Erg Racing Service Truck Ready For Its First Rally

It will be a few more weeks before we make any official announcement, but we’re still working on preparations to compete in our first rally with the Tatra this fall.

In the meantime, we spent last weekend getting the Erg Racing service truck ready for its own debut providing support for the LM 4×4 Nissan Patrol in the 20th Breslau Rallye in Poland at the end of the week.

Most of the important modifications were made in February, so the work was mostly cosmetic and for comfort.

We did a little sanding to remove a few spots of rust from the cab and then repainted.


The masking took almost as much time as the painting did,



The paint on the cab was still in good condition, so to save time, we didn’t repaint everything, just the area we had sanded and the cargo.



The new multi-colored look fits in with the colors of our two other trucks, and once it’s covered with stickers the color difference won’t matter anyway.

Once the paint was dry, we bolted the tent on the roof rack,


and applied our own logo and web address.



We’ll be leaving out tomorrow to pick up the rest of the team and then heading off for Breslau. We’ll try to post regular updates about the race over the course of the week.

Reassembling The Tatra

We got back from the Czech Republic the weekend before last. We spent a week there to see how the work on the Tatra was going and to help out a little in putting it back together. We were glad to have the chance to learn more about the construction and modifications, which may also help if we need to make repairs or adjustments during the rally.

In addition to installing the CTIS, the upgrades also involved a few improvements to the suspension, including the air bellows that are part of the pneumatic suspension. The original Tatra 4×4 bellows were replaced with a smaller lighter version designed for the Tatra 6×6, which has eight bellows on the two rear axles. The Tatra 4×4 has only four bellows on the rear axle. Comparatively, even though the Tatra 6×6 can haul a heavier load, each of the bellows on the Tatra 4×4 are designed for a heavier load because there are only half as many to support the total weight. Since we’re preparing our Tatra for racing, we won’t be carrying anything heavy, and we can afford to change the bellows to the lighter 6×6 version, which is more reactive and should make a smoother ride during the race.

nouveaux coussins dair

While we were there, the engine was remounted.

mounting motor 1

mounting motor 2

We also mounted the front wheels.

front wheels mounted

It’s usually hard to see the front axle because of the skid plate, but because it hasn’t been remounted yet, the newly painted axle is easy to spot.

front axle

The CTIS has been completely installed and tested in the workshop. The air pipe on the hub will be protected by a cover. It has a vane so that it can be isolated and so the tire can be inflated normally in case of a problem.

CTIS wheel closeup

This is how it looked when we left.

back wheels mounted

Unfortunately, we weren’t able to stay for the first tests this week, but we’re planning to go back for some offroad tests soon.

Update On The Tatra Race Preparation

With the cold and snow this past week, it’s hard to believe that spring is less than a month away. Likewise, with all the work that still remains before the Tatra will be ready for our first rally, it’s hard to imagine that as winter draws to a close, so will the upgrades for the race.

A few weeks ago, the rear axle looked like this:



Now the parts have been inspected and the worn pieces replaced. The axle has been put back together, painted and is waiting to be remounted.


The hole in the center is for the CTIS. The air will pass through the shaft in the axle to the tires, through a small hose that will connect the rim to the air supply.


The front axle is ready too,



and the air hoses for controlling the CTIS from the cabin are ready and waiting to be connected.


Soon comes the big job of putting everything back together again.

Let The Light Shine

Things seem quiet in the winter, but a lot more is going on behind the scenes than meets the eye.

The Tatra is still in pieces, but meanwhile the renovation of the Iveco Eurocargo is moving along slowly but surely. Last weekend we installed the electricity for the power tools and the interior and exterior lighting and took some photos of the new stowage rack and outside doors for rapid access to the stowed material.


We have enough room for sixteen trunks in the rack!


When we had finished the installation, we tried out the lighting on the first assistance for mobilette (moped) 47. It’s brighter than it looks in the photo, and we have enough spots that we’ll be able to light areas to work outside on three sides of the truck.


Now for a little coat of paint, some cleaning up and service and the Erg Racing service truck will be almost ready to go.

Our Tatra Is In Pieces!

As we continue preparing for our first rally, the preparation of our Tatra is advancing too. The main modification is the installation of the Central Tire Inflation Sysyem (CTIS). The air supply to the tires will pass inside the axles, which must be removed so that a shaft can be bored. To remove the axles, the truck has literally been taken apart.

It doesn’t sound as impressive on paper as it looks in the pictures. This is a big job!






While everything is dismantled, it’s a good time for a complete checkover, cleaning and painting.


