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Old 11th August 2016, 09:40   #91
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Default Part 1 - Patnitop (J&K) to Kalka (Haryana)

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I see driving in plains as a necessary evil.
It is necessary to link mountains to mountains. So before starting for this trip i knew the boring bit i.e. Patnitop to Shimla would have to be dealt with. My navigator was arriving by Delhi-Kalka Shatabdi on a Saturday and I had to pick him up at Kalka at 2110. This meant an overnight halt at Kalka, because
  • We wanted to be rested for the long road trip ahead
  • I avoid driving at night, especially on a highway that is infested with poor drivers (Chandigarh - Shimla)
Had planned an early morning start but couldn’t get much sleep anyway so finally got up and started from Patnitop at 0300. Empty roads till Jammu and on to Lakhanpur. No toll along the way, with the carrier stripped off, the Gypsy a more ‘sarkari’ appearance. Cruising along at 80kmph all the way to Hoshiarpur and then on to Ropar. From Ropar to Chandigarh I encounter a bit of traffic but nothing that took the Gypsy heat-o-meter over half. A few hours at Chandigarh with friends and then its on to the Himalayan Expressway to Kalka.

No problems with the Gypsy and it continues to trudge at 80kmph with aplomb. This gives me time to ponder over the longitivtiy of the F10A engine that powers or rather underpowered the MG410W. I bought it used as you may know if you’re following the thread, with no service history and traces that it had got no love and affection in the last few years. Yet after a basic oil, spark plugs, coil, HT leads, the engine still performs without missing a beat. I would love to put this on a dyno to check how many horses have bolted the stable and what I am left with on this underpowered Jeep.

Arrive at Kalka musing over this unfortunately, all the good hotels in Kalka had been taken up. Thus, I have to make do with pit stop hotel on Station road, walking distance from the train station with a dedicated parking for the Gypsy.

Final toll tally - Gypsy 6 | Toll booth 3

1996 Maruti Gypsy MG410W - Going places-wp_20160618_20_57_39_pro-2.jpg
MG410W parked at Kalka

Since I was at Kalka with a few hours to kill I decided to explore the town. Found a n old world small public library at Gandhi Chowk with free access to newspapers and an eclectic selection of about a 1000 books. Chatted with the librarian and reminisced on the demise of libraries and the reading habit in general. However, the librarian did hold the library open for me till 1900 and allowed me to smuggle in pakoras and chai from a nearby Dhaba. Chai and newspapers make a wonderful evening companion. Kalia railway colony also has an old world British charm to it and its a fine place to walk, away from the hustle and bustle of station road. The station has some wonderful reading and good old fashioned retiring rooms. I could spend a day here photographing trains and their shunting yards. Last year I had walked all the way from Kalka to Shimla along the train tracks and it was quite an experience. The Shatabdi was on on time and I met my my navigator and after a sumptuous dinner we retired early for a fresh start the next morning.

1996 Maruti Gypsy MG410W - Going places-img_0661.jpg
Kalka Simla railroad complete information

1996 Maruti Gypsy MG410W - Going places-img_0662.jpg
Kalka Simpla railroad - retiring rooms - prices

1996 Maruti Gypsy MG410W - Going places-img_0665.jpg
Elevation Scale along the Kalka Simla railroad

1996 Maruti Gypsy MG410W - Going places-wp_20160618_20_39_27_pro.jpg
Me and the pooch had a nice time playing at the station door

Next - Kalka to Sarahan


P.S. @VikramArya we decided to keep the leaking strut as is because its better to change struts in pairs. And while we were at it we wanted to change all four. However, the oil filled struts are no longer available with Maruti (or so we were told) and our workshop only had a pair of gas filled struts. So, in all pragmatism my friend suggested completing this trip on the worn out struts. His logic - even if the strut dies it wouldn't affect real world performance. There is no sag or danger to the leaf springs. We could have fresh 4 gas filled struts installed from Jammu after this road trip.

Last edited by antihero : 11th August 2016 at 09:45. Reason: Added answer to question
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Old 11th August 2016, 10:24   #92
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Default Re: 1996 Maruti Gypsy MG410W - Going places

Another lucid piece of writing Antihero!

Yes, your friend is absolutely correct, changing in pairs if not all four is the preferred method to keep the suspension componentry/steering geometry on an even keel.

