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GoBigEmma Pan-American Roadtrip log
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GoBigEmma
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PostPosted: Sat Oct 07, 2017 8:51 pm    Post subject: Re: GoBigEmma Pan-American Roadtrip log Reply with quote

Hey guys,

if you follow our Instagram you might have seen it already, for everybody else, this is news.

We have some bad news. Five days ago we decided to camp by the banks of the Sibun River, a nice wildcamping spot in central Belize. It rained quite a bit during the night and apparently even more in the mountains where the river is coming from. During the middle of the night, we were surprised by a flash flood. We woke up with an inch of water in the car, which quickly rose almost to the bench within the few minutes when we were gathering our passports and most important possessions. We left Big Emma behind in the rising river and hitchhiked in town.

We returned to the river in the morning when the rain had stopped. The river was receding, but still very high. Some time during the night Big Emma must have been completely submerged. The water had pushed her a few yards and laid her on the side.

When the water receded further, we got her upright with the help of a local farmer and his tractor and a friendly mechanic towed us back to Belmopan (the capital of Belize, the smallest in the world with 9000 inhabitants).

Since then, we've been working in the mechanic's yard to clean the car of mud, water, and godknowswhatelse. A lot of our stuff is beyond saving, but that's not what matters.
Big Emma is tough as nail, and two days after being deep in a river she started up like a champ.

First thing we did when we got to the mechanic was to drain oil, gas, and remove the spark plugs.
The next day, we took out starter, fuel pump, ECU, double relay, and AFM and dried and cleaned them all thoroughly. Magically, none of these devices seems to be damaged, although the battery was connected during the swimming session. Only the double relay is missing the tip of one relay contact. Even the battery is fine and charges.

Still, most of the interior is beyond saving. We'll be shipping Big Emma back to the States from Belize City and give her a thorough rebuild. Then we might hit the road again, but I guess it might be a year before that happens. We'll see, for now we're focusing on shipping the car back home.

It pains us to have to end the trip for now, but we think it's the best we can do for the car in the current situation.

Here come the pics:

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We'll let you guys know what's happening. Cheers from Belmopan, Belize!
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1975 Bus "Big Emma", 1.8 FI, Hydraulic lifters
Interrupting our Pan-American Roadtrip for post-flood repairs: http://www.thesamba.com/vw/forum/viewtopic.php?t=657738
Follow the trip on our blog: http://www.gobigemma.com
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Tcash
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PostPosted: Sat Oct 07, 2017 9:00 pm    Post subject: Re: GoBigEmma Pan-American Roadtrip log Reply with quote

That sucks. Glad you guys are all right!
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PostPosted: Sat Oct 07, 2017 9:10 pm    Post subject: Re: GoBigEmma Pan-American Roadtrip log Reply with quote

Whoa! Glad you guys are ok. Bummer to end the trip, but it is a helluva story!
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PostPosted: Sat Oct 07, 2017 9:12 pm    Post subject: Re: GoBigEmma Pan-American Roadtrip log Reply with quote

To plagiarize Skills...

Link


When Andrew emailed me about this incident, my heart ached for you both. I can't imagine the feeling while it was happening. And then to deal with the after affects. I only wish there were something I could do to help.

Best of luck to you! I'm here if there's anything I can do.
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22manybugs
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PostPosted: Sat Oct 07, 2017 9:38 pm    Post subject: Re: GoBigEmma Pan-American Roadtrip log Reply with quote

I always look forward to seeing new posts and pictures about your adventures... until now. My heart sank when I saw BigEmma on her side. I'm glad you two are okay, that's the most important thing, but it still sucks.
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PostPosted: Sat Oct 07, 2017 9:55 pm    Post subject: Re: GoBigEmma Pan-American Roadtrip log Reply with quote

Kim showed me the Instagram posts and it was heart wrenching to see. Most of all I'm glad you guys are safe. As much as we love Big Emma or any of our buses, they can be replaced. You guys cannot.

