Sunday, 10 April 2016

Upgrades - Sorted!

Apologies, dear reader, for the delays in posting but at last after, component delays and snagging issues, my upgrades are at last complete and I am back on the road (Yay!!!).

If you recall there were some lessons learnt from my Mongolian adventure and as a result Matt and I decided to make some changes.  These were broken down into three main areas;

Bodywork - The changes here were as a result of the damage experienced from the very rough roads we encountered.  In summary this included repairs to engine bay damage, chassis legs, bulkhead, front cross-member and A and B posts.   In addition, strengthening of the chassis around the rear of the engine compartment and the tie bar supports was carried out as both suffered fractures.  Micro-fractures were also repaired and the chassis made good wherever these were found.






Drive train - Whilst the suspension I originally had performed well the front dampers suffered and consequently needed replacement.  In addition the torsion bars were uprated and the Minor hubs replaced with Ford once.  The rear axle was replaced with a Ford English axle as the Lada one wasn't really suitable although it did get us home.  In addition to the rear axle, uprated rear suspension was installed to include coil-over springs to give improved adjustment.  Finally a limited slip diff was installled which will ensure traction particularly when on poor road conditions.




Gearbox - Lastly, a type9 series gearbox (V6 variant) was added to give a fifth gear to reduce load when on tarmac and cruising along at 50 to 55 mph.  This change in conjunction with the improved differential ratios ensure there is good torque at low speed while improving flat line speed on tarmac.

In addition the bulkhead was moved to allow the seats to be moved to give more adjustment making driving more comfortable for Sarah in particular. 

Thursday, 3 December 2015

Post Adventure Review

So, dear reader, our adventure is at an end and it is now time to look at what was good, not so good and what lessons were learnt from my first overland trip.  As you may recall I had intended to do a couple of shake down trips before the big one but this was not to be and so after a journey of over 20,000 miles through 23 countries I pretty much have been tested in some cases to destruction so read on to find out more.

What was good

The original design (seen below) was to transform a Morris Minor Traveller into an overland vehicle and was supposed to give me both a long range tank and sufficient storage for spares, camping equipment and food and water as needed to allow us to be self-sufficient in remote areas such as the deserts of Kazakhstan and the Pamir Highway.  To the extent that I have now completed a 20,000 mile trip I can confidently state that the design worked and I am now officially an overland vehicle!

Conceptual Design

The final design wasn't quite as planned but still had a long range tank (around 35 gallons) and three tiers of storage.  The lower tier which consists of the original petrol tank was used for parts storage and a spare tyre as well as a leisure battery, toolkits and 5l of oil.  The second tier was used for the second spare and a 20L Jerry can of fuel.  Finally the third tier was used for everything else.  A pull out table positioned below the top tier of storage gave somewhere to make tea and even cook Matt and Sarah's supper.

Three tiers of storage and long-range tank


Matt and Sarah were going to be spending a lot of time driving so comfortable seats were important.  Saab 9000 leather seats made sure that they didn't get too sticky in the hot countries and were comfortable for long periods. That said, Sarah did feel the need for a cushion :)

Saab 900 Seats

Considering that there was no shakedown trips my overall handling of the various types of driving conditions was excellent (even if I do say so myself).  The original 4.55 differential combined with my 1275cc engine and Midget gearbox allowed for excellent hill climbing although flat line speed was limited to around 50mph.

The second battery supplying power to the coolbox and Matt and Sarah's USB gadgets as well as the GPS speedo and dashcam meant that there was plenty of power and that the main electrics were powered through the main battery which was protected against inadvertent draining.  A voltage selective relay made sure that both batteries were adequately charged with the main battery taking precedence.  

The sump guard was fantastic and ultimately saved the day by protecting the sump from failure following a huge hit on the Pamir Highway.  Oscillations created by the rough terrain resulted in the front-end coming down heavily on a rock which dislodged the steering column.  The sump guard took the majority of the shock however the sump was still damaged.  Without the sump guard it would have totally been game over :(

Sump damage reduced through sump guard

Having the storage I had allowed me to stock up on spares such as hoses, inner tubes, alternator, clutch, fuel pump, half shafts, gaskets and other bits and pieces we thought we may need some of which we did.

Inflatable jack

Although there was plenty of storage space was at a premium so we were loaned an inflatable jack which proved invaluable whilst on the Pamir Highway where uneven ground would have made use of a bottle jack or trolley jack very difficult.  

What was not so good

Whilst the Saab seats were comfortable the bulkhead prevented the seats being moved back further which caused Sarah some discomfort as she really needed some more leg room.  Also the interior light was ineffective.

