The Peking to Paris Motor Challenge 2010

September 10th - October 16th, 2010




Tashkent to Samarkand

Wheel meet again…


After the adventures of the veteran Lancia and the crew who were turfed off the road into the undergrowth yesterday when a front wheel came adrift, it seems that the crew of Car 9, the big 1926 Dodge Tourer, decided to follow the example. They have been in trouble today with a wooden-spoked wheel collapsing.

Peter Banham has found a length of wood he plans to turn into spokes, and is confident that on our rest-day tomorrow Isobelle, as the Dodge is nick-named, will be rolling again. Prince Borghese had just this same problem while in Russia on the original 1907 event, and he too found a local wheelwright to make new spokes to fettle his Itala. Peter reckons he will be copying Prince Borghese and giving all the wheels a long soaking in water before being fitted back on the car…there is a fish-pond in the hotel gardens ideal for the job.

Today has been another warm sunny day and on mostly good quality tarmac roads, for once, and 350 kilometres were knocked off in fine fashion, skirting numerous cotton-fields, with balls of white cotton being hand-picked by an army of pickers.

We are now at Samarkand, city of blue mosaic domes above large mosques, clean tree-lined wide streets, a cross-roads of the Silk Route. Tomorrow’s day off will entice some crews away from their cars for a spot of sight-seeing as it would be a shame to leave Samarkand without taking a look around.

Outside the hotel, Americans Fritz James and Lang Wightman are servicing their Model A Ford Phaeton, despite the string of troubles reported on this sight by a regular bunch of competitors, Fritz and Lang point out that their virtually-standard Model A has given no trouble, and given a regular spanner check in the evenings continues to perform with utter reliability. Their only modification is a set of telescopic shockabsorbers, and they retain the original three-speed gearbox…today’s long straight roads had them wondering if the four-speeder out of the later Model B might not have been a good move, however.

The car park is surprisingly quiet this evening. Andy Drinkwater and Diana Cooper in the trouble-stricken little blue Renault 4CV have driven all the way today, hopeful that their front suspension problems are behind them, but they had the front assembly stripped down this evening with locals from a workshop being briefed on what they have to do to reinforce things for the rest of the event. Tim Scott has also driven here with his F.N. motorcycle and the bike is parked up under the trees at the back of the hotel.

David Roberts is working on the Sunbeam Talbot which now looks rather the worse for wear, he has the alloy tank out of the boot as a seam has split. A more mysterious petrol leak has hit the Rolls-Royce Phantom of Richard and Karen Auchincloss, as they lost over 90-litres of petrol coming into town tonight and there is no sign of a leak… Robert Kitchen reckons that as petrol is very scarce in Uzbekistan it might have been siphoned out. If you drive a Rolls, you are a conspicuous target, is Rob’s theory.

Talking of leaks, Arthur Freeman and Roger James in the 1936 Ford V8 Coupe, had a spot of bother today with an all-alloy radiator splitting at a seam and losing the water…had he kept the original brass and steel rad, it would have been a lot easier to repair, and being less brittle probably wouldn’t have given any trouble. The leak was plugged by Simon Ayris, but the driver is wondering if this will get him to Paris.

We are now about half-way, in terms of driving distance. With no motoring on the agenda for tomorrow, the hotel bar is already being driven hard.


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