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Wednesday, August 3, 2011

Emergency truck repair

As I was working in the shop on our Toyota work truck, I was interrupted by someone with the message that one of our expedition drivers had just called the office from Zimbabwe saying that there is a problem with the truck and they can't make it to their destination. This message was the beginning of another one of our epic truck repair stories.

I dropped what I was doing and called Joe, the driver of the expedition to Zimbabwe who had just called me. As I waited for him to pick up, I wondered what the problem could be since he was driving Maverick, one of our most reliable trucks, and his team had just left the base that same morning. Turns out that the input shaft bearing on the rear axle of the truck had failed, causing a horrible noise, a fluid leak, and impending irreparable damage to the differential. After discussing the problem with Ciaran, we had Joe slowly drive the truck back to the base after removing some drivetrain parts to prevent further damage. The most interesting part was that the truck broke down right at a campsite where there was a South African missions team holding a conference and our expedition team could set up camp there and do some ministry while Joe drove the truck back to the base.

We have two identical Mercedez-Benz 1017 expedition trucks in our fleet. Maverick is the one that Joe had for his expedition and Gobi is the one we've been working on trying to get back on the road after its 4-year hiatus. Our plan to fix Maverick was to take the axle that we purchased just two weeks ago in Zimbabwe that was intended for Gobi and swap it out with Maverick's damaged axle. Fortunately we hadn't installed it yet but we had done all the prep work so everything was already set up. As soon as Joe pulled into the warehouse just before 10 PM last night, we had a team of guys hard at work getting the damaged axle out and the new one in. After overcoming several unexpected obstacles that increased our workload, we finally finished the axle swap around 5 AM and Joe took the truck back to Zimbabwe a couple hours later to finish the two-week long expedition.

I've posted a short video about the job on my Youtube channel here