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Desert Travels - Motorcycle Journeys in the Sahara and West Africa!

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  #1  
Old 4 Jun 2005
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To RIM with an old land rover

Hello all,

I plan to drive my old Santana SII petrol from Barcelona to RIM during the month of august. Piste and off piste as well: Choum, Ouduane, Tichit , Neme and God only knows where else.

The Santana SII is a SWB, quite older than myself but with a rebuild 2.28 engine, 5 main bearings and new R.M. springs and shocks.

I do have lots of experience driving in the rain forest but nearly nothing in the Sahara, so since I'd love to do off piste would nicely appreciate some advice in terms of routes, water, fuel as well as other aspects of this kind of trip.

many thanks
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  #2  
Old 6 Jun 2005
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You may well find that the motor runs too hot once you leave the coast. I'm not sure if Santana fitted a better radiator than L/R, but my 2.25 series 2 runs hot even in January in the central Sahara. Fitting an additional electric fan helps a lot. Fitting a bigger mechanical fan is wasteful on power and makes the motor run badly when its really cold (the carb tends to freeze over!).
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  #3  
Old 6 Jun 2005
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Thank you Richard,

Both Santanas and UK SII's petrols were made almost identical. Santanas became different after the SIII. The Series IV were not as beautiful as the Sollihull progenitors but more reliable and almost, in a spartan way, comfortable. Anyway, I like the zen simplicity of the SII.

The electric fan is a great idea. Both the engine and I thank you. I better get myself a "kenlowe" HD from the U.K. .

Regarding carburators, I have the good old Solex as well as an small Weber. Any preferences for the Sahara ?

Regards

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  #4  
Old 6 Jun 2005
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I took off the Solex and put on a Weber. I regret doing so for two reasons:
1) the Solex provided more power and you need as much of that as possible in the sand
2) the weber has a 'run-on' problem. After switching off the ignition, the engine still turns over. The problem is worse when the environment is hot and has been annoying in the Sahara.

Some people have complained about vapour locks in the fuel when it gets hot. I have put an electric fuel pump in line with the mechanical fuel pump and have never had this problem. I'm not certain the additional pump is the reason for no vapour locks, but its nice to have a spare already in place.

Its also worth checking the wiring as it goes through the bulkhead. Make sure the rubber grommet between the wire and the metal is OK. All the shaking about on the rough roads can lead to shorts at this point and to fires. The series vehicles are not very good on fuses!
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  #5  
Old 7 Jun 2005
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Hello,
technicaly I don't see any vehicle related issues if the truck is in good condition.
I did many tours with an 109 IIa from 62.
If everything is fine it will not run hot, neitehr in Janurary nor in August. I suppose a hidden issue on Richards.
I added an Kenlow Fan to help reduce fuel consumption. But it shaked itself loose on corrugations and damaged the rad - so I remooved it without overheating as consequence.

Use 7.50R16 Michelin XS they help the not overpowered engine in soft sand.

I see the following issues:
- Hard to find travel parters in August, but driving solo will be very risky in the hot months.
- You will use a lot of water for yourself in August, with 10 Liters/day per person plus reserve your autonomy might be limited.
- Fuel consumption: expect an everage of about 25 L/100km so storing enough fuel and water will become an issue, especialy in summer.

If I remember correctyl I had about 80L of water plus 10 jerrycans with me on my 1993 Algeria trip in a 88 SIIa, we had to uprate the suspension.

Attention: parabolic front springs ave a tendency to breake due to torsion stress, take spares.

> I have the good old Solex
stick to the good old solex, Richard is right.

Yves


[This message has been edited by Yves (edited 06 June 2005).]
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  #6  
Old 7 Jun 2005
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Very nice photo indeed .... but it's not a 109 nor a sII as you know .
I had a 88 then a 109 then a 110 200 td and , in the sand , the engine ran sometimes a little too hot , so I had to stop or slow (?) down for a while ( I had no auxiliary fan and XS tires with the 200td ).
With 300tdi now , never problem even in soft sand with 40°C.
Have a good trip , I'm sure you can manage it !
RR .
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  #7  
Old 7 Jun 2005
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Thank you all,

I do appreciate your comments very much.

- So I'll order a rebuilt kit for the Solex, since after more than 40 years work she was leaking, and was very thirsty.

- I'll certainly check the wires through the bulkhead 'cause I have not done it yet.

- I'll add an electric fan. When the engine was rebuild diesel and not petrol cam, mainshaft, 5 ring diesel pistons, 5 main bearing block were used. As a result we got a diesel engine with a petrol head. So I got a 2.25 petrol engine with 9.5 compression. Therefore it runs a bit hotter. But is got more power.
- If necessary I'll weld the electric fan to the car so it does not move.

- Tires: the S2 is a short one and it comes with 205x16, if 750x16 are used I'm afraid it will lose power, like running with an overdrive. Is not it ??

- Tires are expensive, so I was thinking in using used road 205x16 Michelin X and take 2 extra. I was told used road tires are good for sand. ¿?

- Water: In the jungle it was everywhere, just filtered and drink it. For this trip I was thinking in taking about 180 liters for 2 people.

- Fuel: Yves, thanks for the tip. I was thinking in taking about 200 liters. I did install an extra tank under the driver's seat.

-Suspension: I got Canadian made Rocky Mountain 2+3 springs + ES9000 shocks.
The S2 does agricultural work, carrying sometimes 500 kilos of compost up and down the stony dirt-roads of my country.
So I think the suspension would be ok for the trip. ¿¿??

- Air filter: I guess I'll put back the good old and original air filter and leave the K&N at home.

Question: Yves: Where do you find the jerry can holders ?

Many thanks.
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  #8  
Old 8 Jun 2005
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Hi Armadillo .

