Rally Trip Report Day 4 - By Seat Safety Switch

Wednesday
A lot of people will tell you that, based on cartoons, roosters greet the dawn and then shut the fuck up.

I'm not sure how that theory got started, because I am awoken at five in the morning by a rooster that won't stop crowing. I get ready for the day, slowly growing to accept the concept of spending more precious minutes of my life in the pseudorural armpit of Pemberton BC.

In the light of day, the murder hostel isn't that bad. It's got friendly goats, beautiful weather, a little dog, and a bunch of cats, which really liked Cool Ranch for some reason.

In the light of day, the murder hostel isn't that bad. It's got friendly goats, beautiful weather, a little dog, and a bunch of cats, which really liked Cool Ranch for some reason.

I start to wonder if maybe staying here forever isn't quite so bad. Then I stop standing in the exhaust cloud left behind by Cool Ranch's cold idle and my thoughts become clearer.

Overnight it has developed that Kyle's dad has picked up Kyle's F-150, taken it to Slung Blade's dad's place, grabbed up a flatbed car trailer and began cannonballing the entire assembly all the way to BC. I am impressed at how handily the old-guy contingent has outmaneuvered us young bucks.

After a hearty pancake breakfast in the murder hostel's rec cabin, we reverse the previous day's shuffle activities.

In order to thank the people at the Pemberton NAPA for their hospitality we decide to take a look and see if there's any junk we can buy. I am sorely tempted to pick up this Man-Sized jug of brake cleaner.

In order to thank the people at the Pemberton NAPA for their hospitality we decide to take a look and see if there's any junk we can buy. I am sorely tempted to pick up this Man-Sized jug of brake cleaner.

Before I get a chance to get too accustomed to the twisties of rural BC while listening to Eurobeat blaring over the 10-speaker Celica surround sound system, my role as taxi driver comes to an end.

Both Kyle and Kelly greatly enjoyed their time in the Celica, from its brutal torque to its opulent comfort to its copious storage to its general lack of 120dB piercing rotor noise allowing you to have a conversation without the aid of a cabin-mounted radio system.

Now that the entire party is back together at the NAPA, a new problem arises: how do we get Sweet Chili Heat out to the street so it can be picked up by McTinkerdad?

Pushing doesn't move it, the toe is too extreme to overcome the tire scrub.
Sweet Chili Heat doesn't have enough torque to overcome the tire scrub either.
I volunteer the Celica. Kyle says "I don't think the Celica has enough torque to tow the RX7."
 

The Celica has enough torque to tow the RX7.

With McTinkerdad approaching, we decide to leave Kyle and Kelly behind with Sweet Chili Heat's shattered form in Pemberton to spend an entire day. The last we see of them is their lonely forms crossing the railroad tracks, preparing themselves for an exciting 24 hours in BC's most aspirational town.
 

As for Cool Ranch and us, we are on the way to Whistler.

As for Cool Ranch and us, we are on the way to Whistler.

The drive to Whistler is largely uneventful. I use my right foot judiciously, and let the 5SFE eat. If we can't make Tofino, we can at least make the coast.

Hours later, we roll into the ferry terminal in Vancouver.

Tidewater!!!!

Tidewater!!!!

In honour of our fallen friend, we dedicate one of Sweet Chili Heat's shattered fender mirrors to Poseidon.

In honour of our fallen friend, we dedicate one of Sweet Chili Heat's shattered fender mirrors to Poseidon.

After a quick scrum it is decided that we must get out of Vancouver immediately.

It is Wednesday. It is two PM. How bad can Vancouver traffic possibly be at two PM on a Wednesday?  

It is Wednesday. It is two PM. How bad can Vancouver traffic possibly be at two PM on a Wednesday?
 

The next few hours of going down the TCH are a blur. I probably came close to heatstroke a few times, consuming our entire quantity of water as I worked the temperature dial to make sure that the engine would stop overheating on the heat-soaked pavement in this rush-hour furnace.

At last, we make it to clear traffic, and Chilliwack, where we stop for sushi.

I will never take Chilliwack for granted ever again. As far as I'm concerned, that town is Christ Jesus, and not just because there was some kind of weird muscle-car/ricer-car event going on at the moment which gave birth to this Z-car.