Regarding the F10-A engine I must add that we had a brand new MG 410W back in 1994 and I drove it once from Delhi to Dehradoon & I must say I distinctly remember loads of low end torque that was usable from get go especially while driving through the forested/hilly section from Mohand to outskirts of Doon valley . It is one bullet proof engine indeed.
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Old 14th August 2016, 13:56   #93
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Up and out of the door by 0630. We were raring to go today. It had been more than 10 years since I had visited Sarahan and I was excited to see Bhimakali temple. Throughout this road trip, we had no hotel reservations. Instead we decided we would stay at a place that caught our fancy. If all failed we had a bed in the back and a tent as a backup.

Breakfast at a mom and pop shop just after Dharamkot. I love these small ‘pahari’ dhabas, with their bread omelette and tea menu. Small chit-chat on how four laning would affect their business and we were off plodding along at a sedate yet consistent 50kmph.

Loads of tourists on the road today, with a disproportionate number of HR-26 vehicles. Nothing against Gurgaon, but most of them were extremely poorly driven. There are some inherent rules of hill driving and flaunting them marks you out as a poor driver. Had fun chasing an HR26 Hyundai Eon after Kandaghat. Even though we were doing a sedate pace, the consistency kept us just behind the Eon despite its burst of speed and equally hard braking. Another lesson disseminated.

15 kilometres from Simla all hell breaks loose. Vehicles parked along the road, double lanes, and chaos in general. Simla is a city I do best to avoid and I was kicking myself for choosing this route as mine and the MG410W temperature gauge inched towards hot. The twin advantage of seeing your bonnet line and Steel bumpers on a sarkari looking Gypsy conveys an unfair advantage. Twice I meet a SUV which had chosen to drive on the wrong side of the road. Both times they chose to reverse and turn back by an inching old Gypsy with steel bumpers trudging right next to their shiny new cars. we were at Shimla at 0930 sharp and it took us over 2 hours to exit the city. Sigh! The Mg410W complained with the heat-o-meter hovering just over 3/4. The narrow and winding road to Kufri was equally crowded but thankfully the traffic was moving. Second gear all the way through this climb and even had to use the first when I came across an imbecile trying to overtake on a turn and thus barging into my lane.

Kufri was a pleasant revelation, cross the town and the traffic thins out tremendously. Heaved a collective sigh and finally started to enjoy the ride at this point. The drive helped clear my head and we found ourselves reaching for our cameras just before Narkanda as we had stopped for lunch. From Narkanda its a beautiful descent through woods and small hamlets. Scenic and a controlled descent in 3rd gear doing a consistent 40ish all the way. The road was nothing to write home about but the authentic ‘pahari’ scenery made up for the jolts.
Rampur, is the former princely state and constituency of chief minister Virbhadra Singh. 20 kilometres from Rampur the road is double tarmac that begs a fly-by. Pedal to the metal and the MG410W made a respectable ton, before I decided it probably too much for the old girl.

Fuel pit stop at Rampur and then its on to Jeori. Rampur-Jeori stretch has some beautiful and imposing mountain streams. Another sign of technology improving things, are the new curved bridges on this section. These bridges reduce the need for tight turns at mountain turns and help improve safety.

Jeori-Sarahan is a narrow 15 kilometre winding road. As long as maintained momentum this road was easily dispatched in 2nd and 3rd gear. A CRPF camp along the way was serving free tea that we could not refuse.
Arrived at Sarahan well in time only to find that the temple guesthouse and HPTDC cottage with a commanding view were already booked. Overnight in a new hotel on the main road and the Gypsy parked at the police station who decided it looked official enough to warrant a parking space in the station
1996 Maruti Gypsy MG410W - Going places-p1030130.jpg
Sutlej river is in full spate near Nirath (Rampur). The river is glacier fed.

1996 Maruti Gypsy MG410W - Going places-_p2m4487.jpg
Pagoda style Bhimakali temple and Sarahan town. No longer a sleepy hamlet I remember.

1996 Maruti Gypsy MG410W - Going places-_p2m4485.jpg
Walking around Sarahan, the weather oscillates from misty to bright and sunny.

1996 Maruti Gypsy MG410W - Going places-_p2m4488.jpg
A majestic mountain stream along the way.
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Old 18th October 2018, 20:36   #94
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Default Re: 1996 Maruti Gypsy MG410W - Going places

I've realized aiming for long travelogues means not updating this thread.

As my PhD supervisor used to say - "the perfect is the enemy of the good". So I will keep the new updates byte sized and I will share them more often. The travelogues will hopefully catch up in due time.

One important yet off forgotten accessory on a Gypsy is mudflaps. Yet, no ordinary mudflaps will do. What you need to do is get flaps made by a company called "Senior". Senior is a rubber parts maker and i reckon the only durable rubber parts maker in this land. They are expensive than their cousins but mine have lasted now four years in sub zero Himalayan conditions and still going strong. So +1 for senior and yes do get mudflaps. They really keep the mud from flapping and the chassis clean.

