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Old 29th November 2011, 20:39   #16
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Default Re: Avalakonda OTR 2011 : A Late report

I moved all the pumping discussions here:

Originally Posted by seedyk View Post
That was such an exhaustive write up Samurai , just brilliant ! If possible, can you tell us how did the prado perform,being much sophisticated than the other machines present ?
Thanks, as I mentioned before I don't know what Prado did, let's hope somebody else will pitch in with the details.

Last edited by Samurai : 29th November 2011 at 23:01.
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Old 30th November 2011, 01:19   #17
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Default Re: Avalakonda OTR 2011 : A Late report

As we drove back, I was among the last ones out. I could hardly recognise the trail I had opened up. Now it looked like a regular trail, it is amazing what a bunch of offroad vehicles can do in a day.

As I finally reached the main camp, svsantosh pointed out that my Jeep was leaking diesel on the left side. A quick check revealed that the diesel return pipe had come off. Fortunately, it could be just fixed back.

I also discovered that my tyre had a hole, near to the sidewall thanks to the deflating. I filled air using my air inflator and hoped it will last until I reach home.

I saw a stunning Land Rover Defender parked there. Not the modern mall crawler, but the real deal from the earlier decades.

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I believe he was in the trail, I wonder how I never saw him.

The trail was wonderful, unforgiving and brutal on my Jeep. I had broken a side mirror, taken a beating under the hood, a hole in the tyre, massive scratches on the newly painted body, and there was one more damage left to be discovered later that night.

The arrangements were fabulous, the recce was pukka, and organization was superb. You know how they say land of milk & honey? This OTR was like land of mineral water & juice. There was unlimited quantity of water and juice supply, I don't remember longing for water or juicy refreshment. My Kudos to all the marshals, the organizers MP Sreenivas and Poornima and their local volunteers.

Slowly the offroaders started leaving one by one. The marshals got together for their own vote of thanks. I hung around since one of the marshals (Vinay Thomas) was my co-passenger. Then the marshals discovered that they had too much water and juice still left over. Mainly water, and the water company can't take it back. So they decided to donate water to anybody who had some space in the vehicle. My Jeep was filled with multiple crates of water and juice. As the Hyderabad gang left, they too were smothered with multiple crates of water. There was a slight confusion when their leader thought he has to pay for it and pulled out the wallet. He was told it was free and he was even more confused.

Anyway, by 6PM we all managed to pull out of there and headed towards the Kamath restaurant on the highway. I was actually pinching myself, I don't remember being able to get out of the trail so uneventfully without crazy delays. But the fat lady had not yet sung, and day was still young, in a way.

Prabhu has a breakdown, his engine is acting up. Many Jeeps ahead of him continued, the ones behind him pulled over to check on the problem.

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After half an hour of ministrations by the whole gang, it starts up and we continue. This time my Jeep was ahead and soon we lost our tail. Usually I don't get ahead of convoy, but I knew many of the marshals were already ahead. Besides, I had just discovered something odd about my Jeep. My steering had enormous amount of play, and the wheels were wandering when I am driving straight on the road. Vinay who was in passenger seat noticed that I was turning the steering enough for a 90 degree turn even when I was correcting the wandering wheels on straight road. This was some serious trouble.

We reached Kamath and found half the marshals there having snacks and wondering about the rest of the gang. We told them about Prabhu's Jeep trouble and told them they are just behind us. But it was another couple hours when the rest of them caught up. Prabhu's jeep had another breakdown and it was an engine seizure. So we called up for tow truck from Bangalore and sat around waiting for it. The party included the entire Chennai gang, BODA gang and Coastal Karnataka chap.

Meanwhile I discovered my tyre was flat again. But my inflater was now buried under the crates of water/juice and other luggage. It was easier to fill up from the air station at the nearby petrol pump. I had to fill up every one hour to sustain the air. I even drove 5-6kms on the highway to find a tyre repair center, but didn't find any. Thought of swapping with the spare tyre, but didn't feel desperate enough for it.

