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Piers 8 Oct 2001 18:26

Africa Overland
My girlfriend and I are planning to go overland around Christmas 2002 in our own vehicle, but before we go, we want to go on a mechanics course. Can anyone advise who can help us in the London area?

We haven't decided on the vehicle yet but after reading various experts books will probably be a landcruiser lwb. any comments welcome. Thanks in advance


Remi 9 Oct 2001 20:29

The best way to get a friend who knows about cars and buy an old car, then in the process of preparing it you should learn enough to be confident about it. I do not know how complex the Toyota you are talking about is but get something you can repair with 2 spaners only.

Col Campbell 9 Oct 2001 23:08

Piers, in regaurds of a suitable vehicle, first off I`m a land rover fan, there is always quite some debate over this, depending on the age of the vehicle where talking about here, a 110 L/R has probably the best suspension in terms of ride comfort and axle articulation, on the downside it probably has the worst reliability, a well maintained tdi land rover should serve you well without to many problems, but coming from OZ where land crusiers rule supreme, they very hard to go past, the only one that I would consider for a large expidition would be a HZJ 75 troop carrier, I dont think I`ve seen any in the UK, but they everywhere in OZ, they have a decent sized engine with loads of torque, comared to the tdi`s,and they dont have any electronic managment systems, there only down fall is they dont have the tdi fuel economy, the standard HZJ suspension is crap, I sugest fitting a new backbone to youself and your partner as after a long day on rough roads you`ll feel every bump or fitting after market suspension which will improve ride quality immensly and give better axle articulation. The reliability of the TLC is second to none, thats why in OZ they outnumber the rovers at least 20-1, they just dont the character of the rovers for people like myself and many others, if you cant get a decent HZJ 75 here I`d consider importing one from OZ as with the current exchange rates and prices over there you could land one here very reaonably, the other advantage is that you could pick one up thats is already set up for your trip, long range fuel tanks, water tanks, twin batteries with split charges systems, bull bars, airconditioning ect are very common on vechiles over there due to it being such a remote country.
Sorry if I`m boring you, but I`m on a roll now.
I would`nt bother with a mechanical course (especially with a TLC), just take a VERY active interest in preparing your vechile, and have it for long enough to get to know it`s in`s and outs, over time even non mechanical people learn about their own vehcile, when its of interest to them,if you start most of your own maintanence within your limits and preperation, it wont take as long as you think to start identifying where all the rattles, creeks and groans are coming from.
Thats about it from me as my fingers are getting sore, hope its been of some help.

Col Campbell

PS If you havent got it Chris`s book has some good info in it some of it wont be relavent to you but it does get you thinking in the right direction.

Piers 10 Oct 2001 00:16

Col and Remi,

Tks for all your advice. I think the next step is to go and find a vehicle and spend a year sorting her out.

Have got Chris's book and has also given me a few ideas, will let you know what I end up buying.

Once again thks for all the help, anymore advice welcome.


camiel 11 Oct 2001 03:12

Hi Piers,

Perhaps I can offer you a bit of comfort. We've got plans similar to yours, i.e. depart Nov '02 and have limited mechanical knowledge. I guess we're actin' as suggested by Col: we got the vehicle last June and are taking our time to get to know and adapt it. The make? It's a TLC HJ61. About the only serious alternative to an HJZ 75 according to Chris' book. I believe he even has one himself.

Though I've never been much of a fan of Japanese cars myself, I'm quite impressed by the vehicle. It's got ample power and torque and yet fuel economy is about 9 kpl. Not bad for a 2200 kg vehicle with auto gearbox I recon! True: a Land Rover is definately more appealing in terms of authenticity and styling (or the absence of it rather). On top, Land Rover 110 spares are a lot cheaper than Landcruisers spares.

My advice: unless you are planning to get really serious about "the art of vehicle maintenance", get a Landcruiser. It shouldn't be too hard finding someone who will do the preps and maintenance and teach you on the go.

Happy travels!

RichardH 15 Oct 2001 02:13

Go and enjoy it.

I'd agree with most of the above. spend he time before you go, but most of all take the right spares and tools and a haynes manual and learn as you go.

