A Travellerspoint blog

20 September 2010

Awoke this morning to the feel of winter snowflakes gently falling to the ground, none lay on the ground but it is a sign of things to come.

We have a quiet day today. The car is on the way to the border campsite and we have received confirmation that the truck passed Bayankhonguur about midday, on schedule for delivery early Wednesday morning.

A quiet day with a bit of shopping before a delightful evening meal at the Ukrainan restaurant across the road from the hotel.

We will be downtown to change some roubles for petrol purchases in Russia before going to the airport for our flight to Khovd.

Posted by nbrice 18:55 Archived in Mongolia Comments (1)

19 September 2010

0 °C

Cabbed it to the workshop after a hearty breakfast. When we got there the car had been taken off the ramp and was inside the workshop having the peripherals fitted to the engine. The radiator and grille were a real bastard to fit, bloody English cars. Hoses and cables connected, coolant and oil added, and then the moment of truth. Ignition on starter pressed, we have lift off. Oil pressure was good and no knock or other noises. The engine was left idling to reach operating temperature. Oil pressure remained good. What a bloody relief. Sam Barnsey and local mechanic Howie have done a sterling job, a complete engine rebuild in a day and a half.

Frank and Ross's parts had arrived and at about the same time their EH Holden car roared into life - smiles all round.

We plastered both cars with Major Drilling stickers, packed the car, reversed it onto the ramp, the truck arrived, we drove on ready for tie down and then the Princess was on its way. Breakfast at the border camp with the others next Wednesday.

Photo opportunity before departure for all of us and our saviors. Without their help we would have been right out of it.

Frank & Ross ready to roll

Frank & Ross ready to roll


Out to the Car

Out to the Car


New Sponsor Major Drilling

New Sponsor Major Drilling


Loading onto the truck

Loading onto the truck


Left to right Barnsey, Frank, Sam, Norm and Ross

Left to right Barnsey, Frank, Sam, Norm and Ross

Posted by nbrice 19:04 Archived in Mongolia Comments (2)

18 September 2010

0 °C

The team get further ahead whilst we are languishing in UB. We travelled to the outskirts with Boldo from Major Drilling to wave goodbye to Maggie and Roger in the new car 80 a Land Rover Discovery they bought as a replacement for their Cadillac LaSalle Coupe. Then it was out to Major's workshop to work on the car. Our parts had arrived during the night.

Mechanics Sam and Barnsey had unpacked the bits and checked them. The big end and end caps were removed from the replacement crankshaft and the good news was that shaft and bearings were in good condition to get us running again. The worn engine had been stripped down yesterday in readiness. The connecting rod and cap from number 5 cylinder had been damaged and required scraping and smoothing luckily it was OK otherwise we would have needed to remove the cylinder head to replace it, which would have delayed us further.

The mechanics patiently went about installing the half bearing shells into the block, then it was time to put the replacement crankshaft into place. It fitted perfectly. The other halves of the shells were placed and the end caps bolted into place and tensioned. Gaskets were made using Blue Goo and heat resistant silicone. The timing chain and sprockets fitted and the valve timing set. A new felt seal was made for the timing cover and the cover replaced. The oil pump was reassembled using the gears from the replacement bits and the housing from the original engine, it was installed then the sump replaced. On with the flywheel.

About midday Boldo arrived with the truck driver and relatively new Fuso 4.5 tonne flatbed truck to transport the Austin to the border. After discussion, checking of maps, it was agreed that he could make it by Wednesday morning. The price was agreed, with a bonus for on-time delivery. We all shook hands and agreed to meet tomorrow at ten when the repairs should be nearly complete.

Sam and Barnesy were concerned at the condition of the welch plugs and didn’t like the spares we had, so new plugs were turned up by the fitter on a lathe and installed: they are probably the best plugs in existence! The fitter also made a clutch aligning tool and the clutch plate and pressure plate fitted. At about 4:30 PM we had a "new" engine ready to install.

After about an hour of pushing and shoving and swearing it was juggled into position and bolted to the bell housing. Our spare engine mount was fitted as the rubber on one was split. During the afternoon the skies had become overcast and threatening, with rain and lightning in the distance getting progressively closer. At about 5:30 the rain and hail started and we called it a day with about 4-6 hours work to complete in the morning.

Major's Manager Rob had organised a barbecue for the staff and hapless competitors. During the morning a sheep and two big legs of pork were delivered, prepared and set up on two big gas-fired Aussie Roasters. Colin and Rob dissappeared and returned with many cartons of beer, soft drink, a carton of vodka and a flagon of bundy, plus marinade materials. About middday the gas was lit. The rotisserie chain drive on one roaster was proving troublesome and Rob assigned a mechanic to tend it lest the food would burn or cook unevenly. You could tell that the cooking was going well as the two workshop dogs hung around all day, not straying far from the roasters. At 5:00 PM the gas was turned off and the meat carved. Served with bread and salad it was a feast. Barbeques are apparently a favourite with the local Mongol staff. They certainly got stuck into the food and booze, vodka being drunk like water, and after an hour or so there were only a few bones left. The dogs had a field day with the trimmings and bones. About seven, Rob organised transport to take the local staff home - none were fit to drive and some could barely walk. Colin and I walked out to the street and caught a cab back to the hotel, exhausted.

