Kelbe Photogrpahy,The Beast,Land Cruiser
Kelbe Photography

How To Cook Batteries

I am obsessed with enough power to run our fridge, electronics and charge our lights. If the two support car batteries are only slightly down on charge I would unravel another two solar panels plus the one on the roof and super charge the batteries through a controlling splitter. It seems I cooked both batteries as I over charged them and neither would hold a charge. I had to buy two new batteries. I researched deep cycle vs high cycle batteries. Seems to be more semantics than anything really important. Bought two new high cycle batteries, i will put the extra solar panels away for now.

Diff Oil Leaks Out

When I have been off road for any significant time, I do a crawl through, which is a visual inspection of the underneath of the car. This is useful as any leaks, loose bolts and stuck grass and sticks can be dealt with. On the crawl through I notice there is a leak of diff fluid out of the right back axle. There is a nut which holds the brake line to the axle and this has bounced out on the rough roads. I do not have the right bolt to replace it. I cable tie the fitting and plug it with a rubber bung to prevent dust and water getting in. The nut is difficult to find and I will need to carry a few spares when I find the right nut.

The Beast Gets Even More Noisy

We have not seen a decent road for 4 weeks and as we go over large pot holes the Beast lurches and a distressing screeching sound occurs. I check the chassis for breaks and check all the suspension bolts, there were a few slightly loose bolts and I tighten them. These efforts are for nought. The problem continues. it eventually dawns on me the air suspension bags are bolted on to the axle and as the pressure is reduced by the lurching vehicle these are moving on the axle and causing the noise. I look underneath and the U bolt nuts that hold the air suspension on, are very loose and a catastrophe is averted by just tightening them. I decide I will put on double nuts to prevent this happening again.

Losing The Transfer Case Plug In The Sand

There are times when you should leave well alone, this was one of them. I had an hour to kill so I felt I would check the transfer case oil level. We had not seen another vehicle for three days. The nearest Toyota dealer was 8 hours drive away. The transfer box has a very minor leak but Gerrie, the magic mechanic, said I should check the level every two weeks. I climb under the vehicle thinking the slight slant of the vehicle toward the plug hole was not important. Get the plug unwound. The hot oil leaks out and burns me. I drop the plug into the sand and it disappears with its washer. I try and plug the hole with my finger but it is too warm. I search frantically for the plug moving sand and burying it further into the sand. I try to stop the panic as I do not have a spare. The hot oil has now run all over me and run out. This is a dry camp with no water for washing. I am going to have to oil up to my wife on this night. I start by searching more systematically and I find the plug but no washer, that takes another 10 minutes. Christine is called to remove the sand and clean the bolt and washer. I put it back minus a significant amount of oil. I check a 1000 kilometres later when fixing the water tank and add 250 mls transmission fluid which I think is half of what should have been in there.

Water Water Every Where ! None To Drink

At times we have to carry all our water. I finally got under the car to measure the size of the water tank and it carries about 48 litres of water. We fill it up and set it up as the reserve tank, carrying another 20 litres for general use in the vehicle. We can shower, drink and clean on 7 -8 litres/ day for two depending on the temperature outside. We will go onto rations if we have to use the reserve tank. The problem is we fill the tank with water and when we try and get it out we only retrieve 17 - 20 litres. We empty it and then fill it looking for the leak. The pipes and fitting are not leaking until it is full and then the water pours out of the top of the tank. The top of the tank has a hole in it and we have to drop the tank to fix it.

We drop the tank and the fitting for the air vent has fallen to pieces. A serious design flaw. The hole is 10 cms across and all our water is bouncing out this hole as we drive along, hence the lost water. We repair it with Marine Silicon Gel. We spend 4 hours putting it back properly to discover that we have glued the air vent closed with marine silicon gel, so we could not fill the tank at all. I had to spend another four hours doing the same job over.

Lesson learnt, I hope.

Sand Driving In The Beast

I have never been on a 4 x 4 course and I really do not know what I am talking about but I thought I would join the rest of the world and give my opinion.

The Beast always does better on top of the sand, than ploughing through the sand like a submarine. Low tyre pressures are essential to successful sand driving. Do not rip your tyres to pieces on gravel later because you are too lazy to pump them up again. With low tyre pressures and enough momentum to keep you going at a steady pace and a low torque you should stay on top. Just use enough power to get you there. Accelerate and you will dig a hole and immediately the car goes into submarine mode. Once you are stuck do not spin your wheels as you will now dig a monumental hole which can take hours to get out of. Stop and check. Some times all that is needed is to remove the sand hump in front of the wheels, other times you may need sand ladders to ease your self back to the surface or fill in under the wheels with sticks and stones. The shallower you are the better off you are. Keep it that way !! If there is a shallow gradient behind the tyre reverse after deploying the necessary recovery gear and fill in the hole and then go forward.

