Monday, 29 February, 2016

Getting Ready

 It’s the end of February.  So, three months before we fly out.  Not sure when the car leaves, but well before then I hope.

Mark's car, a 1973 Datsun 240Z,  has an interesting background - it was built for the 1995 London to Mexico rally and in the hands of Ross Dunkerton (5 times Australian Rally Champion) came 2nd.  The car also competed in rallies from Panama to Alaska in 1997, and a Sydney to London in 2000 before being bought by Mark in 2013.

The Z in the 2014 Sydney to London Rally - photo by Allan Vaughan

We went down (to Sydney) last week to pick it up from Stewart Wilkins who has had it since the Alpine rally.    While you might expect the car to already be “rally ready”, there are a few things that had to be done for Peking to Paris (or P2P as I call it now).  

It has been built to strictly comply with CAMS and FIA rules but the P2P regulations specifically ban shock absorbers with external canisters and fibre glass panels. So, they had to go.  The diff cooler is also gone.  It took up a bit of space and given we are desperately short of space – it’s gone.

We have a new GPS as specified by the organisers and a tracker.  I’ll let everyone know the details of that when it's setup but basically the car will be trackable on the internet with updates every couple of minutes. I have a new tripmeter, a Monit.  The faithful old Terratrip is no more. Best feature of the Monit is that it is also a fuel gauge.  It’s also GPS enabled, so promises to be accurate.

The biggest change (to Mark's dismay) is probably the reduction in horsepower.  The engine has been changed to run on low octane fuel which is the only fuel available in places like Mongolia and this has sapped more horsepower than was ever expected.

We had a practice pack on Wednesday as we prepared the shipping list and it’s hard not to get a bit excited.  The cause of our space problem (besides it being a small car) is that we have to camp out each night on the way across Mongolia and sleeping bags, tents etc take space!
So this week we will do some on road testing then it’s back to Stewart for a final spanner check then --- the car is ready

Monday, 7 March 2016

Road test

Last Thursday/Friday was to be our big test prior to shipping.  We picked up the car from the workshop and went for a drive with the aim of testing that everything worked as expected and to try camping.  There will be eight days of camping in Mongolia where there just aren't any hotels.

The weather was pretty hot.  We went west from Sydney and after a bit of gravel around Lithgow we found ourselves very dusty, and the engine running hot and having vaporisation problems.

We then headed for Parkes where we found a caravan park!

Mark (ever cautious) took a cabin as well as a camp site.  He hasn’t camped since he was a boy scout and that’s a long while ago.

 I suspect our patch of green grass in Parkes is a bit more  friendly than the Gobi desert but the organisers tell us that camp spots there will have showers and food.

We ate at the local Services club and as we walked home it started to rain!!  We did stay in the tent all night and the only thing we used from the cabin was the pillows.  We will need to make some provision for that.  We managed to get the tent back in its bag and it wasn’t that much bigger than when we got it out.

We had been here before in a Classic Outback trial and in the 2014 Sydney to London rally, but this time we had time to look at the wild life.

Highlight of the trip back to Stewie’s workshop was the size of the kangaroos in the forest south of Parkes.

The pictures at right  are of one who hopped along a fence line beside the car for a while, and it wasn’t the biggest we saw.  It could have headed off into open spaces but didn’t bother.  It was doing about 40kph and easily cleared three fences that were in its path while we were watching.

And there were dozens, if not hundreds, of these very large 'roos

Car back to Stewart for:
  1. Dust sealing,
  2. Check why it's running hot.
  3. Work on a list of trivia mainly about packing and securing stuff.

I reckon we are ready, but we still haven’t been given a shipping date.

Next: problems getting all the visas