Truck versus road roller!
It was a fine day, and the road was at least a road. A wide well graded road, which was a distinct improvement from some of the previous impersonations of a road, which were barely a track, and in some places barely passable.
Traffic was beginning to pick up, or otherwise said as, there was more than one vehicle a day, even one an hour, as we travelled further into Kenya. A bright orange slash of gravel through the verdant green of the rain forest on either side. The road was raised on a slight embankment as we approached a slow-moving large road roller. A bus was coming the other way, but there was plenty of room on the wide road and the ruts had been removed with the last grader treatment.
I applied the breaks to slow the truck, intending to allow the bus clear passage before overtaking the road roller.
Nothing happened. We did not slow. The distance to the road roller was shortening quickly.
I pumped the breaks. Still no response. I applied the emergency air brake. Still no response, and the road roller was now perilously close. Choices, ditch, road roller, bus, or try to squeeze between the two.
Another pump of the breaks.
At last, the emergency air brake comes on and brings us to a hasty stop, not too soon to my mind.
Apparently, the emergency break only functions if the normal foot brake is not applied at the same time.
Downgraded to a drama
Not all over yet but downgraded to a drama.
The master brake cylinder had failed. To replace one, you would normally require a clean garage to avoid contamination or damage to the seals. We had a dirt road with traffic.
Time to slowly manoeuvre the truck, and to crank the trailer, so as to allow the EMs out of the back of the truck. Without the trailer being at an angle the split tailgate cannot be dropped, making for a difficult exit. Then to tell them that we were going to be here for a few hours and to explain why. Not surprisingly, the news was taken differently by different people. Some wanted to help, some to sit around beside the road. Wolfgang and Lucas even caught a local bus into Nairobi, intending to meet up with us there. Others, just complained, unfortunately.
Under the tarpaulin of the trailer, and under the EM’s luggage, there was an Army Surplus ammo case, of the large variety. It was meant to be waterproof, with rubber seals around the top, but just in case, everything inside was also wrapped in Denso tape/waxed paper. In amongst the myriad of spares and equipment, there was a new master cylinder, and a master cylinder seals kit. It was there somewhere! We knew what was included in pandoras box, just not exactly where.
Found! Both the cylinder and the seals. I think given the location, beside the road, I would have opted to go straight for the master cylinder, partly to reduce the risk of contamination, and partly to avoid trying the seals and then having to change the cylinder anyway. Perhaps, if we were already in the campsite in Nairobi and there was something for everybody to do, to keep them entertained, I would have tried the repair with the seals, but not in the middle of nowhere, with little to amuse them, apart from those that chose to go off on their own.
However logical that maybe, I can’t actually remember which I chose.
It is not too long a job to swap the brake master cylinder on a Bedford truck. However, bleeding the brake fluid to ensure there are no air bubbles adds significantly to the time. Soft spongy brakes are not acceptable.
Some hours later, and it is time to unhook the trailer, and go for a short test drive, leaving the EMs behind, but not out of sight.
All is well.
Time to wrap the old master cylinder in the wax paper, and to repack the contents of the ammo box. Check that its sealed properly. Afterall, driving through a muddy river, could severely damage some of the spares in there if it leaked, which could ultimately be deleterious to health, if they were needed where no help was available.
The trailer was packed and re-coupled to the truck.
Onward, towards Nairobi. (Wolfgang and Lucas did find us.)