Friday – it rained most of the day, varying from heavy rain to torrential downpour, which left us fairly disheartened at the prospect of camping for the weekend at the Abingdon 4×4 Festival. But by the time we left at 4pm, the rain had stopped, the clouds had broken, and all looked well.
We hadn’t got 10 miles when the Dakar died. Well, sort of – I lost all power for a second or two, and then it carried on like nothing had happened. Then, when I stopped to top up the petrol, it wouldn’t restart.
After some fiddling and experimentation, we finally got it going again – this turns out to be more luck than judgement, and I foolishly assume we’ve sorted the problem. The trip to Abingdon was something of a nightmare, with the vehicle stalling several times – but restarting each time.
By the time we’ve arrived it’s a beautiful (though slightly chilly) evening and we get the tent up, dinner cooked, and so on. Our first campsite meal was followed by several beers with the Portsmouth contingent of the Pajero and Land Rover Club.
Saturday morning dawns misty and grey, though there’s a certain pleasure in gazing into the mist over a cup of hot coffee – and an even greater pleasure in watching the mist clear and the sun start to shine.
After a bacon sarnie, I move the Dakar round to the Thames Valley 4×4 Club stand, and wander off around the show. Rather conveniently for me, the Dakar 4×4 Club is right next door, so I get to chat to the guys there, too.
Thanks (I think!) to redneck from the Mud Club Forums for this pic!
This didn’t stop some of the other club members pooting around the course without a care in the world!
I’m just getting really stressed that I can’t refit the distributor cover when Jeff Collarbone from the Range Rover Register shows up, and explains that pulling off the distributor arm without holding the shaft in place can cause the weights in the base to slip and stop it returning into place. Oops. So, in the middle of a field, I get a crash course in repairing the distributor. We replace it, and the engine fires. For five minutes.
The sense of acheivement from rebuilding the dizzy is short lived, so we carry on investigations – and fail to find a spare amplifier at the show. By 5 pm I decide on a plan of action for the morning, and we head out with the Dakar club for dinner at the Beefeater. It was great to put some names to well known faces in the club as well as meet some new ones.
By the time we get back, the charity auction is winding down and the disco and Karaoke is in full swing – so we go and join Paul, Carrie and co. on the Thames Valley Stand – and spent the rest of the evening drinking beer and chatting.
Drinking rather too much beer, it turns out, since I end up having to get dressed twice in the night to head to the loo. Oh, well, worse things happen at sea.
Around 7am on Sunday is a bit of a rude awakening – it’s raining. Heavily. We nervously peer into the porch of the tent to discover water dripping in a few places. Knowing we left stuff in the gazebo the night before, I was a little concerned. I reulctantly pulled on some clothes and dashed for the car where my waterproofs were. Everything seemed OK, and it was too much trouble to get back into bed, so I put the coffee on and watched the rain fizzle out and the clouds clear as another nice day came to be.
Neil (aka Thrasher) had parked next to us, and joined us for a coffee before moving to the Mud Club stand. We fiddled with the Dakar some more, and when it ran for 30 minutes straight we decided to try the off-road course again. We made it 45 minutes around this time before it stalled and stopped. And wouldn’t restart.
Oh, the ignominy of it, being towed off the course twice in two days!
At this point I decide I’m in with a chance of driving home, so we wander around a bit more, pick up some stickers, and take some photos of the action on the off-road course. On the way back, I spot a group of people peering into the engine bay of a Range Rover – and struggling to re-fit the distributor cap.
Hmmmm…. says I. This looks like the problem I had yesterday – and within 5 minutes I’m putting my new found knowledge to use and showing someone else how to rebuild the distributor. Well, we got him running again and off on his way home.
Sadly the Dakar made it no more than 1 mile down the A34 before coming to a halt, and this time it’s staying halted. No go. Nada. Nyet. Nothing.
This time we call the recovery service, they pick us up, and tow the Dakar home. And it still won’t start when we get there; I can only hope that whatever has been intermittent for the last few days has finally failed completely and can be properly diagnosed. Time to order some replacement parts and dig out the wiring diagram!
So here we are at 8:45 pm, more-or-less unpacked, showered and about to have dinner. A frustrating weekend – but at least I got some time on the off-road course, made some new friends, and learned something new! And the tent stayed sufficiently dry, too!
More pictures over on flickr.