Western Australia

Derby

We survived the Gibb and made it to Derby but not without battle scars. The grinding noise has gotten worse and is now quite a chunky creak that I can really feel vibrating through the floor of the car. We creaked our way into the Derby caravan park and promptly started to look around to see what the problem was. It felt like the problem was at the front, given the strength of the vibration I can feel at my feet and the fact that I need to turn the steering wheel off centre to drive straight. Its’s like something in the steering is damaged. I asked a neighbour at the caravan park to walk along side the vehicle as I drove it around, listening for the noise. He immediately identified it as coming from the rear. I’ve been looking at the wrong end.

A look under the rear end had the problem quickly identified – a broken leaf spring.

broken leaf spring found at derby caravan park

The main leaf spring is broken. That can be pretty serious, since the rear axle isn’t really attached to the vehicle any more once the main leaf breaks. Luckily these leaf springs have “military wrap” where the secondary leaf wraps around the mount. Many leaf springs have this design. If the main leaf breaks it collapses onto the secondary leaf and the vehicle is still perfectly drivable. The handling goes off a bit because the leaf spring is no longer positively held captive onto the mount, it’s just resting on the second wrap. When the main leaf broke the rear axle shifted which then needed to be corrected with steering input to continue to drive straight. The technical term for this arrangement is “crabbing”. The off centre axle pulled the secondary leaf to one side and the big creaking noise was the secondary leaf grinding against the side of the mount housing.

Broome would be a good spot to replace the leaf spring. It’s a much bigger town than Derby and I’ve got a mate living there so have a spot I can park up and undertake repairs. We can make it to Broome with a broken leaf spring, can’t we? What about via some offroading to a fishing spot called Telegraph Pool? Fishing is pretty important. I think we can do it. To be sure, I sprayed some oil (also known as “tool box in a can”) onto the problem area.

It was relieving to get the problem identified and mitigated with spray oil. Now we could go out and enjoy Derby. First thing was a food shop. After around 4 weeks on the Gibb River Road we were running pretty low on supplies. We walked around town doing the heritage trail checking out all the old buildings and stuff. During our travels we went to two pubs. First the fancy but character lacking Spinifex Hotel. Then the complete opposite – the Boab Inn. We had some coffee and cakes whilst interpreting fine art at the Jila Cafe and walked the Derby Jetty.

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2 replies »

  1. Good to get the problem ID ‘d — now the fun of the fix . Should be straightforward I hope , but worth investing in a ” 4 wheel alignment” after you fix it. It’s on my list to do as I can’t track a slight vibration in the steering at about 90 km + and think the work done on the new suspension may possibly be at the heart of this issue. Balanaced and rebalanced but still there .
    You look like you are having a great trip 👍👍

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