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Old 26th March 2011, 18:44   #16
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Default re: Somwarpet OTR 2010: Escape to Nature

Alright, I am continuing this report after 4 months, because I still want to share what happened on the next day.

On the night of the OTR, the organizers threw us all a wild party. They even allowed the families to join at no extra cost, although I did offer to pay an additional amount. Therefore, my wife and kids, Nishanth’s wife, kid, mother & sister could also enjoy the party. We called it a day by 10PM and hit the sack.

Our homestay host & hostess were part of the OTR organization team, therefore we hadn’t met them on the previous day. Today we could meet them along with full family and enjoy some wonderful poori saagu, they kept it coming and we kept on eating, I guess we all lost count.

The two homestay rooms were together, and tucked away in hosts garden.

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After settling the bills, we bid our farewell and left. Today’s plan was to visit Mallali falls and Pushpagiri mountain range before parting away in two different directions. But it was important to find a proper lunch place for that is not an easy thing to find near the mountains. Since Sreenath was practically a local, he knew of a homestay near Mallali falls who can cook up some wonderful food. Only catch was, we needed to order 3 hours in advance. He quickly called some of his contacts and managed to get the phone number. Upon calling, he was informed that they can cook only if we can get the chicken ourselves. Therefore, before leaving Somwarpet, we had to buy fresh chicken from a local poultry shop.

On today’s drive, my wife decided to ride shot-gun in the Jeep. There is no better way to enjoy the drive through mountain roads on a cloudy day. On the way we came across an open area where the clouds had touched the ground. We decided to stop for a while, and my wife jumped off and ran away to catch the clouds. She does that whenever she sees clouds so low…

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My Kids

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Everybody else… they all stayed back at the homestay previous day. Today was their day in the sun… er …cloud.

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Meanwhile our steeds look over us as if this is all too tame for them.

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Finally we reached the homestay and gave them the chicken and menu choices. They had pork meat, so we ordered some pork fry too. That turned out to be a brilliant idea.

Right at the homestay, straight road would go to pushpagiri hills, and right turn would go to Mallali falls. As we were turning towards Mallali falls, a couple in a new Honda City asked us whether the road is safe enough for their car. Why did they ask? Because we looked like we ought to know. Two offroading vehicles with rally stickers can look very impressive. It was the first time for us too, but we had heard that only offroad vehicles can make it all the way. So we urged caution and asked them to proceed very carefully and park once the road gets too difficult.

Soon the road got too steep and rough and turned into pure offroad terrain. We could see many vehicles parked along the way as the drivers realized their limits. Eventually, as we reached the falls, we were the only two vehicles to reach that point. We parked next to the cliff, and started down the steps by foot. I even locked my gear lever in reverse, didn’t want some joker to disengage the gear and push it over the cliff.

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After going down some 200 steps, we encountered a trail. It was time to re-evaluate. Getting down is easy, but carrying the tired kids up all the way will be an ordeal. So all the married people and kids stayed back and let the bachelors to go ahead.

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I did some waterfall photography.

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We came back up and were preparing to leave. Then the Honda City couple finally showed up. They gave a baleful look at our vehicles while catching up with their breath. Um, ugh… Ok.

And we climbed back from the Mallali valley.

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We continued to towards the pushpagiri hills. Meanwhile, all is not well with my Jeep. Remember the engine switch off problem I had noticed two days back, that was back and more frequently.

Quote:
Originally Posted by Samurai
Sachin and I reached Somvarpet around 10:45PM. My Jeep is having a small hickup, it is switching off if I stay in idle. Even while driving, if I come to neutral at a stop, and be in idle for few seconds, the engine switched off. Sachin says idle setting is low, it can be fixed in the fuel pump. Gotta find out how to do it, in the morning.
This turned out to be a much bigger problem. At first, if I stay in idle for few seconds, the engine switches off. I started noticing this on my way to the Somvarpet event. When the fuel tank is full, it only happens after few seconds of idling, as in a stopped Jeep. But as the fuel level drops to say 2/3rd tank, the symptom becomes serious. Then the engine will switch off if the rpm drops to idle even for 1-2 seconds while down-shifting. Say I am braking and down-shifting from 4 to 3 or 3 to 2 in a corner, the engine switches off in the brief state of idling. It can be dangerous if there is a vehicle behind you. I almost got hit by my cousin's Gurkha once because of this.

