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Visit this page frequently to see news and updates on our preperation and (or lack of) progress with the 2005 Mongol Rally.

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Latest News
Back to reality 22nd September 2005
The smell of the steppe 6th September 2005
We're in Almaty... 21st August 2005
Onwards into Kyrgystan 17th August 2005
More Pics 16th August 2005
Samarkand 15th August 2005
Pesky Potholes 8th August 2005
Live from the street 5th August 2005
   
Archives
September 2005
August 2005
July 2005
June 2005
May 2005
April 2005
March 2005
November 2004

  Vuelta a Espa?a 27th June 2005  

Some friends of mine were taking a two week holiday to tour the perimeter of Spain on motorbike. Until now I had never been to the North of Spain and wanted to check out all the good things I'd heard. A long weekend holiday doubled up to be a good road test of the Mini and my ability to cover large distances day by day.

We covered some 1500 kilometers in four days, starting from Madrid, stopping of at Zamora, Orense, Santiago, Oviedo and Segovia at different stages of the route. On the Sunday I had the opportunity to drive the through the magnificent Picos de Europa mountain range.

I would recommend to anyone to visit the northern Spain. It has so much to offer, and shows off Spain's diversity against the common image of the horrible touristy sun spots of the Med.

The Mini coped very well initially, covering more than half the distance without incident. However things took a turn for the worse once into the mountain ranges close to Oviedo. I have this inability to drive slowly in twisty mountain ranges. I just can't resist the thrill of pushing the car towards its limits. Unfortunately I pushed the car beyond the limits of its brakes. Suffering gradual brake fade, I noticed the pedal going soft so I backed off a little, but it got worse to the point that flooring the break pedal had little affect in stopping the car...

We stopped to let the poor thing cool down again, but they did not improve much. The car was still drivable, but it was now time to exercise extreme caution in getting the car the remaining 60km to Oviedo. That was made worse by the fact that I was at the top of a mountain and had to get down somehow!

Slow speed, engine breaking and help from the handbrake saw us on our way, but then it started to rain. Having been in Madrid for last two years the car has seen very little of the wet stuff. This storm illustrated the current weakness in the HT circuit. While fighting to stop the car, it then started running on only 3 cylinders making my life that much more difficult. Then, at a set of traffic lights the thing stalled and wouldn't restart.

With the car at the side of the road, in the heavy rain I managed to find cause(s) of the fault. The terminals in the dizzy cap had white deposits and one of the ht leads was similarly corroded. Cleaning these up got the car running on all four cylinders again and enabled me to carry on the remaining brake less 40km.

The following day we asked at several garages who were unable to assist with the brakes, however one friendly chap offered to have a look. Inspecting the front right brake caliper we could see no signs of a leak, yet that morning I had found brake fluid on the wheel and tire and had needed to top up the brake fluid reservoir.

I proceeded to bleed the system, expelling a lot of air out of the front right. This not only cured the problem but actually made the brakes perform better than ever before.

We then continued with our trip and the car ran faultlessly for the remaining 600km. Regular inspection of the brakes showed more leaking, so it looks like it was just a case of brake fade. I dread to think how old the fluid was so it is no real surprise, but it also seems like there was some kind of leak. This definitely needs closer inspection and a brake fluid flush has now been added to the pre-rally service list.

The trip has given me a confidence boost. Despite two quite fundamental problems I managed to fix the car and continue without too much delay. I have also been able to work out more or less the Mini's fuel consumption. After some fun imperial metric conversions I make it to be about 36mpg in touring conditions. I'm not sure if that is good or not, but it was better than that of Philippe's bike and about twice as good as my old car.

 

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Submitted by Andy

 
  Moores Pub Quiz 14th June 2005  

We managed to raise just under 100 euros last night when the Moores pub quiz was dedicated to the Mongol Rally and Send a Cow. We were joined by Leo, JC and "Ducky" their trusty bright yellow Citroen 2cv.

A fun night, as always, with the added bonus that my team were two points away from winning. We were also joined by a Spanish chap who had done a trip across Mongolia a couple of years ago. He was full of advice and stories, but due to the noise (Jo's shouting) and atmosphere in the pub, a lot of these have been saved for another day.

A huge Thanks must go to the quiz masters, Pete and Jo, who kindly offered to donate all the proceeds to Send a Cow, and helped us spread the word about the rally and what we are doing.

