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|19th July 2010, 22:33||#62|
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Tell me about it, need to figure out a better method than silicone and plastic covers for water!
Right now am toying with the idea of a inductive distributor/points system. Just the worry of matching the american part for indian distributor is stopping me.
|19th July 2010, 23:25||#63|
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Last edited by sreerajunnithan : 19th July 2010 at 23:26.
|20th July 2010, 10:07||#64|
|20th July 2010, 10:59||#65|
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Do you agree Sree?
|20th July 2010, 11:19||#66|
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|20th July 2010, 13:56||#67|
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|20th July 2010, 16:36||#68|
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|23rd July 2010, 19:06||#69|
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I was about to leave for the day and thought that I would just graze through the first couple of posts and if I find it interesting, I might read the rest at home or tomorrow. Now here I am about an hour later just finished reading the complete thread and eagerly waiting for more. Wonderfully narrations supported by pictures and most of the people have said it made me feel that I was there in person.
Just rated 5 stars to this thread!!!
|28th July 2010, 16:16||#71|
On the previous night, Giri Tirumale had announced that he will be ready by 6:30AM. But I said I will come down for breakfast only by 7AM. Even then, I couldn’t keep up my time thanks to the mobile which had accidental switched into silent mode.
As I came down at 7:20AM, I was ready to receive some heat for my tardiness from Giri. But everybody seemed to be relaxed, nobody was in a hurry. Finally, somebody drew my attention towards Hotel Cosset.
The jeeps and gypies were literally spilling out of the hotel gate. The entire parking lot was jam packed with offroading vehicles, with nary a space for people to squeeze by. And Giri’s Red classic was parked in the innermost corner.
After having a big laugh over it, I had my breakfast and then slowly walked over to the other side. The guys who had parked last, were the guys who slept last, and obviously they didn’t have any plans to get up early. Then there was the question of identifying the owners. Finally, the vehicles were moved one by one, some were driven out, some were moved out by muscle power.
By this time, it was already 8:15AM, and the Bangalore oldies were all ready to ship out to Karjat. The Bangalore wild boys who are now known as Bang Bros were still in lala land. We quickly managed to find some rudimentary directions to Karjat and left. But all our rides needed diesel, so we all stopped at a fuel pump within half KM from the Hotel. Today Sreeni had picked up a new passenger, a gentleman from Jaipur, I think his name was Tony Singh, he said he owned a few vintage Jeeps and land rovers.
At the fuel pump, Giri discovers that his water hose is burst. So he and sreeni leave to find a spare parts shop while Tony Singh and I hang around making small talk. Then I call Jaggu to see whether they are up.
Jaggu: What… You are already at Karjat?
Me: No, we are only KM from the Hotel.
He seemed hugely relieved.
Anyway, we finally leave Lonvala by 9AM and enter the Pune-Mumbai expressway towards Mumbai. At the next toll, we tell the toll people that we are going to Karjat, and they ask us to leave the road from the right before entering the toll booth. Strange system they have here, we had to drive across the oncoming traffic to exit the expressway.
After some time, we see the turn towards Karjat and we see a purposeful looking Gypsy parked at the turn. We rightly guess it must be one of the organization team vehicles. I think it was Danny, if I am not mistaken. I got some direction from him about how to go till Karjat and where to turn. So we continue.
After about 15-20 minutes, we see a bunch of Gypsies turning left on the Bridge, the same direction we were taking. So we follow them.
It is a joy to watch a convoy Gypsies move, they drive with great sense of purpose and direction, and draw lot of attention. In contrast, Sreeni’s Armada hardly draws any attention to itself. However, after a while we started suspecting their sense of direction, if not purpose. Do they really know where we are going? That suspicion was confirmed when I saw the Alpha Kilo direction board on the left, which every driver missed seeing. I told Sreeni, but we couldn’t just turn back without telling the Gypsy convoy ahead of us. So Sreeni sped up and overtook the lead Gypsy, and I waved at the driver to stop. Then I ran back to the Gypsy.
Me: Do you know the direction to the AKC location?
He: Hmm, NO.
Me: Ok, we saw the sign board to turn left some time back, we need to go back.
