I'd been so focused on projects and my hobbies that I had been too busy to see what's really the most important thing in our lives and that's spending time together as a family, getting out there having fun and making memories!
I wonder how many of us can relate to this if we stop and think for a moment or two. I wouldn’t mind betting its most of us, not all, but most. I for one fall in this trap most (all) of the time. I think us chaps are programmed to be useful and once we get the bit between our teeth we just aim for the finish line, blinkered. Until the next project comes along.
I'm taking so many positives from this experience, it really has been life changing and I know the lives of me and my family are going to improve so much because of it! I feel on top of the world!
I'm also no longer dreading the week of chemo ahead as it turns out it wasn't the chemo that destroyed me last time, I'd been bloody infected with the NoroVirus!
All fixed now thanks to lots of IV antibiotics and the nurse in question who I suspect infected me, as she wasn't following the proper procedures with regards to hand hygiene, will be undergoing more training and won't be caring for me again as I was unfortunately forced to put in an official complaint to the nurse unit manager about her (that was before the Noro had been diagnosed).
I'm in a private room and have been from the start as my immune system is so weak and she never washed her hands or used alcohol spray or gloves, when she was treating me, where as all the other nurses have been incredible and take hand hygiene very seriously!
All good now though, one more week of chemo starting today and then hopefully next Monday I will be released!
I'm now into my 4th week in hospital and the doctors are amazed at my progress and how well my body has responded. They can't believe it!
The cancer is affectively all gone, my bone marrow is functioning great and all my blood cell counts are healthy and normal and they have said I'm healthy enough and well enough that I don't need to be in a hospital anymore!
So the rest of the treatment now over the next 23 months will be to ensure it doesn't come back.
Since getting rid of the Noro virus a week and a half ago, all the chemotherapy I've had since then I've had no side affects from and since then I've been feeling great and very positive!
I've got 2 more chemotherapy treatments this week and then they are letting me go home!
I will then be getting the Blinatumomab drug in a bag on my waist with a little pump and I will have to come in every few days for them to replace the bag with more Blinatumomab and that treatment will last a month.
I've started writing a book about my experience and I will continue to write it over the next 2 years until my treatment and trial ends and I'm officially Leukaemia free.
I will then get it published and all proceeds will go to the Leukaemia Research Centre.
This is the best news indeed Ben, and focusing on writing the book will keep you occupied and away from straining yourself lugging rocks, garage building, house repairs, truck building and the plethora of jobs you must be itching to get on with.
Please use this as a good reason to really take a year off. I know you have no option, but let it happen and give your body a chance to put all its efforts into the cure.
We're all gunning for you mate and your high spirits show that you have the right approach to all this.
Best of luck with the new treatment, and hugs from us for Bec & Sam...
Ben, you are an inspiration to us all. Every thing that you have ever taken on or been thrown at you, you have taken on and overcome, and you will all this.
It does not seem that many years ago as a young whippersnapper, we were reading about your exploits and projects on various forums, and still are. Now you are somewhat of an expert for 70s, amongst other things
You have come a very long way and your work ethos is epic, with a very high standard, acheiving in a very short time what most of us would never achieve in a long lifetime. Your wife must be very proud of you, and what a role model for your son ! Take that much needed rest mate and stay fit and healthy.
All the very best, John.
WOW....... This has been a interesting read and caught up on about 2 years worth ...... you have been a busy boy .... congrats on all the achievements... wife, wee fella and another on the way and all the house work.. Top job!!
And not to mention the V8 running .... lovely sound!
We all deal with things in life in different ways - but it sounds like you have the correct approach with regards to the challenges you are facing and have ample of support, keep it up.
To put things in perspective: You have inspired a lot of people out there tinkering away in their sheds over weekends - hence why my truck is out on the road and running... I thank you! Keep up the good work but as you say look after the family side and balance things out.
As my father use to say “ do everything but in moderation “
Keep up the good fight and sure we’ll talk about more projects and compare notes way into the future.
Apologies for the slow reply/update. The treatment has been going well, still no sign of any cancer remaining/come back and the doctors are all very impressed and happy with my progress.
I'm almost half way through the intensive chemo/blinotumomab stage now. I've got another 2 weekends of chemotherapy treatment over the next month, then another month of intensive chemo like I had at the very beginning (which the doctors are hoping I wont have to stay in hospital for) then another month on the blinatumomab and then by the end of August it should all be done and it should just be chemo pills for the next 18 months.
