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Discussion Starter #1
Left home in Cairns on the last day of July bound for Mount Dare, a very remote spot in the north of South Australia just below the Northern Territory border. It was the venue for the 2018 OCR ( Off Centre Rally) a biannual meeting of people who like riding ‘adventure’ bikes to hard-to-get-to places.
Trip took 16 days and just over 7000 Klm.
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Three of us set out from my place on July 31, Dennis on a KTM950, Paul on a KTM 1190 and me on the KLR.

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We took a leisurely route through central Queensland camping and picking up other riders along the way

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Local wildlife
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Discussion Starter #2
The ‘station’ (ranch) owners often mark their property boundaries with old machinery

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Dylan had to do some running repairs to the Barbie bike (Beta 480rr-it’s pink and plastic)

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Riding across the ‘black soil plains’
is tough going

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The ground is very soft and rutted.

Big open spaces

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That’s Dennis on the 950.
By this time Paul (1190) had peeled off to go home to Mt Isa where he planned to swap to his 500EXC. He was going to put it in his ute ( truck) drive down to Birdsville and take a run across the Simpson Desert and meet us at Mt Dare. Our heavily loaded bikes would never get across 600klm of sand dunes.

More to come....

iddy
 

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Discussion Starter #3
This is serious cattle country, we rode for hundreds of kilometres where there was not a square foot of ground without a hoof print.
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With the odd small dinosaur thrown in.
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We reached Winton in south west Queensland and waited for Rex, Henry and Phil.
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They’d had a few problems with tyres but eventually turned up
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From Winton we headed through the Bladensburg National Park towards the SW corner of the state, the country getting drier and the tiny towns getting further apart as we went. We needed at least 400k fuel range by this stage.


iddy
 

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Trip report

Nice ride, more please?
 

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Discussion Starter #5 (Edited)
After a detour through the Bladensburg Park, we turned south onto the road from Winton to Jundah and pulled up for a couple of muesli bars and a drink.

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Even though it’s still officially winter here, we were looking for the shade in the midday heat.

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We had only gone about 50klm down the road when the KLR stopped dead. It was as if the ignition had been switched off. At this stage we were about 180 Klm from Jundah and 200 or so from Winton, literally ‘the middle of nowhere’!
Dennis was ahead but Rex, Henry and Phil were behind me so I knew help would arrive soon.
As I stripped the bike and started troubleshooting, Phil and Henry turned up.

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I immediately checked the ignition lead ( okay) and was in the process of putting a spanner ( wrench ) on the spark plug when I discovered that it was only finger tight.
Hmmmm
Assuming that a loss of compression had stopped the bike we put it all back together and fired it up. All good......
for about another kilometre before it just stopped again.
Shit! This was looking serious!
Strip the bike again and this time pull the carby off and remove the bowl and main jet

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There was a little piece of foam ( air filter?) in the bowl that may have interfered with the inlet valve ( getting desperate here!) but otherwise the carb looked clean.
Put it all back together and fired it up.
Success!
For another kilometre and then stopped again.
Insert your choice of bad language here.
We knew there was a halfway decent camping spot on the Mayne River about 20k ahead, so we rigged a tow line to the BMW and limped along.


iddy
 

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Discussion Starter #6
So we pulled all the bags off again, the covers again, the seat and tank again and discovered ‘the crack’ ( not a pharmaceutical substance)

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Hmmm. That’s not good considering it had a matching crack on the other side that effectively meant the spine was broken 3/4 of the way through.
While we were absorbing the implications of this rather disturbing discovery Henry asked if I’d tried the reserve position of the fuel tap.
Well, no, it’s only done 270 Klm so it can’t be near reserve.
But wait! The tank feels light, can’t be more than 4 or 5 litres left.
Hmmm.
Okay, put it all back together, fuel on ‘reserve’ and Lo! away she goes!
Daylight was slipping away by now.
Dennis was gone, somewhere up ahead. The nearest fuel was now Stonehenge, a small hamlet about 140 Klm distant and beyond the range of the ailing Kwaka.
Nothing to do but press on and see how far it would go. I figured I’d run dry about 50 or 60 klm from Stonehenge and that’s pretty much what happened. We drained a litre out of Henry’s KLX and pressed on. Rex had meanwhile gone ahead with bladders to get more fuel. We met him about 30 k out of Stonehenge at a cattle property, he’d bought 10 litres, enough to get us into town.
When I say ‘town’, I’m being generous, here’s a ‘maps’ view of the place

