LRM2 pdf - published November 2010



LRM2 pdf - published November 2010
Going Overland
Image by Duncan Smith
Ready for the road – we
hope – Paul and Helen
pose with the newly
fettled Defender.
Getting married seemed
like a great idea at the time. A spur
of the moment decision during
a romantic lunch in a horribly
expensive restaurant on Helen’s
50th birthday. Now, despite a
budget wedding, we are facing up
to the fact that we’ve blown some of
our expedition fund. Not only that,
but a general review of costs brings
home the implications of the credit
crunch. Mainly, the rising cost of
fuel and the dropping value of the
pound. All in all, we calculate that
our original budget predictions have
outstripped the contingency fund
and raised our costs by about 35
percent. A depressing start to the
next phase of our trip preparation.
58 November 2010 LAND ROVER monthly
Still, not to be put off, and after
a three day UK honeymoon, we
set off to the Peterborough Land
Rover Show to finish running in
the new engine and to test the
Landy off-road again. Everything
seemed to be working well. With
the engine purring like a kitten
(well as kitten-like as a 300Tdi
gets) we relaxed back to enjoy
the ride. With about 80 miles left
before we got to Peterborough
though, we noticed the temperature
gauge rising ominously. There
was no tell-tale overheating smell
and everything appeared to be in
working order. So we set off again,
a bit more slowly and gingerly, and
increasingly worried about whether
we would arrive before the gates to
the campsite shut. No sooner did
we pull away than the temperature
gauge started to rise again. After
repeating the same scenario several
times we finally arrived at camp,
both worried and relieved at the
same time, the last to sneak in
before the gates shut, and pitch
camp in the dark.
Chatting to overlanders is a good
distraction, as is buying the next lot
of kit we needed – a cubby box and
switch console for the dashboard,
as well as plenty of other smaller
fittings. But all the time it’s there,
that little worry gnawing away at
the back of our minds. Has the
overheating problem been cured?
Will we get home without incident?
A big test would be ending the
weekend with numerous trips
around the off-road course. It was
a good test and with the Landy’s
temperature running at normal,
Paul’s relief was palpable. Unladen
and a bit lightweight, the newly
up-rated springs and HD shocks
with additional 130 helper springs
on the back gave a jittery ride, and
the articulation seemed a little
compromised, but we did well and
Helen enjoyed some more practice
behind the wheel.
Finally, tired and happy with
our experiences and purchases,
we eventually set off for home.
Initially all went well, but a couple
of hundred miles into the journey
the temperature gauge once again
began to rise alarmingly. Peering
under the bonnet we turned things
on and off. Ah ha! The cause of
the problem. It’s not the engine
at all and it’s not the thermostat
either. It’s an electrical fault. Turn
the lights on and off and the
temperature gauge goes up and
down. Fortunately, just in time, we
also worked out that having the
headlights on was also creating
an optimistic reading on the fuel
gauge. Now that would have been
a disaster!
working in the community
Early on in our planning we had
decided to commit ourselves
to an educational theme to our
trip. Working with school term
dates we arranged individual
visits to approximately 20 schools
around the UK during March
and April, coinciding this with a
shakedown tour. Nothing like a bit
of commitment to focus the mind
on completing the planning and
work on the Landy. Shame we didn’t
allow for the snow and rain. With no
outside shelter, and not being quite
hardy enough (yet) to brave working
outside in the wet and cold, the
work schedule slipped considerably
and the last few weeks before our
schools tour was an almighty rush.
In the meantime, with our revised
budget, we had time over the winter
months to reflect on where we
might economise a little. Some of
our grander ideas fast went out
of the window and one of Helen’s
favourite themes came to the fore as
we reviewed what we already had
that could be recycled in some way
rather than replaced with something
newer. That is, surely, more in
keeping with overlanding in a Land
Rover, the ultimate recycling lifestyle
in the ultimate recyclable vehicle.
assessing the damage
Paul fitted a new X-Eng disc
handbrake and, using a Range
Rover lever, repositioned the
handbrake on the top of the seat
box to allow more leg room for the
driver. The Mobile Storage Systems
cubby box is only ten-inches
Image by PicMan Photos wide, allowing space for the lever
LAND ROVER monthly November 2010 59
Going Overland
between seat and cubby box.
The delivery from Goodwinch,
one of our sponsors, supplied us
with our most interesting shaped
parcel. There’s obviously only so
many ways you can wrap an X-Eng
ground anchor. Other items, such
as oil gauges, Eberspacher heater,
switches and relays, and some
rather nice Roo Lights, were more
traditionally wrapped.
With all these deliveries we
were fast losing space to put
anything in the house and it was
time to get on with some more
work. Grappling with a mass of
wires, carefully labelling them for
later, Paul made allowances for the
fitting of an inverter, 12V sockets,
auxiliary battery and split charge
system, including battery condition
indicators. Fitting the twin batteries
in the seat box was a challenge of
the kind that resulted in skinned
knuckles due to the tight fit.
Having removed the air
conditioning, Paul was faced with
the challenge of re-designing the
air box and dashboard to suit a new
ventilation system. At the same time
he fitted a new Raptor console with
Carling switches and oil gauges.
