Mongol Rally Top Bodges
When your noble steed breaks down a thousand miles from the nearest approved Nissan parts dealer you need to pull something pretty spectacular out of the bag. To give you an idea of the levels of tenacity and audacity employed by some past Mongol Rally teams to nurse their wounded chariots ever forward I bring you the Mongol Rally Top Bodges, improvisations so great you will wonder what manner of natural disaster or fateful circumstance could stop these heroes of the hack.
10) Martin Gibson - 2007 - 2 Mongol Bikers
Martin, blew the exhaust gasket on his bike two days into his rally in 2007. He fixed it with the bottom of an energy drinks can he had and the fix lasted all the way to Ulaanbaatar.
9) Jeff Hancock - 2010 - Dropbears Inc
From what I can tell from this picture Jeff used his recently defunct exhaust to replace the aerial of his radio, we have no record if his stereo was loud enough to drown out the sound of his un-silenced engine.
8) Dan Lauder - 2010 - The Genghis Khar
"The most outlandish repair (or attempt) we made was after we drove our noble steed into a river in Mongolia. After dismantling half the engine we attempted to dry out the chambers by pouring vodka into them and igniting it in a vague attempt to burn off any excess moisture. Needless to say it didn't work...."
7) Craig Bellars - 2009 - Knight-Micra
Craig's bodge is worthy of a mention despite it's lack of success, the untimely demise of both their Micra's Alternator and fan belt inspired Craig to fix the two belts with his and one of his team-mates beloved Buffs. Sadly their efforts weren't enough, but I'm adding this to emphasise the versatility of the most ubiquitous of rally paraphernalia.
6) Mark Baird - 2009 - Team Banana Hammock
Mark is one of a few teams who sent in this splendid suggestion of fixing busted shock absorbers with tyres which were found at the side of the road. (Other substitutes include rolls of gaffer tape and tennis balls.)
5) Thomas Parsons - 2008 - Arr Man
Tom's team hit a large rock ripping apart part of the frame under the car. Some helpful Mongolians turned their car onto its side, chopped a telegraph pole in half using nothing but a folding spade and then used it to reinforce the broken brace. They rewarded their hero's with a bottle of Russian vodka and were left wondering why all cars weren't just made of wood.
4) Ben Rowe - 2008 - Gentlemen Rascals
"Our team, the gentleman rascals in our untrustworthy Bedford rascal were experiencing some rust related discomfort. Our suspension mounting points, located cunningly underneath the front seats, had disintegrated, resulting in the driver and passenger becoming responsible for preventing the springs entering the cab using our backsides.
We soldiered on until hitting bumps was causing us bruised derrières and searched around for someone with a welder. We found a local garage (mainly a drinking den with some spanners) and explained our problem. A few hours and a number of complimentary vodkas later we were informed plates had been welded in place and all was well. Indeed, the work was strong, weld had been applied liberally to the area, however upon attempting to drive away we found that the throttle cable also happened to run through the area welded.
Bedford rascal spares are rare in Kazakhstan, and a number of alternative cables failed to fit. We eventually came up with a temporary (becoming permanent) fix which involved removing a plate covering the engine, which was underneath the front seats, having one of our number at all times lying in the back of the van on the floor, arm stuck through a hole into a chamber containing many high speed parts, voltages producing varying levels of shock but crucially the small lever to control engine revs.
Driving thenceforth consisted of the passenger in the back operating the vans speed totally blind while the driver looked after steering and gear changes (the brakes by this point were largely useless). So every time a gear change was needed the driver had to press the clutch, shout 'gear change', the rev master dropped revs, driver changed gear, shouted 'revs up', revs were duly upped and the clutch was released by the guy with eyes on the road.
We kept this up for the best part of 2 weeks until the van finally coughed its last near Semipalatinsk."
3) Barnaby Cook - 2006 - Mongolian Mini Malarkey
Barnaby and his chaps were fortunate to find some mechanics to fix their beloved steed, making use of vast quantities of vodka wonderfully told in the video below.
2) Dave Durrant - 2007 - Super Saveloys / Chariots of Rust
"Super sav's solid fuel-lines were ruptured on the northern road through Mongolia in 2007. We fixed it by making a bodged fuel tank out of jerry can, robbing our (Chariots of Rust) windscreen washer pipes, and strapping the can with the two pipes to bonnet with gaffa tape. With a hole cut in the bonnet with Bowie knife the pipes were fed directly to and from the carb." Not the only team to hack this fix, but the only ones to make a success of it.
