Day 199 | 30 km out of Katherine: after spending the arvo repairing the bike frame

37 km | Heading west total: 8,784 km

The weld in the rear bike frame from the last day on the Tanami had snapped through again in the middle of the Litchfield National Park. I’d been contemplating riding the western sand trap to avoid some of the Stuart Highway but that kinda killed that idea.

I had affected a temporary bridging repair by bolting the hole in my smallest spanner through the lug holding the rear pannier and holding it all together by a few hose clamps. My bodge job had now lasted almost 200 km.

There was an ad on a sign in Katherine’s main street for a place that supplied steel and also did ‘boat and trailer repairs’. Sounded hopeful to get the frame repaired as it’s not a good idea to set off on a 4500 km trip, with many off road kilometres, having a known major structural problem. Surprisingly the team was actually interested in my issue and it was going to be no trouble to get to work immediately. I had some confidence when I learned the original bike structure was brazed together using techniques used with helicopter construction.

I got chatting to Matt who had moved up from Brisbane, his wife is in the airforce and is stationed at the major base at Tyndall just out of Katherine. He reckoned there was no recession up in the Territory due to the vast amount of Commonwealth government money spent on the Aboriginal ‘problem’. The workshop was flat out building specialised components to fit on the government Toyota Landcruisers in the front yard. Big trailers, cages etc. My little problem intrigued them: it needed a stainless steel type weld. The farm weld had trapped too much air in bubbles and become very brittle. That got completely ground out.

The new weld is pretty neat, almost not able to be distinguished and Matt even sprayed it with matching colour paint.

The bill was a huge $44.

But I told them I’ll bring it back for a refund if it broke again.