It's a tragic end to the trip, but I do hope she's back on the roads as soon as possible. She has more miles in her and Buenos Aires awaits her arrival.
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PostPosted: Sat Oct 07, 2017 10:34 pm    Post subject: Re: GoBigEmma Pan-American Roadtrip log Reply with quote

Wow, glad you are ok. What a mess but it will cleanup with lots of work!
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PostPosted: Sat Oct 07, 2017 11:07 pm    Post subject: Re: GoBigEmma Pan-American Roadtrip log Reply with quote

BALLS!!! Sorry guys. Glad you both are OK. The things you've both experienced on your journey is priceless. This setback is shitty for sure but for F sake I'm glad you two are safe. Be well. Let me know if I can help.
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PostPosted: Sun Oct 08, 2017 3:27 am    Post subject: Re: GoBigEmma Pan-American Roadtrip log Reply with quote

In perspective, each one of these storms kills 10-50 people in Central America from flooding And mudslides. You really can lose your life in these things in a lot of countries.

Great plan for Emma...did you guys have a go bag plan to evacuate or were your scrambling? Might be something to document there for future travelers

Glad you guys are safe and Emma will clean up,just fine. Fresh water, promptly treated , isn't too bad on an older generation engine with limited electronics
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Last edited by Abscate on Sun Oct 08, 2017 6:09 am; edited 1 time in total
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williamM
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PostPosted: Sun Oct 08, 2017 4:14 am    Post subject: Re: GoBigEmma Pan-American Roadtrip log Reply with quote

Shocked d'oh! d'oh! Popcorn WELL thats RUDE-- 20 pages of fun and now this-- Glad you guys got out alive- statistics on evacuating a water crash are very poor- Embarassed

Let me know if you need any help- if you cross at Algodones- your just 80 miles away (thats nothing by Az. standards)--

Make sure you soak that motor in some form of marine engine storage oil- or you will have nothing left when you get her back. same with the trans- If you can get her started before you ship- that's even better. getting the water out is important- run it! even if you have to squirt gas down the intake- toss the AC as that will carry lots of water right to where you don't need it.
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andrewtf
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PostPosted: Sun Oct 08, 2017 7:01 am    Post subject: Re: GoBigEmma Pan-American Roadtrip log Reply with quote

It was certainly an early morning call I'll never forget. If you are a parent, you especially know what I mean. The kids were ok and that was all that really mattered. At the time Emma said they had to leave Big Emma behind and it was almost completely under water when they last saw her. Emma just hoped the bus would be in the vicinity of where they left her and not swept miles down the river. Again....... they were ok and that is the only thing I cared about in the moment.

I will be traveling down to Florida to pick up both regular and Big Emma in the coming weeks. In a separate thread I'll be asking for advice on that process.

I will let Emma and Sven give out the bulk of the information, but with the help and long distance guidance from Robbie, and the assistance of some wonderful local Belize mechanics, they got the engine running so a major hurdle has been overcome.

The water and mud have pretty much destroyed all of the interior and warped the wooden cabinets beyond repair. Luckily the body seems to have come thru with a surprisingly minimal amount of damage. In the coming weeks and months, we will rebuild her.... better than before (insert sound effects from the Six Million Dollar Man here).

You're not thru with these guys and this bus by any stretch of the imagination.

Andrew
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PostPosted: Sun Oct 08, 2017 7:45 am    Post subject: Re: GoBigEmma Pan-American Roadtrip log Reply with quote

You did well, and the Gods smiled upon you, to recover Big Emma. Flash floods usually just carry stuff away and a 2 ton car is nothing to the force of water. Big Emma could easily have ended up in the Caribbean Sea

Wood might not be original Rolling Eyes but the cabinets and stuff are easily fixed, and this time you can improve on the design. Put a serial number 001 on your interior, and its matching numbers...
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PostPosted: Sun Oct 08, 2017 8:07 am    Post subject: Re: GoBigEmma Pan-American Roadtrip log Reply with quote

Sorry to hear and see what happened. Safe travels back to the States.
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PostPosted: Sun Oct 08, 2017 8:32 am    Post subject: Re: GoBigEmma Pan-American Roadtrip log Reply with quote

