Just starting out...





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  1. #1
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    Default Just starting out...

    Planning Africa Trip 2011

    We are planning a trip through Africa in 2011, probably for 5-6 months, starting around April and heading up the east coast, to and around Uganda (even Ethiopia!), before making our way back through Malawi, Zambia, Bots and Nam.

    We are simply looking for advice on where to start, whom to contact for more information, budgeting tips etc. Currently thinking about getting a Toyota Hilux – but where is the best place to purchase? Accessories? Year? And then there are issues around insurance – car and medical, and so on.

    It’s a big ask – but if you have time to give us some general pointers that would be great. Also, if you have spent some time exploring the continent and have a blog we can read, please send link.

    Throwing it out there!
    Last edited by karistew; 2010/08/31 at 02:48 PM.

  2. #2
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    From what you said I assume you are planning a round trip coming back via Zambia.
    I would then suggest the following route. This is just a general skeleton for a route and you will have to fill in your own extras as far as what you want to do and see.

    Jhb-Beitbridge (Zimbabwe)-Masvingo-Mutare-Manica (Mozambique)-Bandula-Guro-Tete-Zobue-cross into Malawi-Monkey bay-up next to lake Malawi to Karonga-Mbeya (Tanzania)-Iringa-Dar Es Salam-Bagamoya-Segera-Mwanga-Marangu (Kenia)-Mombasa-Malindi-Mtito Andei-Nairobi-Gilgil-Nakuru-Eldoret-Webuye-Tororo (Uganda)-Jinga-Kampala-Masaka-Mbarara-Kabale-Kigale (Rwanda)-Ngara-Cross border into Tanzania-Kibondo-Kasulu-Mpanda-Katavi game reserve-Sumbawanga-Mbala (Zambia)-Kasama-Mpika-Serenje-Kapiri Mposhi-Lusaka-Mumbwa-Kafue National Park-Mongu-Senanga-Sioma-Katimo Mulilo (Namibia)-Rundu-Ondangwa-Ruacana-Epupa Falls-Okagwati-Okandjambo-Sesfontein-Palm-Twyfelfontein-Uis-Karibib-Windhoek-Gobabis-Ghanzi (Botswana)-Maun-Moremi-Chobe-Kasane-Pandamatenga-Nata-Kubu Island-Letlhekane-Serowe-Palapye-Martins Drift (South Africa)-Ellisras-Jhb

    There are a lt of places to go to on this skeleton route like Kilemenjaro, Ngorogoro krater, Lake Victoria, Gorillas, sjimpansees, etc. Thes you will have to fill in and change the route to include all those things.
    You can contact Dave van Graan at Masezane expeditions ([email protected]) in Louis Trichardt. He can give you a lot of information about routes, accomodation and costs.
    Make sure your insurance covers you in all the countries as well as repairs, repatriation of vehicle, emergency accomodation, etc. An insurance like Tuff Stuff covers you in all the countries south of the equator including the whole of Kenia but excluding Angola and covers all of the above.
    It is always better to travel with at least 2 vehicles. To do such a trip solo is doable but not advisable.
    Essential equipment is tent, bed, bedding, lights, gas stove, chairs, tables, recovery equipment (shackels,tow strap, tree protector, snatch rope, etc), spade, recovery points on vehicle ( and the tie down points on the vehicle is not recovery points) jacking points, basic tools and spares, Hi lift jack or air jack to name a few.
    Andre van Rensburg<br>Swambos baby V6 Pajero shorty<br>My overland vehicle "Datsun" 3.3l v6 hardbody d/cab.<br>Play vehicle Sizuki SJ413. Mods: Toyota 2c Diesel engin and 5 speed gearbox, 50mm lift<br>Love the bush, overlanding and crazy about animals.

  3. #3
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    Hey karistew,
    Welcome to the forum, the source of great knowledge and shared experience.

    Your question is complex, but very simple to answer.
    Check out Dawie and Catt's blog which is referred to on this thread:

    http://www.4x4community.co.za/forum/...ad.php?t=54004

    Once you have the link to "freeflyd's" web blog established, take about a week and read through, start at the week 4 report and visualize it on a map.
    His blog is under: www.pictureafrica.org

    As a hint, they travel from SA up to" Mud Island" (Cornwall UK), are in their 5th months of travel and currently leaving Tanzania.

    For car upgrade check the forum in the technical section once you have decided on the vehicle.

    Good luck and I am sure you get hooked pretty soon.
    Kalahari Safari
    ORRA Call: WB58 | ICASA ZRF430
    Nissan Patrol GU TB45
    | Nissan Safari GU TD42 | B'rakah 4x4 Trailer
    E34 - 535i for a bit of nostalgia
    E39 - 540i for the open roads

  4. #4
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    Thanks for the advice - will look into it, that blog looks great.

  5. #5
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    Karistew

    First - get a RELIABLE vehicle. One with spares readily available through Africa and not too complicated to repair.

    Before buying accessories - make sure you only buy what you really need. Weight can become a big problem when overlanding- so do very good homework beforehand. This forum offers lot of good info!

    Enjoy the planning!