He: Ok, thanks.
So we all turn back, enter the side road and follow the directions to the farm house. And we finally come to halt behind a waiting Jeep in a narrow trail. I get down and go ahead to see what is happening.
It was 11AM by now and the event had started.
The first challenge in AKC.
It starts with a big slushy pit, which has turned very tricky. Most Jeeps were getting towed out of this one.
But some like this one were able to pull out by themselves.
We were at least ½ Kms away from the farm house, and our path was blocked by numerous vehicles waiting to get into the trail. As we started wondering about how we are going to get registered, a pretty lady in red came towards us carrying loads of stickers and forms, and introduced herself as Huda, wife of Kunal, the AKC organizer. That solved our dilemma, and we all got registered and got our stickers, etc.
And Mahindra support team was standing by to tow the vehicles in case they fail after couple attempts.
Then we saw something disturbing. A Jeep was getting towed using the loop on the bumper. That loop is intended for securing the Jeep via rope to the transport truck or train, it is not rated for towing. This is particularly strange considering this Jeep does have a proper tow hook/loop on the left, just behind the bumper.
Meanwhile, Behram, Sreeni and I were watching the proceedings with a little concern. The initial slush was getting seriously deep and there was no point winching each and every vehicle, especially if it could be avoided. Another entrance next to it was practically dry and hard, and that would entire avoid the initial pit. But that entrance was blocked with stones. Behram says it is better to open the other entrance to avoid the delay and unnecessary winching, and Sreeni concurs. But we don’t see any AKC official around, so we decide to confirm with Kunal before opening it up. But none of us have Kunal’s number. Then I remember that his wife Huda is just 50ft away handling registrations.
So I walk to Huda, explain the situation and the need to open the alternative entrance. What followed was a very funny exchange.
She: Are you part of the Mahindra Team?
She: Are you are part of the AKC organization team?
Me: umm, No.
She: (pointing to her shirt) Are you wearing this red shirt of AKC official?
Me: No… but we just your permission to open an alternative entrance. It is not me, Behram and Sreeni who recommended the diversion. I can call Kunal directly if you give me his number.
She: Even I don’t know the trail, how can I give permission. I am sorry, trail changes can be done only by official teams.
Me: Umm, hmm… (speechless)
It is not often I am left so speechless, but she was right in her approach. I was a stranger, with no official standing other than being a passenger in one of the Jeep. I was truly a nobody in this place. And I was asking her to make changes to the trail. She had every reason not to budge. Meanwhile, Soumya who was watching the exchange tries to give lend some credibility to me, but then he is another stranger to her.
Me: Umm… can I at least have Kunal’s number?
Then the lady relents and gives Kunal’s number.
[BTW, at the end of the day me and Huda did talk about the above exchange and laughed about it. ]
Then I called Kunal and updated him about the situation. He is concerned about the alternative path getting spoiled. I assure him that the alternative path is dry and hard, there is no chance of that getting spoiled. With that assurance, he approves the opening of the alternative entrance.
The Hyderabadi Jeep opens the alternative path by merely riding over the stones.
See how the entire slushy entrance is avoided.
However, some of the Gypsy drivers had noticed that the slushy pit was easier on the Gypsy. So they didn’t want to miss out on the fun.
This green Gypsy made it out without winching.
This one wasn’t so lucky.
Then we had a comic relief. One Gypsy decides to take the fast track to success. If you have noticed in the earlier photos, entering the slush is not a straight forward affair. See the trail behind the earlier green Gypsy shot, one has to turn left and then right to enter the slush. But one white Gypsy decides to do it with full momentum and come out flying, literally.
First, the Gypsy revvs, revvs and revvs. Then it takes off in style, like a dragster. But the first turn is premature, may be due to torque steer or oversteering. The Gypsy rams into the cement fencing pole before the turn. The light force light survives the crash, which is really incredible.
Finally he gets his share of fun.
By this time all the people I knew had moved on, so I decide to move on. The Bang bros are still not in sight, and they might take their own sweet time as always.
The path after the entrance.