Id say that whichever vehicle you drive to the Sahara ,.. It should be one that you are ready to abandone it , should the situation arise.

specially a 40 year old car.

I say that 'cos you look that you take lots of care for your car ... pamper it .. etc.. but the sad-brutal truth is that every year lots and lots of beloved-cars like yours end it up in Mauritania,bogged down , abandoned ,etc ..

It happens to all kind of cars-people abandone new Land Cruisers- so go figure yours.

I say that ...cos It nearly happened to me aswell I nearly lost my beloved WWII jeep in Africa , when I could have driven any banger with the same outcome.

I travel much more relaxed , happier and enjoy much more the trip with a secondhand SeriesIII 109 (you can get those for 1000 euros in Catalonia , probbably less ) than with your pride-and-joy vintage Landrover which would be a tragedy if you need to abandone it.

Just my two cents.
Javier.
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  #9  
Old 9 Jun 2005
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Just to add to the 'abandoning the car in the sand' bit: I recently completed my mission to sell an accident-damaged coupé in Mauritania, people here may remember me with my snow tyres a few months back, well the very first patch of sand in no-mans-land between Morocco/Mauritania saw much wheel spinning — the smell of that soft winter rubber compound burning was quite apparent — I was literally preparing to abandon the car right then, right there.

Luckily the guys living in the area, when they wanted to bargain for the value of the digging, were sufficiently interested when I said I didn't want to spend a single penny more, I was interested in selling.

The patch of sand could only have been 10m long, 50cm deep, I was amazed how easy getting stuck was.

I was even more pleased that I didn't do the desert epic this time when I met, on the way back, a friend of Adeleine Pane, a french girl who had been decapitated during prayers — a convert to islam — supposedly by a pair of Mauritanians she met while meandering in the desert, a few years back while making a journey to sell a Merc then marry in Senegal.

Interesting though, either way
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  #10  
Old 9 Jun 2005
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Hello armadillo,

> was rebuild diesel and not petrol cam,

diesel and petrol wer identical on later engines. Old cam has more torque on very low revs - but a tendency to run on and pinking.

> .. So I got a 2.25 petrol engine with 9.5 compression.

hmm, 9.5 is high for low octane mauri fuel, less 90 ROZ is quite common outside the capital. So be prepared to pinking (especialy in summer), you might need to retard ignition some degrees. Are you sure that the compression is higher?

>- if 750x16 are used I'm afraid it will lose power.

Really not an issue if you have the std 1:4.7 diff and the gearing is like on LR. I used the Overdrive on my IIa frequently, engine is strong enough.

- Tires are expensive ...
when your budget is tight, think of 7.50R16 or 235R16 2nd hand ones (6 or 8 pr) - thats what we did on our first car trip in 93. compared with 205 you gain some clearing under the axles and you will have to dig much less in soft sand - hight is all (see Sahara-Overland book). And you will find spares on Mauri anywhere - but not in 205.


>-Suspension: I got Canadian made Rocky Mountain 2+3 springs

3 Leaf rear? I think it's ok when you travel very light (but 400kg of water, fuel + 2 persons will be slighty more then 500kg).

> leave the K&N at home.
yes, the old Oil bath filter is better for dusty environments.

>Yves: Where do you find the jerry can holders ?

We build them our selfs out of L shaped steel profiles. We just build flat frames, jerrycans were hold by a strap - simple, relyable and budget friendly.

Good luck, Yves
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  #11  
Old 11 Jun 2005
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Many thanks all for your feed back, some very encouraging some not so. I guess shit happens.

Littering a new Toyota it's both an economical and ecological tragedy , not so with a Series LR they look good anywhere, besides they are cheap. Javier, to get blown up or killed we don't even have lo leave our country.

Yves, cool picture, thanks.

Compression; yes, it`s 9.5 because 5 rings diesel pistons were used in the rebuild of the engine. Normally petrol got 3 rings therefore less compression. The guy who rebuild the 2.25 told me it was perfectly ok, we shall definitely see...

750's: Well, I'll look for used ones, may me I even find the famous Mich XS. I just have lots of 205's in the garden.

Suspension: the 2+3 Rocky Mountain are thicker and theoretically stronger than other brands, as I said with 400 Kilos cargo they hardly rest 2 cmts. Again, we shall see...

Jerrys: thanks for the tip Yves, i'll follow the example.

One question: How do you keep the jerrys or the petrol from being stolen?

Thanks a lot all !
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  #12  
Old 13 Jun 2005
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Hi armadillo,

>Compression.
unfortunately I don't know how the diesel piston looks like (only rebuid petrol engines so far), but the number of rings has absolutely no influence on theoretical compression. When they have a flat top, not protruding the block surface then the compression is unchanged - except the crank fitted has more stroke.

>One question: How do you keep the jerrys or the petrol from being stolen?

Until now no issue for me,but I was prepared: a steel cable with locks or bicycle locks.

Good luck, Yves

[This message has been edited by Yves (edited 12 June 2005).]
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  #13  
Old 15 Jun 2005
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Thank you everybody for your comments and advice.

If you need a shelter in your way south just let me know.
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  #14  
Old 27 Jun 2005
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I'm planning to travel from Morocco to Dakar in August as well. Given some of the trickier sections in Mauritania and it being the summer not sure if you're interested in doing some pistes with us.
I'll be travelling with 2 friends in a Toyota Hilux Surf, 3.0 l.
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  #15  
Old 27 Jun 2005
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We plan to leave Barcelona on August 5th and drive down at about 85 kmts hour almost directly til RIM. And, with God's help end at Dakar. If you see and old green LR stock somewhere that's us. I hope we can meet somewhere.

By the way, I have been reading Sahara Overland. Great book !
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