Steve's Road to Hell trip January 2012

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Joined: Thu Jun 22, 2006 2:29 pm

Steve's Road to Hell trip January 2012

Postby Geoff » Sat Feb 04, 2012 4:19 pm

My brother Steve had missed our annual father & son easter trip in 2009 to the Road to Hell.

He rectified that in January 2012 and had some hairy problems on the way out of RTH. Here is his story. It may assist someone in the future.


We decided to go to RTH as I had missed it in 2009 when our annual trip had come around. The participants were Dave and his son in law Craig in a new Toyota 30D4D double cab automatic, lots of nice mods done to this vehicle, lifted substantially and 285/16 BFG’s, front and rear bumpers, ally canopy etc. Darryl(friend) and I ( Steve) were in the old faithful ‘95 Isuzu 280dt double cab also with substantial mods, 3” lift, 265/16 BFG’s, lockers front and rear, Nudge ‘m bumper etc.

2/01/2012 we leave my place in Glenanda at 5h30 and head towards Vryburg, we meet Dave and Craig at the Sasol garage just outside Lenasia as I wanted to pump up the air jackers as the Suzi was hanging her arse a bit. All done and we hit the road in earnest. Breakfast at the Wimpy in Vryburg and on to the Caltex to refuel in Kuruman (this is a mistake as on the way back we discovered that the truck stop just as you enter Vryburg is approx R1.00 cheaper per liter of diesel) anyway we fill up and on to Augrabies, and it is bliksems hot, we book in at the San parks office and crack our first Windhoek draught at reception. Off to the campsite and set up camp and head for the pool with a couple of six packs. So we slonk in the pool for a while and head back to camp to make dinner. Thai Green Chicken Curry, Craig’s speciality, but the skelm got his missus to make it and he brought it in a Tupperware, but it was superb. Relatively early off to bed as we had done 900 odd km’s. Up in the morning, I noticed that my fridge wasn’t sounding so strong, turns out that the solenoid in the National Lunar had stuck and wasn’t charging, so it killed off my not so good deep cycle battery. We managed to get the solenoid working and the fridge would be fine up until midnight most nights then the battery would cry enough, time for a new one now.

3/01/2012 we left Augrabies and headed for Poff Adder and the last fuel stop before the dirt roads. We turned off the tar and headed for Groot Melkboom on the Orange river, at about 10h30 the call came over the radio, “ it’s baconaclock” so we found a tree and made the traditional bacon sarmies, once packed up we headed for the river. We got to Groot Melkboom at about 14h30 and headed for the water as it was now so hot that we were all about to melt, I pulled the Suzi up onto the rocks so that the beer would be close and we slonked again for the next couple of hours, lying in the river slurping bitterly cold beer. Dave left us to go and find a nice camp ( it’s all nice there, long beaches) and to start dinner, which was a braai and potatoe bake. Again a fabulous chow. Dave got up and made a humungous fire just outside of our camp, as the boss of the Baboons was very pissed off that we were in his area and spent the whole night barking and venting his dissatisfaction at us.

4/01/2012 up relatively, early the Baboons didn’t get us, coffee, rusks and pack up and hit the road. Normal situation 10h30 ish “baconaclock” so we stopped under a tree and yours truly did the honours. Bellies full we headed on, and eventually we could see RTH at the end of the valley. This is when Dave started asking “ do you really want to do this”, but the heat was frying what was left of sanity, and of course I still had to tick this trip off my bucket list. So we proceeded, we got to the rock where it says Road to Hell, IOC etc, and stared to walk down to make sure no one was stuck or no one was on their way up. We gave it the all clear and headed down, nice and rocky with a couple of fair size drop offs, to make you nervous for the trip up the next day. We got down without any problems, only to piss the resident troop of Baboons off, they went clambering up the boiling hot rocks, barking and performing. Now anyone that has been to RTH will know that there is no nice camping area at the bottom, however we found some fresh tracks that headed west along the beach sand, we decided to follow and it went on for quite a bit, some nice thick sand to keep you honest, but we found a very nice camp for two or three vehicles relatively close to the river. Time was about 14h00 so armed with a case of beers we headed for the river and some serious slonking. One thing that must be mentioned is, when you get into the river you become part of the food chain, the tiniest little fish come and nibble at you. I know females that go and have these pedicures, where they put their feet in a container with fish, and they have all the dead skin nibbled off. Go to RTH and have a full body deskin for free. After slonking for hours we went back to set up camp and cook dinner. I was on dinner duty, so chicken ale king it was, nothing spectacular but it filled a space in the belly. After dinner a few beers and bed.

