Kindness and hospitality without measure

Trip Start Feb 02, 2010
Trip End Feb 02, 2011

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Flag of Norway  , Eastern Valleys,
Tuesday, July 13, 2010

I just don’t know what is going on anymore. One moment everything seems like it will come together and and be fine then the next I’m on my face in the dirt again. While waiting for our parts to arrive we have been staying at Geir and Stine’s place, camping out in the old shed with the motorbikes and old farm tools. It’s really a very, very nice spot to be ‘camping.’ We have the outdoor ‘drop dunnie,’(a little smelly after a week of use but still charming none the less,) a roof above to keep us dry in a summer shower, we get water for drinking and cooking from a tap by the house and we come inside for a shower every few days. Stine and Geir also regularly insist we join them for dinner. I am completely in awe of these two people, they have taken us under their wings like we are family - not two total strangers who turned up unexpected on their doorstep one Monday morning.

 We are usually just out of bed or poring over the computer, talking to family, ordering parts, checking the shipping progress and all that when Stine comes home from work. She comes up to the shed to visit us and see how we are getting along. She is one of the most thoughtful people I’ve met, often she comes up to see us and has with her something to offer us that she thinks might make our life more comfortable or an example of something we have been wondering about with her. To give you an idea how extreme her kindness really is, she gave me some needles for stitching in the extra thread on my knitting and some safety pins in case they could be useful. She has given me some velcro to attach a piece of polar fleece to my helmet in winter, like many riders do for winter up here. When we came back from a walk the other day a bunch of flowers we sitting in a vase by our bed, some examples of the wild flowers she had been showing and telling us about. The other morning she brought  us a bowl of Cloud Berries for breakfast and a has given us her old tent she doesn't use anymore. It’s really overwhelming to be treated so kindly. They have been such good friends to us. 

 And Geir too, he has gone far, far beyond his role as a Ural dealer. Everyday he has been helping Felix in anyway he can, calling friends for advice, passing, holding, looking, discussing problems, lending tools and his workshop space, all with cheery humour and a smile. Again I have to say I just can’t believe the lengths these two people have gone to for us, to make us comfortable, welcome and on our way again - which hasn’t actually happened yet, we’re still stuck even though Felix is assuring me quite confidently now we will be good to go very soon, Nina is at least running now, but for how long is my question, she ran yesterday too before dying again.

 I was really crushed yesterday by that incident. Our parcel of spare parts we’d been waiting for all week was delivered to the service station/post office a few kilometres down the road. Thats how far out we are, parcels scheduled to be delivered to the door get left down the road, the UPS guys don’t bother driving all the way out. So on the same trip to get the parcel, Geir and Stine took us to a wonderful, wonderful army disposal shop. It’s actually just an old store shed on the army base opened up as a shop. When one store is empty of things, they open up the next shed. So from week to week you never know which shed will be open and what will be in it. 

 It was so cool, all that old stuff, if we were in Australia we would have bought so much stuff. Water proof clothes, thermals, socks, gloves, coats, shirts, camo gear, (snow camo gear is just plain white stuff! I never thought of that!) so many nice warm jumpers in all different greens and browns - we were specially thinking how much Felix’s father David would have liked the colours. We were really tempted to get these beautiful little cooking stoves in a little tin that you just flip open and light up, and also these lovely old kerosene lamps. Oh and all the old telephone and communication devices, so old! All that - and thats not even half the stuff there, dentist chairs and tools, medical instruments, a box of boat propellers, extra, extra large shoes, sleds, tools, ropes, hats, helmets and goggles are just some of the collection.

 But back to what I was trying to say before. We got the parcel around midday and after a few hours of work and a very nervous few minutes are Felix inserted his first Helicoil, Nina went back together and started. Felix and Geir went for a test ride. Sadly when they came back Nina was making a horrible clacking sound and had lost power to the same side as last time. So our problems weren’t over, something was still broken. Everything had to be taken apart again and re examined. I had dared to let myself be a little hopeful, and my spirits lifted when she went again. But now she was back in pieces and I was right down on my face again - feeling flat as a pancake.

 I had been trying so hard to enjoy myself and be happy. And I had been doing pretty well. We have gone for two nice bicycle rides on some bicycles of Geir and Stine. One to a nice little lake where we lay in the sun and when I went in the water huge schools of little fish swarmed around me feet and nibbled on my toes. We also met a very friendly lady out walking two stunning horses with her daughter and her dog - which she was very proud to tell two Australians was a Kelpie. Another ride was down to the little Kiwi supermarket, we took the horse path we walked on the first day and it was the bumpiest ride ever. For twenty minutes we were rattled to the core as we bumped down the path, also slipping, sliding and getting bogged in the deep sand. It was hard work but fun. We managed to pack everything safely for the ride back - except a big mushroom which was quite mushed by the end of it all. 

 We went for a walk in the forest. The landscape was so strange in this particular area, low ridges of rock ran parallel through the forest, ten or twenty meters between each ridge. Between each ridge in the mini valleys it was wet and soft, one beautiful valley was filled with this grass that has what looks like a cotton bud growing on it and hundreds of Cloud Berries, sadly a few months off being ripe. 

