This Adventurous Age

Adventures travelling and working around Australia.

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2016 Travels March 15


There did not remain much packing to do this morning. Only the last-minute fridge items, and the things like laptops and camera that we do not like to leave overnight in Bus when we are not in it. I made some wraps to take for our lunch.

John backed Bus out of onto our narrow road and then pulled into the side so we could hitch up the car. It is not the easiest place to get Bus out of. In the process, he ran the front off side along the  drainage grate at the edge of our nature strip.

Terios hitched, house closed up, dog on board – and we were away, at 10.30am.

Straight away, I noticed an unusual noise – kind of whup-whup-whup – that seemed to change as our speed changed. Then the TPMS gadget started its loud beeping noise, indicating a flat tyre on passenger side front wheel of Bus. But it was not driving like we had a problem. Had to go a couple of kms before there was a place we could park Bus on level ground, out of the way of traffic – in a park carpark area. By the time we got there, the display was indicating the driver’s side front tyre also had a problem.

The issue on the passenger side was immediately obvious – the TPMS cap monitor was gone. John thought that maybe his encounter with the grate had knocked it off. We unhitched the Terios and he drove that back home to search the street for it – those units are expensive!

While he was gone, I had a good look round Bus but could not see anything wrong that might account for the repetitive noise we’d heard. I also took dog for a good long walk. It was quite hot and she was more interested in finding water to drink, than walking.

Eventually John was back. He could not find the missing cap. Then, he noticed that the top had sheared off the driver’s side one. That had been nowhere near the grate, so he was not impressed. He put the old, standard valve caps back on the two front wheels. Then he drove Bus around the flat area, while I watched and listened to try to pick up the noise source. No use.

We discussed me taking car and dog back home and him taking Bus to Toyota or truck tyre place to try to get a fix, but then he decided to drive up the road a way, to see if he could work it out. Came back and said he thought it might be the TPMS monitors on the long inner back wheel valve extensions, flexing and hitting the wheel rim. So he replaced those with the standard caps and went for another test drive. No more noise. Whilst that was a relief, it was annoying that we had the problem at all. I did not judge it a good idea to remind John that I’d previously told him that forum advice had been to get rigid metal valve extensions on the back wheels, for TPMS!

Hitched up car and set off again, after a delay of nearly two hours.

The TPMS system was still doing readouts for the Terios’ wheels, at least, and the two outer back wheels of Bus. Need to get it all sorted when we were home again.

Took Eastlink and then the Monash freeway, and proceeded to Pakenham, KooWeeRup, Foster, to Toora. It was very windy – the worst winds we had yet encountered in Bus, so was hard work for the driver. Would have been really nasty towing a van.

The urban spread of Melbourne seems relentless, gobbling up what was farm land to the south east. Vegie growing country.  I wondered when planners would start to realize that, whilst a rapidly growing city needs houses, it also needs food – and a lot of the most productive land was going under. The same was happening to Melbourne’s south west too.

Approaching KooWeeRup, saw a sign to that town, and took that turn, though the GPS had remained silent. It looked right on my paper map, which was not all that old, but turned out to pre-date the bypass that now goes straight to the South Gippsland Highway. Wonder how long that had been there? We took the long way round, for sure.

Predictably, M and C had arrived at the Toora Caravan Park a couple of hours before us, and texted that it was windy! We knew that already. As we approached Toora, saw wind farm towers on the hills behind – that figured!

We had been allocated a drive-through en-suite site that was quite roomy. It cost us $40 a night. The en-suite was clean and a good size. I liked that there was a glass screen instead of the dreaded clingy shower curtain. But it only extended down one side, so water did splash out and wet a lot of the floor. A mop was provided!

Very nice site at Toora

The park was on a hill side, so we had some views across in the direction of the Prom. The park was very well equipped for a family holiday – heated indoor pool and spa, tennis court, jumping pillow, several BBQ areas. It was certainly a place we would be happy to stay at again.

M and C were likewise quite happy with their cabin.

After setting up, had a very late lunch, and relaxed for the little of the afternoon that was left.

