Hi. For those who don't know, 3 members of this very forum will be undertaking the Mongol Rally. What's the Mongol Rally? Unlike the other banger rally pootles around Europe (as fun as they look), this one is actually a challenge: link. The rules are simple: One finish line, £1000 for charity and a hilariously unsuitable car.
I did the rally (well, most of it - we rolled in Kyrgyzstan) last year in a 205 and had an awesome time. You will love it, especially the Pamir Highway which it looks like you're taking? If you are, follow the Wakhan corridor - the most beautiful place I've ever seen.
We followed a similar route except we went overland through Iran. Good luck on the Visa trail!
Excellent! You're going to be having fun with the welder look forward to seeing how it comes together - those hillmans are at least pretty reliable, did 30,000 miles in 2 years in my old Superminx - just make sure you fit a nice weber 34 ICH or something to it!
Now in order to comply with some rules on here and not get this binned off to the "Readers Rides" section, I'm going to try and summarise the build. Yes, this is somewhat in retrospect. We actually started on this before Christmas...
All this means is there's going to be more pictures and less waffle. All you need to know really is it was way more rusty than anticipated which we resolved with several weekends of welding which can only be described as "frantic". If you want the gritty details read on, if you just want to see the pictures, feel free to scroll past this bit...
So, what have we bought? This is a fairly crusty 1960 Singer Gazelle. It runs (sort of) and everything works (kinda). It's part of the Roots group, a Hillman Minx in a posh frock so to speak, suitable for driving middle class families of the early 60s to church, the seaside and not much else. And with 70,000 miles on the clock she's no spring chicken either.
Weekend one of restoration. Although it's relatively rust free on the important areas, the rear chassis leg is pretty bad (picture 1). So we pre-booked an MOT (which we attended and failed) filled her up with petrol and drove her to a friend's workshop. What could possibly go wrong?
Well, everything. Picture 2 shows us broken down a whole 10 feet from the compound gates, a sight that I'm sure we'll get used to. A blocked fuel feed was the culprit and we set off again albeit on very low power after manning the bicycle pump on the fuel lines.
Sadly, the car was very very slow and refused to pick up. Despite our best route planning, we had developed quite the queue and members of the British public were audibly tutting at us. After a few head shakes and disgruntled looks, we pulled over into an industrial estate for a head scratch (picture 3) where a weak spark and bad rotor arm were identified.
We decided by this point as we'd been averaging about 1 mile an hour (3 hours by this point) we should perhaps give up and get the tow rope out. It was at this point that James disappeared. Bearing in mind this was a dusty quiet industrial estate on a Saturday morning, there was only one business open in sight... An auto factors right across the street. What luck!
I found James asking the chap behind the counter if he happened to have a replacement rotor arm for the Singer in stock. Surely not?
Turns out he does - a whole £1.60 too! With this installed the Singer inherits the performance of a brand new e-type (by which I mean unreliable). I take off and actually manage to lose James in the traffic, meeting him at the unit and ready to unfold the rusty horrors that await...
We treat the engine to a full service. We noticed that the oil pressure was pretty bad on the drive over. Turns out 15+ year old oil gets pretty thick in the cold. Who'd have thunk it? Oil and electrical service done, she fired right up with full oil pressure - Lovely.
James in his infinite classic car wisdom noticed an important spring and washer was missing from the oil filter housing. This has the function of essentially pressing the oil filter against the housing to force oil through the filter rather than around it. Not good, and not something we'd find parts for. Ever.
Luckily, we were in a unit full of shi... useful things. A Hillman Imp engine head was pulled onto the bench and we extracted one of the valve springs. It fit... *perfectly*. After some milling on the lathe, some perfectly sized washers had been created.
Some more rot:
Some new metal:
Some of the lead seals may have gotten a bit hot...
Early morning of the second weekend. Blurry eye'd, mojo dwindling from the previous week's rust discoveries and general early morning brain fog, I decide the best course of action is a nice cuppa and some pre-prep before the marathon of welding. Set up lights, got the tools out ready and clearing the area etc. We're going to be doing quite a bit of welding around the rear seat area so naturally I removed them. They just pull out on these cars.
Any normal person would have thrown up at this point. Luckily, decades of browsing the dark areas of 4chan have left me desensitised. The smell of rats curse word suddenly released from it's tomb of 15 years hit me pretty hard. Coughing and splutting, I INSISTED everyone else who happened to be down the unit at that time to come have a look/smell. There's basically nothing left other than the vinyl cover.
a few of us did this in 2010 you will never forget or regret it i still look back at the pictures and hope to do it again best of luck. we put up a sing at the finish that said killarney 13000 km it was still there last yr everything is money in mother russia
Decent! Should be an amazing trip, looking forward to updates. I've thrown some charity coins at your faces.
Dude! You are awesome, thank you thank you thank you!
If anyone else is feeling generous and wants to donate to a very good cause we've got two options:
Mind - www.mind.org.uk - Who do extremely good work for mental health and raising mental health awareness. Their movements have changed the face of mental health massively even in the last few years alone.
Cool Earth - www.coolearth.org - The world is a beautiful place and worth exploring. And we'd love to keep it that way for future generations to explore. Help save the world just a little bit.
We'd be grateful for any amount - every little bit really does go a long way. If 50p is all you can spare, 50p will be gladly accepted. And a few quid is worth it for all the free entertainment I'm going to be posting up, eh?