    Bostoe

  6. #6
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    Quote Originally Posted by bostoe View Post
    Karistew

    First - get a RELIABLE vehicle.

    One with spares readily available through Africa and not too complicated to repair.,,,,,,,

    Enjoy the planning!
    Bostoe

    What Bostoe means is DON'T BUY LANDROVER.....

    .....then part 2 of his statement becomes irrelevant........then
    Toyota's and Nissan's don't require spare parts on a single trip ....

    Jokes apart, but get to know your vehicle beforehand and do a few short trips into a 4x4 pit to try it out and find the limits, best done with some friends and back-up.
    Then kit it out over time with what you need, leave the "nice to have's" out for starters and add them up with the gathered experience.

    Check the route out for service points and allow time to find them and get the vehicle inspected and serviced.

    This far for the vehicle issue, given the time you have, you need to start pretty soon to get things in place without stressing.

    Planning is the most essential part of the trip - so plan for some "surprises" as well.

    Happy planning - and enjoy.
    Keep us posted of the project
    Kalahari Safari
    ORRA Call: WB58 | ICASA ZRF430
    Nissan Patrol GU TB45
    | Nissan Safari GU TD42 | B'rakah 4x4 Trailer
    E34 - 535i for a bit of nostalgia
    E39 - 540i for the open roads

  7. #7
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    Ignore the comments about Land Rovers, Kalahari's just jealous For serious remote overlanding, you should only consider Toyota Hilux, Land Cruisers or Land Rover Defender/110 or 130 - you will battle to find spares for anything else.

    In the mid-1990s, I wrote a monthly series for Out There magazine on overlanding after my wife and I lived in our Land Rover for two years, covering 65 000km from Cape Town to Ethiopia and back. Some of the material is very dated, but most of it still applies. Here's the piece on kitting out a vehicle (bearing in mind that back then, the 4x4 kitting out industry was in its infancy in SA). I'll post the vehicle buying chapter if I can find it:



    OUT THERE MAGAZINE: 4X4 SUPPLEMENT
    ----------------------------------


    Story and Photographs: Tony Weaver
    ----------------------------------

    EQUIPPING YOUR VEHICLE


    TEXT: 2 529 words
    ------------------

    Just as Nikes and Reeboks have become the new status symbols for couch potatoes who never run anywhere, and only walk to fetch the VCR remote control, so 4X4s have become the new urban symbol of upwardly mobile achievers who use them to mount pavements when the parking lot is full. But just because you never take your 4X4 off road, doesn't mean it shouldn't look the part. Here's Tony Weaver's idiosyncratic guide to outfitting your vehicle for use in both the urban and the African jungle.

    VEHICLE COLOUR: Metallic blues, reds and greens may look good on the freeway, but remember that the minute you hit thick bush, that lovely paint job is going to get scratched to hell and gone, and metallic paint is very expensive to touch up. Stick to boring, neutral colours like cream and beige ("Sahara Sand"). They're also easier colours to hide away when you're bush camping in hostile territory.

    WINCHES: Look muscular and professional, but add a lot of weight to the vehicle, and are very expensive. Only buy a winch if you intend doing some serious offroading in tough conditions -- and then make sure you know how to use the thing, they can be very dangerous.

    HI-LIFT JACK: Essential. One of the most important items of equipment for vehicle extraction in serious conditions. But it is useless having a Hi-lift jack if there aren't any jacking points on your vehicle -- most modern recreational 4X4s fall into this category. Get an expert to bolt and weld jacking points just behind the front wheels, and just in front of the rear wheels.

    ROOFTOP TENT: Again, a big image builder. Says you're serious about the bush. They also have huge advantages when you do actually go camping: They are quick and easy to erect, keep you clear of lions, scorpions, hyenas and snakes, catch all the breezes, offer excellent security, and make good hides for birding and game viewing.

    When outfitting for a major overland trip, bear in mind that weight is your biggest enemy, and that every gramme counts.

    ROOF RACKS: Try to configure inside space so you do not actually need a roof rack, if possible. They are a security headache, and overloaded roof racks are one of the primary causes of vehicle crack up. An overloaded roof rack leads to chassis twisting and a slow rate of recovery on critical lean angles, leading to capsizing and rolling. But they are also very useful items.

    They must be strong, light, and above all, securely mounted. Racks which are lightly mounted onto the roof gutter will shake off on the first bad bit of corrugation. You should secure the rack onto at least the top of what is normally the load bed of your vehicle, and preferably right down to the chassis at the front and back. Never extend the roof rack past the windshield -- that is asking for trouble. Only light objects should be loaded onto the roofrack. A rooftop tent, a couple of awnings, empty water containers, a spare tyre and space for firewood is about the limit. A full jerry can weighs 20kg, so leave them off the roof.

    GAS BOTTLE RACKS: If you intend cooking on gas -- the cleanest and easiest option -- it's worth fitting external gas bottle holders, big enough to hold two 10kg bottles. They must be able to lock, and have a bottom bolt which screws into the bottom skirt of the tanks to hold them in place. Loose gas bottles in the back of a vehicle are highly destructive on rough roads, and can become lethal projectiles in an accident.

