Friday, January 3, 2014

El Fumador - Part II

El Fumador has become a good old friend.  We have had our fair share of stories already, just by having bought the truck, so we thought we would share them with you.

The very first trip he took us on we were left at the side of the road in the middle of nowhere.  I now think he was testing us, seeing how we would react, if we were worthy companions.  The situation was easy to figure out.  We ran out of diesel even though the gauge said 1/3 full.  We were back on the road within an hour after being rescued by a gringo named Mike, and then buying a windshield fluid jug of diesel from a guy with a tractor.

Next issue was the lack of get-up-and-go power and excess smoke coming through the floorboards.  It was a  sickly sweet mix of diesel smoke and burning brake linings.  When I stopped and determined the front wheels were hot enough to fry eggs it was time to get help.  In Masachapa, Pascal rebuilt our master brake cylinder and while at it noticed that we had a leak in the gas tank.   So we had him weld all the holes in the gas tank.

We then set off to Matagalpa.  We made it in one piece but this smoking thing was getting completely out of hand.  Carol-Ann, bless her soul, spends a lot of the time knitting while we are traveling.  It was made much more difficult while her head was out the window trying to get fresh air.

Also, by the time we had climbed our way into the mountains we had blown all the exhaust gaskets and it was too loud to even talk to each other.   The kids, by the way, were oblivious to all this and having the time of there lives in the back like it was a never ending hayride.  They are very aware that you cannot even think about doing this in Canada.

Upon arrival in Matagalpa, we went in search of the muffler shop (pretty easy actually if you saw CA's kitsch post) and Armando gave us a new pipe, front to back.  The old pipe (on the left) had been welded so many times that it was about the same size as a drinking straw.  Old smoky no longer suffers from emphysema as the new pipe (on the right) allows for enough air intake.

While up in Matagalpa installing bio-filters, Pedro's brother, Arnesto, specializes in rebuilding injector diesel pumps,  and El Fumador had open heart surgery.  He lost a lot of oil, but now we have a first class machine that should keep ticking for a while yet.  On the road again, heading back to our property, the drive took a whole lot less time, and we were proud parents when we could accelerate without puffs of smoke coming out the rear.

We thought all our troubles were over....until we stopped in Rivas.  We tried to put the key into the ignition but it just would not go in.  We poured a wee bit of oil into the ignition receptacle (leftover from the surgery in Matagalpa) and hoped for the best.  Not good enough.  So we rifled through the glove compartment, found a screwdriver and Carol-Ann's leatherman (thanks to her father's fortuitous gift 20 years ago when she embarked on her bicycle tour from Canada to Mexico) and a tire iron from behind the back seat (score!)  I took the steering wheel off thinking I could disable the steering lock, but found out I could assess the ignition tumblers and start the vehicle with a screwdriver. Elsie's paisley pink duct tape proved useful to put it all back together again.  I guess thirty years of dust and sand had rendered the key mechanism unoperable. 

Don't think that with all these stories that El Fumador is a pile of junk and without its many uses.
It has managed to keep us moving from destination to destination and along the way we are able to take many things. 
We bought eight blue barrels to line our soon-to-be-dug well, and since they were all empty we thought it might be a good idea to fill them with plants too. 

And, on one trip we picked up the ice-cream guy who needed a lift to the next town.  Bought some popsicles at the same time too.  How perfect is that!

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