We made it to Paris. We and the car are alive. Barely.
Greetings from Paris:
We crossed the finish line at 2:30 this afternoon and earned our bronze medal.
Sum ting wong was under her own power after 10,000 miles since Hong Kong.
I am proud and happy we made it.
I will forever cherish my medal after the difficulties I endured in earning it.
Thanks for all of your interest .
God Bless America!
Well we started from Beijing with over 8000 bottles of beer on the wall and now we are down to the last 100. With all the problems we have had with Sum Ting Wong, I think we will make it to Paris. We have to go in order today so we will sit in Reims unti lalmost 11 AM waiting our turn. We are about 100 miles from Paris and ready to get there. We are not sure how many cars will finish. Some cars are still catching up. Jay's Bentley made it in last night after spending 24 hours being driven from Gdansk. We are parked in the middle of Reims and have a lot of interest from the locals in the cars. We were surprised when we arrived in Reims. The DeHullus drove them over on the way to Paris. So we all had lunch together. Then they were off to Paris. We will have one hell of a party in Paris tonite.
Greetings from Reims in France:
What a great feeling to have reduced the mileage to 100 for the final day as we push to the finish. Ernie and Leejun were here in Reims to greet us and we had lunch before they went on to Paris to watch us cross the finish line tomorrow.
The run was pleasent as we took part of the assigned route and drove up the Mosel Valley. Beautiful wine country for 100 miles. We skipped the rest and took the motorway.
The car did ok and I have checked it out and it is ready for the final leg of this part of its journey around the world. After the finish it will be taken by the shipper and trucked to England and containerized. It will arrive in Newark in a few weeks time and then Jim will drive it to upstate New York where it will go in his car museum. He intends to do very little restoration but display it as it finished the rally. As for
my responsibility it ends tomorrow. Ernie and I will spend next week relaxing and visiting friends in France and England and return home late next week
There will be a gala black tie dinner tomorrow evening as a finale for the event and we will say goodbye to our many friends from around the world.
I hope I have given everyone a little bit of enjoyment as I described my experiences travelling down this road in my life. It was quite fun for me yet difficult as you know.
I will send one last email tomorrow so you will know if we crossed the finish line and earned our Bronze.
God Bless America!
Greetings from Koblenz:
Oh what a relief it is. We arrived today with close to a clean run. Only the flexible exhaust pipe sliped off. Thanks for the invention of baling wire. It should hold until Paris. We washed the car. Boy was it a mess under the dirt. A lot of loose things like fenders.
I feel like I am at the top of a hill I have climbed for almost 5 weeks. I am looking down the hill at Paris and it is 350 miles away. I feel we will now make it even if it is on a lorrie. The Diff took 1 1/2 liters of 90wt and I will have to put my last litre in in Reims. This should get us there.
Lots a problems with cars. The Holden now is running with an Opel rear end. We left the Bentley from the USA in Gdansk waiting for a steering box. One of the VW's had their engine fully rebuilt in Berlin last night. Car 75 the Black Adder from Holland was on a lorrie this morning headed for Holland for a new gearbox and they hope to be at the start from Koblenz tomorrow morning. I was awakened in the night in hopes that I had a bearing for a differential for car 80 a 39 chevy. I did not.
Jim and I have been a source of spares for the other cars and have been generous helping people go down the road. We have given away an axle, a battery, bearings, gaskets, a headlight, a radiator cap, and countless tubes of epoxy and filler and quick steel. Like a good former boy scout I came prepared.
Keep the vodka flowing.
God Bless America!
Greetings from Potsdam:
We arrived after a clean day. Cold, windy rainy but otherwise ok.
Car did well and it is ready for tomorrow's run. Tomorrow we go to Koblenz 350 miles away. When we arrive there I will begin looking downhill. We have Friday a 250 miler and Sat on to Paris. Keep that vodka flowing as it is not yet assured.
Three years ago when we signed up for this I never thought arriving in Paris was in question. In Beijing the talk of Mongolia and everyone wishing each other good luck began to prepare me for the reality that getting to Paris was no certainty. The battles ahead with the roads, elements and the car were far from my mind. In Mongolia when in the lowest of emotional lows was with us it really hit home that we just may not be able to make it out of Mongolia much less Paris.
For some reason we felt that arriving in Russia was the trick and from there we would cruise on. Nothing was farther from the truth. I think that until I was out of Russia a couple days that the lows subsided and I began to start to think optimistically.
Now my thoughts are turning to home and family and friends and unfinished business. Unlike rallys past I will be glad this is over and do not wish to DRIVE ON.
Don't take me wrong. Jim and I have had a good time. It really has been a lot of fun. Very different than anything I have done in the past but I would not like a repeat.
For some weeks I found this to be the most difficult thing I have done in my life for that length of time. It seemed to go on forever.
God Bless America!
We have just arrived in Potsdam Germany, which is right outside of Berlin. We had a good run of over 300 miles today and Sum Ting Wong keeps rolling on. Fred just checked her out and says she is good to go for tomorrow. Leejun and Ernie arrived in Brussells yesterday and are staying with the De Hullus, who will drive down to Paris with them on Friday so they can all cheer us on as we arrive. The Howells are joining them as well along with Barbara and Eugene. We thought that they might inspect the car at the border, but they took a look at our passports and waved us thru. It rained all day in Poland with high winds and some of the roads were pretty dicey. So it was an intense drive for part of the way anyway. The weather cleared as we neared Berlin. We are spending alot more for gas now that we are in the EU. About $150 for 80 litres. Even at the gas prices we are paying in the states we still shouldn't complain too much. Cars are still having problems. Jay with his Bentley had to stay in Gdansk today waiting for a part for his steering box. But everyone will make it to Paris one way or another.I heard that over 115 cars will finish, maybe over 120. We are going to have one hell of a party. Three more driving days left.
I really think Fred is ready to do the London to Sydney rally next year. Mongolia seems so long ago.
One thing we saw of interest that points up the difference between Russia and their former eastern block captive countries. All the countries are building loads of gas stations and a lot of new and used cars are being imported. But the former captives are putting modern bathrooms with new western plumbing in their gas stations while in Russia they are building new gas stations with slit trenches for bathroom facilities. The just don't have a clue. It is hard to believe that they were such a threat to us during the cold war. All their money had to go for miltary hardware, while their people suffered.
Greetings from Gdansk
We are at the end of our rest day. It was nice and Gdansk is beautiful and I could come back here.
Tomorrow we have a long run to Pottsdam. I have checked the car and it appears ready for the run. It is tired but we drive slow and carefully.
I have done many rallies but never one such as this. The basic theory here is endurance which I did not really understand initially. It is to challange the mental and physical endurance of a man with his machine against the road and time. The time challenge for Jim and I has been daylight while others are actually competing against the clock at various intervals during the day.
As you know the machine side of the endurance was in Mongolia and the Russian roads. They were deadly against our machines. As our machines were challanged the emotional part of the man was challenged to the extreme wondering how our machines would survive such a beating and not fail us in our goal to reach Paris. Physically it is difficult to withstand the long days drives on impossible roads for day after day. When breakdowns occurred and there were long hours repairing damage missing meals and little sleep the body was pushed to its limits. Rest days were by annd large consumed in getting the car ready to go the next day.
