Friday, April 20, 2007

Where are the Burrito Brothers?

Well, we're still here in Antigua! As you know, we ripped out the rear driveshafts,
cleaned them and repacked them with grease - all with the help of Fernando, a
friendly mechanic who was put in contact with us through Fernando the coffee shop
owner. Having done this, we were optimistic that the white Merc would have us up
with you guys in no time at all. Unfortunately, our optimism was short lived as we
suffered catastrophic brake failure on the outskirts of Guatemala city. We were
lucky not to crash - the traffic was horrendous and we were heading downhill. Ben
did a great job. In fact, he did such a good job that we stopped outside a spares
shack where we borrowed a jack to remove our front wheels, both of which were
emitting plumes of smoke! We let the wheels and brakes cool off and it was at this
point that we noticed a leak on one of our front brake calipers. With help from the
guys in the store, we blocked off the brake line to this caliper and tossed a coin
as to whom should drive back down the side of the mountain to Antigua. Guess who
lost! Anyway, we made it - despite the fear factor! We took the car straight back
to Fernando who confirmed our diagnosis and also pointed out that the master
cylinder was faulty. Bad news! Especially since there were no spares in Antigua.
And so a plan was hatched; the next morning we were to meet another friend of
Fernando's called Sergio. Sergio drove us to an auto spares place in Guatemala
city that stocks Mercedes parts. He was a very interesting guy and the drive flew
by with some interesting conversation. When we got back, we got straight to work
fixing the car with Fernando. We stripped off the master cylinder and replaced that
with ease. The two brake calipers proved a little more difficult as we needed to
remove the old pistons, O rings and seals and this was somewhat tricky. When we
finally managed to do this, we found that the nearside caliper is broken - the
casting for the piston is broken and a piece of the casting is actually missing!
God knows how the brakes ever worked?!*?! We rebuilt it twice and each time it
leaked. By now it was 19:00 and the stores were shut so we took the decision to
block off the brake line again and limp back into town. We're still going for
a 4am start tomorrow and we're hoping that Nicky's contact will be able
to find us a replacement caliper. Fingers crossed!! The ride to Honduras could be
a bit hairy!

Another positive from this was that we were able to spend another night with Teresa.
You should have seen the look on her face when we landed back at the hotel! It was

Andy and Ben.

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