Friday, 23 October 2015

Ulanbataar to Blighty - Sorted!

Well dear reader 20,485 miles covered so far with only 136 more to go before we arrive back in Potton.  The journey home was not as straight forward as we had hoped for.  To make things simple for you I have broken the journey down into the three main stages;
  • 1. Ulanbataar to Moscow
  • 2. Moscow to the Baltics
  • 3. The Baltics back home

UK to Mongolia and back our final route

Ulanbataar to Moscow.

We left Ulanbataar full of confidence that all our problems were behind us.  My new axle was working well and I sounded healthy enough. The only little niggle still remaining was the oil leak but as long as my oil was checked regularly and topped up as necessary everything was A OK.

During the journey back to Moscow we popped in to say hello to Igor and the guys at F!T Service and get a quick check out.  The guys noticed that the front seal was leaking and as I had one of these we decided to change the seal and hopefully resolve the oil leak problem.

As ever nothing was as simple as we hoped for.  While changing the seal Igor noticed that there was still a leak from the rear oil seal and that the bulkhead supports had come away and needed welding.  Also the nearside wheel bearings were a little bit loose.  So the guys rolled up their sleeves and went about changing the oil seal, welding up the bulkhead and doing some 'adjustments' to the wheel.  They stayed late and managed to get everything done so we were not delayed on our onward journey.

Matt ordered a rear oil seal and some gaskets to replace the ones used and a solenoid as I was having some difficulty starting.  We left Novosibirsk hoping that the next five days of driving to Moscow would be straight forward.  As you can probably guess it wasn't. 

We left Novosibirsk and no sooner had we left I started having difficulty starting.  There was an ominous whirring sound and no action.  A thump on the solenoid or starter motor initially helped but fairly soon Matt and Sarah had to resort to bump starting me every time the ignition was switched off. Not good!

Anyway Matt managed to add a starter motor to the list of parts our friends at ESM Morris Minor were sending out to Moscow for us.  Until then Sarah was pushing me while Matt did the necessary to get me going.  Other than that and some variable weather we managed to get to Moscow in good time.

Moscow to the Baltics

As we left Novosibirsk Igor had given us the address of the F!T Service place in Moscow where we were hoping to get the rear oil seal sorted and at the same time the starter motor.  Also it seemed that the clutch was slipping a little so as the engine needed to be removed to do the oil seal Matt asked them to check out the clutch at the same time.

We arrived in Moscow pretty much at the same time as the parts shipped out from the UK did which was great as that mean no time was lost in getting me to the garage so the work could be done.  Unfortunately no one at the garage spoke any English and so communications were really difficult until Matt's mate Eddie who was working in Moscow at the same time as we were there managed to get a colleague to translate.  Still not ideal but ten times better than Google translate.

Anyway the engine was duly removed and the rear oil seal replaced.  The clutch was badly worn and so it was replaced with the spare one I had.  The starter motor was also replaced but it seems that the fly wheel was badly damaged.  I can't say I understood what the garage meant when they said they had turned the fly wheel over but I started so wasn't too concerned as long as we could get home I could then have Rod look at it.

Once again nothing was easy.  Matt came and picked me up from the garage and left to go back to the hotel.  I ran OK for the first mile or so but then started to overheat and had no power.  Didn't know what was wrong but clearly something wasn't right so we turned around and limped back to the garage.  On the way back the brakes locked and I was stuck in traffic.  Fortunately someone got out to help push me off the road and we managed to release the brakes.  I got back to the garage and Matt explained we weren't happy and that they needed to sort me out.  Once again I was left to the tender mercies of the mechanics who bled the brakes (they insisted the pads were OK and nothing needed changing), adjusted the timing and compression (don't know why they did this as I was fine when I went in for the oil seal change).

