Information on this blog is raw and sometimes unverified reporting straight from the road by teams. The event will issue a media release for any events requiring an official notification.

Note that links in blog entries are not maintained, so while a link may be verified to work on the day of publishing, this is not guaranteed beyond that day.

Thursday, September 29, 2005

Leeming Sungroper: Thursday 29th: to Cadney

Again I am not on dawn array duty; again this is a Good Thing. Several students and a couple of teachers climb the hill again. We trailer out of the caravan park about 40 minutes after the official 8am start time. We set down a couple of hundred kilometres further down the track, and solar. We have a tail wind again, and patchy cloud again, but today the clouds are much smaller, and are whipping past us at much faster than our 32 km/h road speed: we are being overtaken by the clouds.

We solar past a Telstra repeater station. These small huts occur every couple of hundred kilometres along the highway; each is a smallish hut with two big masts of solar panels outside. The panels power the optic fibre repeaters, which listen for a weak pulse coming in on one optic fibre, amplify it, and push the message along -- light driving light through an underground network crossing the continent.

As we pull in to a bay beside the road for a driver change, the temperature alarm goes off -- again the motor is overheating. We elect to trailer for a little while so that the motor can cool down. While trailering, the mech team in the lead vehicle design some additional cooling cowling for the motor. We set down at Kulgara roadhouse, pop the top, gaffer-tape some cardboard in strategic spots around the fan and motor, and solar on. We solar across the Northern Territory / South Australia border. Our doco team have lined up a bunch of tourists at the border monument to cheer us on as we pass.

A few kilometres further, on a long slow uphill, the temperature alarm goes off again. This section of the road is elevated above the plain, presumably for resistance to flooding, so there's just barely room to pull off. We put a student out the back of our convoy with the red flag, and largely stay in our vehicles 'til the temperature alarm shuts up. Then we solar a couple more k to a rest stop and charge for half an hour. The support bus catches up -- they've been slowed down by a blown tyre. We trailer to Cadney roadhouse. 98 solar kilometres for the day.

We arrive at the Cadney checkpoint at 5:02pm, so we'll serve our 30 minute stopover from 8:02am to 8:32am tomorrow.

Steve floats the idea of fitting a 19-tooth sprocket to the motor, in place of the 15-tooth we've got there now. We've got no more big hills to climb, so I can't argue against it. He jacks up the back wheel and pops the chain off. Then he discovers that the back wheel doesn't roll freely: the rear brake is dragging. It was too small an amount to notice with the car jacked and the chain on, and too small to notice when rolling the car forward and back by hand. Steve adjusts the brake. With the chain back on, there's a funny noise coming from the motor. Steve finds a bolt rubbing very slightly against the motor fan cowling. He spaces it off. Better, but still a funny noise. He opens the motor, and finds a bad bearing.

Then it's a long slow disassemble of the motor into an ever increasing number of pieces, in fading light, in the gravel carpark of a truck stop in the middle of nowhere. Steve puts the new bearing in, but on reassembly discovers that he has one piece left over. There is a word for this phenomenon in Liff, I am sure.

We elect to put the piece back into the motor in the morning.

The evening is cold, and for the first time our team jackets come in handy. Dinner is chicken satay sticks plus vegie and mash, in our circle of chairs. The circle is getting slightly bigger as the days go by: we now have three sets of parents of students following us more or less closely as we journey: travelling off to do touristy things by themselves, and occasionally rejoining camp to see how their progeny are doing.

-- Doug Burbidge