I have found a shovel to be the most abused instrument of extraction. It is used to remove the hump of sand in the direction you are going and maybe dig to position sticks, stones and sand ladders under the wheels. Address all 4 wheels and if possible get traction for all 4 wheels. The more you hurry the less likely you are to get out first time. The first time is the best chance at recovery and if you are nowhere near help, deploy EVERYTHING first time. Dont be lazy. In my opinion sticks and stones are better than sand ladders. I carry aluminium sand ladders which are slippery and have limited traction. I occasionally have had to retrieve them from deep down in the sand and the car no further up just deeper in the hole.

I have, in the past, started with a manageable situation and made it unmanageable with a shovel by digging my car deeper into the mud until there were no wheels left in contact with the mud and it was resting on the prop shaft and axles. The only solution then is to get out your high lift jack and ordinary jacks to lift up the wheels and fill in the holes on all 4 wheels. . On this occasion I was saved by somebody else who pulled me out with snatch straps. He promptly videoed it and put it on You Tube.

I have also found winches to be generally ineffective as it has either been broken or difficult to find a solid attachment near the stuck vehicle. A winch is often a poor second choice.

The second rescue car theory has always been an interesting option as I have found this a useful recovery tool largely because there are more people to push, find stones and sticks and laugh at you while you recover the first vehicle. When ever the first car gets stuck the second rushes to help and doubles the work by getting stuck and also needs recovery using the manual method. I recommend the second vehicle goes no where near the stuck first vehicle and stops on solid ground, empties all the people and puts them to work with forced labour recovering the first vehicle.

Tyre Pressures

This endless debate is pointless. My over weight car, with three ply Goodrich BF All Terrain Tyres which are not very pliable, is very different from a light Land Rover carrying a pair of binoculars and a Dulux Dog. I am scared I will rim a tyre at about 1 bar and have not been below that. This was the tyre pressure when I drove to Sandwich Bay in 2 x 4, by mistake, after I forgot to lock the wheel hubs. Got where I wanted to go with some difficulty and did 70 kilometres that day in very heavy sand.

Generally for the Beast (and other tanks) only

3.3 bar cold or 3.5 bar hot for tar roads to minimum flexibility and best roll.
2.6 bar cold or 2.8 bar hot for gravel / stone roads to increase flexibility and make the ride smoother and I seem to get less punctures on gravel roads than when the tires are pumped hard.
1.8 bar cold or 2.0 bar hot for sand and mud. I may drop this further in thick sand to 1.4 on the back to give maximum surface area to float on the sand.

The Beast. An Archaic Relic or The Best Around ?

I have stuck with The Beast because it is the last model Toyota made without any electronics. It also runs on crude oil and has no apparent minimum sulphur level of the diesel you add to the tank. It is reputed that the sulphur levels in Zambia and other areas of Africa are very high, in the thousands. The Toyota manufacturers claim there is only one new model which will run on a sulphur content of more than 50 ppm and that is the Diesel 4.2 V6 model which is, more or less, the newer model engine of this car.

Nearly all mechanics know how to fix this machine. A Ford garage knew exactly how to remove the rear axles in the middle of the Karoo. A mechanic replaced wheel studs on the side of the road when we forgot to tighten the wheel nuts after changing the tyre in the Free State. They came off with a ping and flew like bullets just missing a poor cyclist minding his own business. The vehicle is nearly 20 years old and spare parts are getting more difficult to get. The mechanics are generally simple. The windows wind up. There is no central locking. Everything by hand. Does anyone remember how that works anymore?? Well its a form of exercise when sitting in a car all day.

The 15 inch wheels give good torque but are slow on the open road. The rims are now nearly impossible to find as they use 6 studs as opposed to the more modern 5 studs. The body is galvanised making it the heaviest animal on the market. The chassis has no rust but has so many holes drilled in it it looks like a swiss cheese and so occasionally needs welding. The Beast has a photographic hatch through which you can wave at the crowds in Ngorogoro crater or hit your head on a tree as you drive under it. Who could ask for more?