Another symptom is I start losing power while climbing a hill. Say I am climbing in 2WD 2nd gear, normally the torque of my Jeep can take me flying up that hill, but I start losing power and stall the engine. And I am unable start even in 1st, despite using toe-heeling. This happened on the way to Pushpagiri Hills and back. I was forced to go 1st low in order to overcome the hill, on tarmac, at least 4 times. Then I took many incline roads (tarmac) in 2WD 1st gear instead of 2nd gear just to avoid the stall.

Then the tar road ended, and we had to enter a dirt trail. I was actually relieved because I could switch to 4L and continue in higher revs, no chance of switching off.

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What you see behind the Jeep is not fog, we have entered the clouds now. See the clouds passing next to us, even below us.

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We are just about to go down and stop at the forest gate before the entrance to Pushpagiri Trekking trail. It is a foot trail, no vehicle can pass beyond this point. The green hill you see in the background is the starting point of the Pushpagiri trek.

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So we park, and some of us get ahead to check out a hanging foot bridge.

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Even my aunt decide to check out the bridge.

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Meanwhile my wife is still at the vehicles since our young one is fast asleep in the Gurkha. Therefore I hurry back so that she can explore the bridge while I stay with the baby.

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While looking after the baby I decide to fix the engine switch off problem. So far I am thinking it is all about adjusting the idle speed.

Here is the Bosch fuel pump. At first I had thought marker A is the bolt I need to adjust. But that is a fixed bolt, can't be moved. After some close observation, I realized I need to manipulate marker B bolt. The marker D is the solenoid switch which died on me last month while coming back from Coorg.

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So I loosened the bolt B and moved it along the curve and keep the idle at a higher acceleration. Notice the marker C bolt is mostly covered now.

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After this I thought I had solved the low idle problem. But the stalling while climbing was still bothering me. I didn't think that had anything to do with low idling speed. That stalling was happening even with a floored pedal, it is accompanied with falling oil pressure. Generally the oil pressure should hit 4 bar when the key is turned, even before cranking. But here it was only rising if I start the engine and floor the pedal.

While I was almost getting done, baby woke up and started howling. Therefore I had to quickly wash my hand and rush to stop him before he jumped out of the open Gurkha door. Ever tried to close the Jeep hood with a screaming baby in one hand? Try it, just one more step towards becoming a tough-as-nails Jeeper.

To be Continued…
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Old 27th March 2011, 02:19   #17
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Default re: Somwarpet OTR 2010: Escape to Nature

I took some profile shots of the Jeep around the area.

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It was time to turn back.

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This time my young cousin wanted to ride the Jeep in the clouds, her first time in a Jeep I think.

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On the way back we decided to give the taste of some offroading to the family.

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The cloudy weather over the hills looks very dreamy

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Kids enjoy posing with clouds at their back.

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And then we continue. My young cousin is just freaking out as we drive through clouds.

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Meanwhile, my Jeep troubles continue. I had let the Gurkha go ahead since I didn’t want it to bump me from behind in my repeated stalls. I also had to recover from stalls using 1 low. Something is seriously wrong here. We finally reach the homestay 15 minutes behind the Gurkha.

This was our dining hall.

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The chicken was good, but the pandi curry (pork chops) was just out of this world. They kept bringing refills and we were hogging it out as fast. That was one satisfying meal.

