Ms Ella 3rd – 'The Shakedown'
400km round trip out to Bremmer Bay, W.A.
For an ol’ girl of 75 years, a chassis and motor to withstand the harshest of environments in her time, with quirks and squirts and 3 purpose in built oil leaks; planning ahead and preparing for routine mechanical checks, top ups and breakdowns is gonna be a given as part of this exhilarating journey.
Spare oil is a priority as is fuel, which I am very quickly coming to realise. Without both I am basically fooked.
All rigged up, prepared for the turbulent weather ahead (predicted was strong winds and rain), putting both myself and Ella through the paces. With three days of gear strapped on and prepared by a ‘now’ novice, soon to be expert, my amazing backup support person– Jason, carries an esky of gourmet food, beer and most importantly 5 litres of oil haha! (just incase), and what was to come next was a blessing in disguise. ‘Phew! thank god for test runs.
I’m glad it was now and not on the tour ??
In brief, the shakedown included not only harsh weather but also a small stretch of limestone and soft sand incline as rugged as a ribbed condom, putting not only Ella through the mill but also putting my off road skills to the test - the midway point Bremmer Bay 'yeah we made it'. An absolute stunning three day was to be had sitting high up on a hill in a cosy outback shed with an outdoor shower overlooking the southern ocean - which by the way was raging at the time in the ominous storm – thank god for hot water systems.
Tucked away in this home away from home, now wondering how the hell am I going to get Ella back to Albany, as not only did the weather settle in, but my blessed Ella had sprung a major oil leak on the way down ‘Whaaaaaattttt’. Yep! only four weeks till the 'Silent Tour', and the ol’ girl is now in desperate need of some major surgery requiring urgent attention. The head gasket has blown, with a question mark surrounding the return oil pump – to be expected for an ol' girl who has been sitting around in a spare room for 17 years not in use.
So here it goes, ‘the return trip back to Albany’: top up the oil, put on wet weather gear, go down the ribbed condom, stopping every 30km to top up oil, keeping the oil to her at steady speeds. Oil spewing out all over Ella, and Jason’s trusty old Toyota twin cab that is sitting patiently behind, ready for support and ready to hand over a semi cool Hahn light (beer) when Ella finally come to her resting point.
The time came – and i’m not ashamed to say ?? (as it’s not the ‘done thing), but we had to do it, forty Kilometres outside of Mt Barker, we finally decided to give the ol’ girl a rest. My little Ella and I bit the bullet, and agreed to be towed at a steady speed down a secluded road for the next 30km before reaching the main highway where my mechanic came to the rescue in his ute. No damage done to Ella as she was well oiled, however she looked like she had been through an oil thirsty holocaust as did I and the front of Jason’s ute.
After giving her (Ms Ella) my thanks and blessings for keeping me safe, yes ‘safe’ (we found a tie down strap wrapped around her rear axle which could have been disastrous, and several bolts had been shaken loose), I was finally sat down to a delicious gourmet platter of food and a semi cool beer while waiting for the mechanic to arrive with his ute.
Crazy you may say - and I’ve heard all the ‘glass half empty stories’, but I wouldn’t give it up for the world. It’s all part of the journey and she’s meant to be with me for the long haul.
Thank god it happened now, and thank god for the learnings had.