Distance: 32km (Cumulative: 10 128km)
Moving time: 1:26
Average speed: 23km/h
Road surface: 99% Tar
JP Safari Hotel - R120 p.p
Very clean hotel, hot shower, safe parking, restaurant, free breakfast
We set an alarm again for 07:00 with the idea of being at the workshop in Mbeya by 08:00, as usual we just snoozed until 08:00 and then only left after 09:00. We thus only got to Highland Motors at 10:00 during everyone’s tea break. We waited a few minutes for Mr Perreira, an Indian gentleman, to arrive. I told him our problem and he immediately agreed to help. Hugo drove around the building onto service bay no 5. We had to wait a bit more for the workers to return. We also asked him to do a minor service, changing the oil and putting in new oil and fuel filters (which we supplied).
Caro went to study in the reception while Hugo kept a close eye on the work. One worker was ‘assigned’ to the MonkeyMobile, but throughout the day several others also help. After taking the whole axle off, they tested to see how deep the collar (or retainer) go into the axle and as I expected it didn’t even touch the seal, it was pressed in to deep. Instead of just lifting the ABS ring and retainer a bit higher so that it goes into the seal, they decided to take everything apart to see how it works. They almost broke the back-plate in the process as they pressed against it, trying to press everything off in one go, despite there being a safety clip between the bearing retainer and the ABS ring. Since they didn’t understand any English or even hand signals, signalling “Stop, you’re going to break it’’. Hugo had to make the tough decision between leaving them to go and call the owner who speaks English or to stay and try and stop them himself. Luckily just then Mr Perreira came in and they stopped. The crazy thing was they actually had the right tool, they just somehow didn’t think of using it. After getting the tool they could first press of the ABS ring and then remove the safety clip and then press of the bearing. This basically was for nothing as we realised the bearing was the way it should be, so it was just pressed on again (after a lunch break).
With the help of a friend in South Africa, Hugo got the correct measurement of where the retainer should sit, to go into the seal. When they wanted to press on the ABS ring again it just went over the axle by itself. From all the pressing and removing, it became so loose that it didn’t even stick to the axle anymore so it could rotate freely. Hugo figured that it could be dangerous and Mr Perreira agreed, so we left it out. They wanted to put a few spot welds on the inside to make it stick, but Hugo didn’t want to damage the axle. The retainer also moved too easily so we used a retainer from the backup bearing kit that we bought in Kasama. We also put in a new seal from the bearing kit. Just before 17:00 everything was finally back in. Hugo went for a test drive with two of the guys, everything seemed to work and back at the garage there was no leak, obviously not conclusive of long term use, but at least a good sign.
They still didn’t get to the service, but said they could do it in 10 minutes and so they did. We feared for the final invoice as it literally took all day. I went into Mr Perreira’s office and he scribbled few things on a note. He asked whether we wanted an invoice (18% more expensive as it had to go on the books and thus include VAT), we naturally declined. He showed me the final amount: 85 000. At first Hugo thought he was missing a 0, but it really was only 85 000 shillings. Labour for the whole day, for between 2 and 4 people working on the car, was only 30 000 shillings (R175)! That’s less than halve of what mechanics in SA charge per hour.
Caro went to look at the hotel next door, the Mbeya Hotel, but it cost 80 000 shillings for a room, which wasn’t as nice as the one in Sumbawanga. When we asked Mr Perreira for suggestions he also suggested it, but couldn’t believe that it is that expensive. He actually called the manager and asked for discount, but she stuck to her price.
Hugo checked on Booking.com and saw the JP Safari Hotel for only $20. It wasn’t on Google Maps or Open Street Maps or any other map, but Caro remembered seeing it as we drove into town. We got there by 18:00 and they only charged 40 000 shillings ($18) for a room with a massive double bed. The hotel looked brand new, had safe parking and a restaurant. The restaurant meals cost only 7000 shillings for chicken and fish dishes and only 4000 shillings for vegetarian dishes. Caro ordered fish with french fries and Hugo chicken with rice. The chicken was ‘local’ chicken so it didn’t have a lot of meat on the bone, but other than that the food was good.
We went to bed just after 21:00.