    LONG RANGE FUEL TANKS: Essential for long distance overland travel, particularly if you are driving a petrol vehicle. They add the independence needed for proper expedition travel to remote areas, and are much safer and more convenient than jerry cans. Rather fit several small tanks than one huge tank which affects the balance of the vehicle. For a cross-Africa overland journey, work on a fuel stash which will give you 1 500km or more of travel without refuelling. This will cover most eventualities.

    BULL BAR: Bull bars can be very useful, but don't rate highly in my book as an essential piece of equipment as they add a lot of weight. They do protect your front grills, radiator, headlights, indicators and body work when driving off-road through dense bush and give you some protection in case of a collision with animals or other vehicles. Bull bars need to be fairly light, but strong. A wraparound corner is essential to protect the side of the vehicle when moving through bush. The bull bar mounts should not be too heavily reinforced, otherwise you run the risk of bending the chassis in minor collisions.

    SPADES ETC: Vital for vehicle debogging and essential equipment for any off road journey, no matter how short. Flat bladed spades are better than rounded shovels, which don't bite into hard ground as well. They need to be easily accessible when you bog into really deep mudholes and can't get the back door open, so mount them securely on the top of the bull bar or side of the roof rack. A double sided pick axe with a hoe on one side is a very valuable trenching tool, and also looks very Camel Man when mounted on the outside of the vehicle. Collapsible trenching tools are useful for getting into tight spots to remove built up mud or sand, and for bush latrine stops.

    STANDARD JACK: Even with a Hi-lift jack, you need to carry at least one standard hydraulic jack for wheel changing and vehicle maintenance. Hi-lift jacks are very unstable and dangerous to work underneath, so never use them without a backup support. Scissor and screw type jacks are unsuitable for rough work, lacking the strength, durability and stability of bottle jacks. Air bag jacks are useful for debogging, but expensive.

    GRASS SEED NET: Attach a fine wire mesh screen or shade cloth net over your radiator grill to catch grass seeds and stems -- especially important for Botswana and Namibia at the start of the dry season when the grass is still long. Clear this screen regularly to stop overheating, and every 15 minutes or so, clear all the grass trapped under the vehicle as this is one of the primary causes of fire -- dry grass igniting when heated by the exhaust pipe.

    SPOTLIGHTS: A good set of spots can spell the difference between life and death in a close encounter with a kudu, or, as is more likely, a vehicle travelling with no lights, or broken down at the side of the road with no reflectors. Also fit a weak spot above the rear door for reversing, cooking, security and camp lighting.

    SECOND BATTERY AND SPLIT CHARGER: Essential. Get an expert to fit an auxilliary battery, using heavy-duty diodes forming a battery isolator. Run all your auxilliary equipment -- external lighting, tape deck, fridge etc -- off the spare battery. This way you will never find yourself deep in the bundu with no hills in sight and a flat battery.

    AIR CONDITIONERS: If it ain't fitted, leave it out. If it is, use it very sparingly. They are heavy, increase fuel consumption, make you susceptible to 'flu, and in very hot conditions can cause your engine to overheat.

    SAND LADDERS/PIERCED STEEL PLANKS: Not ordinarily necessary, but they do look very sexy mounted on the side of your vehicle. They are probably essential if you intend doing a lot of desert travel or a Congo crossing. Their uses include making bridges over deep dongas, loading ramps onto jungle ferries, repairing fall-apart Central African rain forest bridges, and of course, getting you out of bad sand traps. That said, for standard overlanding, leave them behind.

    EXTENSION AIR FILTER INTAKES: Make a big difference for wading through deep water, especially on diesel engines, and if fitted with a cyclonic air pre-cleaner are very useful when travelling for extended periods on very dusty roads, eg Botswana.

    WARNING TRIANGLES: Compulsory in most African countries. In Mocambique, display them prominently when driving around towns -- you will save yourself from being stopped by every cop looking for a bribe.

    FIRE EXTINGUISHERS: Compulsory in several African countries. Mount one in the engine compartment and two in the cab. Get them checked regularly by an expert.

    MAP CLIPS: It is worth fitting a strong spring clip (of the kind found on clip boards) onto the dash for displaying area maps while travelling. On old Land Rovers, they are simple to mount as you simply unscrew one of the metal dash screws and secure it there. With vinyl dashes, some drilling will be necessary.

    SUCTION CUPS: Buy two small suction cups (the kind that shopkeepers use for hanging goods on in their windows) and place them in opposite corners of your windshield. They set up a tension across the glass which reduces the chances of the window shattering when hit by a stone. A tennis ball wedged between the dashboard and the windshield fulfills the same function.

    FRIDGE/FREEZERS: Gas fridges are potentially dangerous. Electrical fridges can kill your battery if you forget to switch them off. They are heavy and bulky. Rather get a good cold box for keeping veggies and dairy products fresh for a day or two.

    SHADE/RAIN AWNINGS: A rain/shade shelter is essential, whether it be a large nylon or plastic groundsheet, or a fully kitted out awning. If you can afford it (and they are not that expensive) go for a full awning, permanently attached to the side of the vehicle, with zip-on drop sides.