On the days I've been feeling well enough I've been managing to get a bit of work done at home, which I will update you all about now.
I put LJ on a trailer and dragged it down to the car club for a visual inspection so that they could sign the paper work to put both the Hilux and LJ on historic/club registration.
The gutless 2.8 non turbo boat anchor in the Hilux really struggled with the weight, so I'm now on the look out for a 1KZ Surf engine donor as the Hilux needs some extra ponnies under the bonnet!
The shiny new plates and log books.
I couldnt wait to get them fitted!
I could only fit LJ's rear one for now as I need to make another flip up bracket, like I made for the front of the Hilux.
I brought my red toolbox home from work, seen as I'm not going to be there for the next year, along with the old green base toolbox my old boss gave me. I just about managed to squeeze it in after a bit of a shuffle around with the pillar drill and blue tool box.
Next I decided to have a look at the transferbox I bought a few years ago when I was up in QLD, which supposedly had low range crawler gears in it from Marks 4wd.
I needed to open the box up and strip it down so that I could bolt it to the back of my R151 gearbox.
I was delighted to find brand new Marks gears, that had clearly never been used before!
I made some new paper gaskets ready for the re-assembly.
I needed to remove all the gears next as the bolts that attach the transferbox housing to the gearbox are hiding behind the gears.
These ones lifted straight out.
I started removing the transferbox off the back of my R151 gearbox ready to bolt this new one on.
I drained the oil first.
And stood it up.
And began stripping it down.
Unfortunately the gears inside had a bit of rust on them, not that I will be using them anyway.
I realised that this input shaft that goes from the R151 gearbox to transferbox was different to the one fitted to my new transferbox, so the transferbox must have been off the back of the much weaker G52 box which is used on the petrol RJ70 models.
So I would have to fit this shaft into my transferbox.
It came out easy enough and I made anew paper gasket ready for the re-assembly.
Removing the gears from the shaft in the new transferbox proved to be the hardest bit of the entire operation. They were ridiculously tight.
My little old 2 legged Draper puller that I bought 20 years ago just wouldnt budge it at all, so I went out and bought a much bigger 3 legged one.
And even with that it was a struggle.
But eventually all of the gears were off the shaft.
Comparing the G52 and R151 input shafts. The only real difference was the amount of splines on the inside of the shaft where it connects to the gearbox and the fact that the G52 shaft must have been an aftermarket one as it was of the stronger one piece variety and not in 2 pieces like the original genuine ones are..
So at the top of the above pic is the one piece G52 shaft and the splines inside the tube section on the end would not fit over this output shaft on the R151 gearbox.
I fitted the R151 shaft and the Marks gears just dropped straight on, they wernt tight like they were on the aftermarket shaft.
I fitted a new bearing as the old one got damaged when removing it.
I made some more paper gaskets.
*It must be the camer angle that makes these 2 gaskets appear different sizes, but I assure you they arnt.
And continued re-assembling the transferbox.
New genuine seals.
This FSM and Marks fitting instructions that Ed found me proved to be very handy.
And now the completed gearbox/transferbox is ready to be fitted to one of the 70's.
The original plan was to fit it to LJ as that was going to be my rock crawling vehicle.
But I think it would get a lot more use if I fit it to The 78 as that is my main vehicle for trips and theres been a few occasions, particularly in the High Country where the hill descents have been so steep that even in low first I've had to use the brakes a lot to try and slow the vehicle down, so with these even slower low range gears fitted my hope is I now wont need to use the brakes at all, even on the steepest of slopes.
I really want to fit it on a hoist as it will only take 2 hours and be a lot easier than on the driveway on my back. So I need to arrange a time to go and use the hoist at work.
I picked up a spare wheel and tyre for the Hilux off Facebook market place for the pricely sum of $50.
Removed the old original split rim spare.
And fitted the new spare.
Next I fitted an Australian made tonneau cover, something which I'd bought way back in January just before I got sick.
I had to fit the middle support and a section of sail track along the front.
And canvas cover.
The Hilux and The 78 have become my main 2 everyday vehicles now.
And the Astra has been cleaned up and is for sale. As the 3 Toyota's are now on club reg, the yearly rego (road tax) and insurance for all 3 is really cheap, I cant justify the expense of the Astra when its not really needed anymore.
If it doesnt sell it can remain a driveway ornament for a few years until it becomes old enough to go on club reg too, or I get sick of it being parked out the front and just scrap it. I actually quite like it being on the driveway because if we're out in Bec's car (which we use most of the time) it appears to any would be burgler that there is someone home.