Frank and Ross in car 101 are nervously awaiting the delivery of their parts tonight. Bruce and Ben in the Chrysler 75 have had to withdraw. Bruce has found a place as navigator in another car and is flying to Khovd tomorrow.

Colin and I returned to the Chingis Khaan Hotel exhausted but with real confidence that we would rejoin the Rally.

Ah, another eventful day in Ulaan Bataar.

Maggie & Roger on their way

Maggie & Roger on their way


Waiting for the engine

Waiting for the engine


Replacing the Bearings

Replacing the Bearings


Rob & the Washingtons

Rob & the Washingtons


Barnsey on right Sam centre

Barnsey on right Sam centre


Rob preparing the BBQ

Rob preparing the BBQ

The big Aussie Roasta

The big Aussie Roasta

Posted by nbrice 18:46 Archived in Mongolia Comments (0)

16 September 2010

Colin and I went down for breakfast at about 7:30 AM expecting to breakfast alone but there were crews from five other vehicles seated around the table. The word is that there are many other vehicles in workshops around UB awaiting repairs. Most were hoping to get away today.

We rechecked our schedule and firmed up a price to truck the car to the border: the km rate was less than 60% of that charged by Nomad Tours. Payment was arranged through our Townsville office, thank god for them (and me an athiest).

We walked down town to find the Air Mongolia office to arrange our travel to Khovd: no credit card, and must book in person. After traipsing around town for an hour and a half asking directions we finally located the office. The staff were very helpful and shortly after we left with our tickets. The airline has a special rate for foreigners - it is double the rate for Mongols. The aircraft is a SAAB 340 similar to those which fly to the mines west of Townsville

The AM office was near to Seoul St which is the bar district so we had lunch and a beer in the Dublin Bar which claims to be the first Irish Bar in UB. After, we strolled to the Brauhaus had another beer and decided to return to the hotel. Many cars in UB operate as unregulated taxis: I found a likely looking Hyunda, said to the driver "Taxi" he said yes, I showed him the card from the Chiingis Khan hotel and held up 5 fingers. He nodded and we had a contract to take us to the hotel for about $A4. On the trip I could see Colin in the front of the car nodding off in the sun. He did awaken when we got to the hotel - at least enough to get to the room for an afternoon power nap.

The schedule is for our parts to arrive on Friday night and be collected, and be at the workshop for installation and engine reassembly. Hopefully that will be completed Sunday morning and the car should leave on the back of a truck for the Russian border to arrive 24-48 hrs after the rally team. Hopefully we will catch them in Kazakhstan.

Tomorrow we will make sure we have all the documents required for the border crossing

Fingers crossed

Posted by nbrice 14:41 Archived in Mongolia Comments (0)

15 September 2010

0 °C

After sadly watching the other participants depart at 7:30 we breakfasted and left for Major drilling where the mechanics had removed and were stripping the engine ready for the new parts. The wear and damage confirmed that our decision to freight new parts was correct. All bearings and the oil pump were worn. A patch up job would have certainly resulted in failure in western Mongolia and withdrawal from the Rally: now we have a good chance of continuing.

After the repairs are complete we will have the Princess trucked to the Russian border to avoid the rough difficult mountainous sections to the west of UB. We have heard reports from travellers coming east that the roads are very bad. Apparently the rains that caused the Pakistan floods extended into Mongolia and the river crossings are a metre deep. We intend flying into Khovd on Tuesday after the Princess leaves UB and ride in the truck for the last 350km to the border.

After this we may write a book “Rallying in Mongolia from the Back of a Truck”. We will have covered the whole country on the back of a lorry.

The Washington's in their Chrysler hope to leave today after replacing big end bearings and reconditioning their oil pump with new gears made by the capable guys at Major.

Roger and Maggie in their Cadillac LaSalle had their fan and radiator repaired and left yesterday, moving with the rally. They made it 16km before the fan bearing seized, pushing the fan through the radiator. They were towed back to UB. We were having dinner and a couple of beers at the Grand Khan Irish pub and they walked in and related their experience. They have lost all confidence in their car and intend buying a 4WD and catching up with the rally, travelling as spectators.

We have some organising to do tomorrow arranging air tickets to Khovd and the transport of the Princess. It's frustrating being stuck here knowing that every day we are slipping further behind, and that we will not have the support of the rally organisation till we catch up with them. What the hel,l it's supposed to be an adventure.

To cap it all, yesterday Colin realised he was missing a credit card and we spent a couple of hours of fruitless searching and discussions with a local bank before he put a stop on the card.

Posted by nbrice 17:25 Archived in Mongolia Comments (2)

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