    A canvas canopy, once it has been through a couple of rain storms to wash off excess chemicals, is an excellent rainwater gathering device. Simply place a bucket under the run-off and strain the water when pouring it into water bottles. Even more sophisticated a way is to peg a funnel onto the runoff, with a hosepipe running directly into your water bottles. In a good East African rain storm, you can collect 40 litres of water in less than half an hour.

    OTHER ESSENTIAL ITEMS:

    Good WATER containers: Our experience was that we used 10 litres per person a day. You should have enough capacity to last you three days -- more if you are travelling in known waterless areas. Water is heavy, about 1kg per litre, but essential. Thick black plastic containers are best, as the absence of light inhibits the growth of algae. Each traveller should also have their own two litre stash for daily use while driving. Also carry water purification tablets.

    A comfortable CHAIR for each person. The ground is very hard and thorny after a long day's travel. A small camp TABLE to keep utensils, food etc out of the dirt. A good extension LIGHT for reading by. The best ones are the neon tube lamps which plug into your dashboard lighter or banana clip power points on the Land Rover dash. If you want a softer light for times when you do not want to read or cook, carry a small DIETZ paraffin lamp. Update note: LEDs are now the way to go.

    RUBBER SNAKES are invaluable for keeping baboons away from your camp. Place them prominently at either end of your camp. They work for a short while for monkeys as well, but after an hour or so, the monkeys suss out that the snakes are not real, and move in. Also useful to deter petty thieves.

    A DRIEPOOT/DELVOET (METAL TRIPOD), preferably collapsible, for popping into the fire for single pots or kettles. A short piece of FLAT IRON with a bent tip for lifting lids off pots on the fire, and for lifting pots out of the fire. A good BRAAI GRID, as well as a larger grid which is big enough to use for several pots at a time. An AXE and a PANGA for wood-chopping. Pangas are also useful for clearing long grass at bush camp sites. If you are travelling extensively in West Africa, carry a BOW SAW as well (for clearing blocked tracks).

    VEHICLE PACKING: Keep all your packing as modular as possible. The cheapest method is to use plastic ammunition boxes with clip down lids, available from most camping shops. They stack together well, and if properly wedged - four per layer fit perfectly into the back of a Defender 110 - will not bounce around in the back of the vehicle. If you don't mind being cramped, it is possible to fit a board over the top of them for sleeping on. Tin trunks rattle and chafe against body work, they are very heavy to get in and out, and they are expensive.

    Built in cupboards or drawer systems are expensive, and have to be very well constructed to withstand the rigours of African roads. But a well-designed cupboard system is an absolute joy -- it must be well secured to the bodywork, and be constructed of rugged marine ply, aluminium or other tough material if it is to survive.

    Keep all your heavy items low down, and try to distribute them evenly across the load bed. Pack heaviest items in front of the rear axle, never on top of the overhang. Discard absolutely everything that isn't necessary -- another reason not to use tin trunks, they are very heavy.

    Pack with unpacking in mind: Bulk stores and seldom needed items go at the bottom and into innaccessible corners. Work out what you need for day to day camping: It is a good idea to have a "day box" in which you keep your tea, coffee, mugs, basic cutlery, plates, snacks and your lunch for the day. Just whip this out at a stop and that's all the unpacking you need to do.

    Get rid of all glass containers and light plastic containers which can split or lids work off. The best containers are two litre rectangular fridge bottles with big screw on lids. They are excellent for all day to day supplies: Flour, rice, oil, pasta, oats, cereal, milk powder etc. They pack perfectly together and are tough and rugged. Plastics for Africa is the best place to buy your basic containers, including water cans, ammo boxes etc.

  8. #8
    Join Date
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    Here's a piece I wrote in 1998 about buying a vehicle, with specific reference at the end to older Land Rovers. You're not likely to want to overland in a Series Land Rover, but much of the info is valid. Obviously technology has changed enormously in the past decade, but a helluva lot of this still applies.

    This was written for Out There in 1998:

    OFF ROAD: BUYING A SECOND HAND VEHICLE
    --------------------------------------


    Story: Tony Weaver


    Buying a new 4X4 these days will set you back about the same as buying a three-bedroomed suburban home. So for most us, second hand is the way to go. But there's a minefield of pitfalls waiting out there for the uninformed buyer. Tony Weaver gives a few pointers on how to go about buying a second hand vehicle.

    TEXT:

    I have been the proud owner of three second-hand Land Rovers.

    Only one of them ever got further than the top of the driveway, the other two rotted to pieces before we could get the engines to work properly.

    The one that got out the driveway made it to northern Ethiopia and back and then rotted to pieces just above the beach below our house at Misty Cliffs. The moral of this story is buy a vehicle that will be functional, forget the romantic image crap, and remember that for most of us, there is city life after the bush.

    Buying a very, very second hand vehicle is the only feasible route for most of us. There is a thin line dividing a cheap vehicle in the short run from a very expensive vehicle in the long run: ie, the more clapped out your vehicle, the cheaper the price, but the more you're going to have to spend to get it onto the road and keep it there.