Fibreglass Top For LJ.
I found a fiberglass top for sale locally for a soft top RJ70 and decided to purchase it.
It needs a few repairs doing to it and a fresh coat of paint and then I think I will sell it. Initially I was thinking of using it on LJ but I've since decided I want to keep LJ as a permanent soft top as originally planned, so I will fix it up and make some money on it.
With the colder months now upon us here in Australia and with winter fast approaching, I knew we needed to get a load of fire wood.
Unfortunately the illness dashed all my plans of getting a load of firewood in the middle of summer with the Hilux and trailer from our local state forest and I also hadnt built a firewood store which I had planned to do.
My old boss had kindly offered to give us a load of firewood from his farm and I came up with an idea for a temporary fire wood store.
I picked up a very cheap second hand shed off Facebook market place and my mate kindly helped me dismantle it, trailer it back to mine and re-assemble it.
As I didnt know how long I would be in hospital for, I decided to put it on the concrete where the old garage was, to make it nice and easy for my heavily pregnant wife to get the wood to take into the house if I'm not around.
My plan is to move it down to the very bottom of the garden next year and put it next to where the green house and chicken pen will go.
My old boss turned up with the firewood in the old club registration Dyna truck that I restored a few years ago.
And tipped it all off for me.
I stacked it all in the shed, which at the time, after just coming out of a month in hospital was a real struggle. my legs and back really ached having not being used to bending down and carrying things. The next day I really ached. Thankfully my strength has come back a lot now but I'm still no where near as strong as I was.
I swept the flu on the wood burner and removed quite a lot of soot.
And 2 months ago I lit it.
Its been lit ever since and will keep going, 24/7 for the next 5 months until things have warmed up again around October time.
This week I was driving home and spotted one of the houses on my street had had a big gum tree removed and they had left all the carefully cut wood lined up along the nature strip (verge) a clear sign it was free for the taking.
So I went and got the Hilux and loaded it up.
And the next morning I went back and got the rest.
Thats all stacked up under the back stairs now to dry out.
I've been busy doing some work in the back garden.
I was keen to sort out the drainage so that the tier I created at the top of the back garden doesnt become too water logged over winter.
So I dug a trench for a pipe to go in to carry all the water away and down the hill side.
I fitted a 90mm storm water pipe and connected it to the pipe coming down from the top of the driveway section I want to concrete and also connected in the AG pipe that runs along behind the bottom of the stone retaining wall I had built.
I got some scoria volcanic rock.
Put some in the trench I'd dug and put another AG pipe in it to drain any water that comes down the ramp of the driveway into the storm water pipe.
I then covered it all over with more scoria.
Sam is 2 and a half now and he loves helping me with whatever I'm working on and he'd enjoyed helping me with the digging and pipe laying.
I went up to the top and stuck the hose pipe in the end of the pipe and then showed Sam the end of the pipe where it comes through the wooden retaining wall and he said "the pipe is having a wee wee Daddy"
I've since put a 90 degree bend on that pipe and brought it down vertically into the ground where I've dug a soak away for it and used more scoria to fill the soak away with.
Sam and I bagged up the remaining scoria as I needed the trailer for picking up other things.
The next job I tackled was the driveway which still needed more digging out to get the levels right for concreting.
I needed the ground to be 150mm below finished concrete level, so that I can have 50mm of crushed, compacted rock and 100mm of concrete on top of that.
So I set up some string lines at finished concrete height and then measured and dug down from those lines.
Sam and I did some more digging and leveling of the area where the green shed was going to be moved to.
And then a couple of weeks ago I spotted something on Facebook market place that I really needed for my shed base.
Concrete paving slabs, 400mm x 400mm x 50mm and they were free!
They're $6-7 each new and as I needed 80 for my shed base that was a significant saving!
Only slight issue was the hundreds of brick pavers on top, which I didnt really need but felt I had to take in order to get to the concrete slabs, as the owner just needed them all gone.
Despite the rain and the fact I was meant to be at home, isolating from covid and resting before my next chemo, I couldnt let this opportunity pass me by.
I did underestimate just how many brick pavers there were though and the amount of effort and trailer loads it would all take, but still, once I'd started I had to keep going even though I felt like giving up a few times.
After a painfully slow drive home with the slug of an engine in the Hilux, I came up with the really stupid idea of taking them down to the bottom of the garden as ultimately they will probably get used down there as a base in the green house/shed/chicken pen.