Things have been better since reaching Estonia as the roads have by and large been excellent. I am looking back now and wondering how and why Jim and I survived with the machine we brought. It is not suitable for this type challange. I wonder how I was able to continue to push on with the many things that broke along the way. As we watched our friends machines fail them and leave them in the desert I wondered how we were able to move on. Our breakdowns sometimes looked fatal but with some hours work and luck we could still move forward and eventually found ourselves in the queue leaving Mongolia.
The group as a whole are people that are successful in their lives and it was evident because some that did break down solved their problems and were able to push on sometimes taking as much as 3 weeks to catch up. They never gave up and kept pushing on.Thiose in the que with us were wounded but they like us had been pushed to the limits.
I really wondered at times what the hell I was doing on an event like this. I now ask myself if I would do it again. The answer right now is NO. The mind has a strange way of taking the adversities and making them the most cherished memories of trips past so perhaps with time I may soften. I prefer the 4x4 rallies and what they are all about.
We have made many new friends here that will last my lifetime. We have survived the Mongolia disaster together and helped each other as best we could.
God Bless America!
Another successful day, no break downs. We are in a dump of a hotel. Canít imagine what the organizers were thinking when they booked this hotel for our last rest day. It is 10k from center city, so an expensive cab ride and a pain in the ass. There are a lot of lakes in Poland and I think a great potential for boating. Go for it.
We are thinking about moving forward tomorrow instead of sitting around here. Canít wait to get to Paris,
Greetings from Gdansk in Poland:
We have had two days of clean runs, Cannot say as much about my clothes, since we replaced the right rear wheel bearing. Maybe all those vodka toasts are working.
Poland is beautiful. We have driven two days through here and I am impressed. The bad roads did not materialize. Maybe they are bad but Jim and I are accustomed to Russian roads.
Car is running well as the engine is strong and the tranny still good. Lots of people with scares of Mongolia. The Holden is in tow with a broken diff. Really with all our problems we are nothing compared to other people. All these cars are suffering. There were millions and millions of dollars damage to these cars and some of the problems caused by the disaster in Mongolia will crop up years from now.
My physical scars, cuts and bruses, are healing but my memories of those five days in the desert will haunt me for a long time to come.
We rest tomorrow but some of us don't like this hotel. We may miss our rest day and move on towards Berlin and Pottsdam and spend a night on our own.
We have 4 days of driving and about 1,000 miles left. Wish us luck and keep the vodka flowing.
God Bless America!
We had a good day today after Fred spent another 3 hours first thing in the morning finishing the job started yesterday. He put the differential back together and filled it with oil and off we went down the road. We sound like an erector set on wheels. We traveled thru an area with a lot of lakes and are staying at a huge resort hotel tonite. It is like being on a cruise ship. We passed a boat manufacturing plant in eastern Poland today. They had about 50 new boats in the yard up to about 30 feet. I think that this area and going into Russia has great potential for boating as we know it in the USA. http://www.balt-yacht.com.pl/firma-en.html.
We are off to Gdansk tomorrow morning where we have a rest day. Then on to Paris. We are ready. I hope Paris ready for us. A lot of the cars are still ill and a lot of effort is being expended to keep everyone rolling.
Greetings from Villnias in Lithuania:
Guess what! Hugh Brogan caught up last night in Riga. I always had faith he would. He said it took 23 days to get his car fixed and catch us. Boy does he have some tales to tell..
As for us well................not a clean day. I don't know if the vodka toast has failed me or this was unrelated and I can still believe. A right rear axle bearing failed and Jim and I turned an easy day into something more exciting. It seems I smelled something burning. We stopped and the rear wheel was smoking. I looked behind it and there was a real fire. I have always had a fire extingushier in the car on all rallys. I thiought they were for passing scrutineering at the beginmning but now I am a believer. It worked. It put out the fire and saved the car and the possibility of our bronze medal in Paris. Never get over confident because something will come along and bite you in the ass.
Along came Hugh and we quickly began to replace the bearing on the roadside. By now Hugh can fix anything. Sorry but sum ting wong ended up on a lorrie for the first ime in the rally. We rode to the hotel about 50 miles where I could borrow proper tools from other participants and work crews. I have the bearing replaced and with a little luck we will with the rally in the morning and on into Poland.
Paris is by no means assured for any of us. Drink a vodka toast for us.
God Bless America!
Yesterday we did a lap around the road course at the Riga Motor Museum. The museum itself was interesting . It has a 853 A Horch like mine, but totally restored. Last night as went to move a barrier for one of the cars to get into the parking lot my pants slipped down to my knees. I am going to write a book called ďThe Peking to Paris, by way of Mongolia, DietĒ.
Fred told you most of what happened today. When we finally had the car on a truck they told us they would bring us to a well equipt garage that would be able to fix it. Down the road about 25 miles we pulled off an exit and met a couple of guys from the garage. They told us it would cost $250 to work on their holiday weekend, so I told them if they would go right to work I would give them $300. They got on the phone for a while then told us it was their holiday weekend and they couldnít do it until Tuesday. It didnít seem any amount of money would change their mind, so on down the road to the hotel we went. Fred and Hugh got the right tools and were able to change the bearing. It is amazing how many cars are worked on in the parking lot everynight and how much of various fluids are left behind each day in the parking lots. We are still paying the price for Mongolia. The roads sure are nice here compared to Russia. We heard today, by e-mail from the three young people who helped us translate at the garage in Omsck. I have added some pictures they sent me to the website, including one of Siberia in the winter. I hope they will look us up if they get to the USA again. We head down the road again in the morning, hopefully with less trouble than today. A big thanks to Hugh and it is great to have him back. His car has a new radiator on the front outside the grill that was added a while back. A picture will be on the web site soon.
We made it out of Russia with a 7 hour wait at the border. It was almost worth it to get out. I would like to go back to St. Petersburg someday. The roads were much improved in Estonia. We stayed in Tallin, a beautiful City. It is clear that all the years of Russian occupation did not knock these people down . It is a pleasure to be back with people that are real. On the way out of town we were stopped by a couple of Estonian policemen. They were professional and checked our papers and sent us on our way. They didnít have their hands out like the Russians. The border crossing into Latvia took all of 3 minutes. Riga is a beautiful modern European City. Our room overlooks the town center park. Tomorrow morning on the way out of town we will visit the Riga Motor museum. Right next to the cafť where we had lunch there was a high school graduation going on. Just like home.
We are still rolling.
Greetings from Riga, Latvia:
I have always been aware of the Baltic States but never dreamed I would one day drive through here. It is such a delightful change from Russia. Lots of young people laughing and having fun. They seem to be recovering from the scourge of Communism very fast. Riga is a beautiful modern city. There is some kind of a holiday here. People are performing in the city parks and many women are carrying bouquets of flowers. Jim and I had lunch in a sidewalk cafe and just watched the city go by.
We had another day of clean running. No stops to get under the car or under the hood. We went the main highways and cut about 75 miles off the day. We were in at noon. We are missing the countryside but we feel that would reduce our chances of reaching Paris and getting our Bronze.
Tomorrow we are off to Vilnius, Lithuania.
God Bless America!