Limited seat adjustment

Generally I handled poor roads and the rough terrain of the Pamir Highway very well however there was some damage caused through excessive vibrations.  The rear of the engine compartment and the tie bar support both suffered fractures which were temporarily fixed en-route.

Engine compartment support fractures

Tie bar fractures

The other major issue experienced was the failure of the differential.  This was probably caused by the  gasket failing and loss of all the diff oil.  We knew that there was an issue with nuts and boltss working loose and the differential drain plug was also affected so the diff oil level was being watched and we topped this up in Osh however we think that the replacement of the rear universal joint disturbed the diff and the already damaged gasket failed resulting in the failure of the near-side half shaft and the crown wheel shaft failing probably through over-heating.

Diff failure

Half-shaft failure

Nuts and bolts loosened due to the poor road conditions and excessive vibrations.  I lost some trim and a number of retaining bolts but nothing major just disruptive.  Losing a bolt from the starter motor in Turkey proved to be the most disruptive of these issues.  Despite having plenty of spares there were some issues where we needed parts to be shipped out from the UK in particular a rear oil seal, brake light switch, solenoid, starter motor and universal joints. 

Whilst the inflatable jack was fantastic on uneven ground, and where clearances wouldn't allow for the use of a bottle or trolley jack, it was very hard to use on good tarmac roads.  We found that I tended to move due to the camber on the road once a wheel was removed which made changing the wheel very difficult and on a couple of occasions Matt and Sarah needed to co-opt assistance to counter my tendency for the jack to push me towards the camber.

During the adventure the following repairs needed to be carried out
  • Front universal joint - Bulgaria
  • Replacement starter motor bolt - Turkey 
  • Throttle cable adjusted - Tajikistan
  • Steering column re-seated - Tajikistan
  • Wheels straightened - Tajikistan
  • Fuel pump replaced - Kyrkystan
  • Carburetor cleaned - Kyrkystan
  • Brake light switch replaced - Kazahkstan
  • Rear universal joint - Russia
  • Front and Rear oil seals - Russia
  • Clutch and Starter motor - Russia
  • Lada rear axle fitted (to address diff failure) - Russia
There was a persistent oil leak which meant daily (or pretty much daily) topping up of engine oil.  This was found to actually be due to a small split in the sump caused by the 'big hit' on the Pamir.  Also the dip stick tube was dislodged and so was another area where small amounts of oil were lost.  We had around twelve flat tyres using up a total of three inner tubes.

Whilst not so good I don't think it was too bad given the distance travelled and the conditions of the roads in some of the countries like Kazakhstan, Uzbekistan and the Pamir Highway.

Lessons learnt

Whilst the not so good wasn't that bad there were still some lessons learnt from this adventure which I'm going to try and incorporate into the next re-iteration of the design to make me the ultimate personal overland vehicle.

There are a number of areas that I need to address which can be broken down into a number of areas

Comfort - The main problem was lack of adjustment caused by the bulkhead position.  I need to look at this in order that more leg room can be got through seat adjustment.  Given the way the bulkhead is attached this may not be so straight forward but a change is needed to this element of the design.

Storage - Generally this was OK but the lack of compartments meant that everything was piled on top of each other.  This meant that in some cases 'stuff' had to be emptied to get to the item needed.  This was most obvious when we needed to change a wheel.  Any future design of the interior is going to need some compartments specifically for items such as tools, larger spares, jack etc.

Spares - Whilst I had some large spare items such as a clutch and alternator there were some smaller items that I should have taken such as the universal joints, oil seals, solenoid etc.  By addressing the storage it should be possible to make sure that I can take all the possible spares required.  Many spares are quite small and whilst I hope they will not be needed there is no real reason not to take them.

Performance - As a consequence of the differential failure it was clear that I need to look at my running gear in a bit more detail.  While the original 4.55 diff with my original wheels gave me good uphill performance under load the replacement 3.9 Lada diff with 13" wheels was rubbish going uphill but certainly improved my speed on level tarmac roads.  As a consequence I need to find a good median that will give me good performance uphill as well as on the flat when under load.
The suspension also worked well however the front suspension suffered from the bouncing created by oscillation on off-road conditions and so needs looking into to see what can be done to reduce oscillation and the effects of this.

Me - The main problems I experienced were related to my construction.  There are areas where my chassis needs strengthening in particular the areas that split.  Also nuts and bolts shaking lose through vibrations would suggest I need nyloc nuts and to use something like loctite on studs and bolts to reduce the effect vibration has on these.

