An ode to Nelly, well done old girl


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Africa » Namibia
March 15th 2020
Published: March 15th 2020
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After a good and hearty breakfast, Warwick and I said goodbye to Nelly and Alain and made our way to the airport. Alain is going to spend the day in Windhoek before heading back toward the Skeleton coast on his own. The roads are safe and he will be fine, but rest assured we’ll be keeping in daily contact with him.

We on the other hand are rolling the dice and hoping to get home. We are currently sitting in departures at Windhoek airport. Our flight is on the way and we are checked in, so fingers crossed. Apparently Windhoek closed all schools overnight and may contemplate roadblocks. In addition a military containment unit has sprung up at the airport so things are escalating. You either need to stay put (aka Alain) or get out of dodge (aka Warwick and I). We’ll keep you updated…

…In the meantime, I thought it worth a short Ode to our amazing car Nelly.

Nelly started life in 2011 doing long highway miles before being taken in by a Farmer up North where she appears to have been used primarily for moving farm equipment. We picked her up with about 175,000 miles on the clock and she was running fine, well past the sell by date of many cars.

After this Nelly was (over the course of 6 months) upgraded and replaced in various places as well as modified to fit our plans. We loaded her with a new Aluminium back box to take the weight of our enormous Roof tent. Then we shipped her round the world to Mombasa where she sat in a container for around 2 months before we could eventually get her out.

We then drove about 9,950 miles over the next 2 months across sand, mud, water and occasionally tarmac. She has suffered for her cause and his is a quick summary of all the things that broke and got fixed over the last 2 months to keep her running:

The wiring to the 2nd fuse box for the rear section fell apart after corrugations in the road

The CV boot (a rubber shield around the drive train) split and we improvised for 2 weeks with an inner tube before replacing it properly (and it’s still going)

The front suspension was broken by the Toyota garage in Bahir Dar in Ethiopia and took 3 days to replace

We shredded a tyre beyond repair in Southern Ethiopia

We wore the front brake pads completely down to the metal before replacing them in just 5000 miles

We broke the Handbrake cable and improvised with one side working for half the trip

We bought the wrong kind of auxiliary battery that has slowly been failing the entire trip

We bent and then broke off the front bumper on a million bumps

We broke off the rear tow-hitch after banging it too many times

The bonnet doesn’t quite close properly from being rattled too much

Various pieces of plastic shielding have fallen off the underside and within the engine from being shaken off

The rear number plate fell off and then some weeks later the front number plate did the same after being rattled to bits

The rear shock absorbers (which we replaced before we started) broke after 7000 miles and were replaced

The plastic front bumper keeps coming apart as bolts shear through the plastic through rattling

We flooded the floor of the car with the nastiest smelliest water from the Okavango delta

The exhaust shielding broke loose and rattled itself nearly to bits before we could get it back

The rear lighting board mounted in the rear fell off at least 3 times as the bolts undid themselves from rattling.



And yet despite all this she is still going strong and will be doing the business for Alain in the coming weeks as he keeps going.


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