechanics and writers and couriers and drivers, and, and but each to their own. I know a bit more about computers now because I wanted to learn more, still no genious but it is all about giving it a go. I believe in being broad with my range of skills , not that I am good at anyone thing.
From water pumps to spring hangers it was amazing that somehow or another we travelled all those kilometres in vehicles that were not designed to cover the types of terrain that we did. Most trips arrived at the end nearly on time. For all the various hazards we had to endure over such long periods collectively we did a grand job. in fact the older we get the better we were.
Vicar
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Re: BREAKDOWNS

Vicar
Administrator
In reply to this post by Colin Davidson
Just as I said we were all so, so good. Why is it that I have never seen any of you bush mechanics on the "Inventors"?

I have often watched "Better Homes and Gardens" TV program where this woman makes absolute crap out of cotton reels, ribbon, corks and what have we. Where were the video cameras when you guys were out there getting a broken bus full of passengers back to London with one half of a cotton reel, no ribbon, a busted cork and some ingenuity?

Loving the stories guys, I may even get tempted to write one myself sometime.
Vicar
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Re: BREAKDOWNS

Johnno McCabe
In reply to this post by Colin Davidson
     Well written Kit with your trademark dry sense of humour and practical incisive views delivered in your straight down the line manner. I am sure there is a very interesting and exciting book lying dormant between all you guys, just waiting to be written and it’s all there in the exceptionally sharp memory banks of all of the above heads. This would produce chapter after chapter of ripping yarns from an exciting era that we were passengers in aboard the coach journey through life.

 Maybe a item for agenda at the reunion?

  It is indeed ironic that the incidents that you all remember now so vividly were the breakdowns that you dreaded in the first place. While I am sure it was very challenging at the time it was the ingenious ways in which you, with limited experience and even more limited spare parts  overcame each obstacle and of course the camaraderie that grew to become an “overland code” that you helped anyone and everyone you passed on the road all done with a minumum of fuss and the Anzac sense of humour.

 Being even more philosophical about it now, I bet that each of you maintained that spirit of doggedness and determination throughout your life to overcome other hurdles you might have had to deal with later. I think it was a case of necessity is the mother of invention or was that Frank Zappa was in the Mother of Inventions. In those days it was the operations manager saying “shit happens, deal with it” while in current times life skill guru’s would prefer to call it “turning negatives into positives” followed by some counselling sessions kind of bullshit.

Back to TK163 in 1977 with Kit, Vicar and Darcy, and me as a punter, I can attest to the overall success of that trip came about by us witnessing you guys busting your guts to overcome adversities and to make it appear as almost a normal everyday part of the trip (“no extra charge”) and how you did compensate in other areas like an extra day in Srinagar and a 30 hour drive Amritsar to Kabul (“On your left we have a Pakistani civil war”, " No they are only throwing rocks as a mark of respect").

 Yes, Col that was us running parallel to you and Maryanne. We shared the snake charmer at the Hotel de Paris in Varanasi and a game of cricket if I do recall and possibly even a few beers in the bar. It hovered between 40 to 45 degrees each day and not much cooler at night. There were regular power shutdowns and I was in the room next door to the telephone exchange, “hello, hello, hello, hello” all night, was my first (but not my last) introduction to the Indian call centre. I think I spoke to his son the other day.  We left Varanasi on what was in the brochure as day 5 but was in reality day 14.

 We did cross paths some time later in the wonderful cool houseboats of Srinagar and that included some shikirar races at midnight as well as the Kit and Maryanne world premiere performance. That time in Srinagar remains as one of the highlights of my travelling life.


I think the effect of each breakdown was dramatic and often painful for you drivers and couriers but the bottom line that the effect on the punters was minimised and was in many cases enhanced their travel experience so belatedly congratulations on your efforts from all those years ago when you think it may not have been appreciated it did give you guys a well deserved reputation as a special breed. Now don’t you all go getting a big head again just after the swelling has finally gone down.

Keep those stories coming there are thousands of them!


Johnno
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Re: BREAKDOWNS

Vicar
Administrator
We knew no boundaries.
No disrespect intended but for those young men and women who did not get out of Europe they did miss out on something special.
I remember one crew who for the first time had taken a coach out of Europe to take on the overland trail. Before this new found frontier they worked in isolation to any other coach company. Soon they learnt the law of the ruff tracks that laid out to the east.
Johnno is right this brought about a special bond between all drivers and couriers regardless of the badge on their vehicles. Yes there is still many a fine story to be told about the Europe circuit but for those that went outside this domain they all know what I mean.
Mr Kit. I remembered I have even more culinary taste thanks to his encouragement and or persuasion. We had some young kids showing their respect (as Johnno would say) in either Pakistan or India, by way of throwing a rock one day at the front windscreen, on the way out to do TK163. As we know one can reverse the window from the rear of the coach to the opposite side at the front that is the easy bit. The window is in place and all we need do now is insert the beading. The various methods of soap, cutting the beading into smaller strips etc. took us well into the night, this task was to last us hours. As the night came in the cold followed and Kit suggested a cup of coffee. I was sent to the onboard kitchen and soon had the microwave going as I heated the kettle and cooked some fresh biscuits in the ultra weight oven, fresh milk from the fridge and there we are. Or was it more of a case of getting out the camping stove along with the gas bottle to try and heat the water. The fridge must have been on the blink as I was told I would need to learn how to drink my coffee without milk and possibly sugar. If I was ever going to make it as a real man in the overland scene I had better get used to it. What? But at home I would always have milk and 2 sugars. 2 or 3 cups of hot but bitter coffee we retired for a few hours sleep.
Next day some Penn World guys came and saw our dilemma and thus loaned us their beading tool and within ½ hour all was good. There is something to be said for having the right tool for the job.
To this day I cannot stand the sweat taste of sugar in my coffee but I do allow myself the luxury of milk, because I can.
Kit we can now add to the list; hot curries, lassie and black coffee without sugar. I am sure there will be other food and drink items I will add once I have thought about it.
Vicar
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Re: BREAKDOWNS

Colin Davidson
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In reply to this post by Johnno McCabe
Johnno,
The snake charmer, the game of cricket and the shikara races.

The snake charmer was usually entertaining, the game of cricket that day out the back of the hotel was a laugh, from memory it was the Aussie's against the Indian's. It was like a full on Test match, the Indian side comprised of the hotel staff and the Aussie's were from both tours. Those hotel whalla's were so serious, if you over stepped over the crease when bowling, they would call no ball. They were so passionate about the game.

The shikara races were good fun, not only was there races, but at times running battles in the middle of the lake. I can recall one boat load of punters neck deep in water and the shikara upside down.

On another occassion, Alan Maher arrived from Jammu and as they were loading the luggage onto the tranport shikara, we, who were on the other side of the lake sitting comfortably on our house boats, let fly with a barrage of sky rockets.

Fireworks played a part in many a tale
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