The fuel consumption is 7-8 kilometres to a litre on the open road and 4-5 kilometres a litre through thick sand. Most of the more modern land cruisers that Toyota have give worse fuel consumption despite the many computers. Our friend hired a V8 in Namibia and was lucky to get 3 km to a litre. It drank fuel. They do put out more horse power for that though. This old donkey has a serious heart but not much power. After Sandwich Bay we have decided it will never do extreme sand dunes. Possibly one day we will go down a sand dune never to return as there is no way up unless we empty the car and winch our way up (no trees!). Really do not go down if you cannot get up. What happens if going down and going up are two hundred kilometres apart ?

The Beast can carry enough fuel for 2000 kilometres and in more remote areas water may be easier to find than diesel so we have reach and who needs water if you have wine!

The Beast does seem to go off terrain better than even some of the modern petrol, super vooma Toyotas. They tend to dig themselves a hole as they have so much power. The more gentle smaller wheels at low revs and torque applies just enough power to get where you want to go if you ride with a gentle hand. The Beast copes with sand. Never tried it in mud.

The brakes, headlights and weight are all massive issues. The stopping distance is runways long. Do not go fast and definitely go slower than the vehicle in front. Night driving should be avoided as by the time you see the truck, elephant, zebra, horse etc it is too late.

Fuel tolerance
Set up incl hatch
Set up for camping
Fuel consumption (sort of)
Sand (sort of)
Power off road

Breakdowns (getting less frequent!)
Breaking distance
Power on the open road

The ease of use and looking at the other vehicles we travel with I feel I may have a winner and one of the best safari vehicles in Africa

The Advantages Of The Beast

All the negative features of The Beast are on these web pages but I have not lauded any of the advantages of The Beast. I parked for the night on what I thought was flat ground and got out of the car just to see it scoot down the incline and come to a crashing holt against a horizontal branch at the level of the pop up roof. The branch cracked and groaned. I climbed into The Beast and drove it off the fractured tree. A flattened zip, canvas and aluminium frame. I put on the compressor and the tent pops up fine. Branch 0 and The Beast 1. Built like a tank and goes like a tank. I have often used it to move fallen over trees in the bush, and push large objects off the road. The scrapes and scratches are worn with pride

Christine has on two occasions got into The Beast and reversed into somebody. She claims she did not feel the ensuing crash, tinkle, collapse of the car behind. She then puts it into gear and roars off while the incredulous owners cannot believe what has happened. She then gets an irate phone call from the owners why she has left an accident scene. She returns usually in a pompous mood to tell them it could not have been her but then ends up fitting the dents and damage to our fender life a 3 D puzzle. The Beast has no scratch and no dent. Blushes all round!

Speedometer Goes Again

The speedometer stopped working again. The speedometer occasionally sparks into life for 10 seconds and then reads zero. That is too slow, even for the Beast. The second hand impeller has died. Expensive fix that did not work, done in Richards Bay. Why is it that no repairs done in Richards Bay ever seem to last. Other small towns all over the country exceed expectations. Richards Bay also exceeds expectations….negatively. Thats why we drive to Vryheid for service and repair! They know us so well we are VIP's in Vryheid NTT Toyota. Dudley has 3 Toyota jackets and counting. One for every weather condition!

Toyota Non Genuine Parts Revisited

The cambelt saga takes another turn. I was speaking to Gerrie at Toyota Vryheid, the king of mechanics. I inform him that they must have installed non Toyota cambelts in the Beast. He gently explains that there are two different cambelts available for this model and that the Cape Town mechanics should have known that. He orders the genuine Toyota part to be fitted later. The moral of the story have faith in Vryheid, they treat us (and the beast) right. Just because the guy in Cape Town had a german accent does not make him an expert!

No Lights At All

The head lights would not switch on. The switch on the steering column has eventually died and this is apparently the cause for all the lighting problems and needed to be replaced. The lights even seem brighter than a dim candle now. This is not the first time. We were driving to Sodwana with Alana and Jane when the lights cut. I strapped a mag light to the bull bar and drive through 2 police road blocks that time. It seems the light switch has been dodgy for a while.

There Is A Puddle Of Oil At The Left Back Wheel

We luckily diverted out plans from the Central Kalahari to Cape Town to see the children and travel the beautiful back roads of the Karoo. We had stopped at Vryheid on the way up and the mechanic, Gerrie, informed us that the left back bearing had gone as it made a rasping sound on being turned. I decided to chance it and try and make Cape Town. The kilometres flew by and we made good progress. We stopped at Victoria West for brunch after travelling the roads less travelled. We came out of the brunch to find the differential oil dripping down the left back wheel and pooled onto the previously spotless picturesque street. We had broken down outside a small but beautiful bed and breakfast. Bonus.

