Day 143… Saturday 12th August
Said our goodbyes to the SA family contingent and set off at 7.30am to drive to Williston in the northern cape. Barely one hour into the journey north having reached Stellenbosch, Greta’s engine warning light came on and she was overheating. Pulled over and checked for any obvious problems with the coolant/radiator. Reviewed the options:
- Continue on with the hope of getting further north and then fix the issue. Strong possibility of experiencing complete engine failure.
- Head back to Somerset West and find a mechanic to review and fix the problem. Strong possibility of staying a couple of extra nights before heading north.
It was a Saturday and some garages would not be open until Monday. Google maps found us a local mechanic centre back in Somerset West that was open until 1pm so we headed back. After a detailed chat with the mechanic about what could be done and or get fixed/replaced, Greta took on a lot of water in the coolant system. Problem fixed and only a couple of hours behind schedule! The western cape is very scenic with mountain ranges and colourful flowers. Stopped at Clan William for lunch and supplies. Heading east to Williston took us over a windy mountain pass. Very foggy and limited visibility. The weather then suddenly cleared up and bright sunshine came out for the late afternoon. A gravel track off the main road for 35 km took us to Peter and Francy’s farm where we were staying the night. We had met this lovely couple in Namibia on our way down around 6 weeks earlier. Had a lovely evening with a braai and several furry friends. Sampled some delicious Langbaken cheese made by Francy at the farm.
We picked up the car on the Friday afternoon and overall I am impressed with the work done by the team. The have completely fixed the chassis issue by welding up the crack and fabricating bracing steel for both sides. This has built back in the rigidity and strength the car needed. They also took the tub off and welded in new box steel to replace that which had completely crumpled on the tough drive down. This along with a couple of other jobs, including removing the jerry can filler nozzle which has been stuck down the filler line since Guinea, and cleaning out the radiator reservoir. The car is now ready for the road.
So it was a surprise when we were driving north and she began to overheat, the first time in thousands of miles. Turns out they hadn’t properly refilled the radiator after reinstalling the reservoir. It appeared to have fluid in it when we left the garage, but the system itself was bone dry. Thankfully by shoving a lot of water into her has fixed the problem. The joys of cars in Africa!
At least the day ended well up in the Karoo. We only saw a little bit of it but it is a very large and open expanse, and I found it a slightly daunting landscape. Peter and Francy were so kind in letting us stay there the night. We must repay their generosity someday.