Let’s get ready to rally(sprint)

The good news is we’re racing this weekend! The bad news? Well, that IS the bad news if you’re our competition!

(Given that Paul Hartl is rallying his Trabant to Mongolia we have taken on his smack-talk role this one time. And honestly, you should probably go read his blog first and then come back here if you have time, but whatever – it’s your life).

Following our ‘tied-for-best-ever’ 10th place at Lanark we were pumped to race at Galway and see how we could improve the times we got with the Lada. However, events conspired and it was not to be, so instead we are racing at a Rally Sprint. It’s basically like very short special (aka competition) stages strung together, so it is still a race on gravel and dirt and etc. We’ve never done one because there has never BEEN one in Ontario before, so this will be an exciting first to be a part of.

To get ready we did have to do a few things though. Since Lanark we quietly worked away at our ‘to do’ list. That included:

– Modify flange end of turbo oil line so it fit snugly to head (hopefully ending oil leak there)

o We had a rounded flange on the line that goes into the head from the turbo and that kept the line from fitting snugly. So, we removed the line, ground the side of the flange flat, and then re-attached it. Easy, but nerve-wracking because if there’s a problem with the thread in the head then we have to either heli-coil it – which would be even more nerve-wracking and probably not advisable – or put a new head and gasket on, which we really didn’t want to do.

– Remove thermostat housing and RTV it , then top it up (so far has ended coolant leak there; it was leaking when sitting and now it isn’t, so that’s good)

– Top up all fluids (wiper fluid and brake fluid all good; all others needed some but only oil was significantly down – see ‘leak fixes’ above)

– Clean motor and get all external fluids off the motor so we can see what IS still leaking


Even the skid plate was clean. Pro tip: BBQ cleaner.


o Appears shifter is still leaking. Will fix when transmission is rebuilt. Which will be…eventually

– Replace thermostat sensor so temp gauge works again

– Install shift light – because race car


– Install second fuel pump in sender unit


o This included sourcing check valves – thanks Ziggy for ordering them! – and running more wires, putting in a DSM and a Subaru Walboro 255, realizing they were slightly different and ordering another DSM unit, installing that, fixing the sender unit cover gasket (which we made ourselves, so, well, you know) and then putting it all back together. Both pumps work individually and we can switch on the fly, so that’s great.


  • Install solid shifter base mounts and drill out snapped bolt so we can use all 4
  • Install front camber bolts so maybe now we’ll have some
  • Replace front drivers turn signal (it was cracked and you know how those concours judges are)
  • Install roof vent (we may have already mentioned that)


– Re-attach front bumper pass side

– Adjust transmission now that shifter is mounted solidly

– Cosmetic fix: attach the switch panel in the centre of the dash more securely

So we got everything done as of Saturday plus the skid plate back on, gravel tires with rear scrapers back on, spare tires in car, spare parts in bin near car, extra fluids in milk crate beside car, and then figure we’d better start it to double-check the shifter adjustment. And…nothing. Secondary fan – wired direct – comes on but that’s it. Mild panic. Take cosmetically improved panel out; now looks like crap and still no power anywhere. Try jumping battery. Nothing. Try with Jeep because the shop charger isn’t trustworthy. Nothing. Check support network: cell phone dead and no charger for that. Consider hooking phone to shop charger. Saturday ended with a car that couldn’t move under its own power but otherwise 100% ready for a rally being pushed back into its spot at ORF. Perfect. It ran beautifully up until the last day we planned to work on it, of course.

As this was a cause for some concern we went up Tuesday night to check it. And…it’s fixed. It turns out the cosmetic fix was the problem. That or the complete incompatibility between driver and electricity. See, in order to attach the plastic outer center console to the metal inner center console screws were used. That’s normally fine, but because we have a completely custom fabricated (aka piece of metal we found lying around and made fit) switch holder some of the posts of the switches hit the mounting spots. That’s fine until there are metal screws in those mounting spots. Then they apparently make contact and blow the ignition fuse in the engine bay. Then nothing works because you aren’t doing the equivalent of turning the key to position 1.

Here’s what all that goodness looks like. See the metal screws on the right? There’s one on the left bottom also. Now they are covered in electrical tape.




Here’s what the driver looked like.


Here’s what the co-driver did.


And then it worked! So that’s good to know. And except the cosmetic fix resulted in 2 people spending an extra 90 minutes puzzling over the car and the panel now looks even worse than before, we’re ready. We do have a plan to fix that panel up good, though, and we’ll attempt to execute that over the winter.

But for now we’re excited to be racing! Hopefully we’ll have some video and action shots this time.


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