Replenished and on the road; stacked high with supplies, new underwear for Charlie, and a dramatically improved car, we set our proverbial sails for Kazakhstan in the mid afternoon. Upon arrival we find our latest country conquest to be both wealthier, and duller, than its former Soviet partners. Smoothly tarmac-ed roads and vast flat planes meant our progress was speedy, only inhibited by the challenges of overtaking lorries with a steering wheel on the wrong side of the car.
The plan for Kazakhstan was simple; get in and get out as quickly as possible. We sped through the sleek black roads under the cover of night in our newly refurbished stead, eating up the miles like a gluttonous sow devouring a fresh bucket of slop. The long drive became arduous over time however, as both the drivers and the roads showed signed of fatigue. Undulations off tarmac would rise and fall quicker than the nervous breaths of teenage lover, striking the base of the car without warning or regard for our already out of shape schedule.
The following morning we would feel the full force of these impacts. Only an hour into the drive our old friend came knocking, the familiar rat-a-tat-tat of sump guard on road announced a guest as unwelcome as a Jehovah’s Witness at Richard Dawkin’s house. But this time we were prepared. We had learnt from our previous challenges and now we new what would work - quickly jack up the car, wire the holes to the chassis and we could be on our way again in 20 minutes. But what we hadn’t accounted for was total and complete communication failure back in Kyrgyzstan. The caring mechanics had totally disregarded our learnings from previous failures - bolts don’t last - and had in fact removed our working wireframe solution to replace it with this known failure-prone fixing. We fumed like a disgruntled mule forced into unwanted labour. Our frustration would almost instantly grow to ire as we discovered nothing had been done to our front right sump guard fixing, despite the fact that this had been hanging by a thread upon arrival at the garage. Without the additional welding this had quickly given out, but worse, without the addition of a hole there was no way to fix the ailing sump guard back to the car. This was it for sumpy, with no way to reattach him it was finally time to give up and explore life without undercar protection.
However, our ire was to further turn to unbridled fury as we discovered that our unwitting Kyrgyzstany saboteurs did in fact possess welding equipment and had bothered to use it. We now found that half an inch of melted metal stood between us and removing the bolt required to relieve sumpy from his arduous service. Over an hour later the team had undone the further set bolts and wires necessary to release sumpy from his protective duties and he sat neatly in retirement on Bluey’s roof.
From here on in the engine would sit exposed to whatever the ill-maintained roads may throw up at it, but at least we knew this would be the end of our labours to repair and reattach this accursed lump of metal. Would it be worth, only time can tell...