Benson SOLD !

Benson has been sold to a true gentleman in New Zealand – I have to confess to being very sad when I shook hands on the sale. The car has earned real affection in our hearts after all the prep and the rally, but I had to be realistic – it’s an endurance rally car now and would have got very little use, it’s better that somebody else can go on an adventure in a car that has proved it’s up to the task.

Jock has bought Benson to do Peking to Paris in 2013 – so the poor old car will have to do the trip all over again !

He is sending the car to RPS to have some odds and sods done before shipping to NZ in the autumn

I hope the next time I see the car will be in Paris late in 2013 to cheer Jock and the car over the line

The Damage – What broke and what needs repairing post rally

The Damage – What broke and what needs repairing post rally ……

Front Springs: The “temporary” main front spring leaves made in Mongolia need to be replaced with new heavy duty leaves – cost £150

Radiator: The rad has been sent for a recore, I am replacing with the same modern “Z” core, looks wrong, but it cools much better than traditional “honeycomb” core – cost approx £450-500

Fan Mounting: One of the bolts that holds the fan assembly to the block needed rethreading, I tried to drill out and use a Time Sert insert but the Time sert tap was not man enough to tap the block. In the end I drilled out and retapped to M10 using taper and second taps – cost £90 (Time Sert kit) + £20 (M10 tap set)

Fan Bearing: By the time we reached Paris the fan bearing was in a shocking state with excessive “wobble” on the shaft, I assumed that this damage occurred when the fan went into the radiator. On stripping down the fan hub/bearings the “wobble” was caused by wear on the shaft. A new shaft is being machined up which will be hardened where the bearings seat. Cost approx £150 (shaft) and £12 (bearings)

Handbrake: The handbrake is in tatters. I had to remove the whole assembly from one side on the last night of the rally. One morning in Turkey parts of the handbrake lining which had broken off jammed between the shoe and the drum, locking up the rear wheels. The bottom half of the linings wore away completely, right down to the metal. I’m not sure of the cause, maybe weak springs on the handbrake mechanism – but is seems that with all the bouncing up and down the bottom half of the shoe/lining was touching the inside of the drum and gradually wearing away. New linings required, new springs and one brake rod that snapped to be salvaged from the parts car. Cost approx £100

Monit Rally Computer: Monit on navigators side stopped working on Day 3, the cable coming off the back of the probe was severed by a rock ! Replaced en route, but I didn’t tie the probe cable up properly and with all the bouncing around off road the cable touched the exhaust and melted. New probe needs to be fitted, rather than messing around soldering cables. Cost approx £35

Rear Diff – Oil Leaks: Rear diff is dropping oil from the housing, may just be a new gasket required. More of an issue is the diff oil that is leaking into the wheel/drum – not sure what’s causing this. Cost £unknown

Rear Wheel Spokes: The spokes on both rear wheels are loose where they pass through the wheel rim. Vern Jensen who respoked them prior to the rally thinks I need to put some metal inserts between the spokes where the meet the hub to tighten up the rim end, I fear that after all the punishment in Mongolia they will need to be respoked. Cost £unknown

Spilt Rims: When you change a tyre on the Buick, you remove the tyre from the car which is mounted on a split rim. The wheel “centre” stays on the car. Two of these split rims failed on the rally, the rim of the split rim broke/fractured. I have spare rims from the Sedan that I broke for parts that just need sand blasting and repainting. Cost £ time & paint !

Tyres/Tubes: Of the six tyres that we took, four need replacing and two will be fine as spares. All the tubes need replacing. All the “punctures” we had were tubes failing, we never had anything pass through the tyre and puncture the tube. Cost approx £500

£10,000 Raised

£10,000 Raised for ALMT – Thank you

We raised just over £10,000 in sponsorship for the Angus Lawson Memorial Trust

A big Thank You to all those who sponsored/supported us !

Arrival in Paris

Final Day – Arriving in Paris (Author: Tim)

Lazy morning as we were not starting until 9ish, it was raining quite heavily as we came down for breakfast, the car was in an underground car park but the roof was down – the decision on whether to put it up was deferred until we exited the garage. Breakfast had an “end of term” feeling to it, general high spirits tinged with a slight sadness that the great adventure was nearly over and we would soon be parting company with all our new found rally friends. As we set off it was only spitting with rain, so we left the roof down. Leaving Troyes we tried to fill with fuel at a couple of fuel stations, neither had any fuel due to the strikes – slightly concerned that we did not quite have enough fuel to make it to Paris we decided to try the next fuel station en route. Within a few km we were out into the rolling countryside of Northern France with a bit of mist and the sun trying hard to burn it off. The car was “on fire” it seems that the new plugs and condenser and cleaning out tiny metal filings from inside the distributor cap seems to have cured the misfire or Benson realised that he just had 200km to run before he could take a well earned rest ! Navigation was simple tulips through a couple of passage controls.

The route took us through Fontainebleau and right past the front of the famous “Palais de Fontainebeau” and we had still not passed a fuel station ! A cough and a splutter indicated that the main tank was dry, so we switched to the reserve, unsure of how much fuel we had left. 40km from Paris we joined the motorway and after 10km we found a service station with fuel and a long queue. After 20 minutes and an argument with a French Postwoman on a motorbike, who felt she could jump the queue we got some fuel and continued to the Bois de Boulogne. Here the cars were held in  a line and eventually released in batches of 10 to travel to the finish in Place Vendome, we had to wait for an hour and a half before we set off for the centre of Paris. We entered Paris at Porte Maillot and drove up Ave de la Grande Armee, round the Arc de Triomphe and on to the Champs Elysees – lots of people cheering and clapping all the way. I will always remember driving down the Champs Elysees, three abreast,  horns blasting with Bill and Biddy Bolsover in #75 Chevy and Peter/Detlev in #50 Studebaker. The crowds thickened the closer we got to Place Vendome, as we turned off Rue Saint-Honore, there were hundreds of people cheering and shouting, just short of the finish ramp we met my sister Clare and nephews Fred and Henry who jumped onto the car and crossed the line with us.

Crossing the line ….. What a sense of achievement ! We drove an 81 year old car more than 14,500km over 37 days – the car covered every metre of that distance under his own power, not towed or trucked once. If I am honest, when we set out from Beijing, given the problems we had with overheating prior to shipping the car I really doubted we would make it to Paris – it was more a question of how far would we get. But as the days passed and the distance to Paris decreased we had a growing confidence that we would make it. This was an amazing journey and tougher than we expected, I am very proud that we made it. Julie’s navigation was impeccable, with only a couple of errors and we only had one day when things got a bit heated between us – but this was the most time we have spent together since we met !

Would we do it again ? At the moment I don’t think so, I would be more inclined to do something different maybe a rally in Africa or South America. We will see ……