And Gypsies were having easy time, thanks to their light weight. Even Jeeps had to move fast to ensure they didn’t sink.
However, one Gypsy driven by a newbie managed to get stuck.
At first Sreeni was asked to tow the Gypsy, but that resulted in Sreeni’s Armada getting stuck. Self-winching too ends in disaster as the Lambda’s experimental hydraulic winch developed a snag as a bent hydraulic tube bursts open. Finally Mahindra service vehicle was called in for winching.
Generally I am very appreciative of the amount of service provided by Mahindra Support team in OTR events. However, I do have a bone to pick. I have already pointed out how a Jeep was being towed using the wrong tow point, even when a proper tow loop/hook was available. This time I saw incorrect equipment being used. If you look at the next photograph, you can see two properly rated tow straps are being connected via leaf spring shackle, which is not designed or rated for this application. Do notice that they could have been connected via two available and properly rated D-Shackles.
Two tow straps, two D-shackles in the picture, but the Mahindra team member uses a Leaf spring shackle to connect the tow straps.
I got a little mad at this and took the straps away from him and connected using the D-Shackles. We are amateurs at this sport, yet we run around to buy the right equipment so that we can practice this sport safely. Mahindra team should ensure that they always carry the right equipment considering they do recoveries all the time, lot more than rest of us.
This is no D-Shackle, it is not rated for towing operations. It can bend or snap in winching operations.
Next the trail turns right, and gets out of the stream.
And goes up into a hill.
Now the Gypsies come and go up the hill.
Giri is finally making his approach.
Now Patrick comes up the turn. You can see Mahindra winch vehicle waiting stealthily in the bush, ready to rush out to pull vehicles out.
Now we have to wait since the next obstacle is a very dicey one. Everybody is taking their sweet time.
Patrick’s younger son posing with the Jeep.
Meanwhile, I asked the rest not to climb the hill until the backlog is cleared. So they all wait below.
So, what next? The steepest descent of the event, notice the size and angle of the people standing below.
To be continued.
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|28th July 2010, 20:44||#72|
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Whew Samurai, that must have taken time to type out...appreciate your effort and good narration.
|28th July 2010, 20:46||#73|
Join Date: May 2004
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And you forgot to mention how hot and sultry the weather was in the morning of AKC! It was a real test of man till rains started in the post noon session.
|28th July 2010, 21:21||#74|
|29th July 2010, 00:30||#75|
This was looking to be very interesting. After I watched one vehicle go down, I realized this slope has very good traction. That is the only thing that makes it possible. Without traction, all vehicles will go down hurtling like a stone here.
But it surely scared some of the drivers. One Gypsy driver who was with his son, decided to take the long route and avoid the insane slope. I too advised him he should avoid if it is his first time. Then he says he has been offroading for 15 years. Then I gave him a very puzzled look. So he explained that he is not in frame of mind to do to this. Ok, that can happen. I mean, people have different levels of craziness. Most of us Jeep Thrills/Team-BHP regulars will be considered nuts, but this fellow wasn’t as nutty as us.
Then I decide to test the traction on this hill. After all, I have mud terrain shoes, but no engine braking. So I start walking down.
This is how the slope looks from half way.
I continue to walk down, but the steepness becomes too much, I am forced to run down in order to retain balance. In such situations I run taking very small steps, like just 6 inches each step. Otherwise the momentum will be too much and I won’t be able to stop in time. I call it my two legged low ratio.
Ok, this is how it looks from below. Crazy enough for you?
Giri’s vehicle was now driven by Suresh Stephan. Here the spotter was a blue shirt, instead of red. As he started spotting continuously, I realized that Suresh doesn’t need the distraction. Suresh could fully see the slope and would know how to tackle it without any help. So I told the spotter that the driver was a super expert with 25+ years of Jeeping experience, so no spotting would be necessary. The spotter took the advice and stepped back.
As Suresh completes, spotter gives a big smile to show his appreciation at the skill displayed.
Next was Patrick, this time the spotter promptly turns to me asks “What about this guy?” I again repeat this too is an expert who won’t need any spotting as the terrain is clearly visible. Spotter backs out again.
