I thought I would put some words together regarding my latest purchase from 'Australian Frontline Machinery' who sell Australian Military surplus vehicles. The sale is conducted through an online auction, which is done through 'grays online. They promote the auctions stating that all vehicles start bidding at 9 dollars. I bid over the 5 day auction life and with great anticipation waited for the last seconds to tick down and celebrate my win. But thats not how it works. Once the time stops, your bid only becomes a winning bid, if no one else bids for 15 minutes after your bid. So this went on for a couple of hours and I shot it out with other people until a couple more grant was expended. A sneaky little auction trick. It takes a while to realize that you've won. Add a couple more thousand on top of the winning price for tax and sellers fees and the vehicle is yours.
I flew down from Cairns to Minto in Sydney a distance of 2,419 kilometers, where the vehicle was being held.
When I arrived I was advised that the vehicle was ready for pick up and I went to the NSW transport office where I was given a 5 day permit to drive it back to Cairns. Upon pick up I was given a NSW mechanical certificate ensuring that the vehicle was road worth and had been inspected by a mechanic. Me and an old army mate who flew down with me inspected the truck. We were told that it was almost knock off and to pretty much get out of the depot ASAP. We jumped in the truck and out we drove. I now owned a 5.6 ton 1989 6x6 Army Landrover Ambulance, equipped to seat 12 people. Perfect for my work in remote aboriginal communities in cape york.
About an hour into our 26 hour nonstop journey, it became evident that all was not OK with the truck. When turning corners, it emitted a loud clunking noise from the front. We pulled up and found that the steering rack was lose, with several of the bolts only hand tight. A further inspection found that one of the left rear hubs was also leaking and the bolts were also only hand tight. The rear right brake light and reversing light also didnt work. Lucky we had that report from the mechanic saying it was all good to go.
A couple of hours spent on the side of the road and with more money spent buying tools, the jack and tire lever that was also missing, we were on our way again.
About 5 hours into our journey and at about midnight, we pulled up in the middle of nowhere at a red light, where road works had reduced the road to one lane. Taking the opportunity to relieve the bladder, we scurried into the bush and relieved ourselves. Returning to the truck, we noticed a lone vehicle approaching from behind our vehicle. Given that the road stretched to the horizon, we spent a fair amount of time blinded by this guys high beam. Eventually he pulled up behind the truck, however had his highbeam still on, blinding the pair of us. As we were still outside the vehicle, my mate dropped his cigarette, stood on it, and then gestured to Mr Highbeam' that he was somewhat aggrieved by the brightness of his spotlights. We then returned to the cab, with old mates lights still blinding us from behind. While sitting in the cab and discussing what kind of idiot would need to have his highbeam on, while parked behind us in the middle of nowhere, a voice was heard from the drivers winder. 'Hello Sir, Im senior Constable blogs from the Mussellbrook police station, and is their a reason why you have littered here tonight'. Apparently Mr headlights was a copper and found an issue with the dropped cigarette. Apparently thats a 415 dollar fine, according to his quick lesson on the nsw law. I could have pointed out that it was also a $99 fine for not dipping your headlights while less than 200 mtrs behind a car, but I thought it probably wasnt the time to argue. Anyway, the shortest copper in NSW lectured us for a bit and then returned back to his spaceship without charge. The highbeam assault continued for about another 5 minutes down the road, until such time as he overtook our vehicle that was not displaying number plates, had a defective light, and we could have been well and truly drunk or just escaped from an army base with a stolen truck, as he failed to check our license. But thanks to that little guy, we spent the next ten hours coming up with the most amazing one liners. I need to thank that guy for keeping us awake.
After driving for 700klm we stopped at Toowoomba and picked up another army buddy, so we could tag team the driving, one sleeping in the back, one copilot, one driver. Not far out of Toowoomba, it started to rain and the drivers windscreen wiper decided it had had enough and stopped playing the game. More time spent repairing, we took off the left wiper and put it on the right, so the driver could now see. On we continued.
At some point, we eventually made Townsville and I bid my travel buddies goodbye. I then continued on alone for the next 5 hours until I reached Cairns. The following day, I went into the Queensland Department of Transport with my Nsw mechanical report, so as to register the truck in queensland. I was advised by the good lady at the tranport office, that my nsw mechanical report had no place in a queenland transport office and that I would have to get a qld mechanical report. I failed to see how the structural integrity of steal was different from one state to another, but apparently it is. Luck for me, my begging paid off, and I was able to get an inspection from a mechanic who stated he could do it. Upon arrival I was advised that he couldn't certify anything over 4.5 ton, and this rig was 5.6. More begging put me at a truck mechanics shop, and another inspection report. Back to the Transport office. So close to getting it registered now. 'Sir the transport officers will just do a quick inspection and all should be good'. As the four officers poured over the truck, all was looking well, until one jumped from the truck and talked government language to the others, which made them all excited and the rushed to the rear of the truck. Like a baseball huddle, they all started talking government talk, and the more they spoke it, the more excited they got. Eventually the tall one approached me with that look, this wasnt good news. Apparently the army had modified the vehicle, turning it from a three seater, to a 12 seater. Apparently the army doesn't need to certify their modifications, but once the vehicle becomes a civilian vehicle, all modifications must be engineer approved. So the truck wasnt going to be registered today.
I contacted a mechanical engineer, who only came to cairns once a month. He has inspected the vehicle and Im now awaiting for him to certify the modifications and I will go back to the transport office and try my luck again.
Upon returning, I emailed 'Australian Frontline Machinery' advising them of how unsafe the vehicle was and the potential for the vehicle to result in a catastrophic crash. After a month, they still have not replied to my emails.
Here are some pictures of the truck and hopefully in a couple of weeks it will be on the road.