I walked to the local garage which was a Ford garage and he helped to organise a hire car from 200 kilometres away. The repair took three weeks to source the parts and fit it back together. The left back axle and bearing needed to be replaced. The side gears in the differential were also worn or had broken teeth and needed replacing. The right rear axle had a small nick in it although the bearings were fine. The sad thing is the car is heavily overloaded and the weight of the back end of the car is taken on 12 mm wide bearings on each side. The extra weight we carry, the tough roads we travel will all lead to this happening again and again. I will have to put the back left bearing on a maintenance schedule.

The Side Lights Will Not Switch Off

The side lights would not switch off on occasions. There appears to be a good Auto Electrician in Richard Bay (NUF Auto Electrical). He diagnosed the problem quickly and replaced the relay. His charges were reasonable. This is a highly powered switch which is controlled by the switch on the steering column. He kindly showed me how to replace them and whee they were and also told me about a similar device in the fuel line which would starve the motor of fuel if it was to go wrong.

Oil Dripping On My Feet In The Cab

The speedometer cable is mechanical and not electronic as in most cars. There is a seal in the transfer case where the speedometer cable arises and the function of this seal is to keep the oil in the transfer case. The seal had gone and needed to be replaced.

The Battery Finally Dies

The vehicle was parked for 3 days and it was a struggle to start it, I managed. Drove a few kilometres to the beach and back. The next day the starter would not turn. I charged the battery and the starter cranked in a fashion and the engine spluttered to life. I drove a long way and tried to start it the next day but the battery was dead. Death of a battery. No doubt the battery has been contributing to the problem starting for some time now.

After a new battery everything returns to normal

The Heater Fan Dies

The day was sweltering and the air conditioner essential. Then there is a burning smell of hot electrics and the heater fan stops working. We have no fan to circulate the cool air from the air conditioner. We open the windows and drive on. Four days later it starts to work again. It will still need to be serviced.
The Auto Electrician said he could find nothing wrong with it.

The Beast Splutters And Dies

The Beast splutters and dies. No panic as I have been here before. The wire I fixed in Botswana has fallen off. I lengthen it and we are back in action. This fix may also have also fixed the sleepy starter motor. No coughs since I fixed the wire. The sleepy starter motor appears to have been an ignition problem and not a Dud battery

Slight Sweating Of Oil On The Inside Of The Front Knuckles

While changing the oil I notice a slight sweat inside both front knuckles. U Tube suggests that this is an inner axle seal. I check the diff oil and it is clean. The breather tube looks good and patent. I wash the stains and I will keep an eye on it as we have recently done the bearings in the front knuckle

Changing The Oil

I was told by the agents that the amount of oil this car takes 11.4 litres. I change the oil and filter. Cover myself, the car, thecae port and the house in oil. I check the dipstick and it is 2 - 3 cams over full. I dig out the car manual and I only need 9.5 litres. I get back under the car and dump 0.5 itres of new oil. Lesson possibly learnt.

Starter Has Difficulty Waking Up

The starter splutters first thing in the morning and not again during the day even if cold. Seems to be worse when the battery has not been charged. I was wondering if the battery is getting old and not holding a charge. The auto-electrician did a load testing and said no problem. He guesses that the solenoid plates are not moving correctly and he will need to service and replace them. The starter service, replacement of the plates and the earth to the battery cost R1380

Water Tank Pipe Falls to Bits

The water pipe and tap coming out of the tank is metal and the fitting onto it is cheap plastic. It has fallen to pieces. Simple fix. Been better it they had fixed it properly first time it needed to be cut to size and firmly turned in

