Mongolians are so used to bodging repairs from what they find lying around there's a name for it. They call it 'mongolising'.
The fine folks of the Mongol Rally aren't scared of applying a bit of initiative when fixing their poorly steeds either. After all 1 litre shit-boxes aren't designed for the rally and need all the help they can get.
Here are five 2014 rally teams who either by themselves or with the help of the locals managed to eke an few hundred more miles out of their battered rust-buckets.
Baby Got Yak
"Baby got Yak hit trouble two days out from Ulaan Bataar, after being driven to the point of insanity by potholes the decision was made to try the only tactic left...... a foot hard on the gas and a straight line.
This worked well for many kilometers, but somewhere along the way we noticed that our levels of discomfort had greatly increased and the little Subaru was definitely in pain. We limped her into a town at dusk, slept in a yurt the night and awoke to thick frost everywhere.
Next morning fuelled by bad coffee we sliced up one of our spare wheels with a Leatherman and packed the springs with rubber. The zipties were more an act of hope more than anything else but proved to last the distance, covering the 1000km plus left to Ulaanbaatar without even one snapping. Admittedly the ride quality wasn't entirely up to manufacturer spec, but I think any Subaru Rally Team would have been proud!"
"The rear shocks on our Corsa were completely shot and leaked all their oil. They must have been close to worn out before we started and the Russian/Kazakh roads just finished them off completely. As a result we just had springs for several thousand km and we were bouncing undampened which wasn't particularly safe or comfortable. Eventually the left rear spring snapped due to fatigue about 5 km out from a little town called Kultulk near lake Baikal.
The mechanic in the town said that he would need to get parts from Irkutsk on Monday but we had to leave Russia that day as some of our visas were about to expire. As such we came up with the fix using a bit of wood and half of the snapped spring.
We made it to within about 60 km of the border and then the spring on the other side failed. We fixed that using the same method on the side of the road. This time though we made the wood block slightly longer.
We drove about 5 km before the original block and spring on the left side fell out on a bump in the road, probably because the car was now sitting higher. We remade the fix on that side with a bigger block of wood and continued for another couple of hundred km before the left hand spring snapped again. This time we just ignored it and kept driving with the snapped spring."
All Inclusive Tour
"I hit a rock which I hadn't seen. The 4th gear has been ripped out. We stopped immediately and took a look under our car: Gas was running out. Furthermore, oil was running out somewhere from the engine block.
We thought we probably could tape it with duct tape, but because of the oil, the tape wouldn't stick. So we sat back and tried to drive the 3 km to Bayankonghor as fast as possible. The gearbox was working, however the fuel gauge was going down by the second. Since we did not have the oil level on our instruments, we had no clue whether the engine still had any oil.
The 3 Kilometres were horrible, the sound of the engine getting progressively worse. By the time we reached Bayankhongor we had no fuel left. When we found a garage the owner looked under the car and said: there was no way to repair it. We insisted that we'd driven from Switzerland to Mongolia via London and were not willing to take the last 600 km on a truck. So they tried to fix it. After 3 hours, one mechanic said he could see a way to fix it that it might last until UB.
They took an old bonnet from the backyard, and formed a new gearbox sump from it, by cutting, bending and welding it. It took 4 hours to get it into shape and seal it.
Afterwards we drove from Bayankhongor to UB. They told us that this repair was provisional, and if we hit another stone, we'd be fucked. Since our rear suspension broke a couple of days before, we almost had no ground clearance. So we drove really slowly especially across the off-road sections to UB. We lost about ½ litre of motor oil per day, but it worked. It took 2 days to reach UB (600 km)… but it worked."
Lost in Allegro
If you're trying to bring an Austin Allegro to Mongolia you probably want to be a pretty good bush mechanic. Fortunately the boys from Lost in Allegro have got that box ticked.
In the first photo you can see they've patched up a hole in their exhaust with a beer can. In the second shot you can see the improvised fuel tank they built when their fuel tank ruptured (photo 3).
"We were happily speeding along a paved road abouty 80 miles outside Altai when the paved road ends on a downhill with no warning. We slam the brakes and our car takes the impact like a champ until Kenneth notices the odd sound of metal gouging into the tire outside his window. We were rescued by a really cool Motorcyclist that takes Kenneth to a truck stop to pick up a mechanic.
The fix was one of the best examples of Mongol resourcefulness that will stay with me forever. They used a car jack in place of the shock absorber and our ratchet strap to lock the jack in place with a series of knots. We then caravanned to the truck stop for a more permanent repair.
The ‘permanent fix’ was just as good.
They took these huge springs off this graveyard car and did a transplant on the rear springs. Because of this we drove the rest of the way to the finish line with a grossly over raised rear end. Since the springs weren’t the right size, the repair overstretched and broke the dampeners which lead to a bouncing effect after each bump in the road, so we galloped to the finish line. The raised suspension also overstretched the hydraulic line to the rear brakes which now rubbed against the wheel. At the finish line the hydraulic line was almost toast."
If you've got the balls, you should probably sign up for the 2015 Rally. Now seems like a pretty good time.