    The following advice, pondered over and refined in 37degC heat in the middle of the Dida Galgallu Desert with a buggered prop shaft, a cracked chassis, no brakes, a broken spring, a dodgy starting motor and a fading battery may help guide you through the traumas of buying second hand.

    GENERAL:

    The engines on most of the newer, Japanese 4X4s are virtually indestructible. It's the bodywork and chassis' that fall apart. Any vehicle which has spent a large part of its life near the coast will have rust, particularly if it was a boat launcher and tower.

    Establish the history of the vehicle (and make sure the vehicle isn't stolen or owned by the bank). Avoid any vehicle which has had multiple drivers as the gearbox is bound to be dodgy. A farmer's vehicle may be in good nick and well maintained, but it will have worked hard and thoroughly. Some RVs are driven off-road by frustrated Camel Men seeking mud as a form of stress relief. But most will probably just need their wheels re-aligned because of the stresses of pavement parking. RVs are your best bet for a solid second-hand vehicle.

    Do a visual check first: how much modification has to be done to turn the vehicle into an overlander - does it have a sturdy roof-rack, long range fuel tanks, spotlights, bull bar, rooftop tent, spares, tools, second spare tyre, winch? All these cost big bucks, so the more accessories, the better. You can always sell them.

    Check clearances: Some Japanese vehicles have awkward ground clearances, making rough work difficult. Lie down in front of the vehicle and check the layout of the diffs, spring hangers and other low hanging parts - fantasize crossing a field of rocks without any bashing. A sensible diff layout is the front one between the driver's legs (you feeeel the rocks in your genitals), and the rear one in the centre. Check how close the rear wheels are to the back corners: Sounds crazy, but some bakkies have such a long overhang that donga crossing is a nightmare, as the rear is always getting hung up as the front lifts skyward. That's why Land Rovers are so unstoppable - they have a wheel at each corner.

    Check all electrics: a faulty windshield wiper motor is very expensive. Check all the gauges, check upholstery for tears and the seats for sagging springs. Check that all the doors and windows operate properly, and that the doors are relatively dust and water proof. Look for rust on the ceilings, window ledges, body struts and floor boards.

    The following problems are relatively inexpensive and easy to rectify:

    * Grip the prop shafts firmly and move them from side to side, checking for play in the universal joints. Any lateral movement means the UV joint will have to be replaced.
    * Grip the two sections of the prop shaft and try moving them in opposite directions. Major play means the splines are worn and the whole section of prop shaft will need replacing.
    * Check the wheel/axle hubs for oil leaks.
    * Firmly grip the wheels and check for excessive play in the wheel bearings. Any looseness or wobbly play means the bearings are worn, and need to be replaced or tightened.
    * Park on a flat surface and check that it is standing level. If it leans to one side (usually the driver's side), the spring main leaf on that side will need replacing. Land Rovers are particularly prone to this problem.

    Now get underneath with a torch and a carpenter's hammer:
    Inspect the chassis for cracks, dents and rust. Tap the chassis with the hammer -- a dull thud indicates rust or a crack. Never buy a vehicle with a cracked chassis.

    Check the differentials, steering rods, sump and all protuberances for dents, cracks and dings. An underneath full of dents suggests a careless driver. Check the exhaust for rust and holes, especially the silencer.

    Check that all the shocks and springs are securely mounted, that there are no snapped spring blades -- or displaced coil springs -- check for oil leaks on the insides of wheel drums, check brake lines for fluid leaks and generally be suspicious of any wet patch or moist caking of dust and mud, indicators of fluid leaks.

    Check the spring and chassis bushes (the round thingies at either end of the springs which secure them to the vehicle). The bush should sit squarely in the middle of the spring eye. Any distortion indicates worn bushes. If rubber or metal shavings are sticking out, the bushes are shot.

    Check that spring to axle U-bolts are not bent. Check engine and gear box mounts for cracking and wear. The mounts should not be overly compressed, and with the engine running and being revved, should show only slight, smooth movement.

    Anybody selling a second hand vehicle will have had the engine steam cleaned. So do a careful inspection for oil leaks, then take the vehicle on an extended drive, park on a flat surface, then wait a while to see if anything oozes out. Small leaks are acceptable.

    HAVE A COMPRESSION TEST DONE, the only sure way of testing the invisible internal works of the engine.

    THE TEST DRIVE:

    The engine should start smoothly and without excessive cranking. Get a buddy to stand at the rear and check for bursts of smoke if you depress the accelerator, and on deceleration. Acceleration should be smooth and without lumpy, farty noises or hesitation in the power.

    With the engine idling, open the bonnet and listen: There should be no obvious knocks, whines, whistles, bumps and grinds, especially when revving. Knocks could be a problem with the bearings or rockers. Ticking noises could mean a valve clearance problem.

    Next check the clutch: Apply the handbrake, engage top gear, and gently release the clutch: the vehicle should stall. If it doesn't, then the clutch is slipping, an expensive replacement. Now pull off, releasing the clutch gently in first gear: If there is judder then it may mean a clutch plate overhaul.

