We jumped from the van in search of the only English speaking person at Hospedaje Lazo named Mahilda. Any time we had a question or needed something the staff would call for Mahilda, rather than attempting to slowly converse with us in Spanish. She was the daughters of the owners of the hotel; however she has been living in Miami for the last 15 years and spoke fluent English. Lucky for us. We explained to Mahilda that Manuel and a mechanic we supposed to show up in the morning, however no-one had arrived. Grabbing the nearest cellular phone, she dialled up Manual to check on his whereabouts. Apparently, he was on his way. Sure he was. Within half an hour, Ariel the mechanic showed up and with Michael's assistance the two began to disassemble the steering wheel to access the ignition cylinder. The Haynes Repair Guide was again used to figure out all the various nuts and bolts that needed to be removed. It was not long before 'Nilla was without a steering wheel and that ignition cylinder was extracted. Finally, the key was removed, however Ariel delivered the bad news that the cylinder was locked and was not able to be repaired. It was Sunday and all the automobile parts stores were closed. We made arrangements to meet at 8:00am the following morning to head into Managua to search for a new ignition cylinder.
It remained very hot and humid and to avoid another sleepless night, we made arrangements to hook up electricity to the van in order to run our fan. We spent the evening in 'Nilla passing the time snacking on food and working on crossword puzzles.
Getting up early on June 11, 2007, Michael removed the front passenger seat and the engine console to find a rattle that had been drawing much attention over the past few days. The first noticeable problem was that the carburetor pin was too long did not hold the air filter housing tightly in place. Secondly, the plate that connects the hose from the air filter to a vent under the vehicle was rusted and rattled endlessly as is vibrated against the engine. Removing a few bolts the plate easily fell off and the bolts were put back. We may need to reconnect all of these parts when we get back into colder weather, however for now, they are not needed. With our preparatory work out of the way, we bagged up the locked ignition cylinder, carburetor pin, and the air filter as we figured that if we were headed to the parts store, we may as well get everything we need. With enough time for quick showers from a bucket, we dressed and were ready to hit the capital city of Managua. We even had time to scarf down breakfast before our scheduled 8:00am meeting time. We decided to wait out front of Hospedaje Lazo for Manual and Ariel. Standing in the sun, was starting to defeat the purpose of having a shower as we both were sweating up a storm. It was after 8:30am when the guys finally showed up. Not wasting any time, we jumped in the taxi and set sail for Managua.
Managua is an interesting town filled with small shops generally connected to the owners' home. We scoured the shops in various neighbourhoods in search of the parts we needed. Nothing.
Not to be defeated that easily, we headed to the large commercial district, which is filled with Automobile dealers that also sell replacement parts albeit at inflated prices. Again, we left empty handed. At the final stop of the day, we found a replacement air filter. Apparently, the model we need is not stocked at many places, as we checked nearly 20 shops before finding the right one. We bought the final two air filters on the shelf, which should give us enough replacements to get to South America and back home again. After four hours of circling around Managua we ended our quest to find a replacement ignition cylinder and decided on following Plan B, which was to bypass the original ignition and wire a new one into the dash. On the way back to Tipitapa, we picked up the new ignition and grabbed a threaded rod to cut down to the proper size to hold the air filter housing firmly in place atop the carburetor. We arrived back at Hospedaje Lazo in Tipitapa some five hours after setting off in the morning. We were pooped and the repairs had not even started yet.
After taking 30 minutes for lunch, Ariel returned and we got down to work on getting the new ignition installed. Michael fixed the carburetor rod with the use of Ariel's tools and one job was scratched off the list. Ariel spent hours sorting through the tangled mess of wiring, before solving the puzzle and getting the correct order of wires down. A test connection of the ignition fired 'Nilla up perfectly and then the focus was to mount the ignition on the dash. Using a thin sharpened piece of metal as a makeshift knife and drill, Ariel meticulously carved a hole in the plastic dash.
It was impressive to watch, given the tool he used. The most difficult part was getting the lock ring back around the steering wheel. The Haynes Guide showed a picture of a specialized tool used to depress the steering wheel mechanism in order to place the lock ring on. Without this tool, Ariel and Michael pushed and squeezed together the parts all the while slowly working the lock ring back into place with a screwdriver. The method was unorthodox, but it worked. Everything was put back together and tested. It was 5:30pm by the time the wiring was finally taped up neatly and the van was in working order. The long and tiring day set us back a few dollars as we paid C$300 for the 5 hour taxi ride and another C$600 for the mechanic work. This was all over and above the C$180 we paid for the new ignition. In total, the repair bill was nearly $60 USD. Since it was so late in the day, we were forced to spend another night in Tipitapa at Hospedaje Lazo. At least with electricity the fan cooled of the van sufficiently for us to get some sleep.
On June 10, 2007 we sat around for hours waiting for Manual and his mechanic friend to show up. Everyone at Hospedaje Lazo was working up a storm cleaning the main house and getting ready for painting. We considered offering to help, but figured that the mechanic would be arriving any minute. As the hours rolled by it was noon before we knew it. Something had to be done.