Saturday, October 06, 2012

The heat is on

Crested, somewhere near Camel Rock
The cooler weather is now approaching, even if it's not yet actually upon us. Beloved Wife now removes the roof from her car on the drive into work, and the water heaters in the Crumbling Villa are starting to see some action following a summer when, as usual, hot water comes out of the cold tap.

The Goat missed the ME4x4 club's annual September Shakedown desert drive and camp out because of an important brunch appointment. So he was pleased to see a separate, smaller Shakedown drive had been organised a few days ago.

Unfortunately, this drive involved the Goat getting on to his hind legs at the exceptionally ungodly 5am in order to be at Tawi Nizwa by six. Five cars; five drivers, and a plan to drive across the sands to Pink Rock.

Naturally there was a little laughing up sleeves at what the Goat had rolled up in. JT referred to Rio as 'the Baby Goat', seeing as she was dwarfed by the other vehicles.

Toyota, Toyota, Daihatsu, Nissan, Dodge
He also expressed concern about the lack of a front recovery point, which is something that the Goat has been scratching his head about: there must be some way to attach a secure front recovery hook to a Terios that doesn't rely on it being screwed into the tinfoil framework under the front bumper.

The drive to Pink Rock was fun. Easy in some parts and a little challenging in others, there were a couple of refusals and the Patrol got crested on a ridge. Attempts to tow it off with a Terios were unsuccessful (possibly to the relief of the Patrol owner), and it took several tries with the Durango to achieve a result.

Approaching Pink Rock from the west involves a long drive up a steep sandy ramp. Everyone eventually made it to the top. Unfortunately for the Goat's credibility, the Terios simply ran out of welly about 30 metres from the top every time. Maybe turning the aircon off and lowering the tyre pressures to 12psi might have helped, but the Goat simply cheated and went around the rock and appeared from the east side. Fundamentally, 105bhp simply isn't enough to get up the steep slope with over 1200kg and no low-range gearbox. Such are the limits of softroaders, but it's good to discover those limits without breaking something.

There were a couple of additional crestings, including Rio the 'Baby Goat' on the way from Pink Rock to Camel Rock, before the party emerged unscathed at Maliha. The lightness of the Daihatsu which was such a disadvantage when attempting to recover a stuck Nissan Patrol, became an advantage with the roles reversed: she's very easy to pull off the ridge of a dune. There's an after-market towbar fitted with a receiver hitch, so a rear recovery point is in no way a problem.

The Goat has been a tad concerned about the engine temperature of his miniature 4x4. The Terios comes from the factory with a blue/green idiot light on the dashboard to say that the engine is stone cold and should not be thrashed. A red light supposedly comes on when (hopefully before) the engine has cooked itself to death. So the Goat bought an Engine Watchdog mail order from Australia. He'd not had time to fit it before the Shakedown and overheating was not apparently a problem, although Rio did smell a bit hot after repeated runs at Pink Rock.

Camera phone: dodgy focus
The device is now fitted and working. Piece of mind in a box. It sounds a warning buzzer if the engine temperature exceeds a pre-set value, so there's no need to keep gawping at the red LED display of degrees Celsius.

A remaining task is to figure out a front recovery point that won't bend out of shape and that won't upset the inspector at registration time. Another less urgent task is to think up and install some suitable accessories to go in those two switch blanks on the dashboard.


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