Driving the truck home

Tuesday, 29th March 2011

We finally arrived at ATW at closing time , they were willing to stay back to settle things etc, but Owen had a quick talk to them and organised to come back and fix/ settle everything in the morning. So off we went to our accommodation for the night (which I had booked in advance), the Yandina Caravan Park which was about 1 minute down the road and checked in and got the keys to our ensuite cabin ($90 p/n) and settled in (I must say the cabin wasn’t of the best quality and certainly wasn’t worth $90 p/n as the toilet leaked all night, the doors were missing internal handles so shutting the doors from inside was difficult, the doors didn’t slide well and the walls were mouldy etc (but with all of the rain that the Brisbane area had had since December last year I can see that this could have caused issues with swelling of frames or doors making them opening and shutting and sliding difficult and causing mould etc, and that these things would take a while to fix but in the mean time I personally think they should have reduced the price until these things were fixed).

The entrance to the park was a bit odd, you had to use a house type key into a box to open the boom gates but this could not easily be accessed from the driver’s door of a car, we found it easier for the passenger to get out open the boom gate and then get back in on the other side (or in our case walk to the cabin which was very close to the gates). Other than these issues the park itself seemed quite nice and very handy etc.  We had dinner in Yandina and the local Thai (Food was pretty boring – Don’t try there Thai soups, mine was just meat, noodles and vegetables boiled in water and the water used as the “soup” it was SO VERY bland (even for me, and I prefer less spicy food and boiled stuff in water for about $16 was NOT good)). I chose a soup because I had a migraine but had been told (by Owen) that I should eat because I didn’t have any lunch etc (probably part of the reason I had a migraine). I would have been better off going to the IGA supermarket across the road and buying a cup of noodles, more flavour and 1/10th the price.


Wednesday, 30th March 2011

Awake early (thank goodness for travel alarm clocks because the one in the Cabin didn’t work) and back to ATW. Owen and Paul spent hours going over the truck, looking at the camper body and the mine vehicles they were building, loading the pallets of truck stuff (original wheels and tyres, seats and bumper etc) onto the chassis to add a little weight over the back shocks to try to improve the ride at least a little (the shocks have been designed to have a 2 tonne camper body + contents on the back), and to save us the $600 freight to get it back home by transport company.

While Owen and Paul were doing this I went into Nambour to the Queensland Department of Motor Registry to get the ‘Unregistered vehicle permit’ to drive the Cab chassis home legally (as stated earlier I had already purchased the Class 22 CTPI certificate needed before leaving home). Like Motor Registries EVERYWHERE there was a long wait, so after an hour I got my turn and got the permit needed to take the 4 days we had planned to drive the truck home, (cost was $26 per day x 4 days = $104) the permits go from Midnight to Midnight, so the first day was about half gone by the time I got the permit (ours went from 12:01am Wednesday to midnight Saturday). Actually getting the permit was easy, all I needed was the Class 22 CTPI certificate (and the cover letter because it was emailed to us), and the actual Unregistered Vehicle Permit form (that we downloaded and filled out before leaving home – you need the VIN number of the vehicle, your personal details, reason for travel, dates of travel etc). The total for the Class 22 CTPI and the UVP was $156.20 for 4 days.

I then returned to ATW and helped out a bit before Paul took Owen to a local truck company – Coastline Trucks to get some more tie down straps as we didn’t have enough with us, so that they could finish tying down the pallets to the chassis, they had to return a second time because they picked up the wrong ones and didn’t notice (they got the ones that use the fixed drums on the trucks instead of the ones with the ratchet parts).

After a few delays including several downpours of rain, paying the last $64,000 for the truck and modifications and getting the receipt etc. There was a stuff up and delay with the bull bar, we had asked and paid for 2 antenna mounts and there was only one on the bull bar. That took quite a while to get something done with Paul calling Custom Alloy – the bull bar manufacturers numerous times and them talking back and forth, them wanting us to go there the next morning but as we had to leave on the Wednesday or we wouldn’t have enough on the permits to get us home, going to Custom alloy the next morning was out of the question, it was finally decided that we would go there as soon as we finished at ATW and returned the hire car to Maroochydore and they would remove the bull bar and refit the original bumper bar and then fix the bull bar, re-powder coat it and freight it to us.

