Sunday, 23 September 2012

Moroccan Rally 2012 completes successfuly!

As we drove down the mountainous off road route to Smara in the Western Sahara avoiding the occasional land mine marked out with rocks on the ground, we knew this rally would be another unique and explosive adventure.

The Moroccan Rally 2012 was successfully completed on Saturday 22nd September. It was a truly epic adventure that lasted 15 days and saw us travel 5,633 miles (9,013 KM).

On our previous adventure, the Moroccan Road Trip 2010 we managed to get from London to the southern tip of Europe, Algeciras where we catch our ferry to Africa, in 48 hours. We had to beat this record and came very close on our way down to Morocco, but only managed to meet the record and do the drive in 48 hours again. On the way back, we pushed the odds to the limit and managed it in 44 hours and 20 minutes, this includes our ferry from Calais to Dover. Although Red, our Land Rover, only has a top speed of about 55mph (and much slower if going up hill), we managed to beat it through some persistent power driving through Europe.

The adventure in Morocco and the Western Sahara was another incredible journey for us. We covered most corners of Morocco and the Western Sahara from east to west and north to south.

We shared many a cup of Moroccan tea with the locals, whether it was someone we bumped into in the road, met in a shop or someone who was welding or repairing our car, everyone from all walks of life welcomed us and shared some of that infamous tea that seems to be the foundation of any social occasion in Morocco.

We're also thrilled to have raised over £1,200 for the Mercy Corps and have raised the most amount in a single rally for them. This is not possible without everyone who donated whatever amount they could afford, the support we've had really was overwhelming.

This rally suffered a major setback in June 2012, when we first launched, due to engine failure in France. However, we managed to get the rally on track thanks to the help and support of some incredible people. When we first broke down in the south of France, Drew Brown gave us a place to stay for the night and gave up his Sunday afternoon and night to help us try and get Red back on the road. When we realised Red was not going to get back on the road, Drew looked after Red for us for a couple of months before starting Red's journey back to the UK. He also helped us locate a replacement engine for Red, something quite essential!

Mark Granger, at very short notice, helped us continue Red's journey to the UK just two weeks before our scheduled re-launch date. This saw Mark and Alex drive over 1,500 miles, departing on Friday evening from the UK and go to France to pick up Red. The car was returned on Sunday morning to Red's UK service centre facility hosted by the Desert Bunnies.

Moss of the Desert Bunnies and Lewis from the Rusty Rhinos Ground Crew, helped us get the replacement engine into Red and by the end of the week we had a working Land Rover once again. The time that Moss and Lewis have put into helping us with Red made this adventure possible again.

We must also thank Chris and Kai at PebbleTrack for continuing to provide us with the vehicle tracking facility that you see on our website during our rally. The vehicle tracking has become a rally essential and many of our followers use it to check out where we are in real-time.

This time we also had a special sponsor, Ecosse World. Ecosse World made a large donation to the Mercy Corps on behalf of our rally as well as facilitating our crossing to France (via Eurotunnel) and back to the UK (via Ferry) through Motis. Motis very kindly funded both of our English channel crossings, something that we really appreciated.

The support didn't end there, Jim from Ecosse World, also spread the word of our rally, this resulted in numerous donations to the Mercy Corps. We are incredibly happy to have had Ecosse World as our sponsor.

As with previous adventures, we have a vast amount of video and photos that will be uploaded to the website. In the meantime, we will leak some photos onto our Facebook page. Remember to like us on Facebook to get the latest Rusty Rhinos update.

Friday, 7 September 2012

Final blog post prior to Moroccan Rally 2012 departure

We're only a matter of hours away from our re-launch on the Moroccan Rally 2012. Everything is in order, Red is packed and good to go, all of our last minute checks have been carried out and we are now awaiting our final supper, a pizza!

Our website will continue to be updated whilst we are on the road with our latest news. Of course you'll also be able to track us via our live map too.

We are very encouraged by the additional donations we've had today, we can't wait to set off to the Sahara!

Thursday, 6 September 2012

Thanks to Motis, we'll be taking the ferry home

We're going out from the UK to France on the Eurotunnel but arrangements hadn't been finalised for our return to the UK, until now that is.

Jim at Ecosse World, our Moroccan Rally 2012 sponsor, has been very vocal about our adventure. Ecosse World have funded our outbound trip on the Eurotunnel, but now we also have a sponsor for our return journey from France to the UK. Motis!

Motis, have very kindly supported our return journey to the UK and will be arranging our ferry crossing nearer the time when we get to Calais.

Motis is one of the most progressive shipping companies in Europe with over 1000 customers throughout the E.U. Their network covers over 450 Freight Ferry Routes, Motorway Tolls throughout Western Europe, Alpine Tunnels, Rolling Highways, Truck Parking and Freight Insurance.

We are incredibly please and grateful to have Motis sponsoring our return journey. Thanks to Motis for their sponsorship in support of our Moroccan Rally 2012.

Wednesday, 5 September 2012

Latest news and the Eurotunnel

In our first attempt of the Moroccan Rally 2012 launch in June we took the ferry. However this time we will be taking the train thanks to the generosity of our sponsor, Ecosse World, who have bought us tickets on the Eurotunnel for our departure on Saturday.

Ecosse World, being a transport provider, has got us on board the commercial/freight part of the Eurotunnel. It will certainly be an interesting ride for our Land Rover along with all the trucks and vans! It should make a great photo opportunity.

We are thrilled to see the donations are coming back in today and have raised further funds for the Mercy Corps.

Our satellite phone has also arrived today and with less than 72 hours till our departure, everything is ready and in order.