Greetings from Tallinn in Estonia:
Short run yesterday out of Russia. Russia is now in the rear view mirror thank goodness. It gave us one last dose of horrible roads before arriving in Estonia on European quality roadways. It took 7 hours to get out of Russia and 1/2 to pass into Estonia. Russia is truly a messed up society. I could go back to St Petersburg and Moscow with more time. Stories of pickpockets in St Petersburg where a number of our group lost wallets and purses. An attempt was made on me to get my money and passport pouch under my shirt. I detected it and broke through the squeeze play and left two kids and a women sprawled on the ground and plowed my way through the two male blockers. They never got a hand on it. Alan was ahead and couldn't figure out what was happening.
Jim and I are not competing and long ago gave up our gold and silver medals in the Mongolian desert. The gold and silver are awarded to participants that don't miss check points within required arrival and departure times. There is also a competiition going oun within categories of cars. Everyone that gets to Paris earns a bronse. You need to have checked out at the Great Wall and again in St Petersburg. They don't care how you got between the points as long as you are present at checkout. Jim and I will need to check out at Reims the last day and at Paris arrival to earn our Bronze..
The organizer is trying to spread the field with all kinds of timed sections in the next few days. My guess there about 30 out of about 100 cars still competing and the rest of us are just trying to make Paris. Jim and I will skip all the gravel sections and use the best roads to arrive at the destination. We are told the roads in the Baltics are good but when we get to Poland a different story.
The car is running down the road as wounded as it is. I just checked oil levels and got it ready for todays run to Riga. Still day to day but we are not alone. There are some with bigger problems with other cars.
Paris is now in our sites and a few more days of clean running we may get our hopes up that we will arrive there.
God Bless America!
Leejun flew into Moscow and we had a nice 2 days together, visiting the Kremlin. One of the drivers is KMPG partner in London and invited their clients to dinner. A great one, with a reception at their Moscow office prior. Some of the Moscow partners provided us with some interesting insights on Russia. The service at the hotel was terrible. The people just stare past you and do nothing. Yesterday we drove to St. Petersburg on mostly good roads and tomorrow we go into Estonia . I went to down town St Petersburg after Leejun (she flew up here from Moscow.) left to go to Jeff Rodengen's wedding in the UK. I was supposed to go and then rejoin the rally in Riga, but the car is marginal and I didnít want Fred to have to deal with it alone if there is a problem. St Petersburg is a beautiful city. I was not able to get into the Hermitage because then lines were too long. So I walked around for awhile and had lunch.We are looking forward to Paris, hoping that Sum Ting Wong will make it.
Greetings from St Petersburg:
We arrived yesterday after a very long run of 450 miles. The car did well. It has a good heart and that Vodka toast is still protecting us. It is really day to day but I have hopes now I can nurse it on to Paris. We have 9 more days driving and about 2,000 more miles. By no means downhill from here. We have driven about 6,000 miles from Beijing.
Many stories still coming in of the adventures in the Gobi as the last catch up. The #2 car a 1907 Italia broke in Ulaan Baatar and went north to Russia where they bought a used Volga car and put the engine in the Italia and cought up in Moscow. Hugh Brogan is not with us and I asssume out. We have no way of knowing how many cars we have lost but it is a lot. What the Mongolian disaster did not get the Russian roads finished off. Some people have spent more time on lorries than on the pavement. There are problems that manifest themselves now but originated in Mongolia. The Buick has had 5 days of clean runs with only a leak in the radiator several towns back - fixed by quick steel and down the road we went.
We have been in Russia for almost two weeks now. Most of the time we ran hard through Siberia with nothing really to see and we were in workshops anyway. In Moscow I had a good day as a tourist. I was in the Kremlin and walked Red Square and took a city tour. I saw where Yeltsin ordered the tanks to fire on the capital. I took a city tour and had a wonderful dinner finally.
The Russian countryside is beautiful and if they could get it together they could feed the world.
I cannot really get a handle on these Russians. They are a mixed bag. They have no concept of customer service and with few exceptions they are very stoic. Very little smiling as a contrast to the Chinese and Mongolians. Many drunks. Security is tight everywhere even in all gas stations which indicates a theft issue. The mechanics have been extremely good to the rally. The infrastructure is really more like a third world country than a world power. Everything seems to just not work from internet to delivery of Fed Ex packages to hotel laundry registering etc. Their system is broken and nothing works. It is a free society but every man for himself.
The hotels have been similar all the way except the first town which was for convenience out of Mongolia. The rooms are spartan and no matter how nice the hotel basically the same. The lobbies bars restaurants vary but have never been up to western standards.
It is hard to imagine that once upon a time this country was a world power standing equal to the USA and the UK. They have a long way to go to catch up now.
Sorry for no emails as it is tedious to get our email out under these Russian systems.
St Petersburg is a wonderful world class city and I had a great day today with Alan and his codriver walking the downtown and a great lunch.
There are many people with wounded cars just like us and they are struggling down the road sometimes more difficultly than us.
Again wish us luck as we take it day by day and try to make our way to Paris.
God Bless America!
Greetings from MOSCOW:
Here at last here at last. We arrived early after a short drive on good tarmac, the first we have seen since China. We drove like normal folks instead of bouncy bouncy without shocks. Jim and I have made a decision and will not put the part on even though it is here. Our mechanic friends are advising us to drive on since it is holding up. I tighten the bolts each evening on the differential and top off with 90wt. The cradle seems to hold it well. I personally am relying on that vodka toast in the garage in Omsk.
We have about 600 miles more on Russian roads and 450 of that is our run on Tuesday to St. Petersburg. I can't help but think that the tarmac between the two largest Russian cities isn't good tarmac.
Jim's wife is here and he has hired a car for tomorrow to tour Moscow. Finally, something to see besides the inside of a workshop. If you ever need a mechanic in Siberia I can recommend a few and then steer your away from one.
The car is running great and most of the critical items are working. The push fan is out but I doubt we will really need it as the shroud, as chewed up as it is, still works. The engine and transmission are sound ,the weak link is the Diff. housing.
Wish us luck I now feel that Paris is possible.
God Bless America!
We arrived in Moscow at about noon. The road surprisingly was 4 lane and good surface most of the way, so we made good time. Leejun is here and the parts have arrived. We will take a tour of the city tomorrow. Fred is doing some maintainence on the car this afternoon. We have a long haul (450 miles) on Tues. so it will be good to have some time to rest up. I heard that the organizers cancelled some hotel rooms because of the problems in Mongolia, but people are fixing their cars and catching up with the rally, so now they are scrambling for rooms. Fred ran into Phillip Young (the Head guy) at the elevator yesterday and he admitted that Mongolia was much harder than expected. In reading their web site it seems that they have been trying to gloss over the difficulty. Still have not heard how Hugh Brogan is doing or if he is still trying to catch up.
Fred and Jim have arrived in Niz. Novgorod, and are now about 275 miles/439 kms from Moscow. Again, no internet , so he called by sat phone again . Moscow is a big destination, two weeks from today they arrive in Paris. Keep the good thoughts coming, and a bit of wishful good luck that the packages waiting in Moscow get to them.
SoÖSum Ting Wong is still huffing and puffing down the road!
