Yo – Dave here. Here comes the third Troopy update for your reading pleasure. Ready… Set… Go!
This update has a couple of “house-keeping” type things in it. They seem like common sense to us now, but getting the tilt right for sleeping and mozzie control are games we get to play nearly every day. We’ve shuffled some stuff around inside the Troopy and even tried out our big awning for the first time. I sorted out some wiring, mucked around with the brakes a bit and Juz got to have her first go at plugging a tyre.
I’m inclined to have a sleep…
Whenever we pull up for the night, if we’re going to sleep in the Troopy we need to consider a few things.
Tilt is a major factor. Will Juz be rolling toward my side all night or will I squish her against the window? The second factor is the incline – will the Troopy be nose down and cause the blood to pool into our heads, or will the Troopy be so inclined that we’re practically sleeping standing up.
We have to check out the terrain just like a golfer would look at the green before putting towards the hole – Juz is much better at this than me. Our preference for tilt is within 10 degrees of level; our preference for incline is between level and nose up to 20 degrees.
After the “mozzie massacre” at Point Quandong, mosquito control within the Troopy has become an important addition to the evening ritual.
Mozzie coils are an absolute must, so Juz lights a small portion of coil for the front cabin with all the doors shut except the back door. Ideally, any mosquitoes loitering in the front will be encouraged to fly out via the back. We then set up another coil at the back doors to create an invisible, citronella-scented wall that is impermeable to blood-sucking mozzies. It seems to work, at least until one of us climbs out of the Troopy in the middle of the night for a wee…
Cover up that Box!
Since we left Melbourne, the vinyl cover on our top box has been ripped to shreds from the force of the wind as we hoon down the highway. With the corners torn open, the flapping is not only noisy but it catches the wind more and we end up using more fuel.
I’d tried fixing it a few different ways – sticking it back together with duct tape, sewing it together, patching the corners with an old plastic tarp. The duct tape repair was fast and lasted a good couple of weeks. The plastic tarp patches took hours and hours to do, and they lasted a couple of months until they perished. Fed up with the structural integrity of my repairs being compromised, I asked Juz to get up on the roof and give it a go.
We picked up some block-out curtain fabric from an Op Shop in Carnarvon and Juz climbed up on the roof and got to work on the worst of the two corners. She started with a long piece of fabric that covered the whole corner and about 10cm either side, then another smaller piece of fabric that would act as a reinforcer, holding not only the blackout fabric but the vinyl as well. After two weeks, it was still together, so I jumped up on the roof and did the other corner.
We had a whole day of no driving while we were camped at Burnett River Gorge for two nights. Instead of lazing about drinking cocktails and massaging each other, we did some serious reorganising of Troopy storage.
The first victim of reorganisation was the pantry drawer. Now that the fire ban had been lifted and we had more opportunities to cook on a camp fire, Juz wanted better access to the billies, pots and pans. Tinned beans and vegetables were moved backwards while the cooking utensils moved forwards, and instead of storing things on top of the spice box, the spice box now sits on a platform of more tinned goods. Also, the colander was moved to the black box, which immediately created a tonne more space, and other various space wasters were discarded.
Once Juz was satisfied with the increase in storage space and food preparation surfaces, I dealt with the side compartments. I moved the unnecessary bits and pieces from the rear compartments to the front compartments. The compressor, socket set and fold-up shovel are now all more accessible and there’s even some left over empty space.
Is it Awning Already?
About 1km from the turnoff to the Bungle Bungles is a free campground called Spring Creek and we camped there for two nights. After we found a nice spot and positioned the Troopy with just the right amount of tilt and incline, we thought it would be good to get the awning out. However, the Troopy was parked with the passenger side facing camp, which meant that we would have to use our MAX COVERAGE AWNING!
Unlike the awning on the driver side, our Max Coverage Awning rolls out over the side of the Troopy, then folds out twice to provide coverage all the way around the back of the Troopy too! As we folded this awning out to use it for the first time, we realised it was installed upside down. After taking it off and getting it back on the right way up, we got the poles out and realised that we needed guy-ropes and pegs too. It started looking like too much effort for one afternoon of shade so we folded it back up, and made note that we needed some pegs and guy-ropes readily available if we plan to use the Max Coverage Awning.
We picked up some extra tent pegs in Kununurra, which – along with our ropes – have filled a bit of the left over empty space from the reorganisation we did a week or so earlier.
Screw You, Punctures!
A few people had warned us about the treacherousness of the Gibb River Road through the Kimberley. We were told that it’s covered in sharp rocks and you’re guaranteed to get at least one puncture. To minimise the chance of getting punctures, dropped our tyre pressure to around 25psi as soon as we got off the bitumen.
On the way to Mitchell Falls, a screw managed to make its way into our back left tyre. We found it when we rolled in to camp and spent the rest of the afternoon working on it. Getting the tyre off was the major hassle because the mechanic in Perth had put the wheel nuts on way too tight. I flexed my fully sick biceps (hehehe!) and finally got the nuts loose. We put a fresh tyre on, I plugged the puncture with the tyre repair kit and we finished setting up camp.
We got another puncture a couple of days later while driving along the eastern end of the Gibb River Road. We found it when we stopped for breakfast. Fffffsssshhhhhhhh…… fuck! Another bloody screw! After I replaced the newly punctured tyre with the one I’d repaired at Mitchell River, I started packing up. Meanwhile, I handed Juz the tyre repair kit we got from Bush Junkie, and she had her first puncture sorted in minutes.
All in all, the Gibb River Road was nowhere near as bad as what people told us. Sure, we got two punctures, but they were from screws not from the actual road conditions. The last 100km or so before the bitumen at the eastern end was the worst of it, but even that was manageable.
Hit the Brakes!
I had to rewire the Troopy’s right-hand brake light back in Melbourne before we left. No major drama, even though it looked like someone else had done some rewiring too. Just outside of Kununurra, we realised that none of our left-hand rear lights were working. It meant I got to lie down on the dusty, rocky ground and muck about with it.
As much as I enjoy playing with the Troopy and learning how to fix bits and pieces, laying on my back in the dirt on a hot day isn’t ideal. Either the left side had previously been repaired too or colour-coding of wiring was an optional extra back in 1993! Anyway, I got it all sorted soon enough, but it would’ve been quicker with a 12v soldering iron. Mental note: get a 12v soldering iron!
While we were driving through the Kimberley, the Troopy’s brakes started getting a bit spongy. Nothing too serious – pump, pump, pump the pedal and it pulled up just fine. When we got to Wyndham, I made a brake-bleeding kit out of an empty plastic bottle and a bit of physio hose and prepared to bleed brakes for the first time. I got Juz to be my beautiful assistant and had it sorted in no time.
The brakes were better for a little while, but they started getting really bad within a day or two. And the Troopy decided started pulling to the left under brakes too. We were heading south to the Bungle Bungles then back north up to Kununurra. It’s only 600kms – she’ll be right. Right? WRONG!