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Sahara Travel Forum Topics specific to North Africa and the Sahara down to the 17th parallel (excludes Morocco)
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Desert Travels - Motorcycle Journeys in the Sahara and West Africa!

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  #16  
Old 4 Nov 2002
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A few questions from a beginner, and sorry for the long post...

I have a similar predicament as to which vehicle to buy. I live in OZ and am in the market for a trusty 4WD. I can get a 2-3 year old TLC with no more then 40,000 on the clock for AU$35,000 (about £12,000). They come along all the time at auctions here in Melbourne. I can save $10,000 and forego 100,000klm on the clock but am currently working on the theory of the newer the vehicle the greater timeframe before serious work is needed on the vehicle. Is this good value by your reckoning?

What I plan to do is buy a tray back (ute, cab chassis - whatever it is in your language) and then add a camping set up on the back. My main question is what difference, if any, will the 500kg dry weight of the camper set-up make to the handling? I expect that when loaded there will be a few hundred more kg. There will be 2 people in the vehicle. The camper already contains tent, annexes, storage boxes, fridge etc. Our vehicle will venture to the Sahara and also across most of the rest of Africa so it will be used in all terrains.

The set up also includes a 60 lt water tank and with dual fuel tanks I expect to have 180 ltr fuel capacity. How does this sound?
Any opinions are welcome.

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  #17  
Old 4 Nov 2002
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Mel,

The most important thing is installing a properly tuned suspension. The stock suspension will not do due to the heavy loads and new distribution. Off the shelf suspension lifts might not work either since they’d be designed for regular, non-caravan style, flat beds with the normal load carrying capacity. I would recommend you outfit your truck completely, weight it and then call Old Man Emu and ask for their advise. They will be able to sell you the right springs for your vehicle / load / usage. They’re the best and they’re right in your back yard.

I don’t know how far you’ll venture into the Sahara, but I usually take more fuel than that on serious crossings. Fuel consumption will depends a great deal on the terrain. Soft sand and dunes will consume a lot of fuel. Also you’ll be drinking a lot more water than normal in the Sahara. At least 2 liter per day per person is recommended, much more in the summer.

One thing to note is that due the load and the new high center of gravity of your caravan, you should be careful driving side ways on slopes and sand dunes. A stiff suspension will help stabilize the car but the ride will be a bit harsher. Strangely enough some pick-ups and flat beds don’t come with a sway bar in the rear. If your pick up doesn’t have one, get one made for it. Also putting a heavier sway bar than the stock one will help stabilize the extra load without having to get heavier springs but will somewhat affect articulation (The ability to raise one tire over an obstacle while the other sits on the ground). Something I would gladly sacrifice for the sake of more lateral stability over the dunes.

Hope this helps.

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OasisPhoto.com – Images from the Magical Sahara.
ShortWheelbase.com – Jeep preparations.
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  #18  
Old 4 Nov 2002
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A.B. - thanks for the reply. In fact my camper set-up has legs and can be removed from the vehicle and the whole kit can be left standing independently if required - I just elevate it a bit and drive out. For the most part we expect to be on reasonably stable terrain. If we want to do a spot of dune driving we will leave the camper behind. I will follow your advice on the suspension/shock absorbers. I've heard a lot about Old Man Emu.

My husband used to be an overland truck driver but I'm encouraging him to learn up on any aspects of 4WDs that can cause trouble. Pulling apart a Bedford is different to fixing a TLC I expect...

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  #19  
Old 4 Nov 2002
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Hi Mel, in principle A.B. is right about suspension set up, for station wagons and vehicles destined to carry people (i.e. with a back seat).
A pick up or ute is however a little different; load in a vehicle varies according to what you can put in or on it. For a closed vehicle this isn't much (a few bodies, some luggage), consequently they're easy to overload. The springs therefore need looking at if you vary the load (by sticking in a great bug aux fuel tank for example). A pick up can take just about anything, limited only by its load capacity, which is usually around a tonne. This means the springs are already dimensioned for the load. I ran a (semi) demountable on a ZA built Mazda 4wd pick up for a few years, all in it added around 900 kg to the vehicle, which didn't suffer for it. You shouldn't need to upgrade you springs on a pick up.
BUT
Everything A.B. says about sway bars is worth taking note of, if you want to drive as you would a car; your husband used to drive something a bit bigger so perhaps he'll be ok with the extra wallow of the whole setup.
A little warning, without the caravan on the back the springs have little reason to flex; I have a lot of fun (trouble) trying to keep the back wheels on the ground and behind me when the pick up is empty and in 2wd, it's also pretty harsh on your back.
Hope this helps rather than hinders
Luke
ps when do you plan to set off?
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  #20  
Old 5 Nov 2002
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I'm a motorbike guy, but all I can add is that whenever the going seems to gets tough - such as in Uyuni (4000 meter high desert?salt lake?rocks) in Bolivia or Northern Australia, and _I hear_ in Africa - the locals use Toyota Landcrusiers.

In Uyuni it is absolutely exclusive - TLC's of many vintages and not a single other vehicle in sight. Says it all really.
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  #21  
Old 5 Nov 2002
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Again this depends on where you’re going; but while venturing into the Sahara and going from any point A to any point B you’ll be crossing dunes, slopes and everything in between. So unless you want to leave the caravan behind, you’ll have to cross with it. It’s no big deal, it’s doable and people do it all the time. I didn’t mean to scare you; I meant that your pickup should be prepped properly for this and that you should pick your crossing spots more carefully than I would with my smaller, lower and much lighter Jeep for example. Go for it .

