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Old 11th January 2010, 01:02   #1
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Post Offroading at Kakkabe/Coorg: A Report

As I chugged into Jungle Mount Adventure Camp in Kakkabe at 4:30PM and parked the Jeep, I see a familiar figure calling my name and waving at me. It was Sibi Paul, a top notch offroader and the most well known face in Coorg offroading community. Happy to see a familiar face among all the strangers, I waved back and walked towards him.

As I drew near him, my eyes wandered to a face of an older gentleman sitting besides Sibi. Holy cow! That face belonged to the most famous rally personality of Karnataka since the early 80s. Even though I know zilch about rallying, having brought up in Karnataka, it is impossible not to know that face. Nobody told me I would be meeting a sport celebrity I have heard about since Highschool.

After meeting Sibi, he introduces me to the one and only Jagat Nanjappa, the rally Legend. I don’t even know what I mumbled while shaking his hand. I was even more shocked to hear that he is the director of this event…

I almost didn’t write this travelogue because I didn’t have good enough pictures to go with it. Eventually I decided to write one anyway just preserve the memories. As usual I write a long report, dwelling on various things, often pondering on 4x4 technical ideas to improve my understanding. Those of you who click in just to check the photos, would be disappointed this time.
This was a good OTR despite being in the non-monsoon season. The trail was good, met the usual offroader friends, made some new ones, and learned some more things. But photography was a disappointment for few reasons. First of all, I was in the front this time, which means I got to clear the hurdles early and was asked to keep moving to make way for following vehicles. Secondly, Most of the driving was in close canopied forest, and we did lots of trail driving, often repeating the trails to try different loops. So I could hardly get out for photography and when I did, I hardly found a good vantage point. Thirdly, the forest was pretty dry, hardly inspiring to click.

I had registered pretty early for the event. My wife had agreed to join, and Sachin was planning to get his newly acquired Gypsy along with a friend. However, it didn’t pan out that way. One kid had exam, so wife stayed back. Sachin’s Gypsy was found to have a bent chassis, so that was out of contention. Eventually it was just me, doing yet another solo trip in the Jeep to the OTR.

One thing I was really looking forward to was the performance of CF leafs in the 230Kms highway drive and the OTR. For the trip, I bought a huge aluminum box that fit perfectly between the rear side seats. I was able to dump all the tools and winch accessories, and even my luggage, water bottles and snacks bag into this box and lock it. It is an amazing feeling, to be able to walk away from the open Jeep without worrying about all the stuff in the back.

My drive to Kakkabe was pretty uneventful except for one silly wrong turn I did in Moodubidri. I turned towards Mangalore instead of Bantwal, which cost me 20Kms and at least 45 minutes more before I found myself back in the right road. The roads were generally good all the way till Sullya, after that it got pretty bad all the way to Madikeri. This is where one gets to appreciate the soft suspension achieved by CF leafs. Unlike other vehicles on the road, I just drove over the bad stretches like I didn’t see it. And unlike before, I was not punished for it. It was like driving the Grand Vitara on similar bad roads. The CF leafs softened the jolts much beyond my expectations. At one place, I misjudged the depth of a long channel cut across the road, it was more like 8 inches deep. To my surprise, the Jeep jumped in and out of the pothole like a frog with a very smooth motion without transferring any jolt to my back. I immediately recalled Jammy’s advice. In a light vehicle like SWB Jeep or Gypsy, one should let the leaf springs do all the hard work and shock absrober should only provide dampening. And I had a special purpose LF leaf spring that focused on providing a softer ride, and it was doing its job fabulously. Eventually I was grinning ear to ear while ripping on the pot holes, and I could barely feel them.