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But the temperature was plummeting, darkness had overtaken us and we crawled into town avoiding the cattle, the kangaroos, the rabbits and other wildlife that seemed determined to scare us.
And they did.
Henry and I were first to pull up outside the pub, the only friendly lights on the main street and never so happy to make it !
 

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Tell us more

Ok, you got me hooked on this tale.

I need to know the rest of the story of how you got this cracked frame KLR with a finger tight spark plug across the Outback and home again while under siege from the local fauna.

jncdi
 

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Discussion Starter #8
Not a very good photo but these lights were most welcome

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Henry ( KLX400) and I had arrived first, probably about half an hour after dark and gratefully downed a cold beer while chatting with the proprietor. We explained our problem with the KLR and ‘Tony’ ( proprietor) pointed to the only other inhabitant, a younger bloke ( well younger than me!) sitting quietly with a rum and cola and said “that’s Will, he can weld”.
My new best friend! And a KLR owner as well!

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Will worked at a gravel plant just outside of town and agreed to have a look at the bike in the morning.
Things were looking up!
And soon we heard the rumble of more bike engines as Rex (Husky TR650) and Phil (1150gs) pulled up outside.
We almost back together except for Dennis. We tried ringing the pub and campground at Jundah but couldn’t find anyone who admitted to seeing a ‘short older gentleman with a goatee and riding a big orange bike’.
Oh well. He’s a big boy and we’re all heading in the same direction so we’ll meet him at Birdsville or Mungerannie or Marree.
Maybe.
Next morning we rode out to the gravel plant and got the okay from the boss for Will to weld up my bike

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Discussion Starter #10
I certainly wasn’t going to put any pressure on Will to rush so we didn’t get away from Stonehenge until nearly midday. Our destination lay almost 2000klm away and we wanted to get there in three days so we needed to get some kilometres under our belts. First stop was Windorah, 160 Klms away for food, fuel, drinks and time for me to change the air filter in the KLR.

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I needed to improve the fuel economy or I was going to have trouble in the days to come.
This was real ‘outback’ country.

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Straight dirt roads, the surface varying according to what local materials were available to the road builders
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Some patches of soft stuff and plenty of corrugations. Once in a while there would be a bitumen section where the road had been leveled and widened and turned into an emergency runway for the RFDS.
The flying doctor service, a revered outback institution

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Discussion Starter #11 (Edited)
We were getting into an area dominated by ‘gibber plains’
Flat desert plains covered with small pebbles, the ones in the ‘channel country’ markedly red in colour.

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https://austhrutime.com/gibber_desert.htm

We reached ‘Betoota’ late in the afternoon and pitched our tents by the lagoon at the back of the pub.

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There’s a KLR in there somewhere!

Nice lagoon

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And campfire

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Betoota until a few months ago had a population of zero. It was nothing but some ruins with a nearby waterhole but recently some optimistic folks have spent a bunch of money to resurrect it and were hard at work when we stopped by to say ‘hi’ next morning

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I hope they’re successful, this will be the only refuge between Windorah and Birdsville, a distance of 380 Klm.


iddy
 

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Discussion Starter #12 (Edited)
Whoops!
That was Henry in his finest thermal gear posing beside the KLX

Here’s the KLR

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I was carrying a tent, airbed, thermal mat, two sleeping bags, tent fly/ground sheet, camp chair (Helinox 'ChairOne') six litres of water and six litres of fuel, a stove and cooking and eating gear, four days supply of food, about three changes of clothes, first aid kit, front and back tubes and tyre irons and a small tool kit. Plus a backpack with camera, phone recharging gear etc.
Sounds like a lot and it was but I got good at stowing it all and packing and unpacking it as the days went by.

iddy
 

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Discussion Starter #13
So we set off for Birdsville, about 170 klms to the west and famous for being the furthest south and western town in Queensland.