Next we drove back to Kundalli, and turned towards Handalli-Kudige. At Handalli-Koodige, the left goes to Subramanya and right goes to Sakleshpur. Sreenath and I were going towards Subramanya in the Jeep and all the family was going back to Bangalore in the Gurkha.

For years now I have been talking about the concept of family friendly offroader. It is basically a dream about an offroad machine that can take family to places only 4WD offroad machines can go. It could be a basic Jeep/Gypsy kind of offroad vehicle, but with A/C and lockable cabin. In most OTRs, it is only men who get to enjoy the amazing views and serenity of the hills. Some of us family men would like our families to share those wonderful moments. For me offroading is not about crossing the toughest obstacle, but about going to places and seeing things that an average tourist can’t. And some of us want to take our families there.

On this day, when I saw my family and extended family enjoy the benefits of an offroad vehicle, it really underlined the importance of a family friendly offroad vehicle. Right now HT Gurkha is the only practical offroad vehicle in the country that can tackle our OTR trails and carry family at the same time. Heck, in this case, Gurkha carried two families, on-road and offroad. I really wonder when Thar will become family friendly or Jimny enters the Indian market.

Ok, let’s snap back to the report. The fat lady is still a long way from singing.

At Handalli-Kudige we bid farewell to the Gurkha and boldly entered the Bisle ghat. Stupid move, but the other choice was too much of a round-about. Yes, I am a sucker for Jeep trouble. Bisle ghat is probably the most desolate and most pathetic ghat road of Karnataka. You might pass no more than 5 vehicles during the 30kms stretch during day. Don't know about night.

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The only farm that is seen on this road.

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Some may recognize the gate on the left side of these shots. That’s the Bisle Park gate. I have never entered it because it was always foggy whenever I drove in Bisle ghat.

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Since Bisle ghat consists of very very twisty roads, engine started switching off at every turn. Now I was seriously worried. Finally I stopped at the only section where I get signal and called Sachin and told him the problem. He quickly checked with the mechanic and then asked me to check the oil level, which was normal. After the body rebuild, the electronic fuel pump had been misbehaving, probably because it was idle for 4.5 months. Even the Coorg mechanic had complained about having issues with it. Later the Udupi mechanic too found it defective and finally replaced it with EFP from a FC truck. Now Sachin + Mechanic concluded that EFP must be the culprit again. In other words, it is not a grave problem, the vehicle can be driven although in a limp mode. I was advised to pull, push and drag it back home somehow.

The only open place in Bisle ghat that has Airtel signal.

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After this point, the road goes enters a continuous downward slope into deep forest with almost unending switch-backs. After numerous switch-offs, I decided to drive in neutral with the engine off. So you can imagine how pathetic the situation we had in hand. Since the road was continuously sloping, coasting with switched off engine was not an issue. We had done about 5-6 kms of that, when things got really interesting.

So far we hadn’t encountered any traffic in this road. All of a sudden I saw a Qualis and a Sumo coming from the opposite side. Those drivers showed no inclination to move to side and kept on coming. Therefore I moved slightly off the road, content to run one side wheels on the bushes on the side. I was not in any great speed considering I was running with my engine off, I was probably at 10kmph.

Suddenly…. Bam! The Jeep was not moving anymore and stuck at 30 degree angle. There was a wedge along the shoulder, like soil erosion caused by rain water. And the front left wheel had fallen into that wedge. We had fallen so smoothly, and our seat belts saved us from ramming our faces into the windshield. Then all of a sudden, I see people jumping out of the Sumo/Qualis, they come to us and hold on to the Jeep, to stop it from rolling away. Sreenath and I were the only people there who didn’t panic. I knew that angle was nothing to worry about in a Jeep. Besides, the vehicle didn’t move when I kept the gear in neutral. And Sreenath was already two OTRs old to be worried about a small ditch like this. There was a 20 degree slope to the left side of the road that was full of trees, so there was no real danger of rollover either.