1) Ben Kemp - 2008 - A Very British Adventure
I'll leave it to Ben to explain this one to you:
"There isn't much to it; the big aluminium block in the third photo broke off on a massive rock (my fault!) so we were left with no gears. Somehow, we managed to break that bit away from under the car and then set about cutting the floor open with a hammer and chisel. We attached the mole grips to the only rod coming out of the gearbox so we could select some gears. This actually worked better than we hoped. Only trouble was the gear pattern was now the wrong way round. 1st was where 2nd was and vice versa and 3rd was where 4th was and vice versa. (We could sometimes get reverse but we felt reverse gear was a very overrated gear on the rally and wasn't really needed.) To change gear it took two hands; one hand on the mole grips and the other you had to put through the jagged edged hole we'd made and push or pull depending on what gear was need. You had to get your timing right as your hand was only about 10cm from the rocky ground!
There were a few downfalls with this modification. The exhaust ran next to the mole grips, so, after an hour or so's driving the mole grips became to hot to touch. The solution to this was sometimes use a rag or drink vodka. The other fault was casued by the large hole we had made in the floor. The dust flow into the car was never ending and most of the river crossings flooded the car so much we could no longer leave anything on the floor. We managed to drive 1500 miles across Mongolia like this, and there were many bodges to our car including wooden suspension and VW polo wheels (we had to cut the wings off for them) but I feel the gear-linkage fix was the best."
Honourable mentions should go to Sam Greenhalgh from 2006 team Pandarama who's exploits and break-downs are for another time but who's sumptios bodge trailer job was brought to fruition before the Rally even began, also to David Morris and the rest of 2008 teams Heading East 1 & 2 who supply this story;
"We had two cars, three people. Me, Paul and Katy - our other friend John had flown home when we were back in Kazakhstan. Anyway, quite a way past the western entry point into Mongolia we were cruising through the Gobi/Altai desert with scorching sun and literally nobody around. I would hazard a guess that we were a good couple hundred miles from the next living being, and that could be in any direction! Anyway, as we're ploughing along at speed, off-road, I hit a sort of trench that shudders the vehicle and sends us up in the air a bit. It wasn't the first time this had happened, but something felt weird so I pulled us both up (the two cars were called Carlos and The Mule). Anyway, it was a good thing I did as Carlos was pissing fuel all over the desert floor.
With Katy completely out of it with a bad bacterial infection, me and Paul had to work out what to do. We were in the middle of the desert during the midday sun, and there were no signs of any vehicles coming this way in a hurry, so we had to fix it, and fast, before we dumped a whole tank of gas. I suddenly remembered we had some gasket sealant from one of our early breakdowns when we were back in Europe, so I went and fetched that whilst Paul got to work on the fuel tank and sump. The sump had probably never been off the car in 30 years of service, but it now had a hole through it and the tank!
After initial attempts, Paul made the decision that to do this we'd need to drain the tank. Deciding drinking fuel while we were in the middle of nowhere was a bad idea we took off the fuel tank plug and started running backwards and forwards between it and The Mule. Then between it and some empty water bottles. Then someone emptied a couple gallons of water to fill those bottles up with fuel (yes, in the middle of the day, in the desert). Eventually it was empty. With nothing handy nearby, I decided that, from what I'd seen of it when we used it before, the gasket sealant should possibly do it. It took a while to get it on, let it dry a bit, get some more on, etc. After that I decided that as a safeguard, a jay cloth and a lot of gaffa tape should be used (I had learnt the extensive powers of these before on the trip). So eventually, with the gasket sealant fairly dry, backed up with a jay cloth and a load of gaffa tape, we were able to get on. This took 5 hours in the scorching desert heat, not a cloud in the sky!
Not exactly an MOT pass, but we were done, and it bloody worked! We rode out more than another 2000km with this fix in place, always thinking at some point we'd need to find a welder, but never needing to in the end."
- 10 Pictures
- 10 Years
- Adventure News
- Afternoon Tea
- Bicycle Racing
- Film Festival
- Guest Blog
- Hendrick's Gin
- In Numbers
- Institute Of Adventure Research
- Legend Of Adventure
- Mongol Derby
- Mongol Rally
- Mototaxi Junket
- Rickshaw Run
- Saving The World
- Space Programme
- Tale Of Adventure
- The Ice Run
- World Cycle Race