Thursday, 16th December 2010
Headed off to the Canberra Airport. And, by the way… getting up at dark o’clock in the morning really sucks!
We chose to drive our car to the airport and park in the new multi level covered long stay parking structure rather than to take a taxi. Parking at the airport costs $18 per 24 hours opposed to over $40 each way in a taxi. Not really a hard decision to make.
Normally we fly Qantas, but Virgin Blue were cheaper on the day we wanted to travel to Brisbane, so Virgin it was.
The primary reason for going to Queensland was to have a look at how All Terrain Warriors built their vehicles. With my medical issues, riding in a standard truck was not really an option, given the roughness of the ride.
ATW do a coil suspension conversion for the Canter and they said that the ride in one of these vehicles is similar, or better, than that of a Land Cruiser. Owen, being the doubting Thomas that he is, wanted proof of this prior to outlaying the $25,000 for the coil conversion. Mark at ATW had given us the contact details for Jeff Lindstrom, a person who had a converted Canter, given that ATW did not have a completed vehicle that we could look at. So Prior to our heading off to Queensland, Owen had contacted Jeff and arranged a meeting with him.
After picking up the Avis rental car at the airport we headed off to see Jeff in Rochdale, which is about 20 minute away.
Jeff had a short wheelbase 4×4 Canter with a large tray on the back (that used the same mounting system that ATW’s camper’s use) with all of the suspension modifications that we were looking at getting.
His truck had been de-rated to 4 ½ tonnes, so that it could be driven on a car licence. Owen crawled all over the truck, asking many questions and taking lots of notes. Jeff then took us for a drive in his truck, demonstrating the difference on his rough dirt access track, with the shocks pumped up and let down (air over hydraulic shocks). He explained how by dropping the air pressure it handled much better on the rough tracks and then by increasing the air pressure it handled really well on the road, not wallowing like a hippo. All of these shock absorber adjustments were done using the in-cab ride controls. MANY THANKS GO TO JEFF for all of his help and time.
After the “test drive”, and more looking over the truck, we headed off to meet the All Terrain Warriors (ATW) team in Yandina. Along the way, at Caboolture (Learjet Drive on the Right hand side off the Bruce Highway) we went to a large 4×4 store called TJM. Owen had looked up the Stratos suspension seats site and then called the stores listed that were in the area, between and around Brisbane and the Sunshine Coast, to see if he could find somewhere that had them in stock. Given the cost of these seats ($2000 each), we wanted to try them out before considering buying them. As it turned out they were quite comfortable and we agreed that they would be a worthwhile investment.
We got to ATW just after lunch and met with Paul, the owner of the company. Unfortunately, neither Mark or John were there that day, but Paul took the time to show us around the workshop.
Owen asked HEAPS of questions and Paul was happy to answer all of them. Owen was pretty sold on getting a Canter before we went up there, but was NOT going to outlay any money without looking over ATW’s workshop in person and trying out a converted truck. Owen definitely liked what he saw, so we put down a $40,000 deposit before we left to secure our 2010 Fuso Canter 3.0 FG84D 4×4 cab chassis truck.
Afterwards we drove to the Buderim Ginger Factory, which is just 5 minutes down the road, to pick up some products that I forgot to get when we went up to the area in Oct; that’s when we had the “Coaster fiasco”.
We then returned to the airport and returned the hire car for our 7:30pm flight home.
Our flight was delayed for 3 hours due to storms and heavy rain in Brisbane and right down to Sydney, so instead of arriving home at 9:20pm we didn’t get home until 12:20am on Friday morning. NOT FUN.
Friday, 17th December 2010
So we FINALLY arrived home, only 3hrs late, and picked up our bag (noticing it was damaged but everything in the airport was shut due to the time), we paid our parking and picked up the car, driving home and going to bed.
Later that day I called Virgin Blue Baggage about the damage to my bag and they said I had to take it back empty to the airport so that it could be sent away for repair. They ended up having to replace the bag as the damage was irreparable, and I got the new bag a couple of days later.