I will never take Chilliwack for granted ever again. As far as I'm concerned, that town is Christ Jesus, and not just because there was some kind of weird muscle-car/ricer-car event going on at the moment which gave birth to this Z-car.

After driving for a few more hours, I decide to spring for a hotel in Kamloops, because I want a hot tub.

After driving for a few more hours, I decide to spring for a hotel in Kamloops, because I want a hot tub.

We receive word of the successful pickup of Sweet Chili Heat around this time. In fact, not only did they pick it up successfully, but they already passed through Kamloops on the way back to Alberta. We missed them by about a half hour.

Obviously, tomorrow we would have to drive much faster.

Rally Trip Report Day 3 - By Seat Safety Switch

Tuesday
We awaken in Merritt to a lake outside the motel and a large oil slick spreading across its surface, thanks to Cool Ranch.
The order of the day today is to drive up Highway 99 ("The Duffy") and ideally reach Whistler or similar before the end of the day. After a hearty breakfast care of the in-room kitchens, we gas up and hit the road.

On the way, we stop at a cidery for some reason.

On the way, we stop at a cidery for some reason.

A dog bounds up from the lower fields, regards us, sniffs Sweet Chili Heat and then pisses on its rear wheel and runs away.

A dog bounds up from the lower fields, regards us, sniffs Sweet Chili Heat and then pisses on its rear wheel and runs away.

We stop in Lillooet before hitting Hwy 99.

We stop in Lillooet before hitting Hwy 99.

Lillooet is famous for being one of the first places in BC to get hydro power, thanks to its hilly geography. Behind us is part of I assume a hydroelectric turbine, turned into a statue by the widow of a town councilor.

Lillooet is famous for being one of the first places in BC to get hydro power, thanks to its hilly geography. Behind us is part of I assume a hydroelectric turbine, turned into a statue by the widow of a town councilor.

Once on Highway 99, we immediately ran into some construction. The thing with mountain driving in BC, especially in the less traveled urban parts, is that rockfalls are extremely common. Modern road design is helping to reduce it with the invention of things known as "fences" and "ditches," but you will still hear of a lot of people getting taken out by a boulder.

[The following] pictures were taken by Jason, which you can tell because they are good.
 

These people were here to help prematurely knock the loose rocks off the surface, so they could be picked up by a front end loader below and moved harmlessly out of our way.

These people were here to help prematurely knock the loose rocks off the surface, so they could be picked up by a front end loader below and moved harmlessly out of our way.

Once the flag dropped, we were off to the races. We all got trapped behind this slow-in-corners, fast-on-straights rental Malibu for a long time, but then Sweet Chili Heat passed it and disappeared.

Once the flag dropped, we were off to the races. We all got trapped behind this slow-in-corners, fast-on-straights rental Malibu for a long time, but then Sweet Chili Heat passed it and disappeared.

Highway 99 is extremely technical. We're talking dozens of switchbacks, very tight blind corners, decreasing-radius off-camber turns, the entire lot of what people commonly think of when they think of a challenging mountain drive. Luckily the weather was on our side, and wildlife stayed off the road with the exception of a near-oops with a brown bear on behalf of SCH.

We passed Sweet Chili Heat on the side of the road, stopped in a pullout for an assumed isspay break, and continued on Highway 99 towards Pemberton when Whatsapp lit up.

We passed Sweet Chili Heat on the side of the road, stopped in a pullout for an assumed isspay break, and continued on Highway 99 towards Pemberton when Whatsapp lit up.

Shit.

Shit.

Shit!

Shit!

Shit. Shit. Shit.

Shit. Shit. Shit.

While Kyle was driving, the car started to feel weird. It began to manifest excessive body roll, and then eventually just under-steered off a tight switchback, across the (thankfully empty) opposing lane of traffic and into a road sign. It was a good thing the sign was there, because what you can't see is the deep gully and creek behind it. [ Post Rally investigation: Drivers side rear swaybar link snapped - followed by 4 corners later the drag link buckling.]

We summoned a tow truck driver, who lashed up Sweet Chili Heat and took Kyle and Kelly to Pemberton while we followed, somber.