The main lesson learnt is  that a Morris Minor Traveller can be successfully modified to act as a personal overland vehicle which can cope with varying road conditions and that whilst there may be some additional modifications needed as a result of this adventure I can honestly say an overland traveller has been born!!

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

Thursday, 10 September 2015

Tashkent to Ulanbataar - Sorted!

Well dear reader it has been some time since I last posted and much has happened.  With some enforced rests and difficulties en-route we have finally made it to Ulanbataar. 

Read on to find out what we had to endure.


Uzbekistan was really 'just passing through' on the way to Dushanbe in Tajikistan and the Pamir Highway.  Of all the countries visited thus far the roads in Uzbekistan were the worst in terms of the general state of the roads.  Whilst many of the countries upto this point had bad bits the roads were in generally good repair.  Not so Uzbekistan.  Anyway, Matt and Sarah took a couple of days exploring Samarkand and Bukhara introducing me to the Children at the SOS Children's village in Samarkand.

After the difficulties entering Uzbekistan leaving proved just as difficult but in the end we were allowed to go and entered Tajikistan and the start of the most difficult stretch of our journey yet.

Tajikistan to Kyrgystan and the Pamir Highway

There is some debate as to where the Pamir Highway starts but for us it begins in Dushanbe in Tajikistan and ends in Osh, Kyrgystan although the M41 (its designation) ends in Kara-Balta to the west of Bishkek.

Whilst en-route to Tajikistan there was unseasonal rainfall and as a consequence much of the main highway was damaged and was closed so we had to modify our route to travel further south to Ishkashim then to Langar and rejoin the main route to Osh.  Total miles covered was around 953 most of which was on roads a four wheel drive car would baulk at.

We left Dushanbe and convoyed some of the way with the Yorkshire 'Special' Branch team - Mark, Matt and Aidie. 

Our first main port of call on the highway was Khorog some 378 miles from Dushanbe.  The early part of the journey lulled us into a false sense of security as we were on good tarmac road which after around 60 miles simply disappeared and changed into broken up tarmac with potholes and unmade road.   Our average speed dropped like a stone and it ended up taking three days to get to Khorog.

The first day was fairly uneventful (except for all the rattling and shaking around I endured) however we only managed to cover a total of 121 miles which shows how much the road deteriorated after the good stretch from Dushanbe. The second and third days were fairly brutal and driving became much harder with avoiding potholes, rough roads and some minor water crossings but nevertheless we managed to cover around 120 miles each day.  It was certainly a new experience going up and coming down hills in first but we managed to complete the first leg to Khorog in good time only suffering one flat tyre which was duly repaired before the second stage of the journey to Murghab.


We were told that Dushanbe to Khorog was the hardest section which may have been true if you weren't in a 1968 Morris Minor Traveller.  We left Khorog and planned to reach Langar around 150 miles away.  It was on this day that my troubles started. 

I started to lose power on hills and was struggling and our average speed dropped dramatically.  In fact the power loss was so bad that just outside Langar where the road was steepest Sarah had to keep putting chocks behind the rear wheels to stop me rolling back as the hand brake simply wouldn't hold.  I managed to get to the campsite where Aide, who happens to be a mechanic, had a quick look and felt that the power loss could have been due to the carburettor dashpot not having enough oil and the accelorator cable being too slack. He tightened the cable but we had no 3-in-1 oil and so decided to top up the dashpot with WD40.  Initially this seemed to do the job and we started the following day in good spirits. 

The day soon deteriorated to the Day From Hell!!! My problems first started with getting stuck in the sand whilst going up hill.  I just didn't have enough in me to maintain momentum.  Matt even tried reversing me up with no joy.  Fortunately a passing truck gave us a lift and towed me to the top where I just about managed to get underway again (ironically we passed the same self truck bogged down in sand about a half-hour later).  The roads had now become a mixture of sand, rocks and general detrious and were predominantly uphill with a little respite on the flat but even then telegraph wire on the road became a hazard getting caught up in the wheels. 
On a particularly bad section of road which was full of sand traps particularly deep ones where trucks had churned up the road I needed to go 'off-piste' to stand any sort of chance to make headway - mistake!! While going through some difficult bits of sand I hit a rock buried in a sand trap. Although I was only doing around 10 miles an hour the hit was huge and the steering column parted company from the lower section and I was effectively without steering.