1996 Maruti Gypsy MG410W - Going places-img_20181018_203415.jpg

Last edited by antihero : 18th October 2018 at 20:41.
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Old 19th October 2018, 15:02   #95
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When we're called in by the local BRO detachment to fix their bulldozer because they know a gypsy will get there. Plus they know we will have the necessary tools including a size 32 spanner that they needed to fix their hydraulic cable.

The Mg410w is famous in local circle, and so is my duffel bag with it's motley collection of tools that stays in the back.

That's my friend G getting their call and fixing their hydraulic cable. He has more automotive engineering aptitude than any loaded workshop. Needless to say the bulldozer got fixed and the road to the air force station was open the next day
Attached Thumbnails
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1996 Maruti Gypsy MG410W - Going places-1539941527513.jpg  


Last edited by antihero : 19th October 2018 at 15:10.
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Old 22nd October 2018, 06:24   #96
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A lot of people are curious about my bed in gypsy rear setup and why would I lug around all that I own in the back of a jeep when there are hotels aplenty.

Fortunately I have a huge catalogue of sunrise images like these to show them and ask if their hotel has views like this

The 4wd means I can park at the most audacious place that will capture the first light and being a white gypsy (now with no visible mods) concocts images of "sarkari" and "police". Which usually means people leave me alone for the night.
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Old 22nd October 2018, 08:13   #97
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Truly living a Gypsy life. Kudos.
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Old 22nd October 2018, 11:40   #98
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Loved the thread. Inspiring in fact. Hope ill gather the courage to do something like this in my 23 year old MM540.
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Old 22nd October 2018, 18:07   #99
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After 3 years+ of ownership I relented and went in for my 2nd cosmetic upgrade (the first was an analog dashboard clock). New seat covers. The old ones are in tatters and I could see my co-drivers turning up their noses. So spent 1500 bucks and got these custom made from a brown jute like cotton fabric.
The fitters did a decent job, except for one twirl which was then fixed. Yes I am finicky about the quality of work that goes on the 410.

Now I'm kicking myself in the shins for not getting the foam replaced too. But I was in a hurry to head back to the hills and getting it replaced would have meant staying an extra day in warm, noisy Jammu which I was not ready for.

Can anyone tell me if its worth getting the foam on the OEM seats replaced or should I just cash in for some used seats that can be fitted into the gypsy without too much trouble. Do share your experiences.
Attached Thumbnails
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1996 Maruti Gypsy MG410W - Going places-1540211777415.jpg  


Last edited by antihero : 22nd October 2018 at 18:36.
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Old 25th October 2018, 13:23   #100
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Hey Antihero,

Read this thread in one go.! Wow.! That's some serious driving in the snow.! Have been to Ladakh and I completely loved the experience. However I could not venture into any unknown roads/ lands and stuck my itinerary to the frequented places. Loved the idea of converting the rear of the gypsy into a bed.

You mentioned about the sunrise/ sunset pics. Would love to have a look at them. Please do post them when you have some time off.!

Keep trucking brother.!
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Old 28th October 2018, 20:51   #101
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With winter imminent it's time for the gypsy to make its way to its workshop for one last set of pre-winter checks.

Introducing Lalaji. My mechanic and Gypsy whisperer.

I am yet to meet a mechanic with a better penchant for quality work. I am a perfectionist but he is better. Lalaji runs his small workshop, where work is done to his perfectionist standards, time be damned. Of course this often means he is working alone as most of our generation is only interested in a quick fix. The boys who come to work for him usually lose patience at his pedantic style. But some of us love the fact that he can quote the service manual torque numbers by heart.

I had gone in for a timing adjustment and it took all day. Why?
Because it started with the distributer , went to tappet and valve adjustment then on to the carb. Lalaji insists I need to find an elusive SGP (Suzuki Genuine Parts, precursor to MGP - Maruti Genuine Parts) carb rebuild kit and that the carb work in not complete to his standards (might take another couple of days - at least). He already has a literary bottle setup ready to check the mileage once he thinks the carb setup is complete. For now

I'm just happy to my beloved Mg410w purring like a happy cat again. Lalaji warns me that my bearings need a look over too and the steering is vague which probably means another week at the workshop. Thankfully a week with lalaji means a crash course into everything mechanical. So it's time well spent.
Attached Thumbnails
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1996 Maruti Gypsy MG410W - Going places-1540740060612.jpg  

1996 Maruti Gypsy MG410W - Going places-1540740081086.jpg  

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Old 28th October 2018, 21:17   #102
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A Gypsy is like our own version of the old Land Rover Series 1,2 and 3. Full of its own quirks, leaks, discomfort, inadequate heating/ cooling if it exists at all.
Mechanical quirks etc.
But it never fails to gladden one’s heart when one owns one and plays with it on a regular basis.
All these new age Electronic Marvels are fine in their way in the polluted cities to insulate you from the world around, but the Gypsy? Well you’re IN the world around you, which is so much more “connected”...
Long Live the Gypsy.
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Old 30th October 2018, 01:13   #103
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Welcome back Antihero!