We summoned a tow truck driver, who lashed up Sweet Chili Heat and took Kyle and Kelly to Pemberton while we followed, somber.

After congratulating Kyle on "perpetuating the white race" (yes) and talking about his time in the military and the Datsuns of his youth, he dropped the car off at the Pemberton NAPA in a swampy part of the yard and sexually harassed the manager on the way out.

After congratulating Kyle on "perpetuating the white race" (yes) and talking about his time in the military and the Datsuns of his youth, he dropped the car off at the Pemberton NAPA in a swampy part of the yard and sexually harassed the manager on the way out.

Later, thanks to the mega-soupy ground, these jackstands collapsed and the car fell over, thankfully with nobody under it.

The diagnosis is pretty bad: both control arms, the drag link, and the idler and pitman arms were all bent or fucked in one way or another. What's more, the NAPA couldn't order in any of those parts, and we were likely to need more, especially with the toe this far out.

For those of you unfamiliar with recirculating-ball steering (as I was), everything in this diagram is fucked.

For those of you unfamiliar with recirculating-ball steering (as I was), everything in this diagram is fucked.

Pulling off the front right wheel made things worse. The SA and FB both have a super-rare 4x110 bolt pattern, and as of right now we had 7 wheels for two cars.

Pulling off the front right wheel made things worse. The SA and FB both have a super-rare 4x110 bolt pattern, and as of right now we had 7 wheels for two cars.

We decided to check the stance while hunting down everyone we knew in the RX7 community. Stance is perfect.

We decided to check the stance while hunting down everyone we knew in the RX7 community. Stance is perfect.

With the sun growing low in the sky and no hope of resurrecting Sweet Chili Heat that evening, we determined that we were going to be stuck in Pemberton. After finding accommodation at a Swiss-Christian Murder Hostel (more on this in a bit), we secured liquor.

Slung Blade got offered drugs by some guy who was standing outside the grocery store and had presumably missed the music festival that had blown through the day before.

Oh yeah, the music festival.

In case you're unfamiliar with the Pemberton Music Festival, as I was, apparently there are some pretty major headliners. Apparently Jay-Z had been where we were just a few days previous, in uckyfay pseudorural BC. The McDonalds had a sign in the window claiming that it was out of both iced tea and Fruitopia.

Morale was low at this point. It looked increasingly unlikely that we would secure parts for Sweet Chili Heat within BC, let alone within the next day, and our already-marginal chances of hitting Tofino were now out the window.

That night, we drank. The next morning brought clarity, and opportunity.

The Swiss-Christian Murder Hostel
Working in shifts, we trucked manpower and gear to a nearby hostel that Kelly found on the internet.
 

As a child, I watched a lot of horror movies. A lot of those horror movies started out in a place like this. Trust me, it looked a lot worse in the dark.

As a child, I watched a lot of horror movies. A lot of those horror movies started out in a place like this.

Trust me, it looked a lot worse in the dark.

Okay, fuck you, we're chicken shits. It was actually super nice although the facility maintenance was a little rustic. Almost none of us were murdered overnight, and they even provided a rec room that we could get hammered on Crown Royal Apple in.

Rally Trip Report Day 2 - By Seat Safety Switch

Monday
We awoke in Nelson, braving the gross campsite shower to prepare ourselves for the day. The previous night's explorations had taught us that a shopping mall was nearby (yes, the campground was in the town centre - no, I don't know why) and it featured A&W and a drug store. With credits like that, I was set.

There was just one problem: it was pretty early and we didn't want to anger everyone within three hundred miles of the campsite by firing up Sweet Chili Heat.

I find it difficult to express with mere words how loud Sweet Chili Heat is when you're standing next to it. Let me try again, however: when you are standing five car lengths back your teeth vibrate at a different frequency than your gums and it is all too tangible.

The group assembles and pushes Sweet Chili Heat out of the campsite so it can fire up on the street. Our neighbouring campsite's leader, a mom with her young children, comes out to see what all the commotion is. A silent shrug, a curious expression.

I say: "it's very loud." A Honda Civic rips up the road with a fart can exhaust past me.

