Engineers prepare for crazy challenge

Remember the gutsy engineers who set themselves the challenge of driving an ambulance to Mongolia? As if though weeks of intense Engineering exams weren’t enough, George Tuckey, Oli Hampden-Martin, Callum Livingstone and […]


Remember the gutsy engineers who set themselves the challenge of driving an ambulance to Mongolia?

As if though weeks of intense Engineering exams weren’t enough, George Tuckey, Oli Hampden-Martin, Callum Livingstone and Will Sexton have been hard at work planning their big journey.

With the big departure date fast-approaching, we caught up with George to ask how ready they feel to take on such a bold challenge.

Mongolia

What have you done to fundraise up until now?

First of all, we’d like to thank everyone who attended our first event, Post Exams Mongolian Madness. It was a great night and fantastic to see the wealth of support from the other students. Along with our successful crowdfunding campaign, we’ve also done a whole host of other fundraising events including a rounders match, a classic car rally and a dinner. We also auctioned a pair of Nick Mason’s drumsticks with a signed copy of his new Pink Floyd album, plus received backing from the education enhancement and alumni funds. And to top it all off, Oli ran the ABP Southampton Half Marathon in a PB time of under 1 hr 27 mins! So yeah, we’ve done a fair bit.

Where did you get the ambulance and what do you need to do to it before you leave?

After trawling car magazines and autotrader for months, Callum and Will visited eight short listed garages in the first weekend of May before finally purchasing our Land Rover Defender 110, ‘Andy the Landy’. It was a well mechanically maintained highway maintenance vehicle with a large space behind the front seats, which will be perfect for us to modify into an ambulance. The modifications we’ll make are split into two broad categories. The first lot of items will make the vehicle a usable 4×4 ambulance- think mountain rescue type vehicle.

Mongoliaambulance

We’re going to add a load of things in the back to make it capable of handling patients, such as a bespoke stretcher with mounts to fit into the cabin, cabinets for medical supplies, oxygen cylinder racks and an AC supply to allow the doctors to use their electrical equipment.

After the internal modifications we’re going to update some of the mechanical items on-board to ensure we get the vehicle to Mongolia in proper working condition. These changes will mostly take place under the bonnet and the spares are going on the roof rack (that we’ll weld to the roll cage), including things like spare tires, wheels, suspension springs, shock absorbers, glow plugs (it’s a diesel) and fuel hoses.

Finally, if our budget allows it, we’d like to take some sophisticated equipment with us like a defibrillator (used to re-establish the rhythm of someone’s heart) or an oxygen concentrator as these items will really make the vehicle an ambulance. We’re taking advice though on transporting such items across borders as we’ve heard they have caused issues in the past.

Along with all this and the fundraising, we’ve also planned the route, bought visas, had vaccinations and bought insurance among other things.

When are you setting off and how is the route looking?

The official rally start date is 11th July in Belgium, and there are plans for a smaller UK start to happen in London on the 10th. Our route saw several iterations before we arrived at the final version. We’re leaving Belgium on 11th July before travelling through many European countries and arriving at Istanbul on the Black Sea. At this point we’re probably going to do a Mongol Rally first and fly back to England for two days to graduate on 23rd July!

When we rejoin the vehicle, we’ll head dead east to Baku in Azerbaijan on the Caspian sea, and take a ferry across it, before we hit the ‘stans. Turkmenistan, Uzbekistan, Tajikistan, Kyrgyzstan and Kazakhstan will tumble before we enter Mongolia via Russia. We expect the driving to take around six weeks but we’re leaving ourselves plenty of leeway for maintenance.

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Nervous? Any fears on things that could go wrong?

The trip will see us travelling a third of the way around the world, so we are understandably filled with a certain amount of trepidation. There are obviously things that we can’t have already accounted for and so we’ll have to face a number of unexpected challenges. Having said this, we are preparing well and we’re ready to embrace these episodes! But on a personal note I’m scared of breaking down, running out of food and water before being eaten by a pack of wild wolves.

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The lads won a Rag award for their fundraising efforts a couple of weeks back.

Tell us about this last big fundraising event in June…

In a final bid to reach our £15k target, we have organised a winch wakeboarding event at Lakeside Country Park (right next to Wide Lane) on 4th June. The event is a fundraiser, so we’re selling (reasonably priced) tickets. You can buy a social ticket and get Red Bull, jam along to the music, watch the winching and in the evening get entry to Jesters all for £5. A wet ticket includes all the above and additionally winching where you can ride the smooth waters of the lake and hit the obstacles were building, all for £15. We’ll also be selling booze and our awesome Ts made by Supersaturated, which can be bought at the event or at any other time for £10. So if all that takes your fancy then come on down, we’d love to see you! You can register here.

winching

What is winching?

Winching is a form of wakeboarding that doesn’t require a conventional boat or cable park. I love a good project, so last summer I combined my engineering skills with my love of extreme sports and built the winch. I didn’t invent the winch but I did come up with my own design. It’s basically a Honda engine connected to a spool of 250 m of line and some clever gearing all strapped down to a steel frame. Having the winch means we can wakeboard at any time on a free stretch of water, so long as the police don’t come and shut us down!

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Let’s hope the big winch event doesn’t get shut down! Good luck to the lads with their big challenge.