Tributhvan and Mahendra Highways, Nepal Week 150 February 8th - 11th 2014
We are to meet "the Myanmar convoy" in Guwahati on the 17th Feb.

Entry into Myanmar on 20th.

We leave Kathmandu, head west on the very rough bit of road that heads to Pokhara then south on the Tributhvan Highway.

We've had a couple of conversations about whether to continue, whether my health will hold up or whether I will be too miserable.

We decide to continue. Perhaps Ali is used to me being miserable!

The road takes us above 2,500m (8,100ft).

We are in the foothills of the Himalayas.

More of those incredible terraces.
Apparently Everest is visible somewhere.

It "should be" about 200km to the north east.

Yes, it can be seen at that distance.

The fields (or at least the planting / growing cycle) are a bit further on than in Pokhara.
Ready for planting, and in some cases already planted.
To be honest we weren't quite ready for such a clear day.
So you'll have to put up with more mountains.
And yet more.
And then a repeat.
We camped close to 2,500m.

Our route south is through that valley.


We took time out to practice our "what do we do when there is smoke coming from under the dashboard" procedure.

We stopped for a rest. Ignition off, engine stopped, door open.

Small panic attack as we smelled burning and saw smoke from under dashboard.

Disconnected battery rather quickly.

This is the oil level check wire (melted insulation). The fuse for the interior light is melted, and connection still made after its removal. The possible consequences of the failure of the fuse to isolate the circuit are under the heading of "scary".

About an hour to have engine running but very uncomfortable about what damage may have been done. Scary stuff.

The exhaust brake isn't working after the almost fire.

Just as well we are now out onto the plane.

With the occasional diversion around broken bridge.

Happy memories of Mongolia!!!

We think its a little surprising there aren't more bridges with collapsed piles.

More sugar.
The hunt for the cause of our electrical problem continues.

All the systems associated with the engine seem to be working.

But no aircon or blower fan. No exhaust retarder. No electric windows. And no headlights.

Commonly this sort of problem can start with a bad earth. Electricity then finds another route which can become overloaded.

First check all the earth connections.

The ones I can find appear sound (no resistance across them).

But I cleaned them anyway.

Its quite hard work, and quite difficult to concentrate through the neck and arm pain.

I opened up the main junction box between cab and chassis.

Of course the circuit diagram I have is not quite right for the vehicle.

John at ATW in Yandina (thanks) tells me those two black wires are earth.

I only spotted them when I looked at the photo. Its a bit awkward to get at.

No sign of melting here.

I'll later split the connector and check continuity of the earths.

Another variation on dung for fuel.

Cattle dung plus straw wound around bamboo posts.

Of course we've christened them "poo sticks".

Just like everyone else that travels this way.

Most days our imaginations desert us.

Some of the north south rivers have been dammed where they emerge from the mountains.
But back to the electrical bits.

We now have headlights again. But I don't know why.

This is the back of the fuse box. The melted wire to the interior light is visible.

The fuse had melted, and even when fuse removed there is still power to the light. Not the cause of the melted wire but should have blown to prevent melting.

Its damaged a few other wires but I can't see any "shorts".

A close up.

I think we are lucky. First that there wasn't a fire. Second that the engine is still running.

At one time during investigation the starter motor was winding while ignition off.

I'm looking for wires that have been rubbed and shorted or broken, or melted together. Checking that there is power and earth where they should be.

At least we know how to remove dashboard bits for cleaning.

It gives our truck a rustic, lived in, utilitarian sort of look.

The antithesis of the pampered, streamlined, designer look that the manufacturer strove for..

Not that we are image conscious of course ...

The dashboard bits, with fasteners sellotaped to them lest they get mixed up, have taken up residence inside the house, alongside the spare wheels.

I am assured that this rather cluttered arrangement is manageable. Though I suspect the sooner I fix the problem and rebuild the dashboard the better!

According to the electrical manual (even though its not quite right for this model) there should be up to 5 earth connections near the big junction box.

So far I've found two.

This one was also clean with zero resistance.

Its not for any of those large black wires in the junction box.

In the east of Nepal the fuel stations have begun to look like the Indian ones.

To be honest, so much is like India we have to remind ourselves we are still in Nepal. Perhaps its that we are on the plain.

Very convenient to stop and do more electrical  investigating.

Slowly slowly becoming clearer. Its always difficult becoming familiar with a complicated problem with sparse information available.

The rivers are sandy and dry.

These are mostly relatively short rivers sourced from the southern side of the Himalayas.

Hence they are dry for a part of the year. No snow melt to feed them. But they look like they would be fast flowing during the monsoon.

They later join the few rivers that start on the Tibetan Plateau and flow through the mountains.

We haven't figured out the significance of so many graves.

We haven't really done our homework on Nepalese history.

Objectively we aren't in good shape. Muddling along in quite a bit of pain that's not getting better (or worse), with a vehicle that has significant unidentified electrical problems that may or may not escalate.

But we'll keep going. The alternative would be to head to Kolkotta and ship back to Aus but that seems unattractive.

There isn't a right or wrong answer, our crystal ball fails us. Just a judgement that with hindsight may work out or not. We think our problems are manageable.

The irony of a vehicle suffering from probably chafed wires and simultaneously a body suffering from probably squashed nerves hasn't escaped us. 

An unfortunate coincidence?

Kalijhora, West Bengal to Nageon, Assam, India Week 150 February 12th - 16th 2014

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