Week 28 – Bike problems in the Atacama but we’re driving North for the first time!

Were back on the road and for the first time on the trip were heading north!

After two weeks of waiting for the bike in Santiago we managed to fit a new clutch and get the roof welded back on in a day. Everything went nicely to plan and we were a couple of hundred kilometres north of Santiago before we hit our first bump in the long road to Alaska. Fuel problems again!

The bike was dying as we were going along just as it did in South Africa. We knew that the problem was probably dirty fuel as it had been before so we set about siphoning the existing fuel out and replacing it with nice new stuff. Having never siphoned anything before we spent 3 hours or so drinking petrol before saying it’ll do. It didn’t. Another 100km’s in to the next days drive and it happened again. We were in the middle of the desert so we just pulled in and tried to fix it again. This time we left no stone unturned and even took out the fuel pump to siphon the last few puddles out. We then wiped out the bottom of the tank with an old As Seen From The Sidecar T-shirt (they’re incredibly multi-functional) and found a load of dirt and even a piece of wire. We thought that had done the trick but sadly our petrol drinking days aren’t over yet…

That night, after spending a while on fixing the bike we decided to just wild camp in the desert and set off again the following morning. It was a fantastic spot for a wild camp. Completely in the middle of nowhere, behind a massive dune that sheltered us from the wind. We should have spent the night asking each other what that noise was but instead, we spent it trying to get cooking oil off most of our kit after the bottle split in the sidecar during the ride. It had been a fairly unsuccessful day but tomorrow would be a new one – it wasn’t…

We woke up in the clouds which ruined the sunrise but was kind of cool and we decided to do some drive by shots. They went fairly well but then just as we were packing away we realised that there was petrol pouring out of the bottom of the scooter. We rushed to grab the tools to try and save the petrol and in our hurry knocked the camera off the roof and broke our best lens. We pressed on to try and save the fuel regardless and found it pouring out of the fuel pump. We must have broken a seal when we tried to fix the power problem!

We quickly used our new siphoning skills to save most of the fuel, only filled the tank up half way so it wouldn’t reach the seal and drove 70kms to the nearest town to find a mechanic. It was a Sunday. Everything was closed. So we drove a bit further up the coast to a hostel and sat down to wait for it all to blow over. Yesterday we went to a mechanic who, after much trial and error (and more siphoning), managed to get our seal to hold…for now.

As soon as it was on we set off North again and managed to get four hours of incredible driving through the Atacama desert in before…. the bike lost power again… All of that for nothing!

Here’s this week’s update video, catch you next week as we attempt to hobble over the Andes with a scooter in need of some real TLC just four days in to our South American trip…

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