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Paragraph 1. Before I begin the story let me give you a “Quick Guide to Traveling in SA”. Many years ago [apartheid era] there were areas of SA called Homelands, these areas were the traditional homes of many black locals and were governed by their Traditional Leaders, therefore the only people to be seen in these areas were obviously black and due to the political history of our country many whites were too scared to travel thru them. Nowadays things have changed, the homelands are incorporated into the provinces and are under prov. government, however the population remains the same. There are no fences to keep animals in and driving thru is quite risky, cattle and other livestock wander around in the roads and pedestrians are just as bad. Taxi’s* are even worse, they have no regard for traffic and most are not even licensed, vehicle or driver. [*Taxi = 16 seater bus, normally loaded with up to 25 passengers, only electrical thing that works is a hooter and tyres are normally undergraded for the load they carry, monkey wrenches or shifting spanners are occasionally used instead of a steering wheel, allows more people to sit in front – obviously not all taxis are this bad but the most in these areas are]. End of Paragraph 1.

Friday 8am: We decided to travel thru’ 2 of the homelands up to Dbn as it cut about 255 miles off the trip. Thru’ the first one I swear I saw a cougar sitting outside one of the huts, however due to Par. 1. we did not stop to find out, thru’ the second one we saw lots of interesting old cars, including a ranchero that looked repairable, but did not stop [Par.1.]. We got loads of appreciation for our cougar, whistles, cheers, questions when we stopped for petrol, it was great fun, we felt like celebraties traveling thru the small towns and settlements. A couple of cows even stopped dead in front of us to have a good look. Half the trip thru the 2nd homeland was hampered by road works, did I mention the potholes or mini craters that add to the joy of driving, anyway for as long as I can remember they have been working on the roads filling in the potholes, so a lot of the trip was one way ‘stop/go’ traffic, stopping, waiting, going, crawling behind trucks, trying desperately to overtake the car in front to get away from the big bus that was intent on reading our badges…….close up. Very difficult in single lane traffic but we eventually managed it. We finally got to Dbn, I had a migraine and no tablets and S was freaking cos’ I wanted to find an all night chemist, so with me almost howling in pain, the kids restless and S in a foul mood it was not a good sign to find no-one at my mother in laws house, we did’nt tell her we were driving up, it was supposed to be a surprise, huh. As any semblance of patience had totally deserted S he was not going to drive around at midnight looking for a place to stay so we decided to carry on to his brothers place, another 335 miles away. Over the counter painkillers finally sorted out my head, so the trip was quite pleasant, except by the time we finally got there we had been traveling for 21 hours non-stop and were exhausted. I always stay awake with S when we travel, 4 eyes being better than one. He claims that all the accidents he has had were thanks to me yelling ‘be careful’ etc, I claim that all the accidents he did’nt have were also thanks to me yelling ‘be careful’ etc.
Cougar behaved perfectly, petrol consumption was okay, no problems at all. In total on that part of the trip we traveled about 1000 miles.



Sunday 6am: We leave for R/bay where my eldest son was taking part in the S A Tai Kwon Doh championships. Supposed to be a 2.1/2 hour trip, took us 5 hours, took a wrong turn and also got stuck behind trucks most of the way. We had to travel thru another homeland and it was an extremely mountainous area. Watched my son fight, he got a bronze medal, and then we left to go back to my brother-in-laws place, made it up two mountains and on top of the third one S pulled over, steam was pouring out the hood. And Yes, we did check the water and oil at every single petrol stop [and there were many many petrol stops]. Car was making a funny tinny noise just before the radiator blew. S let the car idle till the temp came down a bit and then we sort of free ran down the mountain till we came to a little fruit seller place, they had no water, we only had 4 litres in the trunk and that made no impression. Free ran down to the next one and they were only to happy to give us all the water we needed, added another 5 litres and she was full, but obviously we had to wait for the engine to cool down and for the water to heat up first, S puts the 2 litre bottles under the hood to warm up. Decided not to risk going back to the brothers place and made tracks for Dbn instead as there were lots of petrol stations on the way and it was mostly flat. Drove nice and slowly and topped up with water all the way. Mother in law was at home and cougar got to have a nice rest. While trying to park her in the too small garage we noticed that the wheel alignment in front was completely out, one wheel pointed right, the other one left, figured that was due to a pothole [you can’t avoid them all] and also hoped that that might be the reason for the car overheating.

To be continued..............
 