I got down OK...........
But as I havent done the drainage down the bottom of the garden yet and all the rain water from the house is currently all finding its way down the hill to this area and the fact wed had a lot of rain over the past few months, it was like jelly and once the crust was broken through it was very wet and muddy.
I unloaded the trailer and removed it from the Hilux ready to turn the Hilux around.
Then disaster struck and we got completely bogged.
So I was forced to walk back to the house and leave the Hilux there for the night.
The next morning I assessed the situation.
With nothing to winch off and nothing to set a snatch block up to, there was no way of winching it out or even dragging it out with one of the LandCruisers.
So out came the waffle boards and shovel.........
And amazingly she drove straight out, despite the lack of diff locks at the moment.
I managed to turn it around after a 20 point turn and got it to the base of the hill.
But it was struggling to get up even with the waffle boards which was becoming hard work.
So I walked up to the top and positioned The 78 as an anchor to winch off.
I was really impressed with the 26 year old Warn winch on the front of the Hilux which as far as I know has never been opened up and serviced and still pulls beautifully!
With the Hilux and trailer finally out and my garden destroyed, I went back for another load.
This time I massively overloaded the trailer and had to drive the 10 miles home in low range.
I then went back for one final load.
*The ratchet strap I put on after loading that second load on as I was seriously worried the trailer may burst open with that much weight in it.
This time I stacked them all up the top and next summer I will trailer them down the bottom of the garden when its dry.
I filled the trailer with the concrete slabs and dragged it down to the top tier to use them for the shed base on the next tier down.
After unloading them, Sam and I went and got 3/4 of a ton of sand which Sam absolutely loved as he got to see the front end loader tipping it into the trailer. Hes obsessed with diggers and earth moving equipment!
The shed is never going to have much weight in it, so to save time and money I decided to just lay them on sand.
My mate came and helped me dismantle, move and then reassemble the green shed in its new position.
On the back of the shed will be 2 x 1 thousand litre water tanks to collect rain water off the shed roof to use in summer to water the fruit trees.
Just before we moved the shed I got 3 cubic meters of crushed rock delivered for the driveway, along with the steel reinforcing mesh. If theres enough crushed rock left I will use some for the base of the patio I'm going to build in front of my stone wall.
And with that shed now moved I've finally been able to clear up this top section of garden along the back wall of the house. I've put some grass seed down for now, but the plan is next year to start the 2 storey extension with new double garage below on this section of land.
This extension which will give us a big open plan kitchen and lounge on the back of the house where the amazing views are and an extra 2 bedrooms in the house and an ensuite for the new master bedroom.
So my plan for next week once I'm out of hospital and have had a few days rest to get over this chemo, is to spread all the crushed rock out and wacker it.
And if there is any left move it to where the patio is going so I can start building that and if theres not enough I will go and get a trailer load.
Then hopefully over the next month get the driveway concreted and then I can build a 2 car carport for The 78 and Hilux to live under as I hate them being out in the elements.
This virus has really stuffed up our plans of being able to get away camping.
But I really shouldnt complain because our government have done an excellent job of closing our borders and containing the spread and as a result we've had well under a hundred deaths in the entire country.
Anyway back to the camping.....................
The thing I missed the most about not being able to camp was my yummy breakfasts cooked over the camp fire. So we've had a few camp fire breakfasts here at home and they've tasted sensational everytime!
And last but by no means least...............
What will quite possibly be the only good thing about 2020 for us is our second born, which is due on the 30th of September, although it will probably be a few days/a week before then as we have to have a C section again as we had to have an emergency one last time and its medical practice in Australia to have a C section if thats what the last birth was.
As we are having to have a C section again, we've chosen not to find out the sex this time, so we still have some excitment on the day as we wil obviously no the exact birth date and time before it happens, although we both fee its another boy.
This was the 12 week scan.
And next week we have the 20 week scan!
Bec is doing well but she is still really struggling with the nausea and sickness and isnt keeping much food down, poor girl.
Oh I almost forgot......................................
I see this thread has reached another big milestone as its surpassed 2 million views!
Next time you're working with a sticky puller, put some tension on it and give it a tap - could even be a shifter on it rather than the breaker bar.... I had that experience with the stator and flywheel on the XT600 until a mate came over, told me to put the shifter on it and put it under tension, where he then gave it the gentlest tap and I ended up on my arse...