Sean\’s Sicily

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Originally uploaded by sean.casaidhe

Spending a lot of time trying to get the olives in before the roads become impassible. For reasons beyond my ken, Ignazio didn’t get around to organising it for November, the usual time, so now it’s already the New Year and the harvest still isn’t finished.

I’ve been riding shotgun with Sergio up and down the mountains, and one of the things I’m learning is that it’s amazing how little I knew about 4WD vehicles. Starting with “what do 4L and 4H mean anyway?”

For example, it’s incredible how far one can get in 2WD. I always naturally assumed that as soon as one got off the paved road, we’d switch straightaway to 4WD, but that’s not the case at all.

For one thing, 4WD drinks diesel, and even though it’s quite cheap right now, saving fuel is always a good thing.

So Sergio gets quite far on the unpaved road before switching. Somedays, he gets all the way to the farm, before throwing in 4H to make the last 50 meters offroad. Yesterday, for instance, he climbed a good few hundred meters before the hard track became washed out, and only then did he kick in 4H. He made another few kilometers like that until the wheels started slipping in deep mud, and then he switched down to 4L.

Of course, he could have switched to 4L beforehand, but 4L is designed for Low Speed, as a means of getting all the engine power to the wheels without losing traction, so it’d take forever to get anywhere. Thus he uses 4H (4WD-High Speed) to get power to all 4 wheels without loosing the speed.

As soon as we got out of the deep mud, he switched right back to 4H again.

Today, he had to kick in the 4H as soon as we got off the road, because the laste few days have seen a lot of rain. We had one hairy moment when we got stuck trying to get over a rocky bump on the edge of a mud-hole, but changing to 4L and backing up a few meters got us enough momemtum and traction to climb over it.

The next thing I learned is that after crawling through deep mud, when one gets back to the main road, one has to clean the sticky, clinging mud off the brake disks, axle bearings etc. and even then, the bloody fourbie vibrates like crazy because the weight of the mud is throwing the drive train out of balance (or something).

Still, I think I looked cool in my mucky combats cleaning the mud out of the wheels of a filthy 4×4. I looked like I was on a trip across Africa, or something. Or else I just looked very silly.

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Written by seancasaidhe

January 3, 2009 at 11:46 am