Confusing the Civic for the Sweetest of Meat Heats, she begins to say "it's not that b" and the rest of it is drowned out by Sweet Chili Heat's massive streetport awakening on a cold start at the bottom of the hill, almost a block and a half away, through an apartment building. Birds flee the trees. A guy sleeping in a hammock falls onto the cold earth. An air raid siren temporarily fires, then is drowned out by someone applying the clutch in Sweet Chili Heat.

We decide to hand out some gifts. Sweet Chili Heat gets a pretty bicycle tassel so that we can find it in our rear view mirror.

We decide to hand out some gifts. Sweet Chili Heat gets a pretty bicycle tassel so that we can find it in our rear view mirror.

Sweet Chili Heat buys some stickers for Cool Ranch.

Sweet Chili Heat buys some stickers for Cool Ranch.

We get a Barbie to go with our dollar-store Pikachu wand.

We get a Barbie to go with our dollar-store Pikachu wand.

A trip to the drug store secures some muscle relaxants for me, and we begin our voyage to Nakusp.

Nakusp and I have a history. The last time I went there, it was in search of a clean Z31 300ZX shell. Long story short, it didn't end well and I believed the place to be somehow cursed.

Maybe it was too many Stephen King stories as a kid, or the discovery of how comedic timing and karmic redemption often worked hand in hand, but I was never one for "mere coincidences." My heart palpitates as we head towards Nakusp, fearing cosmic retribution for my hubris.

We arrive in Nakusp without incident. The Celica is awesome on these backroads, and my newly-relaxed back is letting me exploit its shitbox Chinese no-seasons to their utmost. Those very tires howl on every corner exit and chatter on every hard braking episode, and I am having a pretty good day.

Welcome to Nakusp, the town's sign says. Maybe make sure you don't set anything on fire while you're here.

We end up at a gas station, where the store's talkative clerk oscillates between sales tax fraud and neighborhood gossip. After filling up, we head down the highway towards the ferry that will return us to a major highway.

We end up at a gas station, where the store's talkative clerk oscillates between sales tax fraud and neighborhood gossip. After filling up, we head down the highway towards the ferry that will return us to a major highway.

The ferry isn't so bad. No bathroom on this one, but also no dripping melange of carnage from the mouth of The Hellica. It's at this moment that I first notice a white Mazda3 that has trouble with corners and the abstract concept of acceleration. Trapped on the ferry, I helplessly watch it crawl out of the last passing zone we'll see for almost an hour.

On the way off of the ferry, there's an off-camber, decreasing-radius 20 kph corner. Cool Ranch does a skid. Reportedly, a little poop came out.

It's hot. In the ensuing convoy, the Celica overheats multiple times, requiring a constant gauge sweep and fast hands on the cabin-temperature dial. We keep pushing.

Almost two hours later, the road finally widens enough to put the hammer down and safely pass the Mazda3. At one point we counted nearly thirty cars (the contents of two ferries) riding behind this woman, unable to safely pass in time due to the near-gridlock of its procession.

We stop at a Carls Jr in Vernon to try and rehydrate, get some food in us. None of us are in much of a mood for jovialty. Things get worse when we try to key-on the Celica and it won't chooch. We can drive it, but it wouldn't hold an idle and nothing resembling power is coming out.

Fuck. Is it heat soaked?

After a few more attempts the Celica approaches something functional. We kill everything unnecessary on the electrical system and plan to hit the highway, hoping the increased airflow over the no-doubt-clogged rad will cool down the car. A raincloud hangs over the horizon and I begin to pray to the shade of Soichiro Honda for rain.

I am still surprised we made it over the mountain. Through Slung Blade's watchful operation and bravery, the car actually makes it to Kelowna. During rush hour. In thirty-degree boiling-pavement heat-soaked weather. It is here that our luck runs out.


Just as the first small drops of rain begin to fall on the hood of the Celica, it rumbles to a stop, dead, in stop-and-go downtown traffic. Quelling our panic, we manage to restart the car eventually and limp it to the closest parking lot. For whatever reason, the Celica is now dead.

What's not getting there: air, fuel, spark? The Dorito teams arrive, and we discuss the necessaries. Eventually a consensus emerges: it is probably the fuel filter, since we never changed it. In fact, I have no idea where the fuel filter is, otherwise I would have noticed it by now.