We are still rolling. Sprung a leak in the radiator today. Fixed temporarily with some kind of liquid metal or something at a shop near the hotel. The # 2 car showed up today. They were trashed by the time they reached Ulan Bataar. They made it across the border (towed) near Lake Bakail, which was the original route. Took them a day because no one could figure out what they were doing there. We had crossed at another place. They lost their engine so they bought an old Russian Volga car and took the engine and drive train out and adapted it to the 1900 something Italia and have now caught up to the rally. Amazing things are going on here. We are having a case for our differential hand carried to Moscow from the USA. If ours breaks (it has 6 cracks in it ) we are out of the rally. We will be in Moscow on Sunday and make a decision whether to install now or carry as a spare. The sentiment at this time is to keep rolling and carry as a spare. When we hit the Baltic states after St Petersburg we are told we will be driving on EU standard roads, which should be OK. The Russian roads are Pothole City. No road worker here ever needs to be worried about job security.
Heard from Fred via sat phone this morning. There is no internet there, hence no e-mail. They have arrived in Kazan, are now 2 days away from Moscow, where several packages have been sent and are , hopefully, awaiting them. He sounded tired, but well. He says they will be working on the car all the way to Paris. And...they are expecting to arrive in Paris on the 30th, Irish luck and all the saints willing. Keep the guys and Sum mTing Wong in your thoughts, all positive.
So it continues...
Greetings from Perm still in Siberia!
This Siberia place is big.
We had a good run today of 225 miles. We are 1,000 miles and three days driving from Moscow. Yesterday during the rest day we were again all day in a workshop. We had a cradle fashioned to give strength to the differential housing. We hope to make it a better possibility of arriving in Moscow Sunday. The replacement will be waiting for us.
I bet you are sick of hearing of my car troubles. I am sick of dealing with them.
Our last hotel was in a residential area. I walked it extensively. The Russian city people appear to have very nice clothing, there are many cars on the streets and some are expensive. The buildings and sidewalks, streets, curbs, are a disaster. No capital has been spent on these things for a long time. The people are very friendly and helpful. We appear as they do and they walk up to you and speak Russian and are disappointed when you respond in English as it is always over the car at a gas station or in town.
The countryside is different. The people appear poor and housing is
wooden buildings from early last century. The farm machinery is antiquated. Many hotels have no parking as the Soviets didn't expect people to have cars. Public transportation is on trams and buses. Their breads are wonderful. We have had a number of good meals and a few outstanding. The highways are hard on sum ting wong as they go from smooth for a while and then all of the sudden they are full of dips and chuckholes. There doesn't seem to be anything in between. We have no shocks and cannot put them on since they will break the casing we are trying to protect. Therefore we wallow down the road like a dolphin. We are known all over the rally because of that.
The last of the people arrived yesterday from their experiences in Mongolia. Boy, do they have stories to tell. I am glad we got to the queue and crossed under our own power. No sign of Hugh Brogan and maybe he didn't make it although we know he was on the way. From the website you can tell more about the toll taken by the Mongolian disaster. Somehow I wonder if they will tell it all.
Tomorrow is a hard 400+ miles and will knock off nearly half the trip to Moscow.
God Bless America!
We had an uneventful day, traveling about 230 miles to Perm. According to some we are still in Asia. I was just told that we wonít be in Europe until we hit Moscow. We were supposed to see some ice caves today, but the directions were really screwed up. So by the time we arrived we decided to forgo the hour and a half tour and press on to Perm. We are actually having a relaxing evening. Tomorrow is a long day (430 miles) as we head closer to Moscow. The countryside here is very similar to upstate N Y. and we actually passed a herd of dairy cows today. Almost every crew is doing work on their cars daily as we are still trying to overcome the damage from Mongolia. We heard a real horror story at dinner last night from a couple of Dutch guys. They had a really hard time stranded in Mongolia. The organizers advertised that they never leave anyone behind, well these guys were. And I donít think they were the only ones left stranded. One even got bitten by a dog, so when he got out he had to have a bunch of shots that knocked him on his ass for a day. Everyone in the rally seems to be interested in helping anyone who needs it. A real team spirit.
Greetings from Ekaterinburg in Siberia:
This Siberia is big. Yesterdays run was short and we arrived for plenty of time to enjoy the afternoon. Today is a rest day and then five days driving to Moscow.
The Buick we gave the axle to has caught up and they tell us Hugh Brogan was almost done and shoud be here but we haven't seen him.
This is the place they knocked off the last Czar and there is a museum at the site. We plan to get there today.
A little more sorting on the car. Some welding tightening etc. The car is really running well save for the housing weeps oil. The mechanic in Omsk who last put it together said that it could last a short time or go many thousands of miles. I can just retighten the bolts daily and replace lost 90wt. We had a toast of Belarous Vodka made with peppers and honey chewed cilantro and ate some jelled substance. He said all this would bring us luck on down the road.
Jims people have found the part in Ohio and it will be shipped to New York today and I am not clear yet how or when it gets to us but someone has indicated that can be done.
Meanwhile we will keep pushing down the road.
God Bless America!
WE have made it to the half way point in the rally , both in terms of days and in terms of miles .Fred has been amazing. Had it not been for Fred and some luck we would not be here today. Fred drew on his inner resources and has been able to keep the car running. I have tried to help by handing him what he needs when he needs it. Sometimes I feel like a nurse, but most of the time I think I am only in the way. We were also pretty much in the right place at the right time to find shops that could assist. Only one was a total failure.
Tomorrow is a rest day. Unforuneatly the hotel we are staying in is far from the action of the city. And several miles from our car park, so we are trying to figure out what to do for the next day and a half. WE have to work on the car tomorrow morning for awhile. Then we will probably head to the city center and check it out. WE had 8 hours sleep last night, are still pretty tired. The scenery has still been much the same for the last several days, but day after tomorrow we head thru the Ural mountains as we start for Moscow. We are looking forward to a change. WE made the 200 mile run today with out a hitch, 2 days in a row. We were stopped by the police today along the road at a spot check point. The acted very stern as they walked up to the car, buy one had a camera and it became clear he just wantred a picture of himself next to the car. I got out and he and his partner took pictures of each other sitting in the drivers seat. From what I have heard I think as we near Moscow the police will not be as easy to deal with. The bmake hteir living from roadside fines. Daniel, in an early brass era car has been stopped 6 times and fined 3000 rubles on the spot once.
The # 8 car,which is without a navigator (we heard he fired his navigator in Ulan Bataar because he was unable to find the center city square), was in an accident with a Mecedes and a trolly this afternoon. I have heard that no one was hurt. Some carts are still catching up with the rally after having had some repairs done. It is not clear how many arte still in it. The roads are potholed , but 1000% better than Mongolia. You can be driving along at a good clip on what seems to be a good road and all of a sudden pot holes appear. Have to pay close attention all the time. WE are hoping that we will hold together and be able to complete the rally. One way or another we will be in Paris with the car.
Greetings from Tyumen Siberia:
Wet today and cold. A four hundred mile run following 400 the day before. Tomorrow is only 200 with a rest day following. No email last night except cafes and Jim and I were in a workshop until 11 last night. It gets dark here at 11PM and light again at 4AM. It is hard for me to sleep too late.
