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Light Overland Vehicle Tech Tech issues, tips and hints, prepping for travel
Under 3500kg vehicles, e.g. Land Cruiser, Land Rover, Subaru etc.
Photo by George Guille, It's going to be a long 300km... Bolivian Amazon

I haven't been everywhere...
but it's on my list!


Photo by George Guille
It's going to be a long 300km...
Bolivian Amazon



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  #1  
Old 9 Feb 2013
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ssangyong korando - is this a crazy idea?

I am planning a 2 year trip in 2015 where I plan to travel down the westcoast of Africa and then back up the east coast. At the moment I own a 1998 Ssangyong korando and am seriously thinking of fitting out the vehicle for the trip. As it stands I have done a few basic mods to the vehicle:

1) Suspension lift using landrover discovery springs on the back and heavy duty iron man torsion bar on the front complete with l iron man shocks all round. I currently run 31" tyres, however it will take bigger.
2) done away with the unreliable vacuum hubs and installed AVM manual hubs
Over the next year I plan to do the following mods:
3) fit Eaton E lockers or ARB airlockers to front and rear axels (haven't decided which type to go for yet)
4) Replace the transfer box with a permanent 4 wheel drive box from a GX220 musso .
5) Custom make roof rack / roll cage
6) fit winch bumper
7) fit snorkel

Although the vehicle may seem an odd choice it does have the fantastic Mercedes 602 engine (2.9 Diesel) so can't see parts for this being a problem in Africa. I have to say I absolutely love the engine as I get amazing mileage and it runs on just about anything. I have seen plenty of people fit these engines to Mercedes G wagons so they can't be that bad.

I would be interested to hear what people think of my choice. Is it a crazy choice or do you think it will be a good vehicle for Africa when I have finished all my mods?
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  #2  
Old 9 Feb 2013
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I don't know your vehicle at all!

Depends on a lot of things, such as:

- are you mechanically good enough to fix things? With an 'odd' vehicle local mechanics and knowledge will be even more limited, even if some parts are Mercedes (what about the gearbox, axles and electronics etc)

- do you want the confidence to explore remote and difficult places (recommended) or do you want to have to stick to the one sealed road. You may think now that you will explore, but like all of us you will have some vehicle mishaps along the way and this will erode your confidence to explore rather than just get through. It is often very hard to get things fixed properly, especially on the west coast, and getting parts flown in is time consuming and very expensive with local taxes etc

- does it have a separate chassis? If not, forget it. Seen quite a few soft roaders twisted in half along the way.

- Are you trying to save time, money and effort now that will end up costing you all three in spades further down the road??

Unless your a whizz with your vehicle its better to stick to what is tried and tested and you get easily get mods for (landy, toyota etc). Though soon you can do the west coast all on tarmac apart from parts of Angola and the Cameroon/Nigeria border crossing so you can drive a porsche if you want to just say you drove across Africa without the ability to actually see much of the countries you go through...
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  #3  
Old 9 Feb 2013
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Thanks for your reply

I am far from a whizz but the electronics are simple and I can fix most common problems such as replace head gaskets, bearings, ball joints, brakes, suspension, water pump, etc (I will take spares of these). Outside of these things it would be a pretty major problem and in all honesty would probably finish my trip anyway. Things like diffs, sump etc with a bit of thought I should be able to make up some good guards before I go and as long as I am sensible do I really have too much to worry about?

Despite this I fully understand what you are saying about going for the tried and tested, however on another site I have seen a few people doing trips in rare Russian vehicles and some very odd things! I know people often use the Mercedes G wagon for trips which is a very capable vehicle, although I should imagine parts are not very easy to get hold of?
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Old 9 Feb 2013
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I have meet a variety of people doing a variety of trips. I would say:

- the more quirky the vehicle, the more the trip is about getting the vehicle to the end, rather than experiencing the trip itself.

- the less mechanical preparation and research you do, the more the trip is about getting the vehicle to the end, rather than experiencing the trip itself.