    Head out onto the open road. The steering should not be heavy and noisy. Old Land Rovers are prone to steering problems, and while they are far heavier to steer than modern vehicles, you shouldn't feel as if you're doing weight training. Any roughness is an indicator of possible problems. Some play in the steering is inevitable and desirable, but more than an inch or so is dangerous. The vehicle shouldn't drift or suddenly change direction without wiggling the steering wheel.

    The vehicle should travel smoothly without excessive vibration up to about 70km/h. If there is vibration, check the tyre pressures. If the vibration persists, check the tyres for uneven wear -- if there is wear, then the alignment is probably out.

    More seriously, the vibration could be caused by a worn prop-shaft, unbalanced prop-shaft, worn wheel bearings or even bent chassis. If you suspect a bent chassis, get someone to drive behind you. If there is any "crabbing" of the vehicle - it looks as though the back wheels are not quite following the front - don't even think of buying the vehicle.

    If the problem is a worn or unbalanced propshaft, the vehicle may well have blown a gearbox bearing oil seal. Oil trickling from the gearbox is usually a giveaway.

    Work your way through the gears: They should be smooth, and have a minimum of backlash. Find a long downhill. Go down decelerating against the gears without any brakes. Test each gear for at least 30 seconds. They shouldn't jump out (third gear is particularly prone to doing this). Also open and close the throttle hard several times to check for jumping out. If they do, this indicates a worn gear box. Do the same in low range four wheel drive and again in high range four wheel drive. If the selector jumps out it's an indication of a worn transfer box.

    Test the brakes. And, finally, check all the gauges: check water temperature - too low indicates the thermostat has been removed and will need to be replaced. Too high, it's overheating. Check the radiator and hoses for leaks, and the radiator core for rust. Low oil pressure could mean worn bearings, a big expense (check what the oil pressure should be by referring to a workshop manual).

    SECOND HAND LAND ROVERS:

    Older model Land Rovers are the vehicle of choice of many overlanders: they are cheap, spares are available throughout Africa, every village has a bush mechanic who has worked on a Land Rover, they are tough, rugged, simple machines and very easy to fix. Their box shape makes modular packing easy, the bodywork is strong, and if it gets dented, so what? It is easier to modify the outside of a Land Rover than any other vehicle, making the external carrying of items like Hi-Lift jacks, sand ladders, braai grids and jerry cans a piece of old takkie.

    But their disadvantages are legion: They are relatively slow, heavy on fuel, ponderous to steer on the Series vehicles, and prone to breakdowns. Good ones are brilliant, bad ones a nightmare.

    All the points above apply to Land Rovers, and many of the points below apply to other makes as well, but it is worth highlighting specific Land Rover problems.

    The bodywork is the last thing you need to worry about. With few exceptions, all major body panels are aluminium and can be easily changed, as Land Rovers are assembled like a Meccano set.

    Chassis' are steel and are the weak points. Pay particular attention to rust, and to chassis cracking and twisting. The drain holes always get blocked, and this traps water inside the box frame, leading to rust spots.

    Check the following for rust and cracking:

    * The whole of the rear chassis behind the axle, and the rear crossmember and chassis rail joints -- be especially suspicious if a tow bar is fitted, indicating that horse boxes, boats or caravans have been towed;
    * The rear spring hanger brackets, the top of the rear spring bump stop mount and the whole length of the side chassis members, especially in the middle;
    * Cross-members under the gearbox and clutch housing (vulnerable to rock and stump damage);
    * Rusted through shock absorber casings, rust on the tailpipe behind the back wheel and loose or rusted exhaust sections near the engine manifold outlet; and
    * The upper door frames, door pillars and footwells.

    Also check for:

    * Corrosion or pitting on the front hub swivels: They are chromium-plated and should be smooth and shiny. Some oil leakage is normal, but excessive oil loss means an expensive replacement;
    * Rust on the steel bulkhead and tearing on the firewall (the wall that separates the front cab from the engine - check carefully for tears around the steering box);
    * Cracked springs and worn spring bushes;

    Older diesel engines wear out faster than old petrol engines. Here check for excessive exhaust smoke and oil and/or smoke being pushed out of the crankcase breather, an indication that it is burning oil. This will have to be remedied with a top-end overhaul, an expensive business.

    Series I and most II and IIA Land Rovers are fitted with the older, rounded rear differential, and are prone to snapping half-shafts if the wheels are suddenly spun. Fix this by replacing the diff with the heavier duty, wedge-shaped Series III Salisbury diff. If a different engine has been fitted -- eg a Chev 4.1 -- then it is essential to change the diff, or carry spare half shafts. The Salisbury diff wears the drive plates instead of the half shafts, and these are much simpler to replace.

    Check for backlash in the differential by parking on a level spot, chock the wheels, put the vehicle in neutral with the handbrake off, then grip the propshaft (do front and back). Twist the propshaft. More than a quarter turn indicates that problems will soon arise in the diff.

    On all older make Landies, have the gear box and transfer box thoroughly checked out by an expert - this is potentially one of the most expensive items to recondition or fix, and needs an experienced eye on it.