5/01/2012 up early, coffee and rusks, pack up and start heading back up the mountain. Dave in front, we start on the hill, first section it is relatively easy, we get to the bad bits and a bit of road building and Dave gets up on the third attempt and disappears around the corner, at this time both Darryl and Craig are out building roads and guiding Dave over the bad sections. I decide to have a go, and for the first time since I fitted the front locker I decide to switch on the rear locker as well and attempt to just idle up. The Suzi does just that and I idle up the bad section and get around the corner that Dave had earlier disappeared around, Craig is there and showing me left, then right and so on. Eventually he comes up to me and says “ I think you may have bent a tie rod”. Horror of horrors how can that be, I never bashed it, I just idled up the bad section, ( in hind sight, the wheels must have been wedged and couldn’t turn left or right with the left front being forced inwards so bending the left hand tie rod) I climbed out and sure enough there it was, the left hand tie rod bent. Suddenly the memory of me standing in my garage at home with the U bolts in my hand and the 8” piece of round bar to make a splint came flooding back. I was livid with myself as I had left them on the bench. The splint repair would have taken 15 minutes, and here we were sitting with a serious problem, however it was still together, steering was a bit tough and the top of the hill was just 500 meters away, 300 meters of loose rocks and 200 meters of easy stuff. I decided to try a bit further, 20meters on and a thunk and I new it was broken. Climbed out again and sure enough there it was in two. Only one thing for it, tools out, highlift jack out, and spanners flying, broken bits off in a flash. Now we still need to remove one ball joint as there is no way of assembly other wise. Darryl and Craig were brilliant, castle nut slack, try to shock the side of the ball joint taper, not enough space to get a good swing. Front wheel off and plenty space, a couple of good shots from the top and out she popped. Dave and Craig were elected to go and try to find a spare, my penance for being a poepoll and not packing the repair parts was to sit in the hot sun on the side of that mountain for the better part of the day. Darryl had to stay with me because he is a nice guy. Darryl followed Dave and Craig up to Dave’s bakkie to bring us the umbrella to sit under. It was now 10h45 and that means “baconaclock” so I started making Darryl a sarmie whilst Dave and Craig headed off, I wasn’t that hungry as I was still smarting about being such an idiot. I put the gas on low and cooked the bacon slowly eventually it was ready and we both ate, I forced mine down as we were thinking if we have to walk out of there we will need our strength. We worked out, at best we could expect Dave and Craig to be back by 17h00, it was going to be a long hot dry day. We sat and spoke and dosed, eventually you start to hear things, I said to Darryl I’m sure I can hear a vehicle. Panic stations, what if they don’t see the spade that we laid out in the road and they start down the mountain, we can never reverse down and they can’t reverse up. We decide to go up and check, a liter of water each and off we go, of course at the top there is nothing but we pack rocks under the spade so it can’t be missed. Within 10 minutes all the water is gone and the sun is killing us, time to head back down and sit under the umbrella. 16h45 eventually arrives and we decide to have another look at the top, so off we go water in hand ( we kept replenishing it from the 55lt water tank on the Suzi) we stayed at the top for about 10 minutes and eventually saw a flash off the windscreen of Dave’s bakkie in the distance, they got to us at 17h15. They had been to Springbok to try and get spares, no joy, at the last motor spares they got a generic tie rod, it was just about 20mm longer on both the r/h thread and the l/h thread. So they bought a hacksaw and a few spare blades, absolutely brilliant. We went back down to the Suzi and measured so more or less how much to cut off, Dave held the thread with the water pump pliers and I cut, once cut, the Suzi went back together in ½ an hour, Dave climbed in with me as he had had enough of traipsing up and down that mountain and the youngsters walked we started the Suzi and it carried on where it left off, idled out the rest of the RTH. We collected Dave’s bakkie and headed into the valley just before the RTH and set up camp. We were filthy and sweaty, Dave set up the camp shower and we all had a shower under African skies, after all the trauma of the preceding hours just to be clean and slurping a cold beer was like heaven. We lit a fire and braaied T Bones and had them with beetroot, and rice and lentils salad, quite pleasant I must say. I flopped into bed relatively early as it had been a long trying day.

