A small DOT in the landscape - A story from Kelsang
Hi I'm Kelsang, product designer at Hookie and Days On Tracks. Today I will write a short story about why a roof rack is the ideal roadtrip companion and how it brought Lada at least trough the Balkan.
Smallest rack in the bloc
Having build several DOT roof rack systems digital in CAD it was only a matter of time until I, would set out to utilise my version of this incredible system.
My vehicle is a roadtrip proven Lada 2106 from 1984 with a powerful 1500cc carburettor engine and 75 horses on a good day. My brother and I acquired it in the start of the corona pandemic in early 2020 to learn wrenching on cars. We already had some knowledge from fixing family vehicles but never undertook a big project like restoring a whole vehicle. In the upcoming year we brought it up to speed with a new suspension and breaks as well as a engine overhaul. The endeavour was completed with a roadtrip to Bulgaria in the summer of 2021 to test the assembly. Fortunately all went well, nothing broke.
Why a roof rack?
While on our first journey, space was a problem. When you try to cram a little workshop plus your camping gear and stuff for three people in an old easternblock limousine, it becomes tightly packed. So for the second roadtrip we wanted to have more space and the possibility to carry larger cargo. The plan was to restore some of the expensive parts of the car, I set out to buy them cheap in Bulgaria and bring them home, mainly the chrome bumpers, maybe more. Furthermore, I wanted to increase interior space for the passengers. After all the originally italian designed Lada is a comfortable car for the time.
If you look up roof racks for a Lada you either get dull plastic trimmed modern racks or the very old and rusty roof racks of the soviet era. Both of which don’t particularly suit well for a functional classic ride. So with the dot system and some dark gray Itemprofiles I managed to build a very sturdy roof rack onto this old machine. In fact it feels so sturdy it might as well function as roll cage.
A problem that was solved very elegant as well was noise. Normally, with conventional systems you would have wind noise from your rack and the straps that secure the load. In this case there was no noise at all as well as no increase to fuel efficiency, maybe because the car is a driving brick so it doesn’t matter, I don’t know.
The Trip was split into two parts. The first of which was to get from Dresden, Germany to Burgas, Bulgaria. I wasn’t involved as I flew with my girlfriend to Burgas to visit the family. My brother and a friend of ours would take over for this trip. Unfortunately it didn’t went as well as the last time. Because of a old battery that broke near the boarder to Romania the trusty ol’ Lada would stall every time it had to hold. The hot climate of August didn’t do well for the carburettor as well since it was tuned for the cold German weather. A very exhausting night and some kilometres into Bulgaria they managed to get the battery replaced and came all the way to the Blacksea coast in Burgas.
Having a good place to stay and two weeks of time I decided to visit the local Lada shaman to get the carb sorted out. Definitely one of my better ideas since the car would now run as good as never before and be more economic at it as well!
For the second part we went into the Balkan. Starting from Bulgaria we went into northern Macedonia to the Lake Ohrid. Some lovely and relaxing days later we made our way into the, admittedly, very hot Albania and Tirana. Followed by Montenegro and Bosnia. After entering the EU again we quickly made our way back to Germany. As a whole the Balkans took us 16 days. Places I want to visit again are definitely Montenegro and Bosnia as both are beautiful countrys with very welcoming people.