2004 Land Rover National Rally.
Pictures by Norman Hall [although the camera was sometimes held by Gerard Hall]. Click on pictures to enlarge.
First Trip Out 13th September 2004 - 19th September 2004
It was with some trepidation that I drove off from Castle rock on the morning of Monday 13th September. this shake down trip was to take us south along to I 25 then West to Mesa Verde, passing the Four corners of Colorado, New Mexico, Arizona and Utah, into Monument valley before we headed north along I 191 to reach the 2004 Land Rover National Rally. Whilst I knew that all our work to date had been well thought out and performed adequately, there is always that lingering doubt until you get your truck out there to test it out.
What did I discovery about the Discovery set up from this trip?
The Rovertym RR 4-5 Springs seemed to match up extremely well with the Bilstein 7100 360 / 80 Shocks. I had expected the ride to be somewhat harsh on both the highway and off road. In reality the road ride was extremely comfortable and controlled. Well you have to ignore the noise from the Simex tires and the steering movement as we had not yet addressed the caster and steering issues. Whilst I did not normally get over 75 mph, the car sat still with little suspension sway or drift. Having said this the ride was not harsh and probably as smooth as the standard discovery suspension set up. This was very surprising given that the springs gave a 5 inch lift and the shocks gave far more travel than standard. Suspension travel was smooth off road with little to no bounce experienced. Whilst I was not pushing it off road the suspension gave me a high level of confidence.
The car did not fare as well on the RTI ramp as I had hoped [see pictures below]. We only scored 964 whereas the winner was well over 1000. A few factors affected the performance. Firstly we had not set up the car for maximum articulation but competition but that's no excuse. The wheel base had been reduced from 100 inches down to 98.5. We had not made any adjustment to trailing arms or front radius arms. Caster correction had not yet been effected. We knew of these issues and have planned to fabricate replacement parts to correct these issues. Time was not our friend leading up to the Rally. Standard bump stops are on the Discovery. Unfortunately with the increased wheel travel the rear tires are just coming up and hitting within the wheel arches. An extra 1 inch of bump stop in the rear should fix this. The front of the car does not have a winch or bar on it as yet. Thus the front is very light. When the Discovery went up the ramp the front suspension did not compress very much due to the lack of weight etc. Also the front bushing set up does not allow for as much front axle movement as is needed to take advantage of the suspension. This probably caused the Discovery to stop well short of where it could have gone. These matters will be address in due course so watch the suspension section of the website.
Another positive from the trip was the bobtail. It held together despite what I did to it. The clearances are fantastic. I only touched one rock slider on one occasion and that was when I was being lazy. I really did not need the Slick rock rear bar and sliders but was thankful they were there. I look forward to getting the front bar on with a winch to balance out the Discovery a bit more. Departure angle and approach angles are superb and aided obstacle clearance continuously. Where other vehicles touched we merely glided over.
The fuel tank did not have any leaks or major problems. The only issues were (a) the sending unit does not give accurate readings when off road, particularly when off camber with the RHS of the car higher than the LHS. This is something I can live with. (b) The tank is a little fiddly to fill using the Jeep filler tube. It can be filled but takes time and correct placement of the fuel nozzle.
The discovery lacks power. Whilst the 3.9 performed well, it did suffer from a lack of power when faced with a head wind on the highway. I cannot wait to install the 4.6 once we work it.
The rear differential failed on Double Wammy on Golden Spike trail. Some would argue I destroyed it but lets not go there. Looks like the budget now needs to extend to a Salisbury for the rear. Just do not tell my wife how much they cost.
The above pictures were all taken on Golden Spike Trail with the exception of one which was at Monument valley on our way to the Rally.
The above 3 pictures were taken on the RTI ramp at the twist off which was part of the Vendor night.
I need to point out that Keith Kreutzer [a supposed friend] was tasked with spotting me through many obstacles. He chose [at the insistence of several others] to have some fun at times. He thus sent me through on some very strange approaches to ensure that my vehicle got into some interesting angles as attested to by the above photos. The tip here is to never, never, never trust a mate to spot you when you know he is a stirrer, particularly when lots of cameras are around. Keith I will get you back sometime, count on it!!!!!
Keith requested the following be added to this page as his way of clarification:-
"I would like a caption placed below
the Golden crack pictures : - Ali MADE ME DO IT!
I didn't figure it would go over but it was fun to see the center of gravity