Sandwhich Harbour in 2 x 2

The road to Sandwich Harbour is notorious for losing vehicles to the sea. Get the tide wrong you can swim. There are tour operators in very powerful petrol Land Rovers and Toyotas which can cruise the super high dunes and get there any time. Even the more powerful modern diesel engines appear not to be good enough. They are very protective of their route but we suspect it is way past the Beast how ever easy they make it look. If we flounder on the steep dune there will be no way out of the deep valley and we will be left in a sandy grave. We set off tentatively and get stuck before we even start , already the sand ladders are out and kept handy . Luckily only 1 tour operator comes past to gloat. We struggle on until the dunes meet the sea but the sea is high and crashing into the dunes so there is no way around. We climb the first small dune but it is clear the way forward involves mega dune driving. The tour operators are signalling us away, either jealous of their exclusive business or genuinely concerned. Perhaps they have no wish to tow us out. Reluctantly, a bare 8 km from Sandwich Harbour we turn around and head out to Pelican Point 50 kilometres in the other direction and reputedly easier access. We grind through thick sand but well worth the effort. Pelican point is great and we turn for home at sunset. In a final encore the Beast gets stuck 2 meters from the gravel road. While digging her out I realise I had never locked the hubs into 4 x 4 and we had done the entire trip in 2 x 2. A great sand car, the Beast in 2 x 2. I bet those tour operators couldn't do that with their fancy high powered steeds!

Battery Terminal Falls Off

The negative of the battery terminal falls off. Somebody used a cheap Chinese clamp. Replaced it.

Transfer Box Leak

The transfer box had a small leak. I do not think it is significant.

Brakes Fail

The left break lining begins to leak and soon there is a torrent of brake fluid. This is an old problem and I feel I can mitigate it by blocking off the brake lining. I take the pin from a rivet and plug off the brake lining. I discover the pin is too small to stop the haemorrhage. It became jammed tight in the brake lining and I could not get it out. I decide to cut the break lining and knock out the pin from the back. I get the pin out and put in a bigger pin. The brake lining is replaced in Walvis. Cost R780

Chassis Breaks

At Sossus I check the underneath of the car and the bolts at the back which hold the bin on, to discover the repairs I had made to hold the back on have cracked my chassis in the wheel well on the left and cracked the mounting on the right. The back is held on at 6 mounting points and Bundu in Vryheid had mounted 4 of them with rubber engine mounts but were too lazy to fit the front ones with rubber mounts. I had but in high tension bolts and the chassis has cracked. We pay Rand 800 to have it welded by a local and limp back to Walvis Bay to a ship welding place. We redo the weld and put on strengthening plates and add engine mounts. Cost R 2200

Toyota Non Genuine Parts

I get a bill from Toyota Vryheid stamped with "Genuine Toyota Parts" all over it. They reconditioned my engine. I decide to have the timing belt replaced in Cape Town as it is on 90 000 kilometers to discover it is not a Toyota part and the Toyota part for that engine number does not fit. We locate a part, after great difficulty and I buy two as it is going to be a problem again if the Beast lasts another 100 000 kilometres

Solar Panel Added

To try and solve the power problem we buy a solar panel and it is couriered from Johannesburg to Cape Town. We are packing up to leave Cape Town and discover it does not fit anywhere except on the roof. I buy glue and stick it on. The solar panel is permanently part of the Beast. In Windhoek an auto-electrician wires it to the Q Tek splitter with a disconnection point for when we are raising the sleeping platform. On the second night we forget and rip the connectors to pieces. I have now modified them so they sort of fall out if we forget which we do often. Good but has solved some of our problems

Tyre Lasts 5000 kilometers

Before I left I put on new BF Goodrich All Terrain Tyres. A flat on the tar. We change and take it to be fixed at TrenTyre. A two cm cut through 2 cm thick tread of the tyre by a rock. Tyres in Namibia are only worth 20000 kilometres on our heavy vehicle.

Air Conditioner Burns Out

The days are searing hot and the air conditioner is working 6 hours a day. The air conditioner also keeps the cab free of dust. We are heading out of the Fish River Canyon and onto the tar road, south to the border at Veldsdrift when we smell burning rubber and a clanking sound with a whine. We seem to lose power and end up on the side of the road. I check the tyres and they appear fine. Check under the vehicle no problem. The smell emanates from under the bonnet. I smell serious problems. I pop the hood and it is immediately apparent the tensioning wheel on the air conditioner fan belt has disintegrated. On the Toyota this is an add on, the fan belt is luckily separate. I cut it away and we are on our way.

As it is an add on there are no spares in Cape Town and I have had to have two tensioning wheels made at an engineering works but while working on the engine they find the original and fit new bearings.

Batteries Failing

The freezer is not coping in the heat but we stay with Alan and Jane's friends. I am thinking of replacing the fridge. I am sensitive about the lack of ice, comfort and Chrisitine's confidence in my ability to provide a freezer to keep food let alone ice and beer. Alan says the Engels fridges are generally bullet proof. We plug the recently fixed fridge into the mains and bingo, 24 hours later it hits -17 Celsius. All the ice we want.