Cars from Mongolia disaster are now catching up after repairs and hard driving as we are 1500 miles from the border now.We haven't seen the guys with our axle. I hope it gets them moving. The group that began in Beijing at 134 is now between 105 and 110.
We are still struggling to get Mongolia behind sum ting wong. I have had a leak in the differential since early in Mongolia. Finally last night we found out the differential housing is cracked. It may give way at any time or it may go thousands of miles. Jim's people are searching for a used one and trying to get it to Moscow for our arrival there in 6 days.
The run today was easy and we didn't stop once for repairs which we haven't done since China. Last evening in the workshop was delightful, after the clowns in Novosibirsk the day before.
A story I haven't told .When arriving in Novosibirsk a few days ago, a man named Valeri approached me about repairing my car. I showed him what I needed and asked for a quote and gave him my room number. I didn't hear back and the next day while waiting for another mechanic to look us up ,he called. I told him if he came first I would go with him. The other one beat him and we left. When he arrived he looked for car 96 in the carpark and then came into the hotel looking for me. He asked about me to everyone avaliable. After not getting answers he became beligerent with a bunch of the patrticipants. The hotel security ushered him out and he maced one of the security people. I am glad I did not go with him.
Jim and I are having fun but are very tired from the last two days long drive and last evenings late stay in the workshop.
The Russian people are different. They are curious about the cars but act differently than those in China or Mongolia. It appears we need to be more careful here than the prior places.
The cities are quit beautiful. The country side for the last 1,000 miles is like driving across Indiana. It never has changed. After the rest day we will tackle the Urals. Wish us luck with the car as we are now on a wing and a prayer and very little I can do to nurse it along.
God Bless America!
Hey, Mr . Sandman bring me a dream. He brought us a nitemare instead. Mongolia was one for Fred and me and the car, as you have probably read in Fredís entries. WE did have some nice experiences in Mongolia: We spend an evening in a yert having dinner and watching a musical performance and a contortionist. WE watched Mongolian wrestling. The musicians sang in a way I had never heard before. Making sounds from deep inside without moving their lips. One guy could sing and whistle at the same time. Some of the music sounded like Kentucy blue grass. The night we had our radiator welded, the family of the welded invited us into their yert for something to eat. We met the 74 year old grandfather (wrinkled as a prune,) THE MOTHER AND THE 15 YEAR OLD DAUGHTER WHO IS VERY BRIGHT AND SPOKE A SMALL AMOUNT OF ENGLISH. WE tried talking , but had a lot of trouble and a lot of laughs. Mongolian was a hard time and one night we were at our low, not knowing whther we were going to be able to go on or not.< but we did and are now in our 3rd day in Siberia. I never thought that I would be looking forward to going to Siberia!!! AS soon as we left Mongolia and went into Russia the topography changed and we traveled thru alpine scenery for a few 100 miles. It then turned flat as a pancake, much like our plains states. Apparently they have had a lot of rain., because we have seen a lot of flooding. We3 have continuing trouble with the car as a sresult of what she went thru in Mongolia. Last night we were in the shop until 10 PM. Then we took out for dinner three young people who came to the garage to translate for us. WE made it back to the hotel at 1 AM really beat. The 2 young woman and their friend had all been to the states or Canada and want to go back to live there. The drive the last 3 days has been pretty boring. We actually made it thru today with out a break down. !st since China. WE are limping along with a cracked differential casing , hoping to have one shipped to Moscow. Time to eat more later.
Greetings from Novosibirsk;
Jim and I worked on the car today and had success in the morning and the car is getting sorted. We are ready to drive on tomorrow. A 400 mile day. One of the control mechanics helped me straighten the front tires and we now steer much better and our tires are not wearing out.
This morning at breakfast we met a number of our friends that arrived from the Mogolian border by taxi and were waiting the arrival of their cars.Theyaived at 4AM and it is 9PM and the cars are not here and some need a days work. The only info they have received is thathey are on the way. Car 92 a 1040 Buick was among them. They had broken an axle and spent two nights and one day on the desert before the lorrie arriveed to pick them up. I knew there was a reason that im and I did
not throw those axles away. When thier car arrives they have the part
from us as well as bearings and seals.
J im and I had our first bad experience with a work shop. 6 hours there and no work done. The other people seem to have had good luck repairs. Alan ist yet back and his codriver at breakfast was not confident in their workshop but Alan seemed to be ok.
It is interesting to see the emotions of the group change after their cars are getting sorted and the driving gets better. When time has dulled my memory about the trama on the road in Mongolia I am sure
that will be one of the things I remember of this trip. At the time I didn't know if I was having fun or living a nightmare.
The next objective is to arrive in Moscow. On the way Jim and I intend to continue sorting out the car. Sometime soon maybe we can even consider washing it. Somehow ther are more important thing but we are moving.
God Bless America!
Greetings from Novosibirsk in Siberia Russia:
We entered Russia the day before yesterday. Within a few miles from the border with Mongolia ,the terrain changed and you would have thought you were somewhere in the Rockies. It is beautiful here. The people seem nice and friendly. Today is a much needed rest day for Jim and the car. After passing through the Border at about 1PM we needed to drive 400 miles to the first town that could handle the size of our group. It was Bijsk. Were were spread out among many flea bag hotels but a welcome site after four nights camping out in Mongolia. Jim and I arrived in Bijsk at 2AM after much trouble on the road fixing many problems with our car (sum ting wong). It had and has many things wrong.
Jim and I have survived the Peking to Paris Mongolian Disaster. We left Beijing with 134 cars and by the Chinese Mongolian border a few had already quit due to personal issues, and the organizer asked at least one to quit because his car would just not make it. In the queue to exit Mongolia some 8 days later we were 86 cars. Most of those were in various states of disrepair. There were also 10 cars that had been trucked to the border and were pushed, towed or limped across under their own power, and then reloaded on lorries to be sent to repair shops in Russia. The camp site by the border was kept open an extra night as there were still a few participants trying to get their cars trucked to the border as well as some trying to drive their cars to the border after having fallen behind several days before.It was a very grim scene. We are told some people returned to Ulaan Baatar and after fixing their cars will try to exit Mongolia a different route and catch up in Moscow.I know rallying is to be a test of man and machine, but this was unfair. I feel sorry for so many of our friends that had to quit after so much preparation and anticipation. We are still not out of the woods since from here instead of testing the suspension and body of the cars we will now test the engine and transmission driving these old cars down tarmac the rest of the way. We will need to nurse this car a long way before we arrive in Paris.
We cannot gripe about the as to drive the impossible. His people and work crews did the best they could. I have heard no complaint other than that he could have picked a different route that would have been more fair to his customers.
Mongolia is a place I grew to hate. Probably more from our own problems than from Mongolia itself although the Gobi Desert is barren and devoid of any vegetation. It is a most inhospitable land. It will never see Fred Nelan again. It is truly a place to lose weight. I may have lost 10 pounds.
Jim and I would leave early in the morning one day even before breakfast. We would be enroute all day and missed dinner two nights from late arrival and you know the story of our first two days there. We were a total of 7 days driving 1,400 miles with only 200 or so on tarmac and broken at that. Our car gave us all kinds of trouble and we spent a lot of time on for repairs. I have never seen such horrible roads for so many miles in my life. Our troubles included our gas tank falling off, leaking rear seal, cracked differential, rear springs jumped their moorings, fan chewed into the shroud, fuel pump failed,radiator sprung a leak. The body is also hurting as the trunk will not close and is tied down. The doors do not open or shut properly and screws and chrome are missing from everywhere. The hood blew off twice in gusts during sand storms and is now tied down with a ratchet strap, but it doesn't fit properly.