John took dog for a walk across the highway and down some streets. Clearly, she was not impressed by the traffic encountered because, for the rest of the stay, she refused to go anywhere near the front gate, but would happily walk around the rest of the park. On my late afternoon walk with her, there were some rabbits grazing at the back of the park – which dog resolutely ignored. However, she made a great effort to reach a fallen pine cone, which she then carried for the rest of the walk. Strange creature.

The four of us enjoyed a pleasant happy hour at the Bus.

Our tea was pre-cooked chicken marylands. Quite enough, by themselves, after the late lunch.

Through the night could hear some noise from the wind turbines on the hill behind the park, but it was not unpleasant or intrusive.

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2016 Travels February


Last time Bus went to the local Toyota dealer’s for a service, they could not remove the front wheel nuts in order to check things behind the wheels. They did not have a special tool and were reluctant to exert too much force on the lever they did have, in case they stripped or broke the studs.

On the way home from the dealer, John had taken Bus to a truck tyre place and they undid the wheel nuts, to establish that it could be done, and then re-tightened them. Back home, John could not make them budge again with the “normal” gear he had on hand.

We were told at Toyota, and had not known until then, that the wheel nuts on the two front wheels undo in different directions on the two wheels: one clockwise, one anti-clockwise. Something else to remember…

When we first bought our caravan, back in 1997, we had both gone through a steep learning curve, in order to understand how everything worked, and potential issues and pitfalls. For most years of our vanning, we felt knowledgeable and secure in this.

Acquiring Bus was a whole new ball game. A much more complex one too. For the last four years I had haunted online forums that featured Coasters, and motor homing in general. Neither of us liked the sense of not necessarily knowing what was happening with the vehicle or house systems, or about potential hassles.

After this problem with the wheel nuts, we decided it would be wise to buy a “nutcracker” – a special kind of tool that helps undo wheel nuts. More research ensued, then eventually John drove to Kyneton and bought the chosen tool, which cost less than $100. He wanted to inspect it, in person, to make sure it came with the right sized fittings.

Another fact we had discovered was that the outer and inner back wheels have different sized wheel nuts. Suppose there was a reason for that, but I never found out what it was.

Six wheels on Bus, plus a somewhat inaccessible spare. And all this complexity. We’d had six wheels on our Defender and Trakmaster rig, plus a couple of spares. The KISS principle applied there – all the wheels were the same and interchangeable: Defender wheels. We had been spoilt, clearly.

John already had a tension wrench for doing up wheel nuts again.

We hoped we would never have to actually use these tools ourselves. The wheels were a bit too heavy for us to be manhandling them ourselves, these days. The thinking was that if we did have to call out Roadside Assistance to change a wheel, at least we would know that the appropriate tools will be on hand.

Nothing to do with tools….Couey’s latest game…ball in pool

I had been concerned on our previous trips with the rig, that if the Terios got a flat tyre while we were flat towing, we probably wouldn’t realize until unnecessary damage had been done to the tyre. I discovered that there were warning devices available for just such situations. So the next area of research was into tyre pressure monitoring systems – TPMS. John was keen to have these on the Bus wheels as well as on the Terios, so we needed a system that managed ten wheels in total.

John decided to buy a system from a Melbourne based firm, so he was able to go to the outlet and talk it all through with them. This was not going to be a cheap exercise!

He fitted the monitors, which replace the valve cap on each tyre, and then set up the receiver unit in Bus. Another screened gadget to add to the proliferation on the dashboard! And the rats’ nest of leads that all plugged into the extension gadget that in turn plugged into the lighter socket.

The receiver unit, in theory, showed the situation with each wheel in sequence – its pressure and temperature. The unit beeps – loudly we discovered, when a tyre is under the set parameters he entered. Getting the whole thing to work with each wheel registering in its turn, took ages, with John fiddling about outside with wheels and me inside Bus letting him know what was showing on the screen. Each of the ten wheels had to be checked and some pumped up. Good thing he has an air compressor. I kept telling myself it would be worth it.

The day after the installation, John took me out to Bus to demonstrate the unit again. It beeped. One front tyre on Bus was down to 12psi. John worked out that he had not screwed the monitor unit on properly and it had leaked air overnight. That was remedied.

We did no further testing before our next trip. Mistake….