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Which roofrack for trans-africa? + some other questions.
I've asked this question on a few other boards before, but never really gotten any real answers. There are so many manufacturers of roofracks: Brownchurch, Hannibal, Safety Devices etc. My intention is to put an Eezy-Awn tent in front (to fold out over the bonnet/hood)and have 2 spare wheels + a few light things in back on a Defender 110.
Over to tyres, I'm thinking of Michelin XZL, some people have mentioned to me that heavy duty steel wheels are a good idea. Is it a good idea or just extra weight with no gain?
Next in line is "Mantec wire mesh over windows". Good idea, or just looks? I've noticed that most have them just have mesh on the rear sides and not on the rear side doors. Whats the point then? Is the trick to drive so fast that stones only hit on the far rear where you have wire mesh...? I'm leaning towards wire mesh, but with it on the side rear doors too, so that the back of the vehicle is possible to "lock off" with mesh also behind the front seats.
Another question I have is Frigdes/freezers. Here too there are many manufacturers. Minus40, ARB, etc. I've heard that many have trouble getting down to +5 C , when the ambient temp. is +30 C. That dosn't seem to impressive to me.
Does anybody have any experiance, good or bad on the topics?
Please forgive any ignorance in my questions, and all info will be welcomed!
[This message has been edited by Erik D. (edited 10 April 2001).]
Re roofracks, tents etc I think that Brownchurch are good (I have their rack and tent etc) and proven, however there are now better (lighter) ones available. Eezy-Awn I think has superceded Brownchurch in terms of quality and technology.
Eight spoke steel rims (second hand) are cheap and a good option for an expedition vehicle.
Re grills on the vehicle, my 110 has them round the rear load area, inside over rear windows and a load guard fitted against the back seat and bolted onto the interior roll cage and floor effectively seals that area if someone tried to break in via the passenger or front windows. I like them they are a good visual deterrant when leaving your vehicle unattended. As you say though, one weak spot and it is all for nothing. I would also recommend updating the rear door lock which can be picked with ease. I am having a high spec padlock and latch fitted at the moment.
Re fridges I have not bothered, my experience with them is that they eat batteries for breakfast and are of little real use when there are no supermarkets around to fill them with stuff. Chilling drinks takes time and means running the fridge longer.
Brownchurch may not look pretty, but they are proven. I am convinced it is not worth trying cheaper options here. In only 3 trips to North Africa I have seen 3 roof-racks fail resulting in considerable inconvenience for their owners plus the danger.
Interestingly, the 2 I saw fail recently were trendy Eazi-Awn supplied roof bars with their roof-tents. They didn't seem to grip the Discovery/Defender gutters very well, resulting in slipping back and causing considerable paint scratching and constant re-adjustment...I am sure these owners thought the brand name 'Pain in the Arse-Awn' more appropriate at the time.
Now an Eazi-Awn tent or similar on a Brownchurch roof-rack would be good, but hang on - Brownchurch have been doing that for years..?
Engel and Minus40 are very good but expensive - but in these high ambient temperatures, nothing else will do. They are easily capable of being a very good fridge and even a below zeroC freezer in 40+C ambients.
From another forum, I believe the ARBs are re-badged Engels..?
Their theromostat cut-outs make batteries last longer, and if you are on the move most days you should have no problem with flattening a good size (85Ah) leisure battery. Conciously minimising 'lid-open' time makes a lot of difference but people think I am being mean..!
Naturally, you would not want to run a fridge in a vehicle with only one battery - obviously a 2nd battery with split-charge relay is safer.
These fridge/freezers are bulky and heavy, with associated battery requirements.
If you can live without one all the better.
I sadly like to have cold drinks etc on the move.
If you are in an area where you can enjoy a cold at the end of the day I think it is worth it, plus some may need it for personal medecines/film etc...
PS: isn't this forum great. Learning lots already and much more focused than vehicle specific sites - Nice one Mr Scott sir...
For roofracks: Brownchurch is pretty good - according to the manager, they've only had one failed roofrack in 20-odd years. They have a lot of experience and do bulk roof-racks for Ford Transit vans as well. Another good thing is they're galvanised, so minimal rust. A friend and myself have these roofracks on Toyota Landcruisers, and they survived 7000 miles travelling so far, no problem.
Fridges: make sure not to buy cheap - we bought a cheapie, and after the 2nd day into our trip, it failed - it was blowing warm air instead of cold air into the fridge, i.e. disaster! Go for well-known names, and fork out the extra money. The saying in the desert is 1 cold for 3 warm ones...
It looks like James and Dennis beat me to it but here is my 2 cents worth:
On my Algeria trip both cars with Eezy Awn racks and tents had problems with the gutter clamps - a poor design that bends as you tighten it while still allowing the rack to move under wind pressure.... No such problems with our Brownchurch racks: they may be heavy old dinosaurs but they do the job.
I agree with ctc's fridge comments but I'm not a drinker
Steel rims are a good idea because you can bash them straight - not so easy with alloy I believe - if you go for alloys (plenty of flash trash out there I believe) go for good quality ones ($$$$$ - eg Performance Wheels).
Re mesh protection, I've never bothered - but in the desert it's less of a problem than populated trans Africa. One solution is to never leave the vehicle unoccupied in busy places.
------------------ Author of Sahara Overland and the Adventure Motorcycling Handbook, among other things
To clarify a few things: Regarding the steel wheels, I was thinking more in the line of: standard original steel wheels compared to 130 or Wolf steel wheels (which are heavier).