At first, I switched to 4L and tried to reverse out of the ditch. But nothing happened. So we both got out the Jeep to survey the situation. The rear right wheel was in the air, which explained why I couldn’t get enough traction. From the offroader POV, it was a very simple recovery situation. I just needed a tug from behind and I could be back on 4 wheels on the road in seconds. But I was not among offroaders…

There were at least 20 people there and everybody was talking about the worst possible scenario. They said it will be dark very soon and vehicle can’t be recovered. They were all unanimous in their belief that the Jeep will rollover the moment they let go their hold on the jeep. We all know how the driver of a stuck vehicle is always considered to be the dumbest being. I realized I had to quickly take charge of the situation before they started educating me about vehicle recovery. So I loudly claimed that we are a rally vehicle and we encounter such things on the rally tracks very often. Had I said OTR, I don’t think they would have understood, so I had to say rally instead. I further claimed that I have full recovery gear to get out of this situation; I only need some tugging help. I even led some of them to the front of the Jeep to show the winch.

Meanwhile, both the drivers had moved the vehicles far away from the Jeep. I needed only one thing from this overexcited, over-pessimistic crowd. I needed one of the vehicles to tow me out. But they looked reluctant. Later Sreenath told me of something he overheard. They were afraid Jeep will rollover dragging the tow vehicle along with it all the way down the 20 degree cliff. Anyway, I quickly took out the tow rope and two D-shackles and started connecting them together. I went and looked under the Qualis for a tow hook and was shocked to find none. With a small panic I ran towards the Sumo and was relieved to find a tow hook under it. My next task was to convince the driver to tow me out.

Fortunately, the Sumo was a BSF vehicle, the driver too was a BSF driver. Which means he had more balls and brain than the rest of the crowd there. I showed him my tow equipment, and told him how easy it is and how safely we do it on a regular basis. He was convinced and reversed the vehicle close to the Jeep. I quickly connected the tow rope while all the nay-sayers were muttering all kind of calamities that is sure to follow. I engaged 4L reverse, and told the driver to start off slowly. As the rear wheels hit the ground, I got traction and Jeep was back on road in seconds. It was actually an anti-climax for most of those guys.

At this point, their leader suddenly explodes:

Leader: Who gave you driving license? You should have stopped instead of going to the side.
Me: [smile] Never mind, thanks for pulling us out.

After he got pacified, he wanted to know the state of the road ahead.

Leader: We were told this was a short cut, but the road has turned into a nightmare. Never seen roads this bad.
Me: Um, actually you have only seen the better part of Bisle ghat so far. After this it gets much worse for next 10 kms. After that it gets better.
Leader: Ayyyaayyooo!

After they leave we take photographs of the nasty wedge on the road shoulder.

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We continue and soon reach Subramanya. Since Sreenath believed the problem was due to shortage of fuel, we fuel-up at Subramanya. We could only add 16lt, that means it had at least 22lt of diesel.

After refueling at Subramanya, I didn't have any stalling problem for first 100kms. After that it started stalling again very 5-6kms or so whenever I slow down to downshift. Now I started improvising, instead of stopping, I used to fully press the clutch and then release it, achieving a jump start. After a few times I took mercy on the clutch and started stopping again after every stall. The only silver lining to the whole episode was, I could start in 2-3 cranks after every stall.

If you are interested to know how this problem was solved, check here.

I dropped Sreenath at Beltangady bus stop since he needed to go to Suratkal. I finally reached my office at 10:50PM, changed over to Grand Vitara and drove home. Ah, GV felt like the most luxurious SUV in the world for the first few moments.

My wife and kids reached home at around the same time in Bangalore.

The End.

Last edited by Samurai : 27th March 2011 at 02:22.
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Old 27th March 2011, 07:59   #18
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Default re: Somwarpet OTR 2010: Escape to Nature

Samurai,
Awesome location, weather and CJ-340.
It is a perfect Jeep country out there.

