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Overlanding Down Days

colombian overlanding down days

When we finally had Grisu back on the road again, we should have been happy. We were, but it also turned out to be a little be a down time. We felt a lot of precious time was wasted and within a few days some sad messages arrived from across the Atlantic. The “anger” of the process of shipping hadn’t been gone by retrieving our vehicle back, unfortunately. So these were definitely our overlanding down days of the trip so far.

Automatic Load Proportioning Device

The first day in Cartagena we wanted to do some work and maintenance, in which we only partly succeeded. After the slightly terrifying experience in Costa Rica part of what we wanted to do is replacing the brake fluid. But the bleeder valves at the rear brakes had hardly any fluid come through, which also meant they weren’t functioning properly. This would have been part of the issue we had in Costa Rica, besides the oil being old this would also have been part of the reason is overheated.

Now Grisu is equipped with a device that adjusts the rear brake pressure according to the load in the back.** The heavier, the more pressure going to the rear wheels. But some bright light at Mercedes would have thought it was a good idea to make this from plastic. Plastic isn’t strong and it is now snapped. This causes the system to “think” the back is empty and send all the braking pressure to the front wheels.

Unfortunately, due to the arm being broken the cylinder is now stuck since it hasn’t moved for I don’t know how long. And Murphy’s Law hit again, because there’s part of the arm missing. And since the rear suspension has been raised, the arm had to be extended. But I don’t know to what length.. Long story short, we went with the tactic of applying the front brakes with the pedal and the rear with the hand brake…

Stray dog

Being frustrated with the brake situation, we found a dog near our overnight spot who desperately needed help. On most days during our overlanding trip we’ve seen a lot of stray dogs, but this one was the most sad. He had open wounds all over his body and he was covered in an oily substance. Clara tried to gain trust and approach him to be able to clean him off and bring him to a vet. But all he did was limping away. He took some food and water she gave him but always kept a few meters distance. It was a terrible feeling not being able to help and being restricted with options. Contacting the local dog rescue service didn’t help him either, they were at full capacity and not be able to take any more animals.

At the same time, some sad messages reached us from home. Three emergency situations, including two family pets. After emergency surgery for all everybody survived and was ok again. But this could have ended differently very easy.

So in our overlanding down days, we hit the road again. And the Colombian roads didn’t help improve our mood at all. They were expensive with more toll than ever before, for some of the worst roads of the trip. Full with pot holes, and slow moving through small villages with traffic lights and corrupt police officers stopping us for no reason..

*Otherwise the rear brakes would jam easily when driving empty. Since our load doesn’t change significantly, this feature isn’t very important for us.
**Mercedes calls this a Automatic Load Proportioning Device (or “Automatische lastabhängige Bremskraftregeleinrichtung” in German).

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