It's here.

It's here.

While McTinkerson runs to get a fuel filter from a nearby Canadian Tire, Slung Blade and I begin to dismantle the car, producing an immense mass of Toyota parts in the spot next to us. I begin to notice there is a Smart Car constantly driving around us, the girl on board eyeing us up in the way that underpaid and untrained loss compliance officers do.

As we wrench, I consider the Sparks Corn Barn across the street. At one point a small box truck approaches it, loads something into the truck, and leaves. CSIS dead drop. It has to be.

As we wrench, I consider the Sparks Corn Barn across the street. At one point a small box truck approaches it, loads something into the truck, and leaves. CSIS dead drop. It has to be.

With an hour's worth of cursing and wrench-turning the old fuel filter comes free. It is completely dry on the output end and clogged with mud on the input end. I think back to the rural uckyfay gas station in Nakusp.

The Celica's first tentative fawn-like steps are successful. We are back on the road against all odds. It is dark, it is hot, and we are tired and thirsty. An executive decision is made: we will head over the Merritt Parkway into Merritt and secure a hotel.

Why a hotel? Sweet Chili Heat is so loud as to violate the "quiet hour" statute of almost all public and private campgrounds, and by the time we get to Merritt it will be well past the aforementioned hour.

On the Parkway, Sweet Chili Heat treats us to a series of fireballs via its copious exhaust. I find myself cheering along, excited to be living the fantasy of this event. Brap brap brap brap brap brap.

We pull into Merritt and end up in a nicely renovated motel.

Let me tell you about what kind of town Merritt is.

I'll retire there.

I'll retire there.

Rally Trip Report Day 1 - By Seat Safety Switch

Day 1 - Sunday
We started the rally at almost exactly 240,000 km on the odometer of the Hellica.

Sweet Chili Heat was fully stocked.

Sweet Chili Heat was fully stocked.

Cool Ranch was a pretty little princess.

Cool Ranch was a pretty little princess.

After getting breakfast at Lord Slung Blade's Manor, we travelled to the nearby community hall to take pictures. While there, a large dog approached, presumably lured by the sensation of an impending earthquake via Sweet Chili Heat. The dog was friendly, and I believed this to be a good omen for the voyage.

"Gifts" were exchanged, and the Hellica received an Asahi-branded ema, a pair of leopard-print panties, and a Hello Kitty fuzzy sticker.

We traveled across the province of Alberta, passing the Okotoks Erratic down into Black Diamond and beyond, almost to the US border and then into the southernmost parts of BC.

Before leaving Alberta, Tinkerbell decided he qualified as disabled.

Before leaving Alberta, Tinkerbell decided he qualified as disabled.

One of our first obstacles on our way into BC was the winding mountain road leading into Salmo, a small BC town. Eleven to thirteen percent grades combined with the rain letting up conspired to give us our first sign of overheating issues, and Slung Blade expertly moose-tested a juvenile turkey who appeared on the highway.

Upon arriving in Salmo, we were the first in the convoy. This would become a frequent occurrence throughout the trip, as the Hellica just made a shitload more torque and power than the overloaded RX7s.

We waited at the Salmo Esso for a half hour. Nobody appeared. There was no cell coverage on the mountain pass, and our CB aerials couldn't hit anything on our trip channel (which is no surprise - our CB aerial couldn't call across a parking lot, let alone a mountain range).

Finally, we decided to turn back and go and look for our missing companions. We heard Sweet Chili Heat before we saw it, the blaring anal-trumpet of a 12A echoing through the valley.

It turned out that on the long downhill sweeper, Cool Ranch's oversized battery had come loose from its moorings and grounded out the side-post on the flip-up headlights. They had to fix it on the side of the highway, between a truck overrun bay and a precipitous drop into a tailing pond.

We decided to bed down in Nelson for the night, and found a campground in the core of the city.

Our GPS navigation took us down the steepest city street I have ever seen outside of San Francisco, and it was a lucky chance that the rotaries hadn't taken the same path. Sweet Chili Heat in particular would have bottomed out, a stricken magic-Dorito machine trapped forever in a flyover town.