I'm also a landy fan, we used a 90. Get Tom sheppard's book, vehicle dependent expedition guide. unashamedly landrover.

hed 16 Oct 2001 21:25

Hi there Piers,

I agree with everything the other guys have said in this thread. If I may add my little bit of advice. I think in terms of reliability etc teh Ladn Cruisers are very good. I have been working here in Mali for a couple of years now and am personally driving a LandRover TDI 2.5 diesel. The car is great and in terms of comfort it outperforms teh LC's by far, primarily because of the good suspension that Col C is talking about. I would however not take this vehicle on an overland trip as the turbo and other issues are too complivccated to repair for amateurs. In that regard I would go for an older vehcile rather. I think what counts in favour of the LC's is that the spares availability for them, especially in NOrth African countries, Sahara countries etc. is probably better. I think 2 or 3 important issues are: Definitely go for diesel over petrol, 2. definitively have a snorkel fitted to your air intake and if you have the choice, independent diff-lock can be a great help. What I mean by that is teh ability not only to lock both wheels on the same axle, which is standard on most vehciles nowadays, but also to be able to interlock the rear and front axle. In terms of mechanics skills, I am not much of a mechanic myself, but I have learnt the basics through hand-books and just trtying to do a smuch as I could myself. I have now done this for a couple of years on my bike and also on another 4x4 that I owned years ago and it works pretty well.

Have fun !!!

ChrisC 17 Oct 2001 07:05

Hi Piers - ok and all the rest of you
Again I agree with some of the above but not all. I returned from my own trip about 4 months ago and would say that as long as you prepare yourselves and the vehicle properly you shouldn't have too many problems - my 130 lasted the whole trip approx 40000 miles and never broke down!!!
I sold it in Zambia and purchase a tlc to use for the last 6 months. On returning to the UK I have tried to locate a decent tlc but they have all been rusting heaps of junk.
Your money would probably go much further in a LR.
I live and work around London and Maidenhead but do travel around quite a bit - feel free to contact me for any help or advice re vehicle or the trip in general

cheers and good luck

[This message has been edited by ChrisC (edited 28 October 2001).]

Col Campbell 20 Oct 2001 15:54

I just found the perfect vechicle, check out page 157 of the november land rover owner international, it`s a 75 series cruiser all kitted out for 7 grand, roof tent, fridge, ect. It has to be worth checking out, there`s no way you could set up a vechicle yourself for this price, it`s all ready to go. If it was LHD I`d nearly consider offloading my beloved 110 for it. (maybe)

col campbell

Piers 23 Oct 2001 17:06


If i wasn't confused before, i am now!! have been away for a away for a couple of weeks, and have just had a chance to look at all your advice. Thanks to everyone.

will definitly try and have a look at the 75 series cruiser and will let you know what she is like.

I'm going to also have a look at landys as well as no point in cutting off options yet.

By the way have found an evening course to do in london for elementerary mechanics starting in January for 10 weeks, this along with a haynes manual, interest and hopefully a vehicle might mean i have some idea what i'm doing by december 2002!!!


Robbert 25 Oct 2001 22:59

Thought about the Nissan Patrol? Should be as reliable as a Land Cruiser at the price of a Landrover.

Terry Davies 27 Oct 2001 20:13

I drove a Nissan Patrol through the Saudi desert for two years. The TLCs and 110s knocked spots off it.

JonHarbour 28 Oct 2001 07:35

I drive a Patrol and have done so for nearly ten years. It suits what I need very well and in the Gulf region is an equally good choice to the TLC (in its Petrol engined guise).

However, for the journey you have in mind, use a diesel vehicle. My own choice for the type of trip you have planned would be a Land Cruiser Troop carrier like the one mentioned earlier in the correspondence (advertised in a 4x4 magazine in the UK). It gives you the necessary space, the bulletproof reliability of a Toyota and a big lump of a diesel engine with more than tolerable fuel economy. If you can afford it, look for a diesel Land Cruiser 80 - you'll be much more comfortable!

The petrol Patrol drinks fuel like there is no tomorrow and I personally feel that turbo diesel version is a little underpowered for what is a very heavy vehicle in the long wheelbase form.

Good luck with your trip.

Jon Harbour

Middle East Off-Roader

GWJ 5 Nov 2001 18:43

If you want to know how not to setup a landrover check out:

if found it useful if you want to to know how to bribe, cheat and fluke your way to the cape.

simonC 16 Nov 2001 18:54

I'm was in a similar boat to Piers who was looking for a mechanic course to go on.

Try www.eastberks.ac.uk if you are around the Berkshire area. They run relativley cheap mechanics courses (in the evening for those who work) that will give you most of the basics.

It won't be Landy, TLC, or even 4x4 specific but it will give you a place to start the problem diagnosis from.

To be honest I haven't been on it yet so have no idea what the quality of the course is going to be like. I'm planning to go in a few months though so maybe I'll see you there.

maybe it helps.


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