So… as anyone reading Eleanor’s posts will already know, it’s been an action packed few weeks in the Man vs Land Rover department. Apologies for the unusually long tale. If reading on Facebook, click the link for pics (if interested of course).
Suspension… £$£@@!! Suspension. I got sick of crawling around in 40 degree heat replacing the factory air bags at the rear. It’s a hellish job in the sand.
We blew two bags in two days, the toys left the cot and we legged it to Windhoek to rip them out and replace with the toughest coils available here, Ironman +40mm jobbies. Huge thanks to Stefan at 4×4 and More for moving heaven and earth to overnight the parts from Joburg.
I fitted the coils in the campsite and we headed north to try them out (break the truck again). We found sand. Lots and lots of it, deep. We HATE deep sand. The Khadum National Park is not for the fainthearted, or those with soft suspension… We bottomed out approximately once every 30 seconds, at 10kph, and it was a horrible driving experience. As we couldn’t drive at the correct speed for the conditions, we had to do some digging. The kids were amused. After escaping the clutches of the sand we found an awesome campsite on the Okavango (Ndurokoro, the owner, Leon, is a true gent) and I proceeded to try and source some helper springs (airbags that fit inside the coils to stiffen up the ride and restore height) in Zambia. No luck. Zambia has many weeks of customs hell. Back on the line to Stefan, no worries, back to Windhoek we go, via Swakopmund so HMV can do a Parkrun. (I walked it, a month after busting my knee – result). Stefan and team fitted the bags, serviced the truck, found a nasty loose nut in the steering I hadn’t noticed… didn’t even stop for lunch. Superb service. Pumped up to 2.5 bar we have restored ride height, and offroad is much nicer on the bum. Cheers Stefan!
Power. I hate electrics with a passion. For many months I have been chasing an intermittent issue with our batteries discharging, charging slowly, lights blowing, general gremlins. I am on first name terms with my multimeter. After a relaxing 800km drive from Windhoek back to the Okavango I decided to get to the bottom of things, and discovered the negative terminal on the crank battery was tightly bolted, but the cable running into it i pulled out with two fingers. Queue an enormous amount of bad language (this issue has plagued us since before Morocco). We now have multiple grounds.
Bonnet latch. I think I wrote about this previously. The bush mechanic fix at Puros failed. I have now broken in again, and jimmied up a paracord solution… tied around the mechanism, routed out the grille by the winch so a simple tug on the cord pops the bonnet. Simple and works.
Fuel tank… this is a scary one. Working on assumptions here, but I think the regular bottoming out in Khadum eventually stressed out the front mounts for our longrange tank enough to tear the metal of the mudguard mount (where ot was attached). Mud and crap covered this, so I didn’t notice it when airing up and down in the Plains National Park here in Zambia. It separated. I spotted this after exiting the park, resulting in a reroute through Lusaka so I could unpack (actually, strip the vehicle so I could get some bolts through the wheelarch). 4 bolts through good steel, I think we are now sorted.
Exhaust. Khadum, again… all the bottoming out tore an exhaust hanger. Nobody has the part. I’ve “fixed” it with cable ties and swearing. Maybe i’ll find one in Tanzania.
Drinking water pump. Failed. Damn annoying. Replaced.
Boot latch. This one really annoyed the kids. After a stupidly long day (after spotting out broken fuel tank) we got to a rubbish camp next to a police checkpoint only to discover the %£$^! boot won’t open. No dinner. Just cheese from the front fridge. And beer. Queue pissed off children. Their toilet was also in there… Anyway, next day we made it to Lusaka and Margaret and I started tearing the car apart to fix the issue. Not easy… we have a security cage, and it works well. Eventually we managed to remove enough stuff via the kids seats that we could squeeze Margaret in with screwdrivers, wedge open the door card and pop the lock. Needless to say, we have cut a hole, fixed the problem, and have also jimmied up another paracord “get out of jail/feed the kids” solution, cunningly hidden away behind the numberplate. Naturally it only works with the car unlocked…
Africa is hard on vehicles. Until next time…