Can you please update me on the performance of your Yokohama tyres?
Also, I think they are 235-75-R15, can you give me the outer to outer dimensions in inches?
Regards,
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Old 27th March 2011, 12:20   #19
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Originally Posted by gsferrari View Post
I have a few question for the drivers at Somvarpet...

1. So did the NDMS hold it's own or is crystal clear that MT tires are the way forward?
2. On this terrain how did the AT-S tires fare compared to the MT tires? Granular feedback would be appreciated.
3. How did the vehicles equipped with diff-locks perform in slush?
4. Were there any diff-locked vehicles (Gypsy?) with AT-S tires?
I see you asked this question 4 months back. Since nobody replied, let me try to answer to the extent of my knowledge.

1) For its time, NDMS was good. But modern tyres do lot better. The popular brands of MT tyres are superior to NDMS in both offroad and onroad performance. I would go on a limb and say Geolandar AT-S performs lot better than NDMS in the offroad situations I have seen.
2) Obviously AT-S can't match MT tyres in every offroad situations. However, on this terrain AT-S performed brilliantly. Don't know how to give granular feedback here. I guess lot has to do with the self-cleaning nature of AT-S, no matter how much muck we go through, the treads remain visible.
3) Gurkha had diff locks. Nishanth used to engage it only when necessary, and he rarely used the front diff lock. I didn't see it making a huge difference. I was always behind him and my CJ340 could do everything Gurkha did, at least in this terrain. Although, I have seen it do better than my Jeep in my office backyard. In dusty loose mud, I have seen Gurkha with diff locks do better than CJ340. But I also saw Qualis engined MM550 do that same, may be it had more to do with longer wheelbase and weight than diff locks.
4) Do know about this one.
Quote:
Originally Posted by Samurai View Post
Some may recognize the gate on the left side of these shots. That’s the Bisle Park gate. I have never entered it because it was always foggy whenever I drove in Bisle ghat.
During last Christmas, I was forced to travel via Bisle, with family. That was because I had to drive from Mysore to Manipal and Sampaje ghat was closed. And wifey wanted to see the Bisle ghat after hearing so much about it. Since I had the GV, I didn't mind taking up the challenge. However, it turned to be lot tamer this time. All the real rough spots were filled with red mud and there were signs of repair in many places. Since the Sampaje ghat was closed, I guess they had repaired the Bisle ghat to some extent.

On the other hand, I finally got to see Bisle park. This is what is inside:

Somwarpet OTR 2010: Escape to Nature-pc245805.jpg

Quote:
Originally Posted by fazalaliadil View Post
Can you please update me on the performance of your Yokohama tyres?
Also, I think they are 235-75-R15, can you give me the outer to outer dimensions in inches?
Regards,
After using it for 2 years, and having seen it on most Karnataka offroad machines, I can say it is the best on-road/offroad combo tyre I have ever seen. I have had people in both Somwarpet and Avalakonda tell me that my tyres are making a huge difference. Regarding outer-to-outer dimension, since I don't own a giant screw gauge, you need to tell me how to measure it.
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Old 27th March 2011, 13:46   #20
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Regarding outer-to-outer dimension, since I don't own a giant screw gauge, you need to tell me how to measure it.
Its easy. Just an ordinary measuring tape. Don't bother I got it already.

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Old 27th March 2011, 22:02   #21
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I was getting updates from the Gurkha once in a while. They had started behind the BangBros
This name ^^ sounds familiar

Quote:
Originally Posted by Samurai View Post
Even the rescue vehicle was spinning away wheels to glory.
Hmm, interesting, lots of wheelspin!

Quote:
This stretch accounted for claiming most victims for the day.
How did the LWB's perform in this section?

A very well composed writeup with breathtaking pictures. Good job Samurai

Spike
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Old 28th March 2011, 11:52   #22
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How did the LWB's perform in this section?
By LWB you mean Land Cruiser and Commander 650? Well, don't know about the LC, but I heard Commander 650 went flying everywhere. That had more to do with Sibi Paul who was driving it.