The discomfort during the days was awful. It was cold then hot. The wind blew and it rained some. All we had waiting for us in the evening was a bedroll and another days drive to look forward to.Every morning and evening I was under the car tightening nuts and bolts that just kept working loose.I really wondered what I was doing there.
Sorry to be so long winded here but it has been many days since I have had email and a lot has happened to us during that time.
We will rest today and do a little work on the car. It was serviced yesterday in Bijsk and the wheels need to be aligned as they both point out. It is a very tired car but with care we still have a shot at reaching Paris and a a medal.
God Bless America!
Greetings from Ulaan Baatar:
Interesting day here. It started early for me as you may have seen from the last email. It is Mothers and Childrens day here and all the workshops were closed.There were rally cars everywhere searching for those open. Shame on the organizer. We found one that no other rally car found until mid afternoon when our German friends in car 11 showed up. We are ready to go after about 9 hours work on the car.
Our extra battery is now in the Rolls #16 in exchange for a few beers. Jim and I were ready to chuck it but found someone who needed it.
The rally came together today as we are all here with cars broken to some degree. Those pretty pictures of them in Beijing are history. They are all broken in some way or another. There were many that broke beyond repair and the participants are headed home. I guess that the reservations in Paris for the last evening are a real gamble that we will arrive.
Our car is suffering but with careful driving we have a chance. The next 5 days through Mongolia will tell the tale. When we arrive in Russia we will at least exit to the west.
Mongolia so far is interesting. A pathetic place as it is poor. The people are not particularly attractive although the women are more so than the men. They are extremely nice and friendly. It seems that many speak English. In the workshop today I could not use okok since these people don't speak Chinese and I was lucky that there were many English speaking customers to
Their currency is weird because it has lots of 0's and it makes you feel rich, with a huge stack in your pocket.
We are off tomorrow for 5 nights camping and driving similiar to what we have seen. If we take it slow and easy we will be in Russia when I next write.
God Bless America!
Here we are in Ulaan Bataar. We had a rest day today, but as many others we spend a good part of the day working on the car. WE were lucky to find a garage open as it is a holiday in Mongolia today, mothers and childrens day. Ulaan Bataar is not a modern city. There are yerts where people live all over, some main streets with business and a few high rises. Our trip getting here was eventful as Fredís entry describes. How many people can say the drove off a road in a sand storm and got stuck in a sand dune? It was me driving, by the way, not Fred. The Mongolian country side, so far is, barren, a few cattle, goats, and horses wandering around and for some reason they like to be in the road. It was a real kick driving cross country (no roads) in the moon light. WE have 6 more days camping out in the boonies before we reach Russia. You probably wonít hear from us for several days, so hold a good thought for us and the car.
Grettings from Erenhot in Northern China:
We are now three driving days north of Beijing and on the Mongolian Border. Last night we were out in nowhere in Inner Mongolia with community restrooms and no internet sleeping in yurts. Today we were told by Chinese customs that we will infact be allowed to leave tomorrow with the rest of the rally. This will be the last ties between us and the disorganizer.
The hotels and food are fast going down hill. They tell us Mongolia and Russia are good places to lose weight.
The car is running well. We had a stretch yesterday that I believe the organizer put us on just to weed out the weaker cars and those not properly prepared. By and large I think everyone made it. The car with the burned engine from the first day#6 was fixed in Beijing and has just been delivered on a wrecker to cross the border with us tomorrow.
Inner Mongolia is as barren as any place I have ever been. It is hot here in the day and we are still driving with our top down. I think it is in the low 90s. At night it is cooler in fact last evening it was cold. All the cars need work constantly. Before you leave and after arrival there is several hours of fiddling around witrh something.
The gasoline will also be of poorer quality. I have thrown overboard the starter,tow chain and crow bar. Still to go will be the extra battery. The floor jack remans and Jim and I are attached to those axles for some reason and cannot bring ourselves to chunch them just yet.
This is a very different rally than i have ever been on. These Classic car things are all about cars and competetion while the 4x4 rallys I believe generate more fellowship.
I will say goodbye to China tomorrow a place I truly love. I will now go on to see a place that may be the most unspoiled place in the world. I look forward to that and then what is beyond.
Probably no email until Ulaanbatar the day after tomorrow. Don't forget to see our pictures on seamus.cc and follow the whole rally on pekingparis,com
God bless America!
We stopped at the Datong (Yangung) Grottos on the way out of town yesterday. They were way above my expectations, quite spectacular. Some were done 500 BC. We then had what we expected to be a short drive into Inner Mongolia (part of China). The road turned out to be really rough for a good part of the way and we were really slowed down. I did most of the driving thru the rough stuff and was pretty tired when we pulled into our over nite stop: Yert City. The scenery was beautiful and we traveled thru a lot of small towns where the people turned out to cheer us on. We were directed by the police all the way, including a stretch where we were directed around some real rough stuff and some river crossings. Once we headed into Inner Mongolia, the land flattened out and at 1st there was a lot of land under tillage. Thousands (probably 100s of thousands) of acres. The locals use small tractors and animals. Nothing like our high production farms in the USA. The topography reminded me of Montana and N. Dakota. We stayed in Small yerts last nite. Some had facilities and some did not. Ours did not, None had western plumbing. The dinner was O K . Thanks to a lot of vegetables. The road did give our car some bruises, but over all she held up well. We are having some parts Fed Exed to us. We have also started to lighten our load. We gave away our extra starter and a heavy tow chain. We drove today thru mostly flat land and small rolling hills. Not much population here, but a lot of ranches. We are in a nice hotel tonite and head into Mongolia tomorrow. We will camp out tomorrow night and then spend 2 days in Ulaan Batoor. I donít know how communications will be over the next week , But I expect the only time is in Ulaan Batoor. The rest of the time by Sat Phone. Only. Chinsese Customs
came around to the hotel this afternoon and approved our car for exit, but we will breath easier when we have arrived in Mongolia , clear of the Chinese border.
Greetings from Datong China:
We are now north of Beijing about 275 miles.We were flagged out of the starting box at 9:16 AM this morning at the Great Wall. We are Car 96 and there were 95 before us. What a relief it was to finally get on the road.
It was an easy drive and sum ting wong no longer has something wrong.
It ran cool as a cucumber ugh! The shroud was the trick in the end. We treated and fixed all the little problems for the overheating but the disease was the flow of air through the radiator. We used the push fan in toll lines and traffic and it works as expected.
I am really overloaded with weight. It affects our gas mileage and it is a real strain on the suspension. I am not sure when we will pull the trigger and start throwing some of my carefully gathered spares overboard but I feel it is inevitable.The sooner the better.
I understand that one participant had his engine crack leaving the hotel parking lot in Beijing. To come all this way and expend the time and money it just doesen't sound fair but that is a rally.