After reaching the camp, I was pointed towards one of the guest houses to freshen up. As I returned I found Sibi and Jagat inspecting my Jeep, the CF leaf to be exact. Before I could open my mouth…

Jagat: How did you make this shackle stay in the perfect angle?
Me: Ugh! Hmm, nothing…
Jagat: I have the same CF leafs on my SWB Jeep installed two days back, but the shackle stays vertical to the ground.
Me: I guess… I just got lucky.
Jagat: Isn’t it the same size, did something change?
Me: Well, my Jeep is the first SWB Jeep in the country to get CF leafs. I did have problems with arranging the right U-clamps and free moving shackles. But I was somehow spared the shackle angle problem. That however means one thing, not all CFLs are same despite having the same length. Looks like the standard deviation is pretty wide in their manufacturing process.
Jagat: How’s the ride, it appears to be very soft. [shakes the Jeep side to side]
Me: Yeah, it is very soft. I loved it, I could literally ignore all the bad roads.
Jagat: It can be fixed by installing heavier shocks.
Me: What? No. I like the softer ride. [Then I go on repeating Jammy’s logic of leafs doing all the work]

Didn’t look like Jagat bought that argument. As a rally driver he would probably put handling characteristics way above ride comfort unlike us weekend warriors.

Meanwhile, I am waiting for rest of my gang coming from the Bangalore side. They were supposed to reach the camp by 3PM and leave for Choma Kunda by 4-5PM. I had driven hard from Manipal to be on time and these chaps were still stuck in Virajpet doing god knows what. So I spent my time getting know some people who were hanging around there. I got to learn that Jagat has always been heavily into offroading despite his well-known rally career.
Then Jagat decides to check out the trail and calls Sibi and me to join up in a final recce. At first I joined up without question, and then as I saw Jagat going deep into the bush territory, I asked Sibi how long this recce will take. He shrugs and says as long as it would take. However, I had plans to join my friends from Bangalore and this didn’t fit into my plan. So I decide to decline the rare chance to go reconnoitering with Jagat and Sibi. Ah, the sacrifices one has to make for friendship.

The starting of the trail was very interesting. It was a weed infested and extremely uneven field which would make your Jeep jump up after every 2 feet.

Jagat taking off… the big guy in red cap is Prashanth, Jagat’s one time rally buddy (support team).

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Sibi is already in the front, and Jagat follows him.

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But Jagat is having some problem, he is not moving about smoothly. So I asked Prashanth why Jagat seems to be having so much trouble while Sibi is moving about fine. Even he is puzzled and has no answer. Then we see Jagat getting out and checking something near the front tyre. Is that a big stone, some big ditch… Nope, the hubs are not locked! So, such memory lapses can happen to the best of drivers.

And so they ride into the sunset…

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As I look back I see some more vehicles driving in and get back hoping to meet the new comers. They turn out be Mr & Mrs Chandan and Jeepdude (Varun) & dad (Ponnappa). Meanwhile, there is no sign of Bangalore gang, and the Choma Kunda plan is starting to fade out. I mean, what is the point of visiting Choma Kunda at night. If we do reach the top, what can we see from the top? So me and Chandan call the Bangalore gang separately and try to convince them about dropping the Choma Kunda idea.

The Sun set at Jungle Mount Adventure Camp.

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The Commander Jeep (650 or 750) of Jeepdude’s dad, checkout the interesting leaf springs

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Chandan’s MM540 with the familiar Yokohama Geolandar AT-S tyres.

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But we lost the battle for Choma Kunda, the Bangalore gang wins by sheer numbers. We are asked to join them at the turn-off towards Choma Kunda. Me and Chandan start off and Jeepdude (& dad) decide to join us. I have to mention here that it was Jeepdude’s dad Mr.Ponnappa who was doing all the driving and talking, Jeepdude himself is a very shy guy.

After getting some basic directions, we dash off towards Choma Kunda, which is about 15Kms from the camp. As fate would have it, both sides reach the turnoff at the same time. None of us get down, but wave at each other from our rides. I and starter (Deepak) meet for the first time, we recognize each other only because of the vehicles we are driving. He knows my Jeep, I know his Gypsy.