- two years is a long time, so you want a solid vehicle. Your not just doing a '3 months to Cape Town, look how cool I am on facebook' type trip

I don't know your vehicle so I can't comment much more. Good luck!
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Old 10 Feb 2013
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Well I don't know your vehicle either, though I do know your engine ( one of mercs best and if, like the Musso a mechanical injection pump so much the better).
My two penneth is better the devil you know. That is to say - if you have known your car for a few years, have used it, and pushed it maybe, then it may well be preferable to an unknown quantity -I wouldn't set off in a new car from the showroom let alone a second hand 4x4 that has lived in Chelsea or one that is modded to undriveability by the PO. Key to your success is driving within you and your cars capabilities. 40 year old Renault 4s regularly drive the roads you will encounter and they don't have difflocs(nor do many vehicles for that matter).
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Last edited by silver G; 11 Feb 2013 at 09:51.
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  #6  
Old 10 Feb 2013
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well mechanically the Korando is exactly the same as the Musso and has the mechanical injection. I know what you are saying about the engines as they are just superb. I know a guy who even puts these old Merc engines in some of the newer G wagons as many people prefer them as they don't have all the electronic rubbish.

If anyone was wondering about the Korando here is a short video of one in action:

korando offroad - YouTube
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  #7  
Old 10 Feb 2013
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it's a great car, and not just the engine...

It doesn't really matter what you drive in Africa, something is bound to break. If you carry a lot of spares, you'll break something you didn't bring, regardless of what car you're driving... and you'll eventualy get the Ssanyongg to the ass-end of the continent.

Less worry, more go... you'll be fine.
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Old 11 Feb 2013
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I suggest to take another car.

Nothing against it, when you drive smooth he will arrive - tooo without modding (Ok, lockers at least arent a bad idea).

Most of the repairs of other travellers are caused, because they dont drive smooth

But when at sample your front windscreen broke (happens twice to me), you really have to wait, till a spare glass is shipped in.
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Old 11 Feb 2013
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Hi David,

No problem to take it.
It's Mercedes after all.

The thing I would really check out is the gear linkages.
Do you know about the problems that some time happen with the linkages?

You may want to fit the alternative semi cable linkage?

Apart from that, just go on and enjoy.

vette
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Old 11 Feb 2013
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Quote:
You may want to fit the alternative semi cable linkage?
That was the first job I did when I got the vehicle! I have to say I have been servicing the vehicle every 3 thousand miles and she has never let me down. I think I will just take plenty of spares. As for things like the window - surely it can't be that hard to bodge something in an emergency with something like poly carbonate.
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  #11  
Old 11 Feb 2013
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Quote:
Originally Posted by david151 View Post
As for things like the window - surely it can't be that hard to bodge something in an emergency with something like poly carbonate
If you have a laminated windscreen it will take a lot to break it completely, unlike the older screens that used to shatter.

You used to be able to get temporary/emergency screens that consisted of a plastic sheet re-enforced with metal surround to tension it, but a sheet of plastic and gaffer tape would do the same sort of job.
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Old 11 Feb 2013
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Quote:
Originally Posted by david151 View Post
That was the first job I did when I got the vehicle! I have to say I have been servicing the vehicle every 3 thousand miles and she has never let me down. I think I will just take plenty of spares. As for things like the window - surely it can't be that hard to bodge something in an emergency with something like poly carbonate.
.
Hi David,

Do you know about this place

Ssangyong Owners Club

http://www.ssangyongclub.co.uk/forum...rch_app=forums

vette
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  #13  
Old 11 Feb 2013
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yes I know about that thanks
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  #14  
Old 11 Feb 2013
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I think as you seem to know your vehicle well it is less of a risk. Taking loads of spares and the right tools is my approach - half the problem solved when you have all the right parts. You sound like you know your vehicle well and are well organised ;-)

Just accept that things might happen where you will be delayed whereas somebody in a landy for example could be sorted out within a few hours. And it might cost a lot to get parts specially flown in. It's not easy like people always say ("DHL is everywhere" etc) And much of the info on the web and things like Tracks4Africa are for Toyota/Landy's etc. These things help a lot - you will need to trail blaze at times to find solutions.

Personally I'd take a more commonly used overland vehicle as it will retain its resale value, much easier to sort things out, all the mods and extra bits are tried and tested and easy to buy - plus my landy was a real babe magnet! ;-p

PS: Space seems a bit limited for extra water and fuel and storage compared to a landy/toyota??
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Old 11 Feb 2013
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Surfy View Post

Most of the repairs of other travellers are caused, because they dont drive smooth
Ah no, most are caused by driving for long periods on bad roads in hot conditions. Things wear out as they are often designed to. The faster you drive the quicker these things will happen.

What you experienced in your 2 month trip is perhaps not the best sum of knowledge to make broad assertions on.

I think google translates one of your trip updates as saying you were driving at 130km p/h in Africa? Seems very 'smooth' to me!
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