Sunday 26 August 2012

Finishing: In which everyone breaks down

In my last post from Oglii, I foolishly uttered the words ‘if we have no major breakdowns’ I should have known better…

Having left Oglii we carried on through Mongolia’s dirt roads to get to the next town Altai there is a mechanics and a drop off centre there where which are listed on the Mongol rally guide. As we passed through we looked on smugly at the other teams having car trouble and our convoy team headed off into the desert.  Some 40km out of town, Red Dog Racing hit a roack which punctured both their sump guard and the sump. If (like me before this trip) you don’t know what a sump is be assured it is a vital piece of car.  With oil spilling onto the desert there was no way Red Dog were going anywhere with out our help. This is how I found myself doing my first ever car tow on a potholed sand track in the desert, while team Infinity scouted the route. Returning to the garage in Altai was pretty depressing however the mechanics there pulled off some mechanical wizardry to fix the sump. After this we noticed the engine mounts on Red Dog’s car had also sheared and more work was required to get them back on the road.

With a schedule to meet, we left Altai with team Infinity hoping Red dog would catch us up in a couple of days. Once we were back in the desert Beverly was motoring along and unfortunately hit a ditch too hard. As we jumped out of the car and saw oil spilling onto the sand we feared for the worse. Being over 100kms from the nearest town it would be a long slow tow if our sump was broken. As it turns out the sump was intact, just the oil filter had broken. This would have been equally catastrophic if it hadn’t been for Ant’s genius buying of a spare oil filter before we left the UK. Ben (from Infinity) and I set about making emergency cups of tea, whilst the other fitted the spare filter. Without losing too much time we were back on the road again.

A few hours later checking our map against our co-ordinates we appeared to be off course, however according to another map we were exactly on course. With the road getting worse there was some debate about which was the best way to go, but eventually decided to stick with the road we were on. Progress was pretty slow due to the condition of the road however noticed that Infinity’s car was moving much slower that us. Having pulled in behind them we noticed that their rear wheels were splayed, we flagged them down jacked them up and checked under the car. The axel support was fractured and their rear wheels were in danger of falling off. This was not something that could be fixed easily, while we were pondering the best course of action, team Red Dog appeared out of the desert. We were so pleased to see them again as well as reuniting our convoy team it meant we could get Matt’s opinion on Infinity’s car. I’ll use this point to add a big thanks to Matt from Red Dog, as a  super trained mechanic he’s been magically fixing up all our cars since our convoy team met back in Astrakan.

Unfortunately this break was not one that could be fixed with cable ties or duct tape, the best course of action was to limp on at 10mph and hope Infinity’s wheels stayed on until we got into the next town. We stuck with them on the road so we could help out in case the car terminally broke down, we decided to ignore the Adventurists advice and drive into the night at 10 mph you can avoid every pothole and bump in the road. We got to a river crossing at 11pm where we camped for the night.

The next day we had to get towed across the river by tractor , fortunately Beverly’s air intake was quite easy to access and raise up, so we didn’t flood the engine.  Some slightly too fast driving from one of the tractors meant that Red Dog’s engine got water in it, and we still had Infinity’s broken car to fix. To cut a long story short Uber Faff ensued, but at the end of the day Infinity’s car was in the garage being welded back together and Red Dog were also still rolling.  To make the most of the fading light we split with the convoy and headed into the final stretch of the Gobi desert.

We awoke at the crack of dawn to get going as swiftly as possible, if all went to plan we could reach UlaanBaatar that evening. A few hours into the drive we heard a bad crunching sound from the back of the car. A speedy jack up revealed that once again we had broken a suspension spring, more cable ties were added we rallied on. The stereo was cranked up to drown out the noises coming from Beverly. Once we got closer to Ulaanbaatar the roads turned to tarmac (with varying amounts of pothole) and our speed dramatically increased. We made it in to the finish line at about 8pm, we were pleased to be there but having received a text from the rest of our convoy we found that they were only 3 hours behind us we only stopped off briefly before getting back on the road to surprise them on the way in so we could all roll in to Ulaanbaatar together in triumphant celebration.

Since arriving we’ve now handed over our car keys so they can be sold for the charities, it’s interesting to hear that the cars are worth more here than we paid for them in the UK in spite of all the damage we done to them over the last 6 weeks.

Over all we’ve had one amazing adventure getting to Ulaanbaatar, no doubt you’ll be fed up with us talking about ‘this one time on the rally’ for many months to come…

A big thanks to Ravi, Harvey and Ben  from ‘To Infinity and Baatar’ and also to Adain, Matt and Rich from Red Dog Racing, we had the best fun convoying with you guys!

I’ll add some more pictures later, when we have better internet, and also some posts on all the things we didn’t say whilst on the road so as not to worry various people.


  1. Congratulations! Sounds like you knackered those cars good and proper.

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