Before we realised, one by one Jeeps and Gypsies start turning towards Choma Kunda and off we go. After couple of KMs, we all take a break in the darkness. Finally I am trying to find out who all are in the group. It is dark enough that I end up introducing myself to star_aqua, who only parts his long hair from the face and says it’s me. Dang! Then I meet rest of the gang, Shahnawaz, Viji, Sree, Siddu, and some new faces. Then I realise that Sree has brought his entire family (wife,mother-in-law,kids) up the hill hoping to show them Choma Kunda in the dark. I can understand one getting the mother-in-law into this punishing terrain, but a 4 month old infant? But then we were all mad trying to go to Choma Kunda at night.

At Choma Kunda, there is only one 50 meter stretch that is very challenging, rest is very manageable to Jeeps and Gypsies. Once we reached that stretch, the lead Jeep stopped and so did the rest. Now keep in mind that in this group only Shahnawaz and I were familiar with this terrain, although we did this 18 months back. From that experience, we knew a safe path that one could take. But a lot could happen in 18 months, the terrain can change, and it had. However, our ability to chart new path was very restricted because of the darkness. So I inspected the earlier path and it was ok enough to cross.

At this time, the lead Jeeper was Mr.Ponnappa and he was game to try it. However, spotting was going to be difficult in the darkness. The Jeep had to ride a gutter in the darkness without falling into it. I was a little away when it happened, but when I came back, the Commander Jeep had slipped into the gutter and was truly stuck, body sitting on the ground. Manual pushing and pulling was of no use. It was winch time.

Since I didn’t take any photos here, let me borrow some shots from Akaash, hope he doesn’t mind.

Me inspecting the situation



The gutter was wider than we thought at one place.



There were only two winch equipped Jeeps in this group, mine and Viji’s, and both were in the rear of the convoy. Once again it reminded us of the importance of having winch Jeeps at both end of the convoy. Anyway, mine was a little closer. So I managed to bring my Jeep forward driving around other Jeeps and gutters and parked as close as possible on the other side.
I had parked right next to a gutter myself.

Notice the wide legged stance of Viji while he places a rock to secure my Jeep, he was standing over the gutter.



The guy on the extreme left is Jeepdude (Varun), the next guy in cap+muffler+jacket is Shahnawaz, must be a highly localized cold current passing right by him. Viji and I are in plain T-shirt. The guy in my driver seat is Sreeraj.

The connecting of winch cable takes time since the pintle hook on the Stuck Jeep was not opening. After lot of effort, it gets connected. Two extra D-shackles are used to make it happen. Meanwhile, I am being extremely careful and paranoid about my winch accessories since they can be easily misplaced in the darkness and make my winch un-usable.

Winching generally takes 3 people at the controls. One guy (viji) to operate the remote, another (me) to guide the cable with thick gloves, and one more at the driver seat (Sreeaj) to keep the brakes pressed. Yes, one can multitask and bring the head count down, but we had enough manpower here. In fact, we needed a 4th person (Shahnawaz) to hold the torch pointed at the winch motor, so that I can see what I am doing. You can see almost all 4 of us in the next photo.

Don’t be fooled by the well-lit scene here. In the absence of the flash from the camera, the torch was the only light source here. It was totally dark otherwise, no moonlight either.



And we pull…



The Jeep comes out smoothly and I disconnect.



By this time we have decided to abort the drive, despite being 500 meters from the summit. We spend the next 30 minutes arranging an elaborate U-turn operation in that narrow trail, for vehicles that are not known for low turning radius. There was only one practical U-turn space, somewhere in the middle of the convoy. By the end of this operation I had became the 2nd last Jeep and last one was Jeepdude’s Jeep. And we start our drive back.

We were barely 100ft from the U-turn spot, I notice the rear Jeep stopping. Jeepdude comes running to my Jeep and informs me that something is wrong in their Jeep. Some sharp clicking noise from the rear. I immediately honk wildly and manage to stop the Jeep in front of me. Fortunately, it was star_aqua’s Jeep. Star_aqua who is popularly known as German (his real name is not important) is one of the most knowledgeable Jeep guy among us. It is good to have him around under such circumstances. Rest have continued not realizing we have stopped.

