The Peking to Paris Rally is a recreation of the 1907 challenge issued by Le Matin, "Is there anyone who will undertake to travel this summer from Peking to Paris by automobile?"
The 2016 version will follow a route of 13,695 Km (8,510 miles) and take 35 days. We are travelling in Rhubarb and Custard, a 1936 Buick. We know nothing about cars or rallying.
Sunday, 15 May 2016
We had our radiator core tested by a specialist before the rally so we know it starts in good condition. We are carrying a spare water pump and a good selection of hoses and clips. We also have with us a temperature gun - no laughing please - with which we can instantly check the temperature of any component. Richard has taken the temperature of Pike (his dog) and various cakes he has made. We know what the temperature of the cylinder head and the oil sump should be and so if this is out of whack we can anticipate a problem.
We are running using Evans Coolant. This is a complete replacement for the water that would normally run through the radiator and engine cooling system. It works because it has a boiling point of 190 degrees C instead of 100 degrees for water. This means that - unlike water - the Evans never vaporises and so there is much less pressure in the cooling system which is less stressed and less prone to failure. Evans claim other long term benefits as well but over a 35 day rally the reduced stress on hoses and joints is what we are after. Quite a lot of people say that this is moonshine and that Evans is the work of the Devil. What is true is that if you get a radiator leak and replace even some of the Evans with water then the magic stops working - although the cooling system will still work, the water in the system will now vaporise and so put stress on the pipes and joints.
To avoid a radiator leak it is recommend to put chicken wire in front of the radiator, which we have not done. The wire stops flying stones from damaging the radiator. If a stone does penetrate the radiator we have some radiator gum (which is rather like chewing gum) to plug the leak - adding an egg to the radiator has the same effect but I'm not sure we will have an egg handy. Another trick recommended by Jamie Turner is to use long nose pliers to pinch off the damaged part of the radiator, the remainder will function just fine.
In Mongolia some cars remove their bonnet covers in an attempt to stay cool. We can't do this but we might be able to prop open the covers with blocks of rubber or wood. We do have an electric fan on a thermostat although there is a school of thought that these fans just block air flow to the radiator - there's always another opinion!