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OasisPhoto.com – Images from the Magical Sahara.
ShortWheelbase.com – Jeep preparations.
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  #22  
Old 5 Nov 2002
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TLC or Landy.....

Cruisers - pluses - comfortable, usually reliable, fast, common
- minuses - lack axle articulation, not as tough or fixable as Land Rover, not as able off-road, heavier, more ungainly

Landy
- pluses - tough, simple (apart from Td5), can climb anything, common apart from Egypt due to speed (Egyptians like fast 4x4s though not necessarily good ones), low centre of gravity
- minuses - noisy, slow, some engines lack power, poor roof loading

If a machine hasnt been looked after it will break down. Thats true of Landies or TLCs. Morocco loves Landies, Egypt loves TLCs and Cherokees, Libya is split down the centre. East Africa is covered in both.
Ive crossed the Sahara in my twelve year old Landy 110 and driven TLCs, Jeeps, Nissans and Mitsus in Egypt and Morocco, my answer is simple....

Land Rover every time.

But make sure, as with any car you own, that its in good condition.

Recommendation - late-model Tdi300 Defender 110 hardtop with tuned turbo. Retrofit the engine if need be.

Tyres make a HUGE difference. AVOID mud tyres for the Sahara. Dunlop Grandtreks good but have weak sidewalls, go Michelin sand pattern. Fit 9.00s if you can, you might need to cut away the wheelarch a bit. 7.50s are good enough.

It also comes down a lot to driver skill..... (of which which I do not claim!)
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  #23  
Old 5 Nov 2002
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Well it took a few posts but we got one in the end...

"Landy pluses" forgot the tough and easy to repair gearboxes.

"Libya is split down the centre"
In 3 Libya trips as in Algeria I've never seen a local Land Rover apart from shagged SIIIs - plenty of tourist 110s, of course.

"with tuned turbo...."
even on a TLC this asks for trouble in the desert. You can't get a quart out of a...

Tyres make a HUGE difference. AVOID mud tyres for the Sahara.
Fit 9.00s if you can,

None of this is true in my experience.
Tyre PRESSURES make a huge difference - pattern seems to be immaterial by comparison. In Europe one of the most popular tyres with Saharans at the moment is the BFG MT - it may sound bizzare but dune drivers swear by them (at 1 bar of course).
900s would strain LR transmission and wheel bearings, drain power and raise the gearing - the last thing you want.
750 ATs at 1 bar - if ness - work everywhere and are found everywhere

"It also comes down a lot to driver skill..... Indeedy - or sympathetic driving as Tom Shep calls it ;-)

CS
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  #24  
Old 5 Nov 2002
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Well it took a few posts but we got one in the end...

"Landy pluses" forgot the tough and easy to repair gearboxes.

"Libya is split down the centre"
In 3 Libya trips as in Algeria I've never seen a local Land Rover apart from shagged SIIIs - plenty of tourist 110s, of course.

"with tuned turbo...."
even on a TLC this asks for trouble in the desert. You can't get a quart out of a...

Tyres make a HUGE difference. AVOID mud tyres for the Sahara.
Fit 9.00s if you can,

None of this is true in my experience.
Tyre PRESSURES make a huge difference - pattern seems to be immaterial by comparison. In Europe one of the most popular tyres with Saharans at the moment is the BFG MT - it may sound bizzare but dune drivers swear by them (at 1 bar of course).
900s would strain LR transmission and wheel bearings, drain power and raise the gearing - the last thing you want.
750 ATs at 1 bar - if ness - work everywhere and are found everywhere

"It also comes down a lot to driver skill..... Indeedy - or sympathetic driving as Tom Shep calls it ;-)

CS
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  #25  
Old 6 Nov 2002
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Chris.....

I think the lack of Land Rovers in Algeria and Libya may be as much to do with import duties and political matters - at least thats what I gathered last year in Tripoli...
Certainly thats been the big problem with the 'relaunch' of Land Rover in Egypt.

P
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  #26  
Old 6 Nov 2002
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Not much to add to Pilgrims comments apart from...

the only place a Toyota is arguably *better* (ie more capable) than a Land Rover is in dune sand. Elsewhere the better axle travel of the Defender wins out. Its also a matter of low-down torque against high-revs horsepower, Defenders have torque, TLCs horsepower.

This stuff about Cruisers being more reliable than Rovers is rubbish in my experience. Mind you I look after my car. As for there being more aftermarket mods for Landies because they wont do the job otherwise - this is silly.

Flame away you Cruisers - see you in the mud
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  #27  
Old 6 Nov 2002
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Well, here's my opinion................

Having done a trans in a Land Rover - it never let me down - I would now go for a TLC everytime!!!
You just have to look at what the vehicle of choice is for the locals - I have spent a lot of time in East and southern Africa and it is a cruiser in the majority, in fact in Botswana and Namibia the TLC is undoubtedly King!!

A friend with a safari business in Bots ran both side by side for 3 years and now exclusively runs Cruisers, and claims his costs have more than halved!!!

Lets face it, the most important factor is reliability, so get the best you can afford and make certain that it is well prepped.

Happy travels

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  #28  
Old 6 Nov 2002
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Gees, what a load of information to wade through. For my trip at least the Sahara will be but a portion of my overall journey. Ideally we wil drive from India right thru the ME, down east Africa then up thru Central/West Africa. A grand plan but do-able with the best preparation planning etc. Possibly if I was only into sand driving I might re-think my choice of vehicle but I feel that TLC, given its dominance on the market here in OZ, will be the best value for me. As you all say, regular maintenance and careful use goes a long way towards keeping the vehicle in good nick.


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