Plymouth to Dakar in a Car Bought For £100 – Part 5 of 8 (Andrew)

In 2004 a friend and I tried to to drive from Plymouth to Dakar in a car bought for £100. In August 2022, Livejournal sent me an email to congratulate me on my 18 anniversary of starting a journal with them. When I checked the link I discovered they still had all my old online journal (not called a blog then!) entries. I thought it would be fun to publish them again.

11 October 2004 Falling at the first hurdle…

Sharon, the most patient person in the world, has for the last couple of months kindly been letting us store Beauty in the garage beneath her flat. In doing so she has risked inciting hatred from her neighbours and ridicule from her friends. We’re extremely grateful.

This week, however, Beauty needed to find a new home, as Sharon needs her space back. Not a problem, we thought, she can go out the back of Gav’s flat for a while. So Gav went round on Sunday morning to move her. Now Beauty hasn’t been driven in a few months, so she didn’t quite share Gav’s optimism that she would start first time…

After a bit of a push start, with the long-suffering Karly at the wheel, the engine caught on the second (third… fourth…) attempt. 

“Hmmm, I’m not sure she’s meant to sound like that.”
“Why is she revving so hard?” 
“Sounds like the accelerator pedal is stuck. Can you smell burning…?” 
“Ok, turn it off.”

A brief inspection under the hood later, and Gavin “The Car Doctor” McGinty offers a diagnosis. The accelerator cable is definitely jammed. If only we knew which one the accelerator cable was, and how to unjam it. Also, there appeared to be a mysterious green liquid leaking from one of the hoses. Looks like coolant. Or Limeade. If the car has an automatic Limeade dispenser it’ll be mighty handy, but we’ve yet to find it.

We put a call in to the RAC (who I suspect are going to get to know this car quite well between now and Christmas). A short time later our mechanic, Emma, turns up. She agrees with Gav’s diagnosis, but fortunately she also has the skills to heal Beauty. Actually, within 2 minutes, she’s got her purring like a kitten again, and has fixed the leaky coolant hose. Hmmm, I’m sure we could have done that if we really put our mind to it. As first tests go, then, maybe we should have done better… there won’t be an Emma in the middle of the desert (unless we kidnap her).

23 October 2004 – A Very Bandit Christmas

Countering years of popular belief, Historians have today announced that the date of birth of Jesus, commonly thought to be 25 December, is in fact wrong. They have revised previous schedules and announced that the correct date is in fact closer to 23 October, bringing the popular feast of Christmas forward by some two months.

Or, at least, that’s the way things are in the McGinty household today, we’re taking a rare opportunity that we’re together to have christmas dinner, as Gav will probably be somewhere south of Casablanca on Christmas day.

Merry Christmas, one and all!

24 October 2004 – Does Beauty know what you have planned for her?

A copy of Mr Smokey’s email to the Bandit tonight. Beauty won’t know what’s about to hit her.

And now a guide to what we need to do to the car courtesy of my paranoia about breaking down in the middle of the Sahara: 
1. Beauty needs to be in sound mechanical order i.e. engine, cooling system, fuel system, suspension, gearbox, transfer box, clutch (or whatever the automatic equivalent is), brakes, steering etc. This is what the garage should do.

2. Drive beauty repeatedly and for long trips to see if she’s up for the journey. 

3. Add bash plate to protect sump and gearbox and cover the tie rods. 

4. Add new springs and shock absorbers.

5. Check battery.

6. New all terrain tires all round. Keep two of the old ones as spares.

7. Have 2-3 spares inner tubes for the tires

8. Miscellaneous equipment: High lift jack, sand ladders, towing strap, shovel or sand spade, spare engine oil, brake oil, warning triangles (these are compulsory in some countries but not sure if it applies to our ones), foot pump, tyre repair kit, block of wood to place under jack, pressure gauge to check tyre pressure when adjusting it for different terrain

Not much really!”

25 October 2004 –

A reply

And now for the Bandit’s response:

“That all seems to make sense Mr T, and good to have it in a list form. Some
comments per your numbering.

1. Hopefully we’ll get a garage to do all this stuff, Alan is going to chase his
guys today, and we’ll see where that takes us, otherwise I’ll start to push on with that.

2. I do need to get Beauty out and about more than she is, alhtough in part I’m reluctant to do so due to lack of MOT / Tax, and the consequences that getting caught could have on my licence… So 2 maybe has to come after 1, and we’ve got her an MOT. I was thinking about a long trip up to Glasgow one weekend, to give us an opportunity to do some scottish PR work.

3. This will either be done as part of 1, or alternatively we’ll sort out the
parts we need and then get it done in Morocco. The cost of a day’s labour from a mechanic down there is £5…

4. This would be nice, is perhaps more of a Could have than a Must have, but if we can get them as part of 1 then all the better.

5. The battery is strong, but it wouldn’t hurt to get a new one, or at least to
carry a spare.

6. Yep, that would be good too, we might need to get onto some kwik-fit style people and start begging 🙂

7. Inner tubes is a good idea, the other thing we’ll try and get is some instant foam sealant stuff, in case we get really stuck.

8. High lift jack (got) 
sand ladders (need to get – though would prefer some sand waffles – their about £70 a pair)
towing strap (need to get)
shovel or sand spade (need to get, will get a snowboarding one that I’ll buy
myself, and then probably an ex-army folding one)
spare engine oil, brake oil (also need spare air filter (at least one) spare oil
filter, and petrol treatment (the further we go the lower the octane rating
gets, and you get a lot of very watered down petrol, we need to keep her running sweet 🙂
warning triangles (we’ll need for France, and useful to have anyway), 
foot pump (got), 
tyre repair kit (need to get) 
block of wood to place under the jack (got), 
pressure gauge to check tyre pressure when adjusting it for different terrain
(is a part of the foot pump).
Also need a decent tool kit.

A lot of this stuff is relatively cheap and easy to buy, but I’m keen that we
get some corporate sponsorship to help us out with this.”

And how many weeks are there to go again…?

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s