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.
Just an update to my last post. We finished the rally driving the entire route in a Skoda rental car. We were also able to carry spare parts and some baggage for the other crews which made us feel a little better. The route through the Dolomites and Alps was stunning . We had wanted to have Ruby in Paris and had contacted Cars UK the shipper in the hopes that they could accomplish that for us. Unfortunately they did not have any trucks in or near the area in Kosice so that was that we thought. We contacted Vladimir the garage owner where the car was being stored and amazingly he offered to bring Ruby to Paris. He and his son drove for three days and we met him approx. 50 Kms.outside Paris. Another Australian crew who we had towed during the rally when they had broken down offered to tow us across the finish line. All was well and we were thrilled to be able to cross the line with our Grandchildren sitting in the car with us. At the Gala Dinner that night we were presented with the Concourse D’elegance for the veteran car division. So in the end a good rally. We would like to thank everyone who followed us on the blog and on the rally websites and a special thank you to all our friends who helped us get there.
We are very sad to report that shortly before the Slovakian border Ruby gave one last backfire and ground to a halt by the side of the road. We had had a lovely day in Poland had tackled the first time trial and were looking forward to the rest of Europe. Unfortunately we had been having some engine lubrication problems and the cam shaft finally seized. We put the car on a truck to Koscice and finally to a garage where we spent until 3am. taking it apart. We realised that this was going to be a huge job but still thought we would be able to carry on. However we could not get any parts sent from Canada until Monday, they would arrive Wednesday and it would take at least three days to complete the job. So with much disappoint all round we have rented a car and will continue with the rally into Paris. We will now help the other crews by carrying their spare parts etc. and helping out where we can. We feel somewhat vindicated that we managed to cross Asia and were on the home strait when Ruby failed . C’est la vie!
What a pleasant surprise it was to cross into Belarus and drive through some of the most beautiful countryside we have seen so far. Neat farms some communal we suspected, lovely little farmhouses and yes horses and carts. The road structure is amazing with new roads and highways and a toll system for the roads with an automated receiver mounted in the car!
We started our day with some time trials on some closed tracks in the country and then arrived for lunch where we were honoured in the town square with masses of people again! After a lunch served in a restaurant complete with crystal chandeliers we left to travel on to Minsk. This is where Ruby decided to make rather awful noises and as you now know we had to fix the push rod. Since then she has been going well but will need some repairs in Budapest. Our hotel in Minsk was stunning, five star luxury but unfortunately the day was long and most crews arrived after 9pm. with an early start the next day so not enough time to enjoy the luxury. We then travelled onto Brest stopping on the way for lunch in the lovely town of Mir,we had Draniki , freshly cooked potato pancakes which were delicious and a change from a hard boiled egg from breakfast eaten in the car! Arriving in Brest we visited the Memorial Tower commemorating the Second World War. This was a very moving place with the tomb of the unknown soldier and a huge sculpture towering over the top. They had also built the whole area around the ruins of the houses, some still standing with bullet holes in the walls. We then headed for our hotel which was in complete contrast to the night before. 1960’s Soviet block, oddly furnished and terrible food! This morning it took three hours to clear the border from Belarus into Poland. We are now ready for a good meal and a beer.
Since leaving Kazan an Unesco Heritage sight we have been on a marathon trip across Russia. With many time trials and several sessions on the race circuits including the Moscow raceway Formula One circuit. As it was Sunday I said enough prayers as I was clinging to the roll bar as we sped around tight corners with brakes squealing., whilst Porches and Mercedes rapidly appearing n the rear view mirror! After our three laps the mechanics noticed our tires were low on tread so we opted to change the front wheels for the spares.In the process they also noticed that steering had excessive play so a second spacer was installed reducing the steering wobble. We celebrated our final night in Smolensk Russia with a couple of shots of Vodka
Just a quick update will write a full account of the last few days later.Yesterday afternoon Ruby said enough I need a rest. !! We bent a push rod due to lack of lubrication. With help from Max Stephenson and the rally mechanics we jury rigged a lubrication line which we hope will work until we get to Budapest. So we shall drive carefully for he next three days. It could have been much worse! We arrived at a great hotel in Minsk at 10 pm.covered in engine oil! Must be good for the skin. More later.
The weather since we left Novosibirsk had been wet and miserable. Not so bad when it rains during the day but to have to pack your car in the pouring rain is not pleasant.We stopped overnight in Yekaterinburg but unfortunately it was late when we arrived and so did not have the opportunity to visit the cathedral which has been built over the spot where the Romanovs were assassinated , it also looked a very nice city from what we saw. The days through Russia have been very long but two days ago we were re- routed through the town stadium . The whole town had turned out to see us . We drove around the running track and then onto a ramp up to a small stage where they announced our names and country we were from. Everyone was cheering and rushing to touch the car and hold our hands. Gifts and flowered were handed through the window, babies held up to hug, it was the most humbling experience. These lovely people obviously overjoyed to see us! Even through the smallest of villages which we pass through they are out waving us on. I enjoy the route through the villages. The women look as if they have not moved on from the thirties, the men all seem to dress in camouflage clothing some I am sure is ex army. They are all so cheerful but it must be a tough life especially in the winter. They have stacks and stacks of wood for heating and cooking and many of the houses are made out of logs.
Yesterday was an arduous day with three time trials, one on thick mud, one on rocks and stones and another on a slippery track in the rain. We also had to drive 650 Kms.When we thought were coming close to Kazan they threw another circuit in on the local racing track. I was terrified and spent the time asking Lloyd to slow on the bends and the rest of the time with my eyes closed!! Today is a rest day so we have been cleaning the car on the inside, tightening bolts and topping up the fluids. We are now off to explore Kazan and will write again soon. We are now just over half way and technically in Europe