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1 - LONDON

31-5-74

Orodruin Yesterday, Keith, Brian and I went up-town (London) to investigate ferries, etc. We had originally intended to book Hovercraft tickets also, but this was not, in the event, done. A travel-agent charges £2.50 commission on booking tickets, so go direct to Hoverlloyd.
Indian Ocean connections seem very dodgy at present. We are advised against buying open-dated tickets, since we are still liable for inflation-surcharges, and it may well be cheaper to negotiate a passage directly at the seaport.
Keith is looking into the inter-island ferry situation, there used to be two links that couldn't take Rovers, but this may have changed. In any case, there is always the alternative of cargo-ing the Rovers directly to Australia, and ourselves taking public transport through the islands to save fares (it might not be cheaper though, careful calculations called for here).

Computer fuel-cost projections have been run for assorted routes to Madras, and show some £180 and 9000 miles by a southerly route, or some £260 and 11000 miles via Scandinavia and Russia.

3-6-74

Further investigations show that ferry links are definitely cheaper if negotiated on the spot in India, rather than here.

4-6-74

More information received on the Indian Ocean links. To Singapore, is about £100 for a vehicle up to 3.5m long, and £50 each for passengers, at the cheapest rate. Not bad, only 33% up on our 2-year old data for that run. Fares are calculated in Rupees, but payable in foreign exchange or travellers' cheques.

10-6-74

On Saturday, I went up to Pete Foley's. He will get us a new front spring next weekend (none in stock) to cure the imbalance at front. Keith meanwhile obtained extra tent-proofer and zips (for tent-doors).
The tent is now fully proofed, but the zips are too long; they must be changed.

The wiring has been altered (again!) to accept the inverter and cassette in their new positions, and the inverter (a device to operate 240-volt razors from the vehicle's 12-volt battery) is temporarily installed.

The speedo-cable broke again on Saturday, the second break in a year. The cause is believed to be a sharp kink where the cable passes through the bulkhead behind the speedo. This has been rectified. However, the cable had broken off inside the drive pinion in the gearbox. It proved impossible to extract the remains (the pinion cannot be removed without stripping the gearbox); so they were driven right in, and " cut off the end of the new cable. Hopefully...! (In the event, we had no further trouble with that speedo).

12-6-74

Keith has been phoning around; A.D.A.C., the German A.A./R.A.C., cannot help us, unless Orodruin is registered in Germany (a hoped-for angle to obtain cut-price Carnet de Passage); the RAC have no information on border-insurance costs. Carnets still cost £2.50 once insured.

Frank Dewar has spoken to another world-traveller; he rates Kurdistan the toughest area of the lot! He won't drive through this area in eastern Turkey; he is going by bus. He advises us to travel in convoy, carry rifles, and expect to use them! Firearms are apparently easier to obtain in Germany than here, and little Customs trouble thereon. Standard bandit tactics are to shoot off the tyres; then pick you off at leisure.
(In the event, we had no such troubles in Kurdistan, or anywhere else. In my opinion, firearms are not only unnecessary, but a positive menace to their owners. On one occasion only, I wished for a gun, and that time, I would have been tragically wrong, had I used it. See entry for 22-9-74).

14-6-74

Keith reports that the man at Stanmore, who was to have anodised our control panels, gave the job to some sorcerer's apprentice, who fouled it up. He says he will re-do it Monday or Tuesday, but we still lose the weekend. Clowns!!

17-6-74

Another group of world-travellers at Colindale, with a Transit van, leave today, via Scandinavia and Russia. They are returning to Britain, rather than proceeding to Australia.

Rik suggested (for examination in Australia) that it might be cheaper to ship the vehicles back to India, and drive back to Africa, then do the Americas as Phase 3, to avoid shipping across the Pacific. Filed for future reference.

24-6-74

Hovercraft bookings (Ramsgate - Calais) now finalised and paid for.

A request for Carnet forms has been sent to R.A.C. I am still waiting for Green Card (an all-Europe car insurance) from my insurers.

Last Thursday, we got TAB, cholera and smallpox jabs. They have taken us all very badly.

Pete has supplied most of our remaining spares (incl. 2 pairs halfshafts). He recommends standard halfshafts, as with heavy-duty ones, you can break the differential instead. He is also supplying a set of differential pinions per vehicle, as a broken halfshaft can damage the pinion. Tomorrow I take Orodruin down, he will supply bits and change our front spring on the spot.