Last edited by Samurai : 28th March 2011 at 17:02. Reason: Removing OT talk
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Old 28th March 2011, 12:31   #23
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Quote:
By LWB you mean Land Cruiser and Commander 650? Well, don't know about the LC, but I heard Commander 650 went flying everywhere. That had more to do with Sibi Paul who was driving it.
Yeah, I was asking about the one which the "Master" Sibi Paul was driving, I don't think it was a Commander 650?

Spike

Last edited by Samurai : 28th March 2011 at 17:02. Reason: Removing OT talk
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Old 28th March 2011, 12:42   #24
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Yeah, I was asking about the one which the "Master" Sibi Paul was driving, I don't think it was a Commander 650?
For me it looked like a commander 650...is it a 750 then?

Somwarpet OTR 2010: Escape to Nature-p8214791.jpg

Last edited by Samurai : 28th March 2011 at 17:03. Reason: Removing OT talk
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Old 28th March 2011, 13:54   #25
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That said, from the terrain it looks the GV could have done it. Its a tough track, but not really a full OTR thingy.

Last edited by Samurai : 28th March 2011 at 17:03. Reason: Removing OT talk
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Old 28th March 2011, 14:41   #26
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Originally Posted by tsk1979 View Post
That said, from the terrain it looks the GV could have done it. Its a tough track, but not really a full OTR thingy.
No freaking way! You obviously haven't encountered mud trails of the south. GV wouldn't have made it even half way, plain and simple truth. In every OTR report, especially in deep trails like this, the toughest portions are usually not photographed. That is because it is too crazy to even contemplate stopping the vehicle, let alone get out for a photo-op. Often there is no place for audience, who can click the shot. The toughest portion of the trail happened in last 15 minutes of the OTR. I don't have single shot or video of that part. Don't think anybody else has it too.

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What followed next was one of the scariest stretches of rocky muddy sloping trail. It was similar to the rocky trail through that ancient village in the Munnar-Kodai trail. This was scarier because of the slippery mud on the rocks and it was lightly raining too. And there were no spotters here. We all negotiated this grimly in 1st low all the way. Chances of getting stuck were very high, but all of us made it through safely. If it was uphill, I think we would have been royally stuck. No photographs of this part, there was no way I could have stopped here for photography.

Last edited by Samurai : 28th March 2011 at 17:03. Reason: Removing OT talk
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Old 28th March 2011, 14:49   #27
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Talking re: Somwarpet OTR 2010: Escape to Nature

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For me it looked like a commander 650...is it a 750 then?
Yes it is a 750, 650 has the CJ look (like your 340 with 2 additional doors on the side).

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Old 28th March 2011, 15:12   #28
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Default re: Somwarpet OTR 2010: Escape to Nature

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Originally Posted by SPIKE ARRESTOR View Post
Yes it is a 750, 650 has the CJ look (like your 340 with 2 additional doors on the side).
Thanks, but you are assuming this is an OE Jeep, Sibi generally mixes that stuff a lot. Even I had the option of picking this front during my rebuild in the same garage. Eventually I decided to stick with the original look. This one belongs to his friend.

Last edited by Samurai : 28th March 2011 at 17:04. Reason: Removing OT talk
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Old 28th March 2011, 16:47   #29
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Unhappy re: Somwarpet OTR 2010: Escape to Nature

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Thanks, but you are assuming this is an OE Jeep, Sibi generally mixes that stuff a lot.
Oh, that is surprising, I thought these were stock! Any idea what was done to this one?

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Old 28th March 2011, 18:18   #30
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Default re: Somwarpet OTR 2010: Escape to Nature

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Originally Posted by tsk1979 View Post
That said, from the terrain it looks the GV could have done it. Its a tough track, but not really a full OTR thingy.
Maybe in the dry?
To me the terrain looks like its heavily dependent on having the right tires (M/Ts?)
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