Today was the big day. Would all those parts and tools be sufficient and enable us to fix our truck. Of course before we could even start the repairs we had to get to the truck and as previously this required a trip across the Lena River on a hovercraft and a couple of taxis. It was quite surprising to see how much the river had changed in the last week. It was still filled with ice, thus preventing navigation by traditional boats, but now the ice was mushy with large sections of open water. It seemed that the current condition was harder for the hovercraft as the price was 50% higher than last time we traveled.
After the hovercraft ride we had a short wait for our taxi and got a chance to observe the activity on the beach. The Russian mail (in the blue trucks) had a large pile of periodicals and parcels on the shore that had been delivered by hovercraft and needed sorting and loading. A group of semi-trailers were unloading their burdens one piece at a time into a series of waiting hovercraft. Really an interesting scene; how to adapt to difficult circumstances.
The repair started with a little repositioning of the truck to take a little of the weight off the side with the broken mount and then we got started in earnest.
The plan was simply.
support the camper body
take the nut off the bottom of the large bolt that passes through the rubber mount,
unbolt the lower bracket that holds the broken rubber mount,
drop the lower bracket with the rubber mount attached,
install the replacement rubber mount into the lower bracket and
re-install the lower bracket.
Somewhat to my surprise (and relief) things proceeded pretty much as I had envisaged. The new wrenches quickly undid the nut at the bottom of the broken rubber mount, and the air bag lift the camper body and thereby removed weight from the mount. After (an expected) struggle we removed the nuts and bolts holding the large steel lower bracket to the chassis frame rail.
The only real hiccup in proceedings was " drop the lower bracket … ". The lower bracket, the rubber mount and the chassis frame rail interfered with each other in a way that prevented removal of either the rubber mount of lower bracket. The only solution was to raise the camper body another 4-5" which we did through a combination of wood blocks and repeated application of the air bag. Unfortunately it was evident that raising the camper this much placed stress on the other 2 mounting points. I just hope that will not result in a failure down the track.
I also hope that based on our experience GXV redesigns the system of brackets and mounts to allow the removal of one bracket/mount without placing undue stress on the others.
Reinstallation was "simply" a matter of reversing the process.
As you can see from the photos a very successful team effort. Under no circumstances was this a one man job.
After the work was done we all adjourned to "grandma's house" for tea (which to Yakutian people means a full blown meal), some gift giving, and farewells. More farewells and group photos at the truck and then we were on our way.
Nina and I both shed a few tears at our departure and at the unbelievable hospitality and generosity of Alexander, Maria and their family and friends. In all we spent just on 2 weeks in Yakutsk, during that time Alexander and Maria (and various friends and family of theirs) not only showed us the town but also took it upon themselves to care for us as if we were family. Thank you to all of you; we will always remember our time in Yakutsk, and the warmth and hospitality you all showed a couple of Australian oldies.