Our presence in Datong must be a real happening for them. I don't know the size of this place but the whole town is at our hotel. It is probably a city of several million that no one has ever heard of.
There is music and you would think that the Indy 500 was running here.
The rally now as it moves is like an ooze moving across the countryside. We are 300 people. 150 cars including officials. I have seen all the cars at the warehouse and the hotel parking lot yet see some I swear I have never seen before. The same goes for the people.
You can see pictures for today at seamus.cc and there will be video of the start on pekingparis.com very soon. The cars in this thing are beautiful.
Tomorrow we will be in Inner Mongolia which is still China. We are to sleep in Yurts. I am not sure of what if any Internet service we will have.
What a privilege it is to be on an event like this.
God Bless America!
Well, this morning we were off in a spray of Panda pee. Finally off on the rally. We started at the great wall, which is truly a feat of mankind. Every time I see it I am more impressed. I continue to meet other people that I have done other rallies with. I think the rally fraternity is quite small world wide.
I spoke with Peter Livanos today, who at one time owned Aston Martin. The í76 V 8 coupe that I own was once owned by him and was the catalyst that convinced him to buy Aston Martin. He is driving a beautiful 6C, 1929, Bentley in the rally. 2 friends of his are driving another one that Peter owns and is exactly like the other.
It was real warm today, but it appears that Fred has solved the overheating problem. As we drove thru the cities and villages today there we crowds of people cheering us on and the whole route was lined with police at all the intersections to give us the right of way against other traffic. Wee had a stop at the famous Hanging Monastery this afternoon that turned into, too long a stop for most of us.
We are staying in Datong which is the coal capital of China. Chinaís coal is very high in sulfur and is one the reasons that the air pollution is so bad. We will visit some world famous grottos in the morning before leaving for a short drive of less than 200 miles.
It feelas good to be on the road,
Greetings from Beijing China:
We have been scrutinized. We have passed and were allowed to sign on for the rally.
It was a very through inspection of mandatory safety equipment and the cars lights etc. They also check paperwork and were kind enough not to ask us for our non existent Chinese license plates.
Tomorrow at 6AM we will leave Beijing and Jim and I will be ON THE ROAD AGAIN. First stop will be at the Great Wall for the official start and with dragons and fireworks . Then it will be on to our first night halt at Datong. Our goal is Tuesday when we cross into Mongolia at Erenhot and we will be free of the wrath of the disorganizer.
It is hard to believe that Jim and I decided to do the rally almost 3 years ago and paid our deposit. How time flies. I look back at all the milestones in preparation we had over the three years and then cannot believe I am here and the car is ready for its run. I am still not satisfied with the suspension but have concluded that it is my fault since it my first rally in a classic car. I am overloaded. Somewhere down the road I suspect someone will be the recipient of two 1941 Buick axles, a floor jack,a tow chain, a crowbar,a 6 volt starter and one Optima battery as well as a few assorted other parts. Believe me I am prepared but at the expense of 300 to 400 pounds that can be taken off the springs of SUM TING WONG.
My personal thanks to all Jim's and my friends that helped me the last years to get ready for this enchanting journey of a lifetime. All the advice and help is greatly appreciated.
We are now going to our final briefing before departure and to take a lesson in operating our GPS. They have downloaded 594 way points and Jim and I don't know how to use this thing.
What an adventure this has been so far and I can only imagine of what is ahead.
On the pekingparis.com website they are taking resevations for a repeat P2P journey in three years but with a different route. I don't think Jim has seen that yet but he is lobbying for next year's London to Australia run. He wants to go now that we have a real rally car. I think I want to get through this one before I even think about another. Follow our progress with photos on seamus.cc.
Wish us luck in our journey.
God Bless America!
Thanks to my wife Leejun, over the next few days pictures of the cars will be posted on the web site. It is a long process, so I thank her for doing it. If I missed your car and you would like it to be on the site please send me a message in the guest book or mention it to me and I will get a picture of your car and post it.
This morning, because our car was just across the street, we were able to pick it up and were 1st at the hotel. Probably the only event we will come in 1st at. Anyhow, the rest were bused out to pick up their cars at the warehouse and slowly started arriving the rest of the day from about 11:30 on. The cars are beautiful and valuable. I am sure that some of the cars would sell in the seven figures. It was a lot of fun for me to look at them all as they arrived. I loved it. Tomorrow our cars will be scrutinized to determine if we have them prepared in the required way. Iím told mud flaps are a big issue with organizer. Iím sure it must be are really important item! Anyhow we should be on our way on Sunday assuming we pass the test.
Last night we had a very tasty Chinese several course dinner sponsored by Blancpain Watch Company. They had Peking to Paris watches for sale, 2 per car and with your car #, at only $14,000. Each. So be it. Although we appreciated a very nice dinner. I doubt a lot of watches changed hands.
Letís get going!,
Greetings from Beijing:
The car is done and appears fit for its journey.
It is finally clear that we will not get license plates. We were issued drivers licenses however. The rest of the cars got their plates yesterday. We are assured that if we can get safely to the Mongolian Border the customs issues are resolved and we will be allowed out of China. I really
don't know why they would want to keep us anyway.
There is a lot of emotion here on this issue between the organizer for this rally, the travel agents for this rally and those from the last as well as the Germans in the American LaFrance and Jim. There is no sign of the disorganizer although he is the real root of the problem. I have worked all sides and it appears that everyone is now focused on getting us out of here instead for agruing as to whose fault it is that we are in this mess.
The cars were left at the workshop until this morning to avoid there being seen when the traffic athorities delivered the license plates to the rest of the participants at the hotel. The rest of the participants will bring thier cars to the hotel this morning from the warehouse we left on Tuesday. We will bring our cars to the hotel from the workshop and park them with the rest.
We have very little to do on the car betweeen now and departure Sunday morning. The next big hurdle will be to pass scrutineering. We have a manditory list of items that all participants must have with them. For example first aid kit , fire extinguisher, sat phone. We have been quite careful and we should pass.
Last night we had a dinner for the group. It was great to see many friends that we have made on past rallys. Also it is great to begin making new friends. It is amazing how small the world wide group of rally people really is when you see how many know each other from prior events. I sat down next to a couple from the States at dinner and found out they lived in Mesilla, New Mexico. This is their first big rally. She is Austrailian and in a professor at NMSU. On her right was an Austrailin couple in the
rally and the two women were raised in the same small town in Australia but did not know each other before.
Jim and I are having fun and hopefully in another few days our permitting and licensing proplems will just be another fond memory to be filed away and brought up in conversation along with those fond memories of adversities of rallys past.
For me today, a few tourist things before the final focus on the rally.
God Bless America!
Well, the weather is better. Most the participants have arrived and will pick up their cars tomorrow. Ours has been in the shop for the last 2 days and we have gotten all the work done on it. Thanks to Fred.
We are still illegal and will not be able to get plates. We do have driverís licenses, however. We are told we will not have trouble getting into Mongolia. We have met the organizer and he is the same breed as all the others I have met. Enough said!
