Chengdu is a large city in Western China with 16 million people and very smoggy conditions ! We have had three days here before the rally starts as we had to have eye tests etc.to obtain a temporary Chinese driver’s licence and number plate. However being over 70 six of us were allowed to forego this pleasure for some reason unexplained and we had a day off to explore the city. The most famous thing to see and do here is to visit the Panda Base, so we arose early to try to avoid the crowds. However by 8am. it was already crowded but we managed to get quite close and enjoy them in their natural setting. We then decided to find a shopping centre where we could stock up on necessary supplies for the days ahead. We found a huge supermarket where you could purchase anything from Prada to toilet rolls. Unfortunately we were looking for the latter , so we arrived back at the hotel laden down with toilet rolls and water! All part of a rally experience. We found an amusing sign in the department store which told me I could purchase a less fair maiden outfit! Last night we were taken to a tea house for dinner and and enjoyed an excellent performance of dancers , music and the traditional shadow hands. The food kept coming and as this was schezuan food it was very spicy but delicious. This afternoon we have the safety checks on the car and the signing on and then the medical brief from the Doctor. Ruby is looking good and sounds even better so we hope that continues. Tomorrow we leave on the road to Tibet and the adventure will begin.
Well we eventually made it to Shanghai . We first arrived in Beijing where the passport and visa process went very smoothly and being old has it’s advantages! People over 70 did not have to be finger printed. As we had a very quick connection to Shanghai we were told twice by Air Canada staff that our bags were checked through to Shanghai. Well we waited in Shanghai until the baggage carousel had stopped turning and of course there were no bags for the Reddington’s. However they did catch up with us the next day which was a relief .We spent a lovely three days in the city which has grown enormously since we were there in 2005. Huge skyscrapers on one side of the river but they have maintained the lovely old Art Deco buildings on the Bund which was where our hotel was situated. Yesterday we left the hotel at 7am to to go the train station in Shanghai to take the bullet train to Chengdu . The main road to the station was closed and the cab driver swore and cursed and we thought we would miss the train but eventually he dropped us off and there we were with all our luggage and all the signs in Chinese. We did manage to find our way and found ourselves in a waiting area with several hundred people, mainly, in fact all Chinese. Fifteen minutes before the train was due to leave the gates opened and we pushed and shoved our way down the stairs and onto the train. We had been told that we would be sharing a 4 berth cabin for the 12 hour journey which I was not happy about but we were pleasantly surprised when we found we had a 2 berth carriage with a lovely gold brocade sofa! However after 12 hours we could could hardly move as the seats and bed were so hard! We were extremely glad to be met in Chengdu and brought to the hotel. We are now awaiting the delivery of Ruby and keeping our fingers crossed that she starts!
Why is it when you have known about this rally for a year or more that you are now running around like a March hare! We have been extremely busy during the last few weeks organizing our visas, hotels and other paperwork. The visa for China was a concern for us especially with the relationship between Canada and China at the present time and we had heard that as from January 1st. 2019 all Canadians had to be finger printed at a Chinese Embassy before departure. We duly made an appointment to visit the visa office in Vancouver and were pleasantly surprised when they told us our visas that we had obtained in 2016 were in fact valid for 7 years so the was not required and further more we need not be finger printed! The visas for Nepal and India were easier to obtain so in that respect all is well. Lloyd and I are flying to Shanghai and stopping there for three days and then we are taking the bullet train to Chengdu where we shall meet the rest of the participants and hopefully will be reunited with Ruby! Trying to book the train tickets proved a little more difficult . We tried to book them on line but found it hard to book direct without going through a tour company who then wanted our entire itinerary . We eventually found a Chinese travel agency in Victoria who liaised with a colleague in Shanghai and hopefully our tickets will be waiting at our hotel, fingers crossed.
Now it is just the photocopying of all our documents, registering with the Canadian government travel section and picking up our prescriptions. We are taking the usual suspects , antibiotics, pain killers etc.and also Diamox which is used to help prevent altitude sickness. Packing our clothes will be the last thing and then April 12th we fly To Shanghai and the beginning of yet another adventure. We shall keep you posted when we can.
Today we have to pack the car recording everything for the shipping agent and Chinese Customs. No aerosols, no inflammable liquids, the rules are endless. The paperwork incessant and we still have to obtain our visas for India and Nepal. At least our flights and pre and post rally hotels are all confirmed. Just the train ride from Shanghai to Chengdu to book and the sump guard to install.
I took Ruby to our garage to install the sump guard as he has a pit making the job much easier. Whilst in the pit we noticed a drip of gear box oil coming from the clutch housing. Should this oil get onto the clutch plate it would cause the clutch to slip. There was no alternative but to pull the transmission and replace the seal in the gearbox, Within 36 hours this had been done and the transmission reassembled. A quick test run showed the clutch working well but the brakes now pulling sharply to the right. Return to the garage showed that a spring on the brake system had inadvertently been left off. That was quickly snapped back into place and the car now stops in a straight line, more or less!
Yesterday Ruby was delivered to the shipping agent in Vancouver. Next time we see Ruby will be in Western China.
Ruby, our 1927 Nash Roadster came home in 2016 from Paris in disgrace having broken down in Poland on our second Peking to Paris Rally. So near yet so far! On return to Canada we found that a small copper pipe within the engine supplying oil to the camshaft had been improperly secured causing it to fracture from vibration. This in turn caused the camshaft to seize thereby stripping the timing gear. All this was duly repaired and test runs carried out. Shortly after the first rebuild the car started making a ‘popping’ sound under load. The car seemed to lack power on hills and the noise became progressively worse.
A second strip down of the engine showed a leaky exhaust valve on the 6th cylinder. This time we used a different engine rebuilder and had the cylinder head remachined and the valves reseated. With the help of Ron a good friend the engine was once again reassembled. Bingo, this time all seems well. We took the car on a 300Kms tour of South Vancouver Island and apart from a fuel pump failing all went well. The fuel pump, we have two, has now been replaced and our local garage did a full service and gave us a clean bill of health.
In a weeks time the car will be shipped to China for the starting point in Chengdu. From there we will cross the Himalayas to Nepal.