Matt managed to re-attach the column well enough to give control so I could get back on the road.  It wasn't long before I needed to stop as I was struggling with the lack of power and overheating.  A passing car stopped and the driver checked out my steering and also tightened the odd nut here and there. 
Once I had cooled down and had my nuts tightened we started off again but I soon lost power. Matt and Sarah checked the dashpot and decided that they would try some of the 14W-40 engine oil to see if something thicker would make a difference anyway this seemed to help and I managed to limp into Arichar after a miserable 80 miles in around 12 hours. 

Matt and Sarah decided to make an early start for Murgab only to find I wouldn't start.  Investigation showed that fuel wasn't getting to the engine.  After 'thinning' down the dashpot oil with some WD40 but no joy.  It was then Matt recalled that a common problem was that the fuel pump ocassionallystopped working and needed a little gentle persuasion of the tap with a hammer type so Sarah gave it a friendly belt and lo and behold fuel flowed and I started and we were off!  I managed to cover the 71 miles to Murgab in a few hours without too many issues arriving in time for Matt and Sarah to get breakfast at the Pamir Hotel where the manager spoke English and was able to help get me checked over and the steering column re-attached properly.

We left Murgab for Sary Tash in Kyrgystan and our last port of call (hopefully) before getting to Osh and the end of the Pamir Highway.  Once again the day started off well only to soon go down hill. Again I was still experiencing power problems and Sarah made best friends with the tack hammer we were using to 'encourage' the fuel pump to behave.  Matt also continued to add a mixture of WD40 and engine oil to the dashpot and in this way I managed to limp along.  Going up the long slopes to the 4,655m (15,270 ft) high Ak-Baital pass proved to be hard going with frequents stops for me to cool down, requiring Sarah to chock the wheels and walk up some of the way while I reached a flat bit. 

Me at the top of the Ak-Baital Pass
At last I reached the pass and was looking forward to an easier time of things given it was effectively all down hill to Sary Tash (not a chance!).  Once I started down towards the Kyrgystan border things just seemed to go from bad to worse.  Two punctures meant I now had no spares and 30 miles of washboard type road made the going really tough. This only got worse once we crossed into Kyrgystan where the roads deteriorated into dried muddy roads which had been rutted and chewed up by trucks so although I was now going downhill I was manoeuvring around even more obstacles than before. 

Could things get worse?  Well actually they could.  As I was negotiating the steep decline towards SaryTash I ground to a halt and no amount of gentle persuasion could get me to start.  With the petrol guage still reading around half full the Jerry can of good quality petrol was used to top me up in case that was an issue as surely we couldn't have run out could we?  After topping up and a quick tap I started up and we managed to continue limping our way onwards only to be in sight of Sary Tash when once again I came to a grinding halt.  In desperation Matt topped up with my remaining 10L of fuel and managed to get into Sary Tash where we found an 'hotel'.  Twelve hours and 157 miles later we had got there.

Matt spent some time getting my tyres fixed so I once again had spares.  He had also noticed that there was some oil leaking from the diff and that the drain plug was loose so we managed to find a 'mechanic' who once again checked the suspension and tightened up the drain plug he also checked the fuel pump over and tightened the outlet nut using cotton where we might use PTFE tape . 

I had come so far and with only around 130 miles to go before we got to Osh with tarmac roads I was feeling that the worst was over and I should be able to get to our destination where Matt and Sarah would be able to get my problems sorted.  The day started off well, as many of the previous ones did, only to get worse as we got further down the road.  With our daily startup routine down pat I managed the first 60 miles in good order and with no real problems however once we got into the hills again and started to climb the lack of power began to tell and I completely gave up half way up a steep slope 81 miles into the journey.  No amount of cajoling or fiddling could get me going there was just nothing there.  Again, a passing Samaritan stopped and towed me the 48 miles into Osh.  The Pamir Highway was finished!

Osh to Bishkek

Now I had arrived at the end of the Pamir Highway I needed to get my problems fixed otherwise my Mongolian Adventure would come to untimely end as I just couldn't continue in this state.  Fortunately Matt and Sarah met a chap, Sanjar, as I was towed into the hotel who could speak English and better yet even understood a little about older cars (result!).

Anyway our first problem was dashpot oil and after 'googling' 3-in-1 oil Matt and Sarah found out I needed SAE20 oil Matt and Sarah managed to get some at an auto bazaar and they changed my dashpot oil which really helped.  My brakes were checked, engine oil changed and the diff oil topped up and I also had a general check over with my nipples being greased and nuts tightened yet again (this is getting to be a regular habit)

My power issues needed sorting so Matt first checked the carburettor to make sure that there was no dirt/dust causing any problems.  The fuel pump had also been giving me jip and Sarah noticed that there was a small leak from the filter plug also as she had to 'encourage' the pump to work Matt decided that he should change it as I had a spare.  It seems that this did the trick and I seemed to be back to full power again.

