On Sunday, SWMBO and I decided to head a little north of Christchurch to get away from the numerous aftershocks we have been having after a really big earthquake on Feb 22nd. We went to Amberley Beach and small campground that we have visited many times before. There is power, a dump station and a stony beach to walk the dogs on.
We didn't get into the campground till near dusk, and I missed the usual route to our campsite and floundered in some soft sand. Tried to "rock" the bus out, but just succeeded in digging myself in to the axles. A Ford V10 has way more torque than was needed for the sand.
By now it was dark, so I arranged for a tractor to come from one of the friendly locals the next morning to pull us out. During the night (with my head slightly below my feet because of the angle of the rear wheels - lots of extra brain-power) I came up with a brilliant idea.
Why not jack the back wheels up as far as possible, and then build up the ground under the wheels? Lower the back down again, raise the ground under the jacking points again and repeat the procedure until the wheels are completely clear of the ground, then I could rebuild the sandy area so that the tractor would have an easier job of pulling me out. Gosh, I might even be able to drive out on some rubber mats that I have in the bus for floor mats outside. Of course, to use the jacks I keep forgetting that I have to have the footbrake fully on, or they won't work.
Great idea, and the next morning I started to put it into practice. Progress was slow, but after about three hours of painstaking work, I had the rear wheels clear of the ground and I filled the holes underneath them with the soft sand and any nearby stones that had been thrown up. I packed it as hard as I could, but knew it would settle if I tried to drive out, and I would be stuck just as bad as before.
The tractor arrived, and it was a beauty! Great big twin rear wheels, knobbly tires, and it looked like it had plenty of grunt. We connected it up, I started the engine of the bus, and sat in the drivers seat as the tractor commenced to pull. At this stage I was not attempting to drive the bus, I had it in neutral because I did not want the wheels to dig in.
Well the tractor pulled and pulled and started to dig these massive rear wheels in about a foot, trying to pull me out. It was suggested that I should use the drive train of the bus to give the tractor a hand, so I put the bus into first and started to give it a few revs. Still no movement.
THEN I RELEASED THE FOOTBRAKE
and we came out of the sand so easily it appeared obvious that the extra power of the bus was the deciding factor. I didn't have the heart to tell the tractor driver that he had been trying to pull an 8 ton bus out of soft sand with its brakes on, but I did give him twice what he asked for, for helping me out. (Still much cheaper than getting a tow truck from the nearest town on a Sunday.)
Every time I take "The Beast" out, I learn something new to watch out for. To be fair, the sand did not look too bad as I tried to drive over it, I just didn't have enough speed to coast over it at first, because it was getting dark. Now, however, the tractor and I have made it quite clear for other vehicles to stay clear, as the surface is REALLY rough now.
I love learning new things about "The Beast"!!