As we walk back and investigate, I immediately notice the strange angle of the leaf spring. The German however looks beyond and declares that the shackle has reversed. Only then I notice that the rear shackle is stuck horizontal to the chassis on the inside. And German knows exactly how to fix it. The entire rear has to be lifted using a hi-lift jack and then the shackle has to be forced down using a rod. Jeepdude’s Jeep has not such recovery tools, but both me and German are loaded with recovery gear. However, my hi-jack is fixed to the Jeep more secure than chastity belt, it would take 5-10 minutes to un-secure it. So we get German’s hi-lift jack.

As we were trying to lift the Jeep, Mr.Ponnappa decided to stay in the driver seat to keep the brakes engaged. We have this conversation…

Me: You don’t need to engage brakes, we are only lifting the rear.
Mr.Ponnappa: But the front wheels are not engaged, it will move.
Me: But you are in 4x4 mode. It won’t move.
Mr.Ponnappa: I am not. I don’t use 4WD while coming down the hill, I was back in 2WD.
Me: What?? But you should use the same gears that took you up.
Mr.Ponnappa: Technically you are right. But we traditionally don’t do that.

That reminded me of some estate drivers I met in a recce, who also had the practice of using 2WD while coming downhill. I think there is a big difference between hobbyist offroaders like us and traditional Jeepers. We are purists about 4WD driving and they are not.

Then he engages 4WD to keep the vehicle anchored, and about 20 minutes later we have done it, the shackle is un-reversed and back to normal position.
Meanwhile Jeepdude is feeling extremely grateful and is trying to thank us all for two back-to-back rescues in the darkness. I told him I have been rescued by other Jeepers while being in much bigger soup, so don’t think much about it. This is all part of offroading, getting stuck and getting rescued. We don’t leave anybody behind. To underline that statement, within 5 minutes we see Viji coming back up the mountain to see what happened with us. We explain the situation and he turns around. Little later everybody realizes that only I know the way back. So I end up becoming the lead Jeep and we finally get back to camp. At this point I realise that I haven't taken a single photograph of all the action in the last couple hours. Thanks to Akaash for covering the action.

However, I was not staying at the camp, I was booked in a nearby resort named Chingara. And so were Shahnawaz and Prabhuav. So we three drove out towards Kabbinacad junction and took the turn towards Chingara. Have you guys ever seen a resort which needs 4x4 low ratio to reach it? Well, this was one of those. We finally reached the resort and parked. We met a guy called Mohan who also had come from Bangalore, but with his full family. He came in Honda CRV with family, and his driver brought the Tata Telcoline 4x4 which he specifically bought for offroading. All four of us stayed up talking cars, bikes and offroading late into night before calling it a day.

Next day: The real stuff.

Last edited by Samurai : 15th January 2010 at 20:06. Reason: typo
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Old 11th January 2010, 01:13   #2
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Excellent writeup, waiting for the rest of it .
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Old 11th January 2010, 08:41   #3
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Samurai View Post
..... I was booked in a nearby resort named Chingara. And so were Shahnawaz and Prabhuav. So we three drove out towards Kabbinacad junction and took the turn towards Chingara. Have you guys ever seen a resort which needs 4x4 low ratio to reach it?
The 4 Jeeps owned by them mostly do it in high itself, but one crazy'ly lovely place I say. Did you drive beyond to the higher/next resort? This resort was the PRIMARY reason I fell in love with jeeps... Nothing else will transport you there!!

Edit - I have become a regular there
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Old 11th January 2010, 09:36   #4
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Even I did it in 4H, but in 1st gear. The 4L will give you more options. However, if one travels the same trail everyday, they will obviously have better idea. No, we didn't go to Honey Valley.
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Old 11th January 2010, 09:39   #5
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amazing. superb report/writeup. You offroad guys are crazy. Even in the night time you do this activity. kudos
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Old 11th January 2010, 12:45   #6
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Excellent and comprehensive tarvellogue.pls continue Samurai.