    Problems on earlier Series IIIs include:

    * Timing chains break;
    * Gearboxes blow the oil seal between the main gearbox and transfer box. This can result in the transfer box's rear oil seal blowing because of the increased oil level;
    * The alternator is not particularly reliable because of its fragile diodes: Carry a spare;
    * The windshields are weak: If you are fitting a roof rack, make sure it does not rest entirely on the gutter above the wind shield: It must be extended down along the door pillars to the chassis, or you will split the windshield;
    * The chassis is not as strong as the Series IIA: For heavy loads and long trips, it is worth plating the cross-pieces and spring hangers.
    * On bad corrugations, regularly check the four studs below the swivel pins as these tend to fall out, and also check door hinge pins which can vibrate out on bad roads.

    If you find a vehicle without any of these faults at a reasonable price, call me. I'll buy it. It's a rare beast.

  9. #9
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    Quote Originally Posted by Tony Weaver View Post

    Ignore the comments about Land Rovers, Kalahari's just jealous For serious remote overlanding, you should only consider Toyota Hilux, Land Cruisers or Land Rover Defender/110 or 130 - you will battle to find spares for anything else.
    Hi Tony,
    Here what has been proven in the past:

    "With a Japanese vehicle you are doing an overland trip with a Landrover you're up to an adventure"

    But once addicted - always LR
    Last edited by Kalahari Safari; 2010/09/12 at 04:56 PM.
    Kalahari Safari
    ORRA Call: WB58 | ICASA ZRF430
    Nissan Patrol GU TB45
    | Nissan Safari GU TD42 | B'rakah 4x4 Trailer
    E34 - 535i for a bit of nostalgia
    E39 - 540i for the open roads

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    Quote Originally Posted by Kalahari Safari View Post
    Hi Tony,
    Here what has been proven in the past:
    "With a Japanese vehicle you are doing an overland trip with a Landrover you're up to an adventure"
    But once addicted - always LR
    Indeed. I read somewhere the other day that in Land Rovers, there's always something wrong, but they never stop going. I'm a big Toyota fan, I just can't afford them! And I'm lucky - I have one of those Land Rovers where nothing serious has ever gone wrong (and if it does, I should be able to fix it with duct tape, a hammer, a pair of pliers, some cable ties and some fencing wire).

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    All advice and information duly noted! Thanks so much everyone - nice one Tony on the articles - any more where that came from?

    I'll keep you updated. Im all in for the romance of the Landrover but for now we're gonna try for the toyota vibe. If anyone hears of a decent diesel hilux/landcruiser for sale - or who knows where to look - pls let me know.

    happy days.

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    Quote Originally Posted by karistew View Post
    All advice and information duly noted! Thanks so much everyone - nice one Tony on the articles - any more where that came from?
    Hi Karistew,

    I've posted some of the material on this forum, but here's a list of some of the topics covered. If you want any of them posted here, reply in this thread, and I can post them in the appropriate spot with a cross reference from this thread.

    OTROAD1 Offroaders and the environment
    OTROAD2 Wet season travel
    OTROAD3 Driving 1
    OTROAD4 Driving 2
    OTROAD5 Debogging
    OTROAD6 River crossings
    OTROAD7 Border crossings
    OTROAD8 Security
    OTROAD9 Driving hazards
    OTROAD10 Kaudom (Namibia)
    OTROAD11 Survival 1
    OTROAD12 Survival 2
    OTROAD13 Travelling companions/women travellers
    OTROAD14 Travelling with kids
    OTROAD15 Southern Mozambique
    OTROAD16 Northern Mozambique
    OTROAD17 Richtersveld
    OTROAD18 Sandwich Harbour (Namibia)
    OTROAD19 Disaster update
    OTROAD20 Two years on the road - a travelling tale
    OTROAD21 Lake Turkana (Kenya)
    OTROAD22 Bale Mountains (Ethiopia)
    OTROAD23 Mtwara (Southern Tanzania)
    OTROAD24 Lake Magadi (Kenya)
    OTROAD25 Abderdare Mountains (Kenya)
    OTROAD26 Western Uganda
    OTROAD27 Harar (Ethiopia)
    OTROAD28 Ngorongoro Crater and Serengeti
    OTROAD29 Cherangani Hills (Tanzania)
    OTROAD30 The world's most dangerous places - Ethiopia
    OTROAD31 Painless packing
    OTROAD32 Buying a second hand vehicle
    OTROAD33 Lalibela and Gonder (Ethiopia)
    OTROAD34 Lake Naivasha (Kenya)
    OTROAD35 Samburuland Kenya
    OTROAD36 Kenya Coast
    OTROAD37 Tsavo
    OTROAD38 Etiquette and health

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    Brilliant! Thanks Tony –
    Starved of information here! Thanks so much. Can I start with the following?
    OTROAD3 Driving 1
    OTROAD4 Driving 2
    OTROAD7 Border crossings
    OTROAD8 Security
    OTROAD9 Driving hazards
    OTROAD11 Survival 1
    OTROAD12 Survival 2
    OTROAD13 Travelling companions/women travellers
    OTROAD20 Two years on the road - a travelling tale
    OTROAD28 Ngorongoro Crater and Serengeti
    OTROAD30 The world's most dangerous places - Ethiopia
    OTROAD31 Painless packing
    OTROAD38 Etiquette and health
    Thanks!

