Pardon me, does this bus go to africa?
Ok, so over the last week large amounts of alcohol have been consumed, past travel stories recounted (and slightly embelished!) and dissatisfaction with the big city expressed... The result of this being the death of my Dodge 50 festival camper... and (hopefully) the birth of the African Dodger... my overland expedition vehicle!
In 2009, all going to plan, I and three mates will abandon our jobs, friends and sanity and embark on an overland trip from South Africa to Tanzania. Although i've travelled southern africa before i've never driven it, so this will be an entirely new adventure for me.
With the intitial excitement settling down and the practicalities being addressed I'm suddenly having a moment of panic over whether my vehicle is up to the job, and decided to consult the experts (i.e. you guys!)
Our intended go-anywhere home is a converted 1989 Dodge 50 welfare bus. Its a perkins engined turbo-diesel automatic with power steering. It has a rear twin wheel axle and uprated vacum brakes. The body is fiberglass and hence she only weighs 3.5t
She looks identical to this:
As for the terrain, I'm expecting the bus to cope with typical southern african potholes, dirt roads, small mud baths and steep inclines. I also have an urge to climb the Sani Pass but depending on the reaction I get here I may need to through that out the window (though to be fair I watched a rolls royce manage it on you tube!)
In short: am I mad? Should I sell up and look for something more suitable or dispel my fears and whip out the drill and sander?
my own thoughts:
- The perkins diesel is indestructable and simple. Bush mechanics should be able to fix it.
- Perkins parts are relatively common, hopefully the same goes for africa
- The auto box and powersteering will make it alot less tiring to drive especially on the long slow bits.
- the ground clearance is poor (20-25cm) under both axles.
- the fairing can be cut back to improve groundclearance under the center section (can probably get about a foot)
- It does not have a diff lock and got stuck in a modestly damp field a few months back after losing traction on one side (on road tyres)
- The suspension copes excellently with bumps.
- The stiff chassis should prevent the fiberglass cracking under severe twisting forces
Thats all i can think of at present. Opinions, fears, niggling thoughts, gut feelings? The more the merrier, though would be best if they were based on experience rather than personal preference, cheers all!