The Mission

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.

Monday, 20 April 2015

Flying Scotsman Postscript

It seems that we still have a lot to learn about this form of rallying. To some extent it's possible to ignore the set piece events and simply treat the whole affair as a great drive with superb organisation. however, some of the off road events are a hoot whilst the tricky timed map reading events can be simplified if you focus on not getting lost and let the timing take care of itself by driving moderately. That ensures a reasonable score and because lots of people foul up or break down you start to creep up the rankings.

Here's a few more pictures of the event:

Sunday, 19 April 2015

Flying Scotsman Day 3

It's all ended in ignominy for car 28 - and it was going so well too.  Our clutch failed yesterday meaning that we tried to spend our time in third gear today. After a manoeuvring exercise at the Highland show ground we went onto Knockhill racing circuit where the car flew round like a Transit Van on steroids.  It may have been too much because after a couple of perfectly executed regularity tests through the Scottish countryside and a bit of drag racing through The grounds of Scone Palace, the wheels came off our rally run.  And I mean literally the wheels came off - one of our rear half shafts sheared and the wheel bent like a nasty broken bone. We were out of the race, and within sight of lunch too.

Three hours later we arrived at Gleneagles on a flatbed transporter courtesy of the RAC.  The finishing cars were being piped across the line but our photo was taken with us at the chequered flag on foot and carrying our bags.

Still the idea of the rally was to test us and the car and that we have done.  Now for some whisky.

Saturday, 18 April 2015

Flying Scotsman Day 2

Day 2 of the Flying Scotsman, starts from Newcastle having driven 250 miles over the Yorkshire Dales the previous Day.

It's my turn to drive and to be honest I find it necessary to make several trips to the loo beforehand - nerves have taken hold.

The structure of each day involves driving some public roads interspersed with various driving tests either on private land or along quiet C roads.  Unless you execute these tests to within a 98% tolerance (or so it seems) your score goes to maximum penalties.  Richard and I have collected a lot of maximum penalties.

After coffee we go spectacularly off route because we weren't told about a change to the directions. As a result our chances of winning have vanished...

Northumberland and the Scottish Borders provide some amazing scenery and beautiful empty roads. With the hood down and sunglasses on it's a magical ride.  All along the way people are out to see us go past. Whole schools came out on Friday to cheer us and everywhere the cars raise a friendly wave. There certainly are some wonderful vehicles on the rally but although ours is humble it looks good in a photo and plenty of people come and chat to us about it.

The day ends with a burnt out clutch, which is patch repaired in the car park. It's not clear whether we should limp straight to the Gleneagles or try to complete the rally.

Flying Scotsman Day 1

We were so busy yesterday that there was no time to post a blog entry about day 1 of the Rally.

We ended the day 57th, which wasn't so bad and we should have been 47th because we got a 10 min penalty which we don't think was correct.  In fact we could have been 37th but we got a 10 min penalty that we could easily have avoided.  However that's what this trip is all about - learning by mistakes.

We have I think made every mistake possible.  We've gone left when the instructions said to go right. We've said go left when we meant to say go right. We've said keep it to your left when we meant keep it to your right.  We've said, "mind the back of that Bentley as you are reversing....oh shit (well I expect the insurance will pay)".  We have had a gold star for our Regularity tests. And we have the maximum penalty.Although we had our problems lots of people didn't make it at all.

The day finished (after exchange of insurance data with the dented Dutch Bentley owner) with having the brakes fixed and an attempt to fix our Brantz tripmeter, which wasn't showing interval distances. This took three hours and in the end it was realised that we could just use the Brantz a different way and achieve the same result. By this time dinner had finished and we still had to go over the maps.

Scenery was to die for and sunny all the way. What a great country Britain is.

Thursday, 16 April 2015

Flying Scotsman

We are now in Leeds at the start of the Flying Scotsman Rally, which takes three days to get to Gleneagles just outside Edinburgh.  It's doubtful whether any of the countryside is preparation for Mongolia but the disciplines of map reading and driving skills should help us in the future.

There's an enormous amount of information about the rally and how it works.  More than we can properly take in. On the five mile practice route we took the wrong turn twice and arrived a massive two minutes late (not because of taking the wrong turn but because of traffic problems).  It looks set to be a series of massive cock ups tomorrow when the race starts.

The sight of over 100 beautiful cars is quite wonderful and what's more so is the noise they all make - sublime.  Some of the cars here are worth hundreds of thousands of pounds and are immaculate.  CLM 570 looks positively scruffy next to them.  On the other hand there's no point in taking an immaculate car across MongolIia

Monday, 13 April 2015

Brantz Training

A final trip to RPS before the car goes off to Leeds by CARS Europe for the start of the Flying Scotsman.

Simon at RPS has volunteered to give us a lesson on how to use the Brantz tripmeter installed in the car.  We nod along but I'm pretty sure it's going to be a major bog up when the time comes on Friday.

We now have two plastic boxes of parts and equipment in the boot, a fuel can, a first aid kit and the jack and its already full up.  Not sure where the kit is going to go on Peking to Paris.

Bright red seat belts have now been fitted, which look very cool.

Test Run

20th March and time for a proper test run in the car.  First we practiced changing a wheel - lucky Steve at RPS was on hand to help us...

Then we drove across to Burford and took in 100 miles of Cotswold countryside including as much variety of road condition and test of map reading skills as we could.  The car was absolutely fine, mostly running at around 86 degrees (it can run hotter than normal because we've got Evans coolant in the radiator instead of water.  It did go over 100 on one of the hill climbs we inserted in the route but seemed okay.  Its a very smooth ride and the engine seems very happy.  The steering is still boat like but you do get used to it.  The drum brakes are something else - best to change down in to second gear and let the gearbox do some of the work.

the car is certainly good for a steady 60mph and we briefly hit 70 but I'm not sure it would cruise all day at that speed.roadholding on the new tyres (commercial van spec) is good in the dry but might be trickier in the wet.

the only problem we had was that our instruments failed but RPS has now fixed that.

Professional photographer and mate, Tim Graham followed along in his AMG Mercedes and took some great photographs. As you can see the car is wearing its Flying Scotsman plates and numbers.

More Cash Out The Door

On 25th Feb 2015 we took another visit to RPS where the car was theoretically ready. However, we took with us a checklist from 'How to Win a Marathon Road Rally' that added another couple of thousand pounds worth of work to be done. Still better that than be stuck in the Mongolian desert with a broken car.

Photo left is of the new rear suspension, which looks like it will take Mongolia in its stride.