A Seemingly Endless Number Of Details

Planning a rally is a great deal of investment, not only in terms of money, but also in terms of time. There are a seemingly endless number of details that can’t be left until the last minute.

A few weeks after we got back from the Breslau Rally, we made an inspection of the Iveco service truck. We had driven over 4,500km to Poland and back, so we wanted to make sure that everything was ok. During the rally we had had some trouble with the clutch. Sometimes it was difficult to put the truck in first gear, a problem that only got worse after we had to do some maneuvering on sandy ground. We decided to take a closer look and ended up changing the clutch; the release bearing was worn.

Iveco Clutch

Since it was the first time we’ve done this kind of maintenance, we enlisted the help of an experienced acquaintance who is in charge of servicing a fleet of heavy construction vehicles. The procedure didn’t turn out to be that difficult. We accidentally pulled off a sensor bracket while removing the transmission and had to re-weld it, but otherwise everything went smoothly. The job was finished in about six hours.

Once we were satisfied that the service truck was in good condition, we started to work on our checklist for the rally. While most of our friends were on vacation, we stayed home, working during the weekdays; planning for the rally consumed most of our evenings and weekends.

The biggest part of the first upgrade on the Tatra had been done in Koprivniče early this year, but there were still a number of things we wanted to do without waiting until the last minute. We installed a fan on the oil radiator to improve the engine cooling and mounted a small winch on the truck bed for hoisting the spare tires.

Radiator

We placed a number of fasteners and holders in the cabin and box for the spare equipment and tools we might need during the race. Everything needs to be secure so it won’t move around, but it also has to be quickly and easily accessible. To protect the headlights, which might be damaged in the dunes, we fitted a plexiglass plate onto the front bumper.

Plexiglass

Finally, we made a console for the navigation equipment and satellite tracking unit, and installed the wiring for the electrical connections. Once the console was ready we installed the GPS units and Terratrip rally computers and checked that everything was working properly.

Although the test drive in Slovakia went well, we still wanted to improve the front suspension. The shock absorber we damaged during the testing was most likely defective, but twelve days of sandy tracks and dunes will be more demanding than the testing we did. Over the last few weeks we reviewed all the options for upgrading the suspension and decided to replace the front Sachs shock absorbers with Fox 3.0 Piggyback units. These are 80 mm diameter triple by-pass shocks. The only problem would be fitting them in place without having to modify the mounts, which are sized for metric and not US customary units. We contacted Fox and were pleased by how helpful they were and how easy it was to work with them. They sent us the technical drawings of the shocks and end caps so that we could make sure they would fit. We chose the end cap that worked best for us and designed a set of ring adapters that would allow us to install the shocks on the existing mount and keep the current Sachs shocks as spares.

Once we were convinced we could mount them properly, we confirmed the order and Fox scheduled the build. In total, it took about a month to build and ship the shocks. During that time we were able to finish the design of the adapter parts. We used the DraftSight CAD software and gave the resulting technical drawings to a local company that makes precision machine parts. Both the shocks and the adaptor rings were delivered last week. We spent the weekend installing them and taking the Tatra out for a short road test. We’ll post more details and pictures during the week.

Except for a few remaining details such as mounting the onboard cameras, the only thing left now is to review our checklists to make sure we haven’t forgotten anything and then start packing. We leave in just under five weeks.

One Response to A Seemingly Endless Number Of Details

  1. richfinck says:

    Glad to see you covering all the bases. Details are what will add up to a win. Surprised, with my limited truck experience, to see a diaphragm clutch.

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