The Mantec snorkel is an
impressive product, but proved
pretty fiddly to fit, with a seal on
Below left
Fitting the snorkel from
Mantec was not a simple
job with only one pair of
Below clockwise
The auxiliary tank sits
neatly between the
Micheldever Tyres
providing a valuable
lesson in tyre changing
and puncture repair.
New dash vents are in,
and yes, it will go back
Twin batteries fit but need
some tidying.
Alterations to the air con
Preparing the rooftent for
each side of the wing skin. Two
sets of hands would have helped
in theory, but in practice there’s
no room around the fittings to get
them close. A pair of work-lights, a
drop down shelf on the rear door
and stowage for the axe and fire
extinguisher completed a good
days’ work in the freezing cold.
After hours of debate we finally
decided on a Safety Devices roll
cage. Advice from other overlanders
had varied, from concern about the
increased weight of a roll cage to
one story of how lives had genuinely
been saved when a mountain
road had collapsed causing the
vehicle to roll several times over
some distance. We considered
the disadvantages of the additional
weight against the advantages of
being able to use the roll cage to
transfer the roof rack loading from
roof gutters to chassis, a good idea
on a vehicle constructed largely
from aluminium.
Eventually the decision to go
for a roll cage was cemented by
a comment from Stuart Foley. He
quite rightly suggested that as the
likelihood of toppling over is always
higher for overlanders – due to the
greater weight on the roof – a roll
cage could make the difference
between being able to hammer the
vehicle back into shape and having
to ship the remains home. So it was
a trip back to Foley’s to get the work
done at the same time as having
an adapted Brownchurch roof
rack fitted. Foley’s also generously
donated a much valued hi-lift jack
towards our expedition equipment.
making a tent decision
Next it was time to sort our
accommodation. Experienced
overlanders vary in opinion –
between roof tents and ground
tents. As we expect to experience
polar coldness, equatorial heat,
wet season rain, wind and snow,
our decision was not so easy.
Observing that roof tents are
generally designed and made in
either South Africa or Australia, and
obviously more suited to warmer
environments, we learned they also
work well in temperate climates but
are more likely to be problematical
in particularly cold environments,
when night-time condensation
freezes on the inside of the tent
making it impossible to pack away.
Ultimately we decided on the
comparative luxury of a roof tent,
while packing our existing twoman mountain tent for use when
necessary. Helen had long decided
that if we were to have a roof tent it
had to be a Howling Moon, on the
basis that the zip-in groundsheet
would make it easier to keep the
sleeping area clean. And so, with
just a few weeks to spare before our
‘shakedown tour’, we managed to buy
The likelihood of toppling over is always higher for
overlanders – due to the greater weight on the roof
the last Howling Moon 1.4m Tourer
tent in stock at Trek Overland.
We considered whether or not
it would be possible or practicable
to create sleeping space inside the
vehicle but finally concluded that if it
really was too cold or dangerous to
pitch camp we would do what others
before us have done, and sleep as
best we can perched upright in the
front seats.
awning allowed
With the roof tent on, Paul made short
shrift of adding a storage box he’d had
made, the spare tyre which is secured
in place with a grid that doubles for
cooking over an open fire, and our
deluxe washing machine (plastic tub
with screw top lid). After all this work,
and with a trip to Mirage for the signwriting, the Landy is now looking more
and more like an expedition vehicle.
Another subject we had been
wresting with was how best to carry
extra fuel and water, something we
know will be absolutely essential in
the more remote places we will be
travelling. Having spent many hours
discussing options with suppliers and
people who have travelled before,
looking at off-the-peg solutions,
and trawling the internet, making a
60 November 2010 LAND ROVER monthly
decision was now essential.
Paul eventually commissioned a
local fabricator to build a fuel tank to
his design that now fits behind the
bulkhead in the rear storage area,
level with the top of the wheel arches.
This is supplemented by an auxiliary
tank from Devon 4x4 fitted between
the fuel filler and the main tank in the
rear wheel arch. Added to that we
have two jerry cans for diesel. This
will give us a total fuel capacity of
245 litres and a range (we hope) of
something in the order of 1,000 miles.
Having abandoned luxurious cab
accommodation for passengers who
The Landy looking fit for
Thanks go to the guys at
TyreWeb in Ashford for
fitting out BFG All Terrain
don’t seem to want to join us, solving
the additional water storage became
easier as we bought a 110-litre tank
from CAK Tanks and fitted it where
the second row seats are usually
mounted. Together with two more
jerry cans for water in the second row
footwell, our water capacity is now
150 litres.
We were delighted to receive
an email from a local firm, Sky Tag,
asking us if we would fit one of their
trackers and test it for them in return
for providing their service for free.
Sky Tag already know how effective
their tracker is in this country, Europe
and America, as well as some parts
of Africa, but we will be travelling in
some of the remoter areas where they
wish to carry out further testing.
We had been able to secure a tyre
sponsorship deal with 4Site 4x4 tyre
centres. They have been just amazing
with their support, supplying a set of
six General Grabber AT2’s, plus tyre
repair equipment and a lesson on how
best to change tyres in the field with
just the minimum of equipment.
Everything was slowly falling into
place, and soon it would be time for
our shakedown, however, both feeling
a little less prepared than we
would have liked.
LAND ROVER monthly November 2010 61