Monday, July 25, 2005

Something for the blokes – "dirt under the fingernails" stuff

Believe it or not, Eventful Woman does know her way around an engine bay. However, it is best to give the blokes something to do on these expeditions. Afterall, I’m not "Wonder Woman".

I’m going to get most the technical stuff out of the way now, so those of you who are not interested can jump this bit.

There were two Land Rovers on the expedition:

1948 Series I Land Rover, petrol driven 80", 1595 cc engine – this is owned by our friend, F1. (The back vehicle in the photo)

1966 Series IIA (also known as 2A) Land Rover, petrol driven 88", 4 cylinder, 2286 cc engine (the front vehicle in the photo) – this is still owned by TH and moi.

(Note: The photo was taken in Nepal, while on the expedition. )

While there were some mechanical difficulties on the expedition, we were not stopped for more than a day on any one occasion.
OK – how many of you thought "gosh, that was lucky"?

You need to realise that luck is something that happens by chance. It is a random event, such as winning a lottery. The fact that the Land Rovers had few breakdowns was NOT because of luck. While I accept a chance event can happen, a SERIES of chance events doesn’t. So, the next person who tells me I was lucky, needs to go back and hide under their bed, as that’s probably how they think bad luck is avoided.

The "luck pessimists" think that you just buy an old Land Rover and set off at once. When it breaks down, they blame it on bad luck. So, if you’ve got a torch under those bedclothes, do read on. You might learn something about how to "make your own luck" happen.

Both F1 and TH completely stripped down their Land Rovers to bare chassis and rebuilt them, prior to the expedition.
With emphasis on preventative rather than breakdown maintenance the guys replaced a lot of apparently sound parts, which may not have endured a 31,000 mile (50,000 km) journey. This included a new radiator and hoses, heavy duty battery; new thrust washers, bearings and synchro unit to the gearbox; reconditioned distributor, generator, starter motor, drive shaft and exhaust system.

While the ability to cope with surprise can help, relying solely on this as a survival technique is not recommended. As well as good preparation, routine maintenance on the road is also essential. If you are not a mechanic or at least mechanically minded – then DON’T EVEN ATTEMPT AN OVERLAND EXPEDITION.

Regular oil changes and maintenance were carried out on route to usual schedules. Due to the long distances and terrible roads in some countries, the Land Rovers were checked daily by TH and F1. They identified and rectified many potential problems before they became breakdowns.

Specific expedition modifications were additional petrol tanks, heavier springs, front mounted jerry cans, lock boxes and good on/off road tyres – Dunlop Adventurers, provided by our sponsors, Repco New Zealand.

As these were old and sparsely furnished vehicles there was considerable road noise on the long hauls through the USA. Tired of shouting above the din, we fitted sound deadening material while in England. I think I may have suffered some hearing loss, but that could be ‘selective deafness’ common with most married couples.

Our exhaustive preparations paid off. While we had some mechanical difficulties with exhaust valves on the Series I, fuel pumps for both Land Rovers and the Series IIA’s generator, we were not forced to stop for long, thanks to on-board spare parts and the right know-how.

While it was tempting to take a spare everything, we had to prune down a list of parts to fit in the available space. We concentrated on what would assist or improvise continued operation. In addition to rubber parts (such as fan belts hoses and hydraulic seals), oil filters, fuel pump/carburettor kits, SIIA half shafts, ignition components and exhaust valves, we included supplies of string, parachute cord, plastic cable ties, wire, chain, glue, epoxy putty, duct tape and a selection nuts and bolts.

In addition to the standard tools, we included: timing light, multi meter, torque wrench, kinetic tow rope, metal shears, measuring tape, speed wrench, 12 volt soldering iron, Swiss Army knives and Crescent "Toolzall Pro" pocket multi tools.

With his knife and pocket tools hanging off his belt, I began to call TH "McGyver".

© Eventful Woman, 2005

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  1. This trip sounds awesome.

  2. Many thanks for your positive comment. Keep reading. I'm about to actually set off on this awesome (should that be "ah-some") adventure. The preparating was gruelling but, at times, the odyssey was much more so.


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