26-6-74

A letter received yesterday from Hoverlloyd, confirming the booking, but gazumping us £6! This despatched.

Rik and I took Shadowfax to Brownchurch Components (B.C.), another Land Rover specialist, for tuning and brake-bleeding. Engine very sluggish. B.C. has no steering dampers in. We have decided not to bother with them.

28-6-74

My last day at work (and Keith's): D-19!

30-6-74

All four of us now "Gentlemen of leisure" - i.e. unemployed!

The house at Colindale is now cleared, Keith being (with his family) at Hendon, with our stores. Rik and Brian are staying with Rik's parents, also in Hendon. Our Hovercraft tickets have now arrived, for Flight 318, on 18-7-74.

Carnet forms have arrived from the R.A.C., the indemnity is £2100. Also, you need a full driving licence for an International Driving Permit. Application forms for these also supplied.

2-7-74

Poland will take a week to clear visas, so this now rather urgent. Top priority Thursday, I feel, is to get visas for all "over the counter" countries, then to hand in our passports for Poland. Also, to find out about insurance for Carnets.

Non-technical jobs still to do:-

3-7-74

(D-15) Keith and I operating independently. Keith spent the morning sorting out junk (i.e. spares and equipment!). Then got on to the tax people about our refunds.

I spent the whole day on metalwork and similar jobs on Orodruin, at the Dell. The searchlight control panel is now installed, and the final-amplifier and radio mountings completed and black-sprayed.

7-7-74

I am now staying with Keith's family until we go.

Romanian visas obtained, our passports are now with the Afghans for their visa (very stroppy about issuing it: we have to get our hair cut!).

Messrs. Watts-Watts (Insurance) have backed our Carnet for £73 (half the Royal Group's quote). N.B. we remain personally liable for the Carnets in the end, that liability only waived if we pay three times the premium! The R.A.C. will issue the Carnets over the counter. This to be done Thursday, when we collect our passports from the Afghans.

The Russians won't let us in; as all their camp-sites book up six months ahead (they never told us this in preliminary enquiries), so down through the satellites.
The East European countries want a Polish visa in our passports before issuing theirs, the Poles keep passports a week, and want to see our Green Cards first. (Green Cards not valid in Russia anyway). Hence, in view of all this hassle, we have deferred D-Day a week. Hoverlloyd accepted this (no extra fee), we send back our tickets for alteration. Booking numbers stay the same.

Hence, departure now 25-7-74. 1100 a.m.

12-7-74

Afghan visas now obtained, Keith to collect the Carnet from R.A.C. today (they take 24 hours to issue it).

Rik and Brian had great difficulty in cracking the seals on old tyres to get them off the wheels.

15-7-74

(Monday) The Carnet is now obtained; the Green Card can be collected tomorrow.

It has been confirmed that there is no problem to importing into Australia under Carnet and later depositing the duty. However, some ports charge an additional duty on used 4-wheel drive vehicles, this varies irregularly from port to port, so check the ferry route and destination first.

17-7-74

The engine has been tuned by B.C., now running very nicely. They advised us to look closely at the oil-pump, as pressure takes a long time to build up on starting. A new pump has been fitted to clear this.
Combined with the final pre-run oil change.

Keith has fitted Pete's new offside front spring; it produces a hideous "clonk" when driving over bumps. B.C. noted this, and confirmed it is slipping spring bushes.

On the diplomatic front, all our papers now obtained, except the Polish visa. We have decided not to bother with this, instead to obtain transit visas (48 hour) at the border, or possibly to skip Poland entirely. They require you to buy currency vouchers in London, at the rate of $US3.50/person-day for the validity period of the visa.

Food, medical and finance are the three remaining job-areas.

The Green Card has been collected, it is valid for all Eastern Bloc (except USSR), and apparently for all of Turkey also.

20-7-74

(Saturday) Thursday and Friday, I went to Southampton. This run revealed 17.5mpg, including nearly two hours London traffic jams. The voltage regulator (which had been giving trouble) ran okay.

At the moment, we are seriously concerned about the Cyprus revolution and the subsequent Turkish invasion. There is talk of a mainland Greek/Turkish war, which will effectively blockade us.

Most of the spares have now been catalogued, wrapped, and crated.


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