We left Osh with me running well, in fact so well Matt picked up a speeding fine.  I made good time with the steep, winding ascent from the plains being easily handled.  I covered 424 miles this day and so felt positive my troubles from the Pamir were finally resolved.  We arrived in Bishkek in good time and with a couple of final tweeks I was back to my old self.

Kyrgystan to Russia via Kazahstan

While on the Pamir my  brake lights stopped working also while being checked over in Murgab it looked like the rear universal joint was suspect and probably needed changing and so Matt and Sarah got Matt's mate Paul to send out a couple of universal joints and brake light switches which we would collect at Semey before crossing into Russia.

Now back to full power I was able to get to Semey a couple of days ahead of schedule where we waited for the parts to arrive.  As before the roads in Kazakhstan were pretty boring and with full power restored we made good time.  Parts arrived in Semey and Matt fitted the brake light switch and decided to wait until we got to Russia before getting the universal joint fitted.

Other than waiting in Semey for the parts, Kazakhstan was simply a transit to Russia and so nothing remarkable to report.  I crossed over into Russia a week after crossing into Kazakhstan but four days were simply waiting for parts.

Russia to Mongolia

The Russia to Mongolia leg of the journey was originally to take me to Barnaul and from there the southern route through the Gobi desert to Ulanbataar.  We decided that the trials and tribulations of the Pamir were potentially to be repeated but this time on a much less travelled road and so the risk of my breaking down and no one around to help was too much of a risk so we opted for the route through Russia dropping down to Ulanbataar from the north.

The universal joint that was identified as being suspect was changed in Barnaul but it seems that for some unknown reason the part sent from the UK was too small for the prop shaft so the mechanic managed to source a joint from different car and used that instead.  It was also noticed that the near side mounting bracket for the tie bar had fractured and so this was welded and made good.  I left Barnaul thinking everything was now going to be fairly straightforward.  How wrong can you be!

We left Barnaul and I soon developed a fairly worrying whining and grating noise from somewhere to the rear.  Rather than simply stop and find I had an issue that couldn't be resolved and once I had stopped I maybe wouldn't be able to start again I carried on to Novosibirsk which was our next stop over.  Matt and Sarah took me to a garage where it was found that I had a number of issues with the rear axle.  Firstly one of the half shafts was completely knackered, secondly the gasket had gone and finally, and more importantly the diff was totally shagged.

After some deliberation it was decided that if I was ever to reach Mongolia and complete my adventure a new differential was required so I was fitted with a brand new Lada rear axle.  This had some advantages in that the 3.9 diff ratio would mean that on the good Russian roads my cruising speed would be improved by probably around 5mph.  The downside was that the torque would be lower so steep inclines would be harder on me but we weren't expecting anything on the scale of the Pamir from now on.  So the new axle was fitted and I was on the road again.

It was around 1,800 miles from Novosibirsk to Ulanbataar on for the most part good roads.  I left on the 4th of September and after 5 days driving arrived in Ulanbataar reaching Mongolia and the destination of the outward part of my adventure.  Despite all the difficulties on the way I had made it.  

Me at the Genghis Khan statue - Ulanbataar
 Preparing for the journey home so had a quick check over of steering, brakes and suspension which are all OK so will be heading off back to Russia and all points home. Some stats of the trip so far;

List of issues encountered on my outward journey.
  • Bulgaria - Front universal joint replaced
  • Turkey - Lost starter motor bolt (replaced)
  • Kazakhstan (1st visit) - Front trim bolts lost (replaced), bonnet catch came loose
  • Tajikistan and the Pamir Highway - Steering column came adrift, three punctures, loss of power and overheating, loose bolts on steering and suspension, speedo coming loose, brake lights stopped working (switch replaced in Kazakhstan), rear universal joint failing (replaced in Russia)
  • Kyrgystan - Replaced fuel pump, replaced dashpot oil with SAE20,
  • Kazakhstan (2nd visit) - Front trim bolts lost again (removed and nuts and bolts used instead)
  • Russia - Replaced rear universal joint, diff failure (new rear axle), solenoid playing up
Journey stats
  • Miles traveled from Potton to Ulanbataar - 13,125
  • Gallons of petrol used - 306
  • Miles per Gallon - 42.89
  • Actual days driving - 58
  • Average miles covered per day - 226
  • Number of speeding fines - 3
  • Number of other fines - 1
  • Number of problems requiring a mechanic - 9
  • Number of minor problems solved by Matt/Sarah - 6