Raj
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Old 13th January 2010, 12:32   #7
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Excellent writing Samurai. I thought of writing a similar report, but i know i am not known for writing (even writing essay was difficult for me in school days ).
For those who dont know me, Im Akaash and ya Im the lucky one who got an opportunity to attent an OTR without a Jeep. Thanks to Rajesh,Star aqua, Viji, Siddarth and Team from TBHP. These are awesome people to be with I swear.
My pictures are does not have copy right, so feel free to use it . I took most of the pictures as I was the only one who was not driving there, So I had the liberty to get down the jeep any time and click the pictures of the action.

Will be looking forward for the next OTR to hitch a ride in any Jeep Till I buy one for myself.

BTW this is the Jeep I travelled in

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And this is the team I was talking about

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Last edited by livyodream : 13th January 2010 at 12:36.
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Old 13th January 2010, 15:08   #8
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sir, our jeep is a 1984 cj500d and not a commander
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Old 15th January 2010, 00:20   #9
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We reported at the Jungle camp at around 9AM in the morning and registered ourselves. Our vehicle numbers were pre-determined, I knew my numbers 20 days back. I finally removed the number 21 (from 2008 Coorg OTR) and put up number 3.

But there was some bad news. Deepak’s (Starter) wife was not well, he was hoping to see his first OTR, but was now planning to return to Bangalore. Similar story with Sree, I think one of the kids fell ill, so he too decided to go back. It was sad to see two families among our group return without seeing what they came to see. Last night’s Choma Kunda trip was the only thing they experienced.

Offroaders waiting to take off…

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Here is Dinu Boppanna, organizer of the 2008 Coorg OTR. He was placed right behind me.

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Finally close to 10AM, the briefing starts. The most familiar face in the crowd introduced himself as Jagat Nanjappa, not that there was a need. He explained all the usual OTR etiquettes, for the benefit of first timers. He gave some explanation about the trail and then a word about hard-core trail for experts at the end of the day.

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After Jagat was done, the grey haired gentlemen standing next to him started off a motivation speech without any self introduction. But he should have introduced himself because most of us were left wondering who he was. Anyway, we at least came to know he is 65 and that he loves us all. 
Once the speeches were done, the convoy took off. The entrance was through the field I had shown earlier. That entrance itself caught some Jeeps unaware, and the convoy was held back.

Looking back at the congestion at the entrance.

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The field itself had many invisible mounds which was catching Jeeps by surprise. For example, Shakir’s Jeep had to be recovered twice in the first 100 meters. Once he was pushed back by bunch of people, next time I had to winch him back, conveniently I was right behind him.

Shakir’s MM540 waiting to be winched back (not to confused with Gypsy Shakir)

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After doing the first winch recovery in the first 10 minutes, the trail was looking very promising. And we were yet to come across the first hurdle. The order of the convoy had already changed beyond recognition. I was the 4th vehicle to start and now I was like at 15th place. I have no idea how that happened.

The first hurdle was a steep decline with a 90 degree turn at the bottom with very little room to maneuver. And that was not the real challenge. The decline/slope had really deep tyre ruts. So deep, if you align your Jeep tyres into those ruts, the Jeep will sit on the differentials. So the marshals were asking each driver to see the ruts in person first before attempting the hurdle. The idea was to avoid the ruts in the first part of the hurdle, and then make a quick turn before reaching the bottom. If you don’t turn in time, the Jeep will be stuck against the mud wall with the rear pointing to the steep incline.

It looks very simple from the top.

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But not so simple from the bottom.

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It can look crazy from the bottom.

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The above attempt was not pretty, I am sure he was a first time offroader. He drove right into the ruts, sat on the differentials. During the few minutes of struggle, some of us from below noticed that the front tyres were not turning at all. The marshals helping him from the top didn’t have our view. When we all screamed 4WD isn’t working, the driver says… Yes, I am in 2WD. After everybody recovered from shock, he was asked to switch into 4WD, the lady gets out and he goes back and retries again.