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Monday – Public holiday, so we put in new plugs [which we took with us] and tried to set the timing, just in case that was the problem, we marked the correct spot with nice clean white mark and got the timing light out, quick job, no problem. Points were new so we did not bother to check that, 2 hours later and we are now hot, sweaty, overcome with fumes from being in a small garage and we still can’t find the timing mark on the pulley, to line up, pointer mark is clear as day, pulley mark, no luck, we must have painted over it about 5 times till I noticed that the timing light leads were arcing all over, so gave up on that and set it by ear.
Tuesday – went to a well recommended V8 mechanic [he has two cobra replica’s and used to work for Ford in the old days] he told us the timing was virtually spot on but he checked the points etc in case, then set the timing with one of the those really expensive things that give all sorts of digital info, like a timing light but obviously ‘slightly’ more advanced than our $2.50 one we bought about 6 years ago. Car ran beautifully, I can honestly say she purred, for about 5 kms, that’s how long it took us to find a wheel alignment place that had a pit, ramps here can’t take the weight of the cougar. Alignment set and we ‘think’ we are now sorted out. It was about 10 miles to my m-in-laws place, by the time we got there the temp was just under H, and she was almost about to blow. Checked the water, nothing in the radiator, so figured we may have added too little previously and she could have lost some somewhere, somehow, we are forever optimists.
Drove around abit that afternoon and she seemed okay.
Wednesday 5.30pm – finally get away from m-in-laws and leave to go back to my b-in-laws, 335 miles away. This time we took a different route out of Dbn, the last time we took a minor road, but it was quite hilly so we decided to go on the National road instead, BIG mistake. National road on the day before [another] public holiday =’s hundreds of cars and trucks, and as usual roadworks. So picture, a very steep uphill climb, two very narrow lanes going up, a solid concrete barrier on the one side, dividing the traffic and a mountain side on the other, with nowhere to pull off, normally this would not be the case but they were working on the other lanes [going down]. Big signs everywhere saying no trucks allowed in the fast [overtaking]lane…….. naturally as we are struggling up the hill in the fast lane a truck decides to pull out right in front of us to overtake another one, it crawls agonizingly slowly past the other truck, and we crawl behind it, the temp is rising by the second and the car starts to jerk, you can see the steam starting to come up from the hood, we’ve got a stream of cars behind us and a non stop row of trucks to the left of us, and a concrete barrier on the right, that was a totally scary couple of minutes, the temp is on H, water is starting to spurt out, the car wants to cut out and finally the truck in front pulls over to the left, but there is still no way thru the row of trucks and no where to pull off even if we do get thru them. The guy in the truck [and when I say trucks I am talking about massive long pantecnicons] next to us must have realized our problem and he slowed down to let us in, and thankfully there was a pull off area right there. Only small difficulty was that we stopped half way in the area and a truck pulled in after us and needed almost the whole area to fit his truck in and we had to try and move the cougar very quickly before he got rammed up the rear or rammed us up the rear. Truckers are friendly folks, they like to hoot in sympathy when they pass a fellow trucker in trouble, this guy had lots of support, every couple of seconds a truck would hoot and he would hoot back, and when the hooting truck is 2 feet from your trunk the whole car vibrates.
My nerves were shot and yet my 2 kids slept thru all of this. We finally got back on the road and just when I thought things could not get much worse the headlights packed up. So, pitch dark with headlights flashing on and off as S fiddles with the switch, finally managed to pull off and do a temp. fix. About 10 miles further at a handy petrol stop, car starts to overheat, so stop for another hour, but at least S got the light switch fixed, we had the Ranchero’s switch with us [just in case] so we just swopped them. Fill up with water, back on the road, did not even make it to the next petrol station, had to stop the car about 300 feet from the drive in. Eventually crawled into the station and straight away a guy rocked up to offer help, a mechanic who had just been called out to help someone else out. I had to laugh as he tried to unobtrusively check the water pump pulley to see if it was sloppy, I assured him we had done that already. Anyway on his suggestion we put in some ‘stop leak’ filled up with water again and changed the radiator cap with one I had bought earlier, that was another mistake, temp went up almost immediately. Thankfully this is one of the main routes and there are petrol stations just about every 15 miles, just made it to the next one, another mechanic stopped and he got down to business. checked all the radiator hoses, bottom one was cold, top one was hot, then he told me to hold my hand behind the exhaust pipe and check for water, within 5 seconds my hand was soaked with grey icky water. Our first positive indication of blown head gasket, also explained where all the water was disappearing to, one thing we did not think of was that it was going out the exhaust, we had checked the oil and it had no sign of water in it. So added another ‘stop leak’ seeing most of the first bottle had disappeared and headed off again, he very kindly gave us a 20 litre container of water to take with us, this time we got there without incident. It took us 11 hours to do a 5 hour trip.
Thursday – public holiday.
Friday – went to the nearest town, my b-in-law lives in a very small village, if you drive thru it fast enough you will actually miss seeing it completely. First stop radiator place to check if it’s the heads, put the blue tube in and sucked up some radiator water, guy said if it goes light green or yellow it’s the heads, said it may take a while to show, it took about 3 seconds to go a nice deep bright yellow. So now, stuck about 1000 miles away from home, in a strange town, blown head gasket/s at the least, went to the local mechanical expert and asked him if he had any tricks of the trade that would get us and the car home safely, he recommended stuff called ‘wondar weld’ made by Holts, you put it in the thermostat housing, take out the thermostat and leave it out, then you are supposed to take the spark plug out the affected cylinder and run it for 20 minutes, or if more than one cylinder is affected you take out the plugs at 5 minute intervals. So starting at no 1 cylinder we take out the plug, start the car, sounded like machine gun fire going off, scrapped that idea and took off the plug leads instead at 5 minute intervals. Drained the oil as recommended and refilled and went to bed.
Saturday 10am – leave for home, fingers crossed, prayers said etc. Got to the next town, wait about ½ an hour, temp down cold, open cap, water bursts out all over the place, mainly straight into S’s face, nice mix of wondar weld and water does nothing for one’s eyesight, or the paintwork, so while S is rinsing out his eyes I am rinsing off the car. Fill her up again and off we go. This time all went well, in fact we were getting worried cos the temp gauge was staying just above or on C, only time she gave us a hassle was going up a really bad mountain pass when we had to slow down behind a truck, pulled off straight away and sat for another hour. From then on it was great, I bought another proper pressurized cap and that made it even better, she barely went up to the C mark. However the lights did decide to pack up again, on a really dark deserted stretch of highway, but drove by torchlight to the next petrol station to fix it. It was too dangerous to park on the side of the road and try and sort it out, too many people walking around drunk and not enough cars coming past to offer any sort of protection against attack and it was also in an area know for its criminal element.
We went thru 3 provinces in perfect weather, the minute we got to our own province it started raining, and BFG’s and rain are not a good combination.
Eventually got home at 5am this morning, 19 hours on the road, we took the long route home to avoid breaking down in one of the homelands. All in all we traveled 2744 miles.
Not bad for a 31 year old car with only blown/cracked head/gaskets to show for it.
Thankfully we have spare heads and a new decoke set sitting in the garage.
Oh yeah, and this was supposed to be a relaxing break for me. Funnily enough I did enjoy it, drama and all, we are so used to breaking down with some or other problem everytime we go somewhere that this was just a normal trip for us. Its only when we went away in the Nissan pickup that we had no hassles, and that was boring.
Bought a new water pump in Dbn [just in case] and two new air filters, 3” ones, but gave one to another brother-in-law, he has a F100 with a 351 C in it, which we had to identify for him, he really has no clue, also no money so we knew he would never go and buy an air filter and his was long past its chance of ever even being able to be cleaned. Funnily enough his engine is also red, but at least you can see the dark blue in places.
Started the cougar earlier and she had now decided enough is enough, I think she is scared that if she goes okay we may not fix her, she sounds awful. More on that in the Tech question forum, please go directly to that after reading this………….
:D
 

