Wednesday, 3 September 2008

We're still hoping that we will be at the end of our odyssey sooner rather than later, and certainly before everyone in our families celebrate two birthdays since the date of our departure from the UK, but in the meantime we say Happy Birthday my sister Claire. Have a great day.

Monday, 1 September 2008

The Ultimate Inspection

Two working days passed without hearing back from the compliance inspection centre. They had said that the inspection normally takes a day or so, so I was starting to get even more nervous. On the third day I decided to call and see how it was going. Unfortunately, the news was not good.

The inspector started reeling off a list of reasons for failure, and it was so long I had to get him to go through it again so I could write it all down. Having only discussed it over the phone and not being able to talk about each item while looking at the vehicle, we were a little unsure of the full extent of the problem. There followed a period of soul-searching, wondering whether, despite our research into importing a vehicle into New Zealand, we had underestimated the standards that vehicles were required to meet. Maybe a 14-year-old vehicle would be too difficult to bring up to the required standard, and the dreaded fall-back option of shipping back to the UK to sell was once again mentioned. That would be a last resort though, and we spent the rest of the day phoning around various places getting an idea of prices and availability for parts and work. We decided to head down to the inspection centre early the next morning to get a better grasp of exactly what would need to be done to pass the inspection. It was well worth our while, and after talking it through with the inspector we realised that a lot of the items would be relatively easy to resolve. In fact, we managed to sort out a good number there and then.

By the end of the day we had cleaned out our number plate light and replaced one of the bulbs, realigned our headlights (probably to account for the removal of the one tonne of equipment from the back of the vehicle), made a few ‘minor’ adjustments to our auxiliary lighting and sourced new front brake discs and pads. The next day I went back down to Auckland and spent the day replacing the front brake discs (as well as taking the opportunity to replace the wheel bearings on one wheel) and fit two new red reflectors to the rear of the vehicle. Fortunately when I cleaned up the disc pads, we could see that they were an approved brand and still had plenty of wear, so I’ve been able to save the new pads we bought for use in the future. The guys at the compliance inspection centre have been really helpful while we have been sorting out these matters, and I can’t thank them enough.

The Camel has now been transported to a specialist Land Rover mechanic to get his opinion on the remaining items that need to be rectified, namely exhaust emissions and two small areas of corrosion. As from this year, all used vehicles being imported into New Zealand have to undergo an exhaust emissions test on entry, and ours has failed. An emissions test is a normal part of the annual MOT in the UK, and we have never had any trouble passing that before. In fact, it is still within those limits. The New Zealand test is much more stringent though, with the limits being just over a quarter of those for the UK. Hopefully a thorough clean out and fine tune can get it through the test.

In the meantime, the Suzuki we have been running around in sprang an oil leak from the rear axle, and the need to replace the oil seal gave me a chance to replace the rumbly wheel bearing at the same time. Friday was spent on that, and now we can actually hear ourselves as we drive around in it.

So there we are. Still a bit apprehensive about the emissions test, and not sure just when it will be going back for the retest, but at least we are making progress, no matter how slowly.

We’ve been back in New Zealand for just over two and a half weeks, but it seems like an age ago since we left Brisbane. It’s great to finally be back, especially that it’s for good this time and not just for a holiday. Catching up with friends and family has been fantastic, although we’ve been trying hard not to bore them all with our “When I was in Africa…” stories.