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.
Tuesday, 21 June 2016
Rally Day 7
Now that the car is fixed we are set up to have dinner with our rally neighbours but somehow someone has brought a guitar with them and camp tonight is filled with dreadful community singing. Perhaps arriving late is better after all.
Something unique and special happened today, Richard and I were early for all the rally timing points, which is a first. Normally we are chronically late because we don't drive very fast, stop to take pictures and take a break for lunch. All very civilised but the downside is that we are late for dinner and don't get to chat with other rallyists over the evening meal. But tonight it's going to be different.
Except we really need to sort out our power problem - we have engine revs and our clutch engages but we don't get any power - it's like the car is being held back by a supernatural hand. Richard and I have tried all we know - checked the fuel filters, spark plugs, timing gap and adjusted the carburettors but nothing works and the problem has become dangerous. This afternoon we had a very testing off-road hill climb that we could have made if the car was four square but it stalled almost at the top and started to slide back down the muddy and rocky hill at a rate of knots. It was too steep for the handbrake to be any use but we spun the car round to line up with the slope contour, which slowed our descent and meant we could drop down the hill facing forwards to get a bump start, and then floor the throttle to restore power for a less steep route up to the finish line - exhilarating, but we don't want to do that again.
In camp we explained the problem to Jamie Turner who suggested we go for a drive. We got just far enough for him to be out of sight for a pee and he diagnosed our problem. Water had entered the distributor cap and was causing misfiring of the cylinders. It took Jamie and Gary (from RPS) all of two minutes to blow some dry air into the offending component and get Rhubarb and Custard back on her feet. This is not car mechanics it's bloody voodoo!
In other news, we are now in a more mountainous and beautiful part of Mongolia - the fields smell of thyme and are full of wild flowers. Raptors chase and follow the car and athletic teenage horsemen are everywhere herding sheep, cows and especially slightly miniature horses. We are waved at, photographed and a source of amusement, entertainment and delight everywhere we go.