So we left ATW and I drove the hire car and Owen followed me in the truck – making sure I didn’t get too far ahead of Owen and the truck because he didn’t know where we were going as I had the GPS and he couldn’t go over about 80kph as the truck hadn’t been run in and it was supposed to kept at about 1800 rpm (the Avis office closed at 4:30pm and it was getting close to this time and then I couldn’t find them as the address given was slightly incorrect, they were in fact on the street diagonally and I had to call them as we couldn’t drive the truck around and around in the middle of Maroochydore, so I called them found where they were and told Owen to stay parked where he was, I would drive around the block and return the car and then walk back to where he was).

So I climbed up into the truck attached the GPS to the windscreen and we put the address into the GPS and drove the truck to Custom Alloy, we got to Custom Alloy later than planned due to not being able to find AVIS and it taking a bit longer than planned getting away from ATW, so Custom Alloy called us to ask us where we were and we told them we were still in Maroochydore and were on our way and would be there as soon as possible taking into account the truck could only be driven at 80kph as it was being run in.

Due to this delay it was decided that they would instead weld the new mount on and we would drive it home with the bull bar on and it would get fixed here in Canberra, once there they removed some of the powder coating (from the area needed to be welded), and covered the cab etc over with welding blankets and welded the new antenna bracket in place and it was then organised for a local company in the Canberra area to pick it up, re-powder coat and deliver it back to us, at Custom Alloys cost.

While we were at Custom Alloy we saw a powder coat colour we much preferred called antique or Aztec silver hammer tone, hammer tone will hide stone chips and dead bugs much better than a pure black or shiny surface.

From ATW we were given the options of polished aluminium, satin black and matt black. It turns out there are more than 50+ powder coat colours (so I wonder why were only give the choice of 2 + the polished).

Once this was all finished  we called our next appointment to see if it was still Ok to visit them, only to find out because we were running so VERY late, they had a prior engagement so we instead organised to see them the next morning, so I called our other appointment and although it was late, they were still fine with us visiting so again the GPS was given the address and we were on our way to somewhere near Coolangatta, we arrived after dark) we were visiting another couple who were building a motorhome camper on a canter cab chassis (they were using an old off road caravan as the basic frame for their camper body and then changing it around and using the old internal components like the bathroom and kitchen etc.

Next on the agenda was a place to sleep for the night, our accommodation needs are slightly different and thus harder than most people to find somewhere cheap to stay, we need to have 2 beds if at all possible, as if I am bumped my pain gets very high, and if I jiggle about too much Owen doesn’t sleep.

We finished there at about 9pm and then had to find somewhere to stay, because we didn’t plan this ahead because we had no idea where we would be, the people we were visiting suggested Coolangatta as a place more likely to still be open and have accommodation, so I put the middle of Coolangatta into the GPS and off we went, I called a number of the motels and caravan parks etc that were in the GPS but there receptions were all closed, we drove past a number of places, but they were either full, closed or we didn’t see them until it was too late and getting the truck back to them was too difficult, so we kept on driving and on luck alone the GPS took us to the centre of Coolangatta and there was a pub there with the lights still on and what looked like might have been accommodation on the top floor, Owen pulled over and I climbed out and asked and luck have it they were a youth hostel on the top floor Coolangatta Sands Hostel and they had a private room at only $35 per person ($70 for the night) and they supplied the linens, towels, blankets etc and they had air conditioning and a kitchen etc – we were travelling with our breakfast cereals and plastic bowls etc), I asked about parking for the truck as there was only on street parallel parking (and we wouldn’t really fit in) and we would prefer the truck to be a little safe, they didn’t have off street parking but I was told the lot practically across the road was actually the car park of the local police station, so was pretty secure (not many people will break into a vehicle parked in a police station car park), so we parked the truck there near the police station building and headed back to the pub, for the night.


Thursday, 31st March 2011

The next morning we headed off to a local Coolangatta shopping centre to get a few things (including a pillow for me to sit on as on Wednesday night on the way to Coolangatta I slipped getting out of the truck (or was it into it?) and tried to tear myself in half (wishbone style) and pulled a muscle or two in my hip or groin or something making sitting for long periods painful and as the suspension seats could not work properly due to the pass through bellows being fitted behind the seats for the trip home, the pillow was the best option.