Here is a video of a Jeep coming down. Better to do it in one smooth move, but many did it in stages.



But, I couldn’t stay here for long. The marshals had started prodding the vehicles in the front to keep moving, so I had to move on.

Since Prithvi was right in front of me, I recorded his attempt, he always does it in style.



He was followed by offroader par excellence, the one and only Sibi Paul. I asked him to do it with some effect, and he makes it look yawningly simple. Not the effect I had in mind, but that works too.



Watching these two masters, I knew how to cross it next. Yeah, call me a copycat, but I too crossed the stream without any fuss, having a CJ340 helps too. And now it was time to turn around and start shooting.

At first my shooting position was not that great, but I could see the angle at which the vehicles had to climb.

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Then I noticed all the people standing right at the stream bank with a great view. So I joined them. Here Jagat stood with us helping the drivers to cross the stream. One sure fire way of crossing the stream was to maintain the momentum of coming down into stream, and use it for going up the stream. But many of the first timer offroaders came to a complete stop in the stream to get their bearings after the climb down. When they tried to climb up, they mostly resulted in chewing up the stream bank in vain. After a few such acts, the trail started getting bad.

Climb down…

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Trying to climb after stopping…

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Go back again, retry again with a run up… Jagat is shouting instruction from the right.

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Finally they get towed out by a tractor. Later this driver did pretty well in the rest of the event.

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Later one Jeep got royally stuck in the stream while backing up for a run-up.

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While many Jeeps, mostly first-timers were getting stuck here, almost all the experienced ones were flying through this easily. I think pretty much everybody from our gang coasted through easily.

After a few Jeeps were towed out by the tractor, it was decided that each vehicle will only get two attempts. Meanwhile, a Jeep was getting towed, something snapped and whizzed by. It was the shackle, it broke and passed within an inch from the face of an onlooker who was 10 ft away from me. I had never seen a shackle break in a towing operation before. But when I saw the shackle I knew why.

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It was a mountaineering shackle which probably has a load rating for 500kgs. An automobile tow shackle needs to have several ton capacity. The tractor driver probably didn’t know anything about load rating of shackles.

By now it was time to move on, and the lead Jeeps started off, I was now in 4th position again, following Sibi, Prithvi, and a newbie in a MM540. How do I know he is a newbie? His gear selection. I was chugging along in 2nd LOW like most people behind me and I kept ending up tail-gating him. And he kept asking me to slow down. We all finally had to stop at the next major hurdle. So I walked up to him and asked what gear he was in. He says 1st HIGH. Hmm, that was a good gear for that stretch, although it limits him from slowing down anymore without stopping. But hey, 1st HIGH in a MM540 should be faster than 2nd LOW I was doing in CJ340, so how was I catching up to him all the time? So I asked how he was so slow in 1st HIGH. He says he was asked to go in 1st HIGH in this stretch. I said fine, but you should have been lot faster if you were 1st HIGH. He doesn’t know what to say. Then I have a doubt, I asked him what he meant by HIGH, high gear ratio or high torque. He says high torque, which essentially means low gear or LOW in normal lingo. Whoever told him 1st HIGH must have used the common lingo (high gear), but he mistook it as high torque and switched to low gear. So I was following a guy doing 1st LOW all along as I suspected. Ok, then I told him what happened and explained the common lingo we use, as in gear ratios.

Meanwhile, we are up against a very steep hill climb. Even Sibi Paul is not able to clear it in first attempt, but he finally clears it. Next Prithvi tries to go up the hill. But the gravel on the hill killed all the momentum.



Finally, Prithvi does it in the 3rd attempt I think. Next it was the turn of the newbie offroader, and obviously he didn’t have a good time trying it. He got stuck many times at the mid-point where there was ample gravel.