Climbing out of the Celica at the campground, I noted two things:

  • My back hurt,
  • Sweet Chili Heat just woke up every baby in this campground
Unpacking the camp site took awhile.

Unpacking the camp site took awhile.

We slept pretty well that night, bolstered by free beer. Also there was a huge bird fight and a freight train rode past the campground blowing its horn for what felt like an hour. Did I say we slept pretty well? We didn't sleep very well.

T-minus 7 days!

The updates outside of the Something Awful forums have been neglected for too long. There is exactly one week left until we leave for Tofino, BC.

Team Cool Ranch are the first to complete their vehicle. All maintenance has been completed which included oil, plugs, new front brakes including wheel bearings as well as new rear shocks. They have also successfully swapped all of the damaged SA bodywork up front for relatively clean & straight FB bodywork. Their gallery has been updated with recent pictures. As one of the team members has put it. - "This is the nicest car to drive that I own right now."

Team Hellica has been attacking their Celica with a some serious effort in order to rectify the damage done by the previous owner. Some serious maintenance has been completed. New axles, new struts, new timing belt. The list goes on and on. At this point they could tackle the trip no problem but there supposedly is a PA system in the works and they've been hinting at other shenanigans as well.

Team Sweet Chili Heat is technically ready, however there are still a few little things left to complete the "look". Those being wiring up the roof basket light bar as well as covering all the cracks in the dashboard with fake suede.

Both Edmonton Teams plan on leaving for Hellica HQ on July 16 where the last day will no doubt be spent furiously wrenching as well as completing a dry run of all the camping that will be happening for the coming week.

Sweet Chili Heat Update

More images have been added to the gallery.

Text taken from the original SA:AI update post:

"The entire car needs a serious detailing. Then it's on to tackling the rust with Coroseal and Noxudol 900. Followed by wrapping the whole thing in brushed aluminium vinyl among other things.

The engine bay needs a proper once over including the engine itself - there a many many dodgy "temporary" vacuum leak fixes just to get the car running enough to drive it back. All stemming from the rats nest removal / Air pump removal. Such as the wheel stud RTV'd into the intake manifold air control valve port.

The keen eyed readers might have noticed a different hood on the car. One that is in worse shape. Sadly the car made an acquaintance with the shop ceiling while on the hoist with the hood up. Carelessness/urgency on both mine and the shop owners behalf. He is trying to source us a FB hood with a T2 hood scoop..."

"The muffler fell off of it's sole shoddy mount on the way back home. It will soon be replaced with the Magnaflow and better mounts. Hopefully that will prevent it from sounding like a very very pissed off Kazoo.

The brakes aren't great but they do stop the car from 120km/h. Will bleed entire system and revisit. Parts car has better looking booster and master cylinder.
....

The eBay special Russian Domestic Market fender flares fit perfectly. (Once we remove the awful body mouldings.)
We now need to find wheel spacers. Ideally 2.5" wide in 4x110.

Parts not pictured and in our possession: Miata short shifter & rebranded Curt roof basket.
Parts not pictured and in the mail: Delrin engine mounts, Delrin transmission mounts, chrome JDM fender mirrors, NRG neochrome & wood medium dish 350mm steering wheel (we have that Momo hub from the first parts cache purchase).

Total spent on the car all in - that includes tires, safety, everything technically excluded: $900
Parts car value (seriously low-balled): $500..."

General Rally Status Update

Each team is sourcing parts for their vehicles.

Sweet Chili Heat:
Parts car acquired - Parting out has begun and purchase price has already been recouped.

Cool Ranch:
Not dented & creased front end body work acquired from Sweet Chili Heats parts car.
Used wheels and tires acquired.
Front end brake parts ordered as well as new rear shocks.

Hellica:
Detailing in progress. Shift knob acquired.

 

So what's all this about?

Well, I'm getting married in September and because I'm not exactly sane I've decided that my bachelor party should be an unholy abomination comprised of a Top Gear cheap car challenge, an episode of Roadkill and The Smoking Tires All cars go to heaven.

The content of this entire site was taken from my original post on the Something Awful forums (Automotive Insanity).