Next we went out to visit the people we had hoped to see the day before (Jeff Lindstrom and his wife)  but who were busy (we had met them before, (when we were first looking at the truck and ATW organised for us to meet with Jeff Lindstrom from 16/12/2010 entry). To see his truck again, for Owen to have a closer look at a few things, to show him our truck etc. I got badly sunburnt on my face and chest and hands while there as we saw them on their new farm which had NO shade and I forgot to put on sunscreen (typical). After about 2 hours we headed back off to begin our trip home.

We drove until we got to near Ballina and I started to call hotels, motels, caravan parks etc (preferably on the main highway) at about 5-6pm  hoping this time to try to find somewhere earlier in the hopes places would be open and we wouldn’t have the hassles we had the night before. On about the 3-4th call I found a motel for $85 a night that had off street parking for the truck called the Hi-Craft Motel . It turned out they were on the other side of the highway so we had to turn about to get back to them, we didn’t see the hotel until we passed it, so we went down a side street and turned about but then had a lot of trouble crossing over both directions of traffic to get on the right side of the road (the truck is by no means quick off the mark so we needed a decent gap in both directions of traffic to cross), this eventually happened. We arrived checked in parked the truck, and went into our room.

We asked them where was a good place to eat and they suggested the local Chinese restaurant or RSL Club, we chose the Ballina RSL Club it was only a 3 minute walk from the motel and the food was really nice (we had Bruschetta for entrée, a lovely chicken pasta for main and cheesecake for dessert) and the atmosphere was great too.

We then headed back to the motel for the night, stopping to get milk for breakfast on the way, and to bed early so that we could be well rested and up early the next morning.


Friday, 1st April 2011

We were up early the next morning, packed our gear, packed the truck and then to work out an easy way to get back on the main highway as we had to turn about last night and were on the wrong side of the highway and had to turn about somewhere to get heading in the right direction, we decided to go up to the RSL club we had dinner at the night before and use either the carpark or the roundabout out front to turn about.

Off we went driving for the day, it rained on and off, sometimes quite heavily.

This time I roughly planned for our next stop well in advance (by working out roughly how much time and distance was left and cutting it in half to find our nights rest stop and decided that somewhere near Newcastle would be good without actually going into Newcastle with the truck so we decided on Raymond Terrace.

We got off the road at Raymond Terrace and dropped into a few motels and called a few more and a couple of Caravan parks but Raymond Terrace was REALLY expensive wanting more than $120 for the night.

So we decided to keep driving and look for somewhere down the road further, and as we drove and just before turning back on to the highway at Heatherbrae, we saw a caravan park (with nothing around it) so decided to drop in there and see what was available at what cost.

We found we could get a cabin for $80 per night, and they had a place we could park the truck on the outside of the boom gate but almost right in front of our cabin.

We asked the owners of the caravan park where was a good place to eat and they suggested the restaurants or clubs in Raymond Terrace, so we put our gear in the cabin and climbed back in the truck and went into Raymond terrace, deciding on the Raymond Terrace Bowling Club as clubs tend to have a large range of meals at reasonable prices. We found a large empty carpark diagonally across the road from the club to park the truck in (we were the only vehicle parked there). Neither of us were really hungry so Owen had a Chicken Caesar salad and I had a LOVELY Chinese short soup, all meal came with free soft serve ice cream, so we indulged for dessert. We then went back to the Caravan park and watched TV in our cabin and then to bed early.


Saturday, 2nd April 2011

Early the next morning we were off again, and heading for home. Again the GPS was again invaluable (I am a SHOCKING navigator and HOPELESS at reading maps).

We arrived home at about 1pm and unpacked the Cab of the truck and then unloaded the chassis of all of it’s truck stuff. We then decided to wash the cab and chassis to remove all of the road grime and dead bugs before putting it into its new carport until it is registered/ finished.

We then unpacked the bags and did the washing before packing the suitcase to take to Newcastle for Owen’s fibreglass course the next day. We then had dinner, checked the rabbit and dog, watched TV and went to bed.