 Coming back we walked through a field in which the grass was up to my head, some stalks even taller. And there has been happy times in the everyday enjoyable things in a luxury camping life, sitting cross legged in the sun cooking spaghetti again, clean washing drying in the warm wind, sleeping on an inflatable mat in a sleeping bag and loads of wild strawberries. There has been a lot of good, I just get so down down and remember the bad times so much more then the good.

 So in the end, after Felix removed the head again to see what was making all the clacking noises, it was the valve seat that was loose, moving up and down and sometimes even jamming out causing the valves to collide and bend. Finally we understand what has caused all our troubles since arriving in Norway, it must have come loose when the engine overheated once, and then moved up and down loosening the head around the valve seat. In the latest valve collision, (on the test ride yesterday), one of the pushrods had bent and cracked in two places. 

 This called for some serious bush mechanics. The valve springs are very strong - all Felix’s weight and strength cannot compress them, so with Geir’s help and with a few clamps they managed to remove the valves. Felix used a socket extension and a hammer to re seat the the valve seat, and then followed the suggestion found in an online Briggs & Stratton lawn mower service manual to ‘peen’ the aluminium head down against the top of the valve seat, thereby fixing it firmly in place. This involved hammering a broad screwdriver repeatedly around the top of the valve seat. 

To correct for the slight dent in the inlet valve, we replaced it with spare from the magician mechanic we visited who fixed our valves last week. Felix then wanted to grind the valves to fit the seats properly but this usually requires a special and expensive valve grinding compound, which we obviously don’t have. So, as usual he improvised, scraping some abrasive stone from an ancient hand cranked axe sharpening stone that hangs from the wall in the shed here, mixing it with a heavy oil and proceeded to successfully grind the valve against the seat which resulted in a far superior seal and therefore much better compression. 

 As for the pushrod with the bends and cracks, a few phone calls confirmed that there are no other motorbikes with similar sized pushrods and there are certainly no spares in Norway right now. So, again with a lot of creativity it was repaired. The rod was broken cleanly at the two cracks, a thread was cut into each of the ends (the pushrod is hollow) and a bolt of appropriate size was given a longer thread and its head was removed to create a pair of studs to rejoin and reinforce the pushrod. The threads were then bruised with a cold chisel in a few places to reduce the chance that the studs undo. This may sound reasonable to the lay-person, but to a real motorcycle mechanic these are the repairs to have nightmares about - the pushrods are meant to be ‘totally’ straight and perfect, the head should never be hammered in any way, and using a few bits of grindstone instead of real grinding compound is blasphemy

 But despite all that, Nina clearly is not a mechanic with hurt pride or a bruised ego, she has no idea about how proper the repairs were and after the parts went back together she leapt to life, first kick with the kickstart. She just needs her valves readjusted and head bolts re-torqued after a successful test ride to the end of the road. She is feeling a little under-powered but a bit of tuning should fix that. The emergency pushrod repair has not snapped as we imagined, the valve seat did not jump out and scare us, the head bolts did not snap again, so we will see what tomorrow brings us. 

 Final Update: 0330 Hours. Felix writing this as Floss is fast asleep. Nina has had her chrome wiped down, all significant linkages greased, a wheel bearing tightened, a gift of a new reindeer fur seat cover from Geir and Stine, a repack of everything except the bedding all neatly in plastic bags to keep them separate and dry, and then finally a recheck of the repaired pushrod and resetting of the valve clearances that are settling after the head has been refitted. The slight loss of power felt earlier was due to retarded timing, now corrected. So now Nina rides beautifully and is ‘good to go’ - everything is functioning and the only question is whether the pushrod will bend / break due to the stresses of its job and its weakened state. So tomorrow morning I will finally have a shower and get all the motorbike grease and stress hormones off and out of me and then we leave, the big question is, South or North?

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David Cameron on

Gosh, you two are really having the adventure of a lifetime, detained without expectation in paradise, wandering seemingly without a care in the Norwegian Woods surrounded by every imaginable wildflower, insect, meadow grass, lichen and moss - I really feel like I've been led by the hand through the wilderness recognising so many familiar old friends and meeting new unfamiliar wildflowers whose names and affinities I can only guess at. I recognise Bluebells, Bladdery Campions or Catchflies, Knapweeds, familiar and unfamiliar grasses, Coral Lichens and Candelabra Lichens (names I've coined for our own species in these familiar genera), Peat Moss, Weft Moss, the list goes on. I hope the trials and tribulations eventually pale into insignificance in comparison with the beneficence bestowed on you both by nature, beast and human companion alike.

Virgil on

Good luck on the adventures ahead of you! Will it be North or South, we wonder. Lots of love and hugs from Me, Julie, Alkira and Lilja!

Laure-Marie on

Thank you so much for sharing such a delicious adventure with us...
Hopefully, I will have the chance to spoil you one day, if you visit France..., just like Stine and Geir, and all the oher beautiful people you met in you roadtrip
Felix, why were you not swimming naked in this beautiful Norwagian lake? this doesn't look like you to resist to this kind of call! do you have a idea of the water temperature in there?
keep enjoying!
love & lights.

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