This was the last thing I expected to see whan I clicked here, Wow!, what a bummer, but super glad you guys are OK. It's not the end of the adventure, just a detour.
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PostPosted: Sun Oct 08, 2017 10:31 am    Post subject: Re: GoBigEmma Pan-American Roadtrip log Reply with quote

The important thing is both of you are safe. The bus can be repaired. It's a shame this particular adventure ended like this for sure. Crying or Very sad
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PostPosted: Sun Oct 08, 2017 10:47 am    Post subject: Re: GoBigEmma Pan-American Roadtrip log Reply with quote

Guys sorry it ended that way. I very glad you are both ok and not hurt. You could've easily been swept away and stuffed under a log. Shocked

Scary shit that flash flooding.
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GoBigEmma
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PostPosted: Sun Oct 08, 2017 3:12 pm    Post subject: Re: GoBigEmma Pan-American Roadtrip log Reply with quote

Thanks for all your comments guys, it's good to hear warm words these days.

We're definitely grateful to have noticed the rising water in time and to have gotten out and to shore before it got too high. I also do think we are incredibly lucky (as some of you have pointed out) that Big Emma didn't get swept away.

I always didn't like that the driver's side is so much heavier than the passenger side (it has the bulk of cabinets, fridge, etc.), but this time I'm really grateful because I think that's the reason why the bus tipped to the side it did and onto shore and not towards the middle of the river.

All in all, we got out of this one pretty lucky. So far at least.

Thanks to the mechanics here in Belize and to a detailed step-by-step guide from Robbie (helps when thinking isn't your strong suit due to shit going down) we managed to avoid catastrophic failure in the engine.

More water than oil came out when we drained the engine, and turning it over by hand the next day made water squirting out of the spark plug holes.. But magically.. everything seems fine. I fear for long-term effects on un-serviceable parts like the fuel pump, but that's something to worry about later.

I do have one question. I want to drain and change the transmission oil (tranny has been leaking oil both on the nose cone and the clutch end for months, so I figure water might have gotten in). But specific transmission oil seems to be generally un-available in Belize. The mechanic here told me they just put normal engine oil in their transmissions. What do you guys think about that? Can I do that for a limited amount of time? Is there even a significant difference between engine oil and tranny oil? I suppose engine oil can't be worth than water and rust.... please let me know your thoughts.

All the best from Belize,
Sven
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1975 Bus "Big Emma", 1.8 FI, Hydraulic lifters
Interrupting our Pan-American Roadtrip for post-flood repairs: http://www.thesamba.com/vw/forum/viewtopic.php?t=657738
Follow the trip on our blog: http://www.gobigemma.com
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GoBigEmma
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PostPosted: Sun Oct 08, 2017 3:15 pm    Post subject: Re: GoBigEmma Pan-American Roadtrip log Reply with quote

Abscate wrote:
did you guys have a go bag plan to evacuate or were your scrambling? Might be something to document there for future travelers


We didn't have a go bag ready. Most things we packed were either hidden away from possible thieves (passports) or daily use items (laptops) that are not practical to have in a go bag. Still, some sort of procedure for rapid disembarkment might be a good idea for any traveler. Would have helped us to save some time and get out faster.
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1975 Bus "Big Emma", 1.8 FI, Hydraulic lifters
Interrupting our Pan-American Roadtrip for post-flood repairs: http://www.thesamba.com/vw/forum/viewtopic.php?t=657738
Follow the trip on our blog: http://www.gobigemma.com
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PostPosted: Sun Oct 08, 2017 3:31 pm    Post subject: Re: GoBigEmma Pan-American Roadtrip log Reply with quote

Engine oil or better yet ATF is better than nothing in the transmission, how far do you have to drive it to where it ships from?, or is it getting towed?

Ask that farmer where he gets his gear oil for his tractor.
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PostPosted: Sun Oct 08, 2017 4:53 pm    Post subject: Re: GoBigEmma Pan-American Roadtrip log Reply with quote

Wow, I'm so sorry guys but I'm glad everyone is OK. My .02 is silt gets everywhere.. probaby a good idea to break down the engine and tranny and flush things really well..
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