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December 2nd, 2012 | Africa

A Busy Boy and Message from Pennsylvania…!!

Getting settled into Johannesburg has not been all that easy…!! I stayed in four different homes in the first two weeks after arriving here… I am finally in a place that I can hopefully call “home” for the next few months, although the house that I am in, is on the market, and if a sale should go through anytime soon, I guess I will be on the move again…!!

The weather has also taken some getting used to… The first week was hotter that I expected; the next week was probably the coldest weather I have experienced in December in South Africa… Cold and rainy days that had me wearing a jacket… The Decembers I remember here were always some of the hottest months of the year…

Cloudburst over Johannesburg… This was the prelude to four days of chilly conditions that had me digging out a warm jacket…

Driving has not been without it’s stresses either… I have got lost at least a few times a week, as I have forgotten how to get from A to B in the shortest amount of time here in Joburg. There have been so many changes to the highways and byways, that I might as well be driving in Bogota or New Delhi for all the good “knowing” my hometown has been…

My mode of transport while I am working on this project…. No…, not the Porsche….!! The silver BMW parked in the background… Pity !!

The project of moving four factories into two much larger facilities, is proceeding apace, although it is not just a simple task of loading machinery onto a truck and moving them to a new location… All four factories are in full production, and my brief is that as little production time be lost as possible during the moves…

It is all about strategy and co-ordination, something I am fairly adept at, having spent the last three years in a constant state of planning my next move, into the next country on my long list of those I wanted to visit on my journey around the world… Then I had to take into account weather and road conditions, border crossings and changes in culture… And the fact that most people pretended not to speak English…

Now I’m dealing with factory managers, engineers (electrical, mechanical and civil), truck and forklift drivers, machine movers, suppliers and… people who pretend not to speak English… Some things never change…!!

Part of my portfolio of tasks, is to supervise the earthworks and installation of a concrete slab which is in the workshop area… This will be completed next week…

The twenty odd years before my ride, were spent building a furniture company from very humble beginnings into what is today one of Southern Africa’s oldest and largest, privately owned furniture manufacturers… The trouble with growth, is that eventually you run out of space, hence the various moves to much larger premises…

The first factory is being moved as I write, and the relocation should be complete in time for an early January start-up. Deadlines and timelines are the order of the day, with parts of one of the new facilities still under construction…!! I am overseeing this project as well, which involves the lifting of the current floor level of an 800 m2 building to match that of a neighbouring one… This involves the back-filling and compaction of over 250 m3 of soil, in preparation for the pouring of 150 m3 of concrete…

This is half of the first factory I am currently moving machinery into… A small portion of the machinery is already in situ, and the dust extraction lines for the entire factory are beginning to be installed…. By this time next week, all the machinery should be in, production lines laid out, and by the 21st of December, this factory should be ready to roll….(He said, crossing his fingers and toes…!!)

This is the other half of the same factory…. By the 7th of January, we will have to be assembling furniture in this area, as well as applying a few coats of varnish, before the product goes up into the main factory for upholstering and despatch…. It’s gonna be tight…!!

Here are two of the three dust extraction fans and storage bins already erected for the first factory I am moving into this building… The rubble in the foreground is going into the 2nd factory I will be moving into…

Which currently looks like this… We are removing all the machinery, lifting the paving, raising the floor level by about a metre, pouring concrete for a new floor, which will take 21 days to dry, and then moving the production machinery into place for an early February start-up….

During the course of January, I will begin moving the third factory involved in the project, into the premises from where I will have moved the first factory from…!!  The first and second factories are about 10 km from their new home; the third factory is about 40 km from its new facility; and the fourth factory is also about 10 km from it will eventually be housed, alongside the third factory… All rather complicated, no…??

Don’t worry… I have it all under control… I think…!!

My daily thoughts have been filled with all of the above and as a result I have had very little time to think about my much-loved bike, which is safely stored at my friend Doug’s home in Pennsylvania, USA… I have paid for the repairs undertaken by Hermy’s BMW in Port Clinton, and after much trouble dealing with the transfer of funds (South African banks are the pits…!) Darryl at Hermy’s finally advised that the payment had been received and the rear drive which had been repaired, and the extras bits and pieces I had bought, were ready for collection…

I advised Doug that whenever he was passing by the BMW store, he could collect them…

Well, things must be a bit slow in Port Carbon, with winter setting in and all, because barely a day later, I received the following mail, which had me grinning like the proverbial Cheshire cat…

The email was titled “Good News…!!”, and I have copied it word for word below…

“Hello Ronnie!!

Just got back from picking up everything. It all looks good. The rack looks like a brand new takeoff. All of the Hepco-Becker stuff seems to be there. Tail light assembly is nice. Rotor carrier looks splendid. No cracks. 
It’s amazing how smooth the new bearing is. It almost spins by itself……more than easily spun with one finger. All of the old parts are in the box. I’ll try to get a little done tonight, and some more tomorrow.
Everyone asks about you whenever I see them. Just an idea I wanted to run by you…………I talked to Chris when I was at Hermy’s, and he said Hermy does some “get-togethers” once in a while with special guests. Would that be something you might be up for some afternoon/evening while you’re here? I told them you wanted to stop by to take some photos with the Big Fella all kitted out. 
 
The new disc carrier is in place.

The new disc carrier is in place.

As is a new oil pressure switch..

As is a new oil pressure switch..

I took the parts down, showed them to Big Fella, gave him a big hug, and told him they were an early Christmas present from you. He seemed to get really excited, especially about the new rack. Typical guy… 

(The “rack” Doug is refering to here is the part that hold the top box… This was snapped into a variety of pieces when we kissed the dirt in Alaska. It has been held together with cable ties and wire ever since…!!) Every once in a while it helps his anxiety if I let him look out the door. He just wants to make sure there’s not an ocean across the street that’s gonna try to drown him again….!! He also likes the fact that I don’t play Christmas music. He says it’s supposed to be hot at Christmas time… 
 and the Big Fella is wheeled outside to get a taste of the cold Pennsylvania air....
and the Big Fella is wheeled outside to get a taste of the cold Pennsylvania air….

On a final note, I have found a new mechanic to give me a hand. Here he is putting the final touches on that new oil pressure switch:

 

Cheers Mate!!
I read his mail again, picturing the Big Fella peeping out into the cold Pennsylvania landscape outside Doug’s garage, and had to smile to myself… I wonder how his Italian and Japanese are coming along… Bugger refused to learn Spanish while we were in South America, so I can’t see him trying any other languages, but you never know…!!
Knowing that the bike is in the capable hands of Doug (and the possibly not so capable hands of his assistant) has taken the pressure off me, and allowed me to concentrate on what I am doing here…
But I am already itching to be back in the saddle and riding again, if even for a short time, before returning to South Africa  with my trusty companion in tow…
I look forward to the day that I will have South African wind whistling through my helmet and the Big Fella’s air intakes…
©GBWT 2012

1 comment to A Busy Boy and Message from Pennsylvania…!!

  • Mark Behr

    Great to get an update. Is this the original firm you were a part of when you left on your World Tour?

    When you collect your Bike, will you be collecting Patricia as well?

    Stay safe and see you soon.

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