Anyway after another day or so Matt came and collected me and insisted that they follow us to the hotel some 20 miles away so we had some backup if something still went wrong.  Nothing did and so we arrived back at the hotel happy we were good to go.  Matt decided I needed an oil change and managed to get hold of an oil filter in readiness for this as and when we found somewhere to do it.  Once Matt and Sarah finished looking around we left for St Petersburg and the Baltics I had an oil change on the way and also managed to find someone who could check the tracking as my wheels were clearly mis-aligned.  My tracking was checked and adjusted but they don't seem to have the right equipment and it was basically done with a tape measure and by eye.  Whatever it was they did I was certainly better afterwards than I was before.

I think it's fair to say that nothing more untoward happened for the rest of this stage of our journey although Matt and Sarah felt things still weren't quite right.

Baltics to Blighty.

We left Russia and crossed our final border where I needed to show my passport (V5c).  Roads were good, weather dry and fine and all seemed well with the world.  Ah well lulled into a false sense of security again.

I'm not quite sure where the difficulties started but I seem to have a strange noise happening now when accelerating.  It's not my engine but could be the wheel bearing the chaps in Novosibirsk 'adjusted'.  Also the brakes began to bind again.  They didn't lock but I was getting a juddering when accelerating until they freed themselves.  It's possible that the brake pipes have taken some damage and are kinked so the pressure isn't released immediately anyway with care we proceeded on our way with the knowledge that I'll go and see Rod and Jonathon when I get back and get all these little irritants sorted.

Anyway we plodded on through Estonia, Latvia, Lithuania and Poland to the Czech Republic where our next challenge presented itself.  So we left our hotel and I came out of the secure parking only to discover I had a flat.  Not a good start to the day.  Matt changed the tyre for the spare which wasn't in that good shape but it did manage to get us to a garage who could deal with the flat.  It seems that repairing inner tubes is not allowed in Europe and the garage didn't have one of the right size.  As luck would have it Matt had brought spare tubes and up until now had, I think, only used one anyway tyre sorted and we were on our way

Over the days driving from Russia I seem to have also developed a noise that suggests my exhaust may have a hole somewhere. Also my front brakes are binding a bit making the wheels judder but we can accelerate through that and as long as Matt doesn't use the brakes (he doesn't usually anyway) then there's no problem. I still stop OK.

We left the Czech Republic and headed onto Germany where Sarah, Matt and I decided that, because 
I'd been having a few difficulties, discretion being the better part of valour we should bail out and head home as soon as we could. So after Matt and Sarah saw Berlin we were off on a grey, damp and cold Sunday morning.

First challenge was would I start and if I did could I get out of the car park? Clearly the answer was yes as I did and we were on our way home. Our first bit of bad luck occurred when we were in traffic in a stretch of road works and we had a puncture. Well, this caused some problems as you can imagine fortunately the spare was OK and with a little struggling we managed to change the wheel and were off again. We stopped for the night in a motel just outside Aachen after covering nearly 400 miles.
The next morning DISASTER!!! the spare we put on the day before had gone flat overnight frown emoticon Now had this been earlier in the trip this would not have been an issue as we had two spares but after the axle change my second spare is not suitable for the front wheels. Anyway with some help from a chap called Steve Hagen who was driving around in an old Belgian post van we managed to find somewhere that had two inner tubes and so my punctures were fixed and we were on our way to Calais (yay!!).


So, here we are back in Blighty and the land of the AA. We are intending to drive back to Potton to arrive on a Saturday (the 24th) and are looking to arrive into the Market Square around 12ish as we all felt this is where the adventure officially finishes.
So here we are 20,500 odd miles later and soon to be back home.  I'll have a bit of an overhaul and then will be back on the road.  Keep watching this space for my next adventure. I'll be finalising the trip stats shortly but in the meantime here are some to keep you going.
  • Miles traveled from Potton to Ulanbataar and back to Dover - 20,485
  • Gallons of petrol used - 479
  • Miles per Gallon - 41.87
  • Actual days driving - 79
  • Average miles covered per day - 259
  • Number of speeding fines - 3
  • Number of other fines - 1
  • Number of problems requiring a mechanic - 12
  • Number of minor problems solved by Matt/Sarah - 7

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