Diary: Day 2 or breakdowns over breakdowns
Last night’s bad news: The car only used 70 watts in the evening hours, a fraction of the expected power. This also explained the low battery level, which we didn’t expect at our speed at the end of the first day. The solution was only found in the early morning hours: After many complicated assessments of the problem were thought through, it was in the end nothing more than a wobbly contact. As a result, only part of the solar cell output was available during the journey. Very annoying! The problem was quickly resolved, and the Huawei Sonnenwagenwas back on the road on time.
Thanks to the timely repair, the atmosphere in the team was excellent. The sun was shining diligently and we were able to drive almost battery neutral, already in the morning hours. Shortly after the control stop the next shock moment was waiting for us. The driver radioed that the engine had switched off and was no longer active. This meant: Staying calm and keeping to the planned procedures in case of an emergency. The error was immediately identified. The AC-DC converter didn’t work, more precisely, the corresponding cable had broken through. The repair took nearly 15 minutes and the Huawei Sonnenwagen was back on the road.
Not only our solar-powered vehicle, but also one of our support vehicles had to take a break at the roadside today. Shortly after leaving the first campsite, the vehicle of the marketing team had a flat tire. But no problem for us engineers! The spare tyre was quickly unpacked and the flat tyre replaced. To the mechanic! Of course, the luxury of German cities is not available here in the outback. The only mechanic on the Stuart Highway was at the next gas station all day long. So weh ad to drive 100km further with a velocity of unfortunately only 80 km/h. In the small town of Elliott we finally found a small workshop. The old gentleman, who ran it alone, has been working there for 47 years as a mechanic. „The next city has 3000 people. It’s too crowded for me there.“ Whether it was his long experience or perhaps the local monopoly on vehicle repairs: changing tyres was definitely expensive!
Something similar happened to our trailer. We had all the spare parts with us, but we didn’t have the right nut to change the tyre. Luckily, there are a lot of teams on the Stuart Highway with a lot of support vehicles accompanying them. Our friends from the Lodz Solar Team saw us on the side of the road, stopped and brought the right tools with them. The boys and girls from Poland were thrilled that we had cool drinks with us, which we were happy to share. These are also nice moments of the Bridgestone World Solar Challenge, off the beaten track!
But we don’t let ourselves get lost, despite breakdowns and delays we have made a good deal of progress and our solar vehicle seems to be more stable than our support vehicles. 9 teams from both classes (Challenger and Cruiser Class) had to already give up the official competition and have switched to the Adventure Class. We have only one goal: to reach Adelaide as soon as possible. And no one will stop us from doing that!