While waiting I mentioned my steering play problem to others. That started an investigation and the culprit was soon found. The L bracket on my steering box had broken. And the three bolts were loose.

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Arka and Vinay tightened the bolts hoping it should temporarily solve my problem. The steering play reduced, but the wandering wheels problem remained.

It was finally 11:30PM when the tow truck showed up and hooked up the Jeep for the long tow back to the city.

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It was 12AM when we started back. And I had to deal with wandering wheels all the way. It behaves like this. I am driving straight on the road, for no reason the Jeep starts going towards the kerb or towards on-coming traffic.

There was another complication for me. My wife & kids had gone to my brother's house in HAL, and I had no keys. So I had to go to HAL at night, pick up the keys and then travel back to HRBR layout. So I asked Vinay to come with me to HAL and back since I didn't feel safe to drive around half of Bangalore at night in a doorless Jeep. It was about 3AM when I finally reached home and hit the shower.

Next day I got the tyre patched up. Thankfully it has held up until now.

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Getting the steering problem fixed was the big one on my list. Without that fix, I can't possibly drive back to Manipal. Thankfully Jaggu arranged for a consultation with Raju, who is the Jeep mechanic for quite a few Bangalore Jeepers.

I think the L bolt broke in Manipal itself, as I mentioned before I experienced under-steering few times in the acute turns of ghat section enroute to Bangalore. But it didn't repeat once I hit the straight roads after chikmagalur. So I forgot all about it. The first day's OTR must have loosened the steering box bolts too, and it went on deteriorating. I was feeling I was turning a hummer instead of a Jeep. Pretty much everybody who noticed my turning struggles, did mention it.

Fortunately Raju's garage was very close my apartment. So I made a visit with the Jeep.

Problem fixed:
1) The steering stabilizer L bolt couldn't be replaced, because my broken bolt was longer than the stock bolt. So they took the broken bolt, welded it back and connected it back.
2) Broken mirror replaced.
3) When I opened the hood, I found diesel all over the engine. One of the fuel return pipe on the injector was leaking. The faulty pipe was replaced.
4) As I looked down casually, I found a major crack about to rupture in the lower water hose. Since I had the spare handy, it was replaced right away.

The steering still has significant play, but nowhere closed to the play with the broken bolt. We discovered that the stopper nut doesn't touch even if the steering is fully locked to one side. It was discovered that the steering idling arm is worn out, inducing the play. This is why I have huge turning radius.

Anyway, the short ride back from Raju's to my house felt good, play seems to be well in control. But I was yet to experience highways with it. And it was time to leave for Manipal.

I started off from Bangalore with the confidence that the Steering is good enough for the drive despite the play. And.... it was. I didn't have any understeer or oversteer issue throughout the drive, even in the twisty ghat section. But there was something else altogether...

Palm Meadows, Whispering Woods, Laughing Waters, Wandering Wheels...

Yeah, they obviously sound like the new fangled names given to residential apartments these days. But there is something odd about the last one.

The last one isn't a residential apartment, instead it was the new affliction of my Jeep. Say I am driving on the road, if the road banks to one side or the other, the front wheels turn by themselves without any steering input from my side. This behavior is generally known as pulling to the side. But in such cases, the steering too turns with the wheel. Therefore one can prevent the pull by holding the steering wheel firmly. However, in my case there is the steering play which completely masks the pulling. When the front wheels pulls to one side, the steering wheels remains unaffected. Therefore, holding the steering wheel firmly has no effect.

Now imagine how scary this can be! Until you see the vehicle moving away to the side, there is no warning. Then you have to panic and turn the steering to the other side to counter it.