I am looking forward to seeing all the other cars. We have run into a # of people that we have done other rallys with. Old home week. We will pick up our car tomorrow and mingle in with the rest of the group and try to hide in plain sight. At least we have our plate from the Hong Kong to Beijing rally, which looks like the others, but is out of date. We are itching to get going. The next couple of days are going to be just like the army: hurry up and wait. The hotel is quite nice and the people very helpful. We have some last minute shopping to do tomorrow and pack the car. I at least had a lesson on the GPS today so hopefully my memory will last long enough to be able to use it. Tomorrow they will log in over 500 way points that will hopefully keep us on the right route.
Onward and upward!,
Greetings from Beijing:
Who would question Irish Luck? I breezed through Chinese customs with no questions asked.
Next came two hours of searching for the warehouse where six weeks ago we left our cars. The friends in the American LaFrance had a cab driver that came out to meet mine and lead me in. We were half hour late and the people would not open the doors to get our cars. Finally they opened up but put up a human shield to prevent us from taking the cars. They replaced the human shield with a forklift. No one spoke english so we were unable to figure out what it was all about. The was something about a " red stamp". Okok was of no help here. After a half hour one of them said okok and they moved the forklift and off we went.Still not a clue about why.
The next warehouse was the inspection warehouse and it had all the rally cars in it. I have never seen such a beautiful and expensive collection of antique cars anywhere. There are tens of millions of dollars of cars being nearly destroyed in making this rally.
After 5 hours waiting for Chinese traffic control to check vin and engine numbers we left that warehouse in the rain for the workshop.
What a mess that workshop was. A small garage off the street flooded by the rain. I worked a few hours with an mechanic assigned to me of about 17 years old. I watched him very closely. He screwed up a few things as I watched and helped. That night I awoke and decided that sometine was wrong with that picture and decided to move to a proper workshop and next morning I called Jim at another hotel and he found a very nice one so car.
My night in the local Chinese hotel was interesting. There was a bus load of 80 year old chinese tourists that were extremely what to expect for $30.
In the new workshop my parts were installed with proper tools and good mechanics. With a few hours in the morning we should be ready to start for Paris on Sunday.
Our cars are still pleagued by the disorganizer as the paper work is not proper and the two cars are illegal. We are advised we are on our own while in China and in case of an accident we may be in real trouble. Exit from China we are told will not be a problem. We will see after we arrive at the border with the rally.
God Bless America and good organizers!
On the road again. Flew from Italy, where I attended the RM auctions auction of 30 Ferrariís, and arrived in Beijing this morning. RM sold a total of 30 Ferrariís for over 45 million dollars, with 11 cars going for over 1 million. A 1962 Testarossa went for over 9 million. Phil Hill won Le Mans with the car way back when. WE were able to get a tour of the Ferrari factory behind the scenes, including the F 1 shop where the y were preparing the cars for the Monte Carlo race. They had one of the chassis with engine on a test stand and ran the engine while we were there. Wild. WE also visited Enzo Ferrariís house that is on the grounds of the test track. Very few people have that opportunity, so we felt very privileged.
Fred arrived earlier and was able to get our car over to the warehouse with the rest of the rally cars and get ours inspected this A M. He wasnít sure he was going to be able to get the car back to take it to the shop to do the work that we need to do before leaving, but he just called me and said he is out and will call when he gets to the shop. I just had lunch with some guys from Holland. One pair is driving a prewar 6C Bentley in the rally.
It is pouring down rain in Beijing right now, but hopefully it will clear by the time we leave.
All for now.
Let the adventure begin!
Tomorrow I head for Beijing after 5 weeks here gathering parts and planning installation. My first task will be to clear Chinese Customs with a suitcase full of parts.
As Alistar advises me ďin a rally, failure is not acceptableĒ.
I discovered when gathering parts that the over heating problem is something common to Buicks of that era. I found that members of the Buick Clubs of America and Canada had fabricated shrouds and high volume push fans to better move the air during parades with restored Buicks. I have those in my suitcase as well as a flex fan for the engine. I am also carrying newly fabricated rear springs to lift the rear with all the weight and new shocks.
My luggage exceeds the limits for China Air but that will just be one more challenge.
I will go immediately to the car in the warehouse where we left it and take it for yet another Chinese inspection. I will join Ralf and Kurt from Hong Kong in their 1918 American LaFrance. The Ferrari will not be there to run through inspection multiple times so we are on our own.
After the inspection we have reserved for two days a workshop with lifts, pits and mechanics to work on both cars. We have reserved a hotel nearby. Jim will join me after the inspection. With luck at customs and the inspection and the workshop we will take the cars to join the rest of the rally at the headquarters hotel. I will keep you informed as to Irish luck.
God Bless America!
We are further on our way to driving this Buick all the way around the world. I met Fred in Dallas last Sunday along with Bob Baxter, who has done the prep work on the car for us.
On Monday we were up at the crack of dawn and spent 14 hours driving the car to Fred's ranch on the Rio Grande in south west Texas. We thought, at first, the engine was over heating, but apparently it is a bad sensor. We were able to cruise at 65 to 70 mph on the freeway. The last 40 miles into Fred's ranch was the real test of the day. We travelled over very rough roads and gave the Buick a good test. It passed with flying colors. We shook a couple of things off, but we expected that and this was the place to do it; rather than China.
We were up early again on Tuesday morning and Fred took us via an old Suburban up to the top of a cliff where we had a great view of the Rio Grande and surrounding countryside. The evening before , Fred's daughter Janey, who is working on her PhD, had a fire in the pit when we arrived and we had a great dinner of pork chops , corn, and salad. We also ahd a chance to meet Fred's ranch manager, Elvis, and his family.
After our look around the ranch we took off for El Paso, driving out the rough ranch road putting the Buick to a further test. Because of the beefed up suspension, it is a hard ride, but we think just what we will need for the rally. We have decided to enter the Hong Kong to Beijing Rally in early April. That will give us a chance to do a further shake down on the Buick prior to the big rally.
We arrived in El Paso in time to meet Leejun and Ernie for a light lunch, then dinner with Kenny and Deanne that night. Fred will do the final touches on the Buick, then we will be off in the Spring for the adventure. Bob Baxter followed us on our route with a trailer, which we didn't need . Bob did a great job in prepping the Buick.
Greetings from Dallas TX:
The adventure has begun!
We have completed Part 1 of our trip from Peking to Paris in June of 2007. We moved our 1941 Buick from Gloversville New York to avoid the winter snows to Dallas TX arriving Wednesday evening. The car was driven by Kip Smith from Gloversville to Buffalo were I took over and continued to Louisville and Jim joined me for the trip on to Dallas. It was driven 1,650 miles in 2 Ĺ days. BRING ON THE RALLY! The only hitch was when Jim and I ran out of gas on a deserted road in Western Kentucky in the middle of the night. We waited 2 hours for AAA to send us a few gallons of gas. The car seems no worse for the wear and we learned a lot about the vehicle.
The car will remain here in Dallas for a year where my friend, Bob Baxter with his skilled hands will prepare the car for its run from Beijing to Paris. For Part 2 it will move on westward next fall to California where it will be sent by ship to China.
In early June, 2007 Jim Taylor, myself and the Buick will begin our run to Paris from Beijing. The Place de la Concorde awaits us for the finish in July, 2007. There are many adventures between now and then I am sure.
Jim and I will fly home at the end but the Buick will continue the westward journey by ship back to the East Coast. The Buick will have traveled around the world.
God Bless America!