6/01/2012. Up early, pack up and head to Springbok to have the Suzi’s wheel alignment done otherwise I would have chewed up the front tyres in no time. Finally we hit the tar road again and before we know it, it’s that time again, we pull off at one of those roadside picnic spots. Dave builds a breakfast of note, sautéed onions, pork sausages, bacon and cheese, put all of that on a roll and all the worlds problems disappear, while Dave was busy with breakie Darryl and I pumped the tyres of both vehicles. After a great chow we headed for Springbok.10kms outside Springbok it sounded like we got a puncture I pulled over and we checked the tyres, all ok, so what can it be? We go on slowly, I begin to think it must be my newly overhauled diff that’s dying, clunk clunk, clunk. Anyway we make Springbok and we are slowly navigating our way around looking for a workshop of some description, when two guys in a Landy pull up next to us and say we need to check the r/h upper control arm ball joint as the r/h wheel is standing at a crazy angle we thank him and off he goes. Next minute he is back saying he will take us to his nephews workshop. He hops in and directs us to the w/shop and goes and speaks to his nephew on our behalf, next minute there is an appy and a mechanic taking off the front wheel, thank goodness the ball joint is fine just the bolts have come loose ( my fault as we had changed the ball joint boot just prior to the trip and I committed the cardinal sin and never checked the bolts myself), they replace the one bolt that went missing and tighten up the others, right front repaired. Back left and my supposedly noisey diff, jack it up, and the back wheel is about to fall off, all the wheel nuts are loose, take them all off to check that I haven’t damaged the tapers where the nuts mate up. Again thank heavens all is ok and we tighten it up and check the other side, also loose, tighten them up.( again I must take responsibility for this, as prior to the trip we had done back brakes, so all the wheels were off, and I never checked on my okie and presumed that the air gun was sufficient). Everything tight and I go see the nephew to sort him out and he charges me R65.00 for labour I could have kissed him. He sends us next door for wheel alignment, they have an hour wait so we head up to the Wimpy for a cooldrink. After an hour we get back and the Suzi is nearly ready so I get talking with the bossman there about the things that have happened to us, by the way this guy know his oats on the suspension side of vehicles. So I say to him that maybe I should make up a set of stronger tie rods so I don’t go through all of this again, instantly he says no, no, that tie rod, is a fuse, it is meant to blow so that you don’t do more serious damage to the steering box and hubs etc. I agree with him and we bid our farewells R220.00 later, the wheel alignment is probably the best it has been in many a year. Finally we hit the road back towards Joey’s, our aim is Red Sands just outside Kuruman. About 80kms outside of Kathu the turbo pipe from the intercooler to the manifold blows off, but it is a quick fix, out with the leatherman and tighten the clamp and off we go. We get into Red Sand just after 19h00 it is still quite sunny so Dave books into a Chalet and Darryl and I decide to stay in the tent one more night and save a few bob R700.00 to R160.00 for the camp. We set up the tent one more time and go down to the showers with beers in hand, shower and meet Dave and Craig at the Restaurant, Darryl and I had the Caveman’s skewer, very apt if you could have seen the pair of us Neanderthals smashing that graze, it was magnificent. After dinner we had a few more beers and then went off to bed.

7/01/2012 we got up quite early and packed up, Dave and Craig were staying for breakfast as it was part of the deal with a chalet. We hit the road just after 7h00 and headed for Vryburg, by the time we got there the Wimpy was calling to my belly so we stopped for breakfast. After breakfast we stopped at the truckstop for fuel, that’s when we saw it was a big price difference, between there and Kuruman. From there on it was an uneventful journey home, we arrived at about 14h00, I spoke to Dave and he was nearly home in Benoni at the same time.

All in all it was a great trip with good mates, a lot of lessons learned, and a helluva suntan. Thanks to all, a special mention to the guys in Springbok that went out of there way to help. It is much appreciated.


Posts: 12
Joined: Thu Jun 22, 2006 2:29 pm

Re: Steve's Road to Hell trip January 2012

Postby Geoff » Sat Feb 04, 2012 4:36 pm

On the way down.
IMG_1382_1.JPG (158.32 KiB) Viewed 3525 times

Broken tierod.
IMG_1407.JPG (130.21 KiB) Viewed 3525 times

New replacement tierod.
IMG_1414.JPG (66.69 KiB) Viewed 3525 times

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