Tuesday, August 31, 2004

The Puncture

Well! Friday came and I set about my chores, the first being to fill the camp generator with diesel. I do this by carting a forty four of diesel to the generator using a forklift, and the forklift started first kick, but I needed to repair the pallet that I carry the drum with, somehow it had come unstuck, I expect by my relief dropping it on the ground whilst driving flat strap, having done that and put the diesel in, I had one little job to do, that was moving my pallet with my rubbish bin to where I like it to be. As I did this I heard a hissing sound coming from one of the back tyres, you guessed it, I had a puncture. Now you might think that is pretty ordinary thing to happen and a quick wheel change is the answer.Firstly I never had a spare, so all right, take the wheel off and take it somewhere to get it fixed, not as easy as it sounds, I have not got a spanner that goes anywhere near the wheel nuts, added to this, the forklift weighs about six tonnes and I only have a little trolley jack, maybe good for two tonnes.I decided to have a cuppa and mull over the problems, I was sitting in my office, drinking tea and watching the Olympics when I heard a vehicle pull up. It was the geology students that are camped down on the Shaw at a billabong, they were off to Hedland and dropped by to see if I wanted anything, I gave them some money for soft drinks, and together we jacked the forklift up using their kangaroo jack, and my trolly jack at the same time, and blocking it with some breeze blocks and wood, then I tackled the wheel. It had a split rim on it, and I needed a couple of levers to get the ring off, of course I did not have any tyre levers but managed to get it off with a couple of large screwdrivers and a lot of grunting and cursing.So here I was with a tyre with a split in the side, a tube with a hole in and still no way of fixing them, the plan was to go to Hedland and get a new tyre, I had rung Bamboo and they never had one and were trying to source one for me, this was Friday afternoon and hopefully I would go and get a new tyre and tube on Saturday. Well Saturday came and the news was not good, the tyre I needed was not a stock tyre and would have to be ordered from Perth and freighted up, and maybe I would get it Tuesday or Wednesday. We decided that I would go over to Bamboo and borrow a trailer, stick the diesel drums on the trailer and fuel the generator that way until I had a tyre, so off I set, making sure I took the knackered tyre, just in case.It was a pleasant drive to Bamboo, down my driveway, out on the highway and then in on the dirt road to Bamboo, never saw a soul on my road, passed one red car at the Coongan river, and then there was a grader on the Woodie Woodie road, and then about seven vehicles on the 27 kilometre stretch to the Bamboo turnoff proper, all cars and utes, I wonder where they were coming from. I got to Bamboo about lunchtime, while I waited for Joe to have his lunch I grabbed a cuppa and some muesli bar thingies I found in the smoko room, sat down had a fag and munched on these muesli things. Joe and I then went to the workshop, spied two tyres the right size, even though before they had said there wasn’t any, found the best one, repaired the tube and put a little air in it to keep it in position and I was ready to go back to my camp.Before I set off back, I went up to the kitchen, had another cuppa and a bit of a yarn to the cook, lovely girl, is Vicky, she was busy making roasts for the evening meal, and was asking my advise about Yorkshire puddings. I grabbed some washing powder I needed, but they were also out of peanut butter which I also needed, also grabbed a couple of bananas and a few more of them muesli bars to eat on the way home and I was away.Pretty quiet trip on the way home, I had my new MP3 player blasting away in my ears, listening to Slim Dusty and a few other Australian singers, passed a couple of trucks and then stopped at a rest area about half way up the bitumen for a pee and a smoke, came out of the super econoloo thingy they had there and noticed one of my back tyres was going soft on me, changed the wheel, drunk some water to replace the sweat, and carried on back to the camp.When I arrived back at camp, I made a cup of tea and tried to put the tyre on, but I had put too much air in it so needed to let a little out to allow me to get the valve stem in place on the rim, now to do this I needed to remove the shroeder valve, simple enough if you have one of them little valve removal tools that often come on the end of a tyre dust cap, but I didn’t have one. Now down in our yard are about fifty tyres and inner tubes, must be one on there I thought, but buggered if there was one I could find, the sun was thinking about setting so I decided to have another cuppa and worry about it in the morning, and set about organising myself some tea.Sunday morning came and a thought had hit me that one of the whirley things in the processing plant actually ran on about eight sets of tyres, so I checked there, and could see a valve remover almost straight away, the problem was that it was behind a guard and the guard was a bit heavy for me to remove on my own, eventually I crawled underneath it got me valve remover, and crawled back out again. Back to the forklift, in no time I had the valve out, and had wiggled the valve stem on, it took me a while to get the split rim back on but I had done it. I had borrowed one of them little 12volt compressors from Joe at Bamboo; you know the ones that run off the cigarette lighter. I pulled the car up, stuck the thing in the cigarette lighter, and nothing happened. I had fixed the cigarette lighter before, and could have fixed it again, but it would mean pulling the dashboard off, fixing it and then putting the dashboard back again, I decided that was too big a job, so stripped the wires on the lead to the cigarette lighter, spliced in a couple of pieces of wire, put an alligator clip on each, and ran the compressor straight from the battery, it now will work from either a cigarette lighter or straight from the battery. I proceeded then to pump the tyre up, them things are slow so I set it going and made a cup of tea, I was trying to make 100 Psi but by the time it got to sixty the compressor was smoking hot, I turned it off had some breakfast, had another try and got to seventy Psi, gave it a further rest and eventually made eighty Psi, but no way would it go any higher, it was about the same as the other back tyre so it will stay at that. I then had to get the fork lift down from the blocks, put my trolley jack under the back and made enough space to get the blocks out, on the sides I couldn't get any height, so after scratching my head, I smashed the breeze blocks with a big hammer I had, cleared up and was done. Finished all that and then could set about going about my normal chores. Was not bad really, I had got another tyre fixed the puncture, driven over 320 kilometres, had a feed and a yarn at Bamboo, and a natter to a truckee on the way back and managed after a lot of messing about to be back where I was two days earlier.

Hope to god I do not get another puncture on the fork lift any time soon.