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After 20 minutes of trying, his gears started slipping, he was asked to keep the Jeep aside. Next it was my turn. I realised I didn’t enjoy any special advantage over the newbie with MM540. The gravel would rob all the traction under the tyres. So I need the momentum to overcome it, but I might not have much when I reach there. There was hardly much space to get a run-up, and it is hard to get fast run-up going up a steep hill in a bouncy terrain in a light Jeep like CJ340. No wonder Sibi and Prithvi struggled too. Going up this hill, 3rd low may give the momentum at the end, but I won’t even start up the hill. The 2nd low would let me go up the hill, but won’t give the momentum I need in the end. It was not much of a choice really, so I slotted to 2nd low and went up the hill, almost went over the gravel part and got stuck.

I didn’t bother crawling back for a second run since I didn’t think it would improve my chances. So I tried to turn the steering left and right while revving, I could see couple people pushing from the rear, but no avail. Then one nice fellow climbed on my front bumper and practically sat on the winch. I could immediately notice improvement in the traction in the front, but not enough to escape the gravel. Then it struck me, I was stuck in a position where most of the weight had shifted to the rear tyres, and the front tyres had very little weight. That means the rear tyres had enough traction, but not enough torque to do it alone. It needed some torque from the front tyres too, but front tyres had no traction. Therefore, when that nice fellow sat on the front bumper hanging by the grills, I did experience better grip in the front. So I looked out at the front tyre on my side, it was stationary despite my revving. That means, front right tyre had traction, so the left front tyre must be spinning thanks to the open differential. That made sense because I had nobody in the passenger seat. I looked beyond the passenger seat and saw a marshal standing there. I shouted “weight, weight… give me weight” while pointing at the left side. He instantly understood and put his one foot on the left foot rest of the Jeep. And… Wow, the Jeep got the traction it needed and I crawled out of the gravel and reached the top within seconds. It felt nice to overcome the hurdle by understanding the problem and applying the right technique, and see it actually work!

As I came up Sibi asked me to go and park ahead to make space for oncoming vehicles. As a winch jeep I thought I may be needed there. But the next Jeep too had winch, so probably he didn’t need my Jeep next to his Jeep blocking the trail.

Sibi’s Marshal Jeep parked on the only available space

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The next Jeep belonged a very experienced offroader, it was Dinu Boppanna, the organizer of the 2008 Coorg OTR. His Jeep was very similarly equipped as mine, he came the same way and got stuck at the same point. But the nice fellow who climbed on my Jeep bumper looked at Dinu’s Jeep and shrugged. I followed his look and realised the problem.

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Do you guys see the problem? No… Well, Dinu’s Jeep has a net covering the grills, so one can’t sit on the bumper and hang by grills. Anything else would not provide the rock solid grip required by the daredevil who sits on the bumper of the moving Jeep. As a result, his jeep could not get the much needed traction in the front. So he had to use his winch to pull himself up the hill. Once he came up and parked behind me, he asked whether I used my winch to pull myself up. I said no, and he didn’t look too happy to see a rookie weekend warrior succeed where he didn’t. And I didn’t tell him that it was his radiator net that denied him the traction. Heh, heh, even a rookie needs to gloat.

Meanwhile the word has gotten to Jagat that the steep hill is stumping everybody, this was one rare OTR trail where Airtel signal was available practically everywhere. So we see Jagat arrive from the front to take charge. He leaves his Jeep close to us, and we can’t resist checking it out.

Prithvi and Subbiah trying to look cool in Jagat’s Jeep.

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The front seats were like mother-in-law seats, hard as rock. When a passenger sits in it, this is the instruction one sees.

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Jagat has a very different looking shackle bolt, any idea what is this?

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While waiting, I break out my food supplies and Prithvi & Subbiah partake in delicious appa and chikki. Soon the lead marshal Suntoo (the same guy who stepped on my Jeep earlier) comes and asks us to keep moving to make space for climbing vehicles.

Before we leave Prithvi offers to take my photo.