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Discussion Starter #4
Geez, did I really write that much, funny it did not look so long in 'word', I forgot to mention the binding front pass. brake. Cylinder not releasing properly, no one could help us at brake places and we did not have the right stuff to do it ourselves, very difficult to work on your car at someone elses house, brake places took one look at the cougar and told us to get it sorted out when we got home.........:)
 

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Wow, what a tale I enjoyed all 2,926 words
 

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Nice adventure. What I don't understand is how you had fun. I have fun when my Cougar is running sweetly, not when it's acting up. Fortunately for me, it almost never does. But then I haven't taken it on a 2700+ mile trip. I'm contemplating buying a loaded '67 XR7 hardtop. If I do get it, I plan to drive it about 700 miles back home. And, hope it goes ok.

Steve C.
 

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Discussion Starter #7
Fun is found in the unexpected, never knowing what is going to happen next, and then overcoming the problems when they happen, yeah, okay, sounds wierd I know, and yes I would love to go on a trip with the cougar and have no hassles, but we also enjoy all the ups and downs that we normally have when we go anywhere in a Ford [sorry guys/gals buts its the truth], we've only ever had Fords, except for 1 Nissand and she never gave us hassles, Fords, well they always did, so we learnt to enjoy all the stress.
 

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Nothing"weird" about it, you enjoy adventure. A fine trait indeed....

Bruce
 

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Discussion Starter #9
Tuis pugis pignore!
 

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Can I have that in english, I'm too lazy today to look it up..

Bruce
 

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I'm pretty sure it is a reference to "Fighting Tree Pigs"...but I'm not sure why she put that on a Cougar forum? :lol:
 

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hahahahaha...lmao......I can always count on you for a laugh........Thanks


Bruce
 

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Discussion Starter #13
It means "You bet your bippy!" you Latin illiterates....:)
 

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Whooo! sounds ike storys of trips i read about in the early 1900's here in the states. Just goes toshow how we americans have it to soft compared to elsewhere. sounds like an adventure to write about.....thats right i think you just did that.
 
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