As I write this, I would have been halfway through Namibia, slowly on my way to Zanzibar. Lockdown 2020 has cancelled a lot of plans, businesses, lives. Yet, the camaraderie of Put Footers extends beyond the event itself. Even though Spotty doesn’t sport updated livery, 2020 Put Footers, and veterans alike, are keeping the spirits high. One of my favorites is people reliving their adventures by retracing their steps, sights, parties, on a day to day basis – “today we would have been here”. If ever you’ve wondered about joining, let this be the final decision maker. We would have departed on Sunday on our journey, and today I saw a “Facebook memory” of Spotty, kitted with gear, but without it’s insignia, naked, and the enthusiasm of the Put Footers inspired me to relive 2017 again, and continue with my blog.
So, without further ado…
Some things never change. Like always having that scramble with last minute preparations.
All the big concerns were addressed – gearbox, fuel tank, spares, even an extra ECU. It absolutely has to be smooth sailing from here, right? What’s that 20/80 rule? 20 percent of the time to get 80 percent of the work done, and, naturally, vice versa. And that last 20 percent, that’s what you never realize, is the load of simple, quick and easy things you left for yourself.
A week before the start, Tim and Grant came over on a rainy Saturday to do some installs on Spotty. Grant focused on the walkie talkie, Tim the auxiliary power, and me helping Tim and, well, of course, installing the sound. We’re not going to embark on a 10,000km journey without music. And Spotty has been playing only his sweet exhaust tone for way too long. I’ve bought the speakers and started making most of the parts eons before, but never finished due to my lack in skill working with vinyl. Sometimes necessity is the mother of kicking you in the but, getting a move on, and learning real quick.
Now, a valuable lesson was learned late that night. I’m an electronic engineer, and I’ve worked with sound a lot, right, but damn, did I make a costly blunder because I was lazy. After I completed the physical installation of the mids, tweeters, and crossover, along with the newly covered surrounds, I wanted to double check the speaker polarity (speakers playing out of phase can sound horrible), and while we simply just used any old battery laying around, I didn’t have anything close at hand, except for the auxiliary car battery which was conveniently standing right next to me. A quick calculation in my head, and I figured 12V is way below the rated power of the speakers, and quickly used it to check the polarity. All fine and well. Until I tested the sound, and nothing came out of the tweeters. The crossover might filter out beefy low frequencies, but not DC. I had fried my expensive Alpine tweeters on the spot. With little time, I simply went to Cash Converters that week and bought the first pair of R23 (just over a Dollar) tweeters, tiny enough to fit the hole, that I could find. They were so shrill, that in the mornings, we had to wait until it was warm enough so that we could take our gloves off and cover them with it before we could crank the volume.
Come the weekend of departure. On Friday we packed both Spotty and the Beeton Bus (the initial nickname awarded to the Kombi) and made sure everything has its place, including the roof rack imbued with spare tires and collapsible A-frame for the emergency tow, an extremely heavy item I initially was a little unhappy about having to lug it all the way across Southern Africa, but which eventually gave Spotty some impressive bragging rights.
Saturday was registration at Jack Black Brewery. For the first time we met teams from all over the world, and saw all their cars. The excitement, the atmosphere, and already the camaraderie, people helping each other with soap and skill to apply stickers. There are just no words to describe the energy in the air that day. This was it. Things are getting real. And we still had so much to do!
Livery, great food and beer, and some extra boxes with shoes installed, and Tim and I had to get back to my place to finish up some things on Spotty. Among a list of other tasks we both had, Tim installed a UPS I had laying around to have 220Vac in the car to charge radios and cameras, and I still had to install another button for the hooter, as mine only works from around two o’clock. After adding a soldering iron tip shaped blister underneath my foot, we finally wrapped and packed up all our work and went to bed at two in the morning, 5 hours before getting the Beeton Bus and embarking on our Southern Africa adventure.
And so I went to bed at home for the last time before my life changed.