That was quite a long hiatus.

I believe most of the major hill towns have at least one expert mechanic. In Shimla we have Mini; the guy is quite a legend and has been working on Gypsys for the last 30 years & used to work for Vijay Parmar (the guy who started Raid De Himalaya) & has his own workshop now on the outskirts of Shimla. His expertise on Gypsys has to be experienced to be believed.

Last year when I was back home for a three week trip and had taken the Gypsy to Rewalsar/Tirthan Valley/Barot/Dharamshala (yes I know that calls for a travelogue; I just don’t have the patience to write one) I noticed that my driver side Aisin locking hub is moving from an “Unlock” position to somewhere in the middle. I had to move it back to the “Unlock” position every couple of hundred kilometers.

I took the vehicle to Mini and he told me the problem without even touching the locking hub that there is 2mm diameter spring inside the locking mechanism that is missing. He took out the face plate, replaced the tiny spring and the hub is working fine since then.

I find that the younger lot just don’t have the patience to follow the correct process/procedure and resort to shortcuts when the problem at hand calls for some painstaking work. When it comes to Gypsys we have to be very careful who do we allow to lay their hands on our coveted vehicle as the mechanics who know how to work on this vehicle are very few and far between now, unfortunately.
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Old 30th October 2018, 17:48   #104
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Don't have many photos from the last ( 2017-18 ) winter but this here is my favourite. Running the gypsy in a snowstorm accompanied with my friend G and his son. The Mg410w is like a old lovable uncle among the kids. I'm just glad they are growing up with a 4wd in the house. Also the Mg410w brings out a smile in everybody.
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Old 4th November 2018, 18:35   #105
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2018 is turning out to be a good winter year. Today we got our first snowfall of the season. This is almost a month before its usual time but it is absolutely fine by me.

It's a tradition to take the good old MG410w up to the Airforce Station once it snows and today is no exception. I call my friend there to let him know that I'm coming and he promises to keep a sumptuous breakfast ready. The old girl goes up all the way to 2745m without needing 4L. It's a pleasant 15 kilometre drive marred by a few silly drivers along the way. Three cars and a 4wd Scorpio belonging to my plain-dwelling cousins (1 HR, 1 DL, 1 PB and 1 JK) driving atrotiously. Two cars parked on the road just after a steep climb making it impossible for a climbing vehicle to get through. The Scorpio is descending in a high gear/neutral too fast for its own good. The last Hyundai (DL) were two couples needlessly trying to go through to the top of the hill. Being a regular on this road I hail them to let them know that drifts would be deeper ahead as the next part of the climb hardly gets any sunlight, only to be told - "you're also headed up". Fair enough I say to myself lesson learnt - don't dole out unwanted advice.

Karma is not without a sense of irony it seems. After my sumptuous bread omelette, coffee and a chat with my friend I am headed back down. Lo and behold I see the same car stuck perpendicularly along the road. I can only summarise what happened - they tried to make a U turn and strayed off the marked tyre tracks. The fwd couldn't find any traction in the icy bit of the road. Instead of helping them out I simply threw the MG410w in 4L and overtook their car over a snow berm. Then parked and watched them cajole and push their car back on the road while offering no help. It probably took them another 10 minutes to get the car back on the tyre tracks and pointed downhill. While I sat there nursing my one for the road coffee. If looks could kill, I'd be a dead man.

In retrospect I should have probably helped them but then such lessons are important when you're driving in the snow. I only hope they would be more careful in the future. But this hope turned to naught as their car overtook me on a downhill curve at a speed I can only deem reckless in such snowy conditions. Ah well some days you can't seem to win.

But on the bright side here are a few photographs from today - the first of many 2018 snowfalls (fingers crossed)
Attached Thumbnails
1996 Maruti Gypsy MG410W - Going places-1541336592734.jpg  

1996 Maruti Gypsy MG410W - Going places-1541336631956.jpg  

1996 Maruti Gypsy MG410W - Going places-1541336670511.jpg  


Last edited by antihero : 4th November 2018 at 18:54. Reason: Grammar
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