It sounds like Eazi-Awn tents might be a good idea but not their racks. Are there any racks made of Aluminium that are good? With saving weight in mind. Are "Hannibal" racks the same as Eazi-Awn uses? I've heard about Brownchurch racks coming apart quite often (info from Southern Africans), but I know that Brownchurch makes several "gauges" of racks and suppose that the "HD" type should be preferred. It might have been the "lighter" types that have problems. That of course adds weight... and leads me back to aluminium if possible. Any good ideas?
Roof racks - we bought a Brownchurch roofrack with the additional monting bars that go to the base of the wind screen and down to the body at the back, plus some steps. It lasted through Africa and is still going 10 years later in central Australia. We saw several other types that collapsed, but sometimes due to gross overloading.
Tyres - XZYs are excellent. The old style Michelin 4x4s were also good, with the additional advantage of a steel ply in the sidewall, not sure about the new tread pattern which has more of a mud bias. BF Goodrich AT s seem to be made of a soft compound that looses chunks out of it on stoney roads - they do not seem to last as long as you would expect. We did 60,000 km in Africa - it was good to have tyres (Michelin 4x4)that did not need replacing for the whole trip .
Wheels - the standard Land Rover rims are fine. Alloy anything (wheels, roof racks) are hard to weld if they do get damaged. I noticed that the Camel Trophy Discoverys were fitted with Defender rims - but maybe this was to standardise wheels across the fleet.
Mesh - usually fitted for security. I think that if someone really wants your stuff, they're going to get it and mesh isn't going to stop them. Fit curtains so that to car stays cool - and know one knows if you have anything worth stealing.
Fridges - Engels are excellent & well proven in central Australia in 40 degrees plus - but do you really need a fridge?
Agree with Andyk re wheels, if you're not racing standard will do fine I'm told.
>Are there any racks made of Aluminium that are good?
Have a look at the www.daerr.de website/catalog (German) p 38 - it looks like alloy but I cant read.
I reckon once you make a basic alloy rack that is as strong as steel it ends up being as heavy as steel.
>Are "Hannibal" racks the same as Eazi-Awn uses?
... and leads me back to aluminium if possible. Any good ideas?
Well you could make your own. I put a design to a fabricator based on wide clamps on 5x5cm alloy box sections across the top. More overland roof bars really - but the Brownchurch does the job.
The lightest rack is no rack at all of course. When I'm not using the tent of doing a tour mine is all but empty on the way down. It is handy for firewood, dead sheep and a second spare tyre tho - and anyway its too heavy and wired up with solar to remove easily
------------------ Author of Sahara Overland and the Adventure Motorcycling Handbook, among other things
If you have a strong vehicle with a big engine, like a Toyota 60-series (tsk tsk), it will be no problem to carry the extra weight on the roof.
Brownchurch does a very good sturdy tent as well (new ones are completely water-proof), which pitches in literally seconds. Ours survived heavy rains in Northern Marocco and strong winds as well. Trust me, after a whole day on the piste, the last thing on your mind is to fiddle with your tent!
Most important though, don't forget to have fun while preparing for your trip!
Go for the Eezi-Awn tent - probably the best there is.
defender wheels should be fine - but if you want to go for HD then 130 or Wolf rims must be the best option - Foley's usually sell them for a reasonable price.
Rather than going for grills etc consider tinting film.
Brownchurch roofracks survived the CT so...... firstname.lastname@example.org
Have used an eezi-awn tent, folding out over the front of a 110 (brownchurch rack)extensively in North africa. Can't recommend that combination highly enough. Tent absolutely worth it's weight in gold for ease of use and ruggedness. Same goes for the brownchurch, its carried all sorts of loads over just about every terrain known and hasn't budged an inch, although most of the 110 has fallen off along the way!
I've got matec guards on all the back windows and an internal load guard as well, to provide a safe area. If someone really wanted to get in they could but it does give that extra piece of mind. I tend to carry 3 spare wheels. 2 are padlocked down and the third, which is a bit manky, is left unlocked. The theory behind this is that if someone is determined to swipe something, they will go for the easy option and go away happy bunnies, leaving the rest behind. keeps me happy anyway!
Tend to agree with the thoughts about fridges being just an extra weight and battery drain. Bottled water kept low down in the vehicle out of direct light always tastes lovely & cool in the desert anyway!
Disco rims have a smaller opening for the valve if a tube is used. this could be a bit of a problem finding the right tube/valve combination in africa, where as the wolf rims have the same valve opening as every other landrover since the dawn of time so tubes are ten a penny everywhere. don't ask me how i know this!!!
The Eezi-Awn roof tent is extremely good and their roof rack is very sturdy (if a little heavy). However the gutter clamps cannot hold the roof rack in place over corrugations, as we discovered in Algeria last year. I've explained the problem to them and a modified clamp is being produced. Contact Paul Marsh (email@example.com) for when they will be available. At the moment I still think the Eezy-Awn tent is the best, but it needs to be fitted to a different roof rack.
Take a look at Bernhard's picture of the 110's crash in "Return to Algeria" on Chris' site. It landed on its front wheels. One alloy rim took some damage and the other was only slightly flatened. I was always a proponent of steel rims until then as you can always bash steel rims straight. I think today's alloy rims are more than tough enough - I am going to use alloys in the future.
I believe the Camel Trophy Discos may be using Defender rims so that they can put tubes in the tyres. The standard Disco steel rims are designed for tubeless tyres only.
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