Next a very muddy Gypsy shows up. The spotter again turns to me questioningly, I just shrug. Now the spotter moves in and starts shouting instructions.
He might look like a very animated guy, but that’s how any spotter will appear like while spotting, at least in Indian context. We don’t have standard set of spotting signals. Even if we had, most who need spotting help won’t understand it anyway.
One more Gypsy makes it down.
By now most of the guys I knew I have gone ahead, so I decide to move on. There were some more smaller obstacles created by digging out scoops from the trail, but no spotting is needed and I don’t find it photo worthy either. So I keep walking, walking, walking…
Holy cow! I suddenly wake up to the fact that it is an extremely hot day, and I don’t see any vehicles ahead of me. And I had no water since I forgot to buy the customary water bottle in the morning. After a long walk, I found a shady tree and decided to rest until I catch my breath. Then it occurred to me that I have been in the open for 3 hours under the hot sun without any water.
After a while, the gentleman who avoided the steep slope came by and offered me a ride. I was glad to take it. But that trip lasted barely 300 meters before he caught up with a long line of vehicles. I got down and again started walking, walking and walking…
I eventually came to an open area, and found Sreeni’s Jeep parked at a distance. By this time I was feeling intense exhaustion, and feeling a sun-stroke not too far away. Finally I reached Sreeni’s vehicle, pulled myself in and crashed on the rear seat.
Ah! There is a god! The engine was running and the AC was on. That was completely unexpected, but very very welcome. In the next 10 minutes, I actually felt worse, may be that sun-stroke effect was passing over me. If not for the AC, I may have had it. I actually sat inside for 45 minutes before I felt my energy return. Long hours under hot sun can be very dangerous unless you are accustomed to it.
While we were inside the AC Jeep, we did indeed attract from attention by passing folks. When Behram came by, we quickly got him in, for a serious discussion of course. Sit inside and decide whether we need AC in Thar. Of course, he quickly had to agree and the discussion got technical. It was interesting that Sreeni’s Jeep was able to run AC under such hot condition while idling.
Meanwhile, Cyrus come along, opens the door, finds his dad chilling in the AC, and exclaims “Not Fair”. Behram shoos him away and closes the door. The kids these days… we were holding a serious discussion on the need for AC in Thar, it was no party.
Then the word comes that we need to return back to the farm for lunch. So all the vehicles make a beeline back to the farm, which fortunately has lots of shady trees to shelter us from the sun.
After freshening up, we all join the queue for lunch. I think it was veg pulav and some curry. I don’t remember that well anymore. There was drinking water available; I drank at least 3 glasses before I turned my attention to food. I finally recovered completely from the effect of the sun. BTW, my forearms still remain tanned even after a month. Such was the tandoori effect of sun on me this day.
Finally I met the Bang Bros, and I found out that they reached the farm only at 1PM after exploring every directions on the Mumbai-Pune expressway. I had called up and given Jaggu exact directions, but that was not really put to use since the rest of the group took off without worrying about directions.
Me: So how did you find the trail so far?
Jaggu: What trail? We have done nothing.
Me: What do you mean?
He: When we came, the Prado was stuck, and once it was pulled out, we all came to lunch.
Me: Oh damn! Well, the trail was really good and..
He: Don’t tease… just don’t tease… I don’t want to know anything.
So I gave up and asked about the Prado. Apparently, the Prado entered the entrance slush pit and decided to stay there. The front wheels didn’t turn. When the driver was asked to engage 4WD, he apparently said he has. So there it was, the mighty Toyota Land Cruiser Prado, with a non-functional 4WD. Finally it was pulled out using multiple vehicles. That was the end of its adventure. But, it still had one more trick up its sleeve.
Some of the boys decided to chill inside the AC in the Prado with idling engine, just like we did in Sreeni’s Jeep. Soon the radiator pipe burst and smoke started coming out the hood. Everybody jumped out and ran.
Anyway, as we were chilling after lunch, the Bang Bros left early to complete the morning trail.
Now it was time to explore the venerable Jeep that was conceived, designed and built by Alpha Kilo himself.
After that we collected our T-shirts and it was time for the next session.
To Be Continued.
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