These photos are enough to make our hearts flutter, but it’s comforting to know our Tatra is in good hands.
Of course, we’re looking forward to when it will all be put back together again and we can try it out.

We’ll be posting more news over the coming weeks.

Rally Christmas

Christmas Eve is always a magic time. Children want to stay up late to catch a glimpse of Santa Claus, and they always wake up early with the anticipation of finding their presents.

When Christmas Day marks the start of a voyage to the African desert, even adults succumb to the holiday magic. We were up before the alarm went off this morning to finish loading and set off toward Malaga and the ferry to Morocco, where we’ll be spending the week and celebrating the New Year with friends in the dunes of northern Africa.

This will not be a relaxing holiday though. One of our objectives is to practice for next year’s rally. The Tatra is still in Kopřivnice where the upgrades are being finished, so although we can’t practice driving yet to get used to the new equipment, we’ll be working on navigation for this off road rally practice. One of our friends is bringing some old road books from the region, so we’ll use those for training using the compass and Terratrip rally computer that we installed in our Jeep JK Wrangler last week.

We’re also hoping to catch a glimpse of the Africa Eco Race as it blows past us on the way from Boudenib to Tagounite in the second stage on Sunday.

As the rally season approaches, the end of the year has been busier than usual for us, so the quiet driving time as we head toward Spain gives us the opportunity to wish all our readers a happy holiday. We hope you’ll be able to live your dreams in 2013.

To Kopřivnice

We’ve been busy over the past few weeks putting together a bill of materials for everything we’ll need for our first rally next spring. Most of that behind-the-scenes activity consists of making a list, pouring over catalogs, and reading specs and reviews. Lots of work goes into making sure we make a choice that will best fit our budget and needs.

Things were a little more exciting last weekend. On Saturday, we left for Kopřivnice, where the truck will spend the winter while the suspension is reworked and the central tire inflation system installed. The work should be finished in early February, giving us time to make a few test drives to make sure everything is ok and get used to the new equipment.

We’ll post updates from time to time as we have news about progress.

Gearbox ECU Override Unit

Judging by the search terms leading to the blog, as well as the popularity of the post Diagnosing the Transmission Anomaly, many of you are interested in our experiences trouble-shooting the problems we had with the transmission before leaving for Tunisia.

This weekend, we had a chance to take the Scania (EM-1) out for a drive, and we filmed a short sequence demonstrating the switches we installed on the gearbox monitoring unit that enable us to manually force a gear change if the ECU fails to send a command to the gearbox. The switches are mounted in parallel to the ECU, so that we can engage a gear if the ECU fails to do so. However, if the ECU has engaged the gear, then the switch will have no effect.

Since we first encountered the transmission problems only a few weeks before our departure to Tunisia, we did not have time to find a more comprehensive solution before the trip. This unit was designed to be an emergency override to make sure that we would not remain stuck in the desert in case of an ECU failure. Driving for an extended period of time while manually changing gears using the switches would not be easy, but in an emergency, it would be feasible.

We are still working on a more permanent solution and are investigating both repairing the ECU and designing a new micro-controller to replace it.  We’ll post an update once we’ve made more progress.

Tunisia 2010: Day 1 — Departure for Marseille

During the last few days leading up to our trip to Tunisia we spent our evenings making final checks and preparations. A few days before departure we learned that due to unforeseen circumstances the assistance truck would not be making the trip, so we had to make some last minute rearrangements to carry all the necessary equipment and supplies securely in the truck bed.

Fully loaded truck bed

The bed is 2.5m long and 2.3m wide, but the auxiliary fuel tank, spare tire and refrigerator take up a significant amount of space. We had originally intended to place the refrigerator in the shelter, but it was too bulky to install there without significantly reducing the comfort of the sleeping arrangements. This limitation was not a problem according to our original plan. Even with three 25 liter cans for extra fluids (transmission fluid, engine coolant and oil for the axles), we had room for a quad that we had agreed to transport from France to the edge of the desert for one of the members of our group. There was just enough place in the bed to hold the quad and still have space to move around.

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Road Test

When the main preparations were finished, it was time for a serious test drive to take the truck in hand and make sure everything was in order. Two weeks ago, we set out on a 3-day road test, the interesting part of which took us through the Gorges of the Tarn, the Mont Aigoual, and the Gorges of the Ardèche.

We covered over 1000 km, on steep, winding roads to put the engine and gear box through their paces. We also tested out the sleeping arrangements, camping near Yssingeaux, Sainte-Enimie and Vallon-Pont-d’Arc.

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