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Bio stuff - long!



Well Julian asked for this biodata stuff, all very American and 'have a
nice day'. Currently I work for our US cousins so am used to it.
However, name - Jon Campbell-Walker. Location - mostly Sarajevo Bosnia. In
UK whenever there - 'home' is a canal narrowboat moored near Tring, Herts,
and historic family home with brick walls is Alfold, Surrey. Wife (number
2) is Tania, thankfully much younger and prettier than me, she is a
professional linguist, which is fortunate as she comes from Minsk in
Belarus and occasionally speaks English ;o). Children - girls - (from w no
1) are old enough to have given me 3 lovely grandchildren. Occupation -
professional aid development worker, have been around the world but appear
to have 'settled' here since 1999, but maybe also reflects the enormous
amount of work to do. But this is the best country I have ever worked and
lived in, and can happily spend my retirement here, though would prefer a
house on the nearby Adriatic coast, to which end we are looking for a
suitable house for a B&B business to keep us in pension (4WD tours in the
local Balkans would be a consideration).
Touring area - if that is the right description is obviously the Balkans.
We do have tarmac roads and even 3 stretches of motorway. But most of our
work is naturally in the mountains, where driving can be tough, especially
when avoiding broken bridges blown-up in the war, or rockfalls on the roads
running in gorges. In fact we still use a lot of the rough mountain passes
that the locals used during the war to avoid the military. Even so, we
don't use extra special suspensions, big wheels, snorkels, body lifts, etc.
Standard vehicles are the norm here, and believe me we go anywhere. Its a
matter of driver training and everyday experience. And I can bet that
wherever we want to go, when we get there we will find a Golf (made in
Bosnia by the way) or a little old Yugo. The only difference justifying our
big 4X4's is that we have to go to 6 places/villages/mountains a day. The
locals can take all day to get up their particular mountain, and they
usually do whereas we go the direct route - straight up!
We do have people come out and inspect us sometimes on behalf of the
charities that provide our funds - and meagre salaries. They usually start
by remarking that we run expensive Japanese vehicles that they would see at
the local pony club (Christopher ;o) but by the end of the trip they
realise that quality vehicles are needed to get the work outputs they
demand to give value to their charity donations, even pulling horse boxes
in UK. Although I work for people with vehicle fleets I use my own 80, a
privilege of being a senior manager is that I can justify the need for
autonomy and instant use of a vehicle that only personal possession can
provide. I don't have the time to plan trips in advance to meet the
scheduling requirements of a transport manager. I get paid about 15 pence a
kilometre which is really on a cost recovery basis - my donation to charity !!
Technical content - I got my first diesel maintenance certificate in 1966
and following that I even became a govt training board instructor in
operation, maintenance and overhaul of engines, plant and equipment for 20
years - welding too. I have only ever bought one car from new (will be
posting something about that soon) but have had several new company cars.
So basically all my own cars have been second-hand and I do most of the
maintenance myself, except these days when it gets heavy and technical and
I just don't have the facilities in this place. But my Toy man is a
backstreet mechanic who for 10 years was Red Cross fleet workshop foreman,
and they are all Toyota. In the war he got used to keeping things going
without the right spares, so he is well acquainted with all aspects Toy. He
costs 50 quid a day too.
Working for charities is not the way to get rich so I have to
make-do-and-mend all the time. I get Toy parts when really necessary but
also get pattern parts as far as I can - Birfields, pads, shox, master
cylinder, brake cable etc. etc. So I know some of the UK suppliers quite
well. Also working for aid organisations I have gained a reasonable
knowledge of 75's, 80's, Prados' and even Rav4's (girls car that one). For
over 2 years here I worked for an organisation that had 72 vehicles and all
the 4WD's were from this range of Toys. Currently I am in the market for
'new' 4WD's for my staff, and am betwixt buying 5 year old Nissan Patrols,
which I know is a good motor with a good dealer here, or buying something
cheap like a 'Terracan' or even a Jimny. Any ideas for alternatives well
received thanks. (Anyone wanna buy 5 Lada Niva's?)
My vehicles - the 80 was supplied in 1992 as a military spec to UN
requirements for escorting the UNPROFOR convoys, being switched from
intended use in Asia - so its Asia spec with 12v electrics, one battery,
and 4 rectangular headlights that are so good at accumulating snow! I
bought it from the local Sarajevo body shop that repaired all UN cars, it
was lightly dented in the front LH corner and taken out of service as it
was near its write-down life. It was re-sprayed but in UN white once more.
It has troopie back doors but not the extra seats in the back. Its odometer
now reads over 240,000 kms. Its got the basic HZJ non-turbo 4.2litre 6
cylinder diesel. Military spec - I am told - means that it has heavy cast
head and ceramic capped pistons. It has no electric goodies except for
aircon, not even intermittent wipe (Maplin Velleman delay kit ready to
install now), otherwise no electric this and that. There is no carpet but a
plastic mat, though upholstery was re-done with velour 3 years ago. I use
ordinary Dunlop Grand Trek TG35 AT tyres that get me anywhere and still
drive well on German autobahns in the wet. I have fitted ProComp 9000 shox
- cos they are cheaper than Toy !, a front bull bar to cope with deer that
often write-off small cars out here, and have extended both axle breathers
right up to terminate by the screen wash reservoir. I have also fitted a
Halfords Sparkrite alarm system. Nothing to brag about there! Registration
number 5348 in Vanuatu (South Pacific).
My UK car is a 1988 Mitsi Pajero, SWB 2.5td. Imported from Japan in 1999
and I am its second keeper since then. Its got chrome drug dealer wheels
and the usual chrome 'A' bar with fog lights, otherwise its standard except
that like all Jap cars it has a low ratio diff that is good for
acceleration but occasionally reaches 30 mpg fuel economy. (On the whole
the 80 is cheaper on fuel !) I once parked it outside the Maplin store in
Slough and the local chapter were soon standing round it debating to remove
it or not ! (Maplins is beside a betting shop and a Post Office - and it
was Giro day too!!) I am a member of the Pajero Owner's Club UK and have
got a lot out of that membership and even joined-in their outings when I
have precious time in UK. It remains parked beside my boat in the marina
and a mate takes it for a drive every two weeks to keep everything running
well and non-seized ! Registration number HJI 292 - a number I have had
for about 18 years now.
I find membership of clubs/lists call them what you like, is invaluable.
Especially for ex-pats like me as it also maintains my contacts and 'stock'
of friends in UK. Ex-pat life seems great on the surface but one tends to
lose one's friends back home after a year or so.
I haven't mentioned the wolves, bears, wild boar and snakes that come out
to play here, but maybe another time.
That's it Julian, its far too long now I have read it over, but you have
known me for 2 years and know I am usually brief with my postings so I
will go back to brief mode now !
Interesting details - thanks, and a great deal of admiration.
Too true. You try pulling 2 tons with a Ford Focus - horses for courses!
Christopher Bell
Hi Jon,
Thanks for that. See my other post about putting this on the site.
Julian Voelcker
[Email address removed]
Mobile: 07971 540362
Cirencester, United Kingdom
80less at the moment - Roll on June!
Hi Jon,
Thanks for that. See my other post about putting this on the site.
Julian Voelcker
[Email address removed]
Mobile: 07971 540362
Cirencester, United Kingdom
80less at the moment - Roll on June!