We have had a fun few days in the Eastern desert spotting camels and getting very excited about the changing landscapes.
Salt lake in the desert
It was there that Landy’s clutch problems could no longer be ignored.
She literally ground to a halt in the middle of the Dasht-e-Kavir desert in Eastern / Central Iran. See desert all round the car!
Initially, as it was getting dark, we were towed by a random lorry for about 10kms, to a small village with a lay-by. Embarrassingly I had no idea how to use our winch and my tow rope was rejected, so the boys worked out how to unravel the winch. I later found the electrical gubbins in a box in the dark, but the so and so would not easily tighten up again under power. So for now it is tied up with electrical ties to the front bumpers.
We were abandoned by our friendly lorry after about 20 minutes and I had managed not to bump into him going over the inevitable mountain pass and Reza (our guide) procured another little truck who appeared out of nowhere in the lay-by to tow us 125kms to Damghan.
It was about half the size of Landy but he swore it would cope. He was a bump avoider and so we swayed perilously behind him the 125kms to our hotel. Most of the way I had to keep my foot firmly down on the clutch pedal as the car was making death rattles as it was towed along, even in neutral with the engine off!
There in Damghan, Landy was dumped without ceremony in front of our hotel, which for once was not hidden down some tiny alley.
A friend of the hotel owner came and inspected the car at about midnight and pronounced that it was a clutch failure- maybe at least part of the story! They offered to search for parts and fix it if parts could be sourced. So we went to bed happy. That changed by 9.30am when no parts could be found.
So Jim and I swung into action mode in tandem. Reza was firmly instructed to use our script when calling garages. We found half a dozen garages both nearby and in Teheran for him to call and developed a plan.
I contacted the Overland Sphere website and the ‘Community’ sent me lots of advice, some of which was very helpful.
We finally decided :
1. Procure a low loader to take car and us to Teheran - 350kms
2. Drop Landy off with a mechanic who had agreed to inspect the clutch parts in the morning and pronounce on which parts are required. ‘Diagnosis’
3. Order parts locally, who have most of the parts to hand, commission works and hopefully get under way again.
4. Cancel our Iranian tours for the next 5 days to concentrate on the car.
5. Go and visit the Gallery of Modern Art and Carpet Museum in Teheran which we missed previously.
6. Inform the girls back home.
This would be fine, if we had not only contacted them that morning following our eventful visit to a desert oasis - more below.
After a fab lunch in a traditional mud-built house called Barandaz lodge, we went off in search of a camel ride.
Our guide thought it might be fun to drive up a sand dune on our way to the came man and, not being in 4WD, we got well and truly stuck halfway up. Luckily the village were on hand to help dig us out and to give us instructions on getting clear.
The sand tracks came off the side of the car dear reader and were placed firmly under each tyre. The tyre pressures were reduced (and yes the compressor worked to pump them back up again) before I pulled off with the guys pushing from the rear and weeee down the other side, putting our best Paul Blackburn driver training into use. Jim was told firmly no more sand dunes and sadly no time for a camel!
Litte did we know that three hours later, still in the desert that our Landy and our trip, until she is fixed, would grind to a halt.