2008 Land Rover National Rally trip
It's not a matter of "if" but a matter of "when". The doing was never in doubt
The vapor lock & charging system woe trip
Day 1: Home to a rest stop somewhere East of Mojave
I finished packing my Land Rover Dormobile and by 3 PM was finished except for loading the frozen meat into the refrigerator. Linus and Nikkie showed up around 5PM and we headed South along California # 101 with the plan of spending the night alongside the road a little West of Bakersfield and topping off at Bakersfield at the COSTCO gas station. Like any plan this was subject to change on the fly and by the time we swung East on #46 the goal was to get over the Tahachipies during the cool evening. Both Linus and I had done some last minute work on our Land Rovers and he wasn't sure if his six cylinder Land Rover Dormobile could make it over the Tahachipies without overheating during the hot part of the day. He was trying to chase down an overheating problem during the last days prior to the trip and as not sure he had solved the problem. My problem was the #2 cylinder not firing. After running a number of tests I had traced the fault down to an open circuit going through a connector. When I unplugged it and plugged it back in the cylinder fired and all was happy. Somewhere just West of Bakersfield I started getting the symptoms of a cylinder not firing again. Bummer, but I'll run the trip on 7 cylinders if need be. As we started going up the Tahachipie grade I started developing the symptoms of vapor lock. Linus decided to take the grade sitting behind a slow truck that gear wise for me was too slow for third gear and too fast for second. I was having to get off the gas to fall behind then follow on at a doable RPM until I caught up and repeated the off throttle slow down. My Land Rover was starting to buck from what appeared to be fuel starvation. Just at that moment Linus said he was changing CB channels to get away from chatter. At night I can not see which channel I'm on while driving so I found myself unable to communicate. I had to speed up or pull off the side of the road with my car out of action. So I got on the gas and passed Linus, leaving him far behind not knowing what I was doing or why. Golly this was against all my rules for convoying but I had no choice if I expected to make the summit. We had no close preset rendezvous point, only a route.
Once the engine was running at about 2400RPM instead of around 1000 RPM the engine cooled down and the fuel starvation problem went away. But I was still running on seven. I continued on until about 11:30 PM where I pulled into a rest stop for the night. All I could do is hope that Linus & I would meet up sometime soon.
Day 2: Rest stop to Valley of Fire Nevada State Park
I slept in a little this morning in the hopes that Linus was behind me and would be checking rest stops as he proceeded. I was breaking camp when Linus & Nikkie pulled up along side me. They had made it up over the mountains OK and had stopped earlier for the night way behind me. They also got up a lot earlier to try to find me. The went back to the summit to make sure I wasn't in the camp ground at summit then headed along our planned route hoping to catch up with me at a rest stop. Low and behold he did.
We headed off in convoy as the day warmed up to around 100 digress and I made a discovery. My Land Rover has vapor lock problems in hot weather. I live on the coast where it very seldom reaches the eighties and mostly travel during cooler parts of the year. This first trip after replacing the rusted out, cracked wrapped set with new headers. The new headers were left unwrapped because the old ones didn't quite last two years wrapped. The new headers also sits closer to the frame and fuel lines. The wrapping and different header location evidently saved me from vapor lock on earlier trips. The day became a series of driving until the line was vapor locked and sitting beside the road for half an hour with the bonnet up in 100 degree plus weather.
I have a infra red temperature meter along so I started taking readings. The rear fuel tank wall was 126 degrees. The low pressure electric fuel pump body was 137 degrees and the high pressure fuel pump was a little over 140 degrees. The fuel line ran on top of the frame, past the exhaust header then up stainless steel tubes to the injection tubes. I have insulating wrap around the fuel line where it passed by the exhaust headers about 4 inches to the side. The outside of the insulation by the headers as about 170 degrees as was the steel fuel pipes that go up the engine side at the front. Some times I measured this to be just shy of 200 degrees. Looks like I'm going to have to figure out a better fuel routing system and possibly how to convert a Series rear fuel tank into a baffled tank with internal fuel pump. Zowie! I'm not looking forward to figuring this one out. By starts and stops throughout a 104 or higher day we finally made it to the Valley of Fire State park camp ground well into the night. Not a remotely pleasant day but I got a lot of data and a lot of reading done.
Day 3: Valley of Fire to Zion
Our Valley of Fire camp site in the predawn light
The day started with spectacular sunrise colours on the valley's red rock formations and the temperatures rapidly reached well over 100 degrees.
Dawn's first light on the rocks. The colours change rapidly
close up of the above interesting rock when the sun light hit it.
For just a few minutes the morning sun reflected off the rocks gave them a fire like glow
And soon afterwards they lost their inner fire glow. At dawn this state park is very well named.
We all wanted to tour the park and knew that trying to make miles in the Green Rover in these temperatures would be an exercise in futility. So we all piled into Linus's Dormobile and toured the park.
Me taking a picture in the rocks. Photo by Linus Tremaine
Afterwards we sat around, alternately napping and pouring jugs of water over ourselves waiting for the temperature to cool down. Late in the afternoon we gave up on waiting for the temperature to get below 100 degrees and decided to had out anyway and see how far we could get. We almost made it the 28 miles back to the freeway before vapor lock had us side lined again. This time I decided to see if we could do better if the bonnet were off. So the bonnet got moved to the roof rack and the spare to the back inside of the Dormobile. That ended the vapor lock for the rest of the day. We went into St. George for dinner at the Crate & barrel (Linus's favorite!) then continued on to Zion where we settled in for the night in a Zion campground.
Day 4: Zion to Coral Pink Sand Dunes State Park
We spent the morning into the afternoon touring Zion on the shuttle bus and taking a couple of the shorter trails.
On the way out of the park we saw some big horn sheep
Parked taking pictures on the way out of Zion. Photo by Linus Tremaine
Later that afternoon we drove over to Coral Pink Sand Dune Utah state park. Yes the sand is indeed pink. I'm bringing a bag of the sand home to see if I can match the jpegs with the sample of sand. The sand is a very fine grain and feels nothing like beach sand. A worth while detour to a place where I had not previously visited. We got a little light rain but not enough to get out rain gear.
Our camp site at the Coral Pink Sand Dunes park
Linus took some night pictures of our camp site
Headlights shining on The Green Rover. Photo by Linus Tremaine
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