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We continue, now I am the second vehicle in the convoy. However, Prithvi along with the lead marshal drives fast and vanishes from my view, and I literally become the lead vehicle for people behind me. And I am hoping there are no forks. In this OTR trail, the forks were not marked. So if you come across a fork and there is no vehicle to follow, you could end up taking the wrong turn.

As it says in Murphy’s law, I soon come across a fork. I decide to stop. The vehicle behind me calls an organizer, and we are asked to move back to a small building we passed by. So we turn back reach that building, and I quickly make a U-turn and park. Then I dial Prithvi to call him back. However, he is along with the lead marshal waiting at the real lunch location. Apparently we were misinformed. He asks me to ignore the right turn at the fork and continue until we reach a ground. By this time I see lots of vehicles coming and parking around me for lunch break. Some had even found nice cozy spots under the shade. So I announced that the lunch spot was still ahead and takeoff, asking everybody to follow me. After few minutes we reach big ground, enough to park hundred Jeeps, and Prithvi was waiting for us.

Lunch Break…

Last edited by Samurai : 15th January 2010 at 09:20.
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Old 15th January 2010, 01:08   #10
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Glad you decided to write this travelogue and not hold off just cause you didnt have enough images.

Getting weight in front got you over the hill, however it must have been unnerving to have someone hang on to the front grill, when you powered over the top. From what you say, looks like this guy has helped out in this fashion quite a bit.

Didnt see too many pics of your CJ in action.

Glued, please continue !
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Old 15th January 2010, 08:05   #11
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Originally Posted by jeepdude View Post
sir, our jeep is a 1984 cj500d and not a commander
Oops! Sorry about that. Somehow your Jeep looked very long, so I assumed it might be a commander. BTW, your dad Mr.Ponnappa is a very good offroader, he had the least amount of trouble climbing the steep hill compared to most of us.

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Originally Posted by shishir_bn View Post
amazing. superb report/writeup. You offroad guys are crazy. Even in the night time you do this activity. kudos
Actually I am not that crazy, I was dragged into this night event by crazy people.

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Getting weight in front got you over the hill, however it must have been unnerving to have someone hang on to the front grill, when you powered over the top. From what you say, looks like this guy has helped out in this fashion quite a bit.
It is not that unnerving, it is quite common to have people sitting all over your bonnet in offroading scenerios. The speed is generally very slow when this is done. But the guys who sit there have some real nerve.

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Didnt see too many pics of your CJ in action.
Actually, there isn't a single photograph or video of my Jeep in action. Such is the fate when you drive alone. Just enjoyment, no memories. At least this writeup should help me remember it later.
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Old 15th January 2010, 09:12   #12
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I thought you abandoned this report half way through. Made for a nice read Samu.

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I looked beyond the passenger seat and saw a marshal standing there. I shouted “weight, weight… give me weight” while pointing at the left side. He instantly understood and put his one foot on the left foot rest of the Jeep. And… Wow, the Jeep got the traction it needed and I crawled out of the gravel and reached the top within seconds.
My question, if traction is a problem generally in stretches like these, doesn't it make sense to have someone sitting in the co-passenger side thru the OTR ?
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Old 15th January 2010, 11:13   #13
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I thought you abandoned this report half way through. Made for a nice read Samu.
Thanks, I do intend to finish it, just busy doing other things.

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My question, if traction is a problem generally in stretches like these, doesn't it make sense to have someone sitting in the co-passenger side thru the OTR ?
Yes, that is one of the lesson I took home from this OTR. The co-passenger is not merely a companion, but a ballast, in the time of need for traction.
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Old 15th January 2010, 13:42   #14
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A couple of pics from my side.Will put up more shortly.
Attached Thumbnails
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Old 15th January 2010, 15:58   #15
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Jagat has a very different looking shackle bolt, any idea what is this?


Lunch Break…
That looks like a small container for grease/oil for continuous lubrication. Usually fixed on machines that need to be oiled regularly on a drop bt drop basis. Looks like it has been attached to the nut to tighten the shackes and filled with grease.

Last edited by jyobeb : 15th January 2010 at 15:59.
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