What to do if there is no AAA
My wife is a pretty good sport about most things. She puts up with my love of comic books, 19 years of a cat that wanted her out of the relationship, and me (on more than one occasion) announcing I have purchased something expensive and in dubious condition off the internet. One thing she does not enjoy is breaking down on the side of the road. Ask her about the 4th of July weekend we were supposed to spend at Crater Lake, and you will be met with an eye-roll, a trip to the fridge for a fresh beer, and a story about many, many long hours waiting in the hot sun for a tow truck to come get us.
When I announced my intention to drive from London to Mongolia this summer, the first words out of her mouth were, "You know that AAA won't come and rescue you, right?"
I have to admit, she has a point.
The total failure rate of vehicles on the Mongol Rally runs pretty close to 33%, with almost 100% of vehicles suffering some form of mechanical failure. It is a rare rallyer who can claim nothing more exciting than needing an oil change over the 10,000 mile journey.
So the quest was on to get some spare parts for the van. Unfortunately, there appears to be a worldwide shortage of parts for my particular vehicle. While a large number of teams have signed up to take a Nissan Micra on the trip (with parts available all across Europe and Asia), I have selected a Bedford Rascal which does not even show up on the most robust of car part search fields. That meant I was going to have to be creative.
I started prowling Gumtree, Craigslist, and eBay for Rascals I could tear apart. Mind you, I have no place to tear apart a second vehicle, let alone much knowledge of how to do it in the first place. But the thought of being stuck by the side of the road in Uzbekistan with a fried motor was starting to worry me. After being outbid on a few vehicles and laughed at by a couple of owners I stumbled across a curious listing on eBay. For 95 pounds sterling I could purchase the locking wheel nut off a Rascal from the same year as mine. Now, I may be dumb, but I'm not stupid. That is way too much to pay for a nut!
I read the fine print and it turns out the listing was from a breaker who had a Rascal he was pulling apart. A few emails were exchanged and I had my wishlist of car parts. So, on the 4th of July I will be pulling up to his wrecking yard where he will hand over a complete engine, starter motor, alternator, two front springs and four wheels (with tires). That should be enough spare parts to cover most emergency repairs. Plus I don't have to deal with the added stress of figuring out what to do with a mostly-decomposed car sitting in someone's driveway!
So with a little under two months to go I have a vehicle, a good number of spare parts, my visas, and a route! I call that progress!