Before our departure on Saturday we'd like to thank our sponsor, Ecosse World, our vehicle tracking facilitators, Chris and Kai at PebbleTrack, our Land Rover Service Centre team, the Desert Bunnies, Lewis part of the Rusty Rhinos Ground Crew, Drew who helped us in France and everyone else who has supported us and made a donation to the Mercy Corps.

We can't wait for Saturday morning and the launch of our 4th adventure.

Monday, 27 August 2012

Moroccan Rally 2012 re-launch set

We are pleased to announce that the Moroccan Rally 2012 re-launch date has been set for Saturday 8th September 2012. Less than 2 weeks away from today.

A monumental effort has gone into making this re-launch possible with less than 3 months since our previous attempt.

We must thank the following people who had made this re-launch possible; Drew Brown for giving us a place to stay when we were broken down in France, for trying to get us back on the road and for starting Red's journey back to the UK; Mark Granger for letting us use his Land Rover Discovery and for driving with Alex all the way to Tours in France at ridiculously short notice to bring Red back to the UK.
An enormous thank you to Moss of the Desert Bunnies for giving up his weekends and evenings on many occasions to help us prepare our replacement engine and rebuild Red.
A massive thanks to Lewis, part of the Rusty Rhinos Ground Crew for all his time helping us prepare Red. Thank you to everyone who has helped us along the way and those around us who have had to be flexible whilst we concentrate on our rally preparations.

Thank you also to Jim of Ecosse World for his continued support on the rally.

Ecosse World continue to be our Moroccan Rally 2012 sponsor.

Ecosse World Express provides logistical solutions for specific markets & industries where speed, reliability, and security are of the upmost importance. Ecosse World Express are specialists in time critical and high value shipments offering a 24/7 on demand service. Services vary from On Board Courier option to express transit full load trailers covering the UK and mainland Europe daily. Visit the Ecosse World website at for all your logistic solutions needs.

Our fund raising effort resumes and whilst we have already raised over £1,100, we hope our recent story encourages those who can to make a donation to the Mercy Corps.

Saturday, 25 August 2012

Red, our Land rover, back in the UK and ready for action

It has been a while since we've posted an update, but Moroccan Rally 2012 re-launch plans have been simmering away.

Drew, who we met in France and had put us up for the night and helped us try to get back on the road had been looking after Red for the last 7 weeks.

We had a plan to bring back Red to the UK on Friday 17th August. Drew had very kindly offered to bring Red back to the UK on a trip he had already planned. He had a trailer and everything was set.

However, during his trip up to England, his trailer suffered two tyre blowouts. The tyre garages did not have stock of the required tyres so he had to continue back to the UK without the trailer and Red. Drew had driven Red as far as Tours in France, shortening the remaining distance home.

Given that we had planned the weekend of the 18th/19th August to get our replacement engine in Red in time for a possible re-launch in early September, we had to react quickly.

Alex, along with friend Mark, hired a trailer on the afternoon of Friday 17th August, caught a late night ferry from Dover to Calais and continued driving onto the tyre garage in Tours, France.

After some non-stop night driving, they arrived around 9am on Saturday 18th August to find Red in the tyre garage on Drew's trailer.

Red was moved across to the hired trailer and was towed back to the UK with Mark's Land Rover Discovery.

Alex and Mark caught the evening ferry from Calais to Dover on Saturday 18th having not yet had any sleep for a day and half.

When Alex and Mark got to the UK, they had a short break before continuing their drive up to the home of the Desert Bunnies which is equipped with all the tools and gadgets one could ever need to service and fix a Land Rover.

Alex and Mark arrived at our special Land Rover service centre on the morning of Sunday 19th August.

Moss (Left) and Mark (Right) can be seen helping Alex get Red off the trailer.

Work then began on our engine swap out. Our old and failed engine was hoisted out of Red with little difficulty.

Left: Moss of the Desert Bunnies. Right: Lewis, part of the Rusty Rhinos ground crew.

Work continued on a very hot Sunday afternoon taking off parts we needed from the old engine and fitting them onto our replacement.
As we took the sump off the old engine we realised how terminal it was. Bits of shredded bearings can be seen in the pictures below.

Once our replacement engine build was completed we hoisted it back into the Land Rover. This was certainly not as simple as removing the old engine and we spent the next two hours into the Sunday evening manoeuvring the engine using rather creative techniques. Eventually, with the help of what can only be described as a Knight's wooden lance, we secured the engine into place.

We continued working on Red into the evening and got quite a bit of work completed but we were not in a position to start up Red as we had hoped but we weren't far off.

Alex resumed working on Red on Saturday 25th August, this included fitting a new oil pressure gauge that can help us predict oil related engine failures before they become terminal. We believe that the oil pump had failed on our previous engine causing the catastrophic failure.

Red was finally started up today and taken for a test drive, there were no problems and performance was better than ever. We are now at a point where we can declare Red as rally ready once again! We look forward to announcing our re-launch date shortly!

Monday, 2 July 2012

Replacement engine acquired for Red

We've had some rapid progress since our last post. Red, our Land Rover, is still due back in the UK in August, but we're wasting no time in getting an engine ready.

Drew put us in touch with someone who was prepared to sell their engine for our Moroccan Rally 2012.

The engine being loaded up

Moss and Alex had the day off on Friday to go and collect the engine.

Moss from the Desert Bunnies driving our engine back to base

And here is our replacement 2.25L petrol engine that will be powering Red through to the Western Sahara.


Once unloaded, Moss and Alex inspected the engine, the result was very pleasing indeed. The engine is in good condition and will be good to go once we've finished servicing it. Our service will include fitting a brand new Land Rover original oil pump and replacing the gaskets.

Moss (left) and Alex (right) examining the engine

Up close with our new engine