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Monday, January 20, 2014

Flying Amphibear

Initially we planned to avoid expensive dock service and launch Amphibear to Rio bay. I prepared Amphibear for water again, empty pontoons from water, remove not needed ropes, temporary repair of borkon drive and cleaning the mess I left into car. Soon we discovered the disadvantages of the plan, like special permission needed for lifting Amphibear into water or needed tow plan with 10 days of notice and approval time. In the middle of the week ship management decided to go to portside and lift car to land. For me relief, as sailing with broken pontoons in bay did not seem easy task, especially as car keys still in customs in equipment boxes.

Ship we reached with water taxi. I got a lot of help from ship manager Gustavo Magalhaes. He mostly found possibility to join my travel by expensive water taxi with some other specialists travel to ship.

Went to Geoholm to prepare my vehicle for land. Big crane of Geoholm lifted the car off the ground. Wanted to raise pontoons, but no way. Half empty battery and salty joints resisted my attempts. So we moved lifting points further away from car and so with car weight got pontoons moving again. And when half way up the reason became more obvious. Not matter my pumping, still plenty of water in pontoons, which now cascaded out of cracks. 


Amphibear again in road position. In backround big crane of Geoholm. Water cascaded out of pontoons when turned upside down.

This resolved the mysterious behaviour of driver side pontoon also. I suspected puncture at the rear end. In reality whole structure under internal support was cracked and leaking. Both pontoons are cracked on main structure. As also questioned experts defined "You can repair pontoons, but not for Ocean any more. Only smaller inland waters."

This means two things are needed. Temporary repair to pontoons to continue journey in South America and new pontoons to cross Caribbean sea and continue around the world journey. There are no new pontoons on our travel budget. Before asking for more support, I have to know the cost of seriously modified pontoons with strenght for ocean crossings. Factory prepares their offer. Looking forward.

At darkness, 22:00 I got on shore again. Next day at ship situation was still not clear, do we have permission to lift the Amphibear on dock. Captain was sure, we will lift today.

It is not easy task to prepare big ship for working in Brazilian waters. Even signs, "Do not pollute sea and throw garbage overboard" I saw were replaced with "Do not dispose solid waste into water. It is prohibited by laws of Brasilia. Underwater side of iceberg was replacement of all safety gear, even garbage cans, filters, working clothing etc. had to be replaced and dozen of inspections passed. Courageous, decisive, and open minded - his decision and strenuousness were critical factors for finding Amphibear. Safety clothing must even captain Reinold Lederle wear at ship deck.

So I attached the pontoons above the car and we planned the lifting with Geoholm technical team. Geoholm went to dockside at 19:30. First lifting had to be done by car-crane ordered to port, but finally as it was on the reach limit, Geoholm crane did final lift to waiting trailer. And trailer went to not known location to me, out of city.

Two times Amphibear had flyed under the crane of Geoholm. This time was final flight to land.

Not known location became known next day when Port Logistics brought us to the car. About 40 km from city, but otherwise ideal location. Car is in garage of Marfan Logistica. Ideal place to take some so needed repair. Company owner Marcelo personally appointed the place, there are all needed tools and around dozen of car repair, spare parts or metal works companies. Toyota specialist and aluminium welding specialist promised to come and see the car for repair estimate.

It is time to make some conclusions, what works and what not on Amphibear. First the systems that worked fine during our land journey and more than 1000 km on Ocean.
  • Frame, proportions and general layout worked well. Now overlooked by some captains and chief engineers it is confirmed, little small but otherwise well done.
  • Car has lasted problem free. Engine run, frame held on. As  expected brake drums are rusty and some sensors stopped working under the car, these are minor issues.
  • Hydraulics works foolproof. Small topic was one nut getting loose but compared to system size it is not topic. I was happy to see, that one side drive separation worked well also, when it was needed. Instead of chain for driving hydraulic pump some less service demanding solution would be welcomed, but chain runs also.
  • Winches worked, as they got some modification for waterproofness, there were no issues even after ocean. Some fluid pumps striked, but it was only blown fuse. Broken was low pressure air pump for pontoons. It should be duplicated by the X-Jack solution - to be filled directly from car exhaust. All pump connections I have to make external and unify, to make different operation quicker and simpler.
  • Purchased and donated equipment worked well. It is not surprise, that Matkasport, Cascade Design items are lasting and comfortable. It is surprise to me, that all electronics from Tehnoturg and other lasted also, not matter the salty fingers. Toolbox items are also qood quality.  
  • Must be admitted that car was saved by inflatable pontoons, special order from Polymersvarka in Estonia. Without these the car would have been capsized. Good work.
Did not work
  • Aluminium pontoons. Factory conformation before journey was mistaken and my own judgement also. As we tested pontoons for cracks just before start they were initially ok, just did not last the ocean. There are needed new ones and not only new, but a lot different. To describe this all takes another blogpost, but in short more strenght and different drive attachment are main topics. Factory installed inspection and pumping tubes to sections are needed also for quick operation on sea. To avoid misjudgement again, some experts will examine the pontoon project before production. 
Cracks were evolving on ocean already. Lifting just exposed these more clearly.

Breaking drive plates were just beginning of the problems. Aluminium is good material but does not stand repeated bending. Construction has to be strong enaugh to avoit it. 

These bents are result of salvage lifting. Inevitable in ocean waves.

If new sponsors found and donations received then new pontoons can be ordered and journey continues. New pontoons must be ordered now, to get them for Caribbean sea crossing. So, it you plan to donate or sponsor, this is the time.

Logistical experts have suggested to import these to Chile or Peru, as Brazil, Argentina and Columbia import regulations can be too difficult to cope with. Timewise then Peru, Lima is the option to take. Just can somebody suggest the delivery address...

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