Let’s Off Road

13 July 2010

Steve Curley from the London Fire Service had heard about the expedition and kindly hooked us up with our hosts for the day at The Wright Event. http://www.thewrightevent.co.uk/driver-training

The morning began in the classroom, to get understanding of how four wheel drive systems work, before getting the chance to experience some extreme off road conditions!

Steve and Ross had recently completed mechanics courses and impressed our instructor, Monty, with their sharp responses to some questions.  Show offs.  We were shown how “differentials” control wheel speed and were tested on how many wheels would be in use in various scenarios, with diff lock on or off.

Monty continued with useful tips in how to deal with difficult off road driving situations, like ridges, ditches, ruts, and failed hill climb recovery. This important piece of theory could save us from getting into serious trouble when reaching some of the more remote parts of the journey, like Mongolia and Russia http://www.followthatfireengine.com/news/about/the-expedition-route/ Ian from The Wright Event then tested and demonstrated how Martha’s off road ability could used most efficiently.

After a short break it was time for some off road driving!!  The morning was all about trying to stay out of trouble.  We started by practising the stalled ascent, where we had to regain control as quickly as possible, reversing back down a steep hill in full control.  We then moved on to some extreme off road, where we learnt to go against our natural reaction to break, and use the accelerator as main point of control.  It seemed strange at first, to turn into the direction you were trying to steer away from, but it was an important method for regaining control.  Using a low gear ratio showed us how to let the power of the engine do the breaking, when approaching the steepest descents under complete control.

In the afternoon we learnt how to use the recently fitted winch kindly supplied by Asset Co.  We hope this won’t be required on too many occasions, but is a very important piece of kit!  Some more theory to get familiar with how this may be used and discovering how best to work with the resources available.

The team then spent some time using the ground anchor and winch to recover the fire engine from a nearby field.  The winch team, led by Ben at the anchor, Paul at the wheel, and Steve at winch control, successfully pulled Martha up the 20 metre slope. Paul, our coach, said we needed to use hand signals more to develop a communication strategy, but since it was the first attempt, we had done very well!!

It was a fun day and great to learn some techniques which are sure to help get through this challenge. Thank you to all for sharing your time and experiences.
The expedition commences on Sunday 18th July in Greenwich 12noon!! http://www.followthatfireengine.com/news/featured/we-depart-london-on-july-18th-longitude-zero/

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