I noticed this behavior very much in the outer ring road. But I couldn't analyse it right away. The drive over the Peenya flyover (15kms) where I had many scary moments, I finally figured out the behavior. I also realised that I'll have enough time to counter it if I drive at around 50kmph. Any faster, I won't have the reaction time to counter the pull, remember there is no warning. Now we all know Jeep steering has lot of play. Still we all learn how to drive precisely in-spite of the wacky steering. But wheels turning by itself is a new concept for me. It has never happened to me in any car I owned or driven until now. Meanwhile, I had lot of time to think of a name for this behavior, that's how I coined the term Wandering Wheels.

Therefore, I mostly drove around 50kmph in the good highways and 40kmph in ghat section. That way I could counter the wandering wheels every time it happened, at least 100 times. My last Jeep drive from Manipal to Bangalore took 10 hours (including breaks), this time I took 12 hours 15 minutes for the same trip back, in the same route. But I am thankful I reached safely without any trouble. I got a headache from focusing so much on the vehicle for 410kms, trying to anticipate the wandering. I rarely overtook any vehicle, because any wandering during the passing maneuver can be very bad.

And thus my 1000 kms worth of driving to attend an OTR came to an end. Now you know why I haven't been able change my signature.

(Half the adventure is enabled by the Jeep, the remaining half is because of the Jeep)

The End
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Old 30th November 2011, 02:29   #18
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Default Re: Avalakonda OTR 2011 : A Late report

Man, that was an adventure. Cannot imagine myself driving with that kinda steering issues. Glad that you made it safely.

For some strange reason, I always keep my fingers crossed when I feel I'm having too much fun. I imagine the man upstairs with a smile about to smite thee.
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Old 30th November 2011, 09:31   #19
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Default Re: Avalakonda OTR 2011 : A Late report

Awesome read Bro' , hats off to your narrating skills. You have readers glued to your threads for sure.
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Old 30th November 2011, 11:34   #20
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Default Re: Avalakonda OTR 2011 : A Late report

Originally Posted by VLOCT View Post
Man, that was an adventure. Cannot imagine myself driving with that kinda steering issues.
Thanks. Driving below 50kmph all the way did have one advantage. I managed to get almost 18kmpl for this drive as opposed to the 12kmpl I usually get.

Originally Posted by VLOCT View Post
For some strange reason, I always keep my fingers crossed when I feel I'm having too much fun. I imagine the man upstairs with a smile about to smite thee.
I too have butterflies whenever I start a long Jeep trip, but it goes away after a few kms of driving.

Originally Posted by Samurai View Post
And thus my 1000 kms worth of driving to attend an OTR came to an end. Now you know why I haven't been able change my signature.
Actually, this is not very correct. The last two OTRs (Beltangady and Somwarpet), the Jeep came back without any problem. But I couldn't change my signature until I posted this report.
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Old 30th November 2011, 11:49   #21
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Default Re: Avalakonda OTR 2011 : A Late report


That was awesome! I can hardly think about walking on such terrain, let alone drive on it! That's some crazy bunch of Jeepers! Super report!
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Old 30th November 2011, 12:03   #22
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Neat writeup. As you said, though late is well timed.

Hope to get back all offroaders to bangalore trails in the coming Annual OTR. Surprises can be expected this time too.

Please start confirming your participations. We are planning to limit vehicles to 60 vehicles and people 150. 15th December is the last date for registration. OTR venue will be announced by same time.

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Old 3rd December 2011, 09:03   #23
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Default Re: Avalakonda OTR 2011 : A Late report

Samurai, a very nice report and a detailed story as usual. Its a treat to read your OTR adventures.

Its amazing how you can narrate something which happened a while back with so much detail. Thank You.

And your problem solving skill is an inspiration. Glad you fixed your Wandering Wheels.
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Old 6th December 2011, 14:00   #24
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Default Re: Avalakonda OTR 2011 : A Late report

Wow, that was one hell of a write up - Thanks This will persuade a lot of Jeepers (including me) to join the 2012 Avalkonda OTR.

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