 

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Submitted by Andy

 
  Haynes book of lies! 13th June 2005  

I set out on Sunday afternoon to try and change the suspension on the Mini. I purchased a set of Hi Lo's last weekend which are height adjustable suspension parts for a Mini. These are designed to raise or lower the ground clearance. Given our journey, clearly, I want to raise the height of the car.

Now the fronts require a special tool, so I knew that these would have to wait, however the Haynes manual for the rears made it sound easy. Jack up the rear of the car, remove the road wheel, disconnect the shock absorber from the rear trailing arm, lower the rear trailing arm and simply prise the suspension trumpet from the rubber cone... Well when ever I see the word prise in the Haynes manual I know full well that that translates to "stab yourself a few times with a screwdriver, get a bigger hammer, shout and swear, kick it, and if all else fails get the hacksaw or the angle grinder out!"

Unfortunately I didn't even get that far before I hit problems. The manual forgot to mention that to remove the shock from the lower mount, you have to remove it from the top mount to gain the necessary clearance. No problem I hear you say. Two spanners and job's a goodun... No. On the left hand side this requires you to remove the fuel tank first! Hmmm... thanks for the warning Mr Haynes.

Anyway, shock absorber obstacle out of the way, I found that no amount of prising, kicking, levering and swearing was going to get the old suspension out. I later found out that this is quite common as the two parts corrode together. Anyway, after several hours and no progress I gave up (thats the spirit I need to get to Mongolia). I will tackle it another day, but at least I know what to do now (thanks to google and some Mini newsgroups). It will require taking a whole lot more apart, but should be achievable in a couple of evenings.

After the sweet taste of failure, I decided to hit ebay. Only to lose out on a bid for a Mini oil cooler... further dejection. Kept searching and managed to pick up two 20L Jerry Cans for £2.50 and a Mini Sump Guard for £28.

A further Thank You to Niel, ebay user nebur_1999, who has kindly waived all postage and packaging charges on the Sump Guard after he found out what we are doing.

So, not a complete waste of a day then. I just need to send my poor mother round to collect the Jerry Cans.

 

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Submitted by Andy

 
  What a drive! 6th June 2005  

The drive back from Salou must have been one of my best drives for a very long time. Of the 500k, only 130k was on the motorway.

The rest was on fast flowing country roads with a few small mountain passes thrown in for fun. These were like great B roads that you'd find in Wales or the Lake District, but they just went on and on.

To add to the experience we saw several very traditional villages perched on rocks, castles and token funny village names: Daughter, Black Eyes and Thing.

Care free motoring at its best. If this is what the Rally will be like, then I can't wait.

On the down side, the car is still running hot. In yesterday's Mini procession we crawled around in first gear, stopping and starting loads, the additional fan keeping the car nice and cool. Somewhat strangely, it is at high speed that the car gets too hot. Climbing hills on the motorway at about 65-70mph sees the car get dangerously close to the red. Given the nature of our journey, I don't think we will be doing too much motorway driving past Prague, however I do think this needs addressing.

I'll have to check out that water pump, but I think a oil cooler is in order.

 

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Submitted by Andy

 
  International Mini Meeting 2005 5th June 2005  

Esperanza and I took the Mini over to Salou, south of Barcelona, for this year's International Mini Meeting with the intention of spreading the word and obtaining some sponsors.

The event itself was fantastic. Some 800 Minis had been driven from all over Europe for the meeting from as far as Poland and Finland. Good to see I'm not the only one prepared to attempt long distance journeys in a Mini.

I approached Wood & Pickett with regards to sponsorship. They expressed that they would have been interested any other year, but this year they were putting a lot into the Italian Job. This is an event where 100 Minis drive from England to Italy in order to raise money for the National Children's Home.

Looks like I was beaten to it, but I can't knock them for that. Its a great event, and between the different teams they've raised more money than I suspect all the Mongol Rally teams will do all together (Proove me wrong guys).

I approached a couple of other companies, but they were not interested. I won't give them the benefit of placing their names here.

The highlight of the weekend, had to be the parade around the town and along the sea front. Can you imagine what the impact of 800 Minis on a small coastal tourist town is like? Sheer madness!

Unfortunately as I was ill all weekend I didn't get to speak to many people about the rally, the car and general planning. Neither was I able to put 100% effort into getting a sponsor. Oh, well such is life. I just hope my team mate in the UK is having more luck than me.

We did manage to get rid of several hundred flyers about the event, which at worst will should raise the profile of the event, at best bring some sponsorship.

 

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Submitted by Andy

 

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