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And for it’s iconic pub

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We were still chasing Dylan on the Barbie bike and Dennis on the 950, they were a half day in front of us. Paul had gone west across the Simpson Desert on the EXC with his wife following in his 4WD as support.

We didn’t linger, filled the tanks and bladders and bellies and headed south down the ‘Birdsville Track’ (google) and into South Australia.

We hadn’t gone more than 30 klms before I saw a familiar face waving from the back of a ute.

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Uh oh, this looks serious!
Yep! The barbie bike had come to a sudden halt when the rear ‘cush sprocket’ had failed completely.
No teeth left at all.

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Not much we could do ( Henry had pulled up as well) so after commiserations we bade Dylan good luck and pressed on towards Mungerannie another 280 klms south.
Henry and I pulled into Mungerannie late in the afternoon and had a couple of thirst quenching ales while waiting for Rex and Phil to catch up.

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An hour later we were still waiting...
Eventually a 4WD came along and the driver was able to tell us that yes, he’d seen a couple of bikes stopped ‘about an hour up the track’ but they weren’t in distress and had given him a ‘thumbs up ‘ as he drove past.
So we thought about things and came up with a plan:
Book ourselves into a motel room and return to the bar for another ale and see what happens.


iddy
 

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Discussion Starter #14 (Edited)
What happened was that Phil and Rex turned up just on dark. The 1150 had suffered a puncture (tubeless tyres) that couldn’t be plugged and after a couple of attempts Phil had to put a tube in it and press on south.

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I’m not much of a fan of the loud pipes/acres of chrome/ape hangers crowd but I was impressed to see these bikes in such a rough and remote spot:

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Like a lot of ‘outback’ pubs, the interior of the Mungerannie Hotel was decorated by visitors attaching stuff ( hats, underwear, trinkets, photos etc) to the walls and ceiling.

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With two days to go we were keen to get moving early and Henry and I were away after a cup of tea and a muesli bar. We only got 50klm down the track before we came across a couple towing a caravan ( trailer?) who were having trouble with a flat tyre. Henry and I helped them out

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In the outback you just don’t go past someone who is stopped and in need of assistance.
We arrived at Marree, the end of the Birdsville Track, mid morning and finally caught up with Dennis, that’s him in the check shirt looking at Henry and the KLX.

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From Marree we turned west to skirt the southern shores of Lake Eyre along the ‘Oodnadatta Track’
 

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Discussion Starter #15 (Edited)
Lake Eyre is generally dry, you can just see a line of salt in the distance

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It’s an Australian ‘Bonneville’ and Donald Campbell set a land speed record here back in 1964 in his famous ‘Bluebird ‘. These days the salt racing is done at Lake Gairdner a couple of hundred kms to the southwest.
Along the way we came across the Alberrie sculpture park.

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Plenty of time on their hands, these outback folks!
We stopped briefly at William Creek for fuel before pushing on to the north west with the sun in our eyes and Oodnadatta our goal. Getting close now, Mount Dare was a couple of hundred Klm to the north of Oodnadatta.

iddy
 

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Excellent adventure!
Great to see it. Thank you!
I've never seen one crack there. Shame for sure.
Adventure on! Safely.
 

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Discussion Starter #17
Thanks Squidly,
It was kind of lucky that I had the fuel problem the previous day otherwise we would never have removed the tank and found the crack.
Here’s a close up, note the rust along the edges of the crack. Clearly it had been there for some time.

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And of course Will’s excellent work to weld it up.