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    A question for you Africa gurus out there: originally we thought it would be better to get a diesel 4x4 but a couple of guys we have been talking to in the toyota dealerships and 4x4/outdoor warehousing places said petrol is not a bad option anywhere in Africa, plus it offers more power… Thoughts on petrol/diesel? Route to take us as far north as Ethiopia, incl Uganda, Rwanda and back.

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    Ah, this old chestnut!

    What do you want extra power for, anyway? You just don't need it. You won't be blasting along at 100mph, you won't be stuck in mud, you won't be hauling anything much, you won't be crawling up mountains........

    Well, if you were doing the western route and spending much time in the Sahara and the Sahel, then I might suggest diesel was quite a long way ahead of petrol in that 2 horse race. The logic there is that there can be many a long mile between fuel stops, and everywhere there are humans there are trucks, and therefore diesel. Generally, therefore, you will find diesel in even the remotest places.

    The other main reason for choosing diesel is that it takes a whole system out of the equation if something goes wrong. There are no electrics required for ignition with a diesel, and spark plugs, distributor, coil, cables etc are all things that can go wrong, and will need checking. Go for simplicity. This should be your catch-phrase. The simpler it is, the less of a mechanic you need to be, and the quicker you'll get going again if something breaks down.

    There are thousands of people who "know best" what sort of vehicle to take on a long overland trip like yours.........and it has been done in all sorts of inappropriate machines from tractors to London taxis to double decker buses........but listen to the guys who have actually done it. Follow Tony's advice. I've also done it.......London to Cape Town, in a Landcruiser (diesel) in the company of a petrol Land Rover. Listen to me very carefully whilst I shout!!!!......go in a diesel Landcruiser or Hilux. Look at what Dawie (Freeflyd) is driving. Please don't listen to local dealers!!! Your only other sensible alternative is a Defender or Series Landrover, but if you go that route you must buy carefully, and be prepared to be doing a lot of tinkering.


    Mike
    Last edited by MikeAG; 2010/09/18 at 10:03 PM.
    "A poxy, feral, Brit architect who drinks bad beer and supports the wrong rugby team." Tony Weaver

    "Mike for President" Freeflyd

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    Nice one MikeAG! I totally hear you on the diesel..shot for the advice so late on a Sat night!

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    If that isn't enough, one of the best reasons is to lighten up the load, lower your center of gravity by moving all the fuel you need to long range tanks. Nothing I hate more then a 1/2 dozen jerry cans on the roof.

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    Quote Originally Posted by luangwablondes View Post
    If that isn't enough, one of the best reasons is to lighten up the load, lower your center of gravity by moving all the fuel you need to long range tanks. Nothing I hate more then a 1/2 dozen jerry cans on the roof.

    That is the most sensible thing I have read on the internet in days!! Take Robbie's advice........If you do nothing else with your vehicle, make sure you can store at least 150 litres in fuel tank/s down low. 180 would be better. Some of the cruisers come with huge tanks, I believe.

    Mike
    "A poxy, feral, Brit architect who drinks bad beer and supports the wrong rugby team." Tony Weaver

    "Mike for President" Freeflyd

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    joh to much to read

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    Quote Originally Posted by MikeAG View Post
    What do you want extra power for, anyway? You just don't need it. You won't be blasting along at 100mph, you won't be stuck in mud, you won't be hauling anything much, you won't be crawling up mountains........

    The other main reason for choosing diesel is that it takes a whole system out of the equation if something goes wrong. There are no electrics required for ignition with a diesel, and spark plugs, distributor, coil, cables etc are all things that can go wrong, and will need checking. Go for simplicity.

    Your only other sensible alternative is a Defender or Series Landrover, but if you go that route you must buy carefully, and be prepared to be doing a lot of tinkering.
    Mike
    As Mike says, a hoary chestnut. I drive a 3.5l petrol V8 Landy 110 because I love having all that power under the belt for thick sand and mud. Plus, it ticks along in low range second gear at 2km/h in almost absolute silence, so you can sneak up on game, steer with your knees while using binoculars etc. And to add here that I have never been caught short for lack of petrol supplies - there's always some lurking about.

    If something goes wrong on a petrol engine, you can usually find a way of bypassing the problem and still limp along, which you can't do in a diesel (actually, I wouldn't really know - diesels are a bit of a foreign country to me). I can fix most things on a petrol engine, hence my choice there.

    I wouldn't go for a Series Land Rover for a long overland trip, they are simply too outdated now (and underpowered). If you do go the Land Rover route, get a 110 or a Defender (they are not the same thing - the Defender succeeded the 110s, just as the Pumas have now succeeded the Defenders, although both the Defender and the Puma come as 110s - sounds like trying to explain the game of cricket to an American ... 110 is the wheel base measurement in inches). Defenders and 110s are actually remarkably reliable vehicles - Land Rover got its bad reputation from the luxury end of the market, the early Discoverys, Freelander and some Range Rover models, and because for years, their service really sucked in South Africa.

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