We plug the freezer into the back battery and it occasionally works but only really starts when we are driving. The power is not enough to get it going until we charge from the alternator. I am now thinking of solar panels to keep the system charged.

I am not alone as Alan's freezer dies and it is the same problem. The batteries are not holding.

12 Volt Jacks Falls To Pieces

The female 12 volt jack plug loosen in the back. When the freezer stops working I am told by Alan to start at the beginning and there is 12 volts when I test with the voltmeter but I need to fix these first. I take off the cover and blow the fuse. He admonished me and tells me to remove the fuse first. I think I am to lazy but another slug of liquid in this heat is essential and eases my guilt. The rear plug has fallen to pieces all together. I reassemble it and use a small touch of Pratley mix to try and stop them from shaking loose with the rough roads. Problem solved.

No Freezer

The car has three batteries. One for the starter motor alone, one for winch and cab electronics and the back battery for the freezer and lights in the back section. The days are long and very hot and our friends we are travelling with have 4 batteries, a fridge, freezer, a Coolbox with a trailer. There is a never endless supply of ice with cold wine and beers. Our frozen meat defrosts and the freezer dies. Christine looks at me with dispearing eyes. Alan loves this type of problem. We are baffled. The fridge runs perfectly when flat but the slightest tilt in any direction stops it. We test the cable and the fuse all working. I take the cover off and the insides are exposed. What ever we do if you tilt the fridge in any direction it stops. After an hour or so Alan realises that if we tilt the fridge it lifts off the metal frame of the car and looses it grounding. We cut a piece of wire and test the hypothesis and as long as we ground it with the wire we can tilt it in any direction. We see that the electrical section has lost a few screws so we find a self tapping screw and replace the ones that are accessible. It works. No freezer as the grounding screw had dropped out on the rough roads. Alan advises me electrical problems are power or grounding in 90% of cases.

The Air Suspension Fails

We carry a lot of fuel and water and the back is heavy. We have added air suspension to the back springs for this reason. The air is pumped from a built in compressor to the air suspension and the pressure monitored on each side, in the cab, by the driver. The right is not maintaining pressure. I climb under the car and trace the lines from the compressor to the pressure gauges in the cab and then back to the suspension. The right line has a join in it. The people who put in the line did not buy enough and joined it with a three way junction. The third junction is plugged with a small piece of lining burnt at the end. it is now got holes in it. I burn it and cover the end in Epoxy resin. It works like a charm

The Back Falling Off

A clanking noise has developed when we drive slowly over rough roads. I wonder if it is the tent poles inside. Drive fast and on smoother roads the clank disappears. I am not certain. I look under the vehicle and it looks good. We are driving through lion country and we open the photography hatch. I then notice the back of the vehicle rocks alarmingly. The ladies luckily must go for a pee break. I hop under the car to find one of the bolts holding the front of this part of the vehicle missing entirely and the other sides 2 or 3 revolutions from disappearing. The back bolts seem tight. I put in a temporary bolt on the one side to get us back to camp after night fall. The people who made the back used Nyl-lock nuts but no spring washers so the rough roads have loosened the bolts. I need two sets of spanners as it is impossible to get sockets into the gap. We tighten the bolts using borrowed spanners and replace them with high tension bolts and washers in Cape Town. I buy a second set of spanners and some spare bolts. Christine was proud of me because it could have ruined our holiday.

The Beast Dies

I drive into the shopping hub of Tsabong. Get supplies of beer and then climb into the beast to go and find a campsite for the night but turning the ignition key does nothing. No lights, no headlights, just nothing. I pop the hood. My mind is confused. Hero to zero in 20 seconds. Christine is glaring at me, I can read her mind "Stupid car and stupid husband, why so much faith in an old wreck ?."

It must be a fuse. Start opening the big fuses and I hear a click. Back on, so it is a loose connection. The car starts. Find the campsite but stopping the car at the campsite produces a total and permanent blackout. I drink beer and sulk as it is as hot as Hades. I walk back to the dead vehicle, pop the hood and start poking around. When I fiddle near the positive the electrics work. I fiddle more and the positive wire to the ignition falls off in my hands. The wire is tensioned too tight for bumpy roads and has pulled off. I cable tie the wires up and add a new end. Problem solved. I walk back to camp, proud as punch and drink more beer. I wait for a comment and get none.