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We jammed wet rags all over the rest of the engine and electrics to protect them from the heat and sparks and slag.
Will cut a section of pipe and used it to reinforce the area

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iddy
 

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JUST WOW!
Makes you realize there not indestructible after all.
Curious, did you buy it used, and do you put a lot of rough miles on it regularly?
 

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Discussion Starter #19 (Edited)
Squidly,
I bought the bike in 2012 with 6000 Klm on the clock.
It came with ‘Happy Trails’ nerf bars a big heavy-duty bash plate and a ‘Staintune’ exhaust. I’ve added a Cogent Dynamics ‘Moab’ shock and ‘Intiminators’ in the forks, drilled a couple of holes in the air box and ditched the snorkel. Otherwise the bike is standard. It now has about ( not sure exactly, speedo cable broke on the trip as well) 70,000 on it.
I weigh about 85 kg fully kitted up and carry 30 to 40 kg (no point in carrying 6kg of water and 5kg of fuel if there’s plenty around) when on these rides.
Of the 64,000 Klm I’ve done on the bike I’m guessing about half of that would have been on ‘outback’ dirt roads of varying degrees of roughness. Thousands of Klm of corrugations (washboard) which really, really shake things up when they are bad.
I found other cracks in the frame late last year when servicing the bike after another outback ride-see my thread ‘Swing Arm Pivot Bolt’.
I got that wrong-it was the other one, the one that runs through the rear of the engine, whatever it’s called.
Anyhow, yes, I’ve ridden it hard, thousands of kilometres across rough roads with a decent load and the frame is finally showing signs of fatigue. Whether this cracking is unusual or not I cannot say, this is the only KLR I’ve owned.
What I can say is that the guy who welded up the frame at the bottom put it down to age ( 2008 model, so 10 years old) and cheap metal ( no surprise there!) and a hard life.
The welder ( Will, my buddy and saviour!) who fixed the spine said he’s seen more expensive and better built bikes ( read: European stuff built in Austria and Germany) with all sorts of frame cracks as well.
Lesson for me is to pull the seat and plastics and tank off and give the thing a good inspection on a regular basis, this bike or any other for that matter. More so if you ride it hard or are planning a big trip.
I got lucky discovering that spine crack when I did. If it had broken a couple of hundred Klm from any town and the bike was not in rideable condition then it would have been ‘touch and go’ whether or not to abandon it and hitch a ride home. When you’re riding a bike worth maybe $2500 on a good day and the ‘recovery’ cost is going to exceed that then it maybe easier to unbolt the expensive stuff, push it into the bush and give it a decent christian burial.
The recovery for the ‘Barbie bike’ was $3500 and that was only an hour south of Birdsville. That was an insurance deal though, and the bike was trucked first down to Adelaide and then north to Cairns, a journey of about 4,000klm.
Another mate on a BMW R 80GS came to grief beyond Mt Dare, and needed a 100 Klm recovery-his bill was $1200, no insurance.
Pictures to come in another episode!

iddy
 

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Discussion Starter #20 (Edited)
Oodnadatta hove into view as the sun was getting low. The town, if you could call it that, is dominated by a fuel station/post office/shop/cafe/campground known as ‘The Pink Roadhouse’

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Henry and Dennis and I camped at the back of the roadhouse in the dust along with about 100 other riders and a million flies.
Rex and Phil camped outside of town after taking a detour to check out a remarkable old abandoned railway bridge at Algebuckina.

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A lot of us headed to the pub for dinner and a few thirst quenching ales and a catch up with old friends

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With Mt Dare now only a couple of hundred Klm to the north we gathered in front of the roadhouse on Friday morning to fuel up the bikes, fill our bellies and try to find out if the rumours about the condition of the track were true.
Depending on who you spoke to the condition varied between ‘awful’ and ‘bloody